323: The Castle of Fu Manchu
by Sean Marten
Oh look, it’s filmed in Oakland.
The busy port city of Oakland, California, is directly across the bay from San Francisco, and is considered that city’s less glamorous, working-class cousin, although a building boom in recent years is beginning to change that image. This episode aired in 1992; the year before, a massive fire raged through the hillsides of northern Oakland and near the city of Berkeley to the southeast. Called the “Oakland Firestorm of 1991,” it claimed 25 lives and destroyed nearly 3,000 homes.
“This is Fu Manchu.” And you’re not.
When comedian and actor Chevy Chase first became famous in the inaugural season of Saturday Night Live (NBC, 1975-present), one of his many shticks was to introduce himself on the Weekend Update segment with: “Good evening. I’m Chevy Chase, and you’re not.”
“Once again the world is at my mercy.” Mercy … Rrrrrr …
An imitation of American pop singer Roy Orbison (1936-1988) performing his signature 1964 song “Oh, Pretty Woman.” Sample lyrics: “Pretty woman/I don’t believe you, you’re not the truth/No one could look as good as you/Mercy …”
“… into the deadliest peril …” Kinda like a Corvair, huh?
The Corvair was a compact, rear-engine automobile manufactured by Chevrolet between 1959 and 1969. It was one of the cars singled out in the 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile by Ralph Nader, which accused automakers of indifference toward design flaws that made their products rolling death traps. Safety reforms, including seat belts, eventually followed—but only after General Motors spent years trying to silence Nader through a campaign of harassment and intimidation. Nader successfully sued GM over their treatment of him, and he used the money he was awarded in 1970 ($425,000, the equivalent of $2.7 million in 2018 dollars) to fund further lobbying efforts for consumer rights, helping to pass the Clean Air Act and establish the EPA.
But first, this word from Maxwell House.
Maxwell House is a brand of coffee, introduced in 1892 and named for the Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. The brand is owned by Kraft Foods.
Oh, they stole this from a Titanic movie, look …
There have been at least 15 feature films, three of them made during the actual year of the disaster, and 10 or more made-for-TV movies about the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic. The most famous are A Night to Remember (1958) and Titanic (1997). Some of these shots indeed appear to be blue-tinted clips from the black-and-white A Night to Remember.
A reference to Bingo, a game played with a small card, on which are printed numbers in a grid arrangement. Each column is labeled with a letter: B, I, N, G, or O. An announcer calls off numbers (“B-45,” “O-73,” etc.), and if a player has that number on her card, she covers it with a small marker. When she has covered a whole row vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, she calls out, “Bingo!” The game has traditionally been the domain of little old ladies, who routinely play several cards at a time.
A reference to the slot machines found in casinos (or, in Las Vegas, everywhere). After money is inserted and a button is pushed, three wheels showing various symbols—such as horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts, a Liberty Bell, and fruits—spin rapidly before gradually slowing to a stop. If the symbols match when the wheels stop, the player wins. The machines have grown increasingly complex, with a variety of winning combinations and multiple options for betting. Before they switched to buttons, the machines were activated by pulling a lever, leading to the nickname “one-armed bandit.” In England, slot machines are called “fruit machines.”
They must use ninja dolphin temps.
Dolphin Staffing, now called Dolphin Group Companies, is a temp agency based in Minneapolis-St. Paul; it was founded in 1969.
Oh, he’s Cool Fu Moe Gee.
Kool Moe Dee (b. Mohandas Dewese) is an “old school” rap artist and one of the first rappers to win a Grammy Award (in 1991, for his collaboration with Quincy Jones on the album Back on the Block).
Oh, he’s wearing David Byrne’s big suit, check it out.
David Byrne is a Grammy, Oscar, and Golden Globe Award-winning Scottish musician, singer, songwriter, and actor. He is best known as the front man of American new wave group Talking Heads, which was active from 1975 to 1991. The band was famous for its meticulous staging in concerts and videos; one particularly well-known and often parodied look was Byrne’s hugely oversized white suit, seen in the concert film Stop Making Sense and in the video for the song “Life During Wartime.”
Oh, it’s a quad system.
Quadraphonic sound was an early version of surround sound. Introduced commercially in 1970, quadraphonic systems used four speakers instead of the two used in stereo sound systems, and were meant to play recordings mixed specifically for quadraphonic systems. Various attempts were made to broadcast quadraphonic audio over FM radio stations in the 1970s. Plagued by technical problems and compatibility issues, quadraphonic sound was a commercial failure, but it laid the groundwork for the 5.1 surround sound systems that are widely used in home theaters today.
Big wheel keep on turnin’.
A line from the song “Proud Mary.” Written by John Fogerty, founder of American rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival, it was a hit for CCR in 1969 and became one of their best-known songs. It also became a signature song for Tina Turner, who had a hit with “Proud Mary” twice: a 1971 version with her then-husband Ike Turner, and a 1993 solo version. Sample lyrics: “Left a good job in the city/Workin’ for the man ev’ry night and day/And I never lost one minute of sleepin’/Worryin’ ‘bout the way things might have been/Big wheel keep on turnin’/Proud Mary keep on burnin’/Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river.”
It’s Witness all of a sudden.
Witness is a 1985 film starring Harrison Ford as a cop who goes to live among the Amish to protect a small boy who is the witness to a crime.
That Girl is a TV sitcom that aired on ABC from 1966-1971. Starring Marlo Thomas as a struggling actress trying to survive in New York City, it is often remembered for Thomas’s kicky “flip” hairdo, which was in style at the time.
Deploy the bread. Deploy the bread. Wonder Bread.
Wonder Bread is a white sandwich bread manufactured in the U.S. by Flowers Foods. Introduced in 1921, it was one of the first breads to be sold pre-sliced, and may have been the origin of the saying “the greatest thing since sliced bread.”
Lucy must be around here somewhere. [Imitating.] Ahh, Ricky, I hit an iceberg, ahh …
American comedian Lucille Ball (1911-1989) had a string of successful sitcoms in the 1950s and 1960s: I Love Lucy, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show, and Here’s Lucy. Ball’s main comedy shtick was causing various kinds of chaos with her hare-brained schemes; in her first two series, she starred with her husband Desi Arnaz, who portrayed bandleader Ricky Ricardo. The later seasons of Here’s Lucy (1968-1974) began to sink steadily in the ratings; its sixth season was its last. Then, in 1986, Ball starred in the critically reviled and virtually unwatched Life with Lucy; only eight of the thirteen filmed episodes aired before it was cancelled.
Well, call it quits, that pretty much screws up the shuffleboard, come on ...
Shuffleboard is a low-intensity sport, popular on cruise ships, played with pucks (also called disks) and long cue sticks. Players use the cues to propel the puck into marked scoring sections on the rectangular playing field. The game is of uncertain origin, but it dates to at least 1532 in Europe, in the reign of Henry VIII of England.
Nose to the grindstone, you.
“Keep your nose to the grindstone” is an old phrase, dating back as early as 1400, meaning to apply yourself to your work. There are two origin stories: one holds that millers grinding wheat would sniff the grindstones closely to make sure they weren’t overheating and burning the wheat; the other holds that knife sharpeners would bend to their task so intently that it looked as if their nose was touching the grindstone.
[Imitating.] So I called down to the desk clerk. I said I had a leak in the sink. He said, “Go ahead. The customer’s always right.”
This is an old standup comedy routine. Its origin is unclear, but it is often credited to comedian Henny “Take my wife … please” Youngman, whom Crow is imitating here.
[Sung.] “Sabre Dance.”
The “Sabre Dance” is a movement from the final act of the 1942 ballet Gayane by Aram Khachaturian. Based partly on an Armenian folk song, it’s been used in countless movies, cartoons, and commercials over the years, and is closely associated with circuses and other novelty and variety performances, such as juggling and plate-spinning.
Women, children, spacemen, Indians, and sort of idealized representations of 16th-century Flemish merchants first.
A line from the Monty Python sketch “Titanic Sinking,” which first aired in October 1972. In the skit, the captain of the sinking Titanic makes a series of revised announcements regarding who is allowed to board the lifeboats first, as determined by a parade of crew members arriving on the bridge dressed in ever more absurd costumes.
It’s a Carnival Cruise.
The Carnival Cruise Line is owned by one of the largest cruise companies in the world, the Carnival Corporation, which also owns nine other cruise lines. Carnival has 26 ships sailing to Alaska, Mexico, and the Caribbean, among other destinations.
“This is the destiny of Fu Manchu.” And you are there.
You Are There was a historical/educational series that ran on CBS Radio from 1947 to 1950, and on CBS Television from 1953 to 1957. The show used dramatic re-creations and archival sound recordings, photos, and film to “transport” the listener/viewer to a historical event; each episode began with an announcer stating the date and location of the event and saying with deep gravitas: “You are there …”
And now back to our Channel 9 Movie: The Poseidon Adventure.
The Poseidon Adventure is a 1972 disaster movie featuring an ensemble cast anchored by five Oscar winners: Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Shelley Winters, Gene Hackman, and Jack Albertson. Based on the 1969 Paul Gallico novel of the same name, it tells the story of an aging cruise ship on its final voyage that is flipped upside down by a giant wave, and the survivors’ struggle to escape.
[Sung in bubble/drowning voice.] “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”
“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” is a 1976 song by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. A number-one hit in Canada (and number two in the U.S.), the song commemorates the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, an ore freighter and one of the largest ships operating in the Great Lakes at that time. On November 10, 1975, “Big Fitz” encountered extreme weather conditions, broke apart, and sank in Lake Superior, killing all twenty-nine crew members. Sample lyrics: “With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more/Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty/That good ship and crew was a bone to be chewed/When the gales of November came early.”
[Sung.] “Sabre Dance.”
See above note.
“D’oh!” is the classic exclamation uttered by Homer Simpson on the animated TV series The Simpsons, which first aired on Fox in 1989. Actor Dan Castellaneta, who supplies the voice of the character, has said he borrowed the phrase from comedian James Finlayson, who appeared in a number of Laurel & Hardy shorts. In 2001 the expression made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, thus becoming officially enshrined in the English language.
D’oh, Gilligan, oh …
“D’oh!” was also frequently used by Alan Hale Jr. in his role as Skipper on the TV sitcom Gilligan’s Island, which aired on CBS from 1964 to 1967. Starring Bob Denver in the title role, it’s about a group of people stranded on a desert island who try to escape using bamboo and coconut-based electronics. In the years after the show was cancelled, it became more popular in syndication, leading to two animated series, three reunion TV movies, and a short-lived musical.
Waiter, waiter, we’ll have the Buddha Delight, pronto, yeah.
Buddha’s Delight (a.k.a. lo han jai) is a vegetarian dish traditionally eaten in China on the first day of the Chinese New Year. It contains dried black moss, ginkgo nuts, and about thirty other ingredients.
[Sung in bubble/drowning voice.] “There’s got to be a morning after …”
“The Morning After” is the love theme from the disaster movie The Poseidon Adventure (see above note); in the film’s credits, the song is titled “The Song from ‘The Poseidon Adventure.’” Written in one night in March 1972 by 20th Century Fox songwriters Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn, the song was performed by Carol Lynley, playing the ship’s singer Nonnie Parry, in the movie (with voice double Renée Armand doing the singing) and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Following the film’s success, a 1973 cover version by singer Maureen McGovern became a worldwide hit. Sample lyrics: “There’s got to be a morning after/If we can hold on through the night/We have a chance to find the sunshine/Let’s keep on lookin’ for the light.”
Well, Rocky, it turns out that Jimmy was hiding in the Camaro.
The Rockford Files, which ran on NBC between 1974 and 1980, starred James Garner as Los Angeles private investigator Jim Rockford (“Jimmy”) and Noah Beery Jr. as his father “Rocky.” While Rockford famously drove a Pontiac Firebird Esprit in the series, the Chevy Camaro is another GM model that was released the same year and is nearly identical to the Firebird.
Now it’s Adventures in Paradise.
Adventures in Paradise is a TV series that ran on ABC from 1959 to 1962. Created by author James Michener, it starred Gardner McKay as a guy on a boat who sails the South Pacific helping people with their problems.
I’ll have the number six, the Christopher Lee, it comes with egg noodle.
Sir Christopher Lee (1922-2015) was a British actor whose career spanned seven decades. He was best known for playing villains, from Count Dracula in the Hammer horror films to a Bond villain (Francisco Scaramanga, in The Man with the Golden Gun) to Saruman in the Lord of the Rings. And, of course, he played Fu Manchu in a series of five films made in the 1960s, of which The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969) is the last. (Fu Manchu is supposedly Chinese; Lee was Caucasian. But it was the 1960s, a decade in which Mickey Rooney played a Japanese man in Breakfast at Tiffany’s by taping back his eyelids.)
Oh, Rohmer, the guy who did My Night at Maud’s, Pauline at the Beach … –No, that’s Éric Rohmer. –Oh.
Éric Rohmer (b. Jean-Marie Maurice Schérer, or possibly Maurice Henri Joseph Schérer—sources differ; 1920-2010) was a French film director, writer, and teacher who was well-known as both a film critic and a filmmaker. He was considered one of the last great French new wave directors; My Night at Maud’s (1969) and Pauline at the Beach (1983) are two of his better-known films.
The Castle of Fu Manchu, where you eat square hamburgers with chopsticks.
A riff on the White Castle chain of fast food burger restaurants. Founded in 1921 in Wichita, Kansas, White Castle’s signature small, square burgers are also available through vending machines and in the frozen food sections of grocery stores.
[Credit: Howard Marion Crawford.] Hey, look, it’s Howard and Marion from Happy Days, Richie’s parents.
Happy Days is a TV sitcom that aired on ABC from 1974 to 1984. The series followed an idyllic American family in the mid-1950s to mid-1960s, with a focus on the teenage kids and their friends. The central character was Richie Cunningham, played by Ron Howard; his mom, Marion Cunningham, was played by Marion Ross, and the family patriarch, Howard Cunningham, was played by Tom Bosley.
Richard Greene is Nayland Smith.
Richard Greene (1918-1985) was a British actor and matinee idol best known for playing the title role in the British TV show The Adventures of Robin Hood, which ran from 1955 to 1960. Although he continued to work in television until 1982, The Castle of Fu Manchu was his next to last film role (his last was the 1972 anthology horror film Tales from the Crypt).
Wool provided by Manuel Merino.
Manuel Merino (1918-2001) was a Spanish cinematographer whose credits include such art house think-pieces as Count Dracula (1970, also starring Christopher Lee) and Vampyros Lesbos (1971). Merino is also a breed of sheep whose fine, soft wool has been coveted since the Middle Ages.
Oh, Camilleri, I love it with a light horseradish sauce. –That’s calamari. –Oh, ha! I always make that mistake.
Charles Camilleri (1931-2009) was a Maltese classical composer whose handful of film scores include some uncredited work for the 1957 classic The Bridge on the River Kwai. Calamari is fried squid, a popular appetizer around the world with origins in the Mediterranean.
Titles by Peter Max.
Peter Max is an American illustrator and graphic artist whose brightly colored, psychedelic posters were standard-issue counterculture decor in dorms and bedrooms in the late 1960s and early ’70s.
[Sung to the credits theme.] Produced by Harry Alan Towers … Harry Alan Towers … Harry Alan … TOWERS!
