301: Cave Dwellers
by Chris Baumgartner
This must be in shoebox format here. Neat.
"Shoebox" is a reference to the letterbox format as it was then known. Most films were filmed in so-called "widescreen," and when they were shown on television, they were typically "pan-and-scan," meaning zoomed in with the frame shifting to focus on the action. "Widescreen," however, showed the entire frame as it was intended, though it left two empty spaces above and below the image: thus "letterbox." With the arrival of high-definition televisions, this is no longer a concern. This particular edit of Cave Dwellers (aka Ator the Invincible) is a Film Ventures International production. Those bad graphics on a jumble of footage from a completely different movie, in this case 1960's Taur the Mighty? Yeah. FVI got the rights to dozens of films for the purpose of distributing "clips." Then they lopped off the opening credits, altered the music or edited out some scenes, and distributed what was left as a "clip," even though it was damn near the whole movie. MST3K used several of their films. FVI is out of business now.
How much Keeffe is in this movie, anyway? –Miles-o-Keeffe.
Actor Miles O'Keeffe got his break in the 1981 film Tarzan the Ape Man. That's the infamously terrible one that starred Bo Derek as Jane. He starred in three Ator films (out of the four that were made). Cave Dwellers was originally titled Ator 2–L’invincible Orion and was released in the U.S. as The Blademaster. O’Keeffe famously contacted Best Brains after the show aired and told them he enjoyed their work on Cave Dwellers, saying, “Man, I’ve been waiting a long time for something like this to happen to one of my movies.”
Hey now, look here, you can actually see the driver turn and shoot Kennedy.
In 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, a local clothing manufacturer named Abraham Zapruder brought his home movie camera to film the motorcade procession. His is the only film record of the assassination and was extensively used by the Warren Commission in its investigation of the president’s death. It has also given birth to many conspiracy theories claiming that someone other than Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy—the famous “grassy knoll,” the identity of the mysterious three tramps, the New Orleans connection, the purported involvement of the military-industrial complex …
Hey, Jodie Foster’s sister. I’d shoot Donald Regan to prove my love for Lisa Foster.
A reference to the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley, Jr. Hinckley shot Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster, whom he had been stalking. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity, much to the disdain of the American public. This led to the 1984 Insanity Defense Reform Act, which made it more difficult for defendants to plead insanity. In 2016 Hinckley was granted a closesly monitored release. Donald Regan (1918-2003, obviously not the president's brother) as Reagan's secretary of the treasury and became his chief of staff in his second term. He resigned in 1987 due to fallout from the Iran-Contra scandal.
Borromel, the thorough but gentle laxative.
Dulcolax brand laxative uses the slogan “Thorough but gentle.”
Isn’t this a scene from Brian’s Song?
The 1971 made-for-TV movie Brian’s Song dramatized the real-life story of Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo, two football players with the Chicago Bears. They were played by Billy Dee Williams and James Caan (1940-2022). Piccolo dies young of cancer in the 74-minute tear jerker. Williams is famous for playing Lando Calrissian in Star Wars Episodes V and VI and for appearing in a series of commercials for Colt 45. Caan starred primarily in feature films, such as The Godfather, Funny Lady, and Misery.
Yeah, that’s Billy Dee Williams and James Caan. “I love Brian Piccolo. And when you hit your knees tonight, ask God to love him too.”
See previous note. A month before Piccolo died, Sayers accepted an award, and in his speech told the crowd they had chosen the wrong recipient: "I love Brian Piccolo, and I'd like all of you to love him, too. Tonight, when you hit your knees to pray, please ask God to love him, too." The scene was dramatized in Brian’s Song.
David Cain Haughton. Wasn’t he an assassin? –You’re thinking of Lee Harvey Oswald.
David Cain Haughton (aka David Brandon) is an Irish actor. Lee Harvey Oswald (1939-1963) was accused of assassinating U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1963 (see previous note). Oswald was himself shot and killed by a nightclub owner, Jack Ruby, two days after he was arrested for the murder; Ruby died of lung cancer in prison in 1967.
No, it was James Earl Ray.
James Earl Ray (1928-1998) assassinated civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. Ray pled guilty, but later claimed he was innocent. He maintained that claim until his death. King’s son supported Ray’s request for a case review, but in 1998 Attorney General Janet Reno said there was no credible evidence to support his claims that a shadowy conspiracy was responsible for King’s murder.
No, Mark David Chapman.
Mark David Chapman assassinated musician and former Beatle John Lennon in 1980 in New York City. He was sentenced to twenty years to life, but has been denied parole repeatedly since completing the minimum sentence in 2000.
John Wilkes Booth.
John Wilkes Booth (1838-1865) assassinated U.S. President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. He fled and was caught hiding in a tobacco barn. The pursuing posse set the barn on fire, and then shot Booth as he tried to get out.
No it’s Arthur Bremmel. –Huh? –Arthur Bremer?
Arthur Bremer shot Democratic presidential candidate and Alabama Governor George Wallace in 1972. Wallace survived but was paralyzed from the waist down. Wallace was widely disliked because he vehemently supported segregation and opposed the Civil Rights Amendment. Later in life, he admitted he had been wrong. Bremer was paroled in 2007.
Hey look, Rustichelli. That's good with a little pesto sauce and some sun-dried tomatoes.
Pesto is an Italian sauce (more like a paste, really) made of garlic, basil leaves, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese blended with olive oil.
Hey, John Newman. We can put his spaghetti sauce on the rusticelli.
This refers to actor Paul Newman (1925-2008), who helped found a for-profit company, Newman’s Own, which makes pasta sauce, salad dressing, and a variety of bottled food flavorings. The wealthy actor donated all post-tax profits from the brand to a variety of charities.
The hills have eyes, but they have glaucoma right now.
The Hills Have Eyes is a 1977 horror flick by Wes Craven, the auteur behind the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. It is about a family whose car breaks down on their way to California; they are promptly attacked by savages. The film was remade by Alexandre Aja in 2006.
It’s the cast party for Cats. It’s Betty Buckley and she’s eating Dick Van Patten.
Actress/model Betty Buckley played Grizabella in the 1982 Broadway hit Cats. She won a Tony for her performance. Betty Buckley and Dick Van Patten played Tom and Abby Bradford, the parents of the enormous family on the TV series Eight Is Enough, which aired from 1977-1981. (Buckley was actually the stepmother; the original mother on the show was played by Diana Hyland, who became ill after filming only a few episodes of the first season and died a few days after the first episode aired. Buckley replaced her as the now-widowed Patten’s girlfriend in the second season, and the couple married halfway through the season.)
They are in AA now.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a self-help system for alcoholics that relies on a twelve-step program and the support of other alcoholics to help people quit drinking. It was founded in 1935 by a stockbroker and a surgeon. By the end of the 20th century, AA had about two million members, most of them in the United States and Canada. The group gives out medallions to mark milestones in its members’ struggle to maintain sobriety, a tradition begun in the early days of AA by Sister Mary Ignatia Gavin.
Hey, there’s a monolith outside. –Yeah, everybody’s evolving and stuff, it’s really neat.
The monolith appears in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick. Spoiler alert: The monolith is an enigmatic object left by aliens that helps accelerate human evolution at critical points. Its origin and purpose are never revealed.
Hey, Grog just threw a bone in the air and it turned into a spaceship.
See previous note. A caveman exposed to the monolith receives a mysterious gift of knowledge and is shown making the connection of how to make a weapon. In ecstasy over his discovery, the caveman hurls a bone into the air. The film then jump cuts to an orbiting bone-shaped satellite in the far distant future. Trace Beaulieu’s bone-shaped design of the Satellite of Love is an homage to that scene.
Come on, come on. Crow Magnon. –Neeyah-nderthal. –Australopithecus africanus.
Human evolution can be traced back using direct physical evidence for at least 4.5 million years; these are some of the terms for various types of hominids. Cro-Magnon is a now-outdated name for early Homo sapiens (originally referring to a specific group of humans who lived in present-day France). Neanderthals are an extinct species of human that first appeared in the fossil record about half a million years ago, primarily in Europe and western Asia. Their prominent brow and jaw led to the use of the word as an insult, meaning "dumb." Unfairly, perhaps, given our current scientific understanding of them. Scientists believe they mated with early Homo sapiens, too, meaning we all have a little Neanderthal in us. Australopithecus africanus is an early ancestor of modern humans that lived 2 million to 3 million years ago in Africa. A fossil of this species discovered in 1924 was named the "Taung Child" after the South African town nearby.
Come on, get in line, get in line! The Time-Life photographer is here.
Life Magazine was a current events magazine that told its stories using photographs. It was bought by Time magazine founder, the mega-rich Henry Luce. Life was very popular during the WWII era. It exists only online today.
It’s the gorgeous ladies of wrestling.
GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) was a women’s wrestling TV show that aired in syndication from 1986-1990. It was an all-women format that featured over-the-top, egocentric performances, typical of pro wrestling. Netflix also released a show by the same name in 2017, a fictional comedy about the women's wrestling circuit.
It's the man who invented the wedgie.
A wedgie is a classic light bullying technique in which a person’s underwear is forcibly pulled up by another person so that it becomes wedged between the butt cheeks.
It’s an early version of West Side Story. Uhh, I just met a girl named “Uhh.”
A paraphrase of the song “Maria” from the musical West Side Story. Actual lyrics: “Maria, I’ve just met a girl named Maria/And suddenly the name will never be the same to me/Maria! I’ve just kissed a girl named Maria/And suddenly I’ve found how wonderful a sound can be.”
Stately Wayne Manor.
A phrase used to describe the residence of millionaire Bruce Wayne (a.k.a. Batman) on the Batman TV show (1966-1968). The announcer with the characteristic voice was also the show’s producer, William Dozier. The Pasadena, California, mansion used for the show’s exterior is located at 380 San Rafael Drive.
Wow. It’s Barbi Benton.
Barbi Benton was a Playboy Playmate and later a singer during the late 1960s through the mid-1980s. Her real name was Barbara Klein, and she can be seen trying to act in the movie Deathstalker.
Hef, we’re all out of Evian.
Hugh Hefner (1926-2017), a.k.a. “Hef,” was the founder of Playboy magazine and one of the last bastions of the 1960s bachelor lifestyle. Evian is a brand of mineral water that comes from the south shore of Lake Geneva, France.
“Last night, I had a strange dream …” About a chick in a black bikini. Ooh!
“Chick-A-Boom (Don’t Ya Jes’ Love It)” is a pop song written by Janice Lee Gwin and Linda Martin and performed by Daddy Dewdrop (Dick Monda) that was a top ten hit in 1971. Sample lyrics: “Last night I had a crazy dream/About a chick in a black bikini/Mmh/Oh she looked so good she couldn't be real/So she must be a magic genie.”
Stronger than dirt.
“Stronger than dirt” was the original ad slogan for Ajax brand powdered bleach cleanser.
“Like all weapons it must be kept away from ambitious men.” And Nazis.
The National Socialist German Workers' Party was a political group founded in Germany in 1920 by Anton Drexler. Its first leader was Karl Herrer, but Adolf Hitler rose to power within the group in 1921. By the 1930s, their power grew to encompass part of the German parliament and Hitler's appointment as Chancellor in 1933. Things went downhill from there.
Son of Flogmog, keeper of the seven keys of Fintoozler.
"Fintoozler" is a made-up, Seussian word the MST3K gang uses from time to time.
"...and taught him the martial arts." And "Martial" Crenshaw. "Martial" Tucker.
Marshall Crenshaw is a singer/guitarist who achieved fame in the late 1970s after playing John Lennon in the touring lip-sync act Beatlemania. His best-known song is “Someday, Someway.” The Marshall Tucker Band is a Southern rock band, with songs like “Can’t You See” and “Heard It in a Love Song” hitting the charts in the 1970s.
Hey, Jean Kasem.
Jean Kasem is the statuesque blond actress and businesswoman who married “American Top 40” DJ Casey Kasem. She appeared on Cheers as Loretta Tortelli, the wife of Carla’s ex-husband Nick Tortelli. She also owns a company that makes baby cribs.
The Shroud of Turin.
The Shroud of Turin was for centuries an object of veneration in the Roman Catholic Church. Purported to be the winding cloth of Jesus Christ, the length of cloth bore a faint image of a man with the marks of nails through the wrists, whip marks on the back, and lacerations around the head, as if from a crown of thorns. Numerous tests over the years meant to determine its authenticity proved inconclusive, but carbon dating in 1988 finally showed that the Shroud dated only to about the 13th or 14th century C.E. The Catholic Church has since officially announced that the Shroud is not authentic.
Jeez, Tolkien couldn’t follow this plot!
J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) is perhaps the most famous fantasy author of all time, penning the epic trilogy Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. LotR in particular is a long, intricate, detailed tale of adventure, and the universe that Tolkien created grew ever more elaborate, with numerous races each having their own languages, histories, and cultures.
It's the wango ze-tango!
The Ted Nugent song "Wango Tango" appears on his 1980 album Scream Dream, and begins with a shouted “Alright! It’s ze-wango ze-tango! 1-2-3-4!” The cover features a buff Nugent wearing a loincloth much like Ator's.
Ooh, Cher at the funhouse.
Cher (born Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPierre) is a singer and actress who has appeared on various television shows and in films. She first rose to fame as the co-host of a series of TV variety shows with her then-husband, Sonny Bono. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Moonstruck (1987).
It’s the Aztec Mummy!
A reference to Show 102, The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy.
And the secret decoder ring.
Secret decoders were inexpensive children’s toys, often mailed out as promotions for radio serials, that would enable listeners to decode a secret message transmitted as part of the program. One of the most famous was for the Captain Midnight radio show. Although they were called “secret decoder rings,” they were usually pins or badges rather than finger rings.
Come on, those Moon Boots went out in the ‘70s.
Moon Boots are a brand of Italian-made nylon snow boots, bearing the words “Moon Boot” in giant gaudy lettering. They come in lots of primary colors, which make them good for people who like to color-coordinate their winter garb. They run about $90 a pair.
Played by Tommy Chong.
Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong were a comedy duo during the 1970s, most of whose humor revolved around getting stoned. They put out ten albums beginning in 1971 and starred in eight films. In 2003-2004, Tommy Chong served nine months in federal prison on charges related to his family’s marijuana paraphernalia business, whereas, as of 2018, Cheech Marin has a successful enterprise growing and selling legal marijuana: Cheech’s Private Stash. Guess it’s all in the timing.
Oh, he’s been gonged.
The Gong Show was an amateur talent competition show that appeared on NBC and in syndication from 1976 to 1980. It was produced and (usually) hosted by Chuck Barris. On the show, singers, comedians, jugglers, etc., performed before a panel of three celebrity judges who, if they didn’t like the act, would strike the large gong behind them, thus disqualifying the contestant. It underwent a brief revival in 1988.
And its free prize inside.
Cracker Jack is a snack consisting of caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts; the mascot for Cracker Jack is a young boy in a sailor suit named Sailor Jack and his dog, Bingo. Introduced in 1896, some food historians consider Cracker Jack the first junk food. In 1912, with a new box proclaiming “Toy Surprise Inside”, the manufacturer started offering a prize in every box. Originally the prize was a small toy, such as a whistle or compass. In the late ‘90s concerns over choking hazards for small children led to the toys being replaced by stickers, paper puzzles, or temporary tattoos. In 2016, the “prize” became a QR code to download games onto mobile devices.
Objects in shield are smaller than they appear.
Side-view mirrors on passenger vehicles are often convex, which allows a wider field of view to appear on the curved surface. This also has the effect of making the reflected object appear farther away than it is, so a warning is often printed on the mirror to remind the driver.
Then he worked out on the charismatic Soloflex of Zontar thirteen.
Soloflex Inc. produces home fitness machines that were widely advertised on television in the 1990s. The Soloflex machine uses elastic bands to create resistance instead of lead weights. The resulting machine is more compact for home use. However, the bands can wear out and break, with potentially painful consequences. "Zontar" is a likely reference to the 1966 made-for-TV sci-fi movie Zontar, the Thing From Venus (a.k.a. Zontar: The Invader From Venus), starring John Agar. It was a color remake of Roger Corman’s 1956 It Conquered the World, mocked in Show 311.
Played here by Jimmy Carl Black of the Mothers of Invention.
This riff came in at number three of “The Fifty Most Obscure References” in the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide. As Kevin Murphy puts it: “Jimmy Carl Black was one of The Mothers of Invention since they were substantially the Soul Giants in 1964. He played on all the Mothers' early masterworks from 'Freak Out' to 'Weasels Ripped My Flesh.' He called himself 'the Indian of the group' because he was Native American. He played drums and dressed up in ladies' clothes on the album We're Only In It for the Money, and it scared me a little when I was young. I'm over that now.”
An imitation of Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, the bumbling protagonist of the Pink Panther movies. In order to keep his reflexes sharp, Clouseau had ordered his servant Cato Fong (played by Burt Kwouk) to attack him on a regular basis.
He used to be a teppanyaki chef.
Teppanyaki is a Japanese cooking style featuring items cooked on a large, flat steel griddle. The Benihana chain of restaurants uses teppanyaki style.
A reference to Show 104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet.
Then they do improv exercises.
Improv exercises are specific training methods to teach actors how to carry on unscripted improvisational dialogues. Sample techniques include speak-in-one-voice (a sort of complicated game of dramatic freeze tag) and word-at-a-time (in which students stand in a circle and take turns telling a story one word at a time).
But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.
This is a line from the Rolling Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” off the 1969 Let It Bleed album. Sample lyrics: “You can't always get what you want/But if you try sometimes you might find/You get what you need.”
