You know, there’s a point when Mowrer and I are writing these, coming up with these ersatz-nuggets of TV history, that we stumble onto ones we actually wish existed. Paul Lynde trading innuendoes with Alan Hale was one. And I’m not ashamed to say, I want to live in a universe where And The Rest is a product not of our fevered imaginings, but of Sherwood Schwartz’s.
(At the very least, it could have been one of Filmation‘s animated spinoffs, like The Brady Kids and Lassie’s Rescue Rangers. It could have filled the years between 1974″s The New Adventures Of Gilligan and 1982’s Gilligan’s Planet. What do you mean, “overthinking it?”)
Let’s talk about Ted McGinley, shall we?
Dude’s got a reputation. It’s not a good reputation. Nor is it, I would argue, entirely deserved.
He’s been called “The Patron Saint Of Shark-Jumping,” mostly by people who still think it’s clever to reference “jumping the shark.” He gets called a “show-killer,” by people who ignore the fact that Married…With Children went on for seven years after he joined the cast.
If you’re my age, if the subject of Ted McGinley comes up, there’s a good chance you’ll think of Happy Days, and his…well, let’s call it “breakout” (with sarcastic quotes) role of Roger Phillips, a character best defined as “not Richie Cunningham.” There’s a smaller chance you’ll think of his role as Ashley “Ace” Covington Evans on the later years of The Love Boat, a casting announcement that prompted cries of “The Love Boat‘s still on the air?”
And that’s the important distinction, isn’t it?
These were not shows in their prime. These were not brilliant shows to begin with. These were middling shows that had improbably caught the zeitgeist for a short time, and were afraid to leave the party just as the syndication money was coming in. To put it bluntly, if you’re Happy Days, and Richie has gone off to direct movies, and Fonzie is teaching school and dating a single mother, and Shortcake is spending her time with something called a “Jenny Piccalo,” then you brought it on yourself, Happy Days. Don’t try to pin your problems on Ted McGinley.
Besides, if you are my age, you know Ted as Stan Gable from Revenge Of The Nerds. And as Nerds In Paradise showed us, Revenge Of The Nerds without Stan Gable isn’t Revenge Of The Nerds at all. So let’s show Ted McGinley some love, okay?