816: Prince of Space
by Wyn Hilty
Hey, I’m in space already! Damn!
An imitation of Minneapolis musician Prince (1958-2016), who was one of the seminal musical talents of the 1980s. Specifically, it's a riff on his song “Housequake,” from his 1987 album Sign o’ the Times. Sample lyrics: “Shut up already, damn!/Tell me who in this house know about the quake?/(We do)/I mean really, really/If you know how to rock say 'yeah' (yeah).”
Is this gonna be a super-violent porn cartoon?
The stylized Japanese animation genre known as anime is produced both as films and graphic novels, and has a number of very specific subgenres that can be quite violent and sexual in nature.
HO scale Japan. –Japan. By Marx.
HO scale is the standard scale used for model trains, slot-car racers, and other scale-model vehicles. The exact scale ratio is 1:87.1. Louis Marx & Co. was one of the biggest toy companies of the 20th century, churning out action figures, ride-on toys, Yo-Yos, and its famous snap-together playsets. It was founded in 1919.
[Sung.] Leave It to Beaver theme.
This is the theme song to Leave It to Beaver, a TV sitcom that ran from 1957 to 1963. It starred Hugh Beaumont and Barbara Billingsley as the quintessential TV parents, Ward and June Cleaver. (Thanks to Andrew N. for this reference.)
Oh, Ma, tempura again?
Tempura is a popular Japanese dish consisting of pieces of seafood and sliced vegetables that are lightly battered and deep fried.
We love cram school, father!
Cram schools, or juku, are private schools attended several hours a day, in addition to regular public schools, to help students prepare for the rigorous entrance examinations to high school and college. They cost about $100-$200 per month.
Okay, okay, okay. Two Italian guys dodge mushrooms thrown by a monkey. Huh? –I don’t know.
Mario and Luigi are primary characters in a series of video games produced by Japanese company Nintendo over the past three decades. They are Italian brothers and plumbers who often find themselves rescuing princesses from the clutches of evil elements in the Mushroom Kingdom, such as the turtle-like Koopas. Mario first appeared in 1981’s arcade game Donkey Kong, and the duo got their own title in 1983’s Mario Bros. It was 1985’s Super Mario Bros. that gave Mario and Luigi worldwide recognition. Mario titles have anchored all of Nintendo’s home gaming systems, including NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, and Wii. Altogether, Mario has appeared in more than two hundred games.
We like it very much!
This line from the film became a bumper-sticker–level MST3K catchphrase, heard countless times in this episode and in those that followed.
“Stand by for an important message.” Veterans cannot be turned down.
Various low-budget TV ads for life insurance often attempt to look and sound like a government public service announcement, beginning with “Attention. All current and former U.S. military personnel …” and including a promise that “you cannot be turned down.”
I can’t believe they’re showing Dennis Franz’s butt!
Dennis Franz is an actor best known for playing Detective Andy Sipowicz on the TV series NYPD Blue, which aired from 1993-2005. The episode “The Final Adjustment,” which aired in 1994, featured a controversial nude shot of the actor seen from the rear.
We are Ken!
A reference to Show 310, Fugitive Alien. (Thanks to Alex Pollock for this reference.)
Truman Capote sent to fight Krankor!
Truman Capote (1924-1984) was a foppish author and actor best known for writing Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood.
“Hey, Wally!” What is it, Beav?
A reference to the television series Leave It to Beaver (see above note). The two children in the Cleaver family were Wallace “Wally” Cleaver (Tony Dow) and Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver (Jerry Mathers).
It’s the subway fondler club.
In the late 1990s, the problem of men molesting young women on crowded Tokyo subway trains became so prevalent that pressure was put upon Tokyo police to crack down. Around that same time, German TV channel RTL II ran a documentary about men’s clubs that cater to the subway fondling fetish, going so far as to re-create a subway car and have (what must have been extremely tolerant) waitresses dress up as schoolgirls.
The Japanese Don Knotts.
Don Knotts (1924-2006) was a comedian who played a wide variety of roles over the course of his lengthy career. He is perhaps best known for his role on the 1970s TV sitcom Three’s Company and for his bumbling deputy Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show; he also appeared in a string of movies for Disney.
An imitation of singer and actor Dean Martin (1917-1995), who got his start as half of the Martin and Lewis comedy team, which propelled him and partner Jerry Lewis to superstardom. Martin was considered the epitome of 1950s cool, and his persona as a hard-drinking playboy persisted throughout his film career in the 1960s and 1970s.
Let’s hit the karaoke bar.
Karaoke, the Japanese sing-along interactive entertainment that maintains worldwide popularity in bars and at parties, was first developed in the 1960s and started spreading internationally in the 1990s.
