303: Pod People
by Wyn Hilty
Oh, pod people got no reason to live.
A take on the 1977 Randy Newman song “Short People.” Sample lyrics: “Short people got no reason/To live/They got little hands/And little eyes/And they walk around/Tellin' great big lies …” Written to highlight the absurdity of prejudice, the point seemed to fly over some people's heads, who thought Newman actually believed what the lyrics stated. In fact, in 1978, a Maryland state delegate drafted a bill to ban it, but was told that would violate the First Amendment.
Isn’t that Nia Peeples’ brother? Pod Peeples?
Nia Peeples is a singer and actress. She appeared on a number of TV series, including Fame, before launching her singing career in the late 1980s. In 2007 she joined the cast of the soap opera The Young and the Restless.
And she’s married to Maury Povich, right? –No, you're thinking of Connie Chung. That's Cheston.
Connie Chung is a journalist and former TV news anchorwoman who has appeared on virtually every major network over the course of her lengthy career. Since 1984, she has in fact been married to fellow journalist and TV personality Maury Povich.
William Anton—I think that’s Susan Anton’s half-brother.
Susan Anton is an actress who has appeared on numerous TV shows and movies; she is perhaps best known, however, for her relationship with the considerably shorter (by eight inches) Dudley Moore.
Whoa, it’s the Iron Maiden dude! Check him out!
A reference to Eddie the Head, the rotting mascot of the heavy metal band Iron Maiden, who has appeared on nearly all of their album covers. Eddie was created by British artist Derek Riggs.
I believe I’ll use my putter. Fore! –For what? –For hittin' guys.
Yelling "Fore!" to warn people of an incoming golf ball originated in Scotland in the late 1800s. It's believed to have come from artillery firing and the warning "Beware before!", meaning, "Beware before the cannon we're about to shoot." This was understandably shortened to just "Fore!"
This is where the Swamp Thing versus the sweet thang.
Swamp Thing is a comic-book creature made of sentient vegetable matter. It first appeared in 1971 and was later made famous by respected comic writer Alan Moore. In 1982 it was made into a film starring Ray Wise and Adrienne Barbeau.
Ah, the tears of a clown.
“Tears of a Clown” is a song by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Sample lyrics: “Well there're some sad things known to man/But ain't too much sadder than/The tears of a clown when there's no one around …”
That’s not a Spalding. That's a Piquer Simon Jack Gray signature ball.
Spalding is a sports manufacturer that primarily makes golf balls, baseballs, softballs, volleyballs and footballs. It was founded in 1876 by a pitcher for the Boston Red Stockings (as the team was then known). In the sport of golf, equipment manufacturers often market golf balls as the “signature ball” of a famous golfer. Pod People director Juan Piquer Simón has the reputation of being the “Ed Wood of Spain,” making critically panned but earnest low-budget movies. Pod People writer Joaquín Grau (billed as Jack Gray in the U.S. version) only wrote a couple of other cheapo monster movies, both directed by Simón (Los diablos del mar, Mystery on Monster Island).
On Emergency 911.
An imitation of actor William Shatner, who hosted the TV show Rescue 911 from 1989-1996. The show featured “dramatic reenactments” of actual emergencies taken from 911 tapes.
Whoa—boldly backing away from where no man has gone before.
A paraphrase of the famous opening narration to the TV series Star Trek (1966-1969). The relevant text: “Its five-year mission: To explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life, and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
Between a rock and a hard planet.
The origin of the idiom 'between a rock and a hard place" is found in ancient Greek mythology. In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus must pass between Charybdis, a deadly whirlpool, and Scylla, a cliff-dwelling, man-eating monster. So saying one is stuck between a rock (the cliff) and a hard place (the whirlpool) is a metaphor for being caught in a dilemma with no good outcome.
Come on and dance.
From “Swingtown,” a song on the Steve Miller Band's 1977 album Book of Dreams. Miller used lots of spacey synthesizer sound effects as accents between songs on his albums at that time, including Book of Dreams. Sample lyrics: “Come on and dance/Come on and dance/Let’s make some romance/You know the night is falling/And the music’s calling/And we’ve got to get down to Swingtown.” (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
I'm Curly Neal to show you how.
Fred “Curly” Neal was a Harlem Globetrotter from 1963-1985. (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
It was a dark and stormy night. I’d taken a creative writing course.
“It was a dark and stormy night” is the opening line to the 1830 novel Paul Clifford by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. It has become known as the epitome of hackneyed writing, to the extent that a Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest, sponsored by the English department at San Jose State University, is held annually to choose the worst opening sentence to an (imaginary) novel.
Daktari was a TV series that aired from 1966-1969. It starred Marshall Thompson as a veterinarian working in a clinic in East Africa.
Gorky Park, named after a real park in Moscow, is a novel by Martin Cruz Smith about a Soviet police detective attempting to solve a triple murder. In 1983 it was made into a film starring William Hurt.
Let’s grab the pickanick baskets and scram, Boo-Boo.
An imitation of Yogi Bear (voiced primarily by Daws Butler), a cartoon bear that first appeared in 1958 on The Huckleberry Hound Show. Yogi had several of his own shows: in 1961, 1967-1968, 1973, 1978-1979, 1985-1986, 1988, and more. A 2001 live-action/computer animated movie featured the voice of Dan Aykroyd as Yogi. His best friend Boo-Boo Bear (voiced by Don Messick) would act as Yogi’s conscience, trying, but rarely succeeding, to keep Yogi out of trouble. Boo-Boo was either a diminutive adult bear or a precocious bear cub; no one’s quite sure.
Meanwhile, a few miles away …
The phrase "Meanwhile, back at _____" originated with cards inserted in silent films of the early 20th century. In westerns, this was often "Meanwhile, back at the ranch ..." Once audio became a common component, the phrase was still used by narrators for films and radio and television shows.
Now this guy’s got Renaissance festival written all over him. –Huzzah!
Renaissance festivals (or faires) are an entertainment phenomenon that began in Southern California in the 1960s and spread first to the rest of California, and then the nation. Generally, they feature a number of vendors selling leather mugs, swords, 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. As proved in scathing host segments in Show 703, Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell, the MST3K gang has an intense dislike of Renaissance festivals. Specifically, Kevin Murphy had this to say in the Sci-Fi Channel episode guide for Deathstalker: “'Creative anachronism’ my sorry Irish ass. A Ren-fest is nothing more than an excuse to be lame, smelly and fat, just like XFL fans, only worse. I'm betting most of these clowns couldn't spell 'Renaissance' if you threatened their tender vittles with hot iron. I hope someday they live out their wish to know what it was like back then by contracting plague. Too harsh? You go to a Renaissance festival and get back to me.” "Huzzah," a favorite of Joel and the 'bots, is an exclamation equivalent to "hooray" that first appears in print at the time of William Shakespeare, in the late 1500s.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
A line from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
Well, time to start camping. You dress up as Oscar Wilde and I’ll sing Noel Coward songs.
Two icons of campiness: Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was a Victorian poet and playwright best known for his stage comedies Lady Windermere’s Fan and The Importance of Being Earnest, as well as for his legendary wit. Wilde was one of the central figures in the Aesthetic movement of the late 19th century, which emphasized the importance of beauty and art. Noel Coward (1899-1973) was a British playwright who specialized in plays featuring upper-class Brits standing around in country houses trading quips. He also wrote songs for a number of stage revues, including London Calling (1923) and Bitter Sweet (1929).
Tonight on Music from Hearts of Space, we’ll go on a cosmic joy ride with some space music by various Bay Area artists. But first …
Hearts of Space is a syndicated radio show featuring New Agey music: ambient, electronica, world music, and the like. It began as a late-night local show in San Francisco in 1973 and went into syndication ten years later. The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide recounts that the Hearts of Space people contacted Best Brains: “… and they thought what we did was keen and they sent us a bunch of music that we could all drowse off to. Good sports, those guys.”
I didn’t get cast in the Lorne Greene role for nothing.
Lorne Greene (1915-1987) was a Canadian actor best known for his role as Pa Cartwright on the long-running TV western Bonanza (1959-1973); he also played the commander of the spaceship Battlestar Galactica on the series of the same name. From 1974-1975 he acted as the host of the nature documentary series Last of the Wild. He also appeared in the 1977 made-for-TV movie SST Death Flight, riffed on in Show K13.
I’m going, I’m going. Jeepers.
“Jeepers” is a minced oath (subbing for “Jesus”). It first appeared in the 1920s.
First up on Hearts of Space, John Tesh with “Whispering Firestorm.” Then it’s Yanni with “Snoremaster of Trafalgamar.” Then comes Bay Area musician Del Mondo, with his Sominex Suite in D-flat. Then a synthesized interplanetary salute to Perry Como. At the end of the hour, we’ll have information about the types of sedatives used by tonight’s artists. On Music from the Hearts of Space.
