by Chris Baumgartner
I had an infection of the yablans, one time.
Irwin Yablans also produced John Carpenter’s Halloween the same year as Laserblast, 1978.
Ah, the Charlie Daniels Band is now the Charles Band.
Charlie Daniels is a country musician best known for his 1979 hit song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” His group the Charlie Daniels Band is best known for its 1975 anthem “The South’s Gonna Do It.”
If you ever go down to the wooley swamp.
“The Legend of Wooley Swamp” is a 1980 song by Charlie Daniels (see previous note).
[Title on screen.] “LASERBLAST.” Terrible name for laser eye surgery. Scares away the customers.
LASIK is a popular type of corrective eye surgery performed using lasers to reshape the cornea; it is commonly used to improve eyesight in patients with myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism.
Gianni Russo, I remember her from, oh, wait a minute.
Gianni Russo is best remembered for playing Marlon Brando’s son-in-law Carlo Rizzi in The Godfather.
[Imitating Frank Sinatra.] The Keenan Wynn, comes blowing in …
An imitation of the 1965 Johnny Mercer song “Summer Wind,” as sung by Frank Sinatra: “The Summer wind/Came blowin’ in/From across the sea …”
You are the wind beneath my Keenan.
“Wind Beneath My Wings” was a 1982 song written by Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley and originally recorded by Roger Whittaker, but it hit No. 1 in 1989 when a version by Bette Midler was used in the popular movie Beaches.
[Name in credits: Eddie Deezen.] Ah, so you know it won’t be funny.
Laserblast was the nerdy character actor’s screen debut. He went on to appear in Grease, 1941, Zapped!, and a host of TV shows.
“Eddie Deezen.” Heir to the Arnold Stang fortune
Nebbishy, bespectacled character actor Arnold Stang (1918-2009) got his start in radio as the sidekick to comedian Henry Morgan; he later appeared in such films asThe Man with the Golden Arm and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
I saw a Wolman drinking a piña colada at Trader Vic’s.
A reference to the 1978 song “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon. Sample lyrics: “I saw a werewolf drinking a piña colada at Trader Vic’s/His hair was perfect.”
Wow, Roddy McDowall and Dave Allen.
Roddy McDowall started as a child actor in movies like My Friend Flicka and Lassie Come Home, and then achieved his greatest fame playing various apes in the Planet of the Apes films, most famously as Cornelius. Dave Allen, who provided the stop-motion animation for Laserblast, was actually a highly respected animator in Hollywood; he worked with Spielberg and earned an Academy Award nomination for his work on Young Sherlock Holmes.
Whoa, is he an American band? I hope he comes to our town and helps us party it down.
Lyrics from the 1973 song “We’re an American Band” by ’70s rock trio Grand Funk Railroad: “We’re coming to your town, we’ll help you party it down, we’re an American band.”
The music has a decidedly “Hawkwind” feel to it.
The ‘70s British prog-rock group Hawkwind used sci-fi themes in its songs.
I think it’s more like a sort of a Mike Oldfield, McKendree Spring, Rick Wakeman, Jean Michel Jarre, Keith Emerson, Gentle Giant, Tomita, Autobahn, Kraftwerk, Synergy sort of thing.
These are all primarily instrumental prog/synth rock artists from the mid-1970s/early ‘80s era. Mike Oldfield, for example, did the music for the movie The Exorcist, and Rick Wakeman was the keyboard player for Yes.
Fievel goes West.
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991) was an animated movie about a mouse (Fievel Mousekewitz) who moves west with his family to escape some trouble with cats. Kind of a dark kids’ film. It was the sequel to the 1986 animated hit An American Tail.
Looks like Trent Reznor ran out of gas.
Trent Reznor is an American rock artist who created the band Nine Inch Nails. He looks a bit Goth and unhappy.
It was after the Acropolis.
An imitation of the narrator in Episode 110, Robot Holocaust. The Acropolis is one of the world’s most ancient building sites, located in present-day Athens, Greece. It dates back more than five thousand years. The Acropolis contains many temples, of which the most famous is the Parthenon, which Pericles built in the fifth century B.C.E. The ruins are a popular tourist destination.
An imitation of Arch Hall, Jr.’s nasal whine in Episode 506, Eegah!
Robert Smith is in a good mood today.
Lead singer for The Cure, Robert Smith is kind of a Goth guy, wearing lipstick and eyeliner as part of the act.
Edward “CD Player” Hands.
Edward Scissorhands was the hero of the 1990 Tim Burton surreal fantasy movie of the same name. Johnny Depp played Edward, a gentle outcast whose hands, made from scissors, made it impossible for him to ever touch another person. The film was a rather heavy-handed metaphor for our inability to connect with the people around us.
Boy, the Hulk has lost weight.
The green-skinned “Incredible Hulk” comic book character was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962. He is a gigantic, muscle-bound brute, created after scientist Bruce Banner was caught in a gamma bomb explosion. Now Banner transforms into the Hulk whenever he gets angry. Don’t make him angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
Norelco’s plan for world domination. –Even its name spells Merry Christmas.
Norelco is a brand of men’s electric shavers, made by Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands. In a 1978 holiday season television commercial for Norelco electric razors, the line “Even our name says ‘Merry Christmas’” was used and the name intentionally misspelled on screen as “Noëlco.”
I’m hunting spacecwaft. Huh-huh-huh-huh.
Elmer Fudd is a character in the Looney Tunes cartoons, a hunter usually pitted against Bugs Bunny. He pronounced his R’s as W’s.
We wish to welcome you to Denver’s airport.
Denver International Airport had just opened the year before this episode aired, and it had been plagued by problems: delays, cost overruns, and a fancy baggage system that had to be scrapped.
Great, E.T. calls, we come, and he’s not here.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 film about an awkward, child-friendly alien who gets stranded on Earth, and a group of kids’ efforts to get him back home.
Hey, Yertle, you left your shell in the ship.
From the Dr. Seuss children’s book Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories (1958), in which a turtle king tries to reach higher than the moon by standing on the backs of his subjects.
Hey. Hey, Wally, come out here and help me find Roswell.
The 1947 Roswell UFO incident is a popular conspiracy theory about a crashed alien spaceship being covered up by the Air Force.
Look out! It’s Gino Vannelli.
Gino Vannelli is a Canadian soft jazz/pop singer-songwriter with curly, poofy hair.
Tonight on a very special Virginian.
The Virginian was a TV series from 1962-1971 set in Wyoming. It co-starred MST3K favorite Clu Gulager and Doug McClure. TV promos promising “a very special” episode of a sitcom or drama are a tip-off that the show will attempt to tackle a social issue, such as underage drinking or eating disorders. Someone will learn an important lesson. There will be hugs.
Christina’s world, 3001.
The famous 1948 painting Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth shows a woman stricken with polio crawling across a field, and is based on Wyeth’s real-life viewing of her from the window of the house in the background.
Help me, Spock. Spock.
From the Star Trek original series episode “The Savage Curtain,” in which the villainous Klingon Kahless tries to lure Spock to his doom by imitating the Vulcan founder Surak, repeatedly, and monotonically, calling, "Help me, Spock. Spock, help me."
I know what you’re thinking. Did I fire six Gorlocks, 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?”
The key to the Amoco bathroom.
Amoco was the brand name of Standard Oil gasoline. They merged with British Petroleum (BP) in 1998. The lone 2010 Yelp review of an Amoco bathroom says “Horrrrrendous bathroom. I was literally standing in a pool of urine when I was peeing. Also they don’t have pbr.”
Look out, E.T.!
See note on E.T., above.
I love airplanes. Was that a Cessna? No I think it was a Piper, ahh, let’s get out of here.
Cessna and Piper are both American small aircraft companies. Cessna is owned by a giant conglomerate known as Textron. Piper has changed hands several times, but in 2009 it was bought by Imprimis, an investment house based in Singapore.
Ehh. Mighta used a little too much buckshot here, ruined the meat.
This refers to hunting using shotgun shells (often hand packed) with powder and lead shot. When used ineptly, the shot can ruin the best cuts of meat.
[Sung to the tune of “Jingle Bells.”] Closer shave, cleaner shave, cleaner all the way …
This is a parody of “Jingle Bells” used in the Christmas ads for Norelco razors in the ‘70s (see above note).
Help! A giant bong is attacking me, oh.
A bong is a water pipe used to smoke tobacco and marijuana. The water cools the hot gas and removes cinders, making the smoke easier to inhale, without diluting any of its, ahem, desirable effects.
Ojai. Crap. I’m still in Ojai.
A paraphrase of a line from Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 movie Apocalypse Now, spoken at the beginning of the film by Martin Sheen: “Saigon. Shit! I’m still only in Saigon.” Ojai is a city in California in Ventura County, north of Los Angeles.
Randy Johnson? Oh, it’s her.
Randy “The Big Unit” Johnson was a longtime pitcher for the Seattle Mariners (1989-1998) and other teams. He stands 6’10” and could throw over 100 mph. He won the Cy Young trophy five times and retired in 2009. And there’s the whole “big unit” thing.
So here’s my Slimfast, Metrecal, Correctol.
The 1960s diet shake Metrecal, the first major shake fad, was pulled off shelves in 1977 when the FDA connected certain liquid protein drinks with a large number of recent deaths. Slimfast is a modern diet shake made by Unilever. Correctol is not a diet product, but a laxative marketed to women in little “pink” pills. Laxative abuse is common in people with eating disorders.
Shaun Cassidy in Walking Tall.
Shaun Cassidy was a blond teen idol in the 1970s. He played one of the Hardy Boys on TV and is the son of Shirley “Mrs. Partridge” Jones. Walking Tall (1973) starred Joe Don “Mitchell” Baker as bat-wielding Sheriff Buford Pusser.
Stay and have Quisp with me at the junkie table.
Quisp was a kiddie cereal in the 1960s, often marketed in tandem with its sister cereal Quake. Although they were both manufactured by the Quaker Oats Company, the cartoon spokesmen (a space alien for Quisp; a miner for Quake) carried on a mock rivalry in commercials, which were animated by Jay Ward of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame.
Come on. Let’s pop amyls and watch Days.
Amyl nitrite is a widely abused inhaled drug known as “poppers.” They were banned in 1988, but you can still buy them as “room deodorizer.” Days of Our Lives is a daytime soap opera that has been on the air since 1965. It follows the lives and loves of the residents of the fictional town of Salem.
You’ve got your James Spader lessons.
Actor James Spader originally made a name for himself in 1989’s Sex, Lies, and Videotape.
Well, my chemical peel is starting to hurt, I’d better get going.