Stately Wayne Manor.
See above note.
What’s Wayne Manor? –Oh, that’s where Batman lived before he became the Dark Knight in those comic books. –They are not comic books, they’re graphic novels.
Batman is a comic book superhero from DC Comics who made his first appearance in 1939. In 1986, an artist named Frank Miller wrote a classic series of stories about a late-middle-aged Batman coming out of retirement to fight crime, titled Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. It was highly popular and reinvigorated the aged series. Modern geek culture began referring to comic books as graphic novels in the 1980s in an effort to lend a bit of cachet to a genre that some felt was vastly underrated for its artistic and literary achievements.
Music by the Super Mario Brothers.
Super Mario Bros. is the classic 1985 sequel to the comparatively dull 1983 video game Mario Bros., both made by Nintendo and designed by Shigeru Miyamoto. 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. Until 2009, it was the world's best-selling video game, with more than 40 million units sold. Music for the game was composed by Koji Kondo. It was created for an 8-bit PWM sound chip with simple tone and melody generation capability.
Better eighty-six the hooch. A little nip won't hurt.
In modern parlance, “eighty-six” means to get rid of something, or to eject someone from an establishment, as in “I got eighty-sixed from that dive bar.” It is believed to have originated in the 1930s as restaurant code for "we're out of it" (though other theories abound). It later evolved to mean "don't serve him," thanks to the 1940s drinking binges of actor John Barrymore, before evolving again to mean "get rid of it."
It’s raining men, hallelujah.
A line from the 1982 Weather Girls song “It’s Raining Men.” Sample lyrics: “It’s raining men! Hallelujah!/It’s raining men! Amen!/I’m gonna go out to run and let myself get/Absolutely soaking wet!” The song was written in 1979 by Paul Jabara and Paul Shaffer (yes, that Paul Shaffer).
Oh, jeez, this has more pauses than a Pinter play!
Harold Pinter (1930-2008) was a British playwright and screenwriter known for such works as The Birthday Party and The Servant. He is credited with having invented the school of theater known as the “comedy of menace” and is often lumped in with the absurdists.
Oh, observational humor.
Observational humor is a type of comedy that forgoes the typical setup/punchline structure of joke telling in favor of longer, more conversational bits that point out the little absurdities in everyday life. Masters of the form include Jerry Seinfeld and the late George Carlin.
God, I love Seinfeld.
Seinfeld was a television sitcom starring comedian Jerry Seinfeld that aired from 1989-1998. It was consistently one of the top-rated shows throughout its run—not bad for a show that purported to be about “nothing.”
She's in love.
Cupid is a Roman god associated with love, the son of Venus, the goddess of love, and Mars, the god of war (Eros is his Greek equivalent). He is often pictured as a naked baby with wings and a bow and arrow. Whoever he shoots falls in love immediately.
You idiot, we don’t even have a doe license.
To hunt female antlerless deer, a special license (a doe permit) is often required. The deer population is managed by state and national wildlife regulation agencies.
Let me see, you were playing a Titleist, right? You’ve got a rotten lie, let me tell you.
Titleist is a popular brand of golf balls.
Oh lady? Can we have our arrow back? Lady? Oh Mrs. Lady?
This is an imitation of comedian Jerry Lewis (1926-2017). Lewis’s persona was usually a dimwit who had trouble composing sentences without betraying his utter befuddlement. It is combined here with a reference to the 1964 film A Hard Day’s Night, featuring The Beatles. The group catcalls an old man, saying, “Mister? Can we have our ball back?”
And bring me the head of Gallagher.
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. Gallagher, full name Leo Anthony Gallagher (1946-2022), was a “prop” comic best known for smashing watermelons onstage with a sledgehammer. In Joel Hodgson’s early days as a prop comic, Gallagher was rude and dismissive to Joel backstage, leading to years of rude and dismissive riffs about Gallagher on MST3K.
[Imitating.] Welcome to Death Valley Days. The driver’s either missing or he’s dead.
Death Valley Days was a radio, and then a television anthology series, set in the Wild West, that ran from 1930 to 1975. Each episode was introduced by a host; from 1965 to 1966 that host was Ronald Reagan, his final work as a professional actor before entering politics. However, this recurring riff is actually a reference to a moment in the “Phantom Creeps” short in Show 205, Rocket Attack USA, when a character says, “The driver is gone or he’s hiding” in a very Ronald Reagan-like voice. Some fans came to believe that “The driver is either missing or he’s dead” was something that Ronald Reagan was actually known for saying. Not true. (Thanks to Satellite News for this reference.)
A Mark VII production.
Mark VII Limited was a television production company founded by Jack Webb, star of Dragnet. In addition to Dragnet, Mark VII produced Emergency! and Adam-12, among other shows. Its logo showed an arm wielding a hammer to chisel the Mark VII logo into stone.
He doesn’t give a tinker’s damn about anything.
“Tinker’s damn” is a U.K. expression for something worthless or insignificant. Some believe the origin of the phrase lies in the “dams” tinkers used to direct the flow of their lead solder, but actually it appears tinkers just swore a lot; the phrase “tinker’s cuss” was common in the 19th century as well.
He’s washing with Lava. –The soap? –No, the real thing.
Lava soap is a heavy-duty hand cleaner originally developed by the Waltke Company in 1893. Currently, it’s manufactured by WD-40. Lava contains ground pumice to act as an abrasive in cleaning the skin.
“Marmaduke” is a comic strip created by Brad Anderson in 1954 about an ill-behaved Great Dane. Following Anderson’s death in 2015, his son Paul took over drawing the strip.
Well, it’s up to the dog. No, Marmaduke, don’t use the triple overhand stitch. Bad dog.
See previous note.
Boy, look how primitive their wet naps were during the Dark Ages.
Wet naps or wet wipes are premoistened towelettes sold in plastic containers. The disposable papers are used to wash skin when no source of running water is available. They contain a mild astringent/soap/water mixture. Wet-Naps were invented by Arthur Julius in the late 1950s and really took off in 1963, when Kentucky Fried Chicken contracted with them to supply the chain. Wet-Nap has since become a brand eponym for all such disposable napkins. The Dark Ages generally refer to the period in Europe after the decline of the Roman Empire, between about the fifth and tenth centuries B.C.E.
It's the best show tune ever. It's brassy, sassy; it's a musical humdinger.
A reference to a famous review quote from NBC's Gene Shalit about the 1975 musical film Funny Lady: "A classy, brassy, sassy musical humdinger." How about this for some random trivia: the word "humdinger" began in the 1300s as just "dinger," meaning "to beat." Thanks to colonialism, the word came to America and evolved to mean "excel." In the 1800s, the onomatopoetic term "hummer" (a hum of approval, "Mmmm-mmmm") was added on and the word became "hummerdinger." It eventually contracted to just "humdinger" in the early 1900s.
Let’s see..."Quid Malmborg in Plano." Wait a minute, this is the Magna Carta!
“Quid Malmborg in Plano” (Latin for “why is Malmborg in the field?”) is a phrase that was bandied about on the 1971 album I Think We’re All Bozos on this Bus, by the surrealist comedy troupe Firesign Theater. The Magna Carta is an English legal document from 1215, signed by King John and his feudal barons (much against the king’s will). It is considered a cornerstone of democracy and individual rights. It is the first document to grant the right of due process, legal protection under the law to citizen and king alike. (Thanks to Lynn Knott for deciphering “Quid Malmborg in Plano.”)
I pledge allegiance …
The Pledge of Allegiance is a patriotic oath to the United States of America. It is credited to an editor of a children’s magazine and was adopted officially in 1924, with the subsequently controversial “under God” line added in 1954 to show up the commies. The final version: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.”
“Your knowledge of surgery has surpassed even that of The Great One.” Jackie Gleason?
Comedian Jackie Gleason was given the moniker “The Great One” by Orson Welles after a drunken night out. Gleason was the star of several early television comedy shows including The Honeymooners and Life of Reilly.
Thanks for the beer, Gomez.
A possible reference to Gomez Addams, patriarch of the macabre Addams Family, introduced by New Yorker cartoonist Charles Addams in 1938. He was played by John Astin in the '60s television series The Addams Family and its animated follow-ups, by Raúl Juliá in two '90s feature films, by Tim Curry in a straight-to-video sequel, and by Glen Taranto in a late-'90s sitcom, The New Addams Family.
Oh, right. I’m a freshman at a small Midwestern college. The small one was dark with long hair.
An imitation of the type of letters frequently received at the “Penthouse Forum,” a column published in Penthouse magazine, in which readers would write in explicit letters about their “real-life” sexual experiences, most of which were wildly implausible. There is now a magazine called Penthouse Forum as well.
Now sing something from Paint Your Wagon.
The 1969 movie Paint Your Wagon is a bizarre musical starring several non-musical, tough guy actors, including Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin. The story is about two men who share a wife in a Wild West mining town. The vocal performances are chez tragic.