See above note on Hearts of Space. John Tesh started out as a TV sports commentator and co-host of the TV show Entertainment Tonight. He wound up the phenomenally successful New Age composer of such albums as Romantic Christmas and Sax by the Fire. Yanni is a new age keyboardist known for his floating compositions and his drooping mustache. Could not find Del Mondo. Sominex is an OTC sleep medication manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. Perry Como (1912-2001) was a wildly popular singer in the 1940s and 1950s, who sold millions of records throughout his long career; hits included “Some Enchanted Evening” and “Catch a Falling Star.”
A reference to Show 206, Ring of Terror. (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
Popular film director Steven Spielberg had one of the biggest hits of his career in 1982 with E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, a movie about a lovable alien who befriends an Earth boy.
One of the oldest running gags on the show. According to Trace Beaulieu, Crow simplified the entire animal kingdom into either "doggies" or "kitties," though most of the time he just said "kitty." This dates back to the earliest of the KTMA episodes.
It’s the ABC Movie of the Week.
The ABC Movie of the Week was a weekly anthology of made-for-TV movies that ran from 1969-1975. Among its more memorable installments were Duel, by then-unknown director Steven Spielberg (see previous note); Brian’s Song; and The Night Stalker. In the early 1970s the intro for The ABC Movie of the Week featured slit-scan computer graphics, similar to the “Star Gate” sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the shot being riffed here.
Well, that guy’s going to get his presidential fitness award. It’s a done deal.
The Presidential Physical Fitness Award was created in 1966 by then-President Lyndon B. Johnson as part of an ongoing effort to improve the physical health of American children. Participants (aged between 6 and 17) must rank in the 85th percentile in five activities (including curl-ups, push-ups, and sit-ups) to earn the award. In recent years, the program has added awards for adults as well.
That darn cat!
That Darn Cat! is a 1965 Disney film starring regular Hayley Mills as the owner of a cat that helps foil a bank robbery and kidnapping.
Next time on MacGyver.
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.
I do believe in spooks. I do believe in spooks. I do I do I do I do I do believe in spooks. I do. I do.
Quoting the Cowardly Lion in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, when he finds himself in a haunted forest. (Thanks to Wyatt Smith for this reference.)
See above note.
Speak Middle English.
Middle English is the precursor to Modern English, the version currently in use. It was spoken in England between about 1066 (when the Normans invaded) and roughly the beginning of the 16th century. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales in Middle English, probably the most famous literary work in that tongue.
Hey, looks like Yoda’s home. –Luke? Use the Force, Luke.
Yoda is the diminutive Jedi master who lives in the swamps of Dagobah and trains Luke Skywalker in the ways of the Force in the series of Star Wars films; the character first appeared in the 1980 film The Empire Strikes Back. In the first trilogy, Yoda was a puppet designed and operated by Frank Oz, who also supplied the voice. For the final two films of the second trilogy, Yoda was a computer-generated character. Also a reference to the 1977 film Star Wars, where at the end of the film the disembodied voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi shows up to give Luke a little unsolicited advice: “Use the Force, Luke … Let go, Luke … Luke, trust me …”
[Imitating.] With a name like Smucker’s Raspberry Preserves, you know it’s good.
The J.M. Smucker Co. was a small, family-owned purveyor of jams and jellies when, in the late 1950s, advertising executive Lois Wyse coined the slogan “With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good,” which transformed them into an international brand and is still used today. Character actor Mason Adams, imitated here, delivered the line in countless commercials.
This inflamed tissue, the burning. You’d better put some peroxide on it. Smucker’s brand peroxide.
Reader Bill Stiteler suggests the first phrase is taken from an old commercial for Tucks Medicated Pads. See previous note on Smuckers.
Welcome to Laserium. Tonight, music by Rick Wakeman.
Laserium is the name for the laser light shows produced by a California company called Laser Images Inc.: laser beams projecting images to the sounds of various musicians. Rick Wakeman was the keyboardist for the prog rock group Yes. (Thanks to Bill Stiteler for the Rick Wakeman reference.)
I’m no longer your whipping boy. I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more.
A line from the Bob Dylan song “Maggie’s Farm.” Sample lyrics: “I got a head full of ideas/That are drivin’ me insane/It’s a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor/I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more.”
Outward Bound is really broadening him.
Outward Bound is a group that offers “wilderness adventures” for kids, teens, and adults, although students are their primary focus. They promise to teach teamwork, self-confidence, and self-reliance through a variety of activities, including rock climbing, kayaking, dog-sledding, and more. The organization was founded in 1962.
[Imitating Geoffrey Holder.]These are kola nuts. These are un-kola nuts.
An imitation of towering, deep-voiced Trinidadian Geoffrey Holder, remembered for a series of TV ads for 7-Up soft drink in the 1970s and 80s, when 7-Up was marketing themselves as “the Uncola.” Kola nuts are native to tropical Africa; they were originally used for flavoring cola drinks, although only a few natural brands use them today.
Now, Mr. Science is gonna show us the white cells.
The Mr. Science Show was an educational TV program for children that ran on Time-Warner Cable public-access channels from 1992-1995. Mr. Science himself was played by Tim Perkins, who also directed and produced the show.
It’s a Gold’n Plump chicken!
Gold’n Plump Poultry is a poultry company based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, with several processing plants in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Ooh, he should’ve checked the freshness date on those.
Freshness dating is a relatively recent innovation among beverage makers. One of the first to use it was the Boston Beer Company, back in 1985. Pepsi famously followed suit in 1994, with a major ad campaign proclaiming its commitment to freshness.
Oh, what is he, an LA cop?
A reference to the infamous Rodney King beating case. In 1991, motorist Rodney King was viciously beaten by Los Angeles police officers. The beating was videotaped and caused an enormous outcry among the public. In the subsequent trial, held in sheltered Simi Valley, the officers were acquitted on charges of excessive force, and the verdict touched off a devastating riot in Los Angeles.
I guess we know which came first now, don’t we?
A reference to the old grade-school stumper: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Evolutionarily speaking, of course, the egg came first because birds (and, much later, chickens) evolved from reptiles, which also lay eggs.
If you wanna make a movie, you’ve gotta break some eggs.
A variant on the old saying “You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs,” which has been variously attributed to French revolutionary Maximilien Robespierre, Lenin, and Stalin, among others.
Oh, my goodness. It’s the Easter bunny, and is he ever mad.
The Easter bunny is, of course, the mythical critter that hides eggs for children to find on Easter; the connection between bunnies and Easter is apparently a conflation of the Christian holiday and older fertility rites. Random trivia time: the name "Easter Bunny" first appeared in print in the 1600s. Rabbit and hare motifs appeared even earlier, as the medieval church believed bunnies were hermaphroditic and therefore able to have virgin births (just like Jesus!). Eggs got involved centuries before as symbols of the death (dyed red) and resurrection (similar to the shape of the stone covering his tomb) of Jesus Christ. The name "Easter," the rabbits, and the eggs, however, go even further back to spring fertility festivals and European pagan worship.
Hey, this guy looks like Norm Abram being killed.
Norm Abram is the bearded master carpenter on the home-improvement TV show This Old House, which first aired in 1979.
Hear that? Sounds like Norm Abram’s getting killed by a giant chicken.
See previous note.
Hey, it’s White Fang, and he’s stealing those bifocals!
On the Soupy Sales Show, one of the puppets was a large, shaggy dog named White Fang, of which we only ever saw his hairy paw, frequently while throwing a pie at Soupy. (Thanks to Bill Stiteler for this reference.)
Luke. Finish your training you will.
An imitation of Yoda (see above note).
Bambi, humans are basically good.
In the 1942 Disney animated film Bambi, the young deer’s mother is killed by hunters.
You know, Mom, you never hear the one with your name on it.
A paraphrase of an apocryphal exchange between General Douglas MacArthur and then-Colonel George S. Patton in France during World War I. When Patton flinched at the nearby explosion of an artillery shell, MacArthur told him, “Don’t worry, Colonel, you never hear the one that gets you.” This particular quote first appeared in Jack Pearl’s 1961 biography of MacArthur. (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
“You’re beginning to sound like Sam.” Son of Sam.
David Berkowitz, better known as the serial killer Son of Sam, killed six people and shot several others in New York in 1976 and 1977. When he was apprehended, he told police that he had been ordered to commit the murders by a neighbor, with the messages relayed to him by the neighbor’s “demonic” dog, a black Labrador named Harvey.
Gino Vannelli is a Canadian singer/songwriter whose hits include “People Gotta Move” and “I Just Wanna Stop.”
I’m doing a one-man show: Leslie Nielsen, Leslie Nielsen, Leslie Nielsen.
Leslie Nielsen (1926-2010) was an actor who started his career playing serious roles in such films as Forbidden Planet and The Poseidon Adventure. A deadpan turn as a physician in the 1981 film spoof Airplane! launched a career renaissance as a comedian, in the TV series Police Squad and the series of Naked Gun movies.
Even the movie The Fog didn’t have this much fog.