Chemical peels dissolve the outer layer of your skin (or burn it off with a laser), and the body responds by making a new layer of skin that is tighter, getting rid of wrinkles and brown spots. They are ouchy.
There’s a box of Weetabix. That should last you the month.
Weetabix is a popular U.K.-based breakfast cereal brand. They are very large wheat biscuits that you put in milk and break up with a spoon. You can buy them in the U.S. in specialty grocery stores.
I’m going to go untie the Nazi helmet from the roof.
The National Socialist German Workers’ Party, popularly known as the Nazi Party, was the fascist political party run by Adolf Hitler. Nazi helmets during World War II were made of metal with a small brim extended out in front and a larger one covering the back of the neck; the swastika emblem was emblazoned on the side.
What is this, Underall aversion therapy?
Underalls were combination underwear/pantyhose popular during the 1970s and 1980s. Aversion therapy is a type of psychotherapy designed to stop undesirable behavior: for example, an alcoholic would be given a medication that made him throw up when he drank, or a fingernail biter would paint her fingernails with a foul-tasting substance. Eventually the patient would learn to stop drinking or biting without using the medication or nasty-tasting liquid.
Hey, Kung Fu got a van.
Kung Fu was a television series that ran from 1972 to 1975. It starred David Carradine—the son of John Carradine—as Kwai Chang Caine, a Shaolin monk who roams the American West.
Another slice of your life here, Mike? Just you, a ribbon of highway, your Dixie Dregs tapes …
Dixie Dregs were a 1970s rock band from Miami that featured the guitar virtuoso Steve Morse.
[Sung.] An unfriendly stranger with a black sedan.
A spin on the hit Ides of March song “Vehicle” from 1970. Songwriter/guitarist Jim Peterik would later form Survivor, of Rocky movies fame. “Hey well, I’m the friendly stranger in the black sedan/Won’t you hop inside my car?/I got pictures, got candy, I’m a lovable man/And I can take you to the nearest star.”
He’s so happy; his dingle ball shipment came in.
Cheech Marin refers to the decorations on his low rider as dingle balls in the 1978 movie Up in Smoke. They are a type of fabric trim with small pom-poms dangling from the edge and were a popular decoration for custom low riders in the 1960s and ‘70s.
Billy Preston takes a solo.
Billy Preston played the electric organ. He was featured on the Beatles’ Let It Be album, and had some hits of his own, including “Nothing From Nothing.” He died of kidney failure related to high blood pressure in 2006 at the age of 59.
Wow, ‘70s Gold is a great buy, a lot of great stuff on here.
A reference to numerous “best of” records, which were heavily advertised on TV. Not all were by the original artists, which could lead to disappointment. K-tel International was a major player in that market, and still exists online.
Ah, downtown Hugo.
Hugo, Minnesota, is one of the northern suburbs of St. Paul, with a population of 13,000.
This guy killed himself when the Edgar Winter Group broke up.
The Edgar Winter Group is a 1970s hard rock group best remembered for their hits “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride.” Edgar Winter, the keyboardist for the group, is an albino and a famous Scientologist. The band featured some well-known guitarists such as Ronnie Montrose and Rick Derringer.
His van’s got a poop catcher on the back.
Back in the days of horse-drawn carriages, manure was a huge problem for cities. Modern horse-drawn carriages often use a “manure catcher”—a sort of sling that attaches to the horse’s harness—to keep the streets clean.
Wow, and you thought Willie Aames was hot.
Willie Ames is an actor who played sidekicks on the TV series Eight Is Enough and Charles in Charge. He struggled with addictions to drugs and alcohol before becoming a born-again Christian minister.
He woke up Ram Dass.
Ram Dass (a.k.a. Richard Alpert) was a Jewish Harvard professor who hung out with LSD promoter Timothy Leary. He converted to Hinduism in India in the late 1960s and now teaches eastern spiritual concepts to his legions of followers.
"I just want to see Cathy." Buy your own paper.
“Cathy” was a newspaper comic strip by Cathy Guisewite about a young woman who is perpetually overweight and eternally frazzled. It ran from 1976-2010,
I want to see if Electra tore up her new shoes.
In the comic strip “Cathy” (see previous note), Electra was the name of the titular heroine's dog. Shoes were one of Cathy’s primary goals in life.
In the 1964 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas special, Yukon Cornelius is the gold prospector with a long red beard, voiced by Larry D. Mann.
“Hush hush.” Sweet Charlotte. “Hush hush.” Sweet Charlotte. “Hush hush.” Sweet Charlotte!
The 1964 Bette Davis movie Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte is a murder thriller about a wealthy recluse slowly being driven insane by her scheming relatives.
“With your disguises and your tricks and your …” Hula hoops, argh.
A reference to a recurring riff (Show 204, Catalina Caper, and Show 303, Pod People, to name a couple): “These kids today, with their loud music, their fax machines, and their hula hoops …” or some variation. Hula hoops were a fad in the late 1950s, consisting of a large plastic ring the user placed around his/her waist and rotated by gyrating the hips frantically. A small BB inside the hoop created the sound effect. Wham-O, the company that made them, sold 25 million hoops in two months. The craze, like most fads, was short-lived.
Boy, ever since the colonel got back from the Spanish-American War.
The Spanish-American War in 1898 was fought over the Spanish colonies in America gaining independence from Spain. The U.S. got involved when a ship sent to support U.S. citizens in tumultuous Havana, Cuba, was sunk—the origin of the famous slogan “Remember the Maine.” It’s unclear whether the Spanish had anything to do with the ship’s sinking—it may have been the result of an internal explosion—but papers at home whipped the public into a frenzy, despite President McKinley’s opposition to declaring war.
I know. I’ll seek refuge in 20 Explosive Hits by 20 Explosive Stars.
See note on K-tel, above. 20 Explosive Hits by 20 Original Stars contained such dazzlers as “O-O-H Child” by Five Stairsteps and “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” by The Delfonics.
Anna Nicole Smith and her husband.
Anna Nicole Smith (1967-2007) was a voluptuous model, actress, and stripper who in 1994, at the age of 26, married 89-year-old billionaire J. Howard Marshall. Marshall died after thirteen months of marriage, leaving most of his money to Anna. A prolonged legal battle with Marshall’s son followed that extended all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Smith died of a drug overdose under questionable circumstances, and the war over her late husband’s estate continued on behalf of her infant daughter.
[Sung.] Oh black water, keep on rolling. Mississippi moon …
Lyrics from the 1974 hit “Black Water” by The Doobie Brothers.
The Army of the Potomac has us on the run, sweetie.
The Army of the Potomac was a major Union army group during the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865). It was the most famous Union army of the war, thanks to the extensive press coverage it received.
His 8-track’s about to change tracks. [Ka-chunk.]
Officially known as Stereo 8, 8-track tapes were cassettes of magnetic tape in an infinite loop. They were developed in the early 1960s by Bill Lear (of Lear Jet fame) and released in 1964. They caught on because, until then, the only means of owning music were vinyl records or cumbersome reel-to-reels, and neither of those were terribly portable. They were popular until the mid-1970s, when standard compact cassettes replaced them as the desired form of totable audio entertainment. Complaints included low audio quality, the inability to rewind, the inability to choose a specific song to go to, songs switching in the middle of play to a different track ... Actually, it’s a wonder they were ever popular.
Oh yeah. You do a lot of “wacky tobacky,” Mike? Lot of mary jane? Chokey smoky?
“Wacky tobacky” and “mary jane” are both slang terms for marijuana.
Starsky and Hutch have been together a little too long.
Starsky & Hutch was a TV cop show that ran from 1975-1979. It starred Paul Michael Glasser as David Starsky and David Soul as Kenneth “Hutch” Hutchinson, and a red Grand Torino with a white “swoosh” painted on the side as their car.
Look. Are you ready for some football?
A line from the theme song to Monday Night Football, as performed by bearded country singer Hank Williams Jr. The song is based on his 1984 hit “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight,” and was used as the theme from 1989 until 2011, when Williams’s comparison of President Obama to Hitler during a television appearance led ESPN to announce they would be choosing a new theme song. The network modernized ABC’s old triumphant football music “Heavy Action” and used that as the theme instead.
You ever notice how Haile Selassie is God?
Haile Selassie (1892-1975) had been emperor of Ethiopia for six years when Italian dictator Benito Mussolini conquered it in 1936. Selassie fled to England but returned after the British recaptured it in 1941. He stayed in power until a communist-backed military junta overthrew him in 1974. He was jailed and either died suddenly or was killed. The Jamaican religion of Rastafarianism, which considers the smoking of cannabis a sacrament, worships Haile Selassie as Jesus Christ incarnate.
Then I got to go home and get ready for some football!
See previous note on Hank Williams Jr.
You know that I think of it? Sister Mary Elephant is really funny.
“Sister Mary Elephant” was a 1973 comedy hit single by Cheech and Chong; it was also included on their 1972 album Big Bambu. The nun is teaching a class of unruly kids with difficulty, periodically screaming, “SHUDUUUUUUUUP!!!!”
Let’s find out if he’s ready for some football!
See previous note on Hank Williams Jr.
They’re at least as funny as Cheech and Chong.
Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong were a comedy duo during the 1970s, most of whose humor revolved around getting stoned. They produced a number of albums, including Big Bambu, and a few movies such as Up in Smoke and Nice Dreams.
Ron Howard pops the clutch, signals, checks both ways, and proceeds gently into traffic, politely inviting people to eat his dust.
The phrase “Ron Howard pops the clutch and tells the world to eat my dust!” is a line from the movie trailer for the 1976 film Eat My Dust!, a happily low-budget 1976 action movie that put star Ron Howard on the path to becoming a director. He made a deal with producer Roger Corman that if he starred in Eat My Dust!, he could direct another low-budget car-centric movie, Grand Theft Auto, the following year.
He looks like a bush baby.
A bush baby is a small, tree-dwelling African primate with big eyes and big ears. They are nocturnal, and adorable.
Pull over. Squeal like a pig.
This refers to the 1972 movie Deliverance, about a group of city men who take a canoe trip into a remote mountain area. On the trip Ned Beatty is raped by a mountain man and made to “squeal like a pig.”
Quit scanning me!
Scanners is a 1981 horror flick by David Cronenberg about a group of people with terrifying telekinetic powers; sometimes their heads explode. It starred Jennifer O’Neill and Stephen Lack.
You know, Mike? It’s hard not to make a Dukes of Hazzard comment.
The Dukes of Hazzard was a TV show about two law-evading cousins, Bo and Luke Duke, and their family in the South; it aired from 1979-1985.
