313: Earth vs. the Spider
by Sean Marten
E.C. Buehler, must be his day off.
The 1986 comedy movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off features a day in the life of a serendipitous high school senior who skips school to go on a risk-filled adventure with his best friend and his girlfriend in Chicago. It starred Matthew Broderick in the title role and was written and directed by John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Home Alone). The film grossed $70 million on a budget of $5.8 million; it was one of the biggest hits of the year.
Is this the Cajun Chef?
A reference to Justin Wilson (1914-2001), an American chef and humorist known for popularizing Cajun cuisine and for his rapid-fire speaking and catchphrase “I gar-on-tee!”
It’s called Herbalife.
Herbalife is a line of nutrition, weight loss, and beauty products that are distributed through a network of more than three million independent distributors using a multilevel marketing structure similar to that used by Amway. Some people have criticized Herbalife as little more than a pyramid scheme, allegations the company denies.
Knucklehead Smiff makes a sale.
Knucklehead Smiff was the name of a ventriloquist dummy brought to life by American voice actor and comedian Paul Winchell (1922-2005), who enjoyed a successful career in the early years of television. Winchell was also an inventor who designed, built, and patented the first functional artificial heart.
"Seemed like a nice guy..." [All.] At first!
According to Josh “J. Elvis” Weinstein, this is another one of those inside jokes that they included just because it made them laugh, not because it referenced anything in particular. The riff goes back to the KTMA days—the first use was in Show K4, Gamera vs. Barugon, when Crow says “Seemed like a nice guy…at first.” After that, if someone in the movie said “Seemed like a nice [guy/place/whatever]” the response was “At first!”
Hey, H.L. Mencken.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) was a journalist, critic, and professional curmudgeon known for his scathing wit. His favorite target: the entrenched power structure of the middle class, whom he referred to scornfully as the “booboisie.” His most famous works are a scholarly study of American English called The American Language and the reporting he did on the Scopes “Monkey Trial” for the Baltimore Sun newspaper, which was widely syndicated.
It’s Andy Rooney’s godfather.
Andrew Aitken “Andy” Rooney (1919-2011) was an American newspaper, television, and radio journalist and commentator best known for “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney,” which concluded the weekly CBS newsmagazine show 60 Minutes from 1978 to 2011. Rooney’s blandly witty commentaries about the baffling oddities of modern life made him the quintessential, and often parodied, “grumpy old man.” He retired from 60 Minutes in October 2011 and died one month later at the age of 92.
“You must be heard.” John Heard?
John Heard Jr. (1945-2017) was an American actor best known for his roles in the Home Alone movies (in which he played the dad), Cat People, The Pelican Brief, and Big. There’s also a semi-famous jazz bassist named John Heard who has worked with George Duke, Count Basie, and Al Jarreau.
Ah, Garrison Keillor.
Gary Edward “Garrison” Keillor is an American radio personality, author, and storyteller best known for his longstanding role as the host of the old-timey radio show A Prairie Home Companion, heard nationally via NPR. Keillor retired from the show in 2016.
Think about it, won’t you? Thank you.
A standard MST3K line that paraphrases a 1967 anti-smoking PSA titled “Like Father, Like Son.” In the spot, a small boy mimics his father as they do everyday chores. When the father lights a cigarette, the son watches him intently, then picks up the pack of cigarettes, and the announcer intones, “Like father, like son? Think about it.”
Well, here’s young George Patton, a patriot, and into high-grade weed.
General George S. Patton (1885-1945) was the commander of the Third Army in World War II; his men helped defend France in the Battle of the Bulge and subdue Germany at the end of the war. He was known as “Old Blood and Guts.” The opening scene of the movie Patton has George C. Scott as Patton delivering his famous speech to the Third Army in front of an enormous American flag.
[German accent.] Ven David Duke is elected, ve vill take over the country.
David Duke is a former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and a former Republican Louisiana state representative. He famously ran for governor of Louisiana in 1991 against former governor Edwin Edwards, a man with severe ethical issues of his own. Pro-Edwards bumper stickers at the time read “Vote for the crook: it’s important.” Duke lost; he went on to run twice for president, once as a Democrat and once as a Republican. In 2002 he was sentenced to 15 months in prison on charges of mail and tax fraud (his old opponent Edwards had been convicted on federal racketeering charges the previous year). He remains an activist, writer, and punch line.
It’s an Aunt Bee convention.
Beatrice “Aunt Bee” Taylor (played by Frances Bavier) was a character on the CBS television sitcoms The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968) and Mayberry R.F.D (1968-1971). The aunt of sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith), Aunt Bee made a mean butterscotch pecan pie (Opie’s favorite), fried chicken for church gatherings, filled picnic baskets for convicts in the town jail, and, in early episodes, was swept off her feet by new men in town, who invariably turned out to be cads. Later in the series she proved more independent, opening a restaurant, taking flying lessons, and even hosting her own cooking show on TV.
A reference to a scene in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, wherein the Wicked Witch of the West, while cackling “Poppies. Poppies will make them sleep!”, magically directs Dorothy Gale and her companions to run through a field of flowering poppies, causing them to fall into a narcotic slumber.
Firm yet yielding to the touch.
An ad slogan for Palmolive soap dating back to the ‘30s was “To make skin soft, smooth, firm yet yielding …” One magazine ad of the era asked women if their skin was "...firm yet yielding to your touch."
Sounds like Brenda Vaccaro.
Brenda Buell Vaccaro is an American actress best known for her roles in the films Midnight Cowboy and Airport ’77 and her many appearances in television dramas and comedies such as The Love Boat and The Golden Girls.
See above note on John Heard Jr.
… and a good friend.
In Show 201, Rocketship X-M, one character was eulogizing another, finishing with a maudlin "...and a good friend." The line became a recurring riff whenever a character in the movie is talking about another character.
Look. There’s a hammer and a sickle in that eye. Beware.
A crossed hammer and sickle, meant to symbolize the unity between industrial and agricultural workers, was a symbol of the Communist Party of the former Soviet Union and was featured on the flag of the U.S.S.R. The symbol is also used by many other communist organizations around the world.
Hey, Charlotte, it spells out a word.
In the 1952 children’s novel Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, a young pig named Wilbur is saved from becoming dinner by a motherly, intelligent spider named Charlotte, who spells out words and phrases in her web, including the famous “SOME PIG.”
Earth vs. … by Walt Whitman.
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was an American poet whose collection Leaves of Grass is considered one of the seminal poetic works of the 19th century. He celebrated the power of natural beauty to regenerate the human spirit.
Hey, this movie’s slipping us a Mickey, whaaa? –I’d rather be slipped a fin.
Short for “Mickey Finn,” a Mickey is a drink laced with some kind of drug meant to knock out the person drinking it. In 1903 a Chicago bartender named Mickey Finn was arrested for drugging and robbing his customers—the probable origin of the slang term. “Fin” is also a slang term for a five-dollar bill.
Hey, do you bet that Jack Webb’s in this?
Jack Webb (1920-1982) was an actor and producer best known for his portrayal of the stone-faced and unflappable Sergeant Joe Friday on Dragnet, which aired on radio and TV from 1949 to 1959 and from 1967 to 1970.
Ah, it’s our old pal Bert.
Bert Ira Gordon (1922-2023) was an American film director best known for his low-budget sci-fi and horror B-movies in the 1950s and ‘60s. Nicknamed “Mr. B.I.G.”—for both his initials and the size of the creatures (or people) in his films—Bert I. Gordon has the distinction of being the single director with the most movies featured on MST3K: Show 210, King Dinosaur; Show 309, The Amazing Colossal Man; Show 313, Earth vs. the Spider; Show 319, War of the Colossal Beast; Show 411, The Magic Sword; Show 414, Tormented; Show 517, Beginning of the End; and Show 523, Village of the Giants.
Hey, a rolling stone gathers no Marty Moss.
The saying “A rolling stone gathers no moss” dates back to 1546, when it appeared in John Heywood’s Proverbs. The basic meaning of the proverb, that people who keep moving and never put down roots avoid collecting responsibilities, dates even farther back—to Roman philosopher Publilius Syrus in the first century B.C.E.
[Name in credits: Albert Glasser.] Hey, it’s Paul Michael’s father. –That’s Glaser. –Oh.
Paul Michael Glaser is an actor best known for his role as police detective David Starsky on the television crime series Starsky & Hutch, which ran on ABC between 1975 and 1979.
Assistant technical effects? Uh, honey, hand me that Tonka truck.