“If you are really the daughter of Akronas …” Kronos Quartet?
The Kronos Quartet is an orchestral string group. They tour extensively and promote new and contemporary classical music from around the world.
Next on Current Affair, women behind bars.
A Current Affair was a TV “news” show that aired from 1986-1996. It specialized in celebrity gossip, lurid sex scandals, and other socially redeeming topics. It was hosted for the first four years by Maury Povich and then by Maureen O’Boyle.
Hm. Okay, let’s see now, there's a super ball, and half a peanut, and a length of kite string, and a carpenter’s saw.
Super Ball is a trademarked brand name owned by the Wham-O toy company. The ball is an incredibly bouncy synthetic rubber compound invented by Norman Stingley in 1964.
What would MacGyver do?
MacGyver was a TV series that aired from 1985-1992. It starred Richard Dean Anderson in the title role as a secret agent who always managed to rig up a scientific gizmo to get himself out of whatever predicament he was in.
Dibs is generally a childhood method of laying claim to something by yelling out “Dibs!” In America, at least. In most other English-speaking nations, this is referred to as “bags” and dates back to the mid-1800s. As for the origin of the word “dibs,” theories vary. Three possibilities: 1) it’s an abbreviation of the Yiddish phrase “fin dibsy,” meaning “lay claim”; 2) “dibs” derives from the word “divvy,” or divide; or 3) in the 17th-century children’s game “dibstones,” similar to the modern game of jacks, when a child captured a playing piece, he/she would call out “Dibs!”
[Sung.] Love, love, love!
A line from the theme song to the TV series Love, American Style, which aired from 1969-1974. The opening credits of the series featured bursts of fireworks going off behind the show’s heart-shaped logo. Sample lyrics: “And on a star-spangled night my love (My love come to me)/You can rest your head on my shoulder/Out by the dawn’s early light, my love/I will defend your right to try …”
Ancient Chinese secret, huh?
Calgon wash water treatment ran a popular TV ad in the 1970s that featured a laundromat run by a young Asian couple. The husband boasts that their whiteness formula is an ancient Chinese secret, but the wife reveals it is actually Calgon. The customer scoffs, “Ancient Chinese secret, huh?” while the husband squirms. Calgon is considered a water softening agent, which prevents lime buildup and washing machine damage in hard water areas.
He looks like Willie Nelson, doesn’t he?
Willie Nelson is a country music singer best known for “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” He sports a long beard and braids. His lengthy career includes a string of hits, duets, and extensive touring. He has also had difficulties with the IRS, which seized his assets in 1990 for failure to pay taxes, and has been arrested several times for possession of marijuana.
And he knows Liza.
Liza Minnelli is the daughter of Judy Garland. She is a singer and actress best known for her starring role in Cabaret and many stints on Broadway.
“Those forces which men believe uncontrollable.” The IRS.
The Internal Revenue Service was created in 1862 to collect taxes to pay for the Civil War. If you're interested, the first tax rate was 3 percent for people who made more than $800 annually. Most Americans made less than that at the time and were thus exempt.
Willie Nelson’s a tough audience.
See previous note.
Hey, doesn’t he make leather mugs at the Renaissance Festival?
Renaissance Festivals (or Faires or Ren Fests) are an entertainment phenomenon that began in Southern California in the 1960s and spread first to the rest of California and then the nation. There are now more than sixty Renaissance Festivals across the United States, attempting to give visitors the flavor of the Renaissance (often Renaissance England). Generally they feature a number of vendors selling swords, leather mugs, jewelry, and so forth; singers, dancers, and comedians performing; a “court” complete with king, queen, and courtiers; and rides and games for both children and adults.
And that’s my only line.
“But it’s my only line” is a recurring joke in the sketch comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus, first used in Season 1, broadcast on the BBC in 1969.
It’s the chalice from the palace.
This is a witty line of banter from the 1956 Danny Kaye movie The Court Jester. Kaye: “I’ve got it! I’ve got it! The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true! Right?”
They are getting close to Ridley Scott now.
Director Ridley Scott, although better known for his sci-fi classics Alien and Blade Runner, also made a forgettable sword-and-sorcery epic called Legend (1985). It starred Tom Cruise (!) as Jack o’ the Green, off on a magical quest to rescue a princess, complete with goblins, unicorns, fairies, elves, dwarves, and the devil played by Tim Curry in horns and red latex.
Whose woods are these, I think I know, we’ll watch these woods fill up with fog.
From the poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by poet Robert Frost. This poem contains the famous lines “The woods are lovely, dark and deep/But I have promises to keep/And miles to go before I sleep...”
A reference to Show 206, Ring of Terror.
I say, it’s foggy.
A reference to Show 101, The Crawling Eye.
Guys, this isn't funny. Guys?
A very common horror movie trope. Just before someone gets stabbed, gutted, chopped, axed, beheaded, etc., they wander around in the dark helplessly bleating this line.
A reference to Show 206, Ring of Terror.
Did someone say Ator? Paging Mr. Ator.
“Paging Mr. Herman” is a line from the Paul Reubens (1952-2023) film Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985).
Fred? Wilma? Barney? Echo.
The animated TV series The Flintstones aired from 1960-1966. A prehistoric take on The Honeymooners set in the town of Bedrock, it starred the voice talents of Alan Reed (as patriarch Fred Flintstone) and Mel Blanc (as Fred’s pal Barney Rubble). Wilma Flintstone, played by Jean Vander Pyl, was Fred’s wife. The show was the first prime-time animated hit.
Oh, come on, what is this, a Charlie Callas routine?
Charlie Callas (1927-2011) was a standup comedian and occasional actor. He had a knack for making sound effects with his mouth. Callas was a fixture on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and had a long-running act in Las Vegas.
What is this, a Heart video?
The rock band Heart, known for their 1977 hit “Barracuda,” features the sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson. Lead singer Ann had trouble managing her weight over the years, and their music videos used creative editing to hide that fact from their image-obsessed teenage fans.
Play misty for me.
Play Misty for Me is a 1971 film starring Clint Eastwood as a jazz DJ being stalked by an obsessed fan.
Daddy? As long as we’re here, can we stop over at the Gap and get some 501s?
The Gap is a chain of retail casual clothing stores founded in 1969. However, Gap does not sell Levi’s 501s, but rather their own brand of jeans; Levi’s are carried at most department stores.
Gah, no, guy, I don’t want to sample Giorgio.
According to the FragranceWholesale.com web site, Giorgio perfume, manufactured by Giorgio of Beverly Hills, is “a romantic, sharp, floral fragrance” that “possesses a blend of rose, gardenia, sandalwood, orange flower, jasmine, carnation, lily of the valley, and hyacinth.” It was introduced in 1982.
Well, there’s Syd Field.
Syd Field (1935-2013) was the “guru of all screenwriters,” according to CNN. He taught screenwriting at the University of Southern California and has written several books on screenwriting that are used as standard texts by hundreds of schools. Amusingly, his actual screenwriting credits are few and far between (a handful of TV episodes, a short film), but his fingerprints are all over Hollywood to this day. Field taught the “three-act” structure, in which the plot is set up in the first half hour (the first act), the second act focuses on the main character’s struggle to achieve his/her goal, and the third act is the climactic struggle and aftermath, in which the protagonist either does or does not achieve the goal.
Hey, I hate Clinique, really, I’m just looking.
Clinique is a brand of cosmetics and skin-care products manufactured by Estee Lauder.
No, no, no, it’s walk softly and carry a large ...
From a speech by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1901: “Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far.”
Francis Ford Coppola is a film director known for such classic movies as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now.
Ojibwa. Wait a minute, I invented a word.
Ojibwa Indians are a Native American tribe who live in the Upper Midwest and southern central Canada.
Ung, rhubarb. Caveman rhubarb.
Along with "rutabaga," "watermelon," and "peas and carrots," "rhubarb" is one of those words that background extras are often told to mutter among themselves as a way to simulate conversation in television shows and films.
I am a noble savage.
The concept of a “noble savage”—meaning an indigenous person, wild man, or some kind of outsider who has not been corrupted by civilization—has become a kind of standard character in literature and film. The basic character archetype appeared in 16th century French literature, in the works of Jacques Cartier and Michel de Montaigne, and Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau certainly promoted the concept in his writings. The actual phrase “noble savage” first appeared in the 1672 play The Conquest of Granada, by John Dryden.
There’s that great Hammond organ sound.
The Hammond Organ Company’s electric organs were extremely popular among musicians in the 1960s and ‘70s for their tone, acoustic complexity, low cost, and portability. They were often used with rotating Leslie speakers to great effect. The Suzuki Corporation now makes Hammond organs for church, rock, and jazz bands that reproduce the vintage Hammond sound digitally.
Tuesdays are human sacrifice day at the Sizzler.
Sizzler is a national chain of reasonably priced steak and seafood restaurants. They were founded in 1958 in Culver City, California.