A rare Godzilla-free day.
Godzilla is another Japanese monster character that rampages through Tokyo in most of his nearly thirty films. He appears in Show 212, Godzilla vs. Megalon, and Show 213, Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster.
[Hummed.] Tune from Firesign Theatre.
Servo is humming the music that accompanies a loudspeaker announcement on a bus, heard on the 1971 album I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus by surrealistic comedy troupe Firesign Theatre.
Paging Mr. Herman …
A line from the Paul Reubens film Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985).
[Hummed.] Theme from The Bob Newhart Show.
The theme song to The Bob Newhart Show (1972-1978 on CBS) is titled “Home to My Emily,” and was composed by Lorenzo Music. Comedian Bob Newhart played a long-suffering Chicago psychologist dealing with a roster of wacky patients, eccentric fellow office workers, and his level-headed but sarcastic wife Emily (played by Suzanne Pleshette). The opening montage showed shots of Newhart making his way through the urban canyons of downtown Chicago, ultimately zooming in on a window of an apartment building. Newhart also starred in a TV variety show called The Bob Newhart Show (NBC, 1961-1962), and another sitcom called Newhart (CBS, 1982-1990). (Thanks to Steve Sobolik for this reference.)
Monet in Paris.
Claude Monet (1840-1926) was a celebrated Impressionist painter known especially for his series paintings (haystacks, Rouen Cathedral) and for the paintings of his garden in Giverny.
[Sung.] Whe-he-he-he-here is [garbled] …
Probably a reference to the song “Where Is Love?” from the musical Oliver. Sample lyrics: “Where is love?/Does it fall from skies above?/Is it underneath the willow tree/That I've been dreaming of?/Where is she?/Who I close my eyes to see?”
The Sony blimp!
A blimp is a lighter-than-air ship, usually inflated with helium. The most famous are the Goodyear blimps, which have been flying since 1925. Sony Corporation is a consumer electronics company founded in 1946 and based in Japan. It is one of the largest corporations in the world, but they don't have any blimps.
It’s Cheap Trick!
Cheap Trick is an American rock band that hit it big in the late 1970s, enjoying particular success in Japan, where they recorded their best-selling album Live at Budokan in 1978 at Nippon Budokan Stadium in Tokyo. They made a sturdy comeback in the late 1990s.
“Surrender Dorothy” is the phrase the Wicked Witch of the West writes in the sky with her broom in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
The same goes for you, Paris!
The Tokyo Tower is a communications tower in Tokyo, Japan. Built in 1958, it is the second-tallest structure in Japan and bears a striking (and conscious) resemblance to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Pagoda of the Damned.
Village of the Damned (1960) was an eerie science-fiction movie adaptation of the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. Residents of an English village were mysteriously put to sleep and their women impregnated, causing them to give simultaneous birth to nearly identical children with odd powers, possibly of extraterrestrial origin.
Protect me, Japanese Fabian!
Fabian Forte, known professionally as Fabian, was a teen idol during the late 1950s and 1960s. He has recorded dozens of albums and acted in more than 30 films, including Ten Little Indians, The Longest Day, and Thunder Alley.
[Sung.] Oh, here we go off to Beaver Falls, Beaver Falls, Beaver Falls. Here we go off to Beaver Falls, so early in the morning.
Sung to the tune of “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.”
Ah. The Stanley Cup has invaded Earth. Hmm.
The Stanley Cup is a trophy awarded every year to the champion team of the National Hockey League. The original cup, made of silver, is now attached to a larger trophy. Traditionally the players of the winning team drink champagne out of the cup.
Huh, David Byrne.
Scottish singer-songwriter and actor David Byrne was lead singer for the popular American avant-garde New Wave band Talking Heads, which was active from 1975 to 1991. As part of the highly stylized stage settings and wardrobe for Talking Heads’ Speaking in Tongues tour—immortalized in the 1984 concert movie Stop Making Sense, directed by Jonathan Demme (1944-2017)—Byrne performed in an extremely oversized white suit. The suit also appeared in the video for the song “Life During Wartime,” which got a lot of play on MTV in the mid 1980s.
Junior Samples and Business Boy.
Junior Samples (1926-1983) was a cornball comedian/country singer/harmonica player known for his long run on Hee Haw, the country-western variety show that aired from 1969-1992; Samples appeared on the show until his death in 1983.
It’s a giant watermelon—Gallagher’s taking over!