Harry Alan Towers (1920-2009) was a prolific British film producer and screenwriter, producing more than 100 feature films and continuing to write screenplays well into his 80s. He also produced Show K18, The Million Eyes of Sumuru.
Last week on Grizzly Adams.
The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams was both a 1974 feature film and an NBC TV series that ran from 1977 to 1978. There was also a series finale of sorts in the form of a 1982 TV movie, The Capture of Grizzly Adams. All starred Dan Haggerty in the title role: a fugitive frontier woodsman who raises and befriends a grizzly bear. (A second TV movie, which aired in 1990—The Legend of Grizzly Adams—starred Haggerty’s stunt double, Gene Edwards.) The character was loosely based on real-life California mountain man John “Grizzly” Adams (1812-1860).
Hey, it’s Gadabout Gaddis, the Flying Fisherman.
Roscoe Vernon “Gadabout” Gaddis (1896-1986) was an American sportsman and pilot whose weekly TV program The Flying Fisherman debuted in 1964 and set the standard for the folksy, home-movie-like fishing and hunting shows of that era. Most of The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide’s entry for Castle of Fu Manchu is devoted to this riff: “At one point we identify dotty old Dr. Petrie as ‘Gadabout Gaddis.’ Perhaps you don’t know who that is. Gadabout Gaddis, the ‘Flying Fisherman,’ had a TV show by that name back in the 1960s. The show moved slow as the Red Cedar River in August. The elderly Mr. Gaddis would catch a few bluegills and mutter a few pointers, more to himself than to any audience he might have. He owned an airplane, so I guess he was a ‘flying’ fisherman, but he rarely flew anywhere it wouldn’t have been as easy to drive to, or even just walk. I’m afraid Gadabout wouldn’t make it in today’s world of 110-horsepower rock ‘n’ roll bass masters. Sure, Babe Winkelman catches more fish; but is he really a ‘better’ fisherman?”
Before Babe Winkelman, there was Gadabout Gaddis.
Babe Winkelman is an American sportsman from Brainerd, Minnesota, who first appeared on TV in bug repellant commercials in the late 1970s. He then became known in the mid-1980s for his nationally syndicated show Babe Winkelman’s Good Fishing. See previous note on Gadabout Gaddis.
Oh cripes, you need a Lazy Ike on there, I think.
A Lazy Ike is a type of wooden fishing lure whose erratic wobbling action really drives the bass wild. It was created in the 1930s by Newel Daniels of Fort Dodge, Iowa, and until the mid-1940s, all Lazy Ikes were hand-carved, just like the original.
“Nayland Smith! Petrie!” Dish!
A Petri dish is a shallow cylindrical glass or plastic dish, with a tight-fitting lid, that is used in laboratories to grow bacteria or other types of cells. They are named for German bacteriologist Julius Richard Petri, who is generally regarded as their inventor.
[Sung.] Harry and the kids are dead, Harry and the kids are dead …
Singing telegrams are a method of bringing a message to the recipient by having the delivery person perform it in song. Western Union began offering them in 1933 when they delivered a fan’s birthday greeting to singer Rudy Vallée, an early teen idol. That company suspended its singing telegram service in 1974, though a few smaller services have continued the niche practice. May also be a reference to the now-obsolete practice of sending a telegram to notify families during wartime that a relative had been killed in combat, which continued up through the Vietnam War.
Well, don’t wave your little sizzler at me, Dad.
Little Sizzlers is a brand of pork sausage links introduced by Hormel Foods in 1961.
[Imitating.] I’m here for the Old Gringo audition.
Gregory Peck (1916-2003), being imitated here, was an Academy Award-winning actor who appeared in The Guns of Navarone (1961) and To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), among many others. He also starred in Marooned (1969), which, retitled as Space Travelers, became Show 401. Old Gringo is a 1989 film that starred Peck as American writer Ambrose Bierce, living in Mexico at the time of the revolution. Many wide-brimmed hats were involved.
It’s Thomas the Tank Engine.
Thomas the Tank Engine is an anthropomorphized train created by W.V. Awdry in his Railway Series of children’s books; the books were later turned into the popular kids’ TV show Thomas & Friends. He first appeared in print in 1946; the first episode of the TV series aired in Britain in 1984.
This is symbolic of their return to London.
One standard method for old movies to imply sex without actually showing anything was to cut to a train going into a tunnel (Alfred Hitchcock used it in North by Northwest, for example). Today such imagery is largely played for laughs.
Meanwhile, in downtown Ames, Iowa …
The city of Ames, located almost dead center in the middle of Iowa, is the state’s eighth-largest city by population and home to the Iowa State University of Science and Technology. The phrase “Meanwhile …” originated with title cards used in silent films of the early 20th century. In westerns, this was often “Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...” Once audio became common, the phrase was still used by narrators in films and on radio and TV shows.
In Chicago, on Grant Park, in Lake Shore Drive, the Field Museum.
Chicago, Illinois, is the third-largest city in the United States by population, after New York City and Los Angeles. Grant Park is a large park in Chicago’s central business district, home to many of the city’s museums, including the Field Museum of Natural History. Lake Shore Drive is a major expressway that runs along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. The Field Museum, located in Grant Park at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. It is also a fine example of a neoclassical building, much like the British Museum shown in this shot.
Our lunch today will be toasted cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, turkey tidbits and tater tots.
Tater tots are a side dish of grated potatoes mixed with flour, formed into small cylindrical shapes, and deep fried. The trademark name is owned by Ore-Ida, but many grocery chains and fast-food restaurants offer their own variations (marketed as Tater Treats, Tasti Taters, Spud Puppies, etc.).
“How long have these messages been coming in, Sir Robert?” Well, that’s a rather personal question, isn’t it?
A reference to “The Lifeboat Sketch” from the thirteenth episode of the second series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, first broadcast in 1970. On a lifeboat with several sailors, a British naval officer laments, “Still no sign of land. How long is it?”, to which one of the sailors replies, “That’s rather a personal question, sir.”
“This is Fu Manchu.” And I’m an alcoholic. –Hi, Fu.
The standard opening statement made by a person speaking at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting is “My name is ____, and I’m an alcoholic,” to which the other attendees reply, “Hi, ____.”
You know, it kinda looks like a Nova special on conception, doesn’t it?
Nova is an award-winning science/education TV series produced by WGBH in Boston, Massachusetts. It has been broadcast on PBS stations in the U.S. and in dozens of other countries since 1974. The Nova episode “The Miracle of Life,” about the human reproductive process, aired on PBS in 1983 and won numerous awards, including an Emmy and a Peabody. A sequel, “Life’s Greatest Miracle,” aired in 2001.
Looks like Fu shops at Ethan Allen. –Tasteful.
Ethan Allen is an upscale chain of furniture stores founded in 1932. It has more than 300 locations worldwide.
Ah, Fu, this is the Riverboat Queen, we’ll catch you on the flip-flop, catch ya later good buddy, HT and 10-4.
A load of CB jargon. Before cell phones made mobile communication cheap and readily available, the public could use shared radio frequencies on the newly unlicensed citizens band (27 MHz). Originally, CB radio was used by some truck drivers, who came up with their own slanguage; colorful “handles,” or nicknames, were common. Gasoline shortages in the early 1970s and the imposition of a nationwide 55 mph speed limit in 1974 led to an explosion of CB use by truckers and other drivers to find gas stations that had fuel and to evade speed traps; CB radio and its lingo then captured the popular imagination in the late 1970s. C.W. McCall’s 1975 hit novelty song “Convoy” led to CB-drenched movies such as Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and Convoy (1978). In CB lingo, “catch you on the flip-flop” means to reconnect with someone on the return leg of a trip; “HT” might be a reference to a handheld ham radio, a.k.a. “Handie-Talkie” (named after Motorola’s early walkie-talkie model). And “10-4” is one of the 10 codes used by police; the number 10 followed by other numbers to represent common words or phrases: 10-4 means “I acknowledge,” but in CB lingo it came to mean “yes” or “you got that right.” (Lesser-known ten codes: 10-3 means “Stop transmitting,” 10-6 means “Busy unless urgent,” and 10-9 means “Repeat.”)
Sioux Falls? Wisconsin Dells? The Upper Dells.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is that state’s largest city, with a population (as of 2018) of 183,000. Wisconsin Dells is a city in south central Wisconsin, popular as a Midwestern tourist destination. Often known as just “The Dells,” the city was divided in 1908 into the Upper and Lower Dells when Kilbourn Dam was constructed on the Wisconsin River. The Dells is home to numerous waterparks, go-kart and miniature golf courses, regular golf courses, and a host of other icons of wholesome family fun. The riff “Ever been to the Dells? Let’s ride the Ducks” came in at #7 in the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide’s Fifty Most Obscure References, with the explanation: “A reference to the ubiquitous amphibious vehicles indigenous to that paradise of water playlands, that miniature golf hot-bed—the Wisconsin Dells.”
Oh sure, just barge right into Istanbul. –D’oh, that’s terrible. –Well, it’s not Constantinople.
A reference to the 1953 novelty song “Istanbul (Not Constantinople),” written by Jimmy Kennedy and Nat Simon. The lyrics make fun of the 1930 renaming of the capital city of Constantinople to Istanbul, in modern-day Turkey. The name change was part of a movement called Turkification, which was an attempt to create a unified Turkish culture in the country. The song has been covered by numerous artists; one of the better-known covers is a 1990 version by alternative rock band They Might Be Giants. Sample lyrics: “So, take me back to Constantinople/No, you can't go back to Constantinople/Been a long time gone, Constantinople/Why did Constantinople get the works?/That's nobody's business but the Turks'.”
[Sung.] Istanbul is Constantinople …
See previous note.
[Sung.] Hey, Mr. Arnstein, here …
“Don’t Rain on My Parade” is a song from the 1964 musical and 1968 film Funny Girl, written by Bob Merrill and Jule Styne. It was performed in both versions by Barbra Streisand. Sample lyrics: “Hey, Mister Arnstein/Here I am/I’ll march my band out/I will beat my drum/And if I’m fanned out/Your turn at bat, sir.”
Rula Lenska as the Turkish Lieutenant’s Woman.
Rula Lenska is a Polish-born British actress who became famous in the U.S. in the late 1970s and early ‘80s for actually not being famous, but being presented as if she were. A series of commercials for Alberto VO5 hair products began with her saying “I’m Rula Lenska …” in the classic celebrity endorsement style, as if everyone already knew who she was. However, she was virtually unknown to American audiences at the time. Parodies came quickly: a sketch ran on Saturday Night Live with Jane Curtin portraying Lenska, and “Who the hell is Rula Lenska?” became a running gag on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. The French Lieutenant’s Woman is a 1981 British film based on a Harold Pinter play. Starring Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep, it tells the story of two romances, one between two Victorian-era lovers, and another between the two actors playing them in a film.
Gee, I don’t recognize him, but the fez is familiar. –Boom!
A spin on an old one-liner: “’I don’t recall the name,’ said the sultan, ‘but the fez is familiar.’” A fez is a style of hat that became popular during the Ottoman era and is still worn in Turkey, as well as by certain fraternal organizations in the United States: a brimless cylinder with a flat top and a tassel. Red is a popular color.
Oh, it’s Annie Hall. –La-dee-dah, la-dee-dah …
Annie Hall is an Academy Award-winning 1977 comedy written by, directed by, and starring Woody Allen; the title character was played by Diane Keaton. In the film, Hall’s quirky fashion sense includes wearing men’s vests and hats, and her quirky personality involves uttering such phrases as “La-dee-dah, la-dee-dah …” when at a loss for words.
Bet he’s smoking a Camel, huh? –Oooh, Turkish and domestic blend.
Camel is a brand of cigarettes introduced in 1913 and made by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco company. They use a blend of Turkish and American tobaccos, and their package features the phrase “Turkish & Domestic Blend” to advertise that fact.
It’s like a meeting of the Shriner Mafia.
Shriners International (formerly known as The Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine) is a fraternal organization with 200 chapters, or temples, worldwide. The organization is known both for its children’s hospitals and for the snazzy red fezzes sported by members (see above note on fezzes). Begun in Sicily in the mid-1800s, Cosa Nostra (Italian for “our thing”), a.k.a. the Mafia, is a criminal syndicate that uses intimidation and violence to obtain as much power and money as possible from all manner of legal and illegal activities. In America, Mafia-related activities first began in the 1880s, but the organization didn’t gain a strong foothold until Prohibition in the 1920s, when demand for illegal alcohol led to an explosion in organized crime. Roughly translated, the word “mafia” means “swagger” or “bravado.”
Hey, look, Pac-Man’s got his own flag.
Pac-Man is one of the most popular video games of all time, creating a veritable merchandising craze during the 1980s and causing millions of teenagers to blow their allowances on quarters. It was created by Japanese game designer Toru Iwatani in 1980. The white crescent and star on the Turkish flag somewhat resemble Pac-Man advancing toward a Pac-Dot.
[Sung.] Pac-Man startup theme.
The Pac-Man startup theme and intermission theme, composed by Toshio Kai (who also created the game’s sounds), became iconic in their own right. Kai, by the way, never wrote any other arcade game themes. See previous note on Pac-Man.
They’re just two ships passing in the, uh … day.
The phrase “two ships passing in the night,” meaning two people who have a very brief but intense relationship and then go their separate ways, has its origins in the 1863 poem “The Theologian’s Tale; Elizabeth” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The relevant verse:
“Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.”
[Sung.] Theme from Catalina Caper. –Catalina Caper, right?
Catalina Caper is a 1967 comedy movie that became Show 204; after this one, MST3K never attempted to riff on a comedy again. Tommy Kirk leads a band of teenagers on a rollicking, tuneful set of misadventures on the sun-filled waters of Catalina Island. The musical score is by Jerry Long, and, looking as if he beamed in from another movie, or perhaps another planet, Little Richard makes a musical cameo.
All we are is dust in the wind, man.
A line from the 1977 song “Dust in the Wind,” which was a hit for American rock band Kansas and became an FM rock radio standard. More specifically, this is a reference to how uber-stoner Ted Logan (played by Keanu Reeves) recited the line in the 1989 sci-fi/comedy movie Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. In the film, the time-traveling Ted is addressing Socrates: “All we are … is dust in the wind, dude.” Sample lyrics: “I close my eyes/Only for a moment and the moment’s gone/All my dreams/Pass before my eyes, a curiosity/Dust in the wind/All they are is dust in the wind.”
[Sung.] I have often walked down this road before …
A paraphrase of the opening line of the song “On the Street Where You Live,” from the 1956 Broadway musical and 1964 film My Fair Lady. Written by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner, a version of the song by Vic Damone became a top ten hit, and a version by Eddie Fisher reached the top twenty, both in 1956; many other artists have recorded the song since then. Sample lyrics: “I have often walked/Down the street before/But the pavement always/Stayed beneath my feet before/All at once am I/Several stories high/Knowing I’m on the street where you live.”
Next, we travel to Istanbul with Robert Goulet as he tokes up with Adnan Khashoggi.
Robert Goulet (1933-2007) was an American actor/singer best known for his Broadway run as Lancelot in the 1960 musical Camelot, followed by a long career as a Las Vegas mainstay. “Toke up” is stoner slang for smoking marijuana. Considered one of the richest men in the world in the 1980s, Saudi Arabian arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi (1935-2017) moved comfortably in international high society circles and weathered various scandals, including the Iran-contra affair.