[Sung.] Show me the way to the next whisky bar.
A line from “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)” by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, originally published in 1927. It was famously covered in 1967 by Jim Morrison and The Doors, and has been recorded by many other musicians as well.
Suddenly I long for a Hal Needham film.
Hal Needham (1931-2013) was a stuntman turned movie director. He made Smokey and the Bandit, The Cannonball Run,Stroker Ace, and the MST3K-worthy Megaforce.
Yeah, what have we got? Another citizen who isn’t ready for some football!
See above note on Hank Williams Jr.
Well, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a bag of Mama Burgers waiting for me.
In 1963, A&W Restaurants introduced its Burger Family: Papa Burger, Mama Burger, Baby Burger, and Teen Burger. Some restaurants even had fiberglass statues of the whole clan holding their namesake burgers out front.
Anyway, all my rowdy friends are coming over later.
Lyric from the 1984 Hank Williams Jr. hit “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” (see above note). It is a follow-up to his 1981 song “All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down).”
Dirty, and Hairy.
A reference to the 1971 Clint Eastwood film Dirty Harry.
In the Dirty Harry films, Eastwood plays San Francisco Police Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan.
He should rub salt on those leeches on the side of his van there.
Rubbing salt is a rustic method of removing a leech from your body. It is not recommended by doctors, as the dying, dehydrating leech may puke up its guts into your wound, increasing the risk of infection. Best to let them fill up and drop off after 20 minutes or so; alternatively, you could try gently running a fingernail between the leech and the skin to break the seal.
I’d better stock up on Ollie Joe Prater and Jerry Clower tapes.
Prater and Clower were 1970s comedians who specialized in Southern humor. Prater regularly appeared in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, frequently sharing a bill with Richard Pryor. He died in 1991 of a stroke, at the age of 44. Clower was a member of the Grand Old Opry and a radio host whose show, Country Crossroads, has aired in syndication for forty years. He died in 1998.
Hey, it’s that gas station that Frank Lloyd Wright didn’t design.
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) was the founder of the “Prairie style” school of architecture, which strove to blend into its natural surroundings. In the tiny town of Cloquet, Minnesota, population 11,000, you will find the only gas station designed by this world-famous architect. Wright had grandiose hopes for his station when it was built in 1959, envisioning it as a catalyst that would help transform the small-town landscape into his architectural utopia. Unfortunately, his design violated several safety and building codes and cost two to three times as much as a typical station, so the Cloquet station stands in solitary majesty. (Thanks to Isaac Kirk-Davidoff for this reference.)
Are those boot-cut jeans for Moon Boots?
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, and were hugely popular in the 1980s. They run about $90 a pair.
Karen Carpenter’s phone booth.
Karen Carpenter (1950-1983) was half of the brother-sister music duo The Carpenters with her sibling, Richard. In 1983, Karen died from heart failure attributed to her anorexia nervosa.
Okay, I’ll give you your Coke, stop hitting me!
Coca-Cola, or Coke, is the leading brand of cola in the world. It was first marketed as a refreshing soft drink by John Pemberton in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1886 in response to the area’s recently passed prohibition laws.
I’m going to drink the hell out of this Coke.
See previous note.
Coca-Cola’s going to need a P.R. campaign just to undo the damage this scene is doing.
See previous note.
Oh, man, Leif Garrett did more harm than he’ll ever know.
Leif Garrett was a singer and teen idol in the 1970s who had a couple of modest hits and then turned to acting, appearing in Shaker Run and Thunder Alley, among other films. In later years he had a high-profile struggle with substance abuse that brought him back into the public eye.
Hey, you wouldn’t believe what just happened at Dealey Plaza.
President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) was shot to death on November 22, 1963, as his presidential motorcade made its way through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas. In 1993 the Dealey Plaza Historic District was created to preserve the plaza and surrounding streets and buildings.
Ah, the Sinclair station is open; they’ve got an air hose.
Sinclair Oil is an oil company founded in 1916 that has gas stations nationwide. Its green “Dino the dinosaur” logo has been instantly recognizable for seventy years.
Ahh, hahahah wipe out.
The only lyric from “Wipe Out” by The Surfaris, an instrumental surf-rock band of the 1960s.
[Sung.] Lady, when I’m with you I’m smiling.
Paraphrase of a line from the 1974 Styx song “Lady.” The actual line is: “Lady, when you’re with me I’m smiling.”
Pepsi gave them big bucks to place Coke in this movie.
Pepsi is a major brand of cola, the chief competitor to Coca-Cola (see above note). It was first made in 1898 in North Carolina by pharmacist Caleb Bradham and sold as “Brad’s Drink.”
Navajos get all the good land.
Navajo Nation is the largest Native American land reservation. It is 26,000 square miles (larger than Lake Michigan) and blankets the Four Corners area in the Southwest. The population is just 17,000, making it astonishingly devoid of people.
Lyle Swann’s motorcycle from Timerider.
Lyle Swann, dirt bike champion, travels back in time to deal with a rugged group of Wild West outlaws in the forgettable 1982 film Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann.
I really am just dust in the wind, man, they are so right.
“All we are is dust in the wind” is a line from the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas—a 1978 hit for the prog rockers.
I’d like to call my horse with no name, but it doesn’t have a name.
“I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name/It felt good to be out of the rain,” from the 1972 song “A Horse With No Name” by America. Songwriter Dewey Bunnell has said the imagery came from his childhood experiences in the New Mexico desert when his family was living on Vandenberg Air Force Base, but some U.S. radio stations banned the song because of the widespread belief that the “horse” in the song referred to heroin.
Good God, he's out of Coke.
See note on Coke, above.
“Funky Winkerbean” is a comic strip started in 1972 about the students and teachers of Westview High School.
Wow, Albert Belle did cork his bat.
Belle was one of the biggest jerks to ever play baseball. He was rude to both fans and players. In 1994 he got caught red-handed corking his bat to hit farther and then tried to switch out the confiscated bat and got caught doing that. A teammate later claimed that all of Belle's bats were corked. Lame and a cheat. He was voted never to be admitted to the Hall of Fame.
This is so great, I needed Hooker headers bad.
Hooker headers are custom exhaust pipe systems only for American cars, intended to improve look and performance. They are run by Holley Performance Products.
[Sung.] 2001 Theme.
The majestic “Also sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss was used as the main theme for the 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Man, to think I was depressed when Battlestar Galactica got cancelled.
The original Battlestar Galactica TV series ran from 1978-1979 and spawned a few spin-offs. It featured Star Wars-styled spaceship models and very simplistic plots. It starred Lorne “Bonanza” Greene as the captain of a ship searching for the legendary planet Earth. The remake did better, lasting for four seasons plus a miniseries starting in 2003. In the wake of the series’ cancellation in 1979, Eddie Seidel, Jr., a fifteen-year-old fan in St. Paul, Minnesota, committed suicide by jumping to his death off a bridge. A 1979 article on the tragedy, however, made it pretty clear that Seidel’s problems ran much deeper than being unable to handle the loss of his favorite TV show.
Does he always waltz around when he finds old Thorens tonearms?
Thorens makes high-end tonearms for vinyl record players. The tonearm holds the needle cartridge steady and level. To get the most sensitivity out of records, a very lightweight arm is more desirable.
A Daisy Red Ryder repeating rifle! Thanks, Dad.
In the 1983 movie A Christmas Story, Ralphie wants more than anything to get a Red Ryder B.B. gun for Christmas.
Now, let's go find some ptarmigan.
Ptarmigan is a variety of chicken-like birds, native to the arctic tundra.
I think he’s doing Frampton Comes Alive!
Frampton Comes Alive! is a double live album by rock guitarist Peter Frampton; it was released in 1976. Frampton employed a guitar effect in which the sound he played was driven through a plastic tube he put in his mouth. By mouthing words, his guitar took on a vocal-like quality that fascinated people.
Now he has carte blanche to the Amoco men’s room.
See note on Amoco, above.
Do the apes know that they are filming in the forbidden zone?
In Planet of the Apes, the 1968 sci-fi film starring Charlton Heston, the apes prevented the humans from learning the truth about their evolution by establishing a “forbidden zone” where humans could not travel.
One of Mr. T’s understated pieces.
Mr. T (a.k.a. Laurence Tureaud) is an actor best known in the 1980s for his mohawk, his massive collection of elaborate gold chains, his muscle shirts, and his enormous physique on The A-Team and in Rocky III.
You know those apes who stack boxes to get to the bananas figured things out a lot faster than this.
In 1917, German psychologist Wolfgang Kohler published The Mentality of Apes, the results of six years of experiments, in which he argued that apes are capable of reasoning and problem-solving. One of the experiments he devised was hanging a banana out of reach of his chimpanzees, which then figured out how to stack wooden crates and climb them like a ladder to get to the food.
Yeah. I think you are going to detail my van for seventy-five dollars.
Earl Scheib ran an automotive service company of the same name. He aired a series of TV ads featuring him saying, “I’ll paint any car, any color, for $29.95, riiiight, no ups, no extras.” Scheib died in 1992, and the company finally went into receivership in 2010.
Moses was a Jewish prophet who, in the Book of Exodus in the Bible, hears the voice of God in a burning bush on Mount Sinai, commanding him to lead the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt to freedom in Canaan.
Yes, Yahweh in a can. If you want to summon Yahweh …
Yahweh is the name of the God of the ancient Israelites. Most modern Jews prefer Adonai, meaning “Lord.”
You might want to calibrate your iron sight; it's kind of pulling to the right there.
Iron sights are a sighting mechanism on firearms, crossbows, or telescopes. They are essentially two pieces of metal, one on either end of the device, which, when aligned, provide a basic way to aim.
That’s okay, just a 2,000-year-old saguaro, don’t worry about it.
The beautiful and familiar-looking saguaro cactus can easily live to 150 or 175 years if well cared for. Their impressive height, well-defined arms, and lethal spikes are a familiar sight in Arizona, where they are a protected plant species.
Georgia O’Keeffe’s massive limousine.
Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was a highly respected American painter known for her sensuous paintings of flowers, rocks, skulls, and landscapes. She lived in New Mexico for most of her career, and many of her paintings have a strongly Southwestern flavor.
Want a Dick Butkus mug? Little orange ball for your aerial? Hello?
Dick Butkus was a linebacker for the Chicago Bears, considered by many the greatest linebacker ever to grace the sport of football. Gas stations sometimes ran promotions where they gave away glasses and mugs with sports stars on them. Union 76 gas stations also used an ad promotion of small orange plastic balls with the 76 logo that would fit on the top of car radio antennas.