The Fog is a 1980 horror film directed by John Carpenter about a small town invaded by a deadly fog. The movie starred a Who’s Who of horror films: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Janet Leigh, among others.
Look, there’s Julie Andrews! And she’s on fire!
A reference to singer/actress Julie Andrews’s seminal role as Maria in the 1965 film musical The Sound of Music.
You know, this scene didn’t originally appear in the movie, but they restored it. Aren’t you glad? –Thank you, AMC.
The AMC cable channel (which originally stood for American Movie Classics) started out showing classic films such as John Wayne oaters and Marx Brothers comedies. Along with fellow classics network Turner Classic Movies, it was active in helping to preserve older films, particularly silver nitrate prints made before 1950.
Oh, that comb used to belong to Keith Richards.
Keith Richards is the lead guitarist for the Rolling Stones, known these days for being a frightneningly gaunt man who has somehow survived decades of heavy substance abuse and the rock & roll lifestyle.
3M today. A more vibrant future for the plastic resin-based industry.
3M is a worldwide corporation that bills itself as a “diversified technology company.” Products include Scotch tape and Buf-Pufs, among thousands of others. It is headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Hey, it’s Greg Brady!
The Brady Bunch was a TV series about the adventures of a large step-family that ran from 1969-1974. Greg Brady, played by Barry Williams, was the eldest brother of the family.
Yeah, you’re up in the mountains, you’re in a studio, you’re in a cave, you’re in a shotgun shack, you’re in another part of the world, you’re on top of Old Smoky there … You’re all over the place.
“On Top of Old Smoky” is a traditional American folk song. The Weavers recorded a popular version in 1951. Sample lyrics: “On top of Old Smoky, all covered with snow/I lost my true lover, for courting too slow …” “Shotgun shack” is a reference to the Talking Heads song “Once in a Lifetime.” Sample lyrics: “And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack/And you may find yourself in another part of the world ...” (Thanks to Erik Topp for the Talking Heads reference.)
“Here they come.” Walking down the street. They get the funniest looks from everyone they meet.
A reference to the theme to The Monkees TV show, which aired from 1966-1968. Sample lyrics: “Here we come/Walking down the street/We get the funniest looks from/Everyone we meet/Hey, hey we're the Monkees …”
Oh, they’re gonna die in that Samurai jeep anyway.
The Suzuki Samurai is a lightweight 4x4 that in 1988 became notorious for having a tendency to roll over in accidents. The attorneys general of several states sued the company for misleading advertising boasting about the safety of the car. At least 200 people have died and more than 8,000 have been injured in accidents involving Samurai rollovers; however, Suzuki has settled all cases thus far out of court and has avoided admitting any wrongdoing, despite evidence that the company knew of the car’s tendency to roll over as early as 1985. Jeep is the oldest brand of SUV, first produced by Willys-Overland during World War II (the brand is now a division of Chrysler). Thanks to their wartime ubiquity, "jeep" became a genericized trademark for just about any kind of small, no-frills vehicle.
Uh, you’re still in first. You don’t know how to drive a stick, do you?
Before automatic transmissions in automobiles became ubiquitous, even in sports cars, most cars had a manual transmission, requiring the driver to change gears using a lever that came up from the floor of the car or that was attached to the steering column. This gearshift lever, and indeed any car that had one, was called a “stick shift,” or just a “stick.” As of 2016, only 5 percent of cars sold in the U.S. had manual transmissions (and only 18 percent of Americans knew how to drive them anyway).
See above note.
Man, Greg Louganis is so talented! –Yeah, cute, too.
Greg Louganis is an American diver who won gold medals in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. In 1988 he suffered an injury when his head hit the diving board, but he went on to capture the gold anyway.
Young Republicans—they’re so hip!
The Young Republicans, founded in 1935, is a national organization for Republicans between the ages of 18 and 40; they are particularly active on college campuses.
This might be Mike Curb Congregation’s best album ever!
The Mike Curb Congregation was a popular band in the 1970s, known for its extremely white-bread sound, heard in such songs as “Burning Bridges,” and the conservative politics of its founder, record executive Mike Curb, who later became involved in Republican politics in California.
[Sung.] Digging Minnie Pearl now.
Minnie Pearl was the stage name of actress Sarah Colley (1912-1996), who toured with the Grand Ol’ Opry beginning in 1940. Her trademark entrance line was “How-dee!.” She retired from performing in 1991 after suffering a stroke.
Sometimes referred to as "sad trombone," "loser horns," or, more technically, "chromatic descending 'wah,'" this sound effect dates back to the early 1900s and the vaudeville days. It was carried over into radio and then television. Today, it's mostly known thanks to the series of "Debbie Downer" sketches on Saturday Night Live.
Hey, it’s Andy Travis from WKRP!
WKRP in Cincinnati was a TV sitcom that aired from 1978-1982, about life at the titular radio station. The part of program director Andy Travis was played by Gary Sandy.
They have Pringles.
Pringles is a brand of potato chips developed by Proctor & Gamble and now owned by Kellogg's. Unlike other chips, which involve slices of actual potatoes and come in bags, Pringles are machine-made: compressed potato residue and wheat starch chips sold neatly stacked in cylindrical cardboard tubes.
Look, Pocahontas, Rick’s mine!
Pocahontas was the daughter of Algonquian chief Powhatan. She was a great favorite of the Jamestown settlers, ultimately converting to Christianity and marrying colonist John Rolfe. Unfortunately, she died at the age of 22 while on a trip to England with her husband, possibly of smallpox or tuberculosis.
Maureen Stapleton?! –Looking good!
Maureen Stapleton (1925-2006) was a stage and film actress who won numerous accolades throughout her career, including a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in the 1981 film Reds.
All right in the box? S’all right.
An imitation of Senor Wences (real name Wenceslao Moreno), a Spanish ventriloquist who made frequent appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. He was known for his comic banter with a hand puppet named Johnny and a puppet hidden in a box who went by the name of Pedro. He died in 1999 at the age of 103.
Uh, Joel, what are boobs? –You know, like Jethro Bodine? –Ohhhh.
Jethro Bodine was the young dim-witted guy on The Beverly Hillbillies, which aired from 1962-1971. The part was played by Max Baer, Jr.
Uncle Bill? –Jody? –Buffy? –Mr. French? –Mrs. Beasley? –Chief? –McCloud?
A series of references to the characters on the TV show Family Affair, which aired from 1966 to 1971. It starred Brian Keith as “Uncle” Bill Davis, a carefree swinging bachelor who suddenly found himself in custody of three orphans (Jody, Buffy and Cissy), whom he cared for with the assistance of his supercilious valet, Mr. French. Mrs. Beasley was the name of Buffy’s doll. “Chief” and “McCloud” refer to characters from the TV series McCloud, which aired from 1970-1977. Chief Peter Clifford (J.D. Cannon) had a love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with the down-home Marshal Sam McCloud (Dennis Weaver).
Boy, I hate Kenny. –No, that’s not Kenny. We like this kid.
A reference to Show 302, Gamera. (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
Hey, it’s Desi and Lucy in The Big Big Trailer.
The Long, Long Trailer is a 1954 film starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as a couple on their honeymoon in a trailer.
What is this, white reggae?
Reggae is a genre of music that originated on, and is closely associated with, the island of Jamaica. It evolved in the late 1960s out of the earlier ska and rocksteady styles, and was greatly influenced by American jazz and R&B. Some of the best-known reggae artists include Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Toots Hibbert.
Oh, this is Morrissey.
Morrissey was the lead singer for British post-punk band The Smiths. After that band broke up, he went on to have a very successful solo career.
Boy, you know, Ringo did some bad songs, but this is really embarrassing.
Ringo Starr was the drummer for the Beatles. Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote the bulk of the songs for the Beatles, while Starr only contributed two: “Don’t Pass Me By” and “Octopus’s Garden.” Like the other members of the band, he never recaptured the success of the Fab Four, although he released several solo albums that sold a respectable number of copies.
The Von Trapp Family singers on the road. –Hope they find some Nazis.
The Von Trapp Family Choir (or Trapp Family Singers) was an Austrian group of singers made up of a widower, his seven children, and Maria, a tutor who later became their stepmother. They escaped Austria during the Anschluss, the 1938 annexation of their country into Nazi Germany. Their story became the 1959 Rodgers & Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music, and later the famed 1965 film of the same name.
Enjoy the good life in retirement. Scenic back roads. Morrissey songs 24 hours a day.
See previous note on Morrissey.
And it really came together when Mom sang along.
A line from the theme song to the TV series The Partridge Family, which aired from 1970-1974. Sample lyrics: “Five of us and Mom working all day, we knew we could help her if our music would pay/Danny got Reuben to sell our song, and it really came together when Mom sang along.”
It’s the Echoplex, buddy.
The Echoplex is a gizmo invented in the early 1960s by Mike Battle; it allows musicians to add “echo” effects to their instruments. Guitar players in particular have been very fond of it. It often gives a spacey, futuristic sound to the music.
[Imitating.] It’s because of Smucker’s raspberry preserves.