A reference to the title character in the TV sitcom I Dream of Jeannie (NBC, 1965-1970), starring Barbara Eden as the titular genie and Larry Hagman as the astronaut who found her bottle prison on a beach after splashdown. Jeannie’s bottle looks somewhat like the base of a hookah.
Excuse me while I kiss the sky.
A line from the 1967 song “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix, recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Though Hendrix always referred to it as a love song, “Purple Haze” became an anthem of the hippie era. Since Purple Haze is also the name of a popular strain of LSD, it was widely assumed to be an ode to psychedelic drugs. The line is also one of the more famous examples of a “mondegreen”: lyrics from a song that are widely misunderstood. “S’cuse me while I kiss the sky” is often misheard as “S’cuse me while I kiss this guy” (and in fact Hendrix sometimes sang it that way in concert, along with other variations). Sample lyrics: “Purple haze all in my brain/Lately things don’t seem the same/Actin’ funny but I don’t know why/S’cuse me while I kiss the sky.” How could anybody think that was about drugs?
“I have enough opium.” How about Chanel No. 5?
Besides being the name of the poppy that gives the world heroin and morphine, Opium is also the name of a perfume, introduced by Yves Saint Laurent in 1977. Chanel No. 5 is a French perfume, introduced in 1921 and named after fashion designer Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (1883-1971).
“You are one of the few …” The proud, the Marines.
“The Few. The Proud. The Marines” is a long-standing advertising/recruiting slogan for the U.S. Marine Corps. It debuted in 1977 and won a place on Madison Avenue’s Advertising Walk of Fame in 2007.
Oh, Laurel and Hardy are there.
Laurel & Hardy was a comedy team that produced a string of classic shorts and feature films from the 1920s through the mid-1940s. The stout Oliver Hardy (1892-1957) played a childish, bossy, fussy character opposite Stan Laurel’s (1890-1965) thin, gentle incompetent.
I was in Victor/Victoria.
A 1933 German comedy film titled Viktor und Viktoria was remade by MGM in 1982 as Victor/Victoria. The story, set in early 1930s Paris, involves a young woman who passes herself off as a man who is performing as a drag queen. Starring Julie Andrews and James Garner, the 1982 version was directed by Blake Edwards and won an Academy Award for Best Original Score. It was then adapted into a 1995 Broadway musical, also starring Julie Andrews, with music by Henry Mancini.
See above note.
Oh no, Bob Hope is killing people. Look! –[Imitating.] Take that, you fez monsters!
Comedian Bob Hope (b. Leslie Townes Hope, 1903-2003) was a British-born American singer, comedian, vaudevillian, and actor whose career lasted almost 80 years. He appeared in numerous films with crooner Bing Crosby and in many television specials, often related to his service entertaining troops with the United Service Organizations (USO), a tradition that began in World War II and continued through Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf War. He died at age 100, his last words being his answer to the question of where he wanted to be buried: “Surprise me.”
Pull! Heh heh heh.
A reference to the sport of skeet shooting, in which small clay discs are sent flying into the air and shot down with shotguns. When a shooter is ready, he calls out “Pull!” to have the discs launched.
Oh Mrs. Peel, we’re needed.
“Mrs. Peel, we’re needed” was a recurring gag on The Avengers, a British spy/sci-fi series that aired on British television from 1961-1969 but didn’t broadcast in the United States until 1965. It became a cult favorite, leading to various spin-offs, reboots, and a feature film. The main character was investigator John Steed (played by Patrick Macnee), who had a series of smart, stylish female partners, the most popular of which was Mrs. Emma Peel (played by Diana Rigg). Steed would summon Mrs. Peel to action with the above words, often delivered in strange ways, such as in appearing in a traffic light or hidden under the wallpaper in her apartment.
Two stairs diverged in a yellow wood.
A paraphrase of the opening lines of “The Road Not Taken,” a 1916 poem by Robert Frost, originally published as part of the collection Mountain Interval. The title is often mistakenly given as “The Road Less Traveled.” The actual lines: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood/And sorry I could not travel both/And be one traveler, long I stood …”
Looks like Graceland, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee. –I see Elvis. –Where, where?
A paraphrase of the 1986 song “Graceland” by Paul Simon, about the ornate Memphis home of the late King of Rock and Roll Elvis Presley (1935-1977), now a museum. Sample lyrics: “I’m going to Graceland/Graceland/In Memphis Tennessee/I’m going to Graceland/Poor boys and pilgrims with families/And we are going to Graceland.”
Does this bug you, I’m not touching you, does this bug you?
“Does this bug you? I’m not touching you” is an often-heard MST3K catchphrase with possible origins in something U2 lead singer Bono said in the 1988 concert film Rattle and Hum: “Am I bugging you? I don’t mean to bug ya.” Or it might just be a reference to the timeless sibling torment of almost, but not quite, touching, tickling, or punching another sibling, and when a complaint is made, saying, “What? I’m not touching you!”
Thorazine, also known as chlorpromazine, is an antipsychotic drug used to treat people suffering from schizophrenia. It was the first antipsychotic drug ever developed (in 1950) and is considered a landmark in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.
It’s the killer joke.
The very first episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which aired on the BBC in October 1969, contained the sketch “The Funniest Joke in the World” (also known as “The Killer Joke”), about a joke that is so funny, anyone who hears or even reads it will die of laughter. In the sketch, the British Army seeks to turn the killer joke into a weapon during World War II by translating it into German.
Chester A. Arthur?
The rotund, mustachioed Chester Alan Arthur (1829-1886) was the 21st president of the United States, assuming office following James Garfield’s assassination in 1881 and serving until 1885.
Oooh, the prez shot us a buffalo there.
A “buffalo shot” is a brief, possibly unintentional glimpse of an actor’s underwear or outlined genitalia. MST3K has ardently pointed them out over the years, especially in Show 519, Outlaw of Gor, where they devoted two host segments to a thorough review of, and a musical tribute to, that movie’s buffalo shots.
Boy, could you tell me what day it is? –Why, it’s Christmas Day, sir.
A paraphrased bit of dialogue from Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella A Christmas Carol. (The actual lines: “’What’s to-day, my fine fellow?’ said Scrooge. ‘To-day!’ replied the boy. ‘Why, Christmas Day.’”) As one of Dickens’ most popular and enduring works, it has been adapted for film, stage, and television countless times. The classic portrayal of Scrooge in this scene has him wearing a long white nightcap and nightshirt.
[Imitating.] Oh, swords. Scimitars.
Curly Howard (b. Jerome Lester “Jerry” Horwitz; 1903-1952), being imitated here, was an American vaudeville performer and comic actor. He is best known as one of The Three Stooges, performing throughout the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s on stage and in many short films along with his older brothers, Moe Howard and Shemp Howard, and actor Larry Fine. Many consider Curly the best known and most imitated of The Three Stooges. Originating in the Middle East, a scimitar is a sword with a curved blade.
He’s being attacked by a swing choir.
Swing choirs (now usually called “show choirs”) are groups that combine choral singing with dancing in carefully choreographed performances that involve specific themes and costumes.
Kareem! Oh, he’s standing on an office chair.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (b. Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr.) is a former American pro basketball player and an occasional actor, writer, and coach. A six-time MVP and nineteen-time NBA All-Star, the 7-foot-2-inch Jabbar played twenty seasons for the NBA, first for the Milwaukee Bucks and then the Los Angeles Lakers.
Hello, we are your new neighbors. May we borrow some pesto?
Pesto is an Italian sauce (more like a paste really) made of garlic, basil leaves, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese blended with olive oil.
If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.
An ad slogan turned catchphrase spoken by Vidal Sassoon (1928-2012), a British hairstylist who created influential hairstyles in the 1960s and developed hair-care products that were sold by Procter & Gamble beginning in the early 1980s. He also appeared in ads for his products; “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good” was a longtime slogan.
And now the cast of My Fair Lady.
My Fair Lady is a musical written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe about a man who tries to teach a poor Cockney girl to pass herself off as a lady. Based on the 1913 George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion, the 1956 Broadway production, the 1958 London production, and the 1964 film adaptation all starred Rex Harrison.
Bob Hope IS The Mechanic.
See note on Bob Hope, above. The Mechanic is a 1972 action movie starring Charles Bronson as a steely-eyed hit man. The opening of the film is a famously dialogue-free sixteen-minute sequence showing Bronson preparing for a kill. (The movie was remade in 2011 with Jason Statham in the title role; the filmmakers also included a silent opening sequence in the new version.)
“She fights like a man.” But she breaks just like a little girl.
A line from the 1966 Bob Dylan song “Just Like a Woman,” off his Blonde on Blonde album. Sample lyrics: “She takes just like a woman, yes, she does/She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does/And she aches just like a woman/But she breaks just like a little girl.”
Karen Valentine is an American actress best known for her role as groovy, enthusiastic high school teacher Alice Johnson in the sitcom Room 222 (ABC, 1969-1974).
Filmed in Ivana Trump’s bathroom.
Ivana Trump was the first wife of real estate magnate and 45th U.S. President Donald Trump; the couple was married from 1977-1992. Their high-profile divorce dragged on throughout 1991 and 1992, and reportedly ended with a $20 million settlement for Ivana. Trump’s décor, even after his marriage to Ivana, tends to lean toward gold plating and ornate gaudiness.
“The bandits were … liquidated.” Along with some factory-second Naugahyde furniture.
Naugahyde is a brand name of artificial leather made up of layers of knit fabric and plastic coating. It was first made in Naugatuck, Connecticut (hence the name), in the 1930s.
Meanwhile, in the hallowed halls of Wossamotta U …
The fictional university of Wossamotta U, with its dismal football record, figured in a six-episode story arc of The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show (ABC/NBC, 1959-1964) during that series’ final season, in which the title pair are given football scholarships and face off against perennial villain Boris’s team, the Mud City Manglers. See above note on “Meanwhile …”
It’s called Crazy Cock, can you believe it?
Crazy Cock is a novel by American author Henry Miller (1891-1980). Originally titled Lovely Lesbians, the semi-autobiographical account of a man living with two lesbian lovers was written sometime in 1927-28, but was not discovered until after Miller’s death and was finally published in 1992. In the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, this line ranks at #26 in the “50 Most Obscure References”: “Just a reference to the title of a Henry Miller book that happened to catch our fancy.”
“Well, I dare say Petrie …” [In unison.] Dish!
See note on Petri dishes, above.
Zzz, help me! Zzz.
At the end of the 1958 sci-fi film The Fly, scientist André Delambre (played by David Hedison) is merged with a fly’s body and trapped in a spiderweb with the spider bearing down on him. His squeaky cry of “Help me!” has become an often-parodied classic.
What is he, Carol Burnett all of a sudden?
At the conclusion of each episode of the popular sketch comedy/variety program The Carol Burnett Show (CBS, 1967-1978), host Carol Burnett would tug on her left earlobe. This was a signal to the grandmother who raised her, saying she was well and loved her. Burnett continued the tradition after her grandmother died.
“Anatolia …” East of Java.
Krakatoa, East of Java is a 1969 film about the catastrophic 1883 eruption of the volcano Krakatoa in Indonesia. Unfortunately for the makers of the film, Krakatoa is in fact located west of the island of Java.
Just a typical morning for Burt Young.
Burt Young (b. Gerald Tommaso DeLouise) is an American actor best known for playing Paulie Pennino, brother-in-law and best friend to Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky films. Pretty much a walking Italian-American stereotype, Young played similar roles in such films as Chinatown (1974), The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984), and Once Upon a Time in America (1984), and in such TV series as The Rockford Files (NBC, 1974-1980), Law & Order (original series, NBC, 1990-2010), and The Sopranos (HBO, 1999-2007).
Oh, here comes Peter O’Toole and Albert Finney.
Peter O’Toole (1932-2013) was an Irish/British actor best known for his work on the Shakespearean stage and in such film epics as Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and The Lion in Winter (1968). Albert Finney is a British actor who also began his career in Shakespearean theater and went on to such films as Tom Jones (1963), Miller’s Crossing (1990), and Big Fish (2003). While the two never worked together professionally, O’Toole and Finney were in the same class at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London in the early 1950s, and both rank high in the pantheon of hard-drinking, hell-raising British thespians.
Here, now give this back to Sid and Nancy.
Sid Vicious (John Simon Ritchie, 1957-1979) was an English musician and a member of the influential punk group the Sex Pistols. He was a notorious drug addict; his own mother, herself an addict, supplied him with drugs from a young age. During the recording of the Sex Pistols’ only studio album (Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols), he was hospitalized with hepatitis, which he contracted from his intravenous drug abuse. In the midst of a chaotic and mutually self-destructive relationship with Nancy Spungen (1958-1978), Vicious found her dead body in their shared apartment, killed by a single stab wound, courtesy of a knife owned by Vicious. He was arrested and charged with murder, but he died of a heroin overdose nearly four months later, before the trial. Their charmed love story is immortalized in the 1986 film Sid and Nancy.
“I understand you consulted a brilliant young specialist last year. What was his name?” Howser. Doogie Howser.
Doogie Howser, M.D. was an American comedy/drama TV show that aired on ABC from 1989 to 1993. It starred Neil Patrick Harris as a young genius who graduates medical school and begins practicing medicine at the age of fourteen.
Becky, Tom, are you in there?
In the 1876 Mark Twain novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the secret lair and eventual tomb of the book’s bad guy, Injun Joe, is McDougal’s Cave; Tom and Becky Thatcher get lost inside the cave for several days.
Dad, like I’m almost sure, gag me.
A little “Valleyspeak,” or “Valspeak,” the lingo of Valley Girls. Named for the San Fernando Valley in the greater Los Angeles area, the typical Valley Girl is young, affluent, spoiled, vapid, and unapologetically materialistic. Valspeak is chock full of qualifiers such as “like,” “as if,” and “whatever.” In 1982, rock composer Frank Zappa and his 14-year-old daughter Moon Unit lampooned the phenomenon with the song “Valley Girl.” The song became a hit, popularizing the Valley Girl stereotype nationwide. The movie Valley Girl, which was (very) loosely based on the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet, jumped on the bandwagon the following year.
Does he please you? Does he bring you pleasure?
A paraphrased line from “The Cage,” the original pilot of Star Trek (the one with Captain Christopher Pike, which was later partially reused in the two-part episode “The Menagerie”). Pike is captured by aliens and caged with the beautiful Vina (played by Susan Oliver), who tells him she can be anything he wants her to be. Her actual line is “Let me please you.”
We now return to Those Magnificent Men and Their Jaunty Jalopies on your Channel 9 movie. [Sung – a bit of the tune “Monte Carlo or Bust!”]
Those Daring Young Men in their Jaunty Jalopies is the American title of the 1969 British/French/Italian comedy film Monte Carlo or Bust!, involving a large ensemble cast playing eccentric competitors in a car rally across Europe. It’s a sequel to the 1965 movie Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines; both films featured gap-toothed British comic actor Terry-Thomas. The theme from Those Daring Young Men…, titled “Monte Carlo or Bust!” was written by Ron Goodwin and performed by Jimmy Durante.
Masterpiece Theatre continues with The Jewel in the Crown.
Masterpiece Theatre, now just called Masterpiece, is an anthology TV series produced by WGBH in Boston, which has been running on PBS stations since 1971. The Jewel in the Crown is a British dramatic series about the last days of the British Raj in India during World War II, based on the Raj Quartet novels by Paul Scott. Its original run of 14 episodes was part of the Masterpiece Theatre lineup in 1984.