The Bill Bixby line of David Birney clothing.
Bill Bixby (1934-1993) played several popular TV leads, such as David Banner in The Incredible Hulk, Tom Corbett in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, and Tony Blake in The Magician. David Birney resembles Bixby a bit. He is a stage and TV actor who has appeared on St. Elsewhere and Serpico, among many other series.
Look at all the 8-tracks: Ferrante & Teicher, Captain and Tennille …
See note on 8-tracks, above. Ferrante & Teicher were a duo of keyboard players who produced instrumental easy listening songs during the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. The Captain & Tennille were a successful husband-and-wife soft-rock duo in the 1970s with such hits as “Muskrat Love” and “Love Will Keep Us Together.” They had their own TV variety show from 1976-1977.
Here’s my Merle Haggard Visa, I assume you take that.
Merle Haggard (1937-2016) was one of the legends of country music with hits like “Mama Tried” and “Okie from Muskogee.” The credit card Visa often entices customers with themed credit card templates.
Uh, my new Club magazine, I should wait till I get to the hotel.
Club is an adult nudie magazine for men, a U.S. spinoff of the popular British magazine Club International.
Or there’s the Ziffel B&B, that’s nice, you could go, oh sorry.
The Ziffel family (Fred, Doris, and adopted “son” Arnold the pig) are characters on Green Acres, a zany rural American TV comedy series that aired from 1965-1971.
So he just drove off and we never saw him again. Beautiful, sweet man in the Palm Beach suit. Just drove out of my life.
Palm Beach was a brand of budget-priced men’s suit with a widely copied style. Until the ‘50s they were made with Palm Beach cloth, a blend of mohair and cotton.
[Sung.] Get your motor running, head out on the highway.
Lyrics from the 1968 hit “Born to be Wild” by the rock band Steppenwolf.
[Hummed.] Waltz from “The Cycling Tour.”
In the episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus titled “The Cycling Tour,” Mr. Pither cycles to music from the 1859 opera Faust by Charles Gounod. (Thanks to Martin Anhalt for this reference.)
The county really provides great services at those picnic sites. Bottle of Beaujolais, and ...
Beaujolais is a light-bodied red wine produced in the Beaujolais region of eastern France. Beaujolais nouveau wine was wildly popular during the 1980s, but by the turn of the century the craze had faded to such an extent that more than a million bottles of surplus Beaujolais had to be destroyed in 2001.
Did they need to come to Angkor Wat just to have a picnic?
Angkor Wat is a giant Hindu temple complex that was originally dedicated to Vishnu. It was built in the 12th century C.E. at the capitol of the Khmer empire, in northwestern Cambodia.
Well, I might as well pray to Vaal while I’m here.
In the episode of the original Star Trek series called “The Apple,” the Enterprise finds a primitive culture who must feed a stone serpent idol named Vaal in exchange for their survival.
“Not waking people up at the crack of dawn, I hope.” Oh that’s where they found Tony Orlando.
Tony Orlando and Dawn was a pop music group popular during the early 1970s, with such hits as “Knock Three Times” and “Tie a Yellow Ribbon.” From 1974-1976 the group had its own eponymous TV show, which was a mix of music and comedy similar to Sonny and Cher’s TV show.
“Just you and me and the sky.” Dog named Boo.
These are lyrics from the mellow 1971 pop song “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo,” by Lobo, in which two hippies and a dog go cross-country in a broken-down car.
Just what I wanted to see, David Soul and Sondra Locke going at it.
David Soul played Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson on the TV series Starsky & Hutch (see above note). Sondra Locke is a short, thin, pale actress best remembered for the 1977 action thriller The Gauntlet. She had a fourteen-year relationship with Clint Eastwood, with whom she starred in several movies.
Like when you crank “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”
The prog rock band Blue Öyster Cult was somewhat popular in the 1970s. Their biggest hit was “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” in 1976. The band was named by the music producer who manufactured them.
Meanwhile, on Quark. You remember Quark? –Yep. I loved it.
The 1977 sci-fi comedy show Quark only ran one season, and starred Richard Benjamin as space commander Adam Quark. The show was written and created by Buck Henry (Get Smart). The “Meanwhile …” phrase originated with cards inserted in silent films of the early twentieth 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, radio, and television shows. Most recently, it was used in the various Superfriends animated series of the late 1970s. Narrator Ted Knight would say, “Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice ...” or “Meanwhile, at the Legion of Doom ...”
Our store named RadioShack is just crap.
RadioShack is a chain of electronics stores based in Fort Worth, Texas. Founded in 1921, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2015.
Adjust the comb filter here.
A comb filter is a type of electronic filter that helps improve a TV picture. It applies time-delayed versions of the scan lines over each other to improve intensity. In modern TVs, they are not needed. “Comb” refers to the look of the spectral response of the filter.
This is DSS, huh?
DSS, or digital satellite service, refers to satellite TV services such as DirecTV and Dish Network. These systems offer more bandwidth and channels than cable TV, but require a small satellite dish and an unobstructed view of the sky.
Iron Eyes Cody.
Iron Eyes Cody (1904-1999) is remembered as the crying Indian in the 1970s PSA commercials about littering, but he was actually an Italian-American named Espera Oscar de Corti. He arrived in Hollywood calling himself Tony Cody in 1927 and claimed to be of Cherokee-Cree ancestry; throughout his career he made a living playing American Indians in Hollywood, and was active in Native American causes in his personal life. He married a Native American woman and adopted several Indian children. His true origins were revealed in 1996 by a New Orleans newspaper, but Cody went to his grave denying it.
Oh no, it’s Michael Landon. What else can go wrong?
Actor/director Michael Landon (b. Eugene Orowitz; 1936-1991) played youngest son Little Joe Cartwright on Bonanza and father Charles Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. One of his early film roles, playing an adolescent lycanthrope in I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), was riffed in Show 809.
Good thing my slacks have memory.
Permanent press fabrics are typically man-made things like acrylic and nylon and polyester. They are difficult to wrinkle and spring back to their original shape (hence, memory fabric).
Engelbert Humperdinck on a very personal journey.
Engelbert Humperdinck (real name Arnold Dorsey) was a popular British singer in the 1960s with such hits as “Release Me” and “There Goes My Everything.”
Huh. Well, I thought I was supposed to film a Tareyton commercial out here.
Tareyton cigarettes had a popular ad campaign, based on the slogan “Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch!” and showed people at first in profile who were later revealed to have a black eye.
Did ancient astronauts make dirt bunnies?
The term “ancient astronauts” was coined by author Erich Von Däniken in his popular tome Chariots of the Gods?, in which he postulated that the pyramids of ancient Egypt were built with extraterrestrial assistance. In the 1970s and 1980s, “documentary” TV series such as In Search Of … (Syndication, 1977-1982) hammered away at the ancient astronaut theory, posing lots of open-ended questions about what ancient astronauts may or may not have done (spoiler: nothing).
[Sung.] There’s a place in France, where the ladies wear no pants.
Tom is singing an old tune originally titled “The Streets of Cairo, or the Poor Little Country Maid.” One source attributes it to Sol Bloom, who had a World’s Columbian Exhibition act in 1893 that featured Middle Eastern belly dancers.
Another Buddhist monk.
Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc famously set himself on fire in Saigon to protest persecution of his religion in Vietnam in 1963. It was captured by AP photographer Malcolm Browne, who won a Pulitzer for his work. Several monks followed Duc’s example, increasing pressure on the regime, which was brought down by an army coup five months later.
It’s Coleman Francis mountain.
The cult filmmaker/actor Coleman Francis (Show 609, The Skydivers; Show 619, Red Zone Cuba; Show 621, The Beast of Yucca Flats) all too frequently filmed in locations around Yucca Mountain in Nevada, currently the home of a disputed nuclear waste repository.
I’ve come to where the flavor is, but nothing is happening.
Marlboro is a brand of cigarettes manufactured by Philip Morris. Its iconic advertising symbol, the Marlboro Man, used a number of slogans having to do with flavor, including “Delivers the goods on flavor” (1950s) and “Come to where the flavor is” (1970s).
[Sung.] There’s a place in France. –There’s a place in France. –There’s a place in France. I wish they’d stay in one key. –There’s a place in France. I wish they’d finish a phrase now and then. –There’s a place in France, where the ladies wear no pants. Heyow, break it down now, talkin’ ‘bout that place in France rowr, where the ladies ain’t wearing no knickers at all …
See note on the “Snake Charmer Song,” above.
Oh man, if Pauly Shore is in this …
Pauly Shore is an actor and comedian who has starred in a number of irritating films, including Son in Law, Jury Duty, and Bio-Dome. He is the son of Mitzi Shore, the legendary founder/owner of The Comedy Store comedy club in Los Angeles.
It’s not really a good Chippendale outfit.
Chippendales is a traveling adult erotic dance show featuring male performers, aimed at mostly female audiences. The men are bodybuilders who dance and put on a show before stripping. They have touring companies worldwide, and have a standing act in Vegas.
Scott Baio class.
Scott Baio is an actor who is probably best known for playing Chachi on Happy Days for eight years and continuing the part on the short-lived series Joanie Loves Chachi (1982). He also played the title character on the TV show Charles in Charge (1984-1990).
Yes, it’s a Manson Family reunion.
Charles Manson founded “The Family,” a cultish group of young dropouts with Manson as their unquestioned leader. In August 1969, several Family members committed a string of seven horrific murders in Los Angeles. Ultimately, five members of the Family were convicted of the crimes, including Manson. They were sentenced to death, but the following year the sentences were commuted to life in prison. One, Susan Atkins, died in 2009; the others are still behind bars.
It’s Rover from The Prisoner! Smaller.
The eerie 1967-1968 British sci-fi thriller TV series The Prisoner featured a mysterious unstoppable sentry device called “Rover” (a giant white balloon). It was unleashed to pursue and subdue escaping prisoners.
They made the movie for the Parade of Homes?
The Parade of Homes is a local display of new construction housing, often showcasing the builder that made them.
Guys, I’m back from the rumpus room, everything checks out.
A rumpus room is another name for a playroom.
Hey, how are things in the Blue Lagoon?
The Blue Lagoon is a 1980 film about two teens (played by the curly blond-haired Christopher Atkins and a lanky teenage Brooke Shields) who come of age while stranded alone on an island.
And Elway takes him down.
John Elway was the revered quarterback for the Denver Broncos for 16 years until he retired in 1999; he is now executive vice president of the Broncos and a millionaire car dealer.
The Microsoft meeting goes horribly wrong.
See above note on Bill Gates.
“Billy, don’t.” Be a hero.