See note on Smucker’s, above. In addition to the Smucker’s commercials, great character actor (the TV sitcom Lou Grant) and voiceover artist Mason Adams lent his voice to memorable ads for Chiffon margarine and Cadbury Crème Eggs.
What’s he gonna do—borrow a cup of sugar from Satan? –[Imitating.] No, he’s going to borrow a cup of Smucker’s raspberry jam. It’s most like real fruit.
See note on Smucker’s, above.
Beastmaster? –Ringo? –Axl? –Sinead? –Chief? –McCloud?
The Beastmaster was a 1982 Conan the Barbarian-type movie that starred Marc Singer as a warrior named Dar who could communicate with animals. See note on Ringo Starr, above. Axl Rose is the lead singer of the rock band Guns N' Roses; since 2016 he has also filled in as lead singer for AC/DC. Sinead O’Connor is an Irish singer and songwriter who burst onto the scene in 1988 with a shaved head and an extraordinary voice. Her biggest hit is probably “Nothing Compares 2 U,” written for her by Prince. See note on McCloud, above.
Just put away his Dinty Moore.
Dinty Moore is a line of canned and microwavable meals made by Hormel—their top seller is Dinty Moore Beef Stew.
It says “Don’t laugh, it’s paid for.” –In Braille? –Mm-hmm.
“Don’t laugh, it’s paid for” is an old bumper sticker slogan. Braille is a system of raised dots standing for letters that allows blind people to read; it was invented in 1821 by Louis Braille, a blind French musician and teacher.
Hey, it’s a Casio forest.
Casio is a Japanese electronics manufacturer that released a number of cheapie synthesizer keyboards in the 1980s. Designed for use by children, their low price and wide availability resulted in their being used by aspiring garage bands everywhere.
Hey, put the Casio back in the van.
See previous note.
This is CNN.
An imitation of actor James Earl Jones, who recorded a series of station IDs for cable news network CNN beginning in 1990.
Have you been playing with the Gatekeeper again, Tommy?
A possible reference to the 1984 comedy Ghostbusters. In it, Sigourney Weaver's character was possessed by Zuul, a demigod minion of Gozer the Destructor. Zuul was Gozer's Gatekeeper, awaiting the arrival of Vinz Clortho, the Keymaster, who possessed Rick Moranis' character.
My mother was a saint!
“My mother was a saint” is a line from Richard Nixon’s farewell address to his White House staff on August 9, 1974, shortly before he resigned his office in disgrace.
Ssslurrp. Only half a cup? Don’t you like the rich taste?
A reference to an old ad campaign for Brim decaffeinated coffee. Remember, “Fill it to the rim with Brim!”
Dad? Mummy? –Mr. Drysdale? –Mr. Eddie’s Father? –Mr. Douglas? –Mr. Haney? –Lisa? –Chief? –McCloud?
Milburn Drysdale was the wealthy banker on the TV series The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971). The part was played by Raymond Bailey. On The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1969-1972), a sitcom about a widower struggling to raise his young son alone, Mrs. Livingston (played by Miyoshi Umeki) called widower Tom Corbett (Bill Bixby) “Mr. Eddie’s Father.” Mr. Oliver Wendell Douglas was the main character on the TV sitcom Green Acres; the part was played by Eddie Albert. Mr. Haney was the local salesman/con artist on Green Acres, portrayed by Pat Buttram. Lisa Douglas, Oliver’s wife, was played by Eva Gabor. See note on McCloud, above.
Shaking the trees.
A possible reference to a famous scene from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, starring Paul Newman as a loner on a chain gang. During a bathroom break, Newman's character is allowed some privacy, but only if he shakes the bushes while he urinates so the guards don't think he's making a break for it.
C’mon, I can use her in my act! Huzzah!
See above note.
And there, on the handle, was … You’re not listening.
A reference to the classic campfire legend “The Hook,” about a couple making out in a car when there is an escaped lunatic with a hook for one hand lurking somewhere about. Nervous, the girl insists that they leave, and the boy, disgruntled, peels out of lover’s lane—and when they get home, there’s a hook dangling from the door handle.
My horoscope said you’ll be stalked by a leather mug maker from a Renaissance festival.
Horoscopes are listings of fortunes and predictions based upon a person's birthdate, often printed in newspapers. Using the Zodiac (a collection of twelve constellations that align along the path of the sun across the sky), astrology fans use their birthdate to decide which sign applies to them (these include Gemini, the twins, and Leo, the lion). In 2011, astrology aficionados were thrown into a tizzy when astronomers said there were actually thirteen constellations in the Zodiac, the "newest" being Ophiuchus (the serpent bearer), even though that constellation had been officially included since 1930. See above note on Renaissance festivals.
Next week on Mannix.
Mannix was a television series starring Mike Connors (1925-2017) as Joe Mannix, a private eye in Los Angeles who indulged in frequent car chases, shootouts, and fistfights. It aired from 1967-1975.
Tell Laura I love her! –Is your name Laura?
“Tell Laura I Love Her” is a 1960 pop song written by Jeff Barry and Ben Raleigh that was a Top Ten hit for singer Ray Peterson. The story of a boy who dies in a stock car race trying to win money for an engagement ring, it was among a handful of recordings that made up the “teenage tragedy” songwriting fad of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s.
Bitty-bitty-bitty. Wanna dance, Buck?
An imitation of the robot Twiki on the TV series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979-1981), which starred Gil Gerard as an astronaut who awakens 500 years in the future. The robot’s voice was supplied first by legendary voiceover artist Mel Blanc, and later by Bob Elyea.
Oh, it’s Laura Palmer.
Laura Palmer was the name of the murder victim on the surreal 1990 TV series Twin Peaks by David Lynch. The part was played by Sheryl Lee.
Soupy Sales (born Milton Supman; 1926-2009) was the host of various children’s TV shows in a series of markets during the 1950s and 1960s, including Lunch with Soupy Sales and The Soupy Sales Show. His trademark gag: getting hit in the face with a pie.
Bosley? –Angels? –Chief? –McCloud?
John Bosley was the lackey for the unseen Charlie on the TV show Charlie’s Angels (hence the “Angels” reference); the part was played by David Doyle. See note on McCloud, above.
Daddy? –Leviathan? –Laverne? –Shoil? –Hello!
Reader Bill Stiteler suggests that “Daddy” is a reference to Show 301, Cave Dwellers. The Leviathan is a biblical sea monster mentioned in the Old Testament; it is also used simply to refer to whales. Laverne was one of the titular characters on the TV sitcom Laverne & Shirley (1976-1983); the part was played by Penny Marshall. The final “Hello!” is an imitation of Andrew “Squiggy” Squiggman (David Lander), Laverne and Shirley's wacky neighbor. "Shoil" is what they called Shirley, played by Cindy Williams.
She’s claiming she’s Anaïs Nin.
Writer Anaïs Nin (1903-1977) met the love of her life, Rupert Pole, in 1947; she was 44, he was 28. Within a short time she had left Manhattan to live with her new lover in a cabin in the San Gabriel mountains, where he was stationed as a forest ranger. However, she also continued to live a double life with her first husband in New York, shuttling between the two coasts and relying on an increasingly complex web of lies to keep her two lives separate. She kept up the fiction for 11 years before ultimately choosing to spend the remainder of her life with Pole.
We shouldn't have stole that pickanick basket.
See note on Yogi Bear, above.
See above note.
I wonder when Flo and Alice are going to get here.
Alice Hyatt (Linda Lavin) and Florence “Flo” Castleberry (Polly Holliday) were waitresses in the greasy-spoon diner run by Mel Sharples (Vic Tayback) on the TV sitcom Alice, which aired from 1976-1985.
Mel, at home.
See previous note.
Shave and a haircut? –Two bits.
“Shave and a haircut, two bits” is a musical couplet dating back to a 1939 Milton Berle song (although the tune goes back farther than that).
Just tending the incubus, mother.
An incubus is a mythological demon that preyed upon women to have sex with them. Its female counterpart, the succubus, is better known.
And remember, no wire hangers.
“No! Wire! Hangers!” is a famous line from the autobiographical movie Mommie Dearest (1981), which starred Faye Dunaway as an abusive Joan Crawford, screaming at her daughter for using cheap wire hangers in her closet full of expensive clothes.
Good night, mother. –Good night, John-Boy. –Good night, Hardcastle. –Good night, McCormick. –Good night, Chief. –Good night, McCloud.
The Waltons was a classic family TV drama that aired from 1972 to 1981. It starred Richard Thomas as John-Boy Walton. “Good night, John-Boy” was a catch phrase of the show. Milton Hardcastle and Mark “Skid” McCormick were the main characters on the TV series Hardcastle & McCormick (1983-1986): a retired judge and an ex-con who teamed up to hunt down criminals. See note on McCloud, above.
Oh, he’s trying to hatch the egg. What is he, Horton?