It’s Audrey Hepburn in Charade.
Audrey Hepburn (b. Audrey Kathleen Ruston, 1929-1993) was a British actress who starred in a series of popular films in the 1950s and ‘60s, including Roman Holiday (1953), Sabrina (1954), Charade (1963), and My Fair Lady (1964).
You know, personally I would have worn a slingback with those shoes. –You would? –Yeah.
A slingback is a women’s shoe style involving a strap that goes only behind the heel or ankle, whereas a traditional ankle strap goes all the way around the ankle.
Did the director take his lessons in walking scenes from Roger Corman?
Known as “The King of B-Movies,” Roger Corman is the director with the second-longest list of movies featured on MST3K: six, behind Bert I. Gordon’s eight. The Corman films that have been MSTied: Show 311, It Conquered the World; Show 315, Teenage Caveman; Show 317, The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent; Show 503, Swamp Diamonds; Show 511, Gunslinger; and Show 806, The Undead. While the writers seem to have had a grudging admiration for Gordon, they made no attempt to temper their frustration with Corman’s filmmaking. One of Corman’s techniques that particularly rattled the MST3K crew was his shameless padding—for example, shooting frequent, lengthy scenes of characters walking. Just walking. When Corman himself was asked what he thought of MST3K, his response was: “If you don’t have any ability yourself, maybe you can make money by making fun of those who do.” In March 2018, MST3K’s parent company, Shout! Factory, bought Corman’s film library. Awkward.
Does she or doesn’t she?
Part of a long-running ad campaign for Clairol’s home hair coloring products. Introduced in 1956 under the name Miss Clairol Hair Color Bath, the full ad slogan was “Does she … or doesn’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure.” The campaign took the product line from $25 million in annual sales to $200 million. In 1965, the name of the product was changed to Nice ‘n Easy, and the ad slogan became the equally riffable “The closer he gets … the better you look.”
The Dutch Masters at home.
The Dutch Masters were a group of painters from the Netherlands in the 17th century that included Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), Frans Hals (c. 1581-1666), and Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669). Rembrandt’s 1662 painting Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild showed six drapers inspecting bolts of cloth and wearing the formal dress of the period. The painting was used as the distinctive artwork on boxes of Dutch Masters brand cigars. So when people hear a reference to the “Dutch Masters,” that image usually comes to mind.
You don’t say. You don’t say. You don’t say. –Who was it? –He didn’t say.
This classic telephone gag probably got its start on the vaudeville stage in the 1930s, and was likely passed around by many performers. The earliest known recording of it was by Spike Jones and his City Slickers, in a 1945 parody version of the 1927 show tune and jazz standard “Chlo-e (Song of the Swamp).”
And now, time for a Bloody Mary.
A Bloody Mary is a cocktail usually consisting of, but not limited to, vodka, tomato juice, lemon and/or lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, pepper, celery salt, and a stalk of celery for garnish. Popular at brunch and often proclaimed as a “hair of the dog” hangover cure, infinite variations on the basic Bloody Mary and its garnishes (including bacon strips and deep-fried onion rings) are offered around the world.
[Imitating.] Yes, that would be the phone.
An imitation of British actor Peter Sellers’ (1925-1980) brilliant portrayal of the bumbling French police detective Inspector Jacques Clouseau in the Pink Panther series of comedy films. Among Clouseau’s many eccentricities was his tendency to state the obvious as if he’d solved a mystery, such as declaring when a phone rang, “That would be the phone ...”
Oh, now that’s disgusting, a picture of you and Oliver Reed.
Oliver Reed (1938-1999) was an English actor who appeared in such films as Oliver! (1968) and The Three Musketeers (1973). He was famous for his public drinking bouts; he once removed his pants during an interview, and on another occasion he was thrown off a TV talk show after trying to kiss one of the other guests, feminist writer Kate Millett. He died of a heart attack in 1999 in Malta during the filming of Gladiator, reportedly after a massive binge at a pub.
Would you like one of our Watchtowers?
The Watchtower is the official magazine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, an apocalyptic Christian sect known for proselytizing door to door and for their rejection of blood transfusions and birthday parties. Its first issue was printed in 1879, and with a print run of 83 million issues (published three times a year in more than 300 languages), it’s the most widely circulated magazine in the world.
Does this bug you? Does this bug you? I’m not touching you.
See above note.
Calgon, take me away.
“Calgon, take me away” is a longtime advertising slogan for Calgon scented bath products, which include bubble bath, body lotions, and more. They were first sold in 1933. The name itself is a mashup of “calcium gone.”
[Imitating.] Nothing! Nothing!
An imitation of Sergeant Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes, a TV sitcom that aired from 1965-1971 on CBS. Starring Bob Crane as U.S. Colonel Robert Hogan, it’s the story of a group of Allied service members imprisoned in a German POW camp. With his team of fellow prisoners, each with a specific skill, Hogan maintained an espionage network while keeping their buffoonish captors distracted. John Banner (who played Bavarro in Show 417, Crash of the Moons) portrayed the inept German Sergeant Hans Schultz, who often witnessed the captives’ clandestine activities but preferred to keep quiet, saying “I see nothing! Nothing!”
Hey, he’s making a Xerox copy of his butt.
Xerox Corporation was founded in 1906 in Rochester, New York, as a manufacturer of photographic paper and equipment. Xerox became a household name thanks to their pioneering work in the field of document copying. Their first automatic copying printer, the Copyflo, was marketed in 1955. By the early 1980s, Xerox copiers dominated the marketplace, and “xerox” became a verb meaning “to make a copy,” much like “google” today means “to search the Internet.” Sitting on a Xerox machine and photocopying one’s posterior became a legendary form of naughty behavior at office parties.
We’ll make it a holiday. A camping holiday.
Possibly a reference to the Monty Python sketch “Cosmetic Surgery,” which originally aired on Monty Python’s Flying Circus in November 1970. A plastic surgeon (John Cleese) tells patient Graham Chapman he’ll perform a requested but unnecessary operation: “But only if you’ll go on a camping holiday with me.”
Only you can prevent desk fires.
Smokey Bear (a.k.a. Smokey the Bear) is the spokes-creature for the U.S. Forest Service, created in 1944 to spread the message of wildfire prevention. Beginning in 1947, Smokey’s slogan was “Only you can prevent forest fires”; in 2001 it was updated to “Only you can prevent wildfires,” to include fires in areas such as grasslands as well as forests.
A series of sketches starring the Land Shark ran on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, beginning in the show’s first season (1975-1976); they went on to become one of the most popular and imitated bits from SNL’s early years. A spoof of the then-recent film Jaws, the original sketch, “Jaws II,” was set in an apartment, with a single female occupant (the Land Shark’s preferred prey) answering a knock at the door. Asked who was there, a voice on the other side would mumble things like “Candygram …” “Plumber, ma’am …” “Flower delivery …” and so on, until the door was opened and Chevy Chase in a foam rubber shark suit would lean inside and eat the woman. When one potential victim said, “You’re that clever shark, aren’t you?” the response was, “I’m only a dolphin, ma’am.”
Miss Jane Pittman.
Miss Jane Pittman is the elderly narrator of the 1971 novel The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines, which tells the story of former slaves in the American South after the Civil War. It was adapted into a TV movie starring Cicely Tyson in 1974.
Time for go to bed.
A reference to Show 320, The Unearthly.
Meanwhile, in East Dubuque.
East Dubuque is a very small city (population about 1,600 as of 2018) in Illinois, located across the Mississippi River from the much larger city of Dubuque, Iowa (population about 57,000). See above note on “Meanwhile …”
It’s Nessie! No.
Loch Ness is a body of water located in Scotland, the home of the fabled Loch Ness Monster, nicknamed “Nessie.” Thought by some to be a surviving dinosaur, numerous sightings, including several photographs, have been reported, although the most famous photo, taken in 1934, has since been revealed as a hoax. Several scientific expeditions have uncovered no hard evidence.
It’s The Boss, it’s Springsteen!
Bruce Springsteen is an iconic folk and rock musician who has remained consistently popular since the early 1970s. Early in his career, his fellow musicians nicknamed him “The Boss,” which he initially disliked but now seems to have come to terms with. Springsteen’s hours-long, high-energy concerts lead to a lot of perspiration, so wearing a red bandana across his forehead became one of his signature stage looks.
Methinks the king approaches.
“Methinks,” meaning “I think” in modern English, is a common word found in the writings of William Shakespeare—Hamlet, for example: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” (Act III, Scene 2). Though none of Shakespeare’s works contain the exact phrase “Methinks the king approaches,” the 1825 book Elidure and Edward: Two Historical Dramatic Sketches by Eliza Fletcher, does.
A reference to Show 104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet.
Suddenly I have the urge to, uh … –Shower?
Psychologists and urologists agree that the sound of running water can indeed make you need to pee, thanks to the power of suggestion. Running water sounds, either from you using the toilet or using the sink afterward, are so closely associated with the act of urination that hearing them can cause an almost Pavlovian response.
“Where are you going?” To Scarborough Fair?
“Scarborough Fair” is a traditional English ballad, with origins that may go as far back as 1650, about a young man’s longing for a girl in the town of Scarborough in northern England. An adaptation by American folk duo Simon & Garfunkel appeared on their 1966 album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme; it became a hit single in 1968 after it was used in the film The Graduate. Sample lyrics: “Are you going to Scarborough Fair?/Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme/Remember me to one who lives there/She once was a true love of mine.”
I bring tidings of great joy.
A biblical quote, from Luke 2:10—“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
“Start talking.” And start chalking.
“Quit talking and start chalking” is a line from the pinball machine Eight Ball Deluxe, which was released in 1981 and became one of the most popular pinball games of the 1980s. The phrase even adorned T-shirts. It's also been used in a couple of MST3K Host Segments.
Well, once upon a time, there were three bears …
Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a traditional fairy tale of British origins first published in 1837. It’s the story of a little blond girl who engages in a little light breaking and entering and burglary in the home of three bears.
[Whispered.] Cher’s getting back with Gregg Allman.
Cher (b. Cherilyn Sarkisian) is an American singer and actress. She first rose to fame with hit singles in the 1960s and a TV variety show in the 1970s with her then-husband, Sonny Bono, and won a Best Actress Academy Award for her performance in the 1987 comedy Moonstruck. Gregg Allman (1947-2017) was one of the founding members of the jam-happy American rock/blues group The Allman Brothers Band, which, with a few starts and stops, was active from 1969 to 2014. Four days after Cher’s divorce from Bono was final, she married Gregg Allman, then filed for divorce nine days later. But they sorted it out, and their marriage lasted from 1975 to 1979 (although they separated in 1977) and produced a son, Elijah Blue.
[Whispered.] Justine Bateman has a new movie coming out.
Justine Bateman is an American actress best known for her role as the airheaded Mallory Keaton in the sitcom Family Ties (NBC, 1982-1989). She’s since made guest appearances in numerous other TV series, but has been in only a handful of little-known feature films. Her younger brother Jason Bateman has appeared in such films as Hancock (2008) and Horrible Bosses (2011), and the TV show Arrested Development (2003-present).
Oh, someone’s got an oily T-zone.
“T-zone” is a hot buzzword in the world of cosmetics and skin care: it’s a T-shaped area across the forehead and down the bridge of the nose that is notoriously oily and difficult to deal with.
Oh, it’s the Istanbul Orkin Man.
Orkin is an American residential and commercial pest-removal company based in Atlanta; their advertising icon is the “Orkin Man,” who wears a white shirt and a white hard hat.
I’d say this movie has less action than Whose Life Is It Anyway?
Whose Life Is It Anyway? is a slightly less than action-packed 1981 film starring Richard Dreyfuss. Adapted from a 1972 TV movie and 1978 stage play by British playwright Brian Clark that were set entirely in a hospital room, it’s the story of a quadriplegic’s efforts to end his life, and involves deeply meaningful discussions about the pros and cons of euthanasia.
Michael Caine and Nancy Kulp are vampires.
Over his checkered career, veteran British actor Sir Michael Caine has made some wonderful films, like Alfie (1966), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), and Hannah and Her Sisters (1986). He has also made some dreadful films, including Jaws: The Revenge (1987), about which he famously said, “I have never seen the film, but by all accounts it was terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.” Nancy Kulp (1921-1991) was an American actress best known for her role as high-strung secretary Miss Jane Hathaway on the TV sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies (CBS, 1962-1971).
David Bowie. From The Hunger. –He’s all dewy. Dewy Bowie.
David Bowie (b. David Robert Jones, 1947-2016) was a British rock musician and actor who rose to fame during the era of glam rock in the early 1970s, with such albums as The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972). Since then, his music underwent a number of evolutions, from flirtations with soul and R&B to the dance craze of the early 1980s. He is considered one of the most influential rock musicians of all time. Among Bowie’s handful of acting roles was that of a vampire in the 1983 British horror film The Hunger, which was directed by Tony Scott (Ridley Scott’s younger brother) and adapted from a novel by alien-abduction enthusiast Whitley Strieber.
[Imitating.] Boy, I really racked up the frequent flier miles, though. –Yeah, frequent die-er miles.
An imitation of Bela Lugosi (1882-1956), born Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó. The Hungarian actor is best known for playing Count Dracula, first on Broadway and then in the classic 1931 film. Lugosi was typecast in horror roles for many years, and toward the end of his life found a friend and employer in schlock director Ed Wood.
“Dees” is stoner slang, verbal shorthand for “decent,” because stoners are far too busy and efficient to use complete words.
“Kesler! Ingrid!” In color!
In the mid- to late 1960s, when American television programming was transitioning from black and white to color, many programs proudly proclaimed “In Color!” in their opening title sequence.
Kinda like a Metallica video, but slower.
Metallica is a heavy metal band founded in 1981. One of the best-selling rock acts ever, Metallica had major hits with 1985’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and 1991’s “Enter Sandman.” Their videos are known for being a little on the dark side, literally and figuratively.
Oh, come on, what is this, Kirlian photography? –Yeah. Larry, Moe, and Kirlian photography.
Kirlian photography is a technique that captures electrical discharges on film, which results in a photo showing a dark silhouette of the object in question surrounded by a corona of light. Named after Russian inventor Semyon Davidovitch Kirlian, who discovered the technique by accident in 1939, Kirlian photography has been embraced by adherents of parapsychology and paranormal activity as proof of “auras” or other such elements of pseudoscience, but it has also been used in scientific research and art. Larry, Moe, and Curly were one iteration of The Three Stooges, a slapstick comedy trio that performed for five decades in the 20th century. They got their start in a vaudeville act called Ted Healy and His Stooges. The first lineup was Moe Howard (Moses Horwitz; 1897-1975), Shemp Howard (Samuel Horwitz; 1895-1955), and Larry Fine (Louis Feinberg; 1902-1975). When Shemp left in 1932, Curly Howard (Jerome Horwitz; 1903-1952) replaced him. The Stooges finally left Healy in 1934 and began their famous run of 190 shorts and five films for Columbia Pictures.
Geez, and I thought City of Hope was an underlit movie.
City of Hope is a 1991 American film drama directed by John Sayles. It starred Vincent Spano as a New Jersey guy coming to grips with family, loyalty, life, death, the past, the future, and other light topics. Like many of Sayles’ films, it was shot in a highly stylized manner.
They’ve been candied. Candide? –Candide.