Lyrics from the pop song “Billy Don’t Be a Hero,” which was a hit in the U.K. in 1974 for the British band Paper Lace; in the U.S., people are more familiar with the cover version released the same year by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods, which hit #1 for two weeks. It is about a U.S. Civil War soldier who gets killed.
Oh great, he lives next to Alan Parsons.
The Alan Parsons Project is a progressive rock band known for such early 1980s hits as “Eye in the Sky.” Parsons was a famous recording engineer who worked with early Pink Floyd, among others.
I’m not Adam Roarke.
Tough-guy actor Adam Roarke (1937-1996) appeared in a lot of biker films.
Powered by a twenty-horse Evinrude, this Dodge Charger really …
Wisconsin-based Evinrude makes popular outboard motors for boats. In 2001 they were bought by Canadian-based Bombardier Recreational Products. The Dodge Charger is a car built by Chrysler; several different models have carried the name since the original two-door version rolled off the assembly line in 1966.
[Sung.] Love the one you’re with. Love the one you’re with. De do de do …
A line from the Stephen Stills song “Love the One You’re With.” It was his first solo hit, off his 1970 album Stephen Stills.
[Sung.] “The Wedding March.”
“The Wedding March” is traditionally the music played during wedding ceremonies to usher the bride down the aisle. It was written by Felix Mendelssohn in 1842 as part of a suite of music to accompany Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
I dunno, schlemiel, schlimazel, whatever.
A reference to the opening of the TV sitcom Laverne and Shirley, which ran from 1976-1983. In the credits, the two leads march down the sidewalk chanting a Yiddish hopscotch rhyme: “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”, which then segues into the theme song, “Making Our Dreams Come True,” sung by Cindy Greco. Hasenpfeffer Incorporated was the name of the bottling company that the pair worked for on the show.
Dennis Cole (1940-2009) was a blond, butch, surfer-type actor who worked extensively in television. He starred on the ABC series Felony Squad from 1966-1969 and had numerous guest roles on everything from Charlie’s Angels to Murder, She Wrote.
His horn is caught in some kind of bebop rhythm.
Bebop is a style of modern jazz. It is typically fast-tempo music with lots of improvised solo lines based on the melody and chord structure.
I am the lizard king.
Singer Jim Morrison of The Doors sang “I am the lizard king, I can do anything” in the song “Celebration of the Lizard King.” His fans quickly nicknamed him the Lizard King. The song appears on their 1968 album Waiting For the Sun.
That was Cochise’s Charger?
Cochise was the chief of an Apache tribe in New Mexico during the 19th century. He led his tribe in war against the Mexicans and later American settlers. He eventually accepted a peace treaty in 1872 and retired to his beloved Chiricahua Mountains. In 1875 the Americans broke the treaty and removed the tribe to the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona, but Cochise did not live to see it; he had died the year before.
The loss of any Dodge Charger’s an awful thing.
See above note.
Yeah, they thought the spent plutonium rods would be fine in the trunk.
The element plutonium is a radioactive metal used as a powerful energy source in nuclear power plants and also in nuclear weapons. It is highly poisonous and has (in its most commonly used form) a 24,000-year half-life, making it a tremendous challenge to store safely after its usefulness is over.
Great, another Larry Storch wannabe here.
Larry Storch is an actor and voiceover artist best known for his role as Corporal Randolph Agarn in the TV series F Troop (1965-1967) and as the voice of Koko the Clown in a lengthy series of animated shorts.
I just feel like you might not be ready for some football.
See note on Hank Williams Jr., above.
Are you saying I have an oral fixation?
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was an Austrian medical doctor who is generally considered the father of psychoanalysis. Freud emphasized the influence of sexual desire on human psychology, and developed a theory that our sexuality begins at a very young age and moves through a series of stages, or “fixations,” the first of which is the oral fixation stage, from birth to two years of age. Freud’s theory contends that if each stage is not psychologically completed, a person can become "stuck" in a particular fixation stage. Freud’s own fondness for cigars led many to jokingly suggest he himself had an oral fixation. (Thanks to Skyler Saunders for this reference.)
Yep, Whopper and fries. You want anything?
The Whopper is the signature hamburger sandwich from the Burger King fast food franchise.
Oh, and hey, let’s be careful out there.
On the 1980s TV police drama Hill Street Blues, Sgt. Phil Esterhaus dismissed the roll call with the line, “And hey, let’s be careful out there.” He was played by the late Michael Conrad.
Hey, they got the name of your favorite band on the side of the car there.
The Canadian rock band Sheriff was best known for their 1983 hit song "When I'm With You." (Thanks to theashandthered for this reference.)
These two were in True West for many years.
True West is a play by Sam Shepard about two feuding brothers reunited at their mother's house in Los Angeles. It was made into a movie with Bruce Willis in 1992.
[Sung.] I shot the Me-oh, but I didn’t shoot the other guy.
A paraphrase of a line from the 1973 Bob Marley song “I Shot the Sheriff.” Actual lyrics: “I shot the sheriff/But I didn’t shoot no deputy …”
Is that Fish’s wife typing? Bernice!
The 1977-1978 TV series Fish was a spinoff of the sitcom Barney Miller. Abe Vigoda (1921-2016) played elderly Detective Phil Fish, and his wishy-washy wife Bernice was played by Florence Stanley. It involved the Fishes adopting a rainbow group of orphan teens.
This movie packs the unflinching humor of a Dik Browne panel.
Dik Browne (1917-1989) drew the long-running newspaper comic strip “Hi and Lois” (with writer Mort Walker) and both wrote and drew the “Hägar the Horrible” strip. They are both rather droll, and involve ironic domestic situations. Browne’s son Chance took over “Hi and Lois” after his father died, and his son Chris produces “Hägar.”
I think they were going for A Touch of Evil feel, but got a touch of something else.
A Touch of Evil is a classic 1958 film written, directed by, and starring Orson Welles. It was shot in black and white and represents late film noir.
The president stops at the Westward Ho.
There was a hotel in Phoenix called the Westward Ho, but probably they’re referring to the now-defunct casino/hotel in Las Vegas. It opened in 1963 and operated for 42 years before closing in 2005.
I presume you’ve heard of Tattletales?
Actor/singer Bert Convy (1933-1991) was best known for hosting several TV game shows, including Tattletales, a TV game show during the 1970s on which celebrities and their spouses competed to see which pair responded to the most questions with the same answers. Convy sported a round, tight, curly permanent hair helmet.
Let me show you my Sam’s Club membership.
Sam’s Club is a chain of warehouse-style discount stores, owned and operated by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Sam Walton was the founder of Walmart). To shop there, you must buy a membership to the club for a fee, presumably to be recovered through one’s savings on the low prices inside. The items sold are typically in bulk quantities. It started in 1983, and is second in sales to rival Costco.
I gotta go buy Fish’s laxative.
See note on Fish, above.
Good thing my Zantigo’s salary affords me an endless supply of cars.
Zantigo is a chain of Mexican-style fast-food restaurants in the upper Midwest. In 1986 they were bought by PepsiCo, which owns rival Taco Bell, and turned them all into Taco Bell franchises. The chain has since been reborn in Minneapolis.
Hey, Ford, stands for “Fix Or Repair Daily.”
The Ford Motor Company has a whole host of insulting acronyms directed at its purported lack of reliability. In addition to the one mentioned above, there is “Fast Only Rolling Downhill,” “Found On Road Dead,” and (from a mechanic’s point of view) “Funding Our Retirement Daily.”
I got it from the Franklin Mint.
Franklin Mint is a Pennsylvania company founded in 1964 that makes collectible coins, plates, dolls, etc. They advertise on TV and through direct mail, often promoting some recent pop culture icon or event, captured in a “limited edition” coin or plate.
You know nothing of my chest holes.
A paraphrase of a line from the 1977 film Annie Hall, spoken by media theorist Marshall McLuhan: “You know nothing of my work!”
Tonight on a very special Roddy McDowall Hospital.
See note on Roddy McDowall, above.
Well, it’s big, but not as big as mine.
Rumors have it that the late Mr. McDowall was very well endowed.
I was in a monkey suit, and suddenly I was in this movie.
See note on Roddy McDowall, above. The quintessential man-ape movie, Planet of the Apes (1968) was based on a novel by Pierre Boulle, with Rod Serling co-writing the screenplay. It starred Charlton Heston as an astronaut. His ship is thrown thousands of years into the future and crash lands on an earth-like planet, only to find it ruled by talking apes. (Spoiler alert: it’s Earth.)
Dear God, Mrs. Miniver was a long, long time ago.
Mrs. Miniver is a 1942 film starring Greer Garson, a lifelong friend of Roddy McDowall. McDowall himself did not appear in the film, although he was a famous child actor at the time.
Certainly, Bright Eyes.
See previous note on Planet of the Apes. “Bright Eyes” was the apes’ nickname for Charlton Heston’s character.
It is ape law.
See previous note on Planet of the Apes. The Planet of the Apes franchise encompasses five films made between 1968 and 1973, a short-lived TV series, numerous books and graphic novels, a poorly received Tim Burton film remake in 2001, and a reboot of the film series beginning in 2011 that has been getting good reviews. Based on a 1963 novel by Pierre Boulle, the stories revolve around an Earth of the future where humans clash with intelligent apes who rule the land according to their own “Ape Law.” The Ape Law concept was appropriated by MST3K in host segments taking place in “Deep Ape”—which introduced Professor Bobo (Kevin Murphy in full ape makeup)—in the first four episodes of Season 8.
Ding-dong. –Operation. –Remove wrenched ankle.
“Remove wrenched ankle” appeared in the TV commercials for the Milton Bradley electronic board game Operation. Players remove injured body parts without touching the sides of the entry hole to win points. If the sides are touched with the metal tweezers, a light goes off and a buzzer sounds.
It appears to be growing into a Wizard of Oz commemorative plate.
Eight commemorative plates for the movie The Wizard of Oz, painted by James Auckland, were produced by Knowles China from 1977 to 1979. A mint plate with all the paperwork seems to go for about $50 on eBay.
How Green Was My Valley was a long time ago.
How Green Was My Valley was McDowall’s breakout movie role as a child star, in 1941.
It’s a St. Paul Winter Carnival medallion.
The annual St. Paul Winter Carnival, first held in 1886, features a treasure hunt in which clues are printed in the local paper to find a medallion hidden somewhere in a local park. The competition to find it is often cutthroat. Since the first treasure hunt in 1952, the medallion has been hidden in a diaper, an Oreo cookie, a soda can, and frozen inside a block of ice. Winners can receive up to $10,000.