Horton Hatches the Egg is a 1940 classic children’s book by Dr. Seuss, about an elephant tricked by a lazy bird into sitting on her nest.
This is the Cowsills part. This is Movie C.
The Cowsills were a band that formed in the early 1960s: Bill, Bob, Barry, and John (and, later, siblings Susan and Paul and mom Barbara). They were quite popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s; the TV show The Partridge Family was based on them. Their most famous song was probably “The Rain, the Park and Other Things.”
Bula Vinaka, Beachside!
An imitation of a line from a 1988 TV ad for AT&T. Following the breakup of the Bell System in 1982, AT&T found themselves in a competitive marketplace for long distance services. In the late 1980s and early ‘90s, they ran a series of TV ads trying to woo customers back to AT&T from other providers such as Sprint and MCI – one ad showed a frustrated man in a phone booth trying to call Phoenix, but getting a tiki bar in Fiji instead. (Thanks to Rich Wilson for this reference.)
See above note.
[Imitating.] Hey, Boo-boo!
See above note on Yogi Bear.
Hey, you’re no prize yourself, Dan Fogelberg.
Dan Fogelberg (1951-2007) was a singer-songwriter known for soft-rock hits such as “Leader of the Band.”
Hey, it’s Mr. Snuffleupagus.
Aloysius Snuffleupagus (played first by Jerry Nelson, followed by Michael Earl and Martin Robinson) is one of the Muppets on the children’s television show Sesame Street (1969-present). First appearing in 1971, “Mr. Snuffleupagus” (or “Snuffy”) is a woolly mammoth-like friend of Big Bird, who for many years was the only one who ever saw him; the others believed he was imaginary, and teased Big Bird about him at great length. Finally, in 1985, he stuck around long enough for other characters to see him, too. Originally intended as an acknowledgment that children sometimes have “imaginary friends,” the decision to let the adults finally see Snuffy has a rather dark origin. The writers and performers say they were influenced by a string of stories in the early 1980s regarding children being sexually abused and then their parents or other adults not believing the kids. By making the adults finally see Snuffy and believe Big Bird, they wanted children to think that adults would believe them if they told someone about what was happening to them.
Hey, what gives? I’m on the milk carton.
In the 1980s, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children began putting pictures of missing children on milk cartons, on the theory that if enough people stared at them over their morning cereal, someone might recognize them. Milk cartons no longer carry pictures of missing children; the organization now concentrates largely on mailings and online efforts.
[Imitating.] I prefer Mooky-Bear.
Crow's "Trumpy voice" is an imitation of John Hurt's performance as Joseph Merrick (called John Merrick in the film, for some reason) in the 1980 film The Elephant Man. Merrick suffered from a host of debilitating deformities, the exact cause of which remains uncertain.
I named you after Donald Trump.
As a New York City real estate mogul, Donald Trump hit it big in the 1980s with the construction of mammoth buildings such as the Trump Tower (built in 1983). In the early 1990s, he ran into severe financial problems but had rebounded by the end of the decade. Since then, he’s become a reality TV star, conservative pundit, and pop-culture punch line, often thanks to his oddly artificial hairstyle. After a particularly contentious presidential campaign in 2016, Trump was elected 45th President of the United States.
[Imitating.] Yes, it’s where I break you in half.
See previous note on The Elephant Man.
Meanwhile, in Movie C …
See previous note.
“Tommy, did you hear me?” Can you feel me near you?
A reference to the song “Tommy Can You Hear Me” from The Who’s rock opera Tommy. Sample lyrics: “Tommy, can you see me?/Can I help to cheer you?/Tommy, can you hear me?/Can you feel me near you?”
Oh, my, she really does have combination skin! Oh, my goodness.
Early ‘90s TV commercials for Phisoderm skin detergent touted the product’s effectiveness on “combination skin—oily here, dry there, flaky here, shiny there.”
Oh, he’s stealing all the Nerf toast.
Nerf is a brand of soft foam toys, made by Hasbro, designed for safe play indoors. The Nerf ball was introduced in 1970, and a whole range of Nerf toys became popular in the 1980s; they remain popular today.
[Sung.] It’s been seven hours and…
A line from the 1990 Sinead O’Connor song “Nothing Compares 2 U” (written by Prince): “It’s been seven hours and fifteen days/Since you took your love away/I go out every night and sleep all day/Since you took your love away …”
[Imitating.] Delicious kitty. Ow. Ouch. He’s like a potato. Oh. Oh, how nice. Where do I start? It all looks so good. Little wing-ed potatoes. Ouch. That’s my snout. Ow. Let go. This potato’s got big ears. Yes. It’s a whole buffet. New potatoes. Hmm.
See above note on The Elephant Man.
[Imitating.] I don’t think so.
See above note on The Elephant Man.
There’s carbon scoring all over my droid.
In the 1977 sci-fi classic film Star Wars, the hero Luke Skywalker (played by Mark Hamill) cleans his newly acquired robot R2D2 and comments on the droid’s extensive “carbon scoring” (from the space battle R2 and his friend, C3PO, had previously been involved in). Side note: Lucasfilm has trademarked the word "droid." Your Droid cellphone? George gets a piece of that action.
[Imitating.] Oh, little potatoes.
See above note on The Elephant Man.
[Imitating.] Now you try.
See above note on The Elephant Man.
[Imitating.] No! More! Like hell. More food. Food. Eating. The theater.
See above note on The Elephant Man.
[Imitating.] No. Can I eat it? It looks so good.
See above note on The Elephant Man.
Pente, the ancient game of stones.
Pente is a strategy board game that consists of placing small colored stones on a grid; the object is to get five of your stones in a row while blocking your opponent from doing the same. The modern board game was created in 1978, but it is based on the ancient Chinese game Go, which has been around since at least the fifth century B.C.E.
Isn’t this Gary Numan and the Tubeway Army?
Gary Numan was an English electropop singer popular in the 1970s; his band, Tubeway Army, hit big with its singles “Are Friends Electric” and “Cars,” but never quite recaptured their early success. Numan continued to write and perform as well as score films, including The Unborn and Outland.
[Sung.] In cars! In cars! In cars! In trucks!
A reference to the Gary Numan hit “Cars” (see previous note). Sample lyrics: “Here in my car/I feel safest of all/I can lock all my doors/It's the only way to live/In cars …”
Pepperidge Farm remembers.
An imitation of character actor Parker Fennelly (1891-1988), whose thick New England accent became famous during the 1970s in a series of television commercials for Pepperidge Farm cookies, pastries, frozen goods, and so forth. (He had actually appeared in Pepperidge Farm commercials as early as 1958, but his trademark “Pepperidge Farm remembers” did not become a household phrase until the ‘70s.)
You’re a good kid. Remind me to use you later.
“Remind me to kill/murder you later” was a frequent threat issued by Moe to the other Stooges in The Three Stooges films and shorts.
Hope she doesn’t miss her Josie and the Pussycats audition.
Josie and the Pussycats was a comic book produced by Archie Comics in the 1960s, about a girl band that continually gets mixed up in wacky adventures while touring the world. In 1970 Hanna-Barbera turned it into an animated TV series. An actual girl band (including, believe it or not, future Charlie’s Angel Cheryl Ladd) provided the voices and music for the show.
Okay, you’ve drawn Siegfried, now where’s Roy?
Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn are German-born former entertainers known for their illusions and Las Vegas show featuring white tigers. In 2003, Horn was critically injured by one of their tigers. In 2009, after more than five years on hiatus, they staged a final performance and retired.
What, she’s from Rand McNally?
Rand McNally is a cartography company based in Skokie, Illinois. Founded in 1856, the firm makes atlases, globes, and street maps, among other products.
“On a star?” Can she carry moonbeams home in a jar?
The 1944 pop standard “Swingin’ on a Star,” written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burkewhich, has been performed by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and the Knockout Kings, among others. Sample lyrics: “Would you like to swing on a star/Carry moonbeams home in a jar/And be better off than you are/Or would you rather be a mule?”
This kid sounds like Georgette.
Georgette Franklin Baxter was the girlfriend/wife of pompous news anchor Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The part was played by Georgia Engel.
See above note.
Oh, they’ve got Wild Kingdom on the telescope.
Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom was one of the first nature shows on television, airing on NBC from 1963-1971. It went on to find even greater success in syndication, running until 1988. During its height of popularity, host Marlin Perkins was one of the most recognizable faces on TV.
He’s got Bette Davis eyes.
The song “Bette Davis Eyes” was written by Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon and originally recorded by DeShannon in 1974—a version by singer Kim Carnes became the biggest hit of 1981. The song refers to Bette Davis (1908-1989), an Oscar-winning actress known for her dark, deep-set eyes.
Orphan Annie eyes.
“Little Orphan Annie” was a comic strip that debuted in 1924. Created by Harold Gray, the titular character had creepy white ovals for eyes.
Oh, great, now we’re in Gumby. –I’m gonna go walk through a book.