Gallagher, full name Leo Anthony Gallagher, is a “prop” comic best known for smashing watermelons onstage with a sledgehammer. In Joel Hodgson’s early days as a prop comic, Gallagher was rude and dismissive to Joel backstage, leading to years of insulting riffs about Gallagher on MST3K.
Grown-ups of the corn.
“Children of the Corn” is a 1977 short story by horror writer Stephen King, about a small town taken over and terrorized by a cult of children who worship “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.” In 1984 it was made into a movie starring Linda Hamilton.
Mitch Gaylord is an American gymnast. He won a gold, a silver, and two bronze medals in the 1984 Summer Olympics.
He’s gonna get grass stains on his Danskins.
Danskin is the maker of clothing for yoga, dancing, and exercise: tights, leotards and whatnot.
“I am Prince of Space!” [Sung.] Ooh-hoo-hoo …
See note on Prince, above.
Make it buh-kawk!
An imitation of actor Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard on the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation, which aired from 1987-1994. Picard frequently gave orders by saying, “Make it so.”
And by the way, you’re so fine. Hey, Mickey.
A paraphrase of a line from the song “Hey Mickey,” performed by Toni Basil. The actual lyrics: “Oh Mickey you’re so fine/You’re so fine you blow my mind/Hey Mickey (Hey hey)/Hey Mickey (Hey hey).”
A stand of cedars. A spaceship is taking off. And I am tired. It’s a haiku! –That’s nice.
Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry with a very strict rhythmic structure: three lines, with the first line consisting of five syllables, the second of seven, and the third of five. It first evolved into its current form during the 17th century.
Into my modified pith helmet!
A pith helmet is a cloth-covered, lightweight helmet made of cork or pith (a plant fiber). Also called a safari helmet, its main purpose is to shade the wearer’s eyes from the sun. They are associated with Europeans in tropical climates—British colonists in particular.
There goes a narwhal!
A line from the song “Rock Lobster,” by the rock group The B-52’s.
Twenty thousand leagues above the sea.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is a science fiction novel by Jules Verne published in 1869. It tells the story of the mysterious Captain Nemo and his submarine, the Nautilus. The book has been filmed numerous times, beginning in 1907.
The Japanese are frantically trying to pick up Singled Out.
Singled Out was a game show that ran on MTV from 1995-1998. It was a modernized version of The Dating Game hosted by Chris Hardwick and Jenny McCarthy that featured 100 men and women competing for dates.
Humiliating game shows are beamed across the nation!
Japanese game shows often have a physical intensity that American game shows lack. Obstacle course formats are particularly popular, with contestants running across balance beams, jumping on trampolines, climbing poles, and balancing on seesaws.
Bingo is a game played with a small card, on which are printed numbers in a grid arrangement; an announcer calls off numbers, and if a player has that number on his card, he covers it with a small marker. When he has covered a whole row vertically, horizontally, or diagonally, he calls out, “Bingo!” The game has traditionally been the domain of little old ladies, who routinely play several cards at a time.
See note on Dean Martin, above.
Woody Allen asked me out.
Woody Allen is a nebbishy comedian/actor/writer/director whose most famous films include Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1980), and Broadway Danny Rose (1985). In 1992 he was caught up in a scandal revolving around his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, the Korean-born adopted daughter of his long-term lover Mia Farrow. She was 22; he was 57. Allen and Previn married in 1997.
[Sung.] It's a Sealy Posturepedic cornfield.
A paraphrase of an old ad jingle for Sealy Posturepedic mattresses: “It’s a Sealy Posturepedic morning.”
Those Heaven’s Gate people were supposed to meet us here.
In March 1997, police discovered the bodies of thirty-nine people in a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, California. The victims were dressed neatly and lying peacefully in their beds, having killed themselves with a mixture of phenobarbitol and vodka. They were members of a cult called Heaven’s Gate. The mass suicide was prompted by their belief that the comet Hale-Bopp, which was then visible in the sky, was being followed by an alien spacecraft, and their only chance to escape the coming destruction of Earth was to commit suicide so their souls could board the UFO and be taken to a higher plane of existence.
Today’s Lotto numbers are 7, 13 …
Lotto is a common name used by various state-run lotteries.
I’m Hardrock. –I’m Coco. [Sung.] –I’m Joe.
Hardrock, Coco, and Joe: The Three Little Dwarfs is a black-and-white stop-motion animated short film written by Stuart Hamblen. The title characters are three dwarfs who ride with Santa on his sleigh every Christmas. It first aired as a Christmas special in 1951 on Chicago’s WGN-TV and became an annual tradition. The song for the special was recorded by the Les Tucker Singers.
Abner! Come look!