I was getting into my ape role, and I threw some crap around.
See note on Planet of the Apes, above. Surprisingly, researchers have found a correlation between poop throwing by chimps and intelligence—specifically highly developed speech centers.
I’ve got to see if Beyond Valley of the Planet of the Apes is a go.
The success of the movie Planet of the Apes spawned many sequels, a television series, and even a cartoon version known as Return to the Planet of the Apes. McDowall starred in most of the treatments.This may also be a reference to the schlocktastic Russ Meyer masterpiece Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), which starred most of the 38DD breasts available in Hollywood that year. (Thanks to Scott Gillespie for pointing out the Russ Meyer reference.)
“It will be after midnight.” I’ll be letting it all hang down.
A paraphrase of the rock song “After Midnight,” made famous by Eric Clapton in 1970. Written and originally recorded by J.J. Cale in 1966, Clapton's 1970 version appeared on his self-titled debut album. Clapton did a slower version of the song in 1988 for a Michelob beer commercial, which went on to become a hit in its own right.
Wait, I’m a LensCrafter technician, what does he want with me?
LensCrafters sells corrective eyewear and boasts “new lenses in about an hour.” They began in 1983 and are now owned by an Italian conglomerate called Luxottica, who also own Pearle Vision and Sunglass Hut.
It’s George Jones as a Wal-Mart greeter.
George Jones was a country music singer/songwriter who often performed with wife Tammy Wynette. Wal-Mart discount stores used to have an employee personally greet each customer who came in the door with a friendly “Welcome to Wal-Mart.” The company traditionally hired retirees for the positions.
A line from hammy comic actor Jim Carrey, from the 1994 comedy film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. It was actually the 1994 film The Mask that featured Carrey with a green face similar to the character in this scene, but close enough.
Roddy McDowall is Silkwood.
In the 1983 film Silkwood, which starred Meryl Streep in the true story of a worker at a nuclear plant who may have been murdered to prevent her from telling a reporter about safety violations at the plant, there is a famous scene where Streep is blinded by bright headlights in her rear-view mirror, which cause a fatal car crash.
So this is how Roddy McDowall died? –He's not dead. –Oh.
He is now, alas: he passed away in 1998 at the age of 70.
I believe this is Mannix, if I’m not mistaken.
Mannix was a television series starring Mike Connors as Joe Mannix, a private eye in Los Angeles who indulged in frequent car chases, shootouts, and fistfights. It aired from 1967-1975. Mike Connors (under the name “Touch Connors”) appeared in Show 503, Swamp Diamonds.
He could play Gertrude Stein sooo easy.
The rather mannish Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) was an American expatriate poet and author in the first half of the 20th century; her home in Paris, which she shared with her companion Alice B. Toklas, hosted salons attended by many of the leading artists and intellectuals of the day, including Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway.
Michael Caine’s puffy sister.
Over his checkered career, veteran British actor Sir Michael Caine has made some wonderful films, like Alfie, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Hannah and Her Sisters. He has also made some dreadful films, including Jaws: The Revenge, about which he famously said: “"I have never seen the film, but by all accounts it was terrible. However I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”
This movie is comprised strictly of second unit footage.
In filmmaking, a second unit is a separate film crew from the main unit, tasked with filming specific action sequences, close-ups, establishing shots, or scenes not requiring the main actors, often after the major filming has finished.
This forced perspective is so phony, he’s not really that big, you know.
Forced perspective is a filmmaking term for making objects appear larger than they really are using an optical illusion. For instance, placing a small model close to the camera while filming a hill in the background can make it look like a full-size object on a hill.
Uh, which Springfield, there’s one in every state?
While Springfield is very common, it only appears in 35 states, according to a linguist who researched it. (Riverside is the most common, appearing in all but four states.) The ubiquity of the name is the reason Matt Groening chose it as the hometown of the Simpsons on the TV show of the same name; there’s a Springfield not far from Groening’s hometown of Portland, Oregon.
Should I close off the island, Steve?
An imitation of actor Kam Fong (1918-2002) as Detective Chin Ho, on the 1970s TV police drama Hawaii Five-O (1968-1980). Closing off the island was a drastic police method to trap fleeing criminals on Oahu. Jack Lord played Five-O Police Chief Steve McGarrett.
What about the rights of that little girl?
An imitation of Clint Eastwood in the 1971 film Dirty Harry.
They got that antenna to get some Elvin Bishop and Marshall Tucker music.
Elvin Bishop is a blues guitarist, famous for playing with the late Paul Butterfield Blues Band and his later solo hit “Fooled Around and Fell in Love.” The Marshall Tucker Band (there is no Marshall Tucker in the band; it was named after a local blind piano tuner) is a pioneer of Southern rock. They had a hit with “Can’t You See” in 1973.
He’d make a pretty Sharon Gless.
Sharon Gless played police detective Christine Cagney on the 1980s police drama series Cagney & Lacey (1981-1988). In the 1980s Gless was blond with a rather severe beauty.
Anything you say can be used to get you ready for some football.
A Hank Williams Jr.–inspired take on the Miranda warning, which has been read by police to suspects since the 1966 Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona.
Boy camel toe.
Camel toe is a slang term used to describe the appearance of female genitalia when pressed into extremely tight-fitting trousers. “Boy camel toe” is sometimes called “moose knuckle.” You wanted to know that.
Allen Fawcett was the original Joseph in the Broadway musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and was a soap opera star on two daytime drama series, The Edge of Night and General Hospital. He is now a Vegas impresario.
"Do you mind showing us?" It’s a Calvin Klein ad.
Ads for Calvin Klein jeans were always pretty racy. They featured models, usually half-dressed, hawking expensive denim pants; a teenage Brooke Shields and an extremely emaciated Kate Moss were among them. Specifically, this is a reference to a 1995 TV campaign, soon banned, that came to be known as the “kiddie porn auditions” campaign. They featured very young-looking models posing uncomfortably in what appeared to be a wood-paneled basement, being asked by an off-camera voice to do various things, including show more skin.
I’m not ready for football anymore.
See note on Hank Williams Jr., above.
They’re looking at those old weird naked daguerreotypes.
Daguerreotypes were an early form of photography, and the first to be commercially successful. It was invented by French artist Louis Daguerre in 1839 and spread rapidly around the world. Naturally, as soon as it became possible to photograph people, it became possible to photograph naked people, and the naughty picture business of the 19th century was off and running. Early daguerreotypes were difficult to reproduce, however, keeping the market limited.
Well, goodbye, Mrs. Joe Don Baker.
Joe Don Baker is a beefy, Southern-fried actor known to MSTies as the much-abused star of Show 512, Mitchell, and Show 1008, Final Justice. As Kevin Murphy writes in the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, “Joe Don Baker hates us, and wishes us all dead, and if he met any one of us and knew who we were, he would probably take a swing, miss by a mile, spill his drink all over his rented arm-candy escort, and fall backward into the hors d’oeuvre table. Well, bring him on, I say, we’re ready for him.”
And my hair is perfect.
“Werewolves of London” appears on the 1978 album Excitable Boy by the late rocker Warren Zevon (1947-2003). It features the line “I saw a werewolf drinking a piña colada at Trader Vic’s/And his hair was perfect.”
Tonight on Cops.
Cops is a long-running reality TV show about real police officers in real situations; it first aired on Fox in 1989.
I saw this Cops once where they pulled this skinny guy up from under a couch.
So, every Cops, then. See previous note.
This sucks, I was supposed to headline.
According to Satellite News: “This is a reference to the experience many of the writers had as traveling comics working a circuit of comedy clubs in Minnesota. They tended to travel in one car, with the headliner getting the best seat, etc.”
David Bowie (1947-2016) was a British rock musician who rose to fame during the era of glam rock in the early 1970s, with such albums as The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972). Since that time his music underwent a number of evolutions, from flirtations with soul and R&B to the dance craze of the early 1980s. He is considered one of the most influential rock musicians of all time. His early performances featured pale white makeup, giving him an alien look.
He knows how to use a Coke.
See above note on Coke.
I’d like to teach the world … To get ready for some football!
“I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)” is a song that first appeared in a 1971 Coca-Cola ad featuring the drink’s slogan at the time, “It’s the Real Thing,” in its chorus. The commercial was a hit, and the song (without the Coke references) was released as a single by The New Seekers (who performed in the ad). It reached number one in the U.K. and number seven in the U.S. The lyrics for the ad version of the song are as follows: “I’d like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love/Grow apple trees and honey bees, and snow white turtle doves/I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony/I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.” Also see note on Hank Williams Jr., above.
An imitation of Johnny Carson’s Art Fern character, which was based off Jackie Gleason’s Reginald Van Gleason III character.
Come on, stop using my Coke.
See above note on Coke.
This is like Porky’s, without the charm.
Porky’s was a teen sex romp movie from 1982. It featured soft-core scenes of teenage boys trying to get laid by any means possible, including with girls at a sleazy dive called Porky’s.
Somebody stop meh.
A line from the 1994 comedy movie The Mask, starring Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz.
Wait, save the Nut Goodies, save the pine tree air fresheners.
The Nut Goodie is a candy bar made from milk chocolate, creamy maple filling, and peanuts. It is made by Pearson’s Candy Company of St. Paul, Minnesota, which also makes Salted Nut Rolls and Bun Bars. Pine tree air freshener is a like-shaped object that is hung from the rear view mirror of a car and gives off a vaguely pine-ish scent.
[Sung.] If I built a fortress around your heart …
A line from Sting’s first solo hit, “Fortress Around Your Heart,” back in 1985. It is on The Dream of the Blue Turtles album.
I agree with Abby, people should just cuddle.
“Dear Abby” is an advice column syndicated in newspapers everywhere. It is written by “Abigail Van Buren,” whose real name is Jeanne Phillips. Phillips took over the column in 2002 from her mother, Pauline Phillips, who began writing the column in 1956. Readers write in with problems, and Abby dispenses comfortably bourgeois solutions.
Oh, Robert Ginty was a better kisser.
Robert Ginty is known to MST fans as “The Paper Chase Guy," or The Rider from Show 501, Warrior of the Lost World. He is kind of rugged-looking, and played regularly on TV. His sobriquet of “The Paper Chase Guy” comes from his stint playing the smooth skirt-chasing law student Thomas Craig Anderson on that TV series from 1978-1979.
If you could taste what I hear.
If You Could See What I Hear is a 1982 biopic about blind musician Tom Sullivan that starred Marc “The Beastmaster” Singer.
From the Sarah Coventry collection.