Bert I. Gordon’s (see above note) wife, Flora M. Gordon, worked on special effects for a number of her husband’s movies. Tonka is a popular toy manufacturer best known for its line of trucks and various earth-moving and construction vehicles.
Görög write screenplay, uuuur! –Görög
László Görög also wrote Show 803, The Mole People.
No spiders were squished, stepped on, flushed, or made to suffer any emotional distress during the making of this film. One spider did die of old age; we have two letters from doctors confirming this.
A paraphrase of the famous credit line “No animals were harmed in the making of this film.” The American Humane Association holds a copyright on that phrase. The practice of the AHA evaluating films for their treatment of animals dates back to the 1939 film Jesse James, wherein a horse was blindfolded and ridden off a cliff to its death. For real. The ensuing outrage and massive protests led to an agreement with the movie industry to allow the AHA to oversee animal treatment on film sets, which up until then had been largely unregulated.
Come into my parlor, said the spider to the titles.
“Come into my parlor” is a common misquoting of the 1829 poem “The Spider and the Fly,” by Mary Howitt. The actual line is “‘Will you walk into my parlour?’ said the Spider to the Fly.” The poem is a cautionary tale meant to warn against trusting those who would use flattery and charm for ill purposes.
Spider by Spencer’s Gifts.
Spencer Gifts—now just Spencer’s—is a retailer with locations in shopping malls throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Targeting a 12- to 25-year-old demographic, the stores offer rock and roll clothing, band merchandise, gag gifts, room décor, fashion, and body jewelry. The chain has occasionally been criticized for allowing underage shoppers access to adult items.
Anytown, USA. –Good place to …
A line in the offbeat 1971 musical film 200 Motels, written and directed by Frank Zappa, is “Centerville. A real nice place to raise your kids up.”
[Imitating Arnold Schwarzenegger.] I’m liquid metal.
A paraphrased line from the 1991 science fiction film Terminator 2: Judgment Day, directed and co-written by James Cameron. In the film, Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his role as a T-800 Terminator sent back in time from the future. Also sent back is a more advanced T-1000 Terminator (played by Robert Patrick) composed of a “mimetic poly-alloy,” which Arnold describes as “liquid metal.” The “liquid metal” required groundbreaking CGI to depict. The film won an Oscar for special effects.
Why don’t I feel fresh?
A reference to the classic Massengill douche commercial in which a mother and a daughter take a companionable stroll while discussing feminine hygiene. The line “Mom, do you ever feel, you know, not so fresh?” became an instant classic of euphemism and is still frequently referenced today.
Possibly a reference to the 1985 comedy-adventure film The Goonies, directed by Richard Donner and executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, about a group of kids who get drawn into a wild adventure after they discover a pirate treasure map.
“You know it doesn’t mean a thing …” If it ain’t got that swing.
“It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got That Swing)” is a 1931 jazz standard composed by Duke Ellington, with lyrics by Irving Mills. Possibly the first song to actually use the term “swing” in the title, it helped introduce the word into the lexicon of American pop culture.
[Sung.] Dobie! [Horn sounds.] Dobie! That Dobie!
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis was a television sitcom that aired on CBS from 1959 to 1963. The series followed the misadventures of all-American teenager Dobie Gillis, played by Dwayne Hickman, and his beatnik best friend Maynard G. Krebs, played by (future star of Gilligan’s Island) Bob Denver. The theme song was written by series creator Max Shulman and legendary Hollywood composer Lionel Newman, and performed by Judd Conlon’s Rhythmaires.
“We call the positive pole what?” Lech Walesa?
Lech Walesa was the president of Poland between 1990 and 1995. A charismatic leader, he co-founded Solidarity, the Soviet bloc’s first independent trade union, and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983.
[Imitating Dr. Smith.] Okay, you can borrow my car. The pain, the pain …
Dr. Zachary Smith (played by Jonathan Harris) was the stowaway on Lost in Space, a science fiction television series that aired on CBS between 1965 and 1968. Dr. Smith’s relentless cowardice resulted in frequent emotional breakdowns, when he would either hide behind other characters and howl “We’re doomed!” or confess his shortcomings and whimper, “Oh, the shame, the pain …” Originally cast as a villain, Dr. Smith soon became the comic relief in the series, with most of the conflicts resulting from his harebrained schemes gone awry. Dr. Smith was a classic example of a coded gay character on ‘60s TV: an effeminate man whose closest friends were a robot and a small boy. (Actor Jonathan Harris, however, was straight.)
Hey, looks like Joe owns the kooky old Munsters car.
The Munsters was a television sitcom that aired on CBS from 1964 to 1966 about a wacky but good natured family of famous monster types (vampire, wolf man, Frankenstein's monster). The “Munster Koach” was a $20,000 hot rod built especially for the show on three Ford Model T bodies, with a custom body resembling a hearse. It was 18 feet long. There was also a dragster built from a coffin known as the “DRAG-U-LA” that belonged to Grandpa Munster.
Both hands on the bat-rope, kids.
Batman, a superhero staple of comic books who has also appeared in movies, on television, and in animated shows, wears as part of his costume a belt known as his utility belt. The belt holds various gadgets that help Batman in his crusade against crime. These include the bat-rope, a reel of super-thin cable that lets Batman climb walls and swing from rooftops. In the campy 1960s live-action TV series Batman, star Adam West was fond of saying "Both hands on the bat-rope," as a kind of motivational slogan.
It’s a giant dreadlock. Bob Marley must be here.
Dreadlocks are long, rope-like coils of hair that can be formed by braiding, coiling, or twisting the hair until it becomes tangled and matted Dreadlocks have been found in cultures as diverse as ancient Sparta in Greece and the Maasai tribe of southern Kenya, but the style is now closely associated with the Rastafarian movement. Devout Rastafarian Bob Marley (1945-1981) was a Jamaican singer-songwriter whose rock-influenced reggae became famous around the world. He also played a prominent political role in his native country, working for peace among the warring factions there. By the time Marley died, his famous dreadlocks were actually a wig; he was bald due to treatment for a malignant melanoma.
It’s black joke soap! I love it!
A staple of back-of-the-comic-book advertising in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, “Funny Black Soap” or “Joke Black Soap” is a novelty prank item: a normal-looking bar of soap that turns a person’s hands black when used.
Oh, hey, neat, I just put my foot into a pile of goo that was once your dad’s face. Now I know what to do.
A reference to a line from the often-quoted opening monologue of the 1970 biographical film Patton. George C. Scott, as General George S. Patton, standing before an enormous American flag and delivering an inspirational message to the troops, says, among other things: “The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood. Shoot them in the belly. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo that a moment before was your best friend’s face … you’ll know what to do.” Patton actually delivered this speech verbatim to the Third Army on May 31, 1944, on the eve of D-Day.
Hey, we found the Batcave.
The Batcave is Bruce Wayne’s hideout/headquarters, located beneath stately Wayne Manor in the Batman comics, TV shows, and films. Batman #12 referred to “secret underground hangars,” but it was the Batman movie serials that introduced the crime-lab-in-a-cave and secret entrances, as well as the term “Batcave.”
Buddy Ebsen’s been here.
Buddy Ebsen (1908-2003) was a character actor best known for his two turns as an old codger: the battered-hat–sporting Jed Clampett on the TV sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies (1962-1971), and the title role in Barnaby Jones (1973-1980).
“People have gone in there and never come out again.” No, no, that was Injun Joe’s cave, dear. Remember?
Injun Joe was the main antagonist in the 1876 novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain. A towering criminal figure who terrorized the town, Injun Joe’s secret lair and eventual tomb is McDougal’s Cave; Tom and Becky Thatcher get lost inside the cave for several days.
It’s Carol’s Dad’s Caverns. –They walked to Arizona. Cool.
Carlsbad Caverns is an extensive cave complex in the Carlsbad Caverns National Park, in southeastern New Mexico, not Arizona. In a 2011 interview, Gordon said he was not allowed to film in the Caverns, so he used split screens with still photos he took himself for these scenes.
This looks like the hideout of Mr. Freeze. –Wild!
Mr. Freeze (real name Dr. Victor Fries) is a villain in the rogues gallery of DC superhero Batman. In the comics his headquarters are in a frozen, ice-covered cave. "Wild!" was a favorite exclamation of Mr. Freeze. In his various appearances on the campy ‘60s TV series Batman, Freeze was played by British actor George Sanders, director Otto Preminger, and actor Eli Wallach. The character garnered little respect until the ‘90s show Batman: The Animated Series, when the character was given a tragic origin and the dramatic goal of saving his terminally ill but cryogenically preserved wife, Nora. The episode that introduced this new motivation won an Emmy. However, any new dramatic weight Freeze had earned was thoroughly destroyed by Joel Schumacher and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the universally derided 1997 film Batman & Robin.
