Once upon a time, in a TV land far, far away, there was a dance called The Urkel.
And this past week, the former child star who made that dance famous was booted off of “Dancing With the Stars.” Don’t you just love a story like that? Well, I do — and I like it so much that I’m devoting Item No. 1 in this week’s Top Five to Urkel himself, Jaleel White.
1) “Got any cheese?”: That was one of the great catchphrases popularized by uber-nerd Steve Urkel in the old sitcom “Family Matters” in the 1990s. I happened to know Urkel back then — or at least the kid phenom who played him, Jaleel White — so I was captivated by the very grown-up Jaleel (now 35) on “Dancing With the Stars” this season.
Alas, that fascination came to an end this past week when the apparently very-coordinated former geek was voted off the show. It was a great comeback for Jaleel, who hadn’t been seen on such a high-profile TV show since “Family Matters” ended back in 1998 — 14 years ago. I hope it’s not the last we see of him.
2) When late-night hosts collide: It’s an occasional confluence that we always love highlighting — when one late-night host pays a visit to another. One reason we’re fascinated by this: It usually means the visiting funnyman winds up competing against himself, or almost doing so. Such was the case when Stephen Colbert of “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central visited David Letterman’s “Late Show” on CBS Thursday night. As it happened, Colbert’s guest shot on “Letterman” came in the second half-hour of Letterman’s show, after “The Colbert Report” had already aired — a nice two-fer for Colbert fans who chose to follow him over to CBS after midnight.
Among other things, the two talked about Colbert’s recent sailing adventure in the Bermuda Triangle, and his SuperPAC, the group he set up to fund and support his fictional political activities. What’s he learned from setting up is his own SuperPac? He told Dave: “There’s almost nothing that’s against the law when it comes to spending political money.”
3) An early farewell for “The Good Wife”: We were kinda surprised “The Good Wife” ended its season last Sunday while it was still April. It’s unusual because a strongly performing show such as this one (and one that will almost certainly be back next fall) would usually end its season in mid-May.
This finale, which ended with a cliffhanger (according to our recap here), seemed to us to arrive about two weeks early, but then we came up with a possible reason: ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” is having its final episodes the next two Sunday nights (including a two-hour series finale on May 13). Perhaps CBS felt it was prudent to finish up “The Good Wife” before it faced off against the “Housewives” finale. If that was the case, CBS was likely erring on the side of caution; “The Good Wife” has been averaging in the neighborhood of 10 million viewers a week and beating “Housewives” by about 2 million.
4) The stars, they are a-agin’: What brought this on? Roger Daltrey performing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” this week on ABC. The 68-year-old lead singer of The Who, who once had the most operatic voice in rock music, sang one of the old Who songs, “Young Man Blues,” which struck us as ironic.
Among other lyrics, one of the song’s lines goes like this: “You know, nowadays, it’s the old man that’s got all the money.” And we assume that holds true for Daltrey. Look — we were glad to see him, even if his moves weren’t as crisp as they once were, or his voice as strong. In other words, we are more than willing to accept the realities of the aging process as they affect the stars of our youth. And all things considered, Daltrey looks pretty good. You know who else is 68? Mick Jagger, and he’s hosting “Saturday Night Live” in a few weeks. We’ll be sure to watch him.
5) Leslie Knope, win or lose: Here’s what we like about “Parks and Recreation”: At the risk of seeming old-fashioned, we happen to like that this is one of the few sitcoms on network TV these days that doesn’t traffic in vulgarity. You know what we mean: All the genitalia jokes and references to various bodily functions that crowd the scripts for sitcoms such as “The Big Bang Theory,” “Two and a Half Men” and a bunch of others.
Somehow, “Parks and Rec” avoids these subjects, at its peril too because those other shows draw far larger audiences. Still, we happen to prefer “Parks and Rec” and congratulate its producers and cast for putting together a show that’s so nice (not to mention consistently funny) that we like returning to it week after week.