523: Village of the Giants
by Wyn Hilty
[Sung.] Wild, wild rebels.
A reference to a host segment in Show 207, Wild Rebels.
Man, I love these BluBlockers.
BluBlockers are a brand of sunglasses that brag that they block UV and blue spectrum light rays. They were sold via an ‘80s infomercial starring Venice Beach rapper Dr. Geek, who died in 2014.
Oh, Madonna, what are you up to now?
Madonna is a pop singer and cultural icon, a woman whose skill at manipulating the media and outrageous lifestyle often overshadowed her music. She first rose to fame in the early 1980s with such hits as “Lucky Star” and “Material Girl.” Before long she had reinvented herself as a torchy platinum blonde, the first of many such transformations in her career. Other personas have included hippie, jock, and even children’s book author.
The extra E is for extra Levine.
The extra “e,” as devotees of Manhattan public access cable knew all too well, was for extra pee. This riff is a reference to an ad for a phone sex line for watersports enthusiasts that often ran on Channel J in New York in the 1980s. The name of the line was 976-PEEE: “The extra ‘e’ is for extra pee!”
This is everything Laugh-In could have been.
Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In was a comedy sketch show that ran from 1968-1973: fast-paced, scattershot jokes on a psychedelic set. The cast included Lily Tomlin and a young Goldie Hawn.
Could be based on Profiles in Courage.
Profiles in Courage is a book by then-Senator John F. Kennedy, about eight senators who performed acts of moral courage. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1957.
Oh, by Theodore Sorenson?
After the book came out, there were questions about whether Kennedy had actually written the book; one journalist named one of Kennedy’s research assistants, Theodore Sorenson, as the actual author. Both Kennedy and Sorenson initially denied the claim, but Sorenson finally confirmed it in his 2008 autobiography.
And just a hint of Toni Basil.
An imitation of TV chef and cookbook author Julia Child (1912-2004), who co-authored the classic cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She was commended in the 1960s for bringing rich, buttery French techniques to the average American household. Toni Basil is a singer, choreographer, and dancer who worked with the Talking Heads on their music videos and whose other films include American Graffiti, My Best Friend's Wedding, and Legally Blonde. As a singer, she is best known for the 1982 hit "Mickey."
Beau knows awkward dancing.
“Bo knows ...” was a catchphrase in a series of Nike TV commercials that ran in 1989 and 1990, in which pro baseball and football player Bo Jackson played various sports and famous athletes in each sport proclaimed, “Bo knows baseball,” “Bo knows football,” “Bo knows tennis,” etc. (Thanks to Sarah McKinney for this reference.)
Jack Nitzsche. That which does not kill you makes you more musical.
“Out of life’s school of war: what does not kill me makes me stronger” (sometimes rendered simply as “What does not kill me makes me stronger”) is a line from the 1889 book Twilight of the Idols by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900).
Pioneers in really big stuff.
Bert I. Gordon was dubbed “Mr. B.I.G.”—both for his initials and because he made so many films about giants, including Show 309, The Amazing Colossal Man, and its sequel, Show 319, War of the Colossal Beast.
So, guys, what stage of the Wonder Years do you think this is, anyway?
The Wonder Years was a TV series that aired from 1988-1993; it starred Fred Savage as a young boy growing up during the 1960s. On the show, Kevin Arnold, Savage’s character, was born in 1956. Village of the Giants came out in 1965, so Kevin would be nine years old right now.
Somehow this film is a metaphor for the Vietnam War.
The Vietnam War (1955-1975) was a clash between the government of South Vietnam and its United States ally against the communist government of North Vietnam, which was seeking to unite the country under its rule. The United States was drawn into the war as part of its Cold War effort to stave off “communist aggression” throughout the world. In this case it failed: after it finally pulled out in 1975, the North Vietnamese quickly overwhelmed the remaining South Vietnamese resistance. The conflict cost the U.S. billions of dollars, the credibility of the government in the eyes of its citizens (the term “credibility gap” stems from this era), and the lives of more than 50,000 Americans. Other films that have been suggested as Vietnam metaphors: Aliens, Predator, King Kong (1976 version), The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and The Bad News Bears. You heard me.
The rain pelted the hovercraft as it approached Torian 5.
An imitation of William Shatner as Captain Kirk on the TV series Star Trek (1966-1969), making an entry into his Captain’s log, which sounds way dirtier than it is.
Senator Kennedy, you all right?
Ted Kennedy (1932-2009) was a long-time senator from Massachusetts, one of the few old-school liberals in Congress. In 1969, he drove his Oldsmobile off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, drowning his passenger, a young woman named Mary Jo Kopechne. The senator did not report the accident for hours, and although his family connections protected him from any criminal repercussions, the scandal came close to ending his political career.
So, I guess Jesus was run down with a Thunderbird?
The Ford Thunderbird was a sports car manufactured for 50 years, starting with a two-seater convertible in 1955.
Oh, this is where Thelma and Louise landed.
Thelma & Louise is a 1991 film about two women who embark on a crime spree and bond a lot. At the end of the film (spoiler alert), they drive their car off a cliff rather than allow themselves to be captured by the police.
Acid rain is fun!
The link between acidic rain and pollution has been known since the mid-19th century, but the US government has taken steps to control it only since the 1980s.
You could learn a lot from a dummy.
“You could learn a lot from a dummy” was the longtime slogan of a pro-seatbelt ad campaign run by the U.S. Department of Transportation and starring Vince and Larry, the crash test dummies. The ads ran from 1985-1999.
Ever heard about turkeys in the rain?