Animator Art Clokey created Gumby, the green, lopsided claymation figure, in 1956. The television show starring Gumby, Pokey, and friends aired original episodes for seven years, from 1956 to 1963. A Gumby short, “Robot Rumpus,” aired as part of Show 912, The Screaming Skull. In many episodes, Gumby and Pokey would enter storybooks for their adventures.
Ooh, it’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
A line from the song of the same name, from the musical Mary Poppins. Sample lyrics: “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious/Even though the sound of it is simply quite atrocious/If you say it loud enough, you’ll always sound precocious/Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
Oh, wow, we’re in Pee-wee’s Playhouse now.
Pee-wee’s Playhouse was a children’s television series that ran from 1986-1990. It starred comedian Paul Reubens in his child-adult persona of Pee-wee Herman, whose Playhouse is filled with anthropomorphic furniture and objects. The show was wildly popular and critically acclaimed, but it came to a premature end following Reubens’ arrest in 1991 for indecent exposure in an adult theater.
It’s a Peter Gabriel video! –Yeah, someone hit that kid in the head with a [sung] sledge hammer.
Peter Gabriel is a musician who became famous in the rock group Genesis and went on to an even more successful solo career. One of his biggest hits was 1986’s “Sledgehammer,” the popular video for which featured stop-motion animation.
Great—now he can remake Rudolph’s Shiny New Year.
Rudolph’s Shiny New Year is a 1976 TV holiday special, a follow-up to the 1964 classic Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. This time, the little reindeer has to find the baby New Year, Happy, before New Year’s Eve is over.
Get me—I’m Lionel Richie.
A reference to the 1986 hit song “Dancing on the Ceiling” by R&B artist Lionel Richie, from his album of the same name. The video for the song, at the time the most expensive music video ever made, features Richie and friends dancing on the ceiling, much like Fred Astaire’s famous routine in the 1951 musical film Royal Wedding. Sample lyrics: “We’re gonna have a party/It’s starting tonight/Oh, what a feeling!/When we’re dancing on the ceiling …” Also a paraphrasing of a line from the 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life, spoken by Sheldon Leonard as Nick the bartender: “Get me! I'm givin' out wings!”
It’s just my Spike Jones album, Mom.
Spike Jones (1911-1965) was a comedian and musician who starred as the host of several TV shows, including several incarnations of The Spike Jones Show in the 1950s and 1960s.
Make that three hard-boiled eggs!
In the 1935 Marx Brothers movie A Night at the Opera, Groucho orders dinner from the steward, including repeated requests for different numbers of hard-boiled eggs. (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
Do you think those are blue contacts, or are his eyes naturally that color? –What, you mean like Whoopi Goldberg?
Whoopi Goldberg is a comedian and actress known for such films as The Color Purple (1985) and Sister Act (1992). In 1987 she posed for a magazine cover wearing contact lenses that changed her eye color to bright blue, stirring up a bit of controversy; film director Spike Lee asked “What is wrong with your God-given eyes?”
Now to find a herd of cattle to drain dry.
Cattle mutilations are a cause célèbre among the conspiracy set: cows found dead in fields, mutilated, with their blood drained. Scientists say the wounds are the result of wild animals and blowflies feeding on the dead beasts; UFO enthusiasts say they were the work of aliens, for some reason.
Ooh, the new Vogue is here!
Vogue is an international fashion magazine published by Conde Nast. It first appeared in 1892.
Oh, great, your friend just died and you’re gonna watch Dallas?
Dallas was a prime-time sudser that aired on CBS from 1978-1991. It starred Larry “Major Nelson” Hagman as the scheming J.R. Ewing, head of a Texas oil family. During the 1980s it was one of the most popular shows on television; the famous “Who Shot J.R.?” cliffhanger that ended its 1980 season made headlines across the country. It was revived in "next generation" style for cable channel TNT in 2012.
“She was shattered.” This town’s in tatters. [Sung.] Shadoobie.
A reference to the Rolling Stones song “Shattered.” Sample lyrics: “What a mess, this town’s in tatters/I’ve been shattered/My brain’s been battered, splattered all over Manhattan … Shadoobie, my brain’s been battered …”
All right? S’all right.
See note on Senor Wences, above.
Cujo? –Evil one? Supreme being? –ALF? –Chief? –McCloud?
Cujo is the rabid St. Bernard who terrorizes a woman and her son in the 1981 Stephen King novel of the same name. The book was made into a film starring Dee Wallace Stone in 1983. “Evil one” is a common term for Satan. Supreme being, of course, refers to God (and possibly to the 1981 film Time Bandits, in which the Supreme Being is played by Ralph Richardson). See note on ALF, above. See also note on McCloud, above.
He seeks him here, he seeks him there, he seeks that rascal everywhere.
A paraphrase of the famous bit of doggerel from The Scarlet Pimpernel, a play and novel by the Baroness Orczy, first published in 1903. Sir Percival Blakeney, who conceals his identity as the Scarlet Pimpernel by acting like a vapid aristocratic fop, invents a popular verse about the Pimpernel that soon makes the rounds of London society: “They seek him here, they seek him there, those Frenchies seek him everywhere/Is he in heaven, or is he in hell?/That damn’d elusive Pimpernel.” The novel has been adapted for film numerous times, beginning in 1917.
Oh, don’t worry about him. He’s moody and introspective. He’s in a corner reading Swimming to Cambodia.
Swimming to Cambodia is a performance art piece by actor/monologist Spalding Gray, about his experience playing a minor part in the film The Killing Fields. Published in book form in 1985, the piece was then made into a 1987 film directed by Jonathan Demme. Gray had long-term problems with depression, culminating in his suicide in 2004.
A reference to the famous scene in the 1980 horror film The Shining, in which a crazed Jack Nicholson looks through the door he has just chopped open with an ax and says maniacally, “Here’s Johnny!” (itself a reference to Johnny Carson’s entrance line on The Tonight Show).
Sounds like music from High Plains Drifter, doesn’t it? –Has a Sergio Leone feel to it.
High Plains Drifter is a 1973 film starring Clint Eastwood as a mysterious gun-toting stranger who is hired to protect a small frontier town from marauding outlaws. Although it was not one of the string of “spaghetti westerns” produced by Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone, which also starred Eastwood, it has much the same feel as those films, with a little half-baked mysticism thrown in as a garnish. Other films by Leone include The Last Days of Pompeii and Once Upon a Time in America.
Hey, Bill, are those Haggar slacks you’re wearing? Farah? Dad N’ Lad? The Guys?
Haggar is a clothing manufacturer known for its lines of men’s dress slacks, many of which feature a “comfort fit” elasticized waistband. The company was founded in 1926 by J.M. Haggar Sr. Farah slacks were a popular brand of wrinkle-free cotton slacks. Lad N’ Dad slacks were popular in the 1960s.
Hi! We’re the cast from Straw Dogs.
Straw Dogs is a 1971 film starring Dustin Hoffman as an American who is violently harassed by the locals after he moves to an English village.
Watchtower! Just kidding.
The Watchtower is the official magazine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (see above note).
“The radio’s not working.” Oh, nuts—I wanted to hear Shadoe Stevens.
Shadoe Stevens was the host of the internationally syndicated radio show American Top 40 from 1988 to 1995.
Biff? Happy? Anybody?
Biff and Happy Loman are the two sons of failed salesman Willy Loman in the 1949 Arthur Miller play Death of a Salesman.
Horse poster compliments Dynamite magazine. For teens.
Dynamite magazine was a monthly publication aimed at school-age kids. It was published by Scholastic Press from 1974 to 1992. It focused mostly on pop culture, though it also included games, puzzles, recipes, and (usually) some kind of pullout bonus, such as posters, calendars and stickers.
His last words were “Huzzah!”
See above note.
ALF’s back, and this time it’s personal.
See note on ALF, above. “This time ... it’s personal” was the tagline for the 1987 film Jaws: The Revenge.
Ooh, Reagan’s next.
Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004) was the 40th president of the United States, serving from 1981 to 1989. He was a key player in the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s and is still hailed as a conservative hero in Republican circles.
Pepperidge Farm remembers! Pepperidge Farm remembers! Oh, the heck with that—I’m getting out of here, crackers or no!
See note on Pepperidge Farm, above.
E=mc2 is the famous equation that lies at the heart of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. In essence, the equation says that matter and energy are the same thing, only in different forms. Einstein’s insight has led to advances in nuclear energy and particle physics, as well as enhancing our understanding of how the universe works.
Ba-dump-a-dee … Time to Armor All my pants.
Armor All is a brand of auto care products, which include cleaners, protectants, polishes, and more. The protectant is designed to keep vinyl, rubber, and plastic looking new.
Oh, this is great—he’s gonna do that Bob Newhart routine.
One of comedian Bob Newhart’s signature routines was the one-sided telephone call—he would dial a phone and have an extended conversation with the imaginary person on the other end of the line. In one of the best-known versions, Newhart played a PR agent having a difficult time with his client: Abraham Lincoln.
Uh, Abner? Yeah, hello.
