Jacques Cousteau meets the Pink Panther.
Jacques Cousteau (1910-1997) was a French ocean explorer and the inventor of the Aqua-Lung, which helped him in his extensive underwater expeditions. He wrote a number of popular books about the ocean and also wrote and produced films on the same topic. The Pink Panther was a series of movies starring Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau; they were known for their extensive animated credit sequences.
By this time my … —Hey, come on. Just lay off.
This is one of the writers’ favorite catchphrases: “By this time my lungs were aching for air”—a reference to the TV show Sea Hunt, which starred Lloyd Bridges as scuba diver Mike Nelson (hey!). It aired from 1958-1961.
Sorry, Charlie, only the best titles are kept.
Charlie the Tuna is the longtime spokescreature for StarKist tuna. He appeared in his first commercial in 1961 and has made more than 85 of them in the years since, always trying to learn “good taste” so he can be selected for slaughter. But, as the tagline goes, “Sorry, Charlie, StarKist wants tuna that tastes good, not tuna with good taste.”
Starring Tommy Kirk … why must … Spock die?
A reference to Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the TV show Star Trek, which aired from 1966-1969. Mr. Spock was his second in command.
Oh, Robert Donner. I went to his party.
The Donner Party was a group of about 80 settlers who, led by George and Jacob Donner, tried to make it to California during the winter of 1846-1847. They got trapped in a pass by a winter storm in the Sierra Nevadas; half of their number died before they could be rescued, and the survivors resorted to cannibalism to keep themselves alive. The pass where they were trapped is now named Donner Pass.
Who’s afraid of Venita Wolf, anyway?
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a play by Edward Albee about a bitter couple who abuse each other mercilessly in front of their dinner guests. It first premiered in 1962 and was made into a movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in 1966.
Charlie, they cut off my thumbs!
A paraphrase of a line in the 1984 film The Pope of Greenwich Village. Actual line: “Charlie, they took my thumb!”
Sal Mungio: rebel without a gauze.
Rebel Without a Cause is a 1955 film starring James Dean as an alienated teenager. Sal Mineo is also in the film, playing John “Plato” Crawford.
Looks like the Bullwinkle Show, doesn’t it?
The Bullwinkle Show, a.k.a. The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, was an animated show about a moose and his sidekick squirrel that aired from 1961-1973. It was animated by Jay Ward.
Now I’ll set fire to the Walt Whitman books; then I’ll burn the pile of Catcher in the Ryes.
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was an American poet known best for his collection Leaves of Grass. His poetry could be startlingly erotic for the nineteenth century. Catcher in the Rye is a coming-of-age book written by J.D. Salinger. Both Whitman and Catcher have repeatedly been banned due to their sexual content (and, in the case of Catcher, its profanity).
How do you know she’s a witch?
A line from the 1974 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Boy, these Klan meetings have really lightened up—look at that.
The Ku Klux Klan has been a couple of secret organizations over the years; the first was founded just after the Civil War as a vigilante group designed to retain white supremacy in the South by intimidating newly freed black slaves. It had disappeared within twenty years. But in 1915 the group was revived, inspired by the film The Birth of a Nation, which portrayed the original KKK as a noble band striving to protect civilization from depraved African-Americans. The official uniform of Klan members was a set of white robes and a pointed white mask, used to conceal the identities of the members. The organization peaked at a membership of about 4 million in the 1920s but had once again died out by the end of World War II. There was another brief resurgence of the Klan in the 1960s in response to the civil rights movement; today its membership is probably only a few thousand, and it has fragmented into several small and competing groups.
Now that’s what I call art—scantily clad women and a Huey Lewis and the News sound on the radio.
Huey Lewis and the News is a rock band that was huge during the 1980s with hits like “I Want a New Drug.”
Throw another Beach Boy on the fire.
The Beach Boys are a surf-rock group formed in 1961 and continuing to tour—although with only a fraction of their original membership—into the 21st century. The original band consisted of Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, and Alan Jardine.
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis was a TV sitcom that aired from 1959-1963. It starred Dwayne Hickman in the title role.
Meanwhile, in the dark impenetrable void, Jean-Paul Sartre was a-movin’ and a-groovin’.
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) was a French novelist and playwright who advocated the philosophy of existentialism, which supported the freedom of individual beings. His most famous work is probably the play No Exit.
No exit, baby.
No Exit is a 1946 play by Jean-Paul Sartre (see previous note). It is about three people stuck in a small room together, who gradually reveal each other’s hypocrisies and lay bare their true identities; the play coined the phrase “Hell is other people.”
Oh, looks like they’re in the Night Gallery.
Night Gallery was an anthology horror series created by Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame; each episode was illustrated in a painting seen at the beginning of the show. It ran from 1970-1973.
This portrait: a man who smokes more than Edward R. Murrow or Lillian Hellman.
Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965) was a legendary radio and television broadcast newsman who had a profound influence on broadcast journalism. Lillian Hellman (1905-1984) was a playwright and screenwriter known for such works as The Children’s Hour and The Little Foxes.
I’m William Conrad for First Alert. When you’re heading down to the refrigerator and the power goes out …
Portly actor William Conrad appeared in a series of commercials for First Alert smoke detectors during the 1970s.
Hey, it’s Steve Higgins. –Oh, you mean the star of the Higgins Boys and Gruber as seen on the Comedy Channel?
Higgins Boys and Gruber was a 1990 TV series on Comedy Central (or the Comedy Channel, as it was then known). Joel Hodgson was one of the writers for the show. Higgins went on to become a writer for Saturday Night Live.
This must be Tommy Kirk’s Oscar. He’s so good they gave it to him before they started the film. He beat out Troy Donahue and Frankie Avalon.
Troy Donahue (1936-2001) was a blond actor who got his start in the 1950s and went on to star as a hip detective on the TV series Surfside 6; he also appeared in dozens of other TV shows and movies. Frankie Avalon was a teen idol during the 1950s and 1960s; he was particularly known for his string of beach movies during the 1960s, including Beach Party and Beach Blanket Bingo.