Batman loves Robin? Penguin Bites? I can’t read the rest of it.
References to principal characters and a villain in the many incarnations of Batman (see above note). Robin was Batman’s junior sidekick. There have been five official Robins in Batman comics: Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown, and Damian Wayne. Four of them have died. Penguin (a.k.a. Oswald Cobblepot) was one of Batman’s chief nemeses, a short, rotund supervillain known for his top hat, cigarette holder, and kicky umbrellas. He was played by Burgess Meredith in the 1960s TV show and by Danny DeVito in the 1992 film Batman Returns.
Didn’t know they piled it that high.
Possibly a reference to a line in the 1987 Stanley Kubrick Vietnam War movie Full Metal Jacket. A U.S. Marine drill instructor (R. Lee Ermey) is hurling abuse at a group of new recruits. He asks one recruit how tall he is, then responds, “I didn’t know they stacked shit that high.” (Thanks to Brandon Peppler for this reference.)
A reference to Marco Polo, the game of swimming pool tag in which the player who is “It” closes his or her eyes and tries to find the other players by shouting “Marco!” The other players respond by saying “Polo!”, and the tagger attempts to locate them by sound alone.
Oh, suddenly you’re Magellan?
Ferdinand Magellan (c. 1480-1521) was a Portuguese explorer who led the first expedition to sail from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific Ocean, and the first expedition to sail across the Pacific. He died before his fleet finished circumnavigating the globe.
It’s a popsicle … kinda, heh.
Frank Epperson invented the popsicle by accident in 1905. He originally marketed it as the “Epsicle” but renamed it “Popsicle” thanks to his kids.
Yeah, it’s a big pork link sausage. Jimmy Dean tried to kill ya.
Jimmy Ray Dean (1928-2010) was an American country music singer, TV host, and entrepreneur, perhaps best known for creating the Jimmy Dean brand of pork sausages. His late 1950s television series The Jimmy Dean Show gave America its first glimpse at the work of puppeteer Jim Henson.
How do they make that pure pork sausage? Well, they take some pork … Don’t ask!
See previous note. Also a reference to an old adage, generally misattributed to German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck (most likely it was by lawyer/poet John Godfrey Saxe), the exact phrasing varies, but: “Laws are like sausages; it is better not to see them being made.”
This is a really neat date. We’re having an adventure just like the Goonies.
See above note on The Goonies.
They’re in Michael Jackson’s basement.
In the late 1980s a rumor spread in the tabloids that Michael Jackson had tried to purchase the bones of Joseph Merrick, “The Elephant Man.” The rumor was proven false, but Jackson never seemed too outraged about it. In fact, in 1989 Jackson released a short film to accompany his song “Leave Me Alone,” which poked fun at this and other rumors about him; the film won a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video in 1990.
You know what I always say, you can never be too rich or too thin. Hee-hee. That’s one of my favorites.
“You can never be too rich or too thin” is a maxim that has been credited to Dorothy Parker, the Duchess of Windsor, and Rose Kennedy, among others. Its true origin is uncertain, although some have suggested the short, plump author Truman Capote as a likely candidate.
The anxious edge.
David Grant is a British pop singer who had several hits in the 1980s, including “Stop and Go,” “Watching You Watching Me,” and “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love.” The Anxious Edge is the title of his 1990 album (and its title song).
It’s the cave of the Flying Wallendas.
The Flying Wallendas is a group of high wire circus performers who got their start in Germany when Karl Wallenda gathered his brother and two friends in 1922 to tour as a stunt troupe. In 1928, they first performed without a net because they had lost it while traveling. That stuck as a selling point; however, their daring has led to several deaths. In 1962, two performers died (including Karl’s son-in-law and nephew) and his adopted son was paralyzed when their human pyramid collapsed. Karl’s sister-in-law was killed the following year, another son-in-law in 1972, and Karl himself died in 1978 when he fell from a high wire stretched between two buildings. To this day, there are several branches of the Wallendas still performing.
Hey, it’s a Sealy Posturepedic. I just ripped off the tag, though.
Sealy is the world’s largest manufacturer of mattresses; Posturepedic is their most popular brand. In the United States, mattresses, upholstery, and stuffed articles (pillows, plush toys, comforters, etc.) are required to have a label describing the fabric and filling. These tags include a phrase such as “This tag may not be removed under penalty of law except by the consumer,” but earlier versions simply said the tag must not be removed under penalty of law, leading to many jokes about the Mattress Police bursting through your door with guns drawn if you tore off the tag. The reason for the tag dates back to the early 20th century, when mattresses were sometimes stuffed with fairly unsavory items, including bug-infested, soiled rags. To protect consumers, the government required manufacturers to list the mattress contents on the tags; when customers began recoiling upon finding out what the mattresses contained, sellers solved the problem by ripping off the tags at the factory or the store before customers could ever see them. So the government had to go one step further and prohibit them from removing the tag.
"It's just like glue." Oh great, I can finish my T'Rantula car model. Cool. Oh, wow. With slicks and mags on it...
T'Rantula was a plastic model car kit of a dragster sold by Mattel/Monogram in the early 1970s. They are now considered collector’s items.
Oh, that’s just a theremin. Don’t worry.
The theremin (or ætherphone) is an electronic musical instrument developed in the 1920s by Russian inventor Leon Theremin. The player uses two metal antennas set at right angles to each other. The position of the player’s hands within the range of the antennas determines the amplitude, frequency, and volume of the sound; it is thus played without ever being touched. The eerie quality of the instrument’s sound is its defining characteristic. The theremin has most notably been used in the films The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Thing from Another World, as well as in some of Led Zeppelin’s most popular songs (“Whole Lotta Love,” for one).
Sounds like someone or something has asthma. –Yeah, get him a Primatene Mist.
Primatene Mist is an over-the-counter brand of epinephrine inhaler used to relieve bronchial asthma. Because the product contains chlorofluorocarbons, it was banned in the U.S. after 2011, and reintroduced in a non-CFC form in 2019.
Oh, come on, it’s only a process shot, honey. Don’t worry, it’s nowhere near us.
A process shot, also known as rear projection, is a special effect in which the actors stand in front of a screen on which an image is being projected,
Okay, wait a second, wait a second, I gotta …“Mike and Carol Were Here.” Okay, let’s go.
Archaeologists have found centuries-old graffiti in the ruins of Pompeii saying things like “Daphnus was here with his Felicia.” The impulse is universal, apparently.
Hey, come back! I’m actually beneficial. I eat harmful household pests. Jim Morrison drank my venom.
People who are afraid of spiders are rarely comforted by the facts regarding their general harmlessness and benign characteristics. Jim Morrison (1943-1971) was the lead vocalist and lyricist for the rock band The Doors. He died in Paris, presumably of a heroin overdose, but many rumors have sprung up regarding his “actual” cause of death. Among the strangest: he was poisoned by spider venom, in which he partook as part of his initiation into an Orphic mystery cult, which used the venom to release “the dark soul that burns incandescently like a cicada, immolating itself in fiery passion” (according to anthropologist Alison Bailey Kennedy).
I know an old lady who swallowed a spider.
“There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” is a folk song that became a children’s favorite. Written by Alan Mills with lyrics by Rose Bonne, the best-known version was recorded in 1953 by Burl Ives. The song has a cumulative structure—each verse repeats the previous verse and adds a little more—and tells the saga of an old lady who, starting with a fly, swallows increasingly large animals, hoping each will catch the previously swallowed critter.
“The man to see about it is the sheriff.” But we didn’t see the deputy.
A reference to the 1973 song “I Shot the Sheriff” by Bob Marley (see above note). The famous chorus goes: “I shot the sheriff/But I did not shoot the deputy.” Eric Clapton’s 1974 cover version became his only number one hit song on the Billboard Hot 100 and helped popularize reggae music in general, and Bob Marley in particular, in the United States.
Hey, it’s Alan Hale and Stuart Pankin.
Although Alan Hale Sr. (1892-1950) and his son Alan Hale Jr. (1921-1990) were both Hollywood actors and near lookalikes, this is probably referring to Alan Hale Jr., best known for his portrayal of the Skipper on the television sitcom Gilligan’s Island. Hale Jr. appeared in three MST3K episodes: 106, The Crawling Hand; 622, Angels Revenge; and 810, The Giant Spider Invasion. Stuart Pankin is a character actor who has appeared in such films as Hollywood Knights and Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves and such television shows as HBO’s Not Necessarily the News and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Hopped up on goofballs, you know.