Candide is a satirical 1759 novella by Voltaire about an optimistic young man who slowly realizes the true corruption and hardships of the world. It contains the famous phrase “the best of all possible worlds.” In 1956 the novella was adapted into an operetta with music composed by Leonard Bernstein; other contributors to the text included Dorothy Parker, Lillian Hellman, and Stephen Sondheim.
They’ve turned us into Warhols.
Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was an American artist who was a central founder of the Pop Art movement. He became famous for his multicolored portraits of pop culture icons like actress Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s soup cans, collecting a group of eccentric hangers-on and wannabes in his New York studio (one of whom shot him in 1968), and turning the process of creating art into a business.
“Who are these people?” [Imitating.] Who are these people?
Before becoming a sitcom star with his phenomenally successful show Seinfeld (NBC, 1989-1998), American comedian Jerry Seinfeld, imitated here, was a working standup comic, who, along with George Carlin, helped bring “observational comedy” into the mainstream. Observational comedy eschews the standard setup/punchline joke format in favor of longer bits that point out the hidden absurdities in everyday life. After describing some absurd yet commonplace behavior, Seinfeld would frequently ask, “Who are these people?”
The first color movie that needs to be colorized.
In the late 1980s, media mogul Ted Turner announced plans to use “colorization” technology to add color to the black-and-white films in his library—including the Orson Welles classic Citizen Kane (1941), considered one of the greatest films ever made. There was an immediate uproar, with many in the entertainment industry arguing that adding color would bastardize the original vision of the filmmakers. Turner went ahead with his plans to colorize some films (although not Citizen Kane, after producing some test footage), but colorized movies never really caught on. Colorization technology has improved dramatically since the 1980s, however, and has been used with some success in documentary filmmaking; Peter Jackson’s 2018 WWI documentary They Shall Not Grow Old used colorization and other digital techniques extensively on archival film footage, for example, and was extremely well-received by critics and audiences alike.
She could use a good claypack.
A claypack, or mudpack, is a thick paste made from dirt or clay that is applied to the face or body, generally as a day-spa cosmetics treatment, to draw oils and toxins out of the skin.
Meanwhile, in downtown Duluth.
Duluth is the fourth-largest city in the state of Minnesota, with a population of about 86,000 people as of 2018. There is also a suburb of Atlanta named Duluth (2018 population: 29,000), although the writers were almost certainly referring to the Minnesota burb. See above note on “Meanwhile …”
I went to Istanbul and all I got was this lousy fez, huh? It’s funny.
A riff on the classic T-shirt slogan “My parents went to _______ and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.” It seems to have originated sometime in the 1970s.
Hey, take a long walk off that thing.
”Take a long walk off a short pier” is a classic idiom meaning “get lost.”
Hi, we’re The Boatniks.
The Boatniks is a 1970 Disney comedy movie about three inept jewel thieves. It stars Phil Silvers and Stefanie Powers. Boats are involved.
“He controls the opium trade?” The perfume?
See note on Opium, above.
Zzzz. Help me again, I need your help, please.
See above note on The Fly.
[Sung.] Omar Pasha …
“O Mein Papa” is a song originally written for Paul Burkhard’s 1939 German musical Der Schwarze Hecht (The Black Pike), which was remade in 1950 as Das Feuerwerk (The Firework) and adapted into the film Fireworks in 1954. An English-language version recorded by Eddie Fisher, “Oh! My Pa-Pa,” was a number-one hit in 1954. Sample English lyrics: “Oh, my papa, to me he was so wonderful/Oh, my papa, to me he was so good/No one could be so gentle and so lovable/Oh, my papa, he always understood.”
Meanwhile, in … ah, forget it.
See above note on “Meanwhile …”
[Sung.] Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble …
A line from the song “It’s Hard to Be Humble,” written and performed by American country singer and actor Mac Davis, from his 1980 album of the same name. Sample lyrics: “Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble/When you’re perfect in every way/I can’t wait to look in the mirror/Cause I get better lookin’ each day/To know me is to love me/I must be a hell of a man/Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble/But I’m doin’ the best that I can.”
Hey, it’s the Grand Wizard himself.
The Grand Wizard was the title given to the leader of the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist terror organization, after the Civil War. The head of the KKK during its revival in the early 20th century was called the Imperial Wizard, and the organization is currently diminished and fragmented, with the leaders of its tiny factions claiming various titles. The first Grand Wizard was a Confederate general named Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Oh, geez, I thought Shriners helped people.
See note on Shriners, above.
Rock the Casbah, dude.
“Rock the Casbah” is a 1982 hit single by English punk band The Clash. Sample lyrics: “Shareef don’t like it/Rock the Casbah/Rock the Casbah/By order of the Prophet/We ban that boogie sound/Degenerate the faithful/With that crazy Casbah sound.”
Shermy don’t like it.
Possibly a reference to one of the original characters in the “Peanuts” comic strip, created by Charles M. Schulz, that originally ran from 1950-2000 and continued to be printed in syndicated reruns after Schulz’s death. Shermy appeared in the very first “Peanuts” strip in 1950, but his character was never really developed, and he appeared less frequently until finally being dropped around 1969.
Well, he looks like a Century 21 salesman.
Century 21 is a real estate agent franchise established in 1971 and based in Madison, New Jersey. While not a uniform per se, Century 21 agents generally wear a gold blazer.
Gandhi’s back. And he’s stuffed.
Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) was a spiritual and political leader who led the independence movement of his native India in the 1940s against the British government, which had claimed India as a colony since 1858. (The British East India Company had effectively controlled the country for a century already with its private army, since 1757.) India gained independence in 1947. Gandhi is revered for his philosophy of nonviolent protest, and in the grand tradition of spiritual and political leaders who advocate for change through nonviolent means, he was violently assassinated. The phrasing is probably a take on an old Bill Hicks standup routine: “Jesus is back—and he’s pissed!”
Oh look, it’s the original hand-hammered wok. –Looks like stainless steel from here.
In the 1980s and ‘90s, an infomercial ran on TV for The Great Wok of China: a hand-hammered steel wok. The 18-minute running time meant pitchman Wally Nash could actually cook a meal in the wok while talking up its wonderfulness.
Tonight, on You Asked For It.
You Asked For It was an odd little TV show that aired off and on in various forms between 1950 and 2000. The basic format involved staging stunts and re-creating events based on suggestions from viewers. Original host Art Baker (1950-1958) presided over stunts like a reenactment of William Tell’s famous archery feat with the apple and animal trainer Reed Parham wrestling a giant anaconda (which almost ended in disaster).
“Crystal-clear water.” Crystal Blue Persuasion.
“Crystal Blue Persuasion” is a song written by Tommy James, Eddie Gray, and Mike Vale, that became a number two hit on the Billboard Pop Singles charts for Tommy James and the Shondells in 1969. Like “Purple Haze” (see above note), it was widely assumed to be about drugs—crystal meth, LSD or amphetamines, take your pick—but James insisted it was actually inspired by the Bible. The song has been covered numerous times, and has had a long afterlife in movies and TV shows, including appearances in The Simpsons (FOX, 1989-present) and, quite cleverly, in Breaking Bad (AMC, 2008-2013), since that show involved the manufacture of crystal meth that was colored blue. Sample lyrics: “So don’t you give up now, whoo-hoo/It’s so easy to find/Just look to your soul (Look to your soul)/And open your mind/Crystal blue persuasion/Mm-hmm/It’s a new vibration.” How could anybody think that was about drugs?
You know, Burt Young has looked worse. –Well, he’s Burt Young, all right.
See note on Burt Young, above.
Damn it, Fu, I’m a surgeon, not a doctor.
A riff on Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley), the doctor on the original Star Trek TV series (NBC, 1966-1969) and in many feature films, who would often exclaim, “Damn it, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a ________.” The “Jim” in question is Captain James T. Kirk (played by William Shatner).
“On the contrary, Dr. Kessler.” [Imitating.] Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera ...
An imitation of Yul Brynner as King Mongkut of Siam in the musical The King and I; Brynner played the role 4,625 times onstage and in the 1956 film, winning two Tony Awards and an Academy Award. King Mongkut wanted his wives and children to learn English and follow British customs, and he embraced repetitive English phrases, like “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera …”
Let’s see what’s behind door number one.
On the long-running TV game show Let’s Make a Deal (which has aired intermittently from 1965 to the present), contestants were given a choice between a visible prize such as a TV set and an unknown prize concealed behind a door, behind a curtain, or under a box. Sometimes the mystery prize was awesome, such as a vacation or a car. Occasionally, it was a crappy prize, dubbed a “zonk” (a live animal, a T-shirt, or food). The so-called “Monty Hall problem,” first articulated by statistician Steve Selvin in 1975 and widely publicized by journalist Marilyn vos Savant in 1990, showed that statistically, players were always better off switching to the unknown prize.
“But that man is not dead or dying.” He’s only mostly dead.
A line from the beloved 1987 comedy film The Princess Bride. The relevant dialogue:
Inigo Montoya: He’s dead. He can’t talk.
Miracle Max: Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do.
Inigo Montoya: What’s that?
Miracle Max: Go through his clothes and look for loose change.
Glenn Manning, get off that dam!
Glenn Manning is the plutonium-enlarged lead character in Show 309, The Amazing Colossal Man, and Show 319, War of the Colossal Beast. He does get quite huge. At the end of the first movie, Glenn falls from Boulder Dam (now called Hoover Dam), presumably to his death. But no, he survives—hence the sequel.
Bridge on the River Kwai.
The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 epic film about Allied prisoners of war during World War II who are forced to build a bridge for their Japanese captors but secretly conspire to blow it up. Starring William Holden and Alec Guinness, the movie won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Hey, there’s a little Dutch boy putting his finger in there.
A reference to the fictional tale of a Dutch boy who saved Holland by putting his finger in a leaking dike and staying there all night, until he was found and the dike was repaired. It was a small side story within the 1865 novel Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates by American author Mary Mapes Dodge, but it captured popular attention and was later adapted into poems and children’s books.
You know, um … I suddenly have to go to the bathroom. –Really? –Why, I wonder?
See above note.
You know, they might need some Thompson’s WaterSeal up there.
Founded in 1928, The Thompson’s Company started with products to protect concrete buildings from water damage and then began marketing to homeowners in the early 1980s with products to seal and stain wooden decks and deck furniture.
Don’t worry, men, it’s the Egyptians who are going to get us. Pharaoh and the gang.
In the Book of Exodus in the Bible, the Jewish prophet Moses hears the voice of God in a burning bush on Mount Horeb, commanding him to lead the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt to freedom in Canaan. Pursued by the pharaoh’s soldiers, Moses and the Israelites reached the shores of the Red Sea. Moses held out his hand, and the Red Sea was parted by God, allowing the Israelites to cross, and then closed again to drown the Egyptians.
Force 10 from Navarone.
Force 10 from Navarone is a 1978 British war movie, based on a 1968 novel by Alistair MacLean, and a sequel to the 1961 movie The Guns of Navarone. Robert Shaw and Edward Fox star; the story involves blowing up a hydroelectric dam.
Oh, the rolling stones.
“A rolling stone gathers no moss”—meaning people who keep moving never prosper—is a proverb that dates to a couple of decades B.C.E., usually attributed to Roman writer Publilius Syrus (46 B.C.E.-29 B.C.E.), with the earliest English translation dating to the 1500s. Modern usage of the phrase has a more positive connotation, implying that people who keep moving never becoming hidebound and boring. Though a few earlier references to a “rolling stone” appear in blues or folk songs, the best-known early use of the phrase was in Muddy Waters’ 1950 song “Rollin’ Stone,” and Waters’ use of the phrase “I’m a rollin’ stone” in his 1955 song “Mannish Boy.” Waters’ lyrics inspired Brian Jones to name the band he formed in 1962 with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, and Ian Stewart the Rolling Stones. Another well-known use was The Temptations’ 1972 song “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” with the lyrics “Papa was a rolling stone/Wherever he laid his hat was his home.”
Prince of Tides.
The Prince of Tides is a best-selling 1986 novel by Pat Conroy, the story of a man in deep therapy coming to grips with his traumatic childhood. The book was made into a drama/romance movie in 1991 starring Barbara Streisand and Nick Nolte.
The River. With Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek.
Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek starred in the 1984 film The River, which tells the story of a Tennessee farm family struggling to keep their farm in the face of multiple hardships, including foreclosures and a major flood. It earned five Oscar nominations but bombed at the box office.
You know, I miss the water slide at The Dells.
See note on The Dells, above.
Oh look, rock me on the water. Really.
“Rock Me on the Water” is a soft-rock song by American singer/songwriter Jackson Browne, from his 1972 self-titled debut album. Sample lyrics: “When my life is over, I’m going to stand before the father/But the sisters of the sun are going to rock me on the water now/Rock me on the water/Sister will you soothe my fevered brow/Rock me on the water, maybe I’ll remember/Maybe I’ll remember how.”
I am the god of hydrotherapy.
A riff on the spoken-word intro to the 1968 hit song “Fire,” written by Arthur Brown and Vincent Crane and recorded by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Basically a one-hit wonder, the song is considered a prime example of the psychedelic rock of that era. Sample lyrics: “[Spoken. Yelled, actually.] I am the god of hellfire! … And I bring you …/[Sung.] Fire, I’ll take you to burn/Fire, I’ll take you to learn/I’ll see you burn!” Hydrotherapy is a form of physical therapy that uses water—whirlpools, Jacuzzis, mineral baths—to relieve pain or help rehabilitate injured joints or ligaments.
Meanwhile, in Two Harbors, Minnesota.
Two Harbors is a small town in eastern Minnesota, along the shore of Lake Superior. Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, now known as 3M and based in St. Paul, was founded in Two Harbors in 1902. See above note on “Meanwhile …”
You must kill Kurtz. Terminate with extreme prejudice.
“Terminate with extreme prejudice” is a famous line from the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, although it has been used in other novels and films as well. Loosely based on the 1899 novella Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the story involves a U.S. Army captain (played by a young Martin Sheen) in the Vietnam War assigned to assassinate rogue U.S. Army Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (played by a bald Marlon Brando).
Wait, that’s Robert Goulet!
See note on Robert Goulet, above.
“I don’t know.” Much about art, but I know what I like.
The phrase “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like” has been around for more than a century, but its origins are hard to pin down. We found it in a 1906 essay by Gelett Burgess called “Are You a Bromide?”, in a context that implied it was already a well-worn cliché by then. The phrase has been used by Monty Python (in “The Penultimate Supper” skit) and parodied by cartoonist James Thurber: “He knows all about art, but he doesn’t know what he likes.” And, of course, Dr. Forrester utters the line in Show 419, The Rebel Set.
“Nobody before tried to do such an operation.” You mean that goofy game for dopey doctors?
Operation is a classic children’s game invented by John Spinello in 1964 and currently produced by Hasbro. Players use tweezers to remove humorously named plastic “organs” from tiny cavities in the “patient.” If the tweezers brush sensors around the edges of the cavities, a buzzer sounds and the player loses his or her turn. Early TV commercials for the game used the slogan “The goofy game for dopey doctors.” In Show 206, Ring of Terror, Dr. Forrester turns Frank into a life-size human Operation game during the Invention Exchange and recites the “goofy game for dopey doctors” slogan.
“Do you think you can do it?” In the road?