I beat out Dom DeLuise and James Coco for this role—now beat it.
Dom DeLuise is a chunky comic actor known for his roles in such films as Blazing Saddles and The Cheap Detective. James Coco was another portly actor who appeared in Murder By Death and The Dumplings.
An original Red Skelton! That’s incredibly valuable!
Red Skelton is a television comedian and host of The Red Skelton Show, which aired from 1951-1971. He was also a painter, and his works (mostly of clowns, although he painted other subjects as well) have sold for as much as $80,000 a pop.
Good night, and may God bless. This painting is blue. Don’t work blue, it’s such a waste.
“Good night, and may God bless” is how Red Skelton (see previous note) ended each broadcast of The Red Skelton Show.
Send security. I’m the one who cracked that crime at One Potato Two.
One Potato Two is a food court staple that serves baked potatoes loaded with various toppings.
I beat out Al Molinaro and Jesse White for this role.
Al Molinaro is an actor best known for his portrayal of restaurateur Al Delvecchio on the TV series Happy Days, which aired from 1974-1984. Jesse White originally became famous for his role in the Jimmy Stewart vehicle Harvey, but he is best known to today’s TV viewers as the Maytag repairman.
Oh, that’s a “Family Circus.” From Hank Ketcham’s Bil Keane collection.
A reference to the comic strip “Family Circus,” created by Bil Keane. The strip, drawn in a circle rather than the usual rectangle, is about the cute exploits of several small children and their long-suffering parents. Hank Ketcham, meanwhile, was the creator of the comic strip “Dennis the Menace.”
It’s kind of like a Rubens.
Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) was a Flemish painter of very large women—from whence comes the adjective “Rubenesque.”
You mean Paul Reubens, from Pee-wee Herman?
Paul Reubens is a comedian known for his child-adult persona of Pee-wee Herman. He starred in two movies and ultimately got his own show, a children’s television series that ran from 1986-1990. The show was wildly popular and critically acclaimed, but it came to a premature end following Reubens’ arrest in 1991 for indecent exposure in an adult theater. Reubens has since continued acting under his own name.
Oh, relax—they’ll just think it’s a Rothko now.
Mark Rothko (1903-1970) was a painter who pioneered the movement of color field painting—most of his paintings are just huge rectangles of various shades floating in space.
A Mondrian, perhaps.
Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) was a painter known for highly formalized and symmetrical works that consist of blocks of color separated by thick black lines.
Boy, that’s a big whistle! You know how to whistle, don’t you? You just put your lips together and cut to the boat.
A reference to Lauren Bacall’s famous line in To Have and Have Not: “You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and ... blow.”
Koyaanisqatsi: life out of balance.
Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance is a 1983 film scored by minimalist composer Philip Glass and having no plot whatsoever—just a series of compelling visual images set to Glass’s music.
Fire Island is a resort island off the coast of New York. It has earned a reputation as a gay-friendly travel destination.
NEA denies Bil Keane grant.
See note on “Family Circus,” above. The NEA is the National Endowment for the Arts, the government agency in charge of doling out taxpayer dollars to deserving artists, which has turned it into a lightning rod for conservative critics offended by some of its grant choices.
It looks like Brutus and Popeye after Slim-Fast.
Bluto was Popeye’s arch-nemesis and his chief rival for the hand of the strangely rubbery Olive Oyl in the series of short cartoons. He first appeared in the cartoons in 1932, but for a time, thanks to some copyright confusion over who owned the rights to the Bluto name, he was called Brutus. Slim-Fast is a weight-loss product consisting of a diet plan in which you consume two Slim-Fast shakes plus a “sensible dinner” every day. The product line has since branched out into snacks and bars and whatnot.
And Olive’s standing right behind them.
See previous note.
“Don Pringle.” Heir to the potato chip fortune.
Pringles is a brand of potato chips manufactured by Procter & Gamble.
“I never saw so many trying to cover so much with so little success.” Thank you, Winston Churchill.
“Never in the field of human combat has so much been owed by so many to so few.” British prime minister Winston Churchill, on the performance of the RAF pilots during World War II.
My corn is as high as an elephant’s eye.
A reference to the song “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” from the musical Oklahoma. Sample lyrics: “There's a bright golden haze on the meadow/The corn is as high as an elephant's eye/An' it looks like it's climbin' clear up to the sky.”
He saw Big Jake.
A reference to Show 202, The Sidehackers. (Thanks to TheSynapZe for this reference.)
Love, exciting and new.
“Love, exciting and new” is the opening line to the theme song for TV’s The Love Boat, which aired from 1977-1986. Sample lyrics: “Love, exciting and new/Come aboard. We're expecting you/Love, life's sweetest reward/Let it flow, it floats back to you.”
I think the firm will be good for me.
Probably a reference to the John Grisham novel The Firm, which was made into a movie starring Tom Cruise in 1993.
He sounds like Curt Gowdy, doesn’t he?
Curt Gowdy is a sports broadcaster who for years acted as the host of American Sportsman, a TV fishing show.
Or Hugh Hefner.
Hugh Hefner, a.k.a. “Hef,” is the founder of Playboy magazine and one of the last bastions of the 1960s bachelor lifestyle.
Excuse me—I’ve gotta go invent the Walkman. After this.
The Sony Walkman was one of the first portable music players, debuting in 1979.
Hey, was she in the movie David and Lisa?
David and Lisa is a 1962 film about a young couple who find love in a mental institution.
With me and Edie Sedgwick and Rod LaRod?
Edie Sedgwick (1943-1971) was an actress who appeared in a number of artist Andy Warhol’s experimental films. She lived at the Chelsea Hotel in New York, where she once created a stir by setting her room on fire. Rod LaRod was Warhol’s boyfriend for a time.
Hey, we’re done with the Forum. We’re Druids now.