As legend would have it, turkeys are so stupid that they look up into the sky when it rains and consequently drown. This is not true, although it is true that turkey chicks often die during storms—but from cold and exposure, not from drowning.
[Sung.] Here’s to good friends, tonight is kind of special …
A jingle for Lowenbrau beer that aired during the late 1970s/early 1980s. It was performed by jazz singer Arthur Prysock.
If it rains much more, it will turn into Sea Hunt.
A reference to the TV show Sea Hunt, which starred Lloyd Bridges as scuba diver Mike Nelson (hey!). It aired from 1958-1961. Lloyd Bridges is the father of Village of the Giants star Beau Bridges.
Hey, that’s the Monkey. –I thought it was the Jerk.
The Monkey and the Jerk were both part of the go-go dancing craze of the 1960s. There were dozens of variants of go-go dancing; in addition to the two mentioned here, there was the Mashed Potato, the Hand Jive, the Shimmy, and the Creep.
[Sung.] Woman … woman, woman, woman, woman, woman …
The Beau Brummels song "Woman," off their 1965 album The Beau Brummels, Volume 2, is playing on the soundtrack during this scene. The Beau Brummels, of course, is the band that plays at the club later in the film. Sample lyrics: "Woman/Woman/I don't think that you been fair/And you won't so I cry/And I die cause you don't even care." (Thanks to Fresh Step for identifying this song.)
If her pants were any tighter, they’d be behind her. Wow.
A take on Groucho Marx’s famous line from A Day at the Races: “If I hold you any closer, I’ll be in back of you!”
He’s contracted dance fever from Deney Terrio.
Dancer Deney Terrio was 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.
[Sung.] Mr. mojo risin’ …
A line from the 1971 Doors song “L.A. Woman.” Sample lyrics: “Mojo risin', gotta mojo risin'/Mr. Mojo Risin', gotta keep on risin' /Risin', risin' …”
Cameltoe is a slang term used to describe the appearance of female genitalia when pressed into extremely tight-fitting trousers. “Boy cameltoe” is sometimes called “moose knuckle.” You wanted to know that.
Mudhoney is a 1965 film directed by schlock-master Russ Meyer, about a man with a shady past who gets entangled in an unhappy family’s turmoil. That, and breasts. Large breasts.
Hey, Blatz! I love Blatz!
Blatz is a brand of beer brewed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Originally an independent brand, it is currently brewed by Miller.
I bet Beau still has nightmares about the making of this film.
This was one of Beau Bridges’ earliest roles. He went on to a respected acting career, with multiple Emmys and Golden Globes under his belt.
You’ll get the Pigskin Preview and also the Year in Sex.
A reference to two annual issues of Playboy magazine. (Thanks to Scot Penslar for correcting this reference.)
They’ll need All-Tempa-Cheer to get those pants clean.
All-Temperature Cheer (or All-Tempa-Cheer, as it was also known) is a brand of phosphate-free laundry detergent, although it is now called Cheer Colorguard. Ads in the 1980s often showed the detergent getting mud-splattered pants or shirts cleaner than clean.
Unreleased footage from The Piano.
The Piano is a 1993 film starring Holly Hunter as a woman who refuses to speak, and who communicates only through the music she plays on her piano.
A reference to Show 519, Outlaw of Gor, and a scene where the hero Cabot (Cabot, Cabot, Cabot, Cabot…) shakes his finger and invokes the name of the city in Gor where the action takes place. (Thanks to SuperDarknut for this reference.)
[Sung.] A summer place … summer place …
A line from the "Theme from A Summer Place." Percy Faith & His Orchestra recorded a famous instrumental version; The Lettermen did a popular one with lyrics. Sample lyrics: “There's a summer place/Where it may rain or storm/Yet I'm safe and warm/For within that summer place/Your arms reach out to me/And my heart is free from all care …”
Pretty nice system. That's a Thorens turntable with a Conrad-Johnson amp. Stasis class A.
Audiophile lingo. Thorens is a company that makes high-end turntables, while Conrad-Johnson makes amplifiers. Amps can be Class A, Class AB, Class C ... frankly, I couldn't understand a word of it. (Thanks to Joel Boutiere for this reference.)
Ozzie and Harriet after dark.
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet was a TV series that aired from 1952-1966, about the domestic difficulties of a deeply wholesome couple and their children.
This is Tommy Kirk really acting.
Tommy Kirk (1941-2021) started out as a child actor for Disney, with roles in high-profile films like Old Yeller and The Shaggy Dog. But when he was in his early twenties, Kirk was caught in a romantic relationship with a 15-year-old boy and Disney fired him. He drifted into B-movies like Village of the Giants and Catalina Caper, and eventually his drug use ended his acting career. Kirk came out publicly in 1973. (Thanks to Sarah McKinney for this reference.)
When Village of the Giants came out, Ron Howard had already been an actor for nine years and was in the middle of his long run on The Andy Griffith Show.
I hope that blows up in his face so I don’t have to see Willow.
Howard of course grew up to become a director of such films as the 1988 fantasy Willow, about a dwarf who has to protect a baby from the machinations of an evil queen.(Thanks to Ed Caudwell for this reference.)
Hey, I liked Willow!
See previous note. The film currently holds a “Rotten” rating of 48 percent on the Rotten Tomatoes website.
Oh, take me, you savage Mouseketeer.
The Mouseketeers were a group of children who starred on The Mickey Mouse Club (1955-1959). They wore T-shirts and Mickey Mouse ears. Several of the Mouseketeers went on to have show business careers, the most famous of whom is Annette Funicello. Tommy Kirk acted in several films for Disney as a child, but he was never a Mouseketeer. He did appear on The Mickey Mouse Club, though, playing Joe Hardy in the Hardy Boys serial that was part of the show in 1956 and 1957.