A reference to the 1968 Beatles song “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?”, from their White Album. Credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the song was actually written and sung, and performed entirely by McCartney, with drums by Ringo Starr. McCartney said the idea for the song came to him during a trip to India, where he saw two monkeys having intimate relations in the street. Sample lyrics: “Why don’t we do it in the road?/Why don’t we do it in the road?/Why don’t we do it in the road?/Why don’t we do it in the road?/No one will be watching us/Why don’t we do it in the road?”
Now that’s lipstick that lasts. From Yardley.
Yardley of London is a British cosmetics company founded in 1770, making it one of the oldest cosmetics companies in the world. “Lipstick that lasts” doesn’t appear to have been one of their slogans, though; actual slogans included “Kiss him in his favorite flavor” (for Lip Licks flavored lipsticks) and “Only slickers do it” (for Slicker brand lip polish).
“Are you sure …” Bees can fly?
A durable piece of urban folklore maintains that “scientists” have proved it is aerodynamically impossible for bumblebees to fly—yet they do. The factoid is generally trotted out as a way of saying that those know-it-all scientists are so caught up in empirical data and calculations that they can’t see the obvious. Origin stories for the myth tend to trace to Europe in the 1930s. Needless to say, bumblebees are perfectly aerodynamically plausible.
Well, look. I just wanted to get to first base with you and things snowballed.
A reference to the popular baseball metaphor for sex. Although the specifics vary, generally “first base” refers to kissing (sometimes French kissing), “second base” is touching above the waist, “third base” is touching below the waist, and a “home run” is actual sexual intercourse.
You know, it’s kind of like watching The Hollywood Squares, you know?
The Hollywood Squares was a game show that aired off and on, in various incarnations, from 1966 to 2004 on NBC and in syndication. The basic concept remained the same: nine past-their-prime celebrities arranged in a nine-square grid, giving answers to the host’s trivia questions in a kind of human tic-tac-toe game, while the contestants must try to guess whether the celebrities’ answers are correct. Character actor Paul Lynde (Uncle Arthur on Bewitched) held court in the center square for most of the original run.
“You are the only person who matters to me.” You are every woman in the world to me.
A line from the 1980 song “Every Woman in the World,” written by Dominic Bugatti and Frank Musker, which was a hit for the Australian soft-rock group Air Supply in 1981. Sample lyrics: “Girl you’re every woman in the world to me/You’re my fantasy, you’re my reality/Girl you’re every woman in the world to me/You’re everything I need/You’re everything to me, oh girl.”
Tonight, on a very special Dr. Kildare.
Dr. James Kildare is a character created by author Max Brand (real name Frederick Schiller Faust) in a series of stories and novels. He also appeared in numerous films in the 1930s and 1940s, a radio series in the 1950s, a comic book and comic strip, and most famously a TV series starring Richard Chamberlain, Dr. Kildare, that aired on NBC from 1961 to 1966.
[Sung.] You say ether and I say ei-ther. Let’s call the whole thing off.
A riff on the song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” written by George and Ira Gershwin for the 1937 film Shall We Dance. Originally sung by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, it has been covered numerous times; some of the more famous versions are the ones by Billie Holiday, also in 1937, and a 1957 duet featuring Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Actual lyrics: “You like potayto, and I like potahto/You like tomayto, and I like tomahto/Potayto, potahto/Tomayto, tomahto/Let’s call the whole thing off!”
Breathe deep the gathering gloom. Watch lights fade in every room.
A paraphrase of the first lines of the spoken-word poem “Late Lament” in The Moody Blues’ 1967 song “Nights in White Satin.” The song itself was written by guitarist and singer Justin Hayward, while the poem was written by drummer Graeme Edge. Heard near the six-minute mark on the LP version of the song (on the album Days of Future Passed), where it was voiced by keyboardist Mike Pinder, it goes like this:
Breathe deep the gathering gloom
Watch lights fade from every room
Bedsitter people look back and lament
Another day’s useless energy spent
Impassioned lovers wrestle as one;
Lonely man cries for love and has none
New mother picks up and suckles her son
Senior citizens wish they were young
Cold-hearted orb that rules the night
Removes the colors from our sight
Red is grey is yellow white
But we decide which is right
And which is an illusion
Oh, this is aromatherapy. I’ve seen this before.
Aromatherapy is a method of altering one’s mood or psychological state using aromatic oils or powders. Its more fervent adherents claim it can prevent or cure disease, but there is no scientific evidence to support this.
[Muffled.] Don’t look at me! Don’t look at me! Mommy! Frank Booth.
An imitation of Frank Booth, the deeply psychotic bad guy in the 1986 “neo-noir” film Blue Velvet, written and directed by David Lynch. In the film, one of Booth’s more disturbing habits is inhaling a gas—exactly which one is never explicitly identified—from a mask attached to a small tank under his coat, and then falling into a violent state of Oedipal lust, during which he calls his partner “Mommy.” The role was played by Dennis Hopper.
Suzie Wong was arraigned in Los Angeles County Court for impersonating Marlo Thomas.
Suzie Wong is the title character of the 1957 novel The World of Suzie Wong by Richard Mason. Set in Hong Kong, it’s the story of a British artist’s relationship with a young Chinese prostitute with a heart of gold. It was adapted into a 1958 stage production starring William Shatner and France Nuyen and a 1960 film starring William Holden and Nancy Kwan. An announcer intoning: “_______ was arraigned in Los Angeles County Court for …” was the typical epilogue for episodes of Jack Webb’s TV cop show Dragnet (NBC Radio, 1949-1957, NBC TV, 1951-1959/1967-1970) and Adam-12 (NBC, 1968-1975). See also note on That Girl, above.
I am Suzie Wong. –I am Suzie Wong. –No, I am Suzie Wong.
Toward the end of the 1960 Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus, the Romans demand that a group of former slaves hand over Spartacus (Kirk Douglas), leader of a failed slave rebellion, threatening them with crucifixion. Spartacus stands up, but the rest of his men declare their loyalty to him by calling out: “I am Spartacus!” “I am Spartacus!” “I am Spartacus!” The Romans crucify them all. The scene has become iconic, and has been parodied in countless TV shows and films. See also previous note on The World of Suzie Wong.
Will the real Suzie Wong …
On the game show To Tell the Truth, which has run periodically on network TV (CBS, then NBC) or in syndication since 1956 to the present, a panel of celebrities would attempt to identify a contestant with an unusual job or story, separating him or her from two “impostor” contestants also claiming to be that person. Each contestant would introduce themselves as the same person, they would each be asked a series of questions, the panelists would make their best guess, and then the announcer would say, “Will the real ______ please stand up?” See also previous note on Suzie Wong.
The World of Suzie Wong.
See previous note.
First we split the top and pour in real butter.
TV ads in the 1980s for HomePride Butter Top Bread proclaimed: “We split the top and pour in real creamery butter, just before baking …” The HomePride brand is currently owned by Flowers Foods, which also makes Wonder Bread.
It’s just tempera paint.
Tempera paint is a permanent, fast-drying paint, historically made from pigment mixed with egg yolk. Use of tempera paint dates back to ancient Egypt; it was the primary medium for painting until about 1500 C.E., when it was replaced by oil paints.
Cadmium is a chemical element, a soft metal similar to zinc and mercury. Cadmium has historically been used to make paint pigments, steel plating, batteries, and solar panels, but its use is decreasing because it is extremely toxic to humans.
Did I take the Hippocratic oath? –No, you took the hypocritic oath.
The Hippocratic oath, named after the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, was historically taken by physicians upon getting their medical degree. Today, American medical students take a variety of oaths upon graduation: some still take the Hippocratic oath, some take a modified version, and some use an oath developed by the World Medical Association called the Declaration of Geneva. The modern version of the Hippocratic oath differs significantly from the original, but many of the basic principles remain the same: to treat the sick, to share knowledge with colleagues, and to respect the privacy of patients. Other parts, such as promising to teach medicine to your teacher’s kids for free, have been discarded.
He’s playing Hangman on this guy’s belly.
Hangman is a game played with paper and pencil by two or more players. One player thinks of a word or phrase and draws a dash for each letter it contains. The other player(s) suggests letters: each correct guess is noted on the appropriate dash, and each incorrect guess becomes one element in a stick figure drawing of a man being hanged from a gallows (torso, arm, leg, hand, etc.). The game is over when either the word/phrase is completed (either one letter at a time, or by a player guessing the entire word/phrase), or when the drawing is finished and the man is “hanged.”
Well, I see by the old clock on the wall it’s time for more boredom.
Referring to “the old clock on the wall …” was a hokey yet commonplace way for old-time radio announcers to indicate the show was nearly over.
I’m Harold Lloyd.
Harold Lloyd (1893-1971) was a bespectacled film comedian of the 1920s and one of the most popular actors in the silent-movie era. Lloyd was known for physical comedy featuring an array of life-threatening stunts, which he performed himself. The most famous of these was the clock sequence in Safety Last! (1923), in which he hung from the hands of a clock on a building several stories above the ground. It was filmed on a set on the roof of the building, with a mattress placed underneath him in case he fell.
Look at this shot, they should never have let Shatner direct.
William Shatner is a Canadian actor, director, and writer best known for his role as Captain James T. Kirk on the TV series Star Trek (NBC, 1966-1969), Star Trek: The Animated Series (NBC, 1973-1974), and in the series of movies based on the show. He also appeared in T.J. Hooker (ABC/CBS, 1982-1986), Rescue 911 (CBS, 1989-1996), Boston Legal (ABC, 2004-2008), and $#*! My Dad Says (CBS, 2010-2011). His credits as a director include 10 episodes of T.J. Hooker and the 1989 film Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Shatner’s directing work on Star Trek V was pummeled by critics and fans alike, especially in light of the critical and popular praise heaped on Leonard Nimoy for his work directing Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986).
Sweating like Tom Jones. –That’s not unusual. –What’s new, pussycat?
Tom Jones (b. Thomas Jones Woodward) is a Grammy Award-winning Welsh singer who had tremendous success in the mid-1960s with such hits as “It’s Not Unusual” and “What’s New Pussycat?” (both 1965). His energetic live performances famously inspired his female fans to throw their underpants or hotel room keys onto the stage; tight pants, unbuttoned shirts, exposed chest hair, and perspiration were involved. In the 1970s Jones faded into the pop-culture background as an old-school, Vegas-only has-been. He then enjoyed a retro-hip comeback starting in the late 1980s, thanks to his cover of the Prince song “Kiss” and appearances on various TV shows like The Simpsons (Fox, 1986-present) and the Tim Burton comedy film Mars Attacks (1996).
What, are you carving Pinocchio?
Pinocchio is the little wooden-boy hero of the 1883 children’s book The Adventures of Pinocchio, by Italian author Carlo Collodi. Lovingly created as a puppet by woodcarver Geppetto, Pinocchio comes to life and longs to become a real boy. The story has been adapted and reimagined many times; the 1940 Disney animated feature Pinocchio is considered one of the greatest animated films of all time.
Tap hard once, tap hard twice.
Possibly an old slogan for the Hasbro tabletop game Don’t Break the Ice, which involves tapping plastic “ice blocks” with small hammers.
What, are you clamping every individual cell? Got the whole Dremel kit out.
Dremel is an American tool manufacturer established in 1932 that specializes in small, hand-held rotary and oscillating tools used for sanding, drilling, cutting, and other tasks.
Another That Girl reference (see above note). Marlo Thomas’ character, Ann Marie, was easily overwhelmed by life in the big city, and would frequently wail “Oh, Donald!” to her long-suffering boyfriend Donald Hollinger, played by Ted Bessell.
I shouldn’t have grabbed that Cobb salad for lunch.
Hollywood’s Brown Derby restaurant, and its owner Robert Howard Cobb, made this main-dish salad famous in the 1930s. It consists of finely chopped chicken or turkey, bacon, hard-boiled egg, tomato, avocado, scallions, cheddar cheese, and lettuce tossed with a vinaigrette dressing and topped with an ample portion of Roquefort or other blue cheese.
Crazy Clock. A new novel by Henry Miller.
See note on Crazy Cock, above.
Kinda looks like an Annie Leibovitz photo.
Anna-Lou “Annie” Leibovitz is an American photographer known for her intimate and revealing portraits of rock & roll icons (she spent ten years as Rolling Stone magazine’s chief photographer). One of her best-known works, taken for the magazine, is a portrait of a nude John Lennon lying on his side and embracing a clothed Yoko Ono. She shot the photo five hours before Lennon was murdered in front of his apartment building in New York City, on December 8, 1980.
Meanwhile, at Shakespeare in the Park. –Hope they’re doing Macbeth.
Originating with the New York Shakespeare Festival, held in Central Park in New York City, Shakespeare in the Park festivals involve outdoor performances (often free) of the plays of British playwright and poet William Shakespeare (1564-1616), with the goal of making them more accessible and available to everyday audiences. The New York festival often features A-list actors (e.g., James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, Patrick Stewart), and people line up for hours to get the free tickets. Macbeth (full title: The Tragedy of Macbeth) is a Shakespeare play dating to c. 1606. The story involves political ambition that leads to a spiral of violence, treachery, and madness. In the superstitious theater world, Macbeth has a longstanding reputation as a cursed play, so it’s taboo to utter the name inside a theater; it is instead referred to as “the Scottish play.” NYC’s Shakespeare in the Park did do Macbeth in 2006, with Liev Schreiber in the title role. See above note on “Meanwhile …”
Attention camp: Tonight’s movie is My Darling Clementine.
In the 1970 movie MASH, crude loudspeakers throughout a U.S. Army mobile surgical encampment in the Korean War would blare regular announcements, including halting and stilted descriptions of movies to be shown that night. (The announcements were made by voiceover actor Marvin Miller, best known for playing Robby the Robot in the 1956 sci-fi film Forbidden Planet.) My Darling Clementine is a 1946 film, considered one of the greatest westerns ever made. Directed by John Ford, it stars Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp in the time before the famous shootout at the OK Corral; Walter Brennan and Victor Mature appear in supporting roles.
“If the governments of all the nations do not accept my terms …” I will be very put out.
A paraphrase of another line from The Princess Bride (see above note): Prince Humperdinck (played by Chris Sarandon), chasing after his abducted fiancée, says, “She is alive, or was an hour ago. If she is otherwise when I find her, I shall be very put out.”
But first a message from True Value Hardware Stores.
The True Value Company is an American hardware chain headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. There are more than 4,000 retail outlets, which are supplied by True Value distribution centers, but independently owned and operated.
Meanwhile, Euell Gibbons hears the call of nature.
Euell Gibbons (1911-1975) was an environmentalist and dietary guru in the 1960s and 1970s. He advocated a diet heavy in natural, wholesome foods—fruits, nuts, whole grains, and so forth—and became a pop-culture punchline in the 1970s with a commercial for Grape-Nuts cereal, in which he asked, “Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible.”
He’s dying of Legionnaires’ disease.
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by the bacteria Legionella pneumophila. Both the previously unknown bacteria and the disease they cause were named after a 1976 outbreak that struck attendees of an American Legion convention in Philadelphia, where it was first identified.
[Whispered.] Shriners … Shriners …
See above note on Shriners.
Typical Shriner. Smashed his midget Mustang into a pole.
See note on Shriners, above. When they appear in parades, Shriners, in their snazzy red fezzes, famously weave around the parade route driving tiny cars and motorcycles. The Mustang is an iconic American sports car that was introduced by the Ford Motor Company in 1965 and has been in continuous production ever since.
Alexander Mundy. It Takes a Thief.