The Forum was a personal growth seminar that was popular in California in the 1980s. It was a simplified and streamlined successor to the EST movement of the 1970s and was run by the same group, Werner Erhard and Associates. Druids were members of the elite class among the ancient Celts, acting as priests, judges, and teachers. The earliest known reference to Druids dates to the third century B.C. (Thanks to William Johnson for the Forum reference.)
Little Richard? I hate impressionists! –Oh, you’re thinking of Rich Little.
Rich Little is probably the country’s most famous impressionist, or a performer who imitates other people’s voices. He even had his own variety show in the 1970s and has appeared as a guest on numerous TV shows, including The Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show. He boasts that he can do more than 200 voices.
Prince, I hope you’re watching this.
Prince was one of the seminal musical talents of the 1980s; in particular, his albums 1999, Purple Rain and Sign o’ the Times were phenomenally successful. He is based in Minneapolis.
Hey, get the funk out of my face.
“Get the Funk Out of My Face” is a disco song by the Brothers Johnson. I was unable to locate the lyrics online.
Hey, look, it’s Alan Sues.
Alan Sues is an actor and comedian who is best known as a regular performer on the skit comedy show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, where he appeared from 1968-1972.
Great, next we’ll see Sly Stone with the Up With People.
Sly and the Family Stone was a pivotal funk band in the 1960s, known for such hits as “Everyday People” and “Hot Fun in the Summertime.” Up With People was an extremely upbeat and wholesome touring musical act founded in 1965. Money woes forced it to close its doors in 2000, but it reopened four years later and continues to perform, although on a smaller scale.
Ike Turner with the Cowsills—they’ll all be in casts.
Ike Turner, along with his wife Tina, performed a popular R&B act in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1975 Tina divorced Ike, claiming that he had abused her, and launched a stunningly successful solo career. The Cowsills were a band that formed in the early 1960s: Bill, Bob, Barry, and John (and, later, siblings Susan and Paul and mom Barbara). They were quite popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s; the TV show The Partridge Family was based on them. Their most famous song was probably “The Rain, the Park and Other Things.”
James Brown and the Starland Vocal Band, maybe?
James Brown, the godfather of soul, is a renowned musician and spirited stage performer. The Starland Vocal Band was a soft-rock group known primarily for their one big hit, 1976’s “Afternoon Delight.”
Yeah, George Clinton with the Ray Conniff Singers.
George Clinton was one of the founders of Parliament/Funkadelic, a soul/funk band that was huge during the 1970s. Clinton went on to have a solo career, although he occasionally toured with his old bandmates. Ray Conniff has been dubbed “the epitome of supermarket music”; his singers were a group of 25 men and women whose voices substituted for traditional instruments in Conniff’s music.
You know, he’s so hopped up I think he’s thinking he’s at the Apollo or something.
The Apollo Theater is a performing-arts venue in New York City that has served as a showcase for emerging black and Latino performers. Its Amateur Nights, which have been held since 1934, launched the careers of Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, and Michael Jackson, among others.
I like him. Hey, it’s Ron Howard’s brother!
Clint Howard, brother of actor/director Ron Howard, is an actor who has appeared in such films as Apollo 13 (1995) and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997).
Looks like Cousin Itt with a bob.
Cousin Itt was a character in the TV series The Addams Family, which aired from 1964-1966; Itt was completely covered in long hair and spoke in an unintelligible squeak. The part was played by little person actor Felix Silla.
I’m feeling like we’re at the dance thing in Laugh-In, kinda.
Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In was a sketch comedy series that ran from 1968-1973.
Well, it’s just us, Timmy. When do you graduate from Pat Boone University?
Pat Boone is a whiter-than-white singer popular among born-again Christians and others who hate rock and roll.
So Falco leaves the Calypso.
Albert Falco was the chief diver aboard Jacques Cousteau's boat, the Calypso (see note above). (Thanks to reader Fred Boughter for this reference.)
Is this where they filmed The Boatniks? It looks really familiar.
The Boatniks (1970) is a film comedy about three inept jewel thieves.
Hey, you got puke on my radio! You got radio on my puke!
An imitation of the television ads for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that aired during the 1980s: “You got peanut butter on my chocolate! No, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”
Petticoat Junction was a TV sitcom about life at a hotel in a small town. It aired from 1963 to 1967.
Carol? Carol? Carol? Carol? Harvey?
A reference to The Carol Burnett Show; Catalina Caper co-star Lyle Waggoner was a regular on that TV show from 1967-1974. (Thanks to Sampo for this reference.)
I got your stick, Mr. Luthor.
Lex Luthor is the arch-villain in the DC Superman comic books. Originally conceived as a mad-scientist type, he is now a white-collar billionaire/crime lord. (Reader TServo2049 suggests this is specifically a riff on the 1978 film, in which Ned Beatty played Luthor's dim-witted henchman.)
It’s all hot and it hurts and stuff.
A reference to an old commercial for Bactine.
Now, guys, just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale.
A line from the theme song to the TV series Gilligan’s Island, which aired from 1964-1967. Sample lyrics: “Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale/A tale of a fateful trip/That started from this tropic port/Aboard this tiny ship.”
Mykonos. Modern civilization.
Mykonos is a tiny island off the coast of Greece.
Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft and Dom DeLuise in Boatniks 2.
Mel Brooks is a comedian and filmmaker known for such films as The Producers and Blazing Saddles. Anne Bancroft is an actress (coincidentally married to Brooks) known for her roles in The Miracle Worker (for which she won an Oscar) and The Graduate. See note on Dom DeLuise, above. Also, see note on The Boatniks, above.
Your son? What is this? Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
See note above.
Hey, it’s filled with M&Ms. Long ones.
M&Ms are a brand of candy-coated chocolate candies manufactured by Mars Inc. They were first sold in 1941.
Let’s see here: You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees … What the--?
This is a line from the poem “Desiderata,” written in 1927 by Max Ehrman. Sample lines: “You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars./You have a right to be here./And whether it is clear to you or not, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
See previous note.
It’s a Howard Johnson place mat.