Oh, Aunt Bee, I can’t feel my legs, help me!
Aunt Beatrice “Bee” Taylor was Sheriff Andy Taylor’s aunt on The Andy Griffith Show, which aired from 1960-1968. The part was played by Frances Bavier. The Andy Griffith Show also starred a young Ron Howard as Opie Taylor, Andy’s son.
An imitation of Grandpa summoning Herman Munster on the TV sitcom The Munsters. The roles were played by Al Lewis and Fred Gwynne, respectively.
Honey, I shrunk the Opie.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is a 1989 film comedy starring Rick Moranis as an absent-minded scientist who accidentally miniaturizes his children. See note on Opie Taylor, above.
I blinded me with science!
A take on the Thomas Dolby song “She Blinded Me with Science.” The dramatic exclamations of “Science!” in the Thomas Dolby song “She Blinded Me with Science” were supplied by British scientist/media personality Magnus Pyke. Sample lyrics: “It's poetry in motion/She turned her tender eyes to me/As deep as any ocean/As sweet as any harmony/Mmm - but she blinded me with science/She blinded me with science!”
Suddenly I want to direct.
See note on Ron Howard, above. Howard first directed the 1977 film Grand Theft Auto, as part of a deal with Roger Corman; in exchange he starred in Eat My Dust!
I wonder what the king is doing tonight.
A line from the song of the same name, from the musical Camelot. Sample lyrics: “I wonder what the king is doing tonight?/What merriment is the king pursuing tonight?/The candles at the court, they never burned as bright/I wonder what the king is up to tonight?”
Mein fuhrer, I can walk! Arf!
A line from the 1964 film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. It is spoken by Peter Sellers in the title role as he rises dramatically from his wheelchair at the end of the film.
The 1957 novel Thomasina is about the love a young girl has for her cat, Thomasina. It was made into a Disney movie (The Three Lives of Thomasina) in 1963.
Oh, it’s a Peanut Opie Buster Parfait.
The Peanut Buster Parfait is a sundae served by the Dairy Queen chain of restaurants, consisting of soft-serve ice cream, peanuts, and fudge sauce. It boasts a whopping 710 calories. See note on Opie Taylor, above.
Scanners! Look out!
Scanners is a 1981 sci-fi/horror film in which intense staring led to exploded heads.
Oh, Puss in Boots.
"Puss in Boots" is a traditional folk tale known best in the 1697 version by Charles Perrault, about a clever cat who makes his young master’s fortune.
Up yours, Opie, I ain’t going.
See note on Opie Taylor, above. Opie Taylor may have been named after Opie Cates, a swing-era bandleader and radio actor.
He’d make a great lap cat for William Conrad.
William Conrad (1920-2004) was an actor known for his roles in such TV series as Cannon (1971-1976) and Jake and the Fatman (1987-1992).
“You know what? –What?” That’s what.
This was a popular playground joke during the 1970s.
The million dollar ducks.
The Million Dollar Duck is a 1971 Disney movie about an irradiated duck that lays eggs with golden yolks. Dean Jones, Sandy Duncan, and Joe Flynn star.
(Imitating) Hey, this isn’t kosher. I shouldn’t be eating this.
Possibly an imitation of the animated stork that is the spokes-cartoon for Vlasic Pickles. The stork’s voice is clearly an imitation of Groucho Marx, who, coincidentally, featured a toy duck on his long-running radio and TV game show You Bet Your Life; on the graphics for that show, Groucho was rendered as a cartoon duck. (Thanks to LilianaVonK for this reference.)
H.G. Wells’s Food of the Ducks.
Food of the Gods, which Village of the Giants is supposedly based on, is a novel by early science fiction writer H.G. Wells. It deals with the effects on society of a new kind of genetically engineered food that makes people, animals, and plants grow to huge proportions—basically a cautionary tale of scientists run amok.
Or Jim J. Bullock.
Jim J. Bullock is an actor best known for playing flamboyant neighbor Monroe Ficus on the TV sitcom Too Close for Comfort, which aired from 1980-1985. He also voiced Queer Duck for Showtime.
Go to the Dells. Ride the ducks.
Wisconsin Dells is a city in south central Wisconsin, popular as a Midwestern tourist destination. Often known as just “The Dells,” the place became divided in 1908 into the Upper and Lower Dells when Kilbourn Dam was constructed on the Wisconsin River. The Dells is home to numerous waterparks, go carts, miniature golf courses, regular golf courses, and a host of other icons of wholesome family fun. The Ducks are land/water tours in old adapted WWII amphibious vehicles. “Ever been to The Dells? Let’s ride the ducks” came in at #7 in The Fifty Most Obscure References in The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, referring to The Dells as “that paradise of water playlands, that miniature golf hot-bed…”
What sin could a duck commit in a single lifetime …
A reference to Show 309, The Amazing Colossal Man. It also sounds like an imitation of Daffy Duck from the Warner Bros. animated shorts.
See note on Willow, above.
See above reference to Show 519, Outlaw of Gor.
[Sung.] Wells Fargo wagon …
A line from the song “Wells Fargo Wagon,” from the musical The Music Man. In the 1962 movie version, the song is sung in part by Ron Howard. Sample lyrics: “O-ho the Wells Fargo Wagon is a-comin' down the street/Oh please let it be for me!/O-ho the Wells Fargo Wagon is a-comin' down the street/I wish, I wish I knew what it could be!” (Thanks to John Chivers for pointing out the Ron Howard reference.)