It Takes a Thief was a TV adventure series starring Robert Wagner as gentleman thief Alexander Mundy; it aired on ABC from 1968 to 1970. As the title unashamedly implies, it was a transparent clone of the 1955 Alfred Hitchcock thriller To Catch a Thief, which starred Cary Grant in the title role. Both took their titles from the old English proverb “It takes a thief to catch a thief,” which originated in the mid-17th century.
I’ll take those boots, Mr. Bond.
A typical statement made by a villain in a James Bond movie. The James Bond film series is a long-running series of British spy movies, beginning with Dr. No in 1962. They are based on the novels written by Ian Fleming, the first of which, Casino Royale, was published in 1953.
“Did you get close to the castle?” Close to Picasso?
Pablo Picasso is considered by many as the founder of modern art and one of the greatest geniuses the art world has ever known. He painted in many different styles over the course of his long career, of which the most famous is Cubism. His well-known works include a portrait of author Gertrude Stein, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, and Guernica.
It was Callahan. Callahan did it. I have my rights! I have my rights!
A reference to the 1971 action movie Dirty Harry, starring Clint Eastwood as tough-as-nails San Francisco Police Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan. In the film, there are a couple of scenes in which suspects’ rights are discussed, including one in which a wounded suspect desperately asks for a doctor and reminds Callahan of his right to talk to a lawyer. Callahan is unimpressed.
Come on, put on a happy face.
“Put on a Happy Face” is a song from the 1960 Broadway musical Bye Bye Birdie and its 1963 film adaptation, written by Lee Adams and Charles Strouse. Sample lyrics: “Gray skies are gonna clear up/Put on a happy face/Brush off the clouds and cheer up/Put on a happy face.”
See above note.
What a lovely tap pant.
Tap pants, also called “dance shorts,” are a type of women’s lingerie that look sort of like frilly track shorts. They were named after similar shorts worn by tap dancers in the early 20th century.
Mannix! –[Sung.] Theme from Mannix.
Mannix was a TV series starring Mike Connors (who appeared under the name “Touch Connors” in Show 503, Swamp Diamonds) as Joe Mannix, a private eye in Los Angeles who indulges in frequent car chases, shootouts, and fistfights. It aired from 1967-1975 on CBS. The opening credits feature a fast-paced, split-screen collection of the above-mentioned chases and fisticuffs, over a theme song composed by Lalo Schifrin (who also wrote the Mission: Impossible theme) that is in triple time, unusual for TV theme music.
“Don’t move, any of you.” It could be a trick, he didn’t say “Simon says.”
Simon Says is an old kids’ game in which the “Simon” tells the other children to do things—hop on one foot, touch their nose, etc.—prefacing each command with the words “Simon says.” If the Simon omits those words when giving an order, anyone who performs the requested action is “out.” The earliest known version dates back to the Roman Empire and was called “Cicero dicit fac hoc,” meaning, “Cicero says do this.” The name “Simon” likely entered into it after some court intrigue in the 1260s, when King Henry III of England was captured by the Earl of Leicester, Simon de Montfort, who for a year was the de facto ruler of England; in other words, for a time everyone in England had to do what Simon said.
We now return to Burt Young in The Mickey Rooney Story.
See note on Burt Young, above. Mickey Rooney (b. Joseph Yule Jr., 1920-2014) was an Academy, Golden Globe, and Emmy Award-winning American actor whose career lasted nearly 90 years. A large part of that career was spent playing roles younger than his actual age, thanks to his diminutive height and youthful looks.
Tonight, on a very violent Medical Center.
Medical Center was a TV drama that aired from 1969-1976 on CBS. Set in a Los Angeles hospital, it starred Chad Everett as young, brilliant surgeon Dr. Joe Gannon.
See above note.
[Sung.] My white knight …
“My White Knight” is a song from the 1957 Broadway musical The Music Man, written by Meredith Willson. In the 1962 film adaptation, “My White Knight” was replaced by the song “Being in Love,” which used the same bridge as the other song. Sample lyrics: “My white knight, not a Lancelot, nor an angel with wings/Just someone to love me, who is not ashamed of a few nice things.”
Oh, it’s Paloma Picasso, right where she belongs.
Paloma Picasso is a French/Spanish fashion and jewelry designer. She is the youngest daughter of painter Pablo Picasso (see above note), and was the subject of many of his paintings, including Paloma with an Orange and Paloma in Blue. She is particularly well-known for her work designing jewelry for Tiffany & Co.
Anjelica Huston is an Academy Award-winning American actress and director, best known for her Oscar-winning role in the 1985 mob drama/comedy film Prizzi’s Honor and for playing Morticia Addams in The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993). She is the daughter of acclaimed film director John Huston (1906-1987).
Hume Cronyn (1911-2003) was a Canadian actor whose career spanned seven decades. He is often remembered for roles he played alongside his wife of 52 years, Jessica Tandy, including such films as The Gin Game (1977) and Cocoon (1985).
“Is this the way …” To San Jose.
“Do You Know the Way to San Jose” is a Grammy-winning pop song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for Dionne Warwick. Warwick’s 1968 version was a top ten hit in the U.S. and her biggest hit internationally. Sample lyrics: “Do you know the way to San Jose?/I’ve been away so long/I may go wrong and lose my way/Do you know the way to San Jose?/I’m going back to find/Some peace of mind in San Jose.”
“You are no stranger.” Only a friend I haven’t met yet.
“There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t met yet” is often attributed to Irish poet William Butler Yeats, but the Quote Investigator website found no evidence he ever said it. They did find that quote or very similar ones attributed to dozens of other writers, poets, and speakers, from Will Rogers to Mitch Albom. It may have evolved from a similar line in a 1915 poem by Edgar Albert Guest, “Faith”: “I believe in the purpose of everything living,/That taking is but the forerunner of giving;/That strangers are friends that we some day may meet,/And not all the bitter can equal the sweet.”
“Fools do not trade.” Fools rush in.
“For fools rush in where angels fear to tread” is a line from the 1711 poem “An Essay on Criticism” by English satirist Alexander Pope. The line (either the first half, the second half, or in its entirety) has been used countless times in films, TV shows, books, and songs. An Essay on Criticism also contains the famous lines “A little learning is a dangerous thing” (often misquoted as “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”) and “To err is human, to forgive divine.”
Where’s she been all my death?
A riff on the age-old pickup line/term of endearment “Where have you been all my life?” The line has been appropriated into the titles of numerous songs and albums, the best-known being the 1962 song “Where Have You Been (All My Life),” written by Berry Mann and Cynthia Weil and first recorded by Arthur Alexander and covered by the Beatles, also in 1962.
“I will give you the head of your enemy.” Alfredo Garcia?
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is a 1974 Western/action movie directed and co-written by Sam Peckinpah. A commercial and critical failure when it was released, it has since gained a certain cult status and had an enormous influence on directors like Quentin Tarantino and Takeshi Kitano.
“Release him.” And let him love again.
A paraphrase of the 1949 pop song “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again),” written by Eddie Miller, Robert Yount, and James Pebworth. Miller’s own 1949 recording was not a hit; a few subsequent artists had minor success with the song, but a 1967 version by Engelbert Humperdinck became a top ten hit worldwide; in England it broke the Beatles’ string of number-one hits, then 11 songs long, by keeping “Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever” out of the top spot. “Release Me” then stayed on the charts for a record 56 consecutive weeks. The tune has been covered by artists ranging from Elvis Presley to Def Leppard. Sample lyrics: “Please release me, let me go/For I don’t love you anymore/To waste our lives would be a sin/Release me and let me love again.”
[Sung.] Torn between two lovers, feeling like a …
“Torn Between Two Lovers” is a 1976 pop song written by Pete Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, & Mary fame) and Phillip Jarrell. It was recorded by American folk singer Mary MacGregor, and became a number-one hit on the U.S. pop charts in early 1977. Sample lyrics: “I couldn’t really blame you if you turned and walked away/But with everything I feel inside, I’m asking you to stay/Torn between two lovers, feelin’ like a fool/Lovin’ both of you is breakin’ all the rules.”
“My men are camped in the hills …” The hills are alive …
These are the opening words to the title song of the 1959 Broadway musical The Sound of Music and its 1965 film adaptation, composed by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Sample lyrics: “The hills are alive with the sound of music/With songs they have sung for a thousand years/The hills fill my heart with the sound of music/My heart wants to sing every song it hears.”
Ed Ames you’re not.
In a famous 1965 appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, singer and actor Ed Ames—then playing Cherokee sidekick Mingo on the TV western Daniel Boone (NBC, 1964-1970)—demonstrated his tomahawk-throwing technique; his throw struck the cowboy target directly in the crotch, with the handle pointing up. The audience reaction is widely considered the longest sustained laugh by a live television audience, helped along by Carson’s quip: “I didn’t even know you were Jewish.”
Now, where did I park? Oh … the Giraffe? No.
The parking lot at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida is divided into sections named after various animals, including Peacock, Butterfly, Unicorn, Dinosaur, and Giraffe. The Philadelphia Zoo also features a Giraffe parking lot.
Who timed this print, Stevie Wonder?
In movie film processing labs, “timing a print” actually refers to controlling the exposure and brightness of the finished print. Stevie Wonder (b. Stevland Hardaway Judkins) is an American singer, songwriter, producer, and musician—blind since shortly after birth—who shot to fame in 1961 at age 11 as “Little Stevie Wonder,” and has remained one of the most popular and respected innovators of soul and R&B ever since. He has released 26 albums and won 25 Grammy Awards, as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
It’s Evening at the Improv, with Fu Manchu.
An Evening at the Improv was a TV series that showcased standup comedians; it aired from 1982-1996 on the A&E Network and in syndication. The show was taped at the L.A. Improv comedy club in Los Angeles, one of a chain of comedy clubs where established comedians tend to show up unannounced to work out new material. Behind the comedians onstage is an exposed brick wall, which was de rigueur for comedy clubs all over America during the mid-'80s standup comedy boom.
So let’s crack the party ball, man.
A party ball is, essentially, a round mini beer keg, holding about five gallons. Coors produced them from the 1980s until 2011.
Now then, the Pirates of Penzance will help you into your chair.
The Pirates of Penzance is a comic operetta written by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. First performed in 1879, it tells the story of a young man raised by pirates who falls in love with the beautiful daughter of a military man. A new version of Pirates opened on Broadway in 1981 and played for 787 performances; starring Rex Smith, Kevin Kline, and Linda Ronstadt, it earned three Tony Awards.
It’s Mrs. Soffel.
Mrs. Soffel is a 1984 film drama starring Diane Keaton and Mel Gibson. Keaton portrays Kate Soffel, the wife of a prison warden who helps a pair of condemned prisoners escape.
Mao Zedong (1893-1976), commonly referred to as “Chairman Mao” for his role as the chairman of the Communist Party of China, was the leader of the Chinese communist revolution and founder of the People’s Republic of China.
But right now she’s doing a blackout sketch.
A blackout sketch, also called a “bump,” is a short comedic sketch—usually just a two-line joke—that is used to break up longer sketches in revues or other variety performances. The name comes from vaudeville, when the stage lights were literally turned off after the punchline to give emphasis to the joke and to give the audience time to laugh.
He’s about to become a pencil-neck geek. –Uh-oh.
“Pencil-neck geek” is a catchphrase coined by American pro wrestler “Classy” Freddie Blassie (1918-2003). Blassie, who got his start wrestling at carnivals, originally used the term to describe a fellow carnival worker who played the “geek” in the sideshow, who apparently had a very long, thin neck. Blassie lent his voice to the 1975 novelty song “Pencil Neck Geek,” which was written by Pete Cicero and performed by Johnny Legend and became a regular item on the Dr. Demento Radio Show. Sample lyrics: “Pencil neck geek, grit eatin’ freak/Scum suckin’ pea head with a lousy physique/He’s a one man, no gut losing streak/Nothin’ but a pencil neck geek.” Blassie’s 2003 autobiography is titled Listen, You Pencil Neck Geeks.
I had Jell-O today.
Jell-O is a brand name for a number of gelatin desserts, puddings, and no-bake cream pies. The brand is owned by Kraft Foods, but, like Q-Tip and Kleenex, Jell-O has become a generic term for almost any brand of gelatin dessert. The phrase “I had Jell-O today,” spoken as if by an elderly or infirm hospital patient, is such a pervasive MST3K catchphrase (found on T-shirts, even) that its earliest use is uncertain.
Hey, just drop the ball and take a stroke! –For crying out loud. –Never find it in that rough.
Lingo from the game of golf: dropping the ball and taking a stroke means the player has decided the ball can’t be hit from where it lies, so a new ball is dropped behind the previous ball’s location, and the player is penalized one stroke. A rough is the area of grass between the fairway and out-of-bounds, or between the fairway and the green, where the grass is cut much higher and is, well, rougher.
They’re snipe hunting. –Snipe!
A snipe hunt is a type of practical joke in which a group of people take an unsuspecting victim out to the woods at night to hunt for “snipe,” a nonexistent creature. The victim is handed a bag and told that the others will drive the snipe in his direction so he can catch them in the bag. Then those who are in on the joke leave and wait for the victim to catch on.
It’s like the ninja version of Days of Heaven.
Days of Heaven is a 1978 Terrence Malick film about the hard life of farming in 1916 in the Texas Panhandle. It starred Richard Gere and Brooke Adams and was rife with lush footage of amber waves of grain.
Oh, out, vile jelly, where is thy luster now?
In William Shakespeare’s c. 1606 play King Lear, Act III, Scene 7, King Lear’s scheming daughter Regan and her husband, the Duke of Cornwall, gouge out one of the Earl of Gloucester’s eyes, murdering Gloucester’s servant into the bargain. Before the servant dies, he points out that Gloucester still has one eye left to see justice done. Cornwall responds, “Lest it see more, prevent it. Out, vile jelly! Where is thy luster now?” and pops out the remaining eye.
The 429 B.C.E. Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, and its various later adaptations, also contains some delightful eye-gouging, with the title character, in a fit of despair, plunging some golden dress-pins into his own eyes.
Burt Young’s wardrobe by Victoria’s Secret.
See note on Burt Young, above. Victoria’s Secret is a retail chain specializing in women’s lingerie and beauty products. It was founded in 1977 by Roy Raymond as a place for men to buy lingerie without feeling intimidated or uncomfortable. Its fashion shows and catalogs, featuring top fashion models in extremely revealing attire, are both admired and derided as widely available soft-core pornography. Deep trivia: Raymond sold the company for $1 million in 1982, and the new owner refocused the company on appealing to female customers. By the early 1990s it was worth more than $1 billion, while Raymond had gone bankrupt with other business ventures. He committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in 1993.
Man, your face could launch a thousand ships.
Helen of Troy’s legendary beauty was such that, in the c. 1590 play The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, the question is asked, “Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships/And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?” (referring to her role in sparking the Trojan War).
“I shall broadcast at midnight.” On the King Biscuit Flower Hour.
The King Biscuit Flower Hour was a syndicated radio program that featured recordings of live concerts and interviews with rock artists such as The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen. The program was prerecorded and edited, then distributed to radio stations (primarily classic rock FM stations) for broadcast on Sunday nights. New programs were produced between 1973 and 1993, after which previous programs were repeated until 2005. The name of the program was a nod to the longest-running American daily radio show, King Biscuit Time, sponsored by King Biscuit Flour—with a little nod also to the hippie-era phrase “flower power.”
Go to bed, old man!