Howard Johnson is a chain of restaurants and hotels instantly recognizable from highways across the nation thanks to their distinctive orange roofs.
It’s the William Burroughs figurehead!
William Burroughs (1914-1997) was a writer of experimental novels, of which the most famous is Naked Lunch. He became one of the seminal voices of the Beat generation in the ‘50s.
And one for the little girl who lives down the lane.
A line from one version of the children’s rhyme “Baa Baa Black Sheep.”
Jodie Foster is an actress who got her start as a child, appearing in wholesome family fare like Freaky Friday and Candleshoe during the 1970s. After a break to attend college (and a brief period of unwelcome notoriety as the object of would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley’s obsession), she began her career anew in such movies as The Accused and The Silence of the Lambs.
Then Donald goes in where the others have been.
According to the Mighty Jacks MST3K Review site, this is a reference to a scene in The Dirty Dozen.
And then return that shirt to Robin Williams.
Robin Williams is an actor and comedian who got his start on the TV series Mork and Mindy and has since appeared in a variety of movies both serious and comic. He is known for wearing wildly colored shirts.
“It’s expected one will try to cheat him.” Like Nixon.
Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994) was the 37th president of the United States, from 1969-1974. He resigned on August 9, 1974, rather than face almost certain impeachment by the House of Representatives over his role in the Watergate scandal.
Turn to what? –The Comedy Channel!
The Comedy Channel was the original name of the Comedy Central cable network.
Hello. Hello. Hiya, Shoil. Hello.
A reference to Laverne and Shirley, a TV sitcom that aired from 1976-1983; it starred Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams.
“This must be Don Pringle.” I understand your ruffles have ridges.
“R-R-R-Ruffles have ridges” is a longtime advertising slogan for Ruffles potato chips. They are manufactured by Frito-Lay.
McHale, what the hell are you doing?
McHale’s Navy was a TV sitcom about a group of bumbling misfits aboard a PT boat in World War II. It starred Ernest Borgnine as Lt. Commander Quinton McHale. The show aired from 1962-1966.
That guy looks like Ralph on Green Acres, doesn’t he?
Ralph Monroe was the female carpenter on the TV sitcom Green Acres, which aired from 1965-1971. The part was played by Mary Grace Canfield.
Tad. Jean. Tad. Tom. Paul. Bob. Carol. Ted. Alice.
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice is a 1969 film starring Natalie Wood and Robert Culp as a sophisticated couple who have their lives changed by a therapy group.
Hey, I just became a Mormon!
Mormonism, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is a Christian offshoot religion founded in the 19th century by Joseph Smith. In the olden days, Mormons practiced polygamy and moved to Utah to enable them to follow their out-of-the-mainstream lifestyle; ultimately, under severe pressure by the federal government, the church repudiated the practice. Polygamy is still practiced, however, by some small, isolated Mormon splinter groups.
I know you've been hanging around with that Dave Del Dotto guy.
Dave Del Dotto was a financial guru and TV huckster in the 1990s. He pitched something called the "Cash Flow System," which purported to teach you how to make tons of cash in real estate. In 1995, Del Dotto settled a suit filed against him by the FTC for deceptive business practices. (Thanks to Paul Johnson for this reference.)
It’s the Pueblo!
The USS Pueblo was a U.S. Navy cargo ship that, in 1968, was captured by the North Koreans, accused of being a spy ship. The crew was released upon the United States admitting the ship had been spying and apologizing; however, the U.S. retracted the admission once the crew was safe. The ship remains in North Korean custody to this day.
“Very interesting.” But stupid.
“Very interesting, but stupid” is a catch phrase from Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, which cast member Arte Johnson, helmeted as a German WWII soldier, would poke his head out and utter periodically.
And remember something else, too: an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. Now get out.
This is part of Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion, which reads in toto: “An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”
Okay, Daddy Warbucks.
Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks was the bald millionaire adoptive father of Little Orphan Annie in the comic strip of the same name.
Should I go put the horse’s head in my bed again?
A reference to a scene in The Godfather, in which a movie producer who has refused to grant the Mafia a favor awakens to find the head of his prize racehorse in his bed. Animal-rights groups protested the scene, but director Francis Ford Coppola defended it, saying that the horse had not been killed for the movie but rather had been delivered from a dog-food factory.
Hi, Kaiser Wilhelm, you kooky monarch.
Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941) was the third and final emperor of Germany and the leader of that nation during World War I. After Germany lost the war he was forced to abdicate and lived out the remainder of his life in Holland.
Eat all the fruit, throw away the rind …
A line from the song “Headin’ Out to Eden,” which was performed on the Star Trek episode “The Way to Eden.” Sample lyrics: “Goin' to live like a king/On whatever I find/Eat all the fruit/And throw away the rind/Yeah brother, yeah/Steppin' out to Eden/Yeah brother.”
[Sung.] Headin’ out to Eden …
See previous note.
Nice analogy. I knew I hired you for something, Rod McKuen.
Rod McKuen was a poet, composer, and singer who was immensely popular during the 1960s. His critics derided him as simplistic and sentimental, but he remained a guru to the flower child generation and was extremely successful as a songwriter and serious composer.
Wow—this is the weirdest Lamaze class I’ve ever seen.
Lamaze is a method of controlling pain during childbirth, with the goal of achieving a more “natural” birth as opposed to the heavily medicated births that were common in the first half of the twentieth century. It emphasizes using patterns of breathing to keep pain manageable.
When ESPN merges with the Playboy Channel. Now get underwater!
ESPN is a cable sports channel. The Playboy Channel is an adult cable channel.
“Remember, breathe through your mouth.” Not through your hands.
“Melts in your mouth, not in your hands” is the longtime advertising slogan for M&Ms chocolate candy.
By this time my lungs … Sorry, sorry, that was me. Sorry.
See note on Sea Hunt, above.
Tell some Jacques Cousteau jokes instead, will you?
See note on Jacques Cousteau, above.
