Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


The greatest guest star in television history?

On TBS today, they ran the episode of Seinfeld in which Jerry is called by the New York Public Library because he checked out Tropic of Cancer 20 years earlier and never returned it. When he goes down to the library to complain, he is told that the case has been turned over to the Library Investigator, Lieutenant Bookman. When we meet Lieutenant Bookman, he's played by Philip Baker Hall, in what surely qualifies as one of, if not the greatest, guest-starring roles in television history. Sample quotes:

Yeah, '71. That was my first year on the job. Bad year for libraries. Bad year for America. Hippies burning library cards, Abby Hoffman telling everybody to steal books. I don't judge a man by the length of his hair or the kind of music he listens to. Rock was never my bag. But you put on a pair of shoes when you walk into the New York Public Library, fella.


Well, let me tell you something, funny boy. Y'know that little stamp, the one that says "New York Public Library"? Well, that may not mean anything to you, but that means a lot to me. One whole hell of a lot. Sure, go ahead, laugh if you want to. I've seen your type before: Flashy, making the scene, flaunting convention. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. What's this guy making such a big stink about old library books? Well, let me give you a hint, junior. Maybe we can live without libraries, people like you and me. Maybe. Sure, we're too old to change the world, but what about that kid, sitting down, opening a book, right now, in a branch at the local library and finding drawings of pee-pees and wee-wees on The Cat in the Hat and The Five Chinese Brothers? Doesn't HE deserve better? Look. If you think this is about overdue fines and missing books, you'd better think again. This is about that kid's right to read a book without getting his mind warped! Or, maybe that turns you on, Seinfeld; maybe that's how y'get your kicks. You and your good-time buddies. Well I got a flash for ya, joy-boy: Party time is over. Y'got seven days, Seinfeld. That is one week!


I remember when the librarian was a much older woman: Kindly, discreet, unattractive. We didn't know anything about her private life. We didn't want to know anything about her private life. She didn't have a private life. While you're thinking about that, think about this: The library closes at five o'clock, no exceptions. This is your final warning. Got that, kewpie-doll?


Hard feelings? What do you know about hard feelings? Y'ever have a man die in your arms? Y'ever kill somebody?

And it's not just the great lines - it's the way he delivers them, with such a hard edge and that great finger point. My question is: Is this the greatest guest star in the history of television? Who are your candidates? Don't be shy!


Blogger Roger Owen Green said...

Some of those TV Land 100,000 Most Special moments qualify. pleshette on Newhart, Barbra on SNL. Also Harpo on one of the Lucy shows. Teri Hatcher on Seinfeld. Pete seeger on the Smothers Brothers.
I'll think of more when I wake up.

8/12/05 2:54 AM  
Blogger Roger Owen Green said...

OK, Duchovny on Larry Sanders; Newhart on ER, Angela Landsbury in L&O SVU. But probably the greaest one I recall now is Alfre Woodard as a woman on death row on the Practice.

8/12/05 8:34 AM  
Blogger HCaldwell said...

Has to be Jesse Jackson reading "Green Eggs and Ham" on SNL.

8/12/05 1:39 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Suzanne Pleshette, I would say, was a cameo, not a guest star, but it was a great appearance on the best ending show in history. I would argue that Hall on Seinfeld was better than Teri Hatcher, although Hatcher did, of course, look better. And Jesse Jackson on SNL was fantastic. He also did "The Question is Moot," the very funny game show parody.

9/12/05 9:25 AM  
Blogger Roger Owen Green said...

So you pick on my sleepy-time choices.
In any case, "The Question is Moot" is a classic.

9/12/05 11:22 AM  

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