Days of Whine and Roses

Oh, how we’ll miss The Voice. Who will ever forget that screechy, glass-shattering whine? Or his inimitable style: those rainbow suspenders, the gargantuan glasses, the way he wore his pants (skintight and hoisted to the nipples). Urkel, pally, you did it your way. You got under our skin.

Yes, hard as it is to lose the legendary Frank Sinatra, now we must also bid adieu to the Chairman of the Nerds. After nine years (eight on ABC, the last on CBS) and countless ”Did I do that?”s, Urkel’s sitcom, Family Matters, has been canceled for lackluster ratings. The final episode — which will find Urkel (played by 21-year-old Jaleel White) taking a trip on the space shuttle — airs in July.

No matter that Urkel became a late-night punchline and snagged nary an Emmy: He won our hearts! With his latex face and anything-for-a-laugh shtick, this man-child was an underappreciated comic genius.

His weekly high jinks were a high-water mark for trousers and TV alike. But as sad as CBS’ Urkel-cide is, we should thank Nielsen we got to keep him this long. Originally, Urkel was slated for a onetime cameo — the dorky 12-year-old prom date for Laura Winslow. But the audience went wild, and so Urkel stuck around, allowing us to watch him shoot up from shrimp to beanstalk and marvel at White’s astounding range: alter egos included the debonair Stefan Urquelle, cousin Myrtle, and cousin Original Gangsta Dawg (Frank wasn’t the only one with links to gangsters!).

Oh, Urkel, we got a kick out of you. Say it with me now: Urkel. Urkel. Urkel. Urkel. Urkel. If you’re not smiling, your heart is made of stone.

Family Matters
  • TV Show