An imitation of Gladys Kravitz from the TV sitcom Bewitched (1964-1972); Gladys and Abner Kravitz were the Stevens’s nosy neighbors. Gladys was played by Sandra Gould and later Alice Pearce, while her husband Abner was played by George Tobias.
The Gabe Kaplan brigade.
Gabe Kaplan is an actor best known for his role as Gabe Kotter in the TV sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter (1975-1979). He is also a highly successful professional poker player.
[Crazed laughter.] Raceway Park!
Raceway Park is a motorsports park in Old Bridge Township, New Jersey, that hosts all kinds of racing events. It is famous for a long-running series of commercials that opened with a psychotic, helium-fueled laugh. (Thanks to Kenneth Morgan for this reference.)
Hold on—I’m getting a Dodgers game here.
The Dodgers are Los Angeles’ professional baseball team.
Come on, little buddy!
In his role as Skipper on Gilligan’s Island, Alan Hale referred to Gilligan as “Little buddy.”
“Leave the children alone!” You hear that, Jerry Seinfeld?
In 1993, comedian and TV sitcom star Jerry Seinfeld made tabloid headlines when news broke of his relationship with a young woman named Shoshanna Lonstein. She was 18; he was 39. The couple stayed together until 1997; two years later Seinfeld married Jessica Sklar.
You know, this is where your cram school experience really comes in handy.
See note on cram school, above.
“Prince!” Please, call me the Artist.
See note on Prince, above. In 1993, Prince announced that he was changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol, which was also the title of his 1992 album. Until 2000, when he thankfully changed his name back, the media generally referred to him as “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince,” or TAFKAP for short.
“Hey, there’s the commissioner!” Pete Rozelle?
Pete Rozelle (1926-1996) was the commissioner of the National Football League for twenty-nine years, from 1960-1989.
Wow, it’s a really modern Lutheran church.
Lutheranism is a branch of Protestant Christianity that follows the teachings of 16th-century reformer Martin Luther. Early Lutherans frowned on dancing and other secular, depraved activities; modern Lutherans are considerably more relaxed. There is a high concentration of Lutherans in the American Midwest and Upper Plains states.
Jimmy Osmond is the youngest member of the Osmonds, the Mormon family singing group that hit it big in the 1970s.
Oh, sorry, I’m a little out of it. I stayed up and watched Letterman last night.
David Letterman was host of Late Night with David Letterman (NBC, 1982-1993) and The Late Show with David Letterman (CBS, 1993-2015), a total of 6,028 late-night comedy/talk shows spanning 33 years. He retired in May 2015.
Please, I start cram school at 3 a.m.!
See note on cram school, above.
Medical Center! Starring Evel Knievel.
Medical Center was a TV drama set in a hospital in Los Angeles. It aired from 1969-1976. Robert Craig “Evel” Knievel (1938-2007) was a flamboyant daredevil famous in the 1970s for his spangled white leather jumpsuits and for jumping his motorcycle over various things (mountain lions, Mack trucks, buses)—and, occasionally, for not jumping over things, such as Idaho’s Snake River Canyon, in the course of which stunt he nearly drowned. Although his 35 broken bones over the course of his career earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, he ultimately died peacefully in bed at the age of 69.
There’s trouble at the Church of the Bomb.
In the 1970 film Beneath the Planet of the Apes, a subterranean group of telepathic humans worship an unexploded “doomsday bomb,” capable of destroying the entire planet. The mutant-humans-who-worship-a-nuclear-bomb concept.was parodied in host segments in Show 804, The Deadly Mantis.
Meanwhile, in a car wash in Yokohama …
Yokohama is the second-largest city in Japan. It is located just south of Tokyo.
Never even had time to tell Houston that they had a problem.
The phrase “Houston, we’ve had a problem here” was famously said by Apollo 13 pilot Jack Swigert on April 14, 1970, 56 hours after their mission to the moon was launched. (In the 1995 film Apollo 13, the line—slightly altered to “Houston, we have a problem”—was given to mission commander James Lovell, played by Tom Hanks, instead.)
Oh, the inanity! –Oh, the Japanity!
An imitation of Herbert Morrison’s famous exclamation during his radio broadcast of the Hindenburg airship disaster on May 6, 1937. His actual words: “Oh, the humanity, and all the passengers screaming around here!”
People looking—very Spielbergian.
Popular film director Steven Spielberg has a string of classics on his résumé, including Jaws, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, and many more. He also has a habit of stretching out the money shot, so to speak, by showing a bunch of shots of actors staring open-mouthed at a spectacular special effect (resurrected dinosaurs, for example, as in Jurassic Park) before revealing it to the audience.
“Tora tora tora” was the Japanese signal to launch the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II.
