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Home » Culture and Criticism

Grieco Is Burning

Submitted by on April 11, 2005 – 10:02 AMNo Comment

How often do you end up talking about Richard Grieco three times in the space of a week? Not that often — fortunately — but please, dear readers, allow me to give you a short course in how to avoid a perfect storm of Grieco in your own lives. Better safe than sorry.

First of all, do not sit on the phone with Wing Chun for 45 minutes talking about 21 Jump Street in general, and Richard Grieco's weight wall specifically, even if it's "for work," because you overuse that excuse when it comes to embarrassingly bad TV alrea–

"Whoa whoa whoa. 'Weight wall' in the what now?"

The wall is a pretty easy, and handy, concept when it comes to celebrity trash-talking, but it's sort of hard to define. See, every famous person has a variety of walls available for hitting — the age wall, the fashion wall, the plastic-surgery wall, and the weight wall. But not every famous person will hit these walls, even if said famous person is over 50 or has put on a bunch of weight or what have you. Exhibit A: Matthew Broderick. Matthew Broderick looked very youthful for a very long time; it was one of his trademarks, in fact. But then suddenly his face caught up with his birthday — and I mean suddenly, like over a period of maybe a year and a half, like, Addicted To Love he's young and cute, Godzilla he's young and cute, Election daaaaaaamn. It's not that Broderick looks bad now — he's a little on the jowly side, it's true, but good or bad is irrelevant. It's that he hit the wall.

The wall for weight works the same way — how much weight the person gained is immaterial. Kirstie Alley is wringing a career renaissance out of having gained a hundred pounds, but she doesn't really look all that different from how she looked before, so, no wall. Britney Spears, on the other hand, has gained ten pounds, if that — but she hit a wall where Alley didn't, because a big part of Britney's persona was the whole tight teen hardbody thing, and now that's gone.

Grieco, same principle. As of Jump Street, Grieco looked hot — you know, if you liked that sort of thing. I could see why other people were into it, but I wasn't a huge fan, myself. Either way, by the time If Looks Could Kill came out, he had those chunky chafey thighs going, and it's not that he got fat, because he didn't. He put on maybe ten pounds — but those ten pounds completely changed the way he looked, so he went from "semi-exotic-looking widow's-peaked hottie" to "stocky sweaty-seeming fratty boom batty" practically overnight. Wall. Hit it.

You can hit the wall in a good way, too, like how for years Rob Lowe looked injection-molded, which I did not find attractive because he just looked too…too. Too something. I mean, pretty, but…you know, eh. But then he hit the craggy wall right before The West Wing and now I think he's hot. Jason Bateman, same thing. Blandly cute fat face, blandly cute fat face, The Sweetest Thing comes out and I think to myself, "Weird, that hot guy looks exactly like Bateman." And it was Bateman.

All this by way of explaining that Wing and I spent the better part of an hour saying that Grieco should have given himself a weight ceiling and stayed under it, because when a guy gets that sausaged-into-jeans mono-buttock look, it's not all that hot. He could have at least gone up a size.

But it didn't stop there, oh no. It became the "Grieco Comes Alive" double album a few days later when friends of mine and I met up for drinks late-night. In the course of a cheese platter and an "oh no, my TiVo Season Passes are much more mortifying than yours are" discussion, which I believe I won handily via Degrassi: The Next Generation (set to record first-run and reruns, yeah that's right), I mentioned that I had recently acquired the first two seasons of Jump Street on DVD. I brought it up not just to share the love for the unbe-liev-able badness of the show in its first season, which is formidable and which I will get into shortly, but because the seasons featuring Grieco as Booker have not yet come out on DVD, and my friend has another friend who directed a movie starring, and therefore was tortured daily by, Grieco. Yeah…apparently Grieco has a couple of problems, and I'll just leave it at that.

So, I am not keen to cast Grieco in The Famous Grieco Monologues. But I am extremely keen for Grieco to arrive among the denizens of Jump Street posthaste, because if I recall correctly, Booker's primary function is to annoy the shit out of Johnny Depp's Hanson, which I look forward to, because Hanson is written so self-righteously that, during a scene in which he's taken hostage by a relaxed-haired, beret-wearing Blair Underwood (you heard me), I really wanted Blair and his pleated jeans to throw Hanson a crunchy beating. I mean, Hanson's written horribly across the board; everyone is. If you add all the main characters' traits together, you get maybe three quarters of a dimension. And excuse me, but if you're going to make such a big thing in the first few episodes of how Hanson is a by-the-book uptight prig, can you not have him tweaking the new captain five episodes later about how he's an anal-retentive hard-ass who needs to loosen up?