Say, I hear Ivan Tors is casting a new adventure show in the Keys with a dolphin.
Ivan Tors was the producer of the TV series Flipper, along with a number of other nautical-themed shows.
Time to impress some people. Then I’ll go out and start a line of clothes called Polo.
Polo is a line of clothing made by Ralph Lauren.
I look like Phil Harris, don’t I?
Phil Harris (1904-1995) played the hard-partying bandleader on The Jack Benny Show on radio for many years and later had his own long-running radio show along with his wife, actress Alice Faye. He later enjoyed fame in animation, voicing Baloo the Bear in Disney’s The Jungle Book (1967) and Little John in Robin Hood (1973).
He’ll cast us in Excalibur.
Excalibur is a 1981 film version of the King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table legend starring Nigel Terry and Helen Mirren.
Meanwhile, on Bruce Wayne’s stately yacht …
On the campy TV series Batman, Bruce Wayne’s mansion was always referred to as “stately Wayne Manor.” Tom is imitating the announcer from the series, who was voiced by executive producer William Dozier. Tom’s mispronunciation of the word “yacht” as “yatcht” is a callback to an old Monty Python’s Flying Circus skit about a man named Raymond Luxury Yacht. The relevant dialogue:
Interviewer: Good evening. I have with me in the studio tonight one of the country’s leading skin specialists—Raymond Luxury Yacht.
Raymond: That’s not my name.
Interviewer: I’m sorry—Raymond Luxury Yach-t.
Raymond: No, no, no—it’s spelt Raymond Luxury Yach-t, but it’s pronounced Throatwobbler Mangrove.
Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight.
A line from the Steven Sondheim song “Comedy Tonight,” from the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Sample lyrics: “Nothing with kings, nothing with crowns/Bring on the lovers, liars and clowns/Old situations, new complications/Nothing portentous or polite/Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight.”
The Jacques Tati of the boating world.
Jacques Tati was a French comic actor best known for his series of Monsieur Hulot films.
Cours de Soir in Catalina.
Cours de Soir is a 1967 short film starring Jacques Tati (see previous note) as the teacher of an acting class.
Have you ever read our Watchtower?
The Watchtower is the official magazine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, an apocalyptic Christian sect known for proselytizing door to door.
You’re soaking in it.
“You’re soaking in it” was the slogan in a series of commercials for Palmolive dish soap that aired from 1966 to 1992, in which maternal beautician Madge the manicurist (played by Jan Minor) informs her shocked clients that they’re soaking their hands in Palmolive liquid soap.
Spinner! Paddlefoot! Quick, Clutch is in trouble!
Clutch Cargo was a 1959 animated TV series that attempted to eliminate the time and expense of drawing lip movements by simply filming the voice actors’ lips through a megaphone and superimposing them onto the animated characters, with truly bizarre results. Spinner was Clutch Cargo’s young ward and Paddlefoot was their dachshund.
Tinker, tailor, soldier, dead man.
A reference to the children’s rhyme “Tinker, tailor/Soldier, sailor/Rich man, poor man/Beggar-man, thief.”
Michael row your murder ashore. Hallelujah.
“Michael Row the Boat Ashore” is a traditional spiritual. There are a number of variations, but all contain the line “Michael row the boat ashore, hallelujah.”
Along about that time, the old Duke boys got a little trouble coming their way in the form of Mr. Skinman.
An imitation of the folksy narrator from the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard, which ran from 1979 to 1985. The narrator, dubbed “The Balladeer,” was played by country-music artist Waylon Jennings, who also performed the show’s theme song, “Good Ol’ Boys.”
This must be Wet Side Story.
West Side Story is a stage musical that is a version of Romeo and Juliet set among rival teen gangs of New York City. It was made into a movie in 1961.
Yes, it’s synchronized swimming on ESPN. The wet network.
See note on ESPN, above.
Help me, Cecil! Help me! –I’m coming, Beany boy!
Beany and Cecil were originally puppet characters on the children’s TV show Time for Beany; Beany was the nephew of a sea captain and Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent was his best friend. The characters later starred in their own animated TV series.
I had him, Charlie. I’m telling you, I could have killed him. They took my thumbs, Charlie.
See note on The Pope of Greenwich Village, above.
We’re gonna get a bigger boat, right?
Probably a reference to the famous line from Jaws: “You're gonna need a bigger boat.”
She’s got a Rorschach swimsuit.
The Rorschach inkblot test, developed by psychologist Hermann Rorschach, is a diagnostic tool that was used widely in the 1940s and 1950s. It fell into disfavor because many clinicians felt it was too subjective, although in recent years it has enjoyed renewed popularity. The test consists of a series of abstract shapes, or inkblots, on cards; the subject reports what images he or she sees in the blots.
Yeah, he doesn’t shop at Members Only or Wards.
Members Only was a brand of poly/cotton windbreaker jackets that were very popular in the 1980s. Montgomery Ward was a chain of lower-scale department stores; the chain closed in 2000 after 128 years in business.
What did you say your name was? Yeah, I’m casting Caligula this summer, so come on down.
Caligula is a notoriously un-erotic 1979 epic about the depraved Roman emperor. It was produced and masterminded by Bob Guccione, the entrepreneur behind Penthouse magazine.
Hey, she’s got a shaggy diaper that leaks.
A reference to an old Pampers campaign that expressed sympathy for any baby stuck in “a saggy diaper that leaks.”
Hey, it’s Ed Begley Jr.!
Ed Begley Jr. is a blond actor who has appeared in more than 100 TV shows and movies, including his well-known role on the TV show St. Elsewhere.
A reference to Show 104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet.
This must be what they mean by five easy pieces.
Five Easy Pieces is a 1970 film starring Jack Nicholson as an oil rigger who returns home to see his dying father and confronts his past as a classical pianist.
Looks like the cast of Zoom.
Zoom was a kids’ show that aired on PBS in the 1970s. A new version of it was launched in 1999.
[Sung.] Come on and zoom zoom zooma zoom. Come on and zoom zoom zooma zoom.