[Sung.] Tora, tora, tora, babop-babop-bebop tora …
See previous note.
Hey, it’s Stevie Wonder!
Stevie Wonder is a blind R&B musician known for such hits as “Superstition” and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life.”
[Sung.] Isn’t she lovely/Isn’t she wonderful …
A line from the Stevie Wonder song “Isn’t She Lovely,” off his 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life. The song was written to celebrate the birth of his daughter Aisha.
Wow! The Earth is so smooth! It must have had dermabrasion.
Dermabrasion is a cosmetic surgery procedure in which the surgeon scrapes off the outer layers of skin with a motorized brush or burr; it is used to diminish the appearance of scars and fine wrinkles.
A mummified Alf Landon!
Alf Landon (1887-1987) was the Republican candidate for president in the 1936 presidential election; he was trounced by incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Wow, that guy’s nuttier than a Stuckey’s log.
Stuckey’s is a chain of roadside restaurants/souvenir shops that at one time littered America’s highways. There aren’t as many of them now, but you can still buy their famous Pecan Logs at the occasional Stuckey’s, mostly in the South and Southeast.
[Sung.] Some people call me a space cowboy, yeah …
A line from the song “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band. (Thanks to Katie Mann for correcting the title of the song.)
Oh, Speed! Oh!
Speed Racer was a Japanese animated show that first aired in the United States in 1967. Speed himself was the teenage son of a car designer who, in addition to winning races, solved crimes and foiled supervillains.
It’s the Instant Miso Soup Hour! Starring …
Miso soup is a staple of Japanese cuisine, made by mixing miso (a paste made by fermenting rice, barley, or (usually) soy with salt and the fungus kōjikin) with a stock called dashi, made from water, kelp, and preserved, fermented tuna. Instant miso soup comes in single-serving packets and can be reconstituted with hot water, provided you don’t mind a heaping dose of sodium and MSG with your meal.
[Sung.] “Pop Goes the Weasel.”
See above note.
Ha ha, and they stay crunchy in milk, hmm.
A number of breakfast cereals boast of their ability to stay crunchy in milk; I believe this was the main claim to fame of Cap’n Crunch cereal—Lord knows it wasn’t nutrition.
He’s in the Wienermobile!
The Wienermobile is an advertising vehicle shaped like a hot dog on a bun, used to promote Oscar Mayer wieners. The first Wienermobile was introduced in 1936, and they still exist in some form today.
I have to tell Fang about that. Ha!
An imitation of comedian Phyllis Diller (1917-2012), who often made jokes about her husband, “Fang”; the character was based on her real-life first husband, Sherwood Diller.
They’re landing on Captain Picard’s head.
See note on Captain Picard, above. Actor Patrick Stewart, who portrayed Picard, was quite bald on top.
Oh, it’s the planet where Sea-Monkeys come from.
Sea-Monkeys are a brand name for a type of brine shrimp sold to children as pets; they were first marketed in 1957. For years the packaging has showed a family of adorable mer-creatures, and countless kids were disappointed when the Monkeys hatched and turned out to be tiny shrimp that just swam around aimlessly.
It’s a DQ planet.
Back in the 1980s, Dairy Queen used to run ads for its ice cream concoctions showing mountains of chocolate, rivers of hot fudge, avalanches of peanuts, and that sort of thing—whole landscapes made of food.
Dress to the right stuff.
“To dress right or left” is a tailoring euphemism, meant to designate into which trouser leg the gentleman tucks his male member. The Right Stuff is the name of a 1979 book by Tom Wolfe about America’s original astronauts. The book was made into a film by the same name in 1983.
Great hall designed by the Lego Corporation.
Legos are a brand of children’s toy consisting of rectangular pieces that snap together to create almost anything: houses, cars, animals, people, etc. They are made by the Lego Group.
Bookend Mr. Mooneys!
Theodore J. Mooney was a character on The Lucy Show (1962-1968). He was the president of the local bank and the man in charge of Lucille Ball’s trust fund; eventually Lucy wound up working at the bank and Mr. Mooney became her boss as well. The part was played by Gale Gordon.
All my rowdy friends!
Country music artist Hank Williams Jr. has three songs involving “all my rowdy friends.” “All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)” hit number one on the Country charts in 1981, “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” came out in 1984, and the latter was reworked in 1989 as a theme for Monday Night Football, titled “All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night.” The show used the theme until 2011.
Lucille! –Lucille. –Lucille. –Mrs. Carmichael.
Lucy Carmichael was the name of Lucille Ball’s character on The Lucy Show (see previous note).
