Video Digest: May 11, 2007

In which Sarah waxes (nearly profane) for her lost ‘80s loves: Hugh Laurie, Ricky Gervais, George Clooney, Patrick Dempsey, James Spader, and Patrick Downey, Jr.

I’ve never been a big fan of House, the television show. I find it painfully contrived, annoyingly outlandish. I’m a kid who grew up on St. Elsewhere and General Hospital; if a medical drama strikes me as unrealistic, then we know things are bad. That said, I’ve always been a fan of Hugh Laurie, the British actor who plays Dr. House. He’s a closet charmer, hobbled by an American accent. I recently came across a clip of Laurie from his ‘80s-era sketch comedy show, A Bit of Fry & Laurie, in which he showcases his easygoing comedic chops, as well as his decent baritone.

Finding the clip made me think about other television stars who spent the ‘80s in unexpected ways. Of course, I thought immediately of Ricky Gervais. I’m pretty sure I’ve posted this clip before, but I could watch it all day. And sometimes, I do.

Much like Ricky Gervais, I spent the ‘80s finding new ways to make my bangs fight gravity. Another victim of this? George Clooney. Long before he was the poor man’s Cary Grant, he was the poor man’s Steve Guttenberg. What strikes me about this clip is not Clooney’s frightful hair, or his charming grin. It’s the fact that this show was actually on the air for nearly a decade. Woof. And I thought King of Queens was lame.

Back then, I was too busy licking my pictures of Johnny Depp and playing with my sequined Michael Jackson dolls to realize that George Clooney was a total hottie. But I always, always, liked Patrick Dempsey. In fact, when the whole world went McDreamy, it kind of pissed me off. Because I knew he was hot. I’d known for decades. Seeing everyone coo about it now was so grating. It was an ‘80s teen movie fan’s version of REM having a #1 hit. Now I hate him. Thanks, world.

As we know from countless nostalgia pieces, only half of which were written by me, the ‘80s were a funny time. We got some things wrong (Simply Red, Andrew McCarthy). We got some things right (U2, John Cusack). Some stars of the era, like Kiefer Sutherland and Paula Abdul, are still stars. Somewhat unaccountably. Honestly, I never would have pegged those two for longevity. But I would have pegged James Spader. Why? Because Spader rules. As we all know, he was sensational in Pretty in Pink. But do you remember him in Tuff Turf?

And did you catch that cameo of another oldtimer? Sigh. It’s Robert Downey, Jr.

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