Yes, of all the glorious badness that is Jump Street, I settled on that nitpick…because the rest of the glorious badness? Glorious. The overacting alone…oh, man. I watched an episode last night that had commentary from Peter "Doug Penhall" DeLuise, and the first thing out of his mouth is over a shot of himself making crying faces while riding his motorcycle (…I know!) and he totally busts on himself for overacting, which is awesome, but seriously, he's practically Method Keanu compared to the guest stars in the pilot. Did anyone else watch Class of '96, the freshman-in-college melodrama that was on Fox for about ten minutes? Remember the kid who played the preppy guy? His name is Brandon Douglas, and apparently the kid injected himself with 500 ccs of Essence Of Montalban right before each of his scenes, because the term "scenery-chewing" does not begin to do justice to this performance. I hit "play" on the episode, the home-invasion scene begins, Brandon Douglas starts chowing not just the set but an entire Vancouver neighborhood, spittle flies out of the TV and settles in a fine mist on the bedroom furniture, the cats and I finish watching the ep while huddled under an umbrella. Wearing helmets. Because…dude. If you share screen time with Frederic Forrest on a given project and you are the biggest over-actor on the set? It's time to consider decaf. And learning to type. And not tucking your rugby shirt into your acid-washed jeans and then failing to wear a belt.

Frederic Forrest is way out there, though, make no mistake. Why does he always walk as though he's on the Jupiter Jump? It's so weird. Although I kind of love the fact that Johnny Depp took the Jump Street part because he'd get to work with Frederic Forrest, but then Frederic Forrest was so hard to work with that they killed his ass off after six episodes, and pretentious Johnny "I'm Too Good For America" Depp got stuck there for another three years. Heh.

Anyway. Beware of Griecos bearing gifts. Right. So I go over to my brother's last night, do a little laundry, eat a little sushi, and he has, awesomely, a publication on his coffee table entitled Where Are They Now?, which is 122 National Enquirer-derived pages of bad plastic surgery and who-cares-iana about the stars of such memorable television shows as…The Courtship of Eddie's Father. Yeah. But then I turned to page 54, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, in all his hairpluggy reminiscent-of-Mickey-Rourke glory, but: Grieco.

Sarah: Aaaaaggheeeeah!
Mr. S: What? [grabs magazine] Oh, yeah. Grieco.

Imagine what would happen if Bruce Willis tweezed his eyebrows, stopped using Chapstick, and stood underneath a window, out of which some unkind soul dropped an incontinent long-haired dachshund onto his head. Yeah. Welcome to Grieco 2005. Dick, baby: get a haircut and some lip balm, ease up on the home waxing, and get a haircut. Also, get a haircut. See that wall over there — the one with "nineties grunge 'do" on it? You just hit it at 135 miles an hour. Hair. Cut. Jaysus.

Grieco looks like he's eating a bug — and enjoying it. No matter how you hold the page, Grieco's eyes follow you. And I knew more than I should have about Grieco before I picked up the mag, but now I also know that he released a single, "Waiting for the Sky to Fall," which "was a hit in Germany." I know this; I do not want to know this; I cannot un-know this. Nor can I un-know the fact that every single song title on the album is either a cliché or a parody of a cliché. In fact, there's a lot you can't un-know when you foolishly enter "richard grieco" into the search field of eBay — for example, the fact that he starred in a film called Sexual Predator. And who was on the cover of Tiger Beat in 1990.

Other things I can't un-know, courtesy of Mr. S getting bored in the supermarket checkout line:

1. Plastic surgeons have a menu. On that menu is a combo facelift/eye job called "The X-Files Alien." Barbara Eden selected that menu item. Seventeen times.
2. The answer to "Hey, whatever happened to really thick, cakey peach lipstick?" is: Jill Whelan.
3. Stephanie Zimbalist should not wear transparent tank tops.
4. Bronson Pinchot looks creepily good with eyeliner on.
5. The truth is in Gillian Anderson's GIANT SCARY GUMS. Also, blonde? Not a good look for her.
6. Sunscreen is an enemy to Robert Hays.
7. Henry Winkler's son is kind of hot. I know, kill me.
8. Nellie Oleson had a one-woman show called Confessions of a Prairie Bitch AND I MISSED IT?! Man.
9. Oh, Harry Anderson. It's called "the salad."
10. Speaking of Little House, I don't know who told Jonathan Taylor Troll Doll that it's okay to just borrow Michael Landon's frontier fro without asking, but — what is going on, dude? He looks like a weird cross between his younger self and Val Kilmer, but with a gelled-up Hasselpouf…?
11. Zachery Ty Bryan? Still a fugster.
12. All the hairstyles in the world, and Molly Ringwald picked the least flattering one for her face.
13. Jeff Conaway has no use for the directions on the side of a tube of hair gel. He just…uses the whole frickin' tube. A dab'll do ya, Bride of Brilloenstein. Jeez.
14. If you haven't seen Marie Osmond lately, it's because Linda Ronstadt ate her.

Seriously? I had a nightmare about Ronstadt's lipstick last night. I totally blame Grieco. I went to see Mobsters in the theater, and this is how he repays me? By taking over my brain for a week? Damn you, Grieco! DAMN YOU!

April 11, 2005

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