So they’re alien except for their Chippendale furniture.
Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779) was an English furniture designer who published a book of his pieces that served as a template for many other furniture makers; Chippendale furniture is considered a classic style, and his original pieces are immensely valuable.
[Sung.] Bum-bum-ba-da-da ... dum!
This is from the song “One,” from the musical A Chorus Line. Sample lyrics: “One singular sensation/Every little step he takes/One thrilling combination/Every move that he makes/One smile and suddenly nobody else will do/You know you'll never be lonely with you know who.”
They slammed the iron gate on me at cram school again today.
See note on cram school, above.
Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Young Japanese Children.
Samuel Barber (1910-1981) was a 20th-century American composer whose 1938 Adagio for Strings achieved tremendous popularity in both America and Europe.
Here’s the Japanese Suzanne Pleshette.
Suzanne Pleshette (1937-2008) was an actress who appeared in more than fifty movies and television shows, including The Birds (1963) and The Bob Newhart Show (1972-1978).
It’s a Young Ones ship.
The Young Ones was a British sitcom about four undergraduate students in London that first aired in 1982. Each student was a different, easily parodied type: Mike the cool one, Rick the anarchist, Vyvyan the mohawked punker, and Neil the hippie.
Kind of hard to go into warp drive when you’re burning so much oil.
Warp drive is the faster-than-light drive used in the fictional Star Trek universe.
Ah. Mr. Bond. Bock.
Probably a reference to Ernst Blofeld, head of SPECTRE, who served as James Bond’s nemesis in three novels and six films and was played most famously by Donald Pleasence. Blofeld was frequently shown lounging in his high-backed, revolving chair and languorously stroking his Persian cat.
The Cabrini Green of Japan.
Cabrini Green was a public housing development in Chicago, Illinois. The first structure was built in 1942 to provide housing for the city’s poor, and nine more followed over the next two decades. Although intentions were good, the high-rise buildings became dens of crime and misery. In 1995, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development began to tear down the development and replace it with mixed-use housing.
[Imitating.] What, are we driving through plutonium?
An imitation of Woody Allen, in his 1977 film Annie Hall. (Thanks to Alex Pollock for this reference.)
Greta Garbo (1905-1990) was a Swedish-born actress who got her start in the silent-film era. She was one of the few stars who successfully navigated the transition to “talkies,” appearing in such films as Grand Hotel (1932) and Camille (1936). In her later years Garbo was famous as a recluse, rarely giving interviews and living an intensely private existence in New York.
My Slurpee spilled!
Slurpee is the name of convenience store 7-Eleven's brand of flavored ice drinks.
[Sung.] “Pop Goes the Weasel.”
See above note.
Well, Nomo got shelled again last night.
Hideo Nomo is a former professional baseball player who got his start playing for the Kintetsu Buffaloes in Japan and then came to the United States to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He played for a number of teams, including the New York Mets, the Boston Red Sox, and the Kansas City Royals, before retiring in 2008. “Getting shelled” is baseball slang for a pitcher giving up a lot of hits and runs during a game.
Would you mind if I paid you in Tic Tacs?
Tic Tacs are a brand of breath mints that come in a variety of flavors, including spearmint, orange, and cinnamon.
“Hey, Mr. Tannin!” Get out of my wine.
Tannins are organic compounds that, along with sugars and acids and lots of other things, affect the quality and character of wine. Tannins are generally somewhat bitter, so wine drinkers with delicate palates are inclined to complain about them.
Faith healing involves the belief that a combination of prayer and “laying on of hands” can bring about divine intervention and the healing of physical ailments. Faith healing has taken many forms throughout history in many different religions; in the United States it is most commonly associated with Christian denominations, particularly the Pentecostal movement.
The upper half of a Hopper painting.
Edward Hopper (1882-1967) was an American painter in the early part of the 20th century. He painted deserted lobbies, stark restaurants, and other sad scenes of urban life. His most famous painting, Nighthawks, shows three people in a lonely diner late at night.
Potatoes or stuffing?
A reference to a long-running advertising campaign for Stove Top Stuffing Mix, a brand of boxed stuffing mixes made by Kraft Foods, who spent a lot of ad dollars in the 1970s and '80s trying to persuade American housewives to replace potatoes with stuffing.
[Sung.] When I was Japanese, it was a very good year …
A paraphrase of the song “It Was a Very Good Year” by Frank Sinatra. Sample lyrics: “When I was thirty-five/It was a very good year/It was a very good year for blue-blooded girls/Of independent means/We’d ride in limousines …”
Oh! Ice dams! We have ice dams!