Probably a reference to another famous Bob Newhart routine, in which he plays Abner Doubleday, the inventor of baseball.
Hey, she’s got her L.L. Bean disco survival boots on. –Survive in style.
L.L. Bean is a catalog retailer of outdoor clothing, known particularly for its boots, originally marketed to hunters.
Neil Peart on drums.
Neil Peart (1952-2020) was the drummer and primary lyricist for the Canadian rock band Rush. Peart was admired by peers, fans, and music journalists for his technical skill in the studio, and his strength and precision in concert. He also wrote several non-fiction books about his life and travels. Peart died of an aggressive form of brain cancer (glioblastoma) at age 67.
Hey, it’s Craig Wasson all of a sudden.
Craig Wasson is an actor who has appeared in such films as Rollercoaster (1977), Ghost Story (1981), and Body Double (1984).
Now Trumpy and I will do our version of Rear Window.
Rear Window is a 1954 thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It stars Jimmy Stewart as a photographer confined to his apartment with a broken leg. He becomes obsessed with spying on his neighbors through binoculars and the telephoto lens on his camera, and gradually becomes convinced that the salesman across the way has murdered his wife.
I think she found Trumpy! –Wah-wah-waaaaah.
See above note on "chromatic descending 'wah.'"
When good pets do bad things, on A Current Affair.
When Good Dogs Do Bad Things is a book on dog training by Mordecai Siegal and Matthew Margolis, first published in 1986. 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 by Maury Povich.
Trumpy, we hardly knew ye.
“Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye” is a traditional Irish anti-war song. Sample lyrics: “With your guns and drums and drums and guns/The enemy nearly slew ye/Oh my darling dear/Ye look so queer/Johnny I hardly knew ye.”
Oh, so people are being methodically killed by the Banana Splits.
The Banana Splits were animal rock musicians on a Saturday morning kiddie show in the late 1960s. They lived in Hocus Pocus Park, where their cuckoo clock always read 6:55. The band consisted of Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper, and Snork.
There goes Drooper. Fleekle. –Snork.
See previous note. (It was Fleegle, not Fleekle, BTW.)
Oh, take the Baretta hat off, old man.
Baretta (1975-1978) was a cop show starring Robert Blake as New York City undercover detective Tony Baretta. When not in disguise, Baretta often wore a newsboy-style cap pulled down low over his forehead. This riff may be a reference to comedian Dana Gould's "Go to bed, old man!" line.
Faster, Trumpy, kill, kill.
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is a 1965 cult movie classic by soft-porn director and large-breast aficionado Russ Meyer. It stars Tura Satana as the leader of a trio of go-go girls who set out to rob a crippled old man and his dimwitted sons.
I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired!
Fannie Lou Hamer was a civil rights activist who was one of the leaders of the voting-rights movement among African-Americans in the 1960s. In an interview in The Nation magazine in 1964, Hamer said, “All my life I’ve been sick and tired. Now I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired”—a phrase engraved on her tombstone.
Don’t start with me, Martha.
A reference to the Edward Albee play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The bitter married couple who are the main characters in the play are named George and Martha. A 1966 film adaptation starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton won five Academy Awards.
George, get me a drink.
See previous note.
Boo Radley? –Dark One? –Beelzebub? –Chief? –McCloud?
Boo Radley is the reclusive neighbor the children are obsessed with in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. He emerges from his house at the very end to save the kids from a knife-wielding man bent on revenge. “Dark One” is a reference to Show 110, Robot Holocaust. In the Bible, Beelzebub is referred to as the prince of the devils. In the Old Testament, Beelzebub is the name given to the god worshiped by the Philistine city Ekron (II Kings 1:1-18). See note on McCloud, above. (Thanks to Tom Walton for the Robot Holocaust reference.)
Trumpage! Trumpazoid! The Trumpmonster! –Trumparino! –Stretching the premise!
An imitation of Richard Laymer, a recurring character performed by Rob Schneider on the NBC sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live from 1988 until 1994. Laymer was an office worker whose desk was near the copy machine; his only means of speaking with his co-workers was by taking their name and manipulating it humorously.
[Imitating.] He knocked his block off! But you can press it back down again with the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots! By Marx.
Joel is imitating the TV commercial for Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots by Marx, a popular kids' game since 1964. Two plastic robots, the Red Rocker and the Blue Bomber, duke it out in a boxing ring; a blow to the chin causes their head to pop up, winning the round. The game was invented by Chicago-based toy design firm Marvin Glass and Associates. Joel used Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots in his prop-comic act—usually by challenging a heckler to a duel and then revealing that he had super-glued the other robot’s head in place.
So, what can I get you? Ouzo, vodka, Sambuca, Pernod, Frangelico, Blue Curacao, Glenmorangie, B&B, Hennessy, Tanqueray, hundred-year-old brandy …
“Ouzo, Pernod, vodka, Sambuca” is a line from the Elvis Costello song “The Deportees Club.” The entire list is a vast assortment of spiritous beverages. Ouzo is a Greek anise-flavored liqueur; vodka I think we’re all familiar with; Sambuca is an Italian anise-flavored liqueur; Pernod is a French anise-flavored liqueur; Frangelico is a hazelnut liqueur sold in a distinctive monk-shaped bottle; Blue Curacao is an orange-flavored liqueur; Glenmorangie is a single malt Scotch whisky; B&B is a cocktail of the herbal liqueur Benedictine and brandy, often sold pre-mixed; Hennessy is a brand of cognac; Tanqueray is a brand of gin; and hundred-year-old brandy is hundred-year-old brandy. (Thanks to Georg Purvis for the Elvis Costello reference.)
He shot my Jim Beam pheasant decanter!
The Jim Beam Co. first began marketing its whiskey in 1795, but it wasn’t until 1952 that it began producing specially shaped decanters. More than 5,000 different designs have been released, in almost any shape you could name: fish, stars, genie’s lamps, wheels, trophies, and, of course, pheasants. Many of these decanters are highly sought-after collector’s items.
“Wake up, Kathy.” I think I got something to say to you.
A line from the Rod Stewart song “Maggie May.” Sample lyrics: “Wake up, Maggie, I think I got something to say to you/It’s late September and I really should be back at school/I know I keep you amused but I feel I’m being used/Oh, Maggie, I couldn’t have tried any more …”
You know, I’m starting not to believe this movie. I believed it when ALF went on the killing spree, but now I don’t know …
See note on ALF, above.
Nosy? –Chirpy? –Ratboy? Sondra Locke? –Chief? –McCloud?
Nosy and Chirpy may just be a play on Seven Dwarf-type names. Ratboy is a 1986 film directed by actress Sondra Locke about, well, a rat boy. See note on McCloud, above.
Hey, it’s like that scene in Mac and Me when Mac came back to life!
Mac and Me is a blatant E.T. ripoff from 1988, about an alien who befriends a young boy in a wheelchair.
I did it for the kicks.
A reference to Show 207, Wild Rebels.
I like you, Tommy. I’ll kill you last.
A paraphrase of a line from the 1985 Arnold Schwarzenegger film Commando. The entire exchange:
Sully: Here’s twenty dollars to get some drinks in Val Verde. It’ll give us all a little more time with your daughter.
Matrix: You’re a funny man, Sully. I like you. That’s why I’m going to kill you last.
You could put on a play in the back yard. Trumpy could play Cyrano.
Cyrano de Bergerac is an 1897 play by Edmond Rostand about a dashing French army officer with a grotesquely huge nose, who nurses a hopeless secret passion for the beautiful young Roxanne. The story was based on the real-life Cyrano, a 17th-century duelist. (And, yes, he did have a fairly large nose, though not nearly so bulbous as most dramatic treatments would have it. Also he may have been gay, but that’s a whole other story.)
What do you think he’s going to dress him up as—Drew Barrymore?
The seven-year-old Drew Barrymore got her shot at fame when she played Gertie, the obnoxious sister of Elliott (played by Henry Thomas), the boy who befriends the stranded alien in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.
Henry Thomas he’s not.
See previous note.
Suddenly I feel like somebody should be reading a Robert Frost poem. “Something there is that doesn’t love a crummy monster film.” That’s from “Mending Monster Film” by Robert Frost.
A reference to the Robert Frost poem “Mending Wall.” Actual lines: “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall/That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it/And spills the upper boulders in the sun/And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.”
Mint julep? –No thanks, I’ve had twelve.
A mint julep is an alcoholic cocktail involving bourbon, crushed ice, sugar and muddled mint leaves. It is strongly associated with the American South, and is sort of the unofficial cocktail of the Kentucky Derby. (Thanks to Wyatt Smith for this reference.)
Norman? Norman? Important phone call!
An imitation of “Mother” from the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho (1960).
Die Hard 2 this is not.
Die Hard 2 (1990) is the sequel to the successful 1988 film Die Hard. It stars Bruce Willis as New York cop John McClane, trying to stop terrorists who have seized control of an airport.