[Arpeggio on soundtrack.] Scarlatti?
Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) was an Italian composer known for his harpsichord sonatas. He composed more than 500 of them.
Oh, cool, Paris is burning.
Paris Is Burning is a 1990 documentary about the subculture of drag queens in New York City.
I tried soaking them out, and scrubbing them out …
In the old “ring around the collar” ads for Wisk detergent that ran for two decades, a frustrated housewife would lament her inability to remove the sweat stains from her husband’s shirts. The wording varied, but they would usually contain something like “I’ve tried soaking it out. I’ve tried scrubbing it out. Nothing works!”
Come on, guys, I wanna do my Andy Williams revue.
Andy Williams (1927-2012) was a pop singer who had a string of hits in the 1950s and 1960s, including “Moon River” and “Days of Wine and Roses.” He also hosted his own variety show, The Andy Williams Show, from 1962-1971.
Like my Orlon sweater?
Orlon is a synthetic fiber invented in 1941, initially as a replacement for wool. It is used in all kinds of textiles, including sweaters. It is manufactured by DuPont.
Does she have bionic hearing?
On the TV series The Bionic Woman, heroine Jaime Sommers (played by Lindsay Wagner) has enhanced hearing in her right ear, along with her strong right arm and legs.
The Beau Brummels!
Seen playing here, the Beau Brummels were most popular in the late ‘60s, although they reunited in the late ‘70s.
The Beau Bridges Brummels of Madison County!
The Bridges of Madison County is a novel by Robert James Waller about a brief affair between an itinerant photographer and a lonely housewife. It was made into a film starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep in 1995.
Play “Laugh Laugh”!
“Laugh, Laugh” was the Beau Brummels’ 1964 debut single and one of their most famous songs. Sample lyrics: “Laugh, laugh, I thought I’d die/It seemed so funny to me/Laugh, laugh, you met a guy/Who taught you how it feels to be/Lonely, oh so lonely ...” (Thanks to reader Michael Howe for this reference.)
Play "Woman Woman Woman Woman"!
See above note on "Woman."
Is that Animal from the Muppets in the front there?
Animal was the shaggy drummer on The Muppet Show, which aired from 1976-1981. He was performed by Frank Oz.
Hey, Keanu Reeves on bass.
Keanu Reeves has appeared in dozens of films over his career, but he is perhaps best known for playing Neo in The Matrix trilogy.
[Imitating.] I will go to Count Dracula.
In 1992, Keanu Reeves (see previous note) was hopelessly miscast as Jonathan Harker in Francis Ford Coppola’s film Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
[Sung.] Lucas McCain … that’s his kid …
Lucas McCain was the star of the TV western The Rifleman, which aired from 1958-1963. The part was played by Chuck Connors. His son, Mark McCain, was played by Johnny Crawford, who plays Horsey here.
Of course, the famous Whisky a Go Go … in Hainesville.
The Whisky a Go Go is a club in Los Angeles, California. It was the place to see and be seen in L.A. in the 1960s and is credited with inventing the concept of go-go dancers. It helped launch Johnny Rivers and the Doors, among other acts.
Good God! Step back! Kiss myself!
A line from the James Brown song “Super Bad.” Sample lyrics: “Sometimes I feel so nice, good Lord!/I jump back, I wanna kiss myself!/I've got soul, huh, and I'm super bad, hey!/I said I'm super bad …”
Kind of an Al Pacino look for him.
Al Pacino is one of the most respected leading men in Hollywood, known for his roles in such classic films as The Godfather and Serpico.
Hey, Suzanne Somers.
The blond Suzanne Somers is an actress best known for her role as Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company, a part she played from 1977-1981. She has also appeared in a number of other films and TV series, including She’s the Sheriff and Step by Step.
Which one’s Beau? –Which one’s Brummel?
The Beau Brummels were named after a Regency-era English dandy, known for his immaculate, elegant clothes. Beau Brummell (two “Ls”) set the standard for British fashion for years.
Your USC Trojans!
The University of Southern California football team has been called the Trojans since 1912; before that they were known as the Cardinals and the Methodists.
Oh, I thought the Fugs were gonna be here.
The Fugs are a rock band formed in 1965; they were central players in the anti-war movement of the 1960s. (Thanks to Michael Howe for this reference.)
Hey, it’s Christian sensation Grant Goodeve.
Grant Goodeve is an actor best known for playing the oldest son on the TV series Eight Is Enough; he has also appeared on Northern Exposure and acts as the host for several TV series. In 1996 he released an album of Christian music, The Wonder of It All.
Hey, isn’t that the Asian performance artist who broke up the Beau Brummels?
Yoko Ono is a Japanese conceptual artist known for her atonal and highly experimental music. She is also known, perhaps unfairly, as the woman who broke up the Beatles, due to her influence on her husband, John Lennon, with whom she released a number of albums.
Hey, look in back—it’s a picture of the Master and his wife.
A reference to Show 424, Manos, The Hands of Fate.
That is most dubious, dude.
An imitation of Keanu Reeves (see above note) in his role as uber-stoner Ted Logan in the films Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989), Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991), and the first season of the spinoff animated TV series, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures (1990-1991). A second season followed with an all-new cast taking over the voice roles; there was also a live-action 1992 TV series by the same name that starred Evan Richards as Bill and Christopher Kennedy as Ted. (Richards and Kennedy had played Bill and Ted on season two of the animated show as well.)
Obviously the turtle Gamera can’t be far behind.
Gamera was a giant, fire-breathing turtle that starred in a series of Japanese monster movies. MST3K did several Gamera movies, first for KTMA and later for Comedy Central, including Show 304, Gamera vs. Barugon, and Show 308, Gamera vs. Gaos.