Ice dams are a problem in cold climates (like, say, Minnesota). Snow on a rooftop can melt from the heat inside the house, but when the water reaches the gutter, it freezes into ice, forming a “dam.” Any further snow melt can back up behind this ice dam and leak inside the roof space, causing all kinds of problems.
It may not be relevant, but did you know that Gamera is friend to children? –Gamera? Ah, he is made of turtle meat, right? –Yes, he is really neat.
Gamera is the giant, fire-breathing turtle that starred in a series of Japanese monster movies. A “friend to all children,” Gamera would also occasionally destroy large tracts of Tokyo, presumably killing thousands, including, presumably, children. MST3K riffed on five Gamera movies, originally in the KTMA days (K04, K05, K06, K07, and K08), and then did revised versions of those same five in Season Three (302, 304, 308, 312, and 316). Show 312, Gamera vs. Guiron, featured “The Gamera Song,” also known as “The Turtle Meat Song.” Sample lyrics: “Gamera is really neat/Gamera is filled with meat/We’ve been eating Gamera!”
Hey, the Japanese Sylvia Plath.
Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) was an American poet and novelist whose works generally dealt with themes of alienation, destruction and death. Her most famous work was the semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar (1963), the story of a suicidal young woman’s mental breakdown. Plath suffered from severe depression and was hospitalized during college. She killed herself in 1963.
Go faster? Raise your hand if you'd like to go faster.
“Raise your hands if you want to go faster” is a pretty common request on amusement park rides, although one poster on the MST3K Info site suggested that the writers were specifically referring to the Caterpillar ride at a Minnesota amusement park called Valleyfair, where “Wanna go faster?” was such a common refrain that it was made into a T-shirt. The tune being hummed is the typical Wurlitzer organ or calliope music played to accompany carousel rides.
Turn to Full House!
Full House was a sitcom about a talk-show host and his three daughters that ran from 1987-1995.
Exotic locations like Normandale Community College!
Normandale Community College is a two-year college in Minneapolis.
I was thinking it was going to be Fritz Mondale, but of course it’s Prince of Space.
See note on Walter Mondale, above. “Fritz” was Mondale’s nickname, short for his middle name, Frederick.
The Mertzes are here! We’re saved!
Fred and Ethel Mertz were friends of the Ricardos on the TV sitcom I Love Lucy (1951-1957); they were played by William Frawley (1887-1966) and Vivian Vance (1909-1979).
I feel good all under!
“Makes you feel good all under” was a 1970s slogan for Hanes undergarments. TV ads featured folks saying “I feel good all under” to various strangers.
It’s Mir, limping into a service station.
Mir was a Russian space station in orbit around the Earth. The first bits of it were launched back in 1986, and it was slowly assembled over the next ten years. In 1997 a couple of widely publicized disasters aboard the station (a major fire, a collision with a cargo ship) contributed to the Mir’s image as an aging, unreliable spacecraft. In 2001 the station was de-orbited and broke up upon re-entering the atmosphere.
Planet International Falls.
International Falls is a city in far northern Minnesota, on the border of Canada. It is known for its bitterly cold winters, which has earned it the unofficial nickname “Icebox of the Nation.”
Your USC losers!
The University of South Carolina (USC) is a public university in Columbia, South Carolina. Its football team is the Gamecocks (a type of chicken). From 1994-1998, the Gamecocks were led by Brad Scott; in the last two years of his tenure (when Prince of Space originally aired), the team won only six games. (Thanks to Andy Stout for this reference.)
This must be reported to Amnesty International. Or the USDA.
Amnesty International is a human-rights organization founded in 1961 to campaign against human rights abuses around the world. It won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for its anti-torture campaign. The USDA is the United States Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for policing food safety and setting agricultural policy.
See above note.
Get the DeSoto started.
The Chrysler DeSoto was manufactured from 1928 to 1961. It was a mid-priced car that sold well through the mid-1950s.
Krankor is Mary, Queen of Scots.
Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587) was the daughter of King James V of Scotland, the wife of King Francis II of France, and the cousin of Elizabeth the Great, Queen of England. It was this last relationship that was most troublesome, as Mary was a Catholic and Elizabeth was a Protestant, and some English Catholics quite liked the idea of putting Mary on the throne in her place. Mary fled Scotland for England in 1567 after she was forced to abdicate in favor of her infant son, James, and Elizabeth had her imprisoned. After Mary was caught plotting to assassinate the queen, she was convicted of treason and executed.
Oh, please, not this, anything but an old Star Trek set!
Star Trek was a (forgive me) somewhat cheesy, if idealistic, science fiction TV series that aired from 1966-1969. It starred William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, commander of the Starship Enterprise, which explored strange new worlds and sought out new civilizations (and hot alien babes to neck with).