Today this phrase is strongly associated with The Simpsons’ Chief Wiggum, but it goes much further back. Many people think it dates back to Dragnet and Sergeant Joe Friday, but Friday actually said, “Do the youngsters know what these goofballs are made of, son?” (in the 1952 episode “The Big Seventeen”). The phrase is used (twice) in the 1965 Perry Mason episode “The Case of the Silent Six,” and has appeared in print dating to about that time as well. The slang term “goofball” was used to mean marijuana in the 1930s, but by the 1950s it had come to refer to barbiturates. “Hopped up,” meaning high, dates to the 1920s.
You know, I think that’s Gary Busey’s dad. –Maybe just Gary Busey.
Gary Busey is a wild-man actor who has appeared in more than 150 movies and TV shows, including Lethal Weapon and Under Siege. In 2003 he starred in a reality show for Comedy Central called I’m With Busey. His dad, Delmer Lloyd Busey, was a construction design manager, and passed away in 1975. His son, Jake Busey, is also an actor who has appeared in such films as Contact (1997) and Road House 2 (2006).
Hey, hey, we’re on double golden slasher time, guys, he said 50, let’s do it.
“Double golden slasher time” is a line from surrealistic comedy troupe Firesign Theatre’s last album: In the Next World, You’re On Your Own (1975).
Okay, bunny hop, everybody, let’s make this fun!
The bunny hop is a “novelty dance,” also known as a “party dance,” that is a variation of the conga line, wherein dancers form a long, single file, and very boisterous line. It was created in 1952 at Balboa High School in San Francisco.
Now, why did they invite the milkman? –Oh, something new’s coming to town.
In 1978 Kellogg’s introduced Graham Cracko’s (later changed to Crackos to make more sense) cereal with TV commercials featuring "George the Milkman" and a musical jingle. One version went: “Something new is coming to town/George the Milkman's bringing it ‘round.”
Looks like you had this room done in early Paleolithic here.
The Paleolithic Era is the period in human prehistory during which mankind’s anatomy and behavior evolved more or less into what we call modern humans.
Al Glasser on the scene.
Albert Glasser (1916-1998) was one of the most prolific B-movie music composers. Scoring somewhere around 200 films in his career, he scored 135 movies between 1944 and 1962 alone—including Earth vs. the Spider—and he scored at least 35 features for which he wasn’t credited. He also scored 300 television shows and 450 radio programs. Glasser scored ten MST3K films, including Show 517, The Beginning of the End, and Show 309, The Amazing Colossal Man.
“Nice place. Make a nice Elks hall, you know that?” Where would the brewmeister and the pull-tabs go?
The Elks, also known as the Elks Lodge (officially known as The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, or BPOE) is an American fraternal organization known for charity fundraising, Veteran services and youth programs. Members gather at Elks lodges to enjoy a private bar, inexpensive food, and entertainment. “Brewmeister” is a generic term for a small, keg-like beer dispenser, likely found in the bar at an Elks lodge. Pull-tab cards are like scratcher lottery cards, but paper panels are peeled back to reveal the symbols; pull-tab gambling is sometimes used to fundraise.
Like an Anne Klein?
Anne Klein (1923-1974) was an American fashion designer whose styles for young women revolutionized the junior clothing market in the 1950s, and whose innovations in manufacturing made her lines affordable for a much wider range of consumers.
Wait a minute, it says Arne Saknussemm on this wall.
Arne Saknussemm is the name of a medieval Icelandic explorer in the 1864 Jules Verne novel A Journey to the Center of the Earth. He carves “A.S.” in the walls of the tunnels leading to the lost world, showing the correct path. In Show 516, Alien From L.A., Kathy Ireland’s explorer father is named “Arnold Saknussemm” in an homage to Verne’s character.
The occasional Japanese soldier.
After the August 1945 surrender of Japan that marked the end of World War II, there were a number of Japanese soldiers in the Pacific Theater who continued to hide in the jungle and fight occupying forces, either because they didn’t know Japan had surrendered, or didn’t believe it. The last Japanese “holdout” surrendered on the Indonesian island of Morotai in December of 1974.
A famous line uttered by Michael Keaton as Batman in the 1989 film of the same name—one of many, many interpretations of the comic book superhero who first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939.
Now we have to pay Jack Nicholson.
For his role as the Joker in the 1989 Batman (see previous note), actor Jack Nicholson reportedly had a very sweet agreement with the filmmakers. His contract specified the number of hours he was entitled to have free each day, guaranteed time off for Los Angeles Lakers home games, and a large percentage of the box office gross, as well as (reportedly) a cut of the sequels. He may have gotten as much as $60 million-$90 million.
I know that theremin’s around here somewhere.
See above note.
“Wanna say a few words over it, Sheriff?” Ahh, sure. Dear Lord, we're gathered here—d'oh!
Funeral services, like weddings, often begin with the phrase, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today …” and then continue along the lines “… to pay our final tribute of respect …” or “… not to mourn a death, but to celebrate a life …” “D’oh!” is the classic exclamation uttered by Homer Simpson on the animated TV series The Simpsons, which first aired on Fox in 1989. Actor Dan Castellaneta, who supplies the voice of Homer, has said he borrowed the phrase from comedian 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.
Oh, it’s Rose Kennedy. Looking good.
Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald Kennedy (1890-1995) was the matriarch of “Camelot”—the mother of nine children, including U.S. President John F. Kennedy, U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and U.S. Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy. Having lived to the age of 104, her name became a convenient punch line synonymous with “old age” to a generation of American baby boomers. Despite the many tragedies in her life, she maintained a wicked sense of humor. Reportedly, when she was asked by the press why her daughter-in-law Joan lived in Boston while her son Teddy lived in Virginia, Rose responded, “Who’s Virginia?”
Hey, is that Statler or Waldorf?
Statler and Waldorf are the two cranky old men who heckle from a theater balcony on the television series The Muppet Show (1976-1981).
Nyahh-nyahh-nyahh! Oh, eek. Ooooh, no, oooh!
The first part seems to be an imitation of The Three Stooges’ Curly Howard. The second part could be comedian Charlie Callas.
Hey, who ordered the Hunan beef?
Hunan beef is a popular menu item in Chinese restaurants. The spicy dish involves thin-sliced beef, chile peppers, garlic, soy sauce, and rice wine.
They all look like “Spy vs. Spy” now.
“Spy vs. Spy” is a comic strip created by Cuban exile cartoonist Antonio Prohías (1921-1998) that first appeared in Mad magazine #60 in January 1961. The strip features two pointy-beaked spies, identical except one is all in white (except for a black hatband) and the other in all black (except for a white hatband and white shirt cuffs), who are constantly trying to outwit each other, plotting and setting elaborate booby-traps. Following Prohías’s retirement in 1987, other artists took over the strip.
All right, get in the clown car. All right, you. Jump in there. You die first.
There’s no trick to the clown car: it’s just that everything in the car’s interior has been stripped out to provide maximum clown-packing space.
[Imitating.] Get down here. You have got to be kidding me, Pyle!
An imitation of Frank Sutton (1923-1974) as the long-suffering Sergeant Vince Carter on the TV series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., which ran from 1964-1970.
[Spider scream.] Sounds like Jim Morrison.
See above note. Morrison frequently emitted a siren scream at live shows, which can also be heard in the recording of “When the Music’s Over.”
No, Dr. Erhardt, no! So that’s what happened to him.
Dr. Laurence Erhardt, played by Josh “J. Elvis” Weinstein, was Dr. Clayton Forrester’s original sidekick in Deep 13. After Weinstein left the show following Season One on Comedy Central to pursue TV writing in Los Angeles (Freaks and Geeks, Later with Greg Kinnear, America’s Funniest Home Videos), Erhardt’s disappearance was occasionally pondered on the Satellite of Love. Weinstein later became a writer and performer, along with other original MST3K members, in Cinematic Titanic, and returned to the Satellite of Love as a suave, sophisticated Erhardt, now a 30 year veteran of space travel, for Show 1204, The Day Time Ended.
[In Dr. Erhardt’s squeaky voice.] Enjoy!
See previous note.
Nice shootin’, Mr. Carson.
A possible reference to Kit Carson (Christopher Houston Carson, 1809-1868), an American fur trapper, guide, Indian agent, and all around frontiersman whose exploits provided endless material for dime novels of the time.