Hey, shake it, Lady Di!
Lady Di was the affectionate nickname for Lady Diana Spencer (1961-1997), who became Princess Di when she married England’s Prince Charles.
Howard the Duck behind the green door.
Howard the Duck is a Marvel Comics character, created by Steve Gerber in the 1970s. Behind the Green Door is a 1972 film, one of the early porno masterpieces of the 1970s. It starred Marilyn Chambers. (Thanks to Michael Howe for the Howard the Duck reference.)
You know, as in tune as Bert I. was with the ‘50s, he just didn’t get the ‘60s.
Bert I. Gordon (1922-2023) continued making films into the 1970s and ‘80s; after a long hiatus, he directed Secrets of a Psychopath in 2014, at the age of 92.
Strings. You can see the strings. Call the SPCA.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is an animal welfare organization founded in 1866 to investigate cases of animal cruelty, assist in disaster relief (as in Hurricane Katrina), operate animal shelters, and engage in education and advocacy on the animals' behalf. It is well known for monitoring movie sets to make sure no animals are harmed during filming.
I’d offer to help, but the no thumbs thing gets in the way, Opie.
See note on Opie Taylor, above. The other possible namesake for Opie Taylor is Opie Shelton, an Atlanta businessman who was a childhood friend of Andy Griffith.
Oh, what to do about Clint.
Clint Howard, brother of Ron Howard, is an actor who has appeared in such films as Apollo 13 (1995) and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997). He also got his start as a child actor, appearing on TV shows such as Gentle Ben and Star Trek. See note on Ron Howard, above.
Darkman is a 1990 film starring Liam Neeson as a horribly scarred scientist bent on revenge.
Look at him, the little kid plotting against us with Willow.
See note on Willow, above. The film came out to mixed reviews, and while it made a profit, it was not the huge hit the studio had anticipated.
I liked Willow!
It has become a bit of a cult film on DVD in the years since, however.
Kevin Pollak? You liked that?
Kevin Pollak is an actor who has appeared in more than 50 films, including Grumpy Old Men and The Usual Suspects. He played Rool, one of the comic-relief brownies, in Willow (see above note).
Charlie, they took my thumbs, Charlie.
A paraphrase of a line in the 1984 film The Pope of Greenwich Village. Actual line: “Charlie, they took my thumb!”
The Ope of Greenwich Village.
See previous note.
Back and to the left.
A line from the 1991 film JFK, about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In the movie, DA Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) repeatedly plays the famous Zapruder film for a jury, rewinding it and repeating, “Back and to the left,” to indicate that Kennedy’s head is not moving in the direction one would expect if Lee Harvey Oswald had shot him from the Book Depository.
And it’s time to collect for the Will Rogers Institute.
The Will Rogers Institute is a national health organization that supports research on pulmonary diseases. It is named after actor and folksy humorist Will Rogers.
[Sung.] Cherish is the word I use to describe …
A line from the 1966 song “Cherish” by the Association. Sample lyrics: “Cherish is the word I use to describe/All the feeling that I have hiding here for you inside/You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I had told you/You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I could hold you …”
An imitation of Manuel (Andrew Sachs), the Spanish waiter at the titular hotel in Fawlty Towers, a classic British sitcom from the 1970s.
[Imitating Bogart.] Of all the discotheques in the world, why did she have to come in here?
A variation on Bogey’s classic line from the 1942 film Casablanca: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”
Glad to see Satan’s art is on sale.
Satan (a.k.a. the Devil) is the personification of evil, primarily featuring in Christian and Islamic traditions. He is most often described as a “fallen angel” of God, though his initial job seems to have been as a prosecutor of sorts, sent to test men’s faith.
Wait up, Nell.
Nell Fenwick was Dudley Do-Right’s putative love interest on the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, and later on his own show.(Thanks to Michael Howe for this reference.)
“What is it, some sort of vitamin?” Is it known for its work in the theater?
A common question asked on the final round of the TV game show What’s My Line?, in which a panel of celebrities would try to guess the identity of a “mystery guest.”
Frank ‘N Stuff. See, you take a hot dog and you cram chili …
Frank ‘N Stuffs were a brand of hot dog filled with Hormel chili (or sometimes cheese). They were advertised with a mad scientist mascot during the 1980s. (Thanks to Michael Howe for this reference.)
Hey, look, Danno!
Detective Danny Williams (played by James MacArthur) was the sidekick on the 1970s TV series Hawaii Five-O. “Book ‘em, Danno” was a catchphrase on the show.
Pull forward, pull forward. Contact light. Engine stop.
A paraphrase of astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s dialogue during Apollo 11’s descent to the lunar surface on July 20, 1969.
I could introduce you to my brother Jeff.
Jeff Bridges is an actor and the younger brother (by eight years) of Village of the Giants star Beau Bridges. He has appeared in such films as The Big Lebowski and The Fisher King.
It’s Alan Arkin!
Alan Arkin is an actor who has appeared in more than 75 movies and TV shows in his career, including Wait Until Dark and Catch-22. Known mostly for comedies, he earned an Oscar nomination for his role as a solitary deaf-mute in a small town in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.
[Imitating.] What am I doing, dancing here? I don’t know, dancing …
An imitation of Alan Arkin (See previous note. Thanks to M Mills for this reference.)
Hi, I’m the adult child of an alcoholic and I’ve got great big eyes.
The Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) support movement was founded in the mid-1980s by Dr. Janet Woilitz; it is a 12-step program similar to AA.
The naked corpse of Paul Prudhomme gets roasted on a stick.