[Hummed.] Star Trek theme.
This is the theme music to the Star Trek TV series (see previous note).
Cecil Fielder was a professional baseball player in the 1980s and 1990s who played primarily for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Detroit Tigers. In 1989, he was signed by the Hanshin Tigers for one season for nearly ten times his salary with the Blue Jays; the Japanese nicknamed the six-foot-three, 280-pound Fielder “Wild Bear.”
Tickets at all Ticketmaster outlets.
Ticketmaster is a giant ticket broker, which has signed exclusive agreements with most major venues across the United States. Artists who decline to use Ticketmaster for their concerts are banned from using any venue affiliated with the company. Many fans regard the company as greedy and ruthless, objecting to “service fees” that can range as high as $30 per ticket.
[Sung.] In the land of Dairy Queen …
An old advertising jingle for the Dairy Queen chain of restaurants: “In the land of Dairy Queen, we treat you right!”
Ross Perot: businessman, philanthropist, multibillionaire, POW advocate, twice-unsuccessful presidential candidate, founder of the Reform Party, and paranoiac. Until 1992 Perot was largely known as a successful Texas businessman, having founded data-processing giant Electronic Data Systems. That year he ran as an independent candidate for president against incumbent George H.W. Bush and Democratic candidate Bill Clinton. The campaign was marked by bizarre incidents—at one point Perot dropped out of the race because he claimed his rivals planned to embarrass his daughter by pasting her head on photos of someone else’s naked body—and voters’ initial enthusiasm quickly waned. He won 19 percent of the vote in the 1992 election, but in 1996 he received a scant 8 percent.
Pat (played by Julia Sweeney) was an androgynous character in a series of Saturday Night Live sketches during the 1990s; the sketches always revolved around the other characters trying to figure out whether Pat was male or female. The character was featured in a full-length film, It’s Pat, in 1994.
Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?
A paraphrase of the world-famous line from 1967 film The Graduate, spoken by Dustin Hoffman to Anne Bancroft: “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.”
He’s gonna Ultrabrite him to death.
Ultrabrite is a brand of whitening toothpaste manufactured by Colgate.
[Sung.] What would you say if I sang out of tune …
An imitation of Joe Cocker covering the Beatles song “With a Little Help From My Friends.” Actual lyrics: “What would you think if I sang out of tune/Would you stand up and walk out on me/Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song/And I’ll try not to sing out of key …” (Thanks to Alex Pollock for the Joe Cocker reference.)
Now we isolate our first contestant in a soundproof booth.
A number of game shows have used soundproof booths to isolate their contestants, including The $64,000 Question, Family Feud, Win Ben Stein’s Money, and, most famously, Twenty One. (The booths in Twenty One did very little, as it turned out, since the game was rigged and contestants had been given the answers in advance.)
No, it’s Michael Jeter. Of course it’s Prince of Space!
Michael Jeter (1954-2003) was an actor who was best known by adults for his work on the TV series Evening Shade and to preschoolers for his appearances as Mr. Noodle’s brother on Sesame Street.
Mouse Trap! [Sung.] Ad jingle.
This is the jingle that aired in commercials for the board game Mouse Trap, in which players build a Rube Goldberg-esque mousetrap that incorporates a cage that can be dropped on their opponents’ mice.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered together to get through this thing called life.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life” is the opening line to the Prince song “Let’s Go Crazy.” See note on Prince, above.
Gentlemen, prepare to be Super Soaked.
The Super Soaker is a toy water gun made by Hasbro.
Come on out, varmint!
An imitation of Yosemite Sam, the diminutive gunslinger known from dozens of appearances in Warner Bros. animated shorts, wherein he squared off primarily against Bugs Bunny. Sam and his huge red mustache first appeared in 1945’s Hare Trigger.
The Ritz Brothers had more dignity!
The Ritz Brothers were a successful comedy team that racked up a string of successful films during the 1930s. Their movie career was largely over by the mid-1940s, but they went on to have a lengthy run in nightclubs and had a successful Las Vegas act for many years.
The blast at East Bedrock claimed the lives of Frederick R. Flintstone and Barnabas Rubble today.
The animated TV series The Flintstones aired from 1960-1966. A prehistoric take on The Honeymooners set in the town of Bedrock, it starred the voice talents of Alan Reed (as patriarch Fred Flintstone) and Mel Blanc (as Fred’s pal Barney Rubble). The show was the first prime-time animated hit.
You know, this movie made me want to renounce my Toyota.
Toyota is the world’s largest automobile maker in both sales and production.