“What would you suggest the sheriff’s office of River Falls do about it, Mr. Kingman?” Close the beaches! Oh, wrong movie.
In 1975, director Steven Spielberg single-handedly invented the summer blockbuster with the action adventure film Jaws. In the film, a giant man-eating shark menaces a summer resort town. Police Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) wants to close the beaches to protect the public but is overruled by the mayor (Murray Hamilton), who wants to keep the town’s tourist revenue rolling in.
Kinda like Hudson Hawk.
Hudson Hawk is a 1991 action comedy film starring Bruce Willis. A live action film, it featured set pieces of broad, cartoon-like slapstick accompanied by cartoon sound effects, and occasionally broke off for a musical number. The film was savaged by critics and was a massive box office bomb.
Dial 1-900-Boring Boyfriend. He’d love to talk to you about his uncle from Milwaukee. –Right now.
Before the widespread use of the Internet rendered them nearly obsolete, premium-rate phone numbers, often beginning with the prefix 900, were intensely marketed and very popular in the late 1980s through the early 1990s. With charges starting at $3.00 per minute, 900 numbers offered adult chat (phone sex), psychic hotlines, stock tips, and more. Technical support services also sometimes used 900 numbers.
Hey! –What kind of sin must a man commit in a single lifetime …? –Cool!
A line from the 1957 movie The Amazing Colossal Man, another Bert I. Gordon masterpiece (which just happens to display a poster for Earth vs. the Spider). The Amazing Colossal Man was riffed in Show 309.
Everywhere. Oh, Bert.
Director Bert I. Gordon (see above note) shamelessly promoted his other films within his own films. In Attack of the Puppet People, for example, The Amazing Colossal Man plays at a drive-in.
“You said you’d take me out to the cave to find the bracelet.” [Imitating Arnold Schwarzenegger.] I lied.
An oft-quoted line from the 1985 action film Commando. Full line: “Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last? I lied.”
“Something about puppet people. It sounds pretty wild.” Oh, shame on you, Bert I. Gordon.
See previous note.
Wait! Aren’t you going to watch that wonderful Bert I. Gordon movie?
See previous note. Attack of the Puppet People was later riffed on by Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett for RiffTrax.
Looks like an ad for Dockers.
Dockers is a line of casual khaki slacks—largely for men, although there is a women’s line as well—manufactured by Levi’s. It was introduced in 1986.
“Hey, Joe!” Where you going with that gun in your hand?
“Hey Joe” is a popular song that became a rock standard in the 1960s. Authorship has been disputed, but the first recording of it seems to have been in 1965 by The Leaves, an L.A. garage band. The best-known version is the 1966 debut single from The Jimi Hendrix Experience. In 2016, a Guinness world record was set in Wroclaw, Poland, when 7,356 guitarists played “Hey Joe” simultaneously. Sample lyrics: “Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand/Hey Joe, I said where you going with that gun in your hand/I’m going down to shoot my old lady/You know, I caught her messin’ ‘round with another man.”
Hey, he’s Harvey Keitel. –Oh, the pain.
Harvey Keitel is an American actor who has given acclaimed performances in films by directors Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, and Quentin Tarantino, among others. See note on Dr. Smith, above.
Hey, it’s a fat Marty Milner.
Martin Milner (1931-2015) played Tod Stiles on the early ‘60s series Route 66. His biggest role came in 1968 when he began playing LAPD Officer Peter Malloy on the police drama Adam-12, a sister show to Dragnet. The show provided Americans with their first realistic glimpse of police procedures and jargon. It lasted until 1975.
“Hugo!” Is he looking for his car?
The Yugo was a brand of car manufactured in Yugoslavia (later Serbia, after the communist country broke apart) from 1980 to 2008. It sold widely in Europe and was fairly popular, but it gained a poor reputation in the United States due to reliability issues and difficulty obtaining replacement parts. A widely publicized 1989 incident in which a woman driving a Yugo died when her car went off the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan in 50 mph winds didn’t help its image either.
Rebbish, snake a bur bur.
An imitation of Gabby Johnson (Jack Starrett), a parody of perennial western sidekick Gabby Hayes, from the film Blazing Saddles.
Yeah, I gotta go play with my pig Arnold.
Hank Patterson (1888-1975), who plays Hugo the janitor in Earth vs. the Spider, was an American actor who, in addition to his many small roles in Westerns and sci-fi films, portrayed Fred Ziffel—a rural eccentric who was always accompanied by his "son," a pig named Arnold—on the TV series Green Acres (1965-1971).
Okay, we’ll open with Rite of Spring and then kick into “Blue Suede Shoes,” people.
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) was a Russian composer who created many of the classic works of modernism, including his ballet Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring), which caused a near-riot when it premiered in Paris in May 1913. “Blue Suede Shoes” is a classic rock & roll song written and recorded by Carl Perkins in 1955. It was covered by Elvis Presley nine months later. While Presley’s version is better known today, it only reached number 20 on the charts, while Perkins’s hit number one for three weeks.
It’s the New Christy Minstrels.
The New Christy Minstrels is a Grammy-winning folk music group formed in 1961 by Randy Sparks. With an ever-changing lineup that continues to this day, the group helped launch the careers of Kenny Rogers, Kim Carnes, Barry McGuire, and Gene Clark. Hits include “Green, Green” and “This Land Is Your Land.”
Oh, he’s doing his Charlie Callas. –Vvvp-vvvp-vvvp. –Gnaang-gnaang-gnaang …
Charlie Callas (1927-2011) was a standup comedian and occasional actor who had a knack for making sound effects with his mouth, accompanied by jerky movements with his arms and head. Callas was a fixture on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and appeared in a number of films and TV shows.
Oh, now they’re voguing. –Yep. Strike a pose.
“Vogue” is a 1990 song by American singer-songwriter Madonna, inspired by the dance Vogue, popular in the Harlem “House Ball” community at that time. “Strike a pose” is the lyrical refrain that begins the song.
Jeez, I hate this music. Don’t you know any Spider John Koerner? C’mon!
“Spider” John Koerner is a singer, guitarist, and songwriter from Minneapolis. Bob Dylan cites him as an early influence.
[Sung.] Hike, hike, hike up your pants now, hike, hike, hike up—hey, you almost see her knees!
A reference to a host segment in Show 307, Daddy-O.
Hey, Dennis Miller on drums.
Dennis Miller is an acerbic actor and comedian who has appeared on numerous TV series, including Saturday Night Live, and in a number of films, such as The Net and Disclosure. He has also hosted several talk shows. His act is marked by harshly critical takes on American culture and politics, and by obscure pop culture references.
Get me. I’m some Buddy Rich, cha-cha.
Billed as “The World’s Greatest Drummer,” Buddy Rich (1917-1987) was an American jazz drummer much admired for his speed and technique. “Cha-cha” is a term that Dennis Miller (see previous note) sometimes tags onto the end of a sentence, in a vague imitation of Rat Packer Sammy Davis Jr.
[Sung.] Gotta dance!
A little bit of the show-stopping “Broadway Melody” number in the classic 1952 film musical Singin’ in the Rain.
Legs Diamond was a Broadway musical that ran for about two months in early 1989. Written by Peter Allen, it told, in song, the story of a gangster (played by Allen) in the Great Depression who dreamed of making it big in show business. Savaged by critics, Legs Diamond is considered one of the greatest flops in Broadway history, its failure so complete that the theater where it played was sold to a church. There is also a rock band by that name.
Play “Melancholy Baby,” quick!
A popular song first published in 1912, the actual title is “My Melancholy Baby.” It was first performed by William Frawley, who later played the role of Fred Murtz on I Love Lucy. Judy Garland sang it in the 1954 movie A Star Is Born, in a scene in which a drunk audience member shouts at her, “Sing ‘Melancholy Baby’!” That scene became something of a cliché, re-created in various forms in TV dramas and comedy skits in the 1960s, which in a way makes “My Melancholy Baby” the original “Free Bird.”
[Sung.] Wait fo’ the beep. Wait fo’ the beep. Nobody’s home! Nobody’s home!
In the 1980s, low-budget television ads touted a collection of novelty songs to be used as outgoing messages on phone answering machines, then relatively new. “Wait fo’ the beep” and “Nobody’s home” (to the tune of “Beethoven’s Fifth”) were two of them.
The count is up five ... $325.
On “Dialing for Dollars,” a segment popular on local TV shows during the 1960s and 1970s, the TV host would announce “the count and the amount,” call a random number, and ask if they knew a preselected number (the count) that had been announced on the show; if the person had been watching faithfully, they would win the amount as a cash prize.
Hello, Frank Sinatra Jr. residence. Can I help you?
Frank Sinatra Jr. is the son of the famous crooner by his first wife, Nancy Barbato. He too is a singer, but he has always been overshadowed by his famous dad. In 1963, at the age of 19, Sinatra the Younger was kidnapped and released two days later after a ransom was paid.
Mammy, Mammy, how I love you. –It’s your little boy.
An imitation of singer/actor Al Jolson’s signature song, “My Mammy,” which he performed at the end of the first “talkie,” the 1927 film The Jazz Singer. Jolson, a white man, would perform the song on bended knee and in blackface (makeup to make him appear Black, which was not considered racist by general audiences at the time).
Alan Hale, Jr. I said you look like Alan Hale, Jr.
See note on Alan Hale Jr., above.
Herman, stop driving so fast. –Lily!
Herman Munster was the Frankenstein’s monsterish clan patriarch on The Munsters (see above note). The part was played by Fred Gwynne. Lily was his vampiric spouse, played by Yvonne De Carlo.
Wow, it’s a Soap Box Derby racer. –Bet they had their dad help build it.
Soap box racers were first made in the early 1930s by children who attached wheels to empty wooden soap or apple crates and used gravity to propel themselves downhill. The races continue to this day, more organized, and featuring sophisticated vehicles now made from fiberglass that reach speeds of 35 mph. The world championship finals of the Derby have been held each July in Akron, Ohio, since 1933.
It’s the fins.
The tailfins in ‘50s cars were purely stylistic, associated with the rocketry of the Space Age. They had nothing to do with mileage, although Plymouth claimed they stabilized the car in crosswinds.
Hmm. Some kids. Supposed to be scared or something.
A riff on the line “Some cereal—supposed to be good for you,” from the famous “Hey, Mikey!” Life cereal TV commercial. The ad debuted in 1972 and ran for 14 years, one of the longest-running ads in TV history.
[Imitating Woody Allen.] I’ll just be going then. I gotta get the groceries. Start, come on, baby. Sorry I can’t give you a ride, but I’ve got a thing to … with my doing, and …
An imitation of the often-flustered and tongue-tied Woody Allen, the nebbishy comedian/actor/writer/director whose most famous films include Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1979), and Broadway Danny Rose (1984).
No, one long wail means “Giant Spider Warning.” Or is it a “Watch”? I keep forgetting. –Conditions are ripe for a giant spider.
Communities throughout the South and Midwest have a tornado warning system consisting of a siren that wails differently to indicate a “tornado watch,” “tornado warning,” or “tornado emergency,” depending on weather conditions.
You know, life is simple here at Grover’s Corner.
The Thornton Wilder play Our Town is set in the small town of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire; the play premiered in 1938 and was made into a motion picture starring William Holden and Martha Scott in 1940. Our Town uses a folksy “stage manager” as a narrator, who addresses the audience directly.
Joe Doakes. He wasn’t a very good driver. –He’s nursin’ a sick friend.
Joe Doakes is the name of the careless driver who faces a heavenly trial for his automotive misdeeds in the short “X Marks the Spot” in Show 210, King Dinosaur. His “guardian angel” presents his case in a deep New Jersey accent. Joe’s only defense: he was nursing a sick friend.
Hey, hey, hey, it’s Crazy Days in downtown Buffalo, everything must go, everything is marked down.
Crazy Days is a two-day event held every July in Buffalo, Minnesota, a small town 40 miles northwest of Minneapolis, when local businesses all hold sales.
“Okay, sister.” That was Mother Teresa.
Mother Teresa (1910-1997) was a Roman Catholic nun and the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, an order dedicated to helping the poor, particularly in India. She began working with the poor in Calcutta in 1948. In 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; she was canonized in 2016, 19 years after her death.
Dave’s a good friend.
A line from Show 201, Rocketship X-M.
That spider did take the mail. Oh, now they’ll never get their swimsuit issue.
Sports Illustrated has been publishing an annual edition of their magazine known as the “Swimsuit Issue” since 1964, featuring dozens of photos of models posing seductively in swimwear in various exotic locations. The first cover model was Babette March.
Tonight’s episode: We Are Gathered Here Today … to Die.
The NBC Mystery Movie was an umbrella title for a series of rotating TV shows that aired on Sunday nights. The original shows were Columbo, McMillan & Wife, and McCloud; others were added later. The series ran from 1971 to 1977. The titles of the episodes tended to be a common phrase with the final word or words replaced by “Murder” or “Die.”
[Imitating Gregory Peck.] Damien? Damien?
In the devil-sploitation film series The Omen, lead character Damien Thorn is portrayed as the son of Satan (and the Antichrist). In the first film, Damien’s father is played by Gregory Peck.
Now here in Grover’s Corner, we just love the folks on Maple Street.
See above note on Our Town. “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” is an episode from the first season of The Twilight Zone in which the residents of an average middle-class street become consumed with paranoia after losing power. They become convinced that an alien invasion is imminent and eventually turn on each other, with the fabled “twist” being that the electricity really was cut by aliens, who then sat back and watched the Earthlings destroy themselves.
Now, the Clams Casino is overcooked again.
Named after the Little Casino in Narragansett, Rhode Island, where it was developed in 1917, Clams Casino is an appetizer consisting of clams baked with breadcrumbs and bacon and served on the half shell. It is a common menu item in New England Italian restaurants.
Heh-heh, I love this. Ding-dong, Avon calling.
“[Doorbell ringing] Avon calling” was an advertising slogan for the direct-sales cosmetics company Avon from 1954 to 1967.
[Imitating Arnold Schwarzenegger.] The spider is made of liquid metal.
See above note on Terminator 2.
Industrial Light & Magic, you’ve done it again.
Industrial Light & Magic is the visual effects company founded by director George Lucas in 1975. Lucas wanted hands-on control for his upcoming project Star Wars, so he gathered some of the giants in the special effects field. Since then, they have provided visual effects for nearly 300 films and won dozens of awards, including 15 Oscars.
He’s pulling a Rockford on him.
The Rockford Files (1974-1980) was a TV series starring James Garner as private detective Jim Rockford. The action in the series often involved car chases, and one frequently repeated maneuver became known as a “Rockford”: a 180-degree turn, or J-turn, achieved by driving in reverse and then engaging the emergency brake to quickly spin the car.
Hey, look, it’s the Munsters’ house, 1313 Mockingbird Lane. –Lily!
See above notes on The Munsters and Lily Munster. 1313 Mockingbird Lane was the address of the gothic home where the Munsters lived. It was a set on the Universal backlot, originally built for the 1946 film So Goes My Love.
Jeepers, what time is it? Oh, no, I gotta hurry. I’m gonna miss She’s the Sheriff.
She’s the Sheriff was a short-lived (1987-1989) syndicated sitcom that starred Suzanne Somers, her first television role after walking out on the successful ABC sitcom Three’s Company. It came in at No. 44 on TV Guide’s 2002 list of the “50 Worst TV Shows of All Time.”
I can’t take it! Squalling babies, squalling women. It’s Cannery Row!
Cannery Row is a 1945 novel by John Steinbeck that revolves around the hardscrabble lives of people living and working among the sardine fisheries in Monterey, California, during the Depression.
Hello, Charles Schwab? Put everything in DDT.
Founded in 1971, the Charles Schwab Corporation is an American brokerage and banking company, based in San Francisco, California. DDT (an abbreviation for dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) is a chemical best known as an industrial insecticide. It was banned in the United States in 1972 due to concerns over its environmental impact.
Well, sun’s up over the yardarm, I’ve started drinking.
The expression “the sun is over the yardarm” is thought to have its origins in an officers’ custom aboard ships sailing in the north Atlantic, according to author Olivia Isil, an expert on nautical idiom. In those latitudes, the sun would rise above the upper yards—the horizontal spars mounted on the masts, from which square sails were hung—around 11 a.m. Since this coincided with the forenoon “stand easy,” officers would take advantage of the break to go below for their first tot of rum. The expression washed ashore, where the sun appears over the metaphorical yardarm a bit later in the day, generally after 5 p.m., at the end of the workday.
Hey, they brought in Snap, Crackle, and Pop.
Snap, Crackle, and Pop are the longtime advertising icons for Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal. In the 1950s, there briefly was a fourth mascot, Pow, who represented the “power of whole-grain rice.” He wore a space helmet.
[Imitating.] The spider is either missing or he’s dead.
Death Valley Days was a radio, and then a television anthology series, set in the Wild West, that ran from 1930 to 1975. Each episode was introduced by a host; from 1965 to 1966 that host was Ronald Reagan, his final work as a professional actor before entering politics. However, this recurring riff is actually a reference to a moment in the “Phantom Creeps” short in Show 205, Rocket Attack USA, when a character says, “The driver is gone or he’s hiding” in a very Ronald Reagan-like voice. Some fans came to believe that “The driver is either missing or he’s dead” was something that Ronald Reagan was actually known for saying. Not true.
It’s all part of this super keen adventure we’re having, just like the Goonies.
See above note.
Just like the Carlsbad Caverns. You can buy this shot in the gift shop.
See above note.
Yeah, kind of like Marriage Encounter, isn’t it?
Worldwide Marriage Encounter is a weekend retreat, led by a Roman Catholic priest, wherein couples seek to improve their marriage by strengthening their faith.
30 minutes or less, huh? I don’t think so.
Domino’s Pizza is a chain of pizza delivery stores located nationwide, founded in 1960. For 15 years, they offered the “30-Minute Guarantee,” stating that the pizza would arrive at the specified address within a half-hour or the pizza was free. After paying out nearly $18 million in lawsuits related to accidents caused by speeding Domino’s drivers, the guarantee was dropped.
[Imitating Barney Fife.] Gotta nip it in the bud.
An imitation of Don Knotts (1924-2006) as Barney Fife, the hapless deputy on The Andy Griffith Show, which aired from 1960 to 1968.
Snap, Crackle … check on it.
See above note.
Mortimer Snerd! –Oh, no!
Mortimer Snerd was a ventriloquist’s dummy, the slow-witted friend of wisecracking Charlie McCarthy. Both dummies were given voice by ventriloquist Edgar Bergen on his radio show The Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy Show. The show aired for two decades.
Here’s someone who can help you.
A line from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, spoken to Dorothy by the Scarecrow, signaling the arrival of Glinda, the Good Witch of the North.
It’s Walter Brennan.
Walter Brennan (1894-1974) was an American character actor best known for his work in westerns (such as the cantankerous deputy Stumpy in Rio Bravo). Brennan won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor three times.
Snap, Crackle … we’re going to Al’s happy hour.
See above note.
I love a parade.
“I Love a Parade” is a lively, fairly self-explanatory song composed in 1931 for the film Manhattan Parade by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler.
Well, I’m reading Redbook and, uh …
Redbook is a women’s magazine with articles on marriage, beauty, recipes, etc. It was so named, the founding editor said, because red was a cheerful, bright color.
Better get Bert I. Gordon on the phone and get those crappy special effects ready.
See above note on director Bert I. Gordon. Let no one forget the grasshopper falling off the picture of a building in another of his masterpieces, Show 517, Beginning of the End.
Jack Weston (1924-1996) was a heavyset character actor known for comedic roles. He played the resort owner in Dirty Dancing and an OCD dentist in The Four Seasons.
Don’t let it bring you down. It’s only castles burning.
“Don’t Let It Bring You Down” is a song by Neil Young. It appears on Young’s 1970 album After the Gold Rush. Sample lyrics: “Don’t let it bring you down/It’s only castles burning/Find someone who’s turning/And you will come around.”
It’s a Clark Bar.
Clark Bars are a type of candy bar, first sold in 1917. It has a milk chocolate outer layer over a crispy peanut-flavored toffee center. They were named after inventor David L. Clark. It was manufactured by Necco until 2018, the brand is now owned by Boyer Candy Company.
[Snarling spider noises.] Hey … did you just make a yummy noise?
A reference to a scene in the 1974 film Young Frankenstein, in which Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) and his assistants are having dinner when the monster first awakens in the basement lab. The monster makes a loud moaning sound, and Frankenstein says, “Oh, do you like it? I’m not partial to desserts myself, but this is excellent.” Igor (Marty Feldman) replies, “Who are you talking to?” Frankenstein then says, “To you. You just made a yummy sound, so I thought you liked the dessert.”
Convoy, with Kris Kristofferson and Ali MacGraw. Up next is Kenny Rogers in Six Pack. –Good movie.
Convoy is a 1978 action film that indeed stars Kris Kristofferson and Ali MacGraw. It is considered a prime example of the then-popular CB radio/trucker film genre, and was one of the last features directed by action film legend Sam Peckinpah. Six Pack is a 1982 comedy-drama film starring Kenny Rogers and Diane Lane, about a down-on-his-luck race car driver who becomes a reluctant father figure to a group of plucky orphans. Six of them, in fact.
[Sung.] We are the men of Texaco—the star!
Texaco is a brand of service stations that began in 1901 (the name being a holdover acronym for “The TEXAs COmpany”). The stations became particularly famous in the 1930s and ‘40s on radio and in the ‘40s and ‘50s on TV for the Texaco Star Theater, featuring many celebrities of the day. The theme song for Texaco Star Theater began with the line “Oh, we’re the men of Texaco …” In 1961 Texaco service stations debuted the advertising slogan “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star” (Texaco’s logo is a white star in a red circle). Chevron bought Texaco in 2001, and Texaco stations have been disappearing ever since.
A case of Chivas, good boy, good boy.
Chivas Regal is a market-leading 12-year-old blended scotch whisky, first produced by the Chivas Brothers, which was originally a grocery store and wine merchant in Aberdeen, Scotland.
Hey, I saw this in Beastmaster about sixty times on cable. –Right after Road House. –Oh, good movies.
The Beastmaster is a 1982 Conan the Barbarian-type movie featuring Marc Singer as a guy who put in a lot of time on the Nautilus. Singer played a warrior named Dar who could communicate with animals; the film spawned one theatrical and one made-for-TV sequel. It aired seemingly endlessly on HBO, TBS, and TNT. Road House is a 1989 movie starring Patrick Swayze as a bouncer in a dive bar; it was one of the MST3K writers’ favorites.
[Imitating Curly Howard.] Hey Moe! I’m stuck.
Curly Howard (1903-1952), born Jerome Lester “Jerry” Horwitz, was an American vaudeville performer and comic actor. He is best known as one of The Three Stooges, performing throughout the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s on stage and in many short films along with his older brothers, Moe Howard and Shemp Howard, and actor Larry Fine. Many consider Curly the best known and most imitated of The Three Stooges.
This guy must be Bert Gordon’s nephew or something. What a delivery.
That’s the aforementioned Mickey Finn, who played small parts in films and TV shows for nearly 20 years, mostly westerns. He does not appear to be related to Bert.
Who is that guy? He stinks like mummy meat.
Early mummies have very little scent, apart from a slight mustiness. Later mummies smell of the resin used to preserve them.
Big sweaty men working long hours to get the job done! Desperately in need of Aqua Velva.
Aqua Velva is a brand of men’s grooming products, including cologne and aftershave, that was introduced by the JB Williams Co. in 1917. In 2010 its traditional glass bottles were replaced with plastic, reportedly at customer request, although some customers complained about the switch and kept their old glass bottles on hand to use for refills
Stay off the moors!
In the 1981 comedy-horror film An American Werewolf in London, two American tourists are warned, more than once, “Stay on the road. Keep clear of the moors.”
Didn’t that belong to the drummer in Def Leppard?
Def Leppard is an enduring hard rock band first formed in 1977 in Sheffield, England. Their drummer, Rick “The Thunder God” Allen, lost his left arm in an auto accident in 1984. He continued to play with the band using a custom drum kit; they went on to achieve even greater worldwide popular success.
Looks like The Wall concert got out of hand.
The Wall is British rock band Pink Floyd’s eleventh album, released in 1979, containing their most famous song, “Another Brick in the Wall (Parts 1 & 2).” Live performances featured an enormous wall of cardboard bricks used as a projection screen and set piece for the concert. It was slowly built throughout the concert, then demolished at the end of each show. Between 2010 and 2013, founding member Roger Waters performed the album worldwide on his tour, The Wall Live. This show featured a much larger wall and higher quality visual content using leading-edge projection technology. Fellow Pink Floyd members David Gilmour and Nick Mason played at one show in London at The O2 Arena.
Got this dynamite from the coyote. Hope it doesn’t roll back up on me.
A reference to the Road Runner cartoon series created by animator Chuck Jones (1912-2002) for Warner Brothers. In the cartoons, Wile E. Coyote tried various elaborate schemes—often involving explosives—to catch and eat the speedy Road Runner, whose cheeky “Meep! Meep!” was usually the only dialogue. The Coyote’s schemes invariably backfired, often literally. In the 1958 short Hook, Line and Stinker, one of Coyote’s many attempts involves a bundle of dynamite unrolled and placed under an overpass, whereupon it promptly rolls back up to the Coyote’s hiding place without him noticing, and when he depresses the plunger—boom.
You have to be heard, understood, and pleasing. Use plenty of lip and tongue action.
A callback to the “Speech: Using Your Voice” short that began this episode.
Calvin Klein jeans.
Calvin Klein is a fashion designer who, along with a highly successful clothing line, also markets perfumes, linens, and underwear. Their jeans ads often feature oiled-up, shirtless guys (and sometimes gals). In the early 1990s that included a young Mark Wahlberg posing with a topless Kate Moss.
Oh, look, I got a Walleye, a couple of Northerns. Big lunkers, here.
Walleyes, northern pike, and lunker largemouth bass are types of fish native to the northern Midwest.
[Imitating Curly.] Nyaah-ahh ahh!
See above note on the Three Stooges.
[Imitating Doug Henning.] It’s a wonderland of enchantment and bemusement.
Doug Henning (1947-2000) was a longhaired, mustachioed Canadian magician/illusionist/escape artist and Transcendental Meditation (TM) proponent who first gained fame in the 1970s with a successful Broadway show, The Magic Show; he then became a regular figure on American television in the mid-1970s with his World of Magic specials, with all the bell-bottoms and rainbows that implies. His prominent overbite and reedy voice led to many parodies (notably by SNL’s Martin Short). At the end of each of his TV specials, he would tell the audience, “Anything the mind can conceive is possible. Nothing is impossible. All you have to do is look within, and you can realize your fondest dreams. I would like to wish each one of you all of life's wonders and a joyful age of enlightenment.” He retired from the stage in 1980 and died 20 years later at the age of 52, from liver cancer. Skeptic James Randi, a fellow magician and a friend of Henning’s, blamed his death on Henning’s devotion to TM, claiming that he had neglected standard medical treatment in favor of more “natural” cures.
Don’t trip! Noonan! Don’t trip! Noonan, Noonan, Noonan. Tickle tickle tickle. Don’t drop. Don’t TRIP! Don’t fall.
In the 1980 comedy film Caddyshack, protagonist Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe), a caddy at an upscale country club, is participating in a “caddy’s tournament” golf match. His fellow caddies, in a show of poor sportsmanship, attempt to force him to miss a putt by heckling him from the sidelines.
It’s either an ice cream castle or the biggest pipe organ ever. –Scenic Pipe Organ Rock.
A possible reference to the Great Stalacpipe Organ at the Luray Caverns in Virginia. Leland Sprinkle created the world's largest lithophone there in the 1950s using stalactites hit with mallets.
Now go do that Don Henley video and get out of here.
“The Boys of Summer” is a song by Don Henley, from his 1984 album Building the Perfect Beast. The video for the song, filmed in black-and-white French New Wave style, featured many shirtless men covered in sweat. The video won the 1985 MTV Music Video Awards for video of the year, best direction, art direction, and best cinematography.
All night long, plaque works on your teeth, eroding the … –Crest, Crest …
In the late 1970s and early ‘80s, Crest toothpaste ran a series of animated commercials that featured a group of superheroes living in Toothopolis, who used Crest toothpaste to defend it against the Cavity Creeps, grey, rocklike guys who chanted, “We make holes in teeth!” They were typically armed with power drills and pickaxes, but were easily defeated with toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Thank you, Yukon Cornelius.
Yukon Cornelius is a character from the 1964 animated Christmas special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. He is a prospector who dreams of striking it rich with gold or silver; in the end he winds up mining peppermint, although the peppermint mine scene was cut out in later airings. He was voiced by Larry D. Mann.
“See that I have plenty of slack—no telling how much I’ll need.” Everyone needs slack.
A reference to the parody religion the Church of the SubGenius and its “founder,” J.R. “Bob” Dobbs. According to its mythology, Dobbs was a well-coiffed, pipe-smoking salesman who saw a vision of God (an angry alien) in a television in 1953. In actuality, the “church” was founded in 1979 in Dallas, Texas, and took on a life of its own over the next couple of decades, thanks in large part to the rise of the Internet. According to Bob, what we all need is “Slack,” a loosely defined term that promises a life of ease and leisure.
It’s Bio Teacher on the go, wearing his Farah action slacks.
Farah slacks were a line of wrinkle-free bell-bottom trousers that became very popular in the late 1970s. They were prominently displayed in the opening sequence of the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever. “Action Slacks” is a brand name used by Levi’s for their men’s casual polyester slacks, which were discontinued in 2011.
C’mon, Eb. Okay, Mr. Douglas.
The TV sitcom Green Acres, which ran from 1965 to 1971 on CBS, starred Eddie Albert (1906-2005) and Eva Gabor (1919-1995) as Oliver and Lisa Douglas, former New York socialites trying to adapt to life on a broken-down farm near the rural town of Hooterville. Eb Dawson, a dimwitted farmhand who called Mr. Douglas “Dad,” was originally a recurring character played by Tom Lester; audience popularity made him a regular.
“Hey, Carol, it’s them!” Not Them! Not the big ants!
Them! is a surprisingly good B-movie from 1954 about giant radioactive ants trashing Los Angeles; it starred James Whitmore (1921-2009) and James “Gunsmoke” Arness (1923-2011). It was an early example of the “radiation-spawned big bug” movies, was nominated for a special effects Academy Award, and featured a brightly colored title sequence over an otherwise black and white film.
I’ll take Lucille. C’mon, honey, we’ve got some dancing to do.
A possible reference to the name blues legend B.B. King has given to all of his guitars, usually black Gibson ES-355s. The story goes that in the winter of 1949, a fight broke out one night when King was playing in a honky-tonk, knocking over the kerosene-filled barrel being used to heat the building and starting a fire. In the chaos of the evacuation, King left his beloved guitar behind and had to go back into the burning building to rescue it. Upon learning that the fight was over a woman named Lucille, he named every guitar he ever owned thereafter “Lucille,” as a reminder to never again do anything so stupid.
I’m Neptune, god of the ocean.
In the ancient Roman pantheon, Neptune (Greek equivalent: Poseidon) was the god of the sea. He was one of the ruling triumvirate that headed the gods, with the other two being Jupiter (the heavens) and Pluto (the underworld). He was usually depicted holding a trident, a three-pronged spear used for spear-fishing.
You’re existentialists on the precipice, man.
In Jean-Paul Sartre’s classic work of existential philosophy Being and Nothingness (1943), he discusses the familiar feeling of vertigo you get when you “stand at the edge of a precipice and look down.” Sartre famously argues that the feeling stems not from a fear of falling but from a fear that you might jump—that your real fear is of freedom, because in truth there is nothing preventing you from jumping, and nothing forcing you to jump. It is entirely up to you, and it is your anguish over your own free will, your fear of your own freedom, that causes the feeling we characterize as vertigo.
[Imitating Curly.] Nyah, ahh, ahh.
One of Curly Howard’s signature reaction sounds (see above note).
Early tanning beds.
A tanning bed is a coffin-like contraption that emits ultraviolet radiation to produce a tan, used for cosmetic purposes. Tanning beds have become less popular since the 1980s, since sun tanning and skin cancer began to be linked in people’s minds, but there are still more than 10,000 locations offering them in the United States alone.
Oh, oh, oh, this will cure his depression, you see.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), the procedure formerly known as electroshock therapy, is a psychiatric treatment that involves electrically inducing a seizure in an anesthetized patient. Just how it works remains a mystery, but the treatment has often proved effective in treating severe depression that does not respond to medication or other therapies.
Oh, he’s his dad. –It’s like Molière.
French playwright and actor Molière (b. Jean Baptiste Poquelin; 1622-1673) wrote some of the most enduring comedies of the French stage, including The Misanthrope and Tartuffe. This might be a reference to The Miser, in which the title character, Harpagon, competes with his own son for the hand of a young woman.
“Thanks, Jake.” And the Fatman.
See above note.
When in New Mexico, visit Carlsbad Caves. No bombs, we promise.
See above note on Carlsbad Caverns. The first detonation of an atomic bomb took place in the desert north of Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945. Alamogordo is about 100 miles from Carlsbad Caverns.
“THE END.” Or is it?
Adding “Or Is It?” (or just a question mark) to the “The End” title card was briefly in vogue for low-budget sci-fi and horror films in the 1950s and 1960s. Manos and The She Creature both used this.