Paul Prudhomme (1940-2015) was a Cajun chef, the owner of K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans and purveyor of a line of seasonings. He was a tad on the large side.
I dreamed I was standing by a big dead duck in my underwear.
“I dreamed I was ____ in my Maidenform bra” was the tagline for a series of print ads for Maidenform underwear. It ran from 1949-1969.
It’s Agnes Moorehead holding a bunch of balloons.
Agnes Moorehead (1900-1974) was an actress who appeared in a string of classic movies during the 1940s and 1950s, but she is best remembered by the TV generation as the red-headed Endora, Darrin Stephens’ witch of a mother-in-law on the TV series Bewitched.
Look, I know you’re fond of The Rifleman, but take the hat off. It doesn’t work anymore.
See note on The Rifleman, above. Crawford was also one of the original Mouseketeers before he was cast on The Rifleman.
A take on the famous line from Bride of Frankenstein (1935): “She’s alive! Alive!” (Thanks to Michael Howe for this reference.)
Hey, Mare …
An imitation of Valerie Harper in her role as Rhoda Morgenstern in The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS, 1970-1977) and her own spinoff series, Rhoda (CBS, 1974-1978). She often wore a bandana.
You mean we’re having history instead of potatoes? Mmmm.
An old advertising campaign for Stove Top Stuffing urged homemakers to serve “Stove Top Stuffing instead of potatoes.”
[Sung.] Opie Opie Opie Opie Opie Opie …
See note on Opie Taylor, above. This is being sung to the Wicked Witch’s theme from The Wizard of Oz.
Jell-O 1-2-3, sold from 1969-1996, separated into three distinct layers as it cooled: Jell-O on the bottom, a mousse-ish middle, and a creamy top.
A reference to Show 504, Secret Agent Super Dragon and a scene where Super Dragon addresses his secretary, “Comfort,” as she is sitting poolside in a swimsuit. (Thanks to sleepyhollow783 for this reference.)
And I didn't steal no bike neither.
A reference to Show 514, Teenage Strangler.
“Why don’t we …” Do it in the road.
A reference to the 1968 Beatles song “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” Sample lyrics: “Why don't we do it in the road?/Why don't we do it in the road?/Why don't we do it in the road?/Why don't we do it in the road?/No one will be watching us/Why don't we do it in the road?”
Wow. Opie shoots, he scores.
See note on Opie Taylor, above. The phrase "He shoots, he scores!" was coined by Canadian sports radio broadcaster Foster Hewitt (1902-1985), who did play-by-play for hockey in Canada for 40 years.
[Sung.] It’s been a hard day’s night …
A line from the Beatles song “A Hard Day’s Night,” from the 1964 album of the same name. Sample lyrics: “It's been a hard day's night, and I been working like a dog/It's been a hard day's night, I should be sleeping like a log/But when I get home to you/I'll find the things that you do/Will make me feel all right …”
Ziggy Stardust was a stage persona created by musician David Bowie during his glam rock years. He was the protagonist in Bowie’s 1972 concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
Get off my land, you dang smoochers!
A reference to Show 418, Attack of the Eye Creatures.
I liked Willow.
Roger Ebert didn’t, calling it “turgid and relentlessly predictable.” 2½ stars. See note on Willow, above.
In 1985, world champion gymnast Kurt Thomas made an enjoyably bad B-movie called Gymkata, in which he goes to a country called Parmistan to fight the bad guys for his country. Fortunately, there's a lot of gymnastics equipment lying around in alleys and open fields that he can use.
Strong enough for a spider but made for a woman.
A variation on Secret deodorant's long-running slogan "Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman." (Thanks to Sarah McKinney for this reference.)
Wow, this is almost MacGyveresque.
MacGyver was a TV series that aired from 1985-1992. It starred Richard Dean Anderson in the title role as a secret agent who always managed to rig up a scientific gizmo to get himself out of whatever predicament he was in.
Ah, pure I. Gordon.
Other Bert I. Gordon films featuring hugeness: Beginning of the End, The Spider, Empire of the Ants.
You killed him. You killed the spider.
An imitation of the captain of the Winkie Guard at the end of The Wizard of Oz, after Dorothy melts the Wicked Witch.
“I like the pool better.” So we’ve heard.
Tommy Kirk was fired personally by Walt Disney after the mother of the teenage boy Kirk was seeing complained (see above note). Kirk had met the boy at a local swimming pool.
I reject Tommy Kirk and all his works.
“I renounce Satan and all his works” is part of the vows for adult baptismal candidates in the Catholic Church.
You know, I heard he's on the Windowpane.
Windowpane (also called “Clearlight”) is a variety of LSD in which the drug is dissolved in a tiny square of gelatin. (Thanks to Sarah McKinney for this reference.)
The Johnson teen door. So your teen can get in and out easily.
Johnson Pet Doors are a popular brand of doggie and cat door available widely in the United States, made since 1952.
The Ventures are down here somewhere.
The Ventures were a rock instrumental group popular in the United States during the 1960s and in Europe and Japan during the 1970s and 1980s. They were known for their heavy use of guitars in such songs as “Walk, Don’t Run” and the theme to Hawaii Five-O.
Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.
A line from the song “Signs” by the Five Man Electrical Band, released in 1970. Tesla recorded a popular cover of the song in 1990. Sample lyrics: “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign/Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind/Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?” (Thanks to Sarah McKinney for this reference.)
He is so close to being Billy Mumy.
Bill (sometimes credited as Billy) Mumy got his start as a child actor. His most famous roles are as the creepy kid who can read minds on The Twilight Zone and as Will Robinson on the TV series Lost in Space, which aired from 1965-1968.