From the theme to the TV series Zoom (see previous note).
Arsenio Hall is an actor and talk-show host best known for his late-night talk show The Arsenio Hall Show, which aired from 1989-1994.
Shirts by the Renaissance Festival!
Renaissance Festivals (or Faires) are an entertainment phenomenon that began in Southern California in the 1960s and spread first to the rest of California and then the nation. Generally they feature a number of vendors selling leather mugs, swords, jewelry, and so forth; singers, dancers, and comedians performing; a “court” complete with king, queen, and courtiers; and rides and games for both children and adults.
Bee-Gees go bad-er.
The Bee-Gees were a rock group popular in the late 1960s; after experiencing a dip in their popularity in the early 1970s, they hit it mega-big with their contributions to the soundtrack of the movie Saturday Night Fever—“Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep Is Your Love,” and “Night Fever”—each of which hit number one and helped launch the disco craze of the late 1970s. After the end of the 1970s the group faded into obscurity once again.
Tune in, turn on, throw up.
“Tune in, turn on, drop out” was a popular slogan in the 1960s counterculture. It was coined in a 1966 speech by drug guru Timothy Leary, who was urging young people to “turn on” through LSD and drop out of mainstream society.
Lyrics by Aldous Huxley.
Aldous Huxley was a British novelist best known for his dystopic novel Brave New World (1932), which looked forward to a future where psychological conditioning trained people to accept their places in a rigid caste system.
One Adam-12, see the man whose shins were stolen.
“One Adam-12” was how the police dispatcher opened her bulletins on the TV cop show Adam-12, which ran from 1968-1975. The part was played by Shaaron Claridge, who worked as an actual dispatcher for the Los Angeles Police Department.
This is the classic exclamation uttered by Homer Simpson on the animated TV series The Simpsons, which first aired in 1989. Actor Dan Castellaneta, who supplies the voice of the character, has said he borrowed the phrase from a comedian named James Finlayson, who appeared in a number of Laurel & Hardy shorts. In 2001 the expression made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, thus becoming enshrined in the English language.
Well, you’ll do nicely. Let’s go have little Marty Milners.
Martin Milner is an actor who has appeared in dozens of movies and television shows, including Route 66 and Adam-12.
Meanwhile, on ESPN …
See note on ESPN, above.
Gee, what a nice guy.
Possibly a reference to the classic line in the Mel Brooks film Blazing Saddles.
I paid five bucks for that at Wards—please.
See note on Montgomery Ward, above.
And I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
Beginning in the 1960s, General Mills ran a series of commercials for its Cocoa Puffs cereal featuring Sonny the Cuckoo Bird, an animated bird in a striped shirt who squawked, “I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs! Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!”
I’m kind of kooked out about that little fish and everything and it’s all hot and it hurts and stuff.
See note on Bactine, above.
“His name is Angelo.” And he’s a teenage mutant ninja turtle.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are a quartet of tongue-in-cheek superheroes created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. They started out in comic books and eventually graduated to their own animated series and even a live-action movie. The turtles are named Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello, and Raphael.
So, did you call Harry Callahan yet?
Harry Callahan is the eponymous star of the Dirty Harry movies; the part was played by Clint Eastwood.
I should have brought Vicki Lawrence.
Vicki Lawrence is an actress and comedian who was a regular on The Carol Burnett Show. She later got her own series, Mama’s Family, which aired from 1983-1990.
“Who’s minding the store?” Jerry Lewis.
Who’s Minding the Store is a 1963 film starring comedian Jerry Lewis as an inept shoe clerk.
He saw it on Ted Koppelus.
Ted Koppel is a veteran newsman and the longtime host of ABC News Nightline, which first aired in 1980.
This looks like a strange version of Lysistrata.
Lysistrata is a comic play written by the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes, about a group of women who resolve to end war by withholding sex until the men agree to make peace.
[Sung.] When you’re a Jet you’re a Jet all the way …
A line from the “Jet Song” from the musical West Side Story (see above note). Sample lyrics: “When you're a Jet/You're a Jet all the way/From your first cigarette/To your last dyin' day …”
[Sung.] There ain’t nothing like a dame … Nothing looks like a dame …
Two lines from the song “There Is Nothing Like a Dame” from the musical South Pacific. Sample lyrics: “There is nothing like a dame. Nothing in the world. There is nothing you can name that is anything like a dame. There are no drinks like a dame. And nothing thinks like a dame. There are no books like a dame. And nothing looks like a dame. And nothing acts like a dame. Or attracts like a dame …”
Oh, this must be on the way to the Greenwich Village Halloween party.
Every year on Halloween there is a huge parade through Greenwich Village to celebrate the holiday; participants and spectators alike dress in wild costumes and have a blast. The parade has been held annually since 1973.
For some inexplicable reason, a deep-seated call from nature causes these lemmings to follow each other off the edge of the high cliff.
The 1958 Disney documentary White Wilderness is notorious as the origin of the “lemmings commit suicide” legend. During filming, the photographers deliberately drove the lemmings en masse over the edge of a cliff. It is true that lemmings will sometimes fall off a cliff or into a lake or river during mass migrations, but these can safely be classed as accidents, not furry suicides.
And now Red in the silent spot. Red’s a fisherman, and …
A reference to The Red Skelton Show, a TV sketch comedy series that aired from 1951-1971. The “Silent Spot” was a regular feature on the show, a brief skit without words that showcased Skelton’s skill at pantomime in a variety of roles.
She hit Big Jake.
A reference to Show 202, The Sidehackers.
Hey, it’s Gloria Estefan and the Catalina Deus Ex Sound Machina.
Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine is a Latin band based out of Miami. The group was very popular in Spanish-speaking countries but did not become well-known in the United States until its early 1980s hit “Conga.” In 1990 the band’s tour bus was involved in an accident and Estefan broke a vertebra in her back. Her recovery was long and painful, but eventually she returned to performing with the band. “Deus ex machina” is a term from Greek drama referring to a god introduced to resolve the plot at the end of the play.