Hmm—Coke, Sprite, Pepto-Bismol, United Airlines, Steve Guttenberg …
Coca-Cola is the leading brand of cola in the world. Sprite is a lemon-lime flavored soft drink manufactured by Coca-Cola. Pepto-Bismol is an OTC medicine for relief of diarrhea and nausea; it is manufactured by Procter & Gamble. United Airlines is one of the world’s largest airlines; its hub is at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. Steve Guttenberg is a dweebish actor who snagged a series of leading man roles in the 1980s, including Cocoon, Three Men and a Baby, and Short Circuit.
There—now you look like Admiral Peary playing the Elephant Man.
In 1909, explorer Admiral Robert Peary (1856-1920) officially became the first man to reach the North Pole, although his claim came under fire when Frederick Cook said he got there a year earlier. Modern historians believe Cook fell short by about five miles. See above note on The Elephant Man.
So, Velvet Hammer? Harvey Wallbanger? Pink Squirrel? Little hair of the alien that bit you?
A Velvet Hammer is a cocktail made from crème de cacao, vodka, and cream. A Harvey Wallbanger is made with vodka, Galliano, and orange juice. A Pink Squirrel is made with crème de noyaux, crème de cacao, and cream. “The hair of the dog that bit you” refers to the practice of dousing the pain of a hangover with more alcohol; the origin of the phrase appears to date back to Shakespearean England.
“It’s Kathy!” She’s zestfully dead.
“You’re not fully clean until you’re Zestfully clean” is a slogan for Zest soap dating to the 1980s.
“Tommy?” Can you hear me? Can you feel me near you?
See note on “Tommy Can You Hear Me,” above.
[Imitating.] You’re my alibi, kid.
See above note on The Elephant Man.
Stop the madness!
“Stop the Madness” is an anti-drug music video made by the Reagan administration in 1985. It starred, among others, LaToya Jackson, Whitney Houston, and David Hasselhoff. The slogan was later adopted by CBS for a series of anti-drug PSAs.
Last call, everybody, finish ‘em up.
“Last call” is when a bartender announces the last chance to order drinks before the bar closes.
I know what you’re thinking, Tommy—did Mom fire six shots or only five?
This is a paraphrase of the famous line from the 1971 film Dirty Harry, starring Clint Eastwood. The full line: “I know what you’re thinking: Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”
John Bonham. Moby Dick.
The 1969 instrumental Led Zeppelin song “Moby Dick” is essentially a drum solo, a showcase for Zeppelin drummer John Bonham’s powerhouse style. (Thanks to Linda Ames for this reference.)
Shane! Come back, Shane!
Shane is a 1953 Western starring Alan Ladd as a retired gunfighter who unwillingly gets drawn into a range war. The line “Shane! Come back, Shane!” is uttered by little Joey as Shane rides off at the end of the film.
Run, Eliza, run!
“Run, Eliza, run!” is a line from the song “The Chase,” from the musical The King and I.
You know, that Trumpy is one ugly … –Shut yo’ mouth! –Hey, I’m only talking about Trumpy, can you dig it?
An imitation of the famous theme to the 1971 blaxploitation movie Shaft, written by Isaac Hayes. Actual lyrics: “Who’s the black private dick/That’s a sex machine to all the chicks?/Shaft! … You see this cat Shaft is a bad mother–/Shut your mouth!/But I’m talkin’ about Shaft/Then we can dig it.”
Break on through to the other side, man.
A reference to the 1967 Doors song “Break on Through (To the Other Side).”
Buddy Rich on drums.
Buddy Rich (1917-1987) was a highly respected jazz drummer who first appeared on Broadway at the age of four. He played with most of the greats: Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Irving Berlin, Nat King Cole, Miles Davis, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington—the list goes on and on.
Backed up by Phil Kreutzmann.
Bill (not Phil) Kreutzmann was a drummer for the Grateful Dead, known for his endless percussion duets with Mickey Hart. (Thanks to David Finn for this reference.)
Fortunately, Molly was a LRRP in Vietnam and knows how to track a boy with a snout-nosed pal.
LRRP (pronounced “lurp”) stands for Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol: small (four to six men) military units used for special operations inside enemy territory during the Vietnam War.
Daylight looks like night anyhow. Day for night, I think. –Thank you, Truffaut.
Day for Night is a 1973 film by respected French filmmaker Francois Truffaut. The film starred Truffaut himself as a director struggling to make a romantic comedy. Truffaut also played the French UN investigator in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Shooting “day for night” is a common photographic technique in movies in which exterior scenes are filmed during the day using special blue filters on the camera that make the scene appear to be taking place at night. The goal is to save money, since night shoots are considerably more expensive than daytime shoots.
Splendor in the grass. –Grazing in the grass is a gas. –Can you dig it?
Splendor in the Grass is a 1961 film starring Natalie Wood as a young girl nursing a hopeless passion for the son of the town’s leading family. “Grazing in the grass is a gas, baby, can you dig it?” is a line from the 1969 hit “Grazing in the Grass,” by the Friends of Distinction.
Halls brand cough drops boast of their “soothing vapor action.”
[Whistled.] Theme from Lassie.
The Lassie TV series (CBS/syndication, 1954-1971) had several opening/ending theme songs, the most famous of which began with the fifth season: “Lassie Main and End Title,” nicknamed “The Whistler,” was composed by Les Baxter and featured whistling performed by Muzzy Marcellino. (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
No, it was “mommy.” It was an "m" sound. Mmmm, like Manhattan. Mimosa.
The Manhattan is an alcoholic cocktail invented in the 1870s at The Manhattan Club in New York City. It's made with whiskey, sweet red vermouth, bitters, and a cherry. A mimosa is a cocktail made of orange juice and champagne, usually served for brunch.
This is like more intense than when Bobby Brady got lost in the Grand Canyon! –Wasn’t that in Hawaii? –No, that was where Peter found the Buddha thing. –Oh, yeah! That was cool!
The third season of The Brady Bunch TV series began with a three-part episode that saw the family stranded in a ghost town and Cindy and Bobby getting lost in the Grand Canyon, where they are aided by an Indian boy. The beginning of the fourth season saw a three-parter with the bunch in Hawaii, where the boys get into trouble when they find an ancient tiki idol.
Move it, kid! I’ll have a banana daiquiri, please.
A daiquiri is an alcoholic cocktail consisting of white rum, lime juice, and simple syrup, shaken with cracked ice and strained into a chilled cocktail glass. There are a few variations, but if sweet fruit juice and a blender are involved, you’re doing it wrong.
Long … Island … iced … tea …
Long Island Iced Tea is a very alcoholic beverage made with vodka, gin, tequila, rum, triple sec, sour mix, and cola. It looks and tastes remarkably like iced tea, thus the name. The drink’s minute quantity of mixer versus its high volume of distilled spirits gives it an alcohol concentration of approximately 22 percent, making it a popular choice among bar-brawl, arrest, vomit, and hangover enthusiasts.
Time to take the mask off and see who it is. Do you folks at home know?
From the TV game show What's My Line?, which ran from 1950-1967. Four celebrity panelists tried to determine, through yes-or-no questions, the occupation of the contestant. The last segment often involved the blindfolded panelists attempting to determine the identity of a celebrity “mystery guest,” who always disguised his voice in an attempt to avoid being identified. (Thanks to Erik Topp for this reference.)
Looks like he came from the Dumbo planet.
Dumbo is a 1941 animated Disney film about a young elephant whose enormous ears enable him to fly.
“Answer me, please!” State it in the form of a question.
A reference to the TV game show Jeopardy!, in which the contestants are supposed to frame their answers “in the form of a question”; the show has been on the air in various incarnations since 1964.
Come to the mirror, boy!
See note on Tommy, above.
I’m talking to Billy Barty.
Billy Barty (1924-2000), who plays the imp in Show 806, The Undead, was a prolific actor who also crusaded for societal acceptance of little people. He founded Little People of America in 1957 to work toward that goal. He appeared in more than 80 films and TV series during his lengthy career.
[Sung.] It’s been seven … oh, sorry.
See above note on “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
[Name in credits: Emilio Ruiz.] Isn’t that Martin Sheen’s son? –Who isn’t?
Actor Martin Sheen (birth name Ramon Estevez) has four children, all of them actors: Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Ramon Estevez, and Renee Estevez.
[Name in credits: Louis Martin.] Hey, Martin and Lewis were in this movie. –Come on, Jerry, we’ve got the rest of the credits to get through. Aw, quit horsing around, boy.
Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were a phenomenally successful comedy team during the 1950s, starring in a string of movies that included Sailor Beware and Living It Up.
[Credits: Second and Third Degree Operators.] I say both of those guys were in the Knights of Columbus.
The Knights of Columbus is a fraternal Roman Catholic organization founded in Connecticut in 1882. There are four “degrees” of knights in the organization.
Basil! –Yes, dear. I’m doing it, dear. How can I do it if you keep calling me? Great cow!
An imitation of John Cleese as hotel owner Basil Fawlty, on the classic British TV show Fawlty Towers.