I think Tony Bennett left that in San Francisco.
Italian-American crooner Tony Bennett (192602023) used “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” as his signature song. He recorded it in 1962, and it won two Grammy Awards.
I want a Barney Clark bar.
Barney Clark was the first patient to receive an artificial heart, in December 1982; it kept him alive for about 112 days. A Clark bar is a candy bar. It has a milk chocolate outer layer over a crispy peanut-flavored toffee center.
See above note.
Ator comes out of the hole, around the fire …
This is a scene from the movie Jaws (1975). Quint is teaching Brody how to tie a barrel knot by describing the rope as an eel. Barrel knots join two lines together very strongly.
Sees his shadow.
For the superstitious, on Groundhog Day, February 2nd, a groundhog determines the length of time until spring by seeing, or not seeing, his shadow. The town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, has developed an elaborate Groundhog Day festival centered around their famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil.
Hey, it’s Dr. Christiaan Barnard. Was.
Dr. Christiaan Barnard (1922-2001) performed the world’s first human heart transplant in South Africa in 1967.
You know, now this really is a Heart video.
See above note.
She got childproof cap.
The Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970 gave the Consumer Product Safety Commission the power to dictate packaging requirements to industry in order to deter access to poisons by children. Childproof caps became mandatory for prescription drugs, OTC medications, and certain dangerous household chemicals.
I’ve got a wonderful grinchy idea.
The Grinch is the main character in the 1957 children’s book How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, by Dr. Seuss, as well as the 1966 animated TV special based on the book. A grouchy fellow who dwells in a cave, he sets out to steal Christmas from the Whos in Whoville, but eventually learns the true meaning of Christmas and has a change of heart. When he decides to steal Christmas, the line in the book and the TV show is, “The Grinch had a wonderful, awful idea.”
They’re kinda dumb, they’re easy to kill. The American Gladiators.
American Gladiators was a TV game show from 1989-1996. It featured teams of male and female bodybuilders who would try to prevent contestants from scoring points in various contrived physical contests. Perhaps the most recognized event was the Joust, where giant Q-tip–like batons were used to bat opponents off a balance beam.
By the stubbing of my thumb, something stupid this way comes.
William Shakespeare wrote “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes” in Act IV, Scene 1 of the play Macbeth.
Dreezle Drazzle Drozzle Drome, time for this one to come home.
Mr. Wizard, in the cartoon Tooter Turtle (1960-1961) used the incantation “Dreezle, drazzle, drizzle, drome, time for this one to come home” to magically rescue Tooter, whom he had previously sent on an adventure into time to be something other than a slow-witted turtle. The line also appears in the Replacements song “Hold My Life,” off their 1985 album Tim.
So Bob Hope owns all of that?
Comedian-actor Bob Hope (1903-2003) used his acting money to buy real estate for investment in remote, undeveloped areas. Forbes estimated Hope’s real estate holdings to be worth $85 million in 1985.
Uh, yeah, we’re thinking of turning it into a nine-holer.
Hope was an avid golfer. He sponsored an annual tournament in Palm Springs, the Bob Hope Classic.
Bad country singer.
See note about Willie Nelson, above.
Again with the finger.
A reference to a line in The Sunshine Boys, a play by Neil Simon that was made into a 1975 film starring Walter Matthau and George Burns as two feuding vaudevillians. The actual line: “The finger! You’re starting again with the finger!”
Hey, Paul Wellstone.
Paul Wellstone (1944-2002) was a U.S. senator from Minnesota. He died in a plane crash in 2002 along with his wife and daughter.
Thank you, sir!
A possible impression of either Robert (Derek Deadman) or Benson (Jerold Wells), the masochistic minions of Evil (David Warner) in the 1981 time travel comedy Time Bandits.
Okay, I’ll do linking rings. I’ll do ball in the cup, I’ll do metamorphosis, wait!
These are traditionally popular magic tricks: linking rings that mysteriously join and free themselves, a ball that falls through solid cups, and metamorphosis, an illusion that is credited to John Nevil Maskelyne but was made famous by Harry Houdini. In metamorphosis, the magician is chained and placed inside a locked trunk. In a quick motion, the assistant lifts a curtain in front of her, and appears to instantly change into the magician. It is a stunning illusion.
“It’s much too quiet here.” Too, too quiet.
The origin of this oft-quoted phrase goes back to 1920 and French artist Marcel Duchamp's writings about Prohibition America: "One doesn't drink here any more and it's quiet, too quiet."
Oh no, they’ve jumped right into a Kurosawa film.
Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998) was a Japanese filmmaker of very high regard. He has been cited as an influence on many Western directors such as George Lucas. Many of his films were about the samurai warriors of Japan’s past, such as his classic The Seven Samurai, which was remade in the West as The Magnificent Seven.
Toshiro Mifune, right there.
Toshiro Mifune (1920-1997) appeared in at least a dozen Kurosawa films, including Rashomon and The Seven Samurai.
A popular catchphrase on MST3K first used in Show 207, Wild Rebels. In a 2009 online forum, Joel Hodgson pointed out that the phrase originally came from the comic Jimbo, Adventures in Paradise, by illustrator and Emmy Award–winning Pee-wee’s Playhouse set designer Gary Panter.
Warriors, come out and pla-yay!
A line from the 1979 film The Warriors, about battling street gangs in New York City.
Now, you see? I use two blades. The first blade lifts the head away from the body, before the head can snap back, and bleha …
Safety razors with multiple blades would regularly advertise on television using cartoons to show how their razors lift the hair away from the skin before cutting it cleanly off. Today’s safety razors have five blades in the advanced models.
Wicker armor, courtesy Pier 1. It doesn’t work too well, it’s just decorative.
Pier 1 Imports is a chain of home furnishing and furniture stores. They began in California in 1967 and are now nationwide. The quality of their items is not always as important to their clientele as its appearance. Wicker vs. rattan is a clear distinction.
Hurts, don’t it.
According to Mike Nelson, the frequently used riff “Hurts, don’t it? Tell your friends” is a reference to a scene in the 1989 Patrick Swayze movie (and MST3K writer’s room favorite) Road House. Mike calls it “Casablanca-style-quoting,” meaning it sounded right, but not actually word-for-word from the movie. In Road House, the character Wade kicks a bad guy, then says “Goddamn, that hurts, doesn’t it?” Mike describes the “Tell your friends” line as a more “generic cliché.”
Look-out, it’s Koko the Terrible. Ha ha ha, goofy old mime.
In 1916, Max Fleischer began producing a series of animated shorts called “Out of the Inkwell,” starring a character called Koko the Clown. At the beginning of each cartoon, Koko would clamber out of a photo of a real inkwell. He later appeared as a supporting character in a number of Betty Boop cartoons. His last appearance was on television in 1962.
Over, cross … I will kill you!
A reference to the 1984 movie adaptation of Dune. Actor/musician Sting plays Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, who challenges Paul Muad’Dib to a fight to the death, screaming “I WILL kill him!!!"
Hey, is this where the kegger is? We saw Mark's van in front.
A kegger is an informal party in which a keg (or many kegs) of beer is the central focus. Keggers are an underage drinking rite of passage for American high-school students, and pretty standard social gatherings on or around college campuses.
Hey, Madison West.
Madison West High School in Madison, Wisconsin features three large arched masonry doorways at its main entrance, kind of like the stone archway in this scene. Kevin Murphy got his Master of Arts degree at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
I say, you could drive a Mack truck through your cues. Tempo, tempo, pick it up.
Mack trucks were first designed in 1914. They make semi-tractor trailer trucks.
But as an Andrew McCarthy fan, whew!
Andrew McCarthy is an actor turned writer/director. He is best known for his role in Weekend at Bernie’s and a string of Brat Pack movies.
Go to bed, old man.
This line came in at number 49 of “The Fifty Most Obscure References” in The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide: “Another hopelessly insular reference, this is an homage to comedian Dana Gould. It is directly from his act.” Dana Gould was a guest writer for Season 11.
“Ator has escaped again.” D’oh!
This is the classic exclamation uttered by Homer Simpson (referred to in scripts as "annoyed grunt") on the animated TV series The Simpsons, which first aired in 1989. Twenty years before that, it was often said by the Skipper (Alan Hale Jr.) on the '60s sitcom Gilligan's Island. Actor Dan Castellaneta, who supplies the voice of Homer, has said he borrowed the phrase from a comedian named James Finlayson, who appeared in a number of Laurel & Hardy shorts. In 2001, the expression made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, thus becoming enshrined in the English language.
Hi, Curt Gowdy here. Join Thong and Phil Harris and me out on the Idaho River, fishing for trout.