The American jewelry retailer Sarah Coventry sold its wares at women’s home parties from 1949 to 1984. The brand name was sold to a Canadian company, which continues to sell jewelry via the QVC network. A Sarah Coventry piece is usually marked “SC,” “Sarah Coventry,” or “Coventry.”
It’s Kris Kringle in retirement.
Kris Kringle is another name for Santa Claus; the name comes from the German Christkindl, or Christ child.
Whoa, that Old Smugglers will sneak up on yer.
Old Smuggler is a discounted brand of blended Scotch whisky made by the Glenn Grant distillery. They are owned by Italian mega-booze company Campari Group.
“Hobson’s choice.” You know, with Meryl Streep and Kevin Klein and all?
The 1982 movie Sophie’s Choice starred Streep as a Holocaust survivor involved with a violent, mentally unstable man (Klein). “Sophie’s choice” refers to her ordeal in Auschwitz, (spoiler alert) when they forced her to choose which of her children would live and which would die. Hobson’s choice is an old phrase meaning an offered “choice” in which there is only really one option available.
Scenes cut from Road House.
The 1989 film Road House, starring Patrick Swayze, was filled with senseless violence and hokey dialogue. It was a favorite target of the writers.
[Sung.] Hogan’s Heroes theme.
This is the theme song from Hogan’s Heroes, a CBS sitcom that aired from 1965-1971 about a group of Allied service members imprisoned in a German POW camp. Actor Bob Crane (Colonel Robert Hogan) played the pounding drum line during the famous opening theme song.
Filmed with Husbands and Wives cam.
Woody Allen’s 1992 film Husbands and Wives was filmed with a hand-held camera. This gave it a documentary, real-life feel. The film was a critical success, and lends some ironic foreshadowing to Allen’s looming romantic problems with lover and co-star Mia Farrow.
Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge: The destruction of Jared-Syn through the portal of time.
Two movie references plus a literary reference: Ambrose Bierce’s 1890 short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" is about a man condemned to hang by Union soldiers during the Civil War. The low-budget 1983 sci-fi flick Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn is frankly more interesting for its title than anything else. And lastly, Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time (1991) is another film where Marc Singer takes off his shirt and shows off his work on the Nautilus. (Note: Bierce’s work has been adapted for radio, TV, and film several times, but most of them are fairly obscure; it’s most likely the writers were simply referring to the plot of the story.)
[Sung.] Get loud. Get loud, children, get loud. Be proud, yeah, be proud you’re a rebel cause South going to do it again.
This is the 1975 Charlie Daniels Band song, “The South’s Gonna Do It.” Daniels has said the song is a tribute to the brotherhood early Southern rock bands had while touring together, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker, and The Allman Brothers.
[Sung.] Gather round, gather round children, get down, you can get down children get loud, you can get loud and be proud, you can get proud yeah be proud, you’re a rebel ‘cause the South gonna do it again.
See previous note.
They are just like Williams and Ree.
Bruce Williams and Terry Ree are a comedy duo from the late 1960s who bill themselves as “The Indian and the White Guy.” A good deal of their humor concerns Native American ethnicity. They still play a huge number of shows annually, often appearing at Indian casinos.
This is so Coleman Francis right now.
Long, dull shots of planes taking off: very reminiscent of Coleman’s The Skydivers, riffed in Episode 609.
Are you taking me to the big place?
In Episode 424, Manos, The Hands of Fate, little Debbie says she found the demonic dog “in the big place.”
I’m Cherokee Jack.
“I’m Cherokee Jack” is how the pilot introduces himself in Episode 619, Red Zone Cuba.
This was so great when it was at the Omni Theater.
Omni Theaters are Imax format movie theaters that are projected on planetarium domes. There is a well-known Omni Theater at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul.
Tonight, on a very special Simon & Simon.
Simon & Simon was a light-hearted TV detective show that aired from 1981-1989. It featured two brothers, Rick and A.J., who had an Odd Couple-esque relationship and squabbled over their differences while solving crimes.
[Sung.] One tin soldier rides away.
A line from the 1969 anti-war song “One Tin Soldier,” written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter. Originally recorded in 1969 by Canadian group The Original Caste, a version by American rock group Coven titled “One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack),” from the 1971 film Billy Jack, became a hit that year, and again when it was re-released in 1973. The relevant lyrics: “There won't be any trumpets blowing/Come the judgement day/On the bloody morning after/One tin soldier rides away.”
Ron Howard decides to take out brother Clint.
Brothers Ron and Clint Howard were both child stars in the 1960s: Ron appeared on The Andy Griffith Show, while Clint starred in Gentle Ben. The two seem to be on good terms: Ron has cast Clint in many of his movies, including Apollo 13 and Cocoon.
Could Leonard Maltin be wrong, and this isn’t worth two and a half stars?
Leonard Maltin is a film critic whose reviews have appeared in publications such as Variety and TV Guide and on TV shows such as Entertainment Tonight. But he is best known for his book Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, a weighty tome first published in 1969; since 1987 it has been updated annually. Amazingly, he did give Laserblast 2.5 stars.
Well, Reno gave us the go ahead, let’s do it!
Janet Reno was the attorney general of the United States under President Bill Clinton, the first woman to hold that post. She was the subject of controversy for her handling of several crises, specifically the standoff at Ruby Ridge, in which a teenage boy and a woman were killed by federal agents; the storming of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, which killed 80 people, including children; and the bitter custody battle over the young Cuban boy Elian Gonzalez.
Ooh. It looked like Stewart Copeland for a moment.
Stewart Copeland was the drummer for the band The Police.
There's a label maker on top of the laserblaster.
Modern label makers are streamlined devices that look like cell phones, but when this episode originally aired (May 1996), a typical label maker was a pistol-like gadget with a disk on top that the user turned manually to select and then print letters and numbers.
A line from Show 506, Eegah!
Hello, Grand Rapids, are you ready to rock and roll?
A reference to the scene in the 1984 mockumentary This is Spinal Tap in which the band is fired up and ready to announce, "Hello, Cleveland, are you ready to rock and roll?" but can't seem to find their way out of the backstage corridors to the stage. Grand Rapids is a medium-sized city in lower Michigan, the second-largest city in the state after Detroit.
We’re just spraying paraquat, citizen, go about your business.
Paraquat is a common herbicide, but it is highly toxic to people and animals, so much so that it is commonly used for committing suicide in third world countries. Some studies have suggested a link between paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease. In the late 1970s, the U.S. government sponsored a program of spraying paraquat on marijuana fields in Mexico, with the intent of eradicating the crops. Instead, the “paraquat pot” was harvested, exported, and consumed by young American marijuana users. An awareness/protest campaign led by Los Angeles rock radio station KMET was instrumental in ending the paraquat spraying program, and that station’s news director, Pat Kelley, became thereafter known as “Paraquat Kelley.” (A 1995 study showed no ill effects on any of the users who consumed the affected marijuana.)
There we go. Thank you. Thank you very much, Indianapolis, we love you!
Indianapolis, located roughly in the center of the state, is the state capital of Indiana, with a population of about 840,000.
J.D. Power and Associates ranked these guys the most loathsome in their class.
J.D. Power and Associates is a marketing services information company that routinely conducts customer satisfaction surveys for major corporations around the globe. The phrase “Rated Number 1 in customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates” has cropped up in commercial after commercial, particularly in car ads. It was founded in 1968.
I get to pet the llama, right?
“We’d love to pet the llama” is from a host segment in Show 623, The Amazing Transparent Man.
Yes, it’s the brand new Weed Whipper 2.
A weed whipper, a.k.a. a string trimmer, is a gardening device that cuts grass and weeds with a whirling length of string, usually a plastic line.
Oh just lay off. You’ll see. When the South does rise again, I’ll be laughing. Me! Me!
See above note on the Charlie Daniels Band. The phrase “The South shall rise again” dates back to the late 1860s and former Confederate President Jefferson Davis and the so-called Redeemer movement.
[Hummed.] March music from The Brady Bunch.
From the classic sitcom The Brady Bunch, which aired from 1969-1974. The music was composed by Frank De Vol.
Is this one of those movies based on a Jane Austen novel?
Jane Austen (1775-1817) was a British romantic novelist around the beginning of the 19th century. She wrote the literary classics Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, among others. Many of her books have been turned into films, some repeatedly.
[Sung.] Something touched me deep inside, the day Eddie Deezen died.
Paraphrased lyrics from the song “American Pie” by Don McLean: “Something touched me deep inside/The day the music died.”
Cheryl Ladd in A Soldier’s Story.
Cheryl Ladd (née Cheryl Jean Stoppelmoor from South Dakota) had the impossible task of replacing Farrah Fawcett on the hit Aaron Spelling show Charlie’s Angels (1976-1981). She had worked with Kate Jackson in the original Satan’s School for Girls (1973), which was directed by Spelling. She went on to star in a boatload of made-for-TV movies with titles like Though None Go With Me and Love’s Resounding Courage. A Soldier’s Story is a famous play written by Charles Fuller about an African-American army officer investigating the race-related murder of a drill sergeant during World War II in the South. It was made into a movie starring Howard E. Rollins in 1984.
You’ll get your drinking badge with this one.
Merit badges are awarded in youth organizations such as the Boy/Girl Scouts.
“Billy!” Don’t be a hero!
See note on “Billy Don’t Be a Hero,” above.
[Sung.] “I’m Going Home”
Tom is singing “I’m Going Home” (1968) by the British rock group Ten Years After, featuring guitar whiz Alvin Lee.
Wait, something’s wrong with the whammy bar. There we go.
A whammy bar is a device built into the bridge of an electric guitar which allows the guitarist to alter the tension of the strings, changing the pitch of the notes or chords being played. The effect can be subtle or used to create an all-encompassing vibrato. A standard technique for surf musicians such as the Ventures or Dick Dale, the whammy bar was also mastered by such rock guitar icons as Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and Eddie Van Halen.
It’s a Miss Hathaway alien.
Prim spinster Miss Jane Hathaway was Mr. Drysdale’s loyal secretary on the TV series The Beverly Hillbillies, which aired from 1962-1971. The role was played by Nancy Kulp.
We’re going to Iowa City to see the Dead.
Diehard fans of the band the Grateful Dead, known as Deadheads, sometimes hitchhiked from town to town to follow the band on tour. Iowa City is a city of about 70,000 in southeastern Iowa; the Dead played there in 1982.
I saw Anthrax last night. I got hammered and puked.
Anthrax is a thrash metal band that formed in New York City in 1981; their 1985 album Spreading the Disease was enormously influential.
Then I discovered Poco.