"Mary Ann." [Sung.] The professor too.
A reference to the theme song to Gilligan’s Island, a sitcom that aired on CBS from 1964 to 1967. Starring Bob Denver in the title role, it was about a group of people stranded on a desert island who tried to escape using coconut-based electronics and bamboo contraptions. In the years after the show was cancelled, it became more popular in syndication, leading to two animated series, three reunion TV movies, and a short-lived musical. Each of the characters is introduced in the show’s opening theme song, with “the Professor and Mary Ann …” tacked on at the very end. They were “tacked on” because in the original theme song, which was used for the first season, the Professor and Mary Ann were famously not mentioned by name—the song ended with “… and the rest.” (In MST3K: The Movie, when Russell “The Professor” Johnson makes his first appearance in This Island Earth, Mike says, “What’s this ‘and the rest’ crap?”) (Thanks to Michael Howe for this reference.)
This part is very true to the H.G. Wells book.
See note on Food of the Gods, above.
Yep, Chuck Connors pretty much said I was the best kid actor alive ever.
Chuck Connors played Lucas McCain on The Rifleman (see above note).
[Sung.] Love, love, love!
This is from the theme song to the TV anthology show Love, American Style, which aired from 1969-1974. The credit sequence featured a background of exploding fireworks.
[Sung.] On a star-spangled night …
Another line from the theme song to Love, American Style.
[Sung.] It’s a star, a star, shining in the …
A paraphrase of a line from the 1962 Christmas song “Do You Hear What I Hear,” written at the height of the Cuban missile crisis. Actual lyrics: ‘Do you see what I see/A star, a star, dancing in the night/With a tail as big as a kite/With a tail as big as a kite …”
[Sung.] Theme from The Mod Squad.
A bit of the theme music from The Mod Squad, which played over an opening sequence that featured the principal characters running breathlessly through a dark, rain-soaked alleyway. The Mod Squad was a TV police drama that aired from 1968-1973 on ABC: the story of three young, groovy troublemakers recruited by the police to help solve crimes by going undercover into situations where the hopelessly square cops could never venture. The show seems laughably dated today but was innovative in its time; it portrayed a Black character on equal terms with his white counterparts and addressed controversial social issues such as abortion, war protests, and racism.
Come on, surrender the pink, come on …
Surrender the Pink is a semi-autobiographical romance novel by actress (Princess Leia) and author Carrie Fisher (1956-2016). Published in 1990, the story is roughly based on her short marriage to singer/songwriter Paul Simon.
It’s just fruit fly medium.
Fruit fly medium is the medium used to raise fruit flies, which are used in many experiments. Ingredients vary, but can include yeast, sugar, instant potato mix, or mashed bananas.
This guy went to Peter Breck acting school.
Peter Breck played the psychotic Mooney in Show 415, The Beatniks.
Put a shell on him, 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 several animated TV series, video games, and live-action movies.
“And then there was light.” Hmmm … I thought God would dress better.
From Genesis 1:3 in the Bible: “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.”
I know, let’s do a production of Our Town.
Our Town is a play by Thornton Wilder about life in the small town of Grover’s Corners.
The reader’s theater version of Noises Off.
Noises Off is a play by Michael Frayn about a theater troupe trying desperately to stage a play but being constantly undermined by the chaos behind the scenes. It was made into a movie in 1992.
Are you trying to prove something?
An imitation of actor Jimmy Stewart.
[Whispered.] He’s been eating the spice ... –The spice … –The spice …
In the Dune series of science-fiction novels by Frank Herbert, and the 1984 film based on them, a drug called melange, or “the spice,” is a key part of the story. Long-term users of the spice develop a “blue-on-blue” eye color.
[Imitating Breck.] I’m gonna moon you, man!
Another imitation of Mooney from The Beatniks.
I usually have it on a RyKrisp.
RyKrisps were lightly salted, baked rye crackers made in Minneapolis; the factory closed in 2015.
[Sung.] Figurines does a lady proud/It’s the diet lunch that you can crunch out loud …
An ad jingle used to market Figurines diet bars, the SlimFast bars of the 1970s.
It’s tasty and it makes me tan and stuff.
A reference to the old Bactine commercial: “It’s hot and it hurts and stuff.”
The Maidenformless woman: you never know where she’ll turn up.
“The Maidenform woman. You never know where she’ll turn up” was the tagline for a series of advertisements for Maidenform bras that ran during the 1970s. The campaign was phenomenally successful, boosting sales by as much as 200 percent. The ads continued to run until the mid-1980s.
The ravaging effects of Osgood-Schlatter disease.
Osgood-Schlatter disease is a condition that affects adolescents, particularly boys going through a growth spurt. It causes pain in the knee and usually resolves itself as the child stops growing.
Beau knows acting.
See above note on “Bo knows …”
Now he’s the Brawny paper towel guy.
The Brawny lumberjack is a well-known advertising icon who appears on rolls of Brawny paper towels. He was first introduced in 1974 and has undergone a number of changes since then.
The first thing we do is get ourselves to a Lane Bryant.
Lane Bryant is a chain of women’s clothing stores specializing in plus sizes.
A reference to Show 506, Eegah!
Pons and Opie.
See note on Opie Taylor, above. American electrochemist Bobby Stanley Pons, along with Martin Fleischmann, announced an experimental production of cold fusion in 1989. After a brief flurry of public acclaim, other scientists were unable to reproduce the same results, and Pons and Fleischmann’s “discovery” was shelved as incomplete and inaccurate. (Thanks to Percy Gryce for this reference.)
He tampered in God’s domain.