Curt Gowdy (1919-2006) was a sportscaster known as the voice of the Boston Red Sox; he also appeared on NBC Sports for many years. Beginning in 1965, he hosted the long-running series The American Sportsman on ABC. Each episode featured Gowdy chatting with celebrities while hunting or fishing. Phil Harris (1904-1995) played the hard-partying bandleader on The Jack Benny Program on radio for many years and later had his own long-running radio show along with his wife, actress Alice Faye. He later enjoyed fame in animation, voicing Baloo the Bear in Disney’s The Jungle Book (1967) and Little John in Robin Hood (1973).
Ator, what's your dream?
A reference to Show 201, Rocketship X-M.
“Man’s destiny is always predetermined.” Oh, he’s a Calvinist.
Calvinism is a branch of Protestantism founded by religious thinker John Calvin (1509-1564). Calvin’s interpretation of biblical scripture emphasizes God’s supreme power over everything, even man’s decision about whether to follow Christ, and thus argues that men’s salvation or damnation has already been decided by God; this is known as the doctrine of predestination.
Oh wow, what I wouldn’t give for a Weed Eater right now.
Weed Eater is a brand of lawn care machines. Originally, it was a hand-held weed whacking tool, but now the name spans a whole line of products. They are owned by Husqvarna AB.
The Village People?
The Village People was a popular disco group of the 1970s. They were known for their costumes—a construction worker, a policeman, a Native American, a GI, a biker, and a cowboy—and the hit song and dance “YMCA.”
If you love something, let it go.
The saying “If you love something very much, let it go free. If it does not return, it was not meant to be yours. If it does return, love it as hard as you can for the rest of your life” was popularized by a poster created by pop artist Peter Max in 1972. The earliest known version of the saying appeared in the privately published 1969 book I Ain’t Much Baby, But I’m All I’ve Got by Jess Lair, who attributed the saying to one of his students. Many attribute it to Richard Bach, author of the popular ‘70s inspirational book Jonathan Livingston Seagull, but the phrase doesn’t appear in any of his works. It’s often simply attributed to “Anonymous.” British musician Sting had a hit with his 1985 song “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free.”
I’ll be doing the death scene from Camille, thank you.
Camille is a 1936 movie starring Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor. Based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas, it tells the story of a courtesan in Paris who falls in love with a young man but leaves him in order to not ruin his life; in the end she falls into poverty and ill health but discovers that her lover still cares for her.
Come forward, Cowardly Lion. Oh, it’s a woman.
“Come forward, Cowardly Lion” is a line from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
Nancy Walker in a cameo role.
Nancy Walker (1922-1992) was an actress best known for her role on the long-running series of commercials for Bounty paper towels (the “quicker-picker-upper”). She also played Ida Morgenstern on the TV series The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda.
Hey! It’s Speedy Delivery guy, and has he got a package!
A possible reference to the delivery man Mr. McFeely (played by David Newell) on the PBS children's series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1968-2001). His hat read "Speedy Delivery," and he said the phrase repeatedly as he shuffled around to deliver his package. A 2008 PBS documentary about Newell is titled Speedy Delivery.
“Stop!” In the name of love.
The Supremes were a musical trio in the 1960s that recorded such hits as “Where Did Our Love Go” and “Baby Love.” The three members were Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, and lead singer Diana Ross. “Stop! In the Name of Love” was a hit in 1965.
Dude looks like a lady. [Doofus laughter.]
“Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” was a hit for the rock band Aerosmith in 1987. It appears on the album Permanent Vacation. Their androgynous lead singer Steven Tyler wears makeup and shredded women’s clothing as part of his stage act.
“I want to fight.” For my right to party.
“(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)” was a hit for the Beastie Boys in 1987. It appears on Licensed to Ill. An entertaining music video helped the New York hip hop band reach a wider audience.
We need more Calgon.
See note on Calgon, above.
My husband. Some hot shot.
See note on Calgon, above.
Ancient Chinese secret, huh.
See note on Calgon, above.
Ator's prehistoric cave dwellers and Milwaukee are a long way apart. But they have one thing in common. Caveland means the best human hearts available. And Milwaukee means sacred wine.
Old Milwaukee is a beer produced by the Pabst Brewing Company. It was originally made by the once-revered Schlitz Brewing Company. “There’s nothing like the flavor of a special place, and Old Milwaukee Beer” was the jingle for their commercials. The ads showed male models in outdoor work clothing pairing the cheap beer with regional luxury foods while a narrator rambled on with something like the above speech.
I smell a rat. A big commie rat.
A paraphrased line from the 1964 film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. It is spoken by General “Buck” Turgidson, played by George C. Scott.
Hey. It’s Timothy Leary. I guess Liddy will have to do the tour without him.
Former Harvard professor and LSD promoter Timothy Leary and former Nixon aide G. Gordon Liddy held a series of mock debates on college campuses in the 1980s. One can only assume this was done for the money on both sides. Liddy had been recently paroled from prison for the Watergate break-in, and Leary had lost all academic credibility.
Yeah, yeah, get some sleep, Quentin, okay? Is your ear drained? Good.
A possible reference to English writer and gay advocate Quentin Crisp (1908-1999).
We secretly switched Ator’s coffee with Folgers Crystals. Let’s watch.
Folgers Instant Coffee Crystals had a popular TV ad campaign in the 1970s and early 1980s involving real coffee at famous restaurants being covertly swapped for their instant brew. Amazingly, the people in the commercial could not tell the difference.
See above note.
Before the dawn of time. A race of Druids. Nobody knew who they were, or where they came from.
Paraphrasing the spoken word introduction to the song “Stonehenge” by Spinal Tap: “In ancient times … Hundreds of years before the dawn of history lived a strange race of people … the Druids. No one knows who they were or what they were doing, but their legacy remains, hewn into the living rock … Of Stonehenge.”
Monday morning quarterback.
This phrase comes from American football: following a major game broadcast on Sunday, the next morning fans are often brimming with wisdom about what their teams should have done on the gridiron. In general usage, the phrase describes a person who is critical or judgmental, but only with the benefit of hindsight.
This is CNN … Luke.
James Earl Jones is an actor especially known for his deep voice, which has been heard most famously in the original Star Wars trilogy as the voice of Darth Vader, and for a time as the interstitial voice announcer for CNN.
Check it out. They worship the Munsingwear penguin.
Munsingwear is an American clothing manufacturer dating back to the late 1800s. Their logo is a penguin. They were once associated with polo-styled shirts made from man-made fabrics—the kind of thing pro bowlers would wear. Today they are under the aegis of Perry Ellis and have improved their styling to suit the times.
Pardon us. Did you see a little tiny fox run through here? No?
Fox hunting is a traditional sport in the United Kingdom. A red fox is hunted by a group of hounds, with armed hunters following on horseback. Recently, the practice of using dogs for fox hunting has been banned in the U.K. after years of protests calling the practice inhumane.
Hey, it’s Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders.
Theodore Roosevelt was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and former assistant secretary of the Navy. He helped liberate Cuba during the Spanish-American War by forming an elite cavalry unit called the Rough Riders. He was nominated for a Medal of Honor. He would later become governor of New York and president of the United States.
I think it’s the Kurds. –And whey? –Yes, way.
Kurds or Kurdish is an ethnic group largely found in the Middle East. Ethnic tensions in the region and the lack of a UN-designated homeland make their situation dependent on racial tolerance, which is not always sufficient. The Iraqi government carried out a brutal genocidal cleansing program against the Kurds in the 1980s that killed thousands of civilians, and during the 1920s and ‘30s the Turkish government forcibly relocated about one million Kurds in that country, placing the Kurdish areas under martial law after they rebelled. The 1805 nursery rhyme “Little Miss Muffet” goes: “Little Miss Muffet/Sat on a tuffet/Eating her curds and whey/Along came a spider/Who sat down beside her/And frightened Miss Muffet away.” “Curds and whey” is cottage cheese, by the whey.
They are terrifying, aren’t they? With those bandanas. And they look very Machiavellian with their shirts off.
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was a political philosopher and writer from Italy during the Renaissance. In 1513 he wrote The Prince, which was advice to a ruthless, amoral ruler on how to maintain power. He is considered the first author to write about contemporary political science.
This is the “Pillage” People.
See note on the Village People, above.
Looks like the back lot at Universal.
Universal Studios near Hollywood, California, is one of the oldest motion picture film studios. Their large back lot area was a filming location appearing in many popular television series and films, so that elements are easily recognizable from show to show. The Universal back lot has suffered eight major fires since 1932, including a huge one in 2008 that caused an estimated $50 million in damage. At the time it was reported that some archival TV and film stored in vaults had been destroyed, but the worst had been averted. In 2019 it was revealed that, in fact, a heartbreaking collection of music recordings had been lost in the 2008 fire, including irreplaceable master tapes of works by such artists as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Buddy Holly, Ray Charles, Elton John, Joni Mitchell, the Eagles, and many, many more.
This scene is brought to you by Kingsford charcoal. –Edges light quickly.
“Edges light quickly” is an old slogan for Kingsford charcoal. Kingsford was started by a relative of Henry Ford, when Ford needed something done with all the scrap wood piling up in his automobile factory. They are the most popular brand of grilling briquettes and are still made from recycled and scrap wood.
