Who are your top TV icons?

Chevy_lEver have one of those moments where someone you haven’t thought about in years is suddenly everywhere you turn? I’m feeling that way lately about my man Chevy Chase. I haven’t been too excited by his output as a movie star since… uh… let’s just say, "a while." But two recent TV developments reminded me that he can still rule the small screen when he wants to.

First, he made a surprise appearance on last weekend’s Saturday Night Live, commandeering his old post on "Weekend Update" for an all-too-brief political-news segment (pictured). It took me a second to realize how much I’d missed his presence. He was as witheringly sarcastic as he ever was in SNL‘s ’70s prime, meting out equal-opportunity barbs to the current crop of presidential hopefuls. (Where would Stephen Colbert be without the original smarmy fake-news know-it-all?) And woe betide the person who tries to play his co-anchor: Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler are hit-or-miss "Update" hosts even at their best, but they looked like flat-out amateurs next to the master of comedic condescension. Meanwhile, today’s news that Chase is joining ABC primetime soap Brothers & Sisters for a multi-episode role as Sally Field’s high school boyfriend (!) was even more of a surprise at first. Chevy Chase, a conflicted love interest in a weepy drama? But then I remembered how great he was playing a thinly-veiled Mel Gibson type on a serious Law & Order ep last fall. Humor may come more naturally, but he can do heavy, too. Let’s face it, Chevy Chase is a TV icon.

Is "icon" too strong a word for Chevy? Well, let’s say a TV icon is someone whose place in TV history is assured, someone who transcends mere acting skill and commands the medium, someone whose very appearance on a show evokes warm memories of time you’ve spent in front of the tube. In my book, Chase qualifies as a top television icon; in your book, maybe it’s someone else. So let’s hear it: Who, living or dead, are your top TV icons?

Comments (244 total) Add your comment
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  • Jen

    I thought Chevy’s appearance on SNL last weekend was crap. Poorly written and even more poorly delivered, it was a smudge on an otherwise decent show (which is rare these days). I felt bad for the guy.

  • Nathan

    dead: Jackie Gleason
    living: Lorne Michaels
    not real: Fred Flintstone
    unreal: Hayden Panettiere

  • mike

    When Tina Fey was Anchor/Head Writer, Weekend Update was the highlight of the SNL. Now, Seth Meyers is Anchor/Head Writer and Update has become the weakest part of the SNL.

  • Victor

    Don’t forget that Law & Order episode last year when Chevy played a celebrity that was ‘loosely’ based on Mel Gibson and his infamous PCH traffic stop!..

  • dave-o

    victor, can you read?
    i’m glad that he’s chevy chase and i’m not. painfully unfunny.

  • Ceballos

    As far as TV icons, I think my favorite right now is Ted Danson. Obviously, whenever you see him you’ll think of “Cheers.”
    What’s impressive is that he’s currently ruling the small screen in an Emmy-worthy dramatic role in “Damages.”
    Overall, for me, it’s mostly good to see Ted Danson on TV (maybe not “Becker” so much, but “Help you, help me” had some laughs to offer).

  • stephen

    Lucille Ball comes to mind. Her show makes me laugh just thinking about it and I remember watching it for hours when I was a kid (and today).

  • W

    I thought that Chevy Chase seemed really out of it on SNL last week. His jokes didn’t seem to go over to well with the audience, either. I actually felt sorry for him.

  • Irwin R. Fletcher

    Chevy Chase made the three greatest flicks of all time: Fletch, Caddyshack, and Vacation. He was a god. Then, he stopped doing drugs, and lost all his talent.

  • Hannah

    I can’t look at Chevy Chase without thinking of all the crap said about him in “Live From New York.” I wish I could appreciate his talent, but all I really see is a huge a-hole.

  • jonathan

    top tv icon, hands down for me is Jerry Seinfeld. I laugh everytime a Seinfeld ep comes on not to mention his appearance on 30 Rock last week. He’s the best in my book.

  • Susan

    Simon, were you watching the same show I was? It was am embarrassment. Chase’s timing and delivery were totally off. Which is sad, because crack timing was something he used to possess in spades. Then, him leaning back in self-satisfaction as if to say, “I’ve still got it!” Bleah! Amy and Seth were so much better, making Chevy look even worse. Maybe if he had looked at the script once or twice before air he might have been better, but to me he sounded like an arrogant ass who used to be funny.

  • Shpanky

    Lynda Carter…the golden lasso made me say so!

  • Coach’s Mistress

    Henry Winkler. I didn’t realize how much I missed The Fonz until he showed up on Arrested Development (RIP). He was fantastic on that show, but of course, wasn’t everybody?

  • Mel

    Wow. I’m used to EW being clueless, but usually there’s some evidence that you’ve watched what you’re writing about. Chevy ate it hard. Seth and Amy aren’t perfect, but they outshone him by a mile.

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