An often-heard MST3K riff, this one came in at number 49 in the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide’s list of the “50 Most Obscure References,” with the explanation “Another hopelessly insular reference, this is an homage to comedian Dana Gould. It is directly from his act.”
Welcome to Swingback, with Jazzbo Collins.
Albert Richard “Jazzbo” Collins (1919-1997) was an American DJ and radio and TV host, best known for broadcasting jazz from his imaginary “Purple Grotto” and briefly (for five weeks in 1957) as host of NBC’s Tonight Show. We couldn’t find any references to him hosting a show called Swingback.
Hey, it’s Waldo! They found Waldo! They found Waldo.
Where’s Waldo? is a series of children’s picture books created by Illustrator Martin Handford that ask the reader to find Waldo, a dark-haired fellow with glasses, clad in a striped shirt and hiking gear, among an enormous crowd of people. In England, where the series originated, he is known as Wally.
Doctor Pee-pee? –Petrie! –Ohh. –Dish.
See note on Petri dishes, above.
“Nayland Smith is dead.” Long live Nayland Smith. –He’s dead.
“The king is dead, long live the king” is a traditional way to announce the death of one monarch and the accession of a new one, thus demonstrating the continuity of the reigning family. The phrase was first used in France—“Le roi est mort, vive le roi!”—in 1422 upon the death of Charles VI and the accession of his son, Charles VII.
Hey, she reached Level 3 of Super Mario Brothers. –Cool. –[Sung.] Music from Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. is the classic 1985 sequel to the comparatively dull 1983 video game Mario Bros. It featured plumber Mario (and his brother, Luigi) descending into the pipes of alternate universes to kill mushroom men, sentient turtles, and more while trying to rescue Princess Toadstool. It is one of the best-selling video games of all time, with more than 40 million units sold. The six-song musical score was written by Nintendo sound designer Koji Kondo; it was one of the first video game scores meant to be an integral part of the game, and not just an attention grabber. Kondo also designed all the game’s sound effects.
Hey, it’s Spalding Gray, he’s having his perfect moment. –Spalding, man! You’re out too far!
Spalding Gray (1941-2004) was an American performance artist, actor, and writer whose best-known works consisted of him sitting at a table and telling a story in a long monologue. These included Monster in a Box and Gray’s Anatomy. He committed suicide in 2004. In his 1985 monologue Swimming to Cambodia, and its 1987 film adaptation directed by Jonathan Demme, he describes achieving a “perfect moment” while swimming in Southeast Asia, and being called to by friends back on shore.
Yeah, well, I’ll have you know that Roger Ebert liked this film. –Well, I’ll have you know that the only thing Roger Ebert likes is big pans of lasagna. –And lots of them.
Roger Ebert (1942-2013) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic and screenwriter. Best known for his long run on television in various film-reviewing programs alongside fellow critic Gene Siskel, Ebert wrote movie reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. Though cancer of the salivary gland led to his lower jaw being removed in 2006, meaning he could no longer eat or speak normally, he continued to write and blog. In healthier days, however, his robust physique implied that he may have enjoyed the occasional pan of lasagna.
Now that we’re going to die, I could tell you of a thousand wonderful hours …
A callback to Show 201, Rocketship X-M (according to Satellite News).
Tony Blake IS The Magician.
The Magician was an American TV series that starred Bill Bixby (The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, My Favorite Martian) as Anthony “Tony” Blake, a rich playboy stage magician who uses his powers of illusion to solve crimes. Though it aired on NBC for only one season (1973-1974), the show was influential: The X-Files (Fox, 1993-2002) creator Chris Carter worked the show into Agent Mulder’s back story, and The Magician has been referenced in various other shows, including The Incredible Hulk (NBC/CBS, 1977-1982) and Quantum Leap (1989-1993).
Looks like the opening of Mod Squad.
The Mod Squad was a TV police drama that aired from 1968-1973 on ABC. The opening title sequence featured the principal characters running breathlessly through a dark, rain-soaked alleyway; just who or what was chasing them remained a mystery. The show told the story of three young, groovy troublemakers recruited by the police to go undercover where the un-groovy cops could never venture. Though it seems laughably dated today, The Mod Squad was innovative for its time: it portrayed a Black character (Linc, played by Clarence Williams III) on equal terms with his white counterparts and addressed controversial social issues such as abortion, Vietnam War protests, and racism.
Are they celebrating Hanukkah? –Yeah, looks like.
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that is observed over the course of eight nights and days. Also called “The Festival of Lights,” observance of Hanukkah involves the daily lighting of candles on a nine-branched candelabrum: one for each day of the holiday, and a raised one in the center to light the rest.
You know, he looks like Bill Wyman. –Sure does.
Bill Wyman (b. William George Perks Jr.) is a British musician, songwriter, and producer best known for playing bass with The Rolling Stones from 1962 to 1993. Since then he has continued to record and tour with his band Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings.
Powers Boothe. –No. –No? –No. –Oh.
Powers Allan Boothe (1948-2017) was an American actor best known for his work as Jim Jones in the CBS TV movie Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones (1980), and his portrayal of detective Philip Marlowe in a series on HBO (Philip Marlowe, Private Eye; 1983-1986). From 2015-2016 he played Gideon Malick on the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013-present).
“I think I’ve managed to break through into the London frequency.” Not with that Etch A Sketch you won’t.
The Etch A Sketch is an art toy made by the Ohio Art Company since 1960 until it was bought by Spin Master in 2016. It was developed by Frenchman André Cassagnes, who named it “L‘Ecran Magique” (“The Magic Screen”). The device uses a fine aluminum powder coating on the inside of a glass screen. Two knobs control a stylus on the inside that scrapes off the powder to draw lines. Since the lines can only be drawn side to side or up and down, curves have always been a bit challenging.
“Send a warning to the Bosporus.” Uh, yeah, right. Come on, Mickey Mouse broadcasting from Disneyland.
Mickey Mouse is a cartoon character created in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks for the short film Plane Crazy. (Trivia: Plane Crazy and The Gallopin’ Gaucho were silent animated shorts featuring Mickey, but the more famous Steamboat Willie was released first because it had a synchronized soundtrack. After Steamboat’s success, Disney went back and added sound to the two other shorts, which were then released.) The mouse’s high-pitched voice and round ears have become iconic, and Mickey has been considered the symbol of the Walt Disney Company for decades. Disneyland is a Disney theme park in Anaheim, California. It first opened in 1955.
Whoa, getting a little feedback from those old tube amps are quirky. –Yeah, they are, aren’t they?
Early musical instrument and home stereo amplifiers featured vacuum tubes in their electrical innards. With the advent of the silicon transistor in the 1970s, amplifying equipment became less susceptible to breakage and overheating, but many people lamented the loss of the “warmer” sound delivered by tube amplifiers. So they’ve never really gone away, with many musicians (especially guitar players) and home audio enthusiasts lovingly owning and maintaining tube amplifiers. The mention of “feedback” implies they’re talking about guitar amps.
[Imitating.] Yes. Yes, dear. I’m doing it, dear.
An imitation of Monty Python alum John Cleese, in his role as long-suffering and henpecked husband Basil Fawlty in the British sitcom Fawlty Towers (BBC2, 1975-1979).
Why, it’s lemony Rosco fog. –I love that stuff.
A reference to the dense vapor emitted by fog machines, also called smoke machines, which are used for concerts, magic shows, haunted houses, parties, etc. Rosco is an American manufacturer of the machines, as well as other entertainment lighting products.
“The Professor!” And Mary Ann!
Two characters on Gilligan’s Island (see above note). Each of the characters is introduced in the show’s opening theme song, with “… the Professor and Mary Ann …” tacked on at the end, almost as an afterthought. This is because in the original theme song, used for the first season, the Professor and Mary Ann were famously the only characters not mentioned by name—the song ended with “… and the rest …” (MST3K: The Movie riffs This Island Earth, co-starring Russell Johnson, who later played the Professor. When Johnson first enters, Mike says, “What’s this ‘and the rest’ crap?”)
A reference to actor Yul Brynner (1920-1985), best known for roles in The King and I (1956), The Ten Commandments (1956), and The Magnificent Seven (1960). He was a well-known smoker (having started at the age of 12), and after being diagnosed with lung cancer, he appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America and said he wished he could make an anti-smoking commercial. After he died, a portion of that interview aired as a PSA for the American Cancer Society, including the lines, “Now that I’m gone, I tell you, don’t smoke. Whatever you do, just don’t smoke.”
This is like one of those old Duran Duran videos.
Duran Duran are a British new wave band that formed in 1978 and continues to record and perform. They enjoyed their greatest success in the early 1980s, thanks primarily to MTV saturating the basic cable airwaves with slickly produced videos that portrayed them as “New Romantic” glamour boys, with all the weird lighting and fog machines that implies. They took their name from the character Dr. Durand Durand in the 1968 science-fiction movie Barbarella.
Don’t smoke. Don’t smoke. Okay, you can smoke. –Stop it, Crow.
See previous note on Yul Brynner.
Mr. Clean. Dead at 35.
Mr. Clean is a brand of home cleaning products manufactured by Procter & Gamble that first appeared in 1958. The advertising icon for the brand, also known as Mr. Clean, is a large, bald man standing with his arms folded. He was created in 1957.
Oh, all of a sudden this is like Flashdance.
Flashdance is a 1983 movie starring Jennifer Beals as a steelworker by day/exotic dancer by night, who nurtures dreams of becoming a professional dancer. An iconic image from the film involves Beals’ dance routine, in which she is drenched in water poured on her from above the stage.
By this time my lungs were aching—oh, who cares?
Part of a favorite MST3K riff—“By this time my lungs were aching for air …”—which references Sea Hunt, a syndicated action-adventure TV show that aired from 1958 to 1961. It starred Lloyd Bridges as scuba diver Mike Nelson (where have we heard that name before?) and followed his undersea adventures. In many episodes, his scuba tank’s air hoses would be cut, either by accident or through sabotage.
This is the trickle-down theory of plots.
The “trickle-down theory” of economics holds that tax cuts and other economic benefits given to corporations and upper-income individuals will ultimately benefit lower-income individuals and the economy as a whole. Implementation of “trickle-down” policies, however, have historically led to the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
So the point of the movie was to save Burt Young? –I guess so.
See above note on Burt Young.
Women, huh? Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em. I know. I hear ya. Let’s go get some lunch.
“Can’t live with them, can’t live without them” is one of the many, many Greek and Latin proverbs contained in Adagia, compiled and annotated by Dutch humanist Desiderious Erasmus Roterodamus and first published in 1500. (A closer translation: “Neither with bad things nor without them.”)
Filmed in blackface now. Mammy!
A reference to singer/actor Al Jolson and his signature song, “My Mammy,” which he performed at the end of the first “talkie,” the 1927 film The Jazz Singer. Jolson, a white man, would perform the song on bended knee, and, of course, in blackface (makeup to make him appear Black, which was still considered acceptable in showbiz back then).
Oh, she’s relaxing in the green room before the show.
In theater, television, and other performing arts, a green room is a sort of lounge space where performers wait for their cue to go onstage, adjourn after their performance, or wait between scenes. There are various theories about the origins of the name. Modern green rooms are rarely actually green.
Dry ice, Rosco fog, and blood. That’s about it.
Dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) placed in water produces dense clouds of fog-like vapor, much like the vapor produced by fog machines (see note on Rosco fog, above), except the vapor produced by dry ice sinks to the floor before dissipating.
Hey, it’s a sewer system. Where’s Ed Norton? –Nowhere to be seen.
Ed Norton was a sewer worker played by Art Carney (1918-2003) in a series of sketches titled “The Honeymooners” on the DuMont Network’s Cavalcade of Stars and then on CBS’s The Jackie Gleason Show from 1952 to 1957, and again from 1966-1970. The Honeymooners also ran as a half-hour sitcom on CBS from 1955-1956, lasting only one season.
Guys, I’d say this qualifies as the dark night of the soul.
Dark Night of the Soul is a 16th-century poem by Spanish poet and mystic St. John of the Cross, who also wrote two book-length commentaries about the poem. It deals with the soul’s mystical union with God. The term “dark night of the soul” has come to mean a spiritual crisis.
[Imitating.] Yes, it’s Runaway with the Rich and Famous …
An imitation of British/American celebrity reporter Robin Leach (1941-2018), who became a household name in the 1980s and 1990s as host and over-the-top narrator of the syndicated TV series Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (1984-1995). As the name implies, the program showcased the homes, cars, boats, planes, etc. of the celebrities and business magnates of the day, along with their extravagant and materialistic lifestyles. Runaway with the Rich and Famous was a short-lived 1987 offshoot of the original series, also hosted by Leach, which focused on the vacation destinations of celebrities.
See above note.
We have Paula Abdul’s new video, coming up next on MTV.
At the time of this episode, Paula Abdul was best known as a musician and choreographer, with hit singles “Forever Your Girl,” “Straight Up,” and “Opposites Attract” (with MC Skat Cat). She has since become known as one of the original judges on American Idol (she was on from 2002-2009), and various other reality/performance shows, including X Factor and So You Think You Can Dance. MTV, which originally stood for “Music Television,” is a basic cable channel launched in 1981. It used to play a continuous stream of music videos and quickly grew into an industry behemoth that could make or break an artist. MTV made physical appearance and visual style increasingly important components of the music biz. Over time the channel turned away from videos, focusing instead on pseudo-reality programs, game shows, and bandstand-style dance showcases; in 2010, MTV dropped “Music Television” from their logo, along with any pretense that their programming had anything to do with music.
Classic Captain Kirk chop. Known as a pork chop.
Captain James T. Kirk was the lead character on the landmark sci-fi TV series Star Trek (NBC, 1966-1969) and the subsequent feature films. The role was played by William Shatner, and frequently involved fight scenes centered on the pseudo-karate moves (judo chop!) popular in the action shows of the time. Shatner struggled with his weight while the show was on the air, and he went on to gain a few pounds in later life.
Let’s hide in the miniature golf course.
Miniature golf is exactly what it sounds like: a miniature version of the game of golf. It started in the late 19th century as a lawn game and by the mid-20th century it had evolved into the form we know today, with small windmills, water hazards, underground tubes, and all the other hoopla that has made the game a perennial favorite with children.
MacGyver is a TV series that aired from 1985-1992 on ABC. It starred Richard Dean Anderson in the title role as secret agent Angus MacGyver, who always managed to rig up scientific gizmos out of everyday objects to get himself out of predicaments.
Greece? They just blew up … –Monticello.
Monticello is the estate of founding father Thomas Jefferson. The main house is a fine example of the neoclassical style, which was partially derived from Greek and Roman architecture. He somewhat obsessively built and rebuilt his home over the course of forty or so years.
Come forward, Cowardly Lion.
A reference to the iconic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. The heroine Dorothy and her companions Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman, and Cowardly Lion at last meet The Great and Powerful Oz, in the form of the Wizard’s face hugely projected onto smoke. The Wizard does indeed say “Come forward,” but to the group as a whole, not to the Cowardly Lion specifically.
Fu Manchu will be back in Sweet, Sweet … oh, who cares.
A nod to the James Bond action/spy film series, which end with a teaser in the closing credits promoting the next Bond film: “James Bond will be back in …” Also a truncated reference to the 1971 film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, which was written, directed by, and starred Melvin Van Peebles. Its success is frequently credited for the subsequent surge in blaxploitation cinema.