You know, they shouldn’t have filmed this at Yellowstone.
The largest ever wildfire at Yellowstone National Park is considered to be the 1988 fires. Nearly 800,000 acres burned, and the entire park was shut down for the first time in history.
I’ll probably rip this out. It was there when we moved in. Good foundation though. Little trouble with silverfish, but that’s just for a few weeks in the spring.
Silverfish are small, flattish insects covered in silver scales. They like to eat substances containing a high quantity of starch, such as wallpaper and books. You will also find them in moist areas like bathrooms.
It’s a new car! [Applause.] Oh. Sorry.
This is a popular announcement on TV game shows. A car is considered an extreme luxury prize. Winners are responsible for paying high federal sweepstakes taxes on such prizes, which sometimes exceeds their ability to pay.
Don’t touch the hair. I work on the hair, and you touch it.
A reference to a scene in the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever, in which Tony Manero (played by John Travolta) is fussing over the styling of his hair before going out dancing. His father keeps hitting his coif during family dinner until Tony explodes.
“I have only one thing to say.” Plastics.
In the 1967 film The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman’s character Benjamin is cornered at his graduation party by a well-meaning relative intent on giving him career advice. He says, “I have only one word for you. Plastics.”
“We will meet again.” Don’t know where, don’t know when.
Vera Lynn was a British singer who became famous during World War II for singing uplifting songs of hope. “We’ll Meet Again,” recorded in 1939, was one of the best-known songs of the war. It gained fame again when it was used during the closing scene of the black comedy Dr. Strangelove, over a montage of detonating nuclear bombs.
Come on, girls. Let's go.
A possible riff on a line from the 1974 Mel Brooks western spoof Blazing Saddles, in which a male dancer says indignantly to the rest of the all-male chorus: “They hit Buddy! Come on, girls!”
There's a maraca down there.
Maracas are rattles, traditionally made using dried gourds with pebbles inside, that are a standard feature of Caribbean and Latin music.
I can’t go in there. Susan Hayward’s down there.
Susan Hayward (1917-1975) was a pinup girl and actress. The writers may have been thinking of the 1948 film The Snake Pit, which actually starred Olivia de Havilland, not Hayward; judging by comments online, a lot of people make that mistake.
“Throw in the next one.” Just like the other one.
A reference to the song “Don’t Bogart Me,” a.k.a. “Don’t Bogart That Joint” by the Fraternity of Man, which contains the line “Roll another one, just like the other one.” It was released in 1968 and was made famous in the 1969 counterculture film Easy Rider. A brief live version by the band Little Feat appears on their 1978 album Waiting for Columbus, and got a fair amount of FM radio airplay. (Thanks to Jay Young for this reference.)
You know, Streep was up for this role.
Meryl Streep is a highly respected actress who has appeared in more than fifty films, including Sophie’s Choice (1982) and Out of Africa (1985).
“All right, throw down another one.” Just like the other one.
See previous note.
Wait, I’m 4-F.
Four-F is a designation of the U.S. government’s Selective Service. The Selective Service pressed young males into the armed forces on the threat of imprisonment. The psychologically devastating (or relieving, depending on your point of view) 4-F label indicated that a draftee was considered medically unfit for duty, either physically or mentally. Forcible conscription was ended by President Richard Nixon in 1973. The government agency still exists, with a staff of 122 and an annual budget of $22 million.
Here comes a creepy mouse.
This is a line from the 1989 Jerry Lee Lewis biopic Great Balls of Fire! starring Dennis Quaid. Musician Lewis (1935-2022) married his cousin Myra Gale Brown, who was thirteen years old at the time. When the marriage was made public, the scandal nearly destroyed his career. Lewis uses the line when seducing Myra (played by Winona Ryder).
This is a ComfoRest adjustable bed.
ComfoRest was a brand of adjustable mattresses made by a now defunct Minneapolis-based company. There is a line of traditional mattresses called Comforest that is made by another manufacturer.
I always knew I would be an apostle.
This is a line from Jesus Christ Superstar, the 1971 musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, from the song “The Last Supper”: “Always hoped that I’d be an apostle/Knew that I would make it if I tried/Then when we retire, we can write the Gospels/So they’ll all talk about us when we’ve died …”
Ouch! I landed on my eight-sided dice.
Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy role-playing game in which players pretend to be elves, wizards, and other creatures out of legend as they battle monsters and collect treasure. In the original game, special dice with 4, 6, 8, 12, and 20 sides were rolled to determine various outcomes of gameplay that were listed in the rule books.
A planet where snakes evolved from men?!
This is a paraphrased line from the 1968 sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes: “A planet where apes evolved from men?”
This is for Kukla. Yeah. And this one’s for Fran Allison. Yeah.
Kukla, Fran, and Ollie was a TV puppet show with live action character Fran Allison. Ollie and Kukla were hand puppets operated by show creator Burr Tillstrom. It was very popular, running from 1947-1957, and was rerun in syndication for decades.
I'm comin’, Beany Boy!
Beany and Cecil were originally puppet characters on the 1949 children’s TV show Time for Beany, while the animated Beany and Cecil ran on ABC from 1962-1969; both were produced by Bob Clampett. Beany was the nephew of a sea captain and Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent was his best friend. Joel Hodgson has cited Beany and Cecil as one of the shows from his childhood that he drew upon while creating MST3K, as was Kukla, Fran, and Ollie (see previous note).
K2. Rising majestically above the Nepalese highlands. Or, not.
K2, at 28,251 feet, is the second-tallest mountain in the world, after Mount Everest. It is located in the Himalayas, straddling the border between China and Kashmir. The summit was not reached until an expedition in 1954.
“It’s quiet.” Too, too quiet.
See above note.
I’m the luckiest boy in the world. I have slipped the surly bounds of Earth and touched the hand of God.
In the 1981 HBO Special The Pee-wee Herman Show, created by Paul Reubens—which eventually led to the Emmy Award winning children’s show Pee-wee’s Playhouse (CBS, 1986-1990)—Pee-wee’s greatest wish is to be able to fly. By the end of the show his wish is granted, and he’s seen flying (using deliberately cheap video effects) while declaring “I’m the luckiest boy in the world!” This also refers to the poem “High Flight” by American pilot John Magee Jr. (1922-1941), who joined the British RAF during World War II. He died in a midair collision. “Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth/And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings … Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.” The poem was famously paraphrased by President Ronald Reagan in a national TV address after the Challenger accident claimed the lives of seven astronauts in 1986. (Thanks to Jennifer Swift for the Pee-wee Herman Show reference.)
It looks like he flew into an OMNIMAX show. Doesn’t it?
OMNIMAX is a method of reproducing high-resolution films printed using the IMAX film standard onto domes such as planetariums, thus filling the viewer's entire field of vision. It was first used at the San Diego Balboa Park Space Museum. It requires a fisheye lens to be used during filming, or the same effect applied digitally. OMNIMAX features are often filled with sweeping aerial landscape shots.
Help me! I don’t know how to get this thing to work. Goodbye, folks! Goodbye!
From the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. The Wizard takes off in a hot air balloon, but is too incompetent to operate it.
Meanwhile, at the wineries of Ernest and Julio Gallo, Tommy Smothers is raising quite a havoc.
Ernest and Julio Gallo were two brothers who founded the E&J Gallo Winery in 1933. Their marketing strategies and pioneering of television advertising ensured them a place as California’s chief exporter of wine. Tommy Smothers is a comedian/musician who works with his brother Dick. Tommy plays a dopey fop next to his brainy straight-man brother. The two sing songs and tell jokes and had their own TV variety show in the late 1960s. They’ve also operated the Remick Ridge Vineyards since 1977.
Great. This is the opening from Where Eagles Dare. I’ve seen this.
Where Eagles Dare is a 1968 film starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood. The movie is about a commando team in World War II staging a raid on a castle in German-held territory to rescue a captured American general.
Weyerhaeuser is committed to preserving our natural resources.
Weyerhaeuser makes products out of forests inhabited by such things as the spotted owl. They often paid for “cold-read” advertisements on the PBS network that appeared before programs featuring their product placements, like This Old House.
Hey, and it’s anamorphic.
Anamorphic is a type of photography that uses lenses to compress "widescreen" images on film stock that is sized for "standard" images. When projected, lenses are used to then stretch the image back out the way it should be.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!
This line appears in the opening credits of Adventures of Superman, which was a radio serial from 1940 to 1951 and the famous TV series from the '50s starring George Reeves. “Look! Up in the sky, it’s …”
Oh, I've seen that comic. –It’s a graphic novel, Joel.
See above note.
Hey, Ator? This is George Kennedy; we’re going to talk you down now.
In the 1970 movie Airport, George Kennedy (1925-2016) played Joe Patroni, an airplane mechanic. The movie is about the emergency landing of a plane that has been damaged by a homemade bomb. Patroni helps save the day by hauling a 747 out of a snow drift.