Is that Deney Terrio?
Deney Terrio was a dancer and host of the TV series Dance Fever from 1979 to 1985. He won fame as the man who taught John Travolta his famous disco moves for the film Saturday Night Fever.
Yeah, he’s the guy who taught John Travolta to dance.
See previous note.
It’s to raise money for the National Front.
The National Front is an extreme-right political party in Great Britain with ties to the neo-Nazi movement. It was founded in 1967 and won a whopping 3 percent of the vote during the 1970s, but has done slightly less well in the years since. In 1990 the group claimed only about 3,000 members.
It’s the Keep Mandela in Prison dance.
Nelson Mandela was a black activist in South Africa during the period ruled by apartheid, the institutionalized system of racism. He was one of the leaders of the African National Congress, a black-liberation group. From 1962-1990 he was imprisoned on charges of sabotage, treason, and conspiracy. During his many decades in prison he became a cause celebre among the international anti-apartheid community. In 1990 he was released, and four years later he became president of post-apartheid South Africa.
They want to play Sun City, I guess.
A reference to the anti-apartheid song “Sun City.” Sun City was a luxury resort located in South Africa during the height of apartheid, and “Sun City,” recorded by a group of musicians calling themselves Artists United Against Apartheid, became an anthem for the anti-apartheid movement.
P.W. Botha, back in office.
P.W. Botha was the prime minister (1978-1984) and then (1984-1989) president of South Africa during the time of apartheid. He was a fervent supporter of white supremacy.
Hey, they grew up to be Jim and Tammy Bakker!
Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were televangelists during the 1960s and 1970s. By the 1980s they had built the PTL Network, a theme park called Heritage USA, and a satellite network. They lived lives of the utmost conspicuous consumption, paying themselves millions of dollars out of the money their operations pulled in. However, in 1987 revelations of sexual mischief destroyed their empire; fellow religious broadcaster Jerry Falwell referred to Bakker as a “cancer”; and in 1989 Bakker was convicted on fraud and racketeering charges (with much of the evidence supplied by Falwell). He served five years in prison, during which time Tammy divorced him.
Here comes Carmine Ragusa again.
Carmine Ragusa, a.k.a. “The Big Ragu,” was the Italian singer with a crush on Shirley on the TV sitcom Laverne and Shirley, which aired from 1976-1983. The part was played by Eddie Mekka.
See note on Laverne and Shirley, above.
The white male reality! The Donald Hollinger!
Donald Hollinger was Marlo Thomas’s boyfriend on the TV series That Girl, which aired from 1966-1971. The part was played by Ted Bessell.
Do the That Girl!
See previous note.
It’s just one big sunny, fun-filled Bataan Death March.
The Bataan Death March was a forced march of American and Filipino prisoners of war during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in World War II. Of the 70,000 prisoners who set out on the march from the Bataan Peninsula to a POW camp, only 54,000 arrived; the rest died on the way or escaped into the jungle. After the war, the Japanese commander in the Philippines was executed for his role in the march.
Why did the Titanic have to sink and this didn’t?
The Titanic was a luxury passenger ship that sank on its maiden voyage in 1912, killing about 1,500 people on board.
You know what’s the difference between the Titanic and this? The Titanic had talent.
See previous note.
Like give you some bennies, yellowjackets or goofballs.
Slang for various kinds of drugs: bennies stands for benzedrine, which is an amphetamine; yellowjackets are nembutal, a barbiturate, which comes in a yellow capsule; and goofballs are a combination of heroin and cocaine.
Now for every one of these you find, we donate a penny to Jerry’s Kids.
Every year on Labor Day, comedian Jerry Lewis hosts a telethon to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. It was first broadcast in 1966. During the telethon, Lewis refers to children with muscular dystrophy as “Jerry’s Kids.”
He’s not even my son, you know—he’s Marty Milner’s kid.
See note on Martin Milner, above.
Meanwhile, in Gotham’s harbor, the Exxon Valdez.
Gotham City is the fictional setting for the adventures of DC Comics superhero Batman. On March 23, 1989, the Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker carrying 53 million gallons of crude oil from Alaska, ran aground on a reef, spilling nearly 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. The captain had been drinking earlier in the day, and the third mate who was on duty when the accident occurred may have been working for as long as 18 hours straight. Roughly 1,300 miles of beach were contaminated, and estimates of wildlife killed by the spill include 250,000 birds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, 22 killer whales, and billions of salmon and herring eggs. Cleanup efforts cost more than $2 billion.
Charlie Sheen in Navy SEALS—a Golan-Globus production.
Navy SEALS is a 1990 film starring Charlie Sheen as Lt. Dale Hawkins as the head of a SEAL team assigned to rescue a plane crew taken hostage by Middle Eastern terrorists. Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus are two Israeli businessmen who founded Cannon Films, a production company notorious for producing some of the cheesiest films of the 1980s. Besides Show 516, Alien From L.A., the duo is responsible for Delta Force and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, among many others. In the early 1990s Golan and Globus sold the company and went their separate ways.
Look, it’s Dino, Desi and Billy.
From reader Kevin Stafford: "Dino, Desi & Billy was a group of well-connected young men from Beverly Hills who recorded songs in the '60s. The group was composed of Dean Martin Jr., Desiderio Arnaz IV, and William Hinsche."
Hey, Sinatra got them a gig.
Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) was a legendary crooner and actor who was buddies with all three of the men mentioned in the previous note.
I’ve got sandwiches. Oh, wait—he got that pistol from the Man from Glad.
The Man from Glad was an advertising icon first conceived in 1963. Dressed in a white suit, he would come rushing in to save people from various food-related disasters.
Tell your friends, dude.
“Tell your friends” is a line from the 1989 film Road House.
Old black water, keep on rolling.
A line from the song “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers. Sample lyrics: “Old black water, keep on rolling/Mississippi moon, won't you keep on shining on me.”