Poco was a country-rock band founded in 1968 by former members of Buffalo Springfield. They had a memorable multi-layered vocal sound. Their biggest hit was 1979’s “Heart of the Night.” The band has had multiple lineup changes over the years, to the point that only one of the original members, guitarist Rusty Young, remains with the group.
He’s like a lucid Dennis Hopper.
Dennis Hopper (1936-2010) was an actor known for his hippie ways and appearances in Apocalypse Now (1979) and Blue Velvet (1986). Hopper directed Easy Rider and co-starred as Billy.
There’s just a sign that says Star Wars? –Reminding one of the movie Star Wars.
The 1977 film Star Wars, directed by George Lucas, was one of the most successful sci-fi movies of all time.
This guy breasts the tape in front of Steve Alaimo for loathsomeness.
Steve Alaimo starred as stock car driver/undercover cop Rod Tillman in Show 207, Wild Rebels.
At one point in Ace Ventura, Jim Carrey turns in the front seat of a car and delivers this line.
You are wrong, marijuana breath, hew hew hew.
Another imitation of Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show; he and Ed McMahon had an ongoing routine in which Johnny would read aloud a list, Ed would opine that every possible thing must be included, and Johnny would insult him as above before continuing with the list.
Meanwhile on a similar road, traffic moves freely.
See above note on "Meanwhile ..."
So I wonder what the flaw was that kept Leonard Maltin from giving this the full three stars?
See note on Leonard Maltin, above.
But alien problems do not exist here at Bearpath, a planned golf community.
Bearpath is a golf course/country club surrounded by homes, located in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, home of Best Brains Inc. According to their website, home sites start at $1.2 million.
My mailbox of values.
Mailbox Values is one of many direct mail marketing companies that routinely fill mailboxes with booklets of coupons and local business advertising.
It’s raining porn. –Hallelujah.
A reference to 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).
Leave the Bronx. You are ordered to leave the Bronx.
A line from Show 705, Escape 2000.
Mark Hamill in Falling Down.
Mark Hamill is an actor best known for playing Luke Skywalker in the first three Star Wars films, beginning in 1977, and the series reboot, beginning with Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). Falling Down was a 1993 movie that starred Michael Douglas as an unemployed engineer who goes on a violent spree across Los Angeles.
Ecuadorean bat boy found alive in cave.
Probably a reference to the headlines on the sadly defunct supermarket tabloid Weekly World News, which, unlike the National Enquirer, steered clear of celebrity gossip to focus on the news that truly mattered: alien presidential endorsements, Satan escaping from hell, and, of course, Bat Boy. Bat Boy was featured in so many stories after being discovered in a cave in West Virginia in 1992 that he became the newspaper’s unofficial mascot; in the years following he fled police in a high-speed chase, helped U.S. troops capture Saddam Hussein, bit Santa Claus, and went into space.
Tai chi in the morning is so great.
Tai chi is a Chinese martial art that emphasizes slow, graceful, controlled movements; many people use it simply as a healthful form of exercise.
Neil Diamond: Hot August Night.
The cover for the pop singer’s 1972 live double album shows Diamond onstage with rays of orange light shooting up behind him.
[Sung.] What would you do if I sang out of tune …
An impersonation of Joe Cocker doing his 1969 version of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends.”
Killed by vapor action.
Halls brand cough drops have long been marketed as fighting coughs with their “advanced vapor action.” They are manufactured by Cadbury-Adams.
Wow. She makes Laraine Newman look Rubenesque.
Laraine Newman is a comedian and actress best known for her tenure on Saturday Night Live as part of that show’s original cast, appearing from 1975-1980. She was famously thin and reportedly suffered from eating disorders. Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) was a Dutch master painter whose female subjects were often very full-figured, whence the term “Rubenesque.”
Fashions from Sears.
Sears sells general merchandise, including clothing. It is associated with mass market brands.
No more nights on musty blankets. I’ll really miss your open shirts. We’ll play REO Speedwagon at your funeral, Billy.
REO Speedwagon was a rock group popular during the 1970s and early ‘80s. Their style was very arena-friendly. They had the best-selling album of 1981, Hi Infidelity.
Okay, let’s look in Maltin’s book … uh, he gives this two and a half stars; oh, My Favorite Year barely edges it out with three stars.
My Favorite Year is a witty 1982 comedy about an alcoholic actor (played by Peter O’Toole, who was nominated for an Oscar) given one last shot at redemption through his appearance on a sketch comedy show in the 1950s.
Oh, look here, Hannah and Her Sisters is superior only by one star.
Hannah and Her Sisters is a 1986 comedy, one of Woody Allen’s biggest hits. It won two Academy Awards, for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.
Leonard Maltin gave the same two and a half stars to My Dinner with Andre.
My Dinner with Andre is a 1981 film about two men (played by Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory) having dinner in a restaurant and exchanging brittle bon mots. The film is a favorite among the arty crowd and is frequently cited as the epitome of art-house fare.
Name of the Rose? This is a better film than Name of the Rose—it only got two stars.
Name of the Rose is a 1986 film starring Sean Connery about a series of mysterious deaths at a 14th-century monastery. It is based on a novel by Umberto Eco.
Being There, two stars.
Being There is a 1979 film starring Peter Sellers as a simple-minded gardener who becomes a national celebrity. The screenplay won a slew of awards, and Melvyn Douglas won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Lucas Tanner: The Movie was directed by Richard Donner. I just thought I’d point that out.
Lucas Tanner was a short-lived 1974 TV drama starring David Hartman (Show 614, San Francisco International). Hartman played an unorthodox teacher. The 90-minute pilot, which aired May 8, 1974, was in fact directed by Richard Donner, better known for Lethal Weapon and Superman.
Look Mike, Birdman of Alcatraz, marginally better than Laserblast.
Birdman of Alcatraz is a 1962 film starring Burt Lancaster as real-life prisoner Robert Stroud, who kept birds in his prison cell while serving a life sentence for killing a guard. It was nominated for a batch of awards and is considered a classic.
They spelled Roddy McDowall's name wrong!
They certainly did. It’s McDowall, not McDowell. The final indignity.
Oh, here we go, Full Metal Jacket, three stars.
The 1987 movie Full Metal Jacket, directed by Stanley Kubrick, followed a squad of Marines through training for combat in Vietnam under a tough drill sergeant, played by R. Lee Ermey.
Hey, Seven Samurai, two stars. –What! –I’m kidding.
Seven Samurai is a 1954 Japanese adventure film directed by Akira Kurosawa. It was massively influential even in the West (the Western The Magnificent Seven is directly based on it) and is widely considered one of the best films ever made. Leonard Maltin actually gave Seven Samurai four stars.
According to this, A Fish Called Wanda was as good a film as Laserblast.
A Fish Called Wanda is a witty 1988 British caper comedy starring a top-notch ensemble cast, including Kevin Kline, John Cleese, Michael Palin, and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Broadcast News, Witness, three stars, barely superior to Laserblast.
Broadcast News is a 1987 romantic comedy about a love triangle between a brainless TV news anchor, an acerbic reporter, and the producer (Holly Hunter) who must choose between them. It garnered seven Academy Award nominations. Witness is a 1985 film starring Harrison Ford as a cop who goes to live among the Amish in an effort to protect a small boy who is the witness to a crime. It was nominated for eight Oscars and won two.
Same for Diner.
Diner is a 1982 film about a group of high school buddies who reunite for a wedding; it was nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar.
Oh, here we go, hey, this was a better movie than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. –Well, that’s possible.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a 1984 film starring Harrison Ford as the intrepid adventurer; it was widely considered an inferior sequel to the wildly successful 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark.
And the same caliber as Last Crusade, two and a half stars.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) is the third film in the Indiana Jones franchise, in which Jones and his aging father (played by Sean Connery) go hunting for the Holy Grail.
And yet Blame It on the Bellboy, four stars. –What?! –No, I’m kidding.
Blame It on the Bellboy is a 1992 comedy of mistaken identity set in a hotel in Venice; it starred Dudley Moore. Leonard Maltin actually gave Blame It on the Bellboy two stars.
So Kim Milford’s greasy, pop-eyed performance was every bit as good as F. Murray Abraham’s tortured performance as Salieri in Amadeus.
Amadeus is a crowd-pleasing 1984 film about composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, based on the play of the same name. F. Murray Abraham played his bitter rival, Antonio Salieri. It won eight Oscars, including Best Actor for Abraham.
Bagdad Café, brilliant, subtle comedy, no better than Laserblast.
Bagdad Café is a charming 1987 film about a German tourist who leaves her husband after an argument in the middle of the Mojave Desert, moves into a shabby motel, and finds work at a truck stop cafe.
Here’s where it gets hard. Harry and the Hendersons is every bit as good as Laserblast.
Harry and the Hendersons is a 1987 film about a family that adopts a Bigfoot; it starred John Lithgow.
Carson McCullers’s classic The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, no better than Laserblast.
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is a 1968 film starring Alan Arkin, based on the autobiographical novel by Carson McCullers; it is about the lives of a group of people in a Southern town who become involved with a deaf-mute named John Singer. It got two Oscar nods.
John Schlesinger’s Oscar-winning thriller Marathon Man, on par with Laserblast, two and a half stars.
Marathon Man is a 1976 film starring Dustin Hoffman as a graduate student who gets drawn into a Nazi plot. Although Laurence Olivier was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance as vicious Nazi dentist Dr. Christian Szell, he did not win; he did, however, win a Golden Globe.
So Laurence Olivier’s chilling performance as Szell, the white angel of death, no better than the butt-faced sheriff in Laserblast.
Dr. Szell's nickname in the film was “Der weisse Engel”—the White Angel. The character was inspired by real-life Nazi Josef Mengele, known as the Angel of Death.
Look here, look here, The Outlaw Josey Wales and Unforgiven, quintessential Westerns, Eastwood at his finest, however—I think you know where we’re headed with this, Mike—same as Laserblast.
The Outlaw Josey Wales is a 1976 Western starring Clint Eastwood as a farmer who turns outlaw after the murder of his family. Unforgiven (1992) is considered by most to be Eastwood’s finest Western, a meditation on the effects of violence on individuals and communities; it won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Oh, here we go, here’s a couple more. Sophie’s Choice, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,The Great Santini—all two and a half stars.
See above note on Sophie’s Choice. The film won one Oscar (for Best Actress) and earned four more nominations. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a 1971 musical film starring Gene Wilder in the title role as the whimsical owner of a candy company; it was nominated for an Oscar for its score and is considered a children's classic. The Great Santini is a 1979 film starring Robert Duvall as a decorated military man with a difficult family life. It got two Oscar nominations.