“Is that Ator up there?” Or are you just glad to see me?
A variant of the double entendre "Is that a ______ in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" Its origin is often ascribed to Mae West in the 1933 film She Done Him Wrong, but in fact West improvised the line “Lieutenant, is that your sword or are you just glad to see me?” in the 1944 play Catherine Was Great.
There's those meat slammers.
Smashing moist slabs of steak together was a means of creating punching sound effects in the early days of radio.
It’s an Alpine White commercial.
Swiss chocolate maker Nestle made a mass-produced white chocolate candy bar in the 1980s called Alpine White. They ran a heavy TV ad campaign featuring a contagious jingle set to a Michael Bolton-like ballad: “Nestle makes the very best, N-E-S-T-L-E-S. These dreams you can’t resist …”
Well, looks like he flew into 17th-century Bulgaria, and that’s Mad Ludwig’s castle right there.
Ludwig II (1845-1886) was the king of Bavaria (not Bulgaria) from 1864 until 1886. Despite history remembering him as "Mad King Ludwig," his brother is the one who was actually certified insane. For years, Ludwig angered many of his advisors and subjects by building huge, elaborate castles, like Schloss Neuschwanstein, possibly the one pictured in the film. He paid for them with his family's money and by going heavily into debt, asking other European royals for loans and borrowing money from the state. His ministers eventually conspired to have Ludwig declared insane (believing his brother's diagnosis would aid their cause) and declare Ludwig's uncle king. Ludwig was captured and held near Munich until the following day, when his body was found in a nearby lake. His death was declared a suicide.
Message for you, sir.
A line from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. An arrow with a note tied to it flies into the chest of Sir Lancelot’s servant, who politely says, “Message for you, sir!” and crumples to the ground.
All right, you crummy rats, Henry Kissinger says, “Merry Christmas.”
Henry Kissinger was the secretary of state under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and was one of the major architects of Nixon’s Vietnam War policy. The reference here is to Operation Linebacker II, a bombing campaign carried out in December 1972 that became known as the “Christmas bombings.” In a nutshell, the North Vietnamese had walked away from the peace table, where Kissinger was representing the United States, and South Vietnam needed assurance that the U.S. would not leave them hanging. A series of intense B-52 raids were made on strategic targets in the north. The North returned to the peace table not long after, and the raids were halted immediately.
Here’s one for my old pal Melvin Laird.
Melvin Laird was secretary of defense under President Richard Nixon (see previous note). Laird was a primary proponent of ending the draft and returning to an all-volunteer force. He significantly decentralized Pentagon decision-making and kept a tight rein on budgets during a period of massive inflation.
My God, they’ve hit Charlie McCarthy.
Charlie McCarthy was the dummy sidekick of ventriloquist Edgar Bergen. Bergen had a radio show that featured many characters, including Mortimer Snerd. But Charlie, attired in formalwear that extended to a cape, top hat, and monocle, was always the most popular.
Oh, I love this. This is going to be my regular Saturday night thing.
"You're gonna be my regular Saturday night thing, baby" is a line from Road House (see above note).
I suppose he’s got a tank in the courtyard now. –Yeah, and it’s made out of coconuts.
The TV comedy Gilligan’s Island, which aired from 1964-1967, was about a group of seven shipwrecked people on a deserted tropical island. Among the castaways was Professor Roy Hinkley (Russell Johnson), who could create impossibly complex devices out of island bamboo and coconuts. Among them were a car and explosives, but never a raft or a proper fix for the hole in their boat.
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can … Uh-oh.
This is a line from the children’s story “The Little Engine That Could.” The original author is unclear, but a popular version was written by the owner of the publishing company Platt & Munk, Arnold Munk, under the pen name of Watty Piper.
Call me Atra, and I don’t come with a comfort strip.
The Gillette Atra safety razor has several blades, plus a lubricated strip.
So, the mighty long-haired John Saxon needs two swords to fight.
John Saxon (1935-2020) was an actor who never quite made it as a major star, although he worked with many respected filmmakers. He also appeared in a string of B-movies, including Show 512, Mitchell, in which he played villain Walter Deaney. He also played a murderous robot on an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man. While Zor does resemble a young Saxon, he was played by David Brandon (credited as David Cain Haughton.)
Hey, look, the “Desiderata” is on the wall over there. It’s an original.
“Desiderata” is a poem written in 1927. It is a spiritual poem that helps the reader to come to terms with their life. It was written by Max Ehrmann, who was an American poet known for his works on spiritual themes.
Hey, is that a comic book over there? –It’s not a comic book, it’s a graphic novel!
See above note.
What is this? B.C. Law?
A play on the TV show L.A. Law, which ran from 1986-1994. It was typical Steven Bochco social justice fodder, and starred Harry Hamlin and Susan Dey.
We are barbarians.
Conan the Barbarian is a fictional character created by Robert E. Howard in a series of fantasy pulp stories published in Weird Tales in the 1930s. Movies were made with Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose muscles gave Miles O’Keeffe a run for his money.
What are you, Lucas Tanner all of a sudden?
Lucas Tanner was a short-lived 1974 TV drama starring David Hartman (Show 614, San Francisco International). Hartman played an unorthodox teacher.
Hurts, don’t it.
See above note.
Yeah, I’m fine. Is Charles in Charge over? Thanks for showing up.
Charles in Charge was a TV sitcom starring Scott Baio as a young man who works for a family as a housekeeper/nanny. It aired from 1984-1990.
No, it's a dance belt.
Dance belts aren’t actually belts; they’re support garments for the genitals.
Miles O’Keeffe will be back in Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows.
Rosalind Russell starred as the Mother Superior in the 1968 comedy Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows. It was about a group of nuns herding a gaggle of high school girls on a cross-country bus trip.
Actually, Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked it over.
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was for years attributed to Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, an animal owned by an Irish immigrant named Catherine O’Leary, which purportedly kicked over a lantern in its barn, starting the blaze. The press reporter admitted in 1893 that he made up the story because he thought it sounded colorful, but it had seized the popular imagination, so it was more than a hundred years after his confession, in 1997, that the Chicago City Council officially exonerated O’Leary. The current suspects are Louis Cohn, who claimed in his will that he accidentally started the fire during a craps game in the O’Leary barn, or Daniel “Pegleg” Sullivan, who first raised the alarm about the fire but whose story has a few suspicious contradictions.
Uhhh. Your guess is as good as mine. I think they ran out of things to do. Throw a little Oppenheimer in here right now. Hey, I see a president’s face up there.
J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967), head of the top secret Manhattan Project, has written that when he witnessed the detonation of the first atomic bomb at Alamogordo in 1945, a line from the sacred Hindu text Bhagavad-Gita came into his mind: “I am death, destroyer of worlds.”
But enough of this. Let's escape to Wisconsin.
“Escape to Wisconsin” was the official slogan of the Wisconsin Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus. It's since been changed to "Destinations Wisconsin."
Wherever kids are hungry because they know supper's ready. Whenever there's a cop beating up on a guy.
A paraphrase of lines spoken by Tom Joad (played by Henry Fonda) in the 1940 film adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel The Grapes of Wrath: “I'll be all around in the dark, I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look, wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build, I'll be there, too.”
Hey, it’s the New Kids in the Cave.
New Kids on the Block was an ersatz (teen boys hired to sing songs) band assembled by a producer, Maurice Starr (real name Larry Johnson) in 1984. The success of the band was as much to do with the marketed sex appeal of the members as it was with the songs. Donnie Wahlberg was a member.
You know they couldn't even find an exciting enough scene from their own movie to show with the credits.
See above note on Film Ventures.
This looks like the Jefferson Junior High production of Godspell that I saw here.
Godspell is a musical based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew. It first opened off-Broadway in 1971. The show ran for five years and more than two thousand performances. It finally made it to Broadway in 1976, where it ran for more than five hundred performances.
[Imitating Sammy Davis Jr.] Walk like an Egyptian. Chonk chonk.
A reference to the number one single “Walk Like an Egyptian” by the Bangles, released in 1986 (See note on the Bangles, above). Sammy Davis Jr. (1925-1990) was a Vegas staple and a member of Hollywood’s Rat Pack. Though Davis never recorded “Walk Like an Egyptian,” the writers seem to equate them: the same riff appears in Show 209, Hellcats.
Papillon, I need to borrow some money.
Papillon is a 1973 film starring Steve McQueen about the true story of an innocent man imprisoned in a French penal colony in French Guiana and Devil’s Island. In the movie, Papillon and his friend Dega hide their money (ahem) where the sun don’t shine.
I think he’s looking for James Franciscus and Charlton Heston.
Beneath the Planet of the Apes is a 1970 film starring James Franciscus and Charlton Heston. It is the second movie in the Planet of the Apes series. One of the movie’s high points is the skinless mutants with mental powers who worship an H-bomb.