“Oh, Arthur!” Once you get caught between the moon and New York City?
A paraphrase of a line from the theme to the movie Arthur, sung by Christopher Cross. Actual lyrics: “When you get caught between the Moon and New York City/I know it's crazy, but it's true/If you get caught between the Moon and New York City/The best that you can do/The best that you can do is fall in love …”
They took my thumbs! They … Oh, no, wait, they’re still here.
See note on The Pope of Greenwich Village, above.
“What’s it all about?” Alfie?
A line from the song “Alfie” by Burt Bacharach. Sample lyrics: “What's it all about, Alfie?/Is it just for the moment we live?/What's it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?/Are we meant to take more than we give/Or are we meant to be kind?”
“The temptation’ll be too much for him.” And the Four Tops and the Spinners.
The Temptations are an R&B group formed in 1960 and known for such hits as “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” The Four Tops are a Motown group that performed with their original lineup for four decades; the group, with a slightly different lineup, continues to perform today. Their hits include “I Can’t Help Myself” and “Reach Out I’ll Be There.” The Spinners are a soul band that was popular during the 1960s and 1970s with such hits as “Sadie” and “Rubberband Man.”
“What’s the play?” It’s Twelfth Night.
Twelfth Night is a play by William Shakespeare, a comedy of mistaken identity in which everyone falls in love with the wrong person.
For those of you following along in the Syd Field screenplay workbook, that last scene was the plot point setting up the third act. Now this.
Syd Field is the "guru of all screenwriters," according to CNN. He has written several books on screenwriting that are used as standard texts by hundreds of schools.
Mayberry. After hours.
Mayberry, North Carolina, was the fictional small-town setting for The Andy Griffith Show, which aired from 1960-1968.
Okay. Hello muddah, hello fadduh, here I am at Catalina.
A take on the Allan Sherman song “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh.” Actual lyrics: “Hello Muddah, hello Fadduh/Here I am at Camp Grenada/Camp is very entertaining/And they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining.”
Zack Norman as Sammy in Chief Zabu.
From the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide: “A reference to a long-running ad in Variety. It ran forever. Don’t know if Chief Zabu ever made it past the stage where you talk about it over liver dumpling soup at Jerry’s Deli, but you might remember Zack from Romancing the Stone or his role as the woman-slapping thug in the despicable Henry Jaglom film Sitting Ducks.”
Hopping down the bunny trail.
A line from the children’s song “Peter Cottontail.” Sample lyrics: “Here comes Peter Cottontail.Hoppin' down the bunny trail/Hippity, hoppity/Easter's on its way …”
Hey, it’s Charlie’s Angels. Plus a smart one.
Charlie’s Angels was a T&A series that aired from 1976-1981. It featured a revolving cast of beautiful women who worked as private eyes under the direction of the unseen “Charlie.” Kate Jackson, who played Sabrina Duncan from 1976-1979, was usually referred to as “the smart one.”
Oh, it’s McMillan and Wife and Wife and Wife.
McMillan and Wife was a TV series that aired from 1971-1976. It starred Rock Hudson as San Francisco Police Commissioner Stewart McMillan and Susan Saint James as his wife, Sally, who always wound up tangled in his cases.
When you’re a Jet you’re a Jet all the way.
See note on the “Jet Song,” above.
Wow, this Main Street USA parade is really getting thin.
Main Street USA is the first area people see on walking in Disney parks, including Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, several international Disneyland parks, and the original Disneyland in Anaheim, California. They are themed around a small town in the 1890s-1920s, and are based on Walt Disney’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri. All of the parks’ parades start on Main Street.
Oh, hi folks!
An imitation of the annoying, high-pitched squeak emitted by Disney’s Mickey Mouse.
He’s not Mickey, that’s Nicky.
See previous note.
He’s running into the Haunted Mansion!
The Haunted Mansion is a ride at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
Take a rest, friend. You’ve provided enough comic relief. Thank you, Corky the water clown, for making us laugh at love … again.
Corky the Waterskiing Clown is a perennial attraction at Cypress Gardens in Florida. “Thank you, Neil Simon, for making us laugh at falling in love … again” was an advertising tagline for the 1977 film The Goodbye Girl.
Hey, cool, a Bon Jovi poster.
Bon Jovi was an immensely successful pop-metal act during the 1980s with such songs as “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.”
I’m Iggy Pop.
Iggy Pop is widely considered the godfather of the punk movement due to his work with seminal 1970s band The Stooges. After that band broke up, he struck out on a solo career.
Oh, the pain, the pain. Stealing art … shaving my head …
An imitation of Jonathan Harris as stowaway/villain Dr. Zachary Smith on the TV series Lost in Space, which aired from 1965-1968.
Look: Zack Norman as Sammy in Chief Zabu. It says right there.
See note above.
Well, there’s that Louis Nye lookalike contest.
Actor and comedian Louis Nye played Sonny Drysdale on the TV series The Beverly Hillbillies, which aired from 1962-1971.
Hey, it’s a skinhead! Get Geraldo!
In 1988, trash-TV mainstay Geraldo Rivera was doing a show on teenage hatemongers when a brawl broke out, and in the melee Geraldo got his nose broken by a skinhead wielding a chair. It was the most famous moment in the history of the Geraldo Rivera Show, which aired from 1987-1998.
Don’t shack. Don’t shack, baby, that’s where it’s at.
A paraphrase of a line from the song “Love Shack” by the B-52’s. Actual lyrics: “The Love Shack is a little old place/Where we can get together/Love Shack baby! Love Shack baby!/Love Shack, that's where it's at!”
Got a movie that’s as long as a whale.
Another line from “Love Shack” (see previous note): “Hop in my Chrysler/It's as big as a whale/And it's about to set sail!”
It’s about to set sail.
See previous note.
Huzzah! King John invites you to the Ren Festival. See three hundred years crammed into one place. Meet the people you snagged on in high school. Bring your own tights or wear some of our own.
See note about the Renaissance Festival, above.