A reference to Show 423, Bride of the Monster.
Aunt Bee’s got diabetes.
See note on Aunt Bee, above. She was known for her fabulous cooking: fried chicken, biscuits, pecan pie … just don’t eat her pickles.
Hey, it’s Up With People.
Up With People is an extremely upbeat and wholesome touring musical act that sprang from the Moral Re-Armament movement of the 1960s. Moral Re-Armament actually began in 1938, during the military buildup to World War II. Religious leaders argued that war was not the answer—only a moral and spiritual awakening could save humanity, brought about through religious works and interfaith efforts. It still exists, under the name Initiatives of Change.
This is David Duke’s dream.
David Duke is a white supremacist and former leader of the Ku Klux Klan who was active in Louisiana politics in the early 1990s; while he managed a single term as a state representative, he made one unsuccessful try for the U.S. Senate and another, equally unsuccessful try for governor of the state. In 2002 he was sentenced to fifteen months in federal prison on charges of mail and tax fraud. He made another try for the U.S. Senate in 2016, with renewed attention on him thanks to Donald Trump's presidential campaign; he received 3 percent of the vote, coming in seventh.
Giants look pretty good this year, huh?
The New York Giants are a pro football team. In 1965 they were 7-7; the next year they held the league’s worst record: 1-12-1.
Hey, where’s Waldo?
Where’s Waldo? is a series of children’s picture books that ask the reader to find Waldo, a fellow clad in a striped shirt and hiking gear, among an enormous crowd of people. Waldo is called Wally in the original British versions. In Germany he’s Walter; in Norway, he’s Willy; and in France, he’s Charlie.
The giant hinders are approaching the city.
A reference to Show 517, Beginning of the End, another Bert I. Gordon classic about giant grasshoppers invading Chicago.
So there was Ecstasy in the Jell-O stuff?
Ecstasy, known by its more formal name as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), is an illegal drug that can make its users feel euphoric. Jell-O is a sweetened gelatin dessert made by Kraft Foods.
Go have a fling with the Happy Chef.
Happy Chef is a casual family restaurant in Mankato, Minnesota, with a 36-foot statue of a smiling chef out front. At one point Happy Chef was a chain with 56 locations in seven states; now there is just one remaining, the original Mankato location that opened in 1963.
Just think: now that girl looks like leather, smells like Marlboros and Giorgio, and makes her grandchildren call her by her first name.
Her name’s Joy Harmon; she actually went on to found a wholesale baking company in Burbank with her kids called Aunt Joy’s Cakes. Pretty cool. Marlboro is a brand of cigarettes manufactured by Philip Morris. According to the FragranceWholesale.com Web site, Giorgio perfume, manufactured by Giorgio of Beverly Hills, is “a romantic, sharp, floral fragrance” that “possesses a blend of rose, gardenia, sandalwood, orange flower, jasmine, carnation, lily of the valley and hyacinth.”
Don’t hate me ‘cause I’m giant.
Actress Kelly LeBrock made an infamous ad for Pantene shampoo in the 1980s in which she uttered the deathless line “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”
How come Glenn Manning wasn’t this much fun?
A reference to the gigantic, mopey soldier in Show 309, The Amazing Colossal Man—another Bert I. Gordon classic.
Urban Cowboy is a 1980 film starring John Travolta as an oil worker who frequents a Houston honkytonk bar.
I’ll harm you!
This is the line uttered by comedian Joe Besser (1907-1988) in his persona of Oswald "Stinky" Davis, a bratty character he portrayed on The Abbott and Costello Show (1952-1953).
How very Animal Farmesque.
Animal Farm is a novel by George Orwell that is an allegory for the Communist Revolution in Russia. Set on a farm, the book follows a revolution against the human farmers spearheaded by the pigs. The novel coined the classic line “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”
“That guy’s a lousy rebel.” And he’ll never ever be any good.
A line from the song “He’s a Rebel.” Producer Phil Spector, eager to rush out a cover of the song, had girl group The Blossoms record the track while the Crystals were on tour and released it under the Crystals’ name. Sample lyrics: “He’s a rebel and he’ll never ever be any good/He’s a rebel and he’ll never ever be understood/And just because he doesn’t do what everybody else does/That’s no reason why I can’t give him all my love.”
Oh, no, Glenn Super’s here.
Glenn Super (1951-2001) was a standup comedian known as “Mr. Bullhorn” for his tendency to use said implement to emphasize his punch lines. He passed away in 2001 of prostate cancer at the age of 50.
Okay, show of hands. Who wet ‘em? –I wet mine and yours, sir.
A riff on a line from a Monty Python sketch: “The Visitors” in Season 1, Episode 9, which aired in December 1969 (actual line: “Oooo, I’ve wet ‘em!”). The sketch features Eric Idle’s character Mr. Cheeky, a.k.a. “Mr. Nudge,” from the beloved “Nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more, Squire!” sketch.
Tonight, right here on our stage, a really big show, big big big big big show …
An imitation of Ed Sullivan, the host of The Ed Sullivan Show, which aired from 1948-1971.
They wanted to do Little Women—but they can’t!
Little Women is a novel by Louisa May Alcott that was first published in 1868-69. It tells the story of four young girls who grow into women over the course of the novel. It has been adapted into play and movie form numerous times.
We’ll probably get drafted by the Cavs.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are a professional basketball team, which first began playing in 1970.
[Sung.] We hate you, Conrad/Oh yes we do …
A reference to the song “Normal American Boy” from the musical Bye Bye Birdie. Sample lyrics: “We love you Conrad/Oh yes we do/We love you Conrad/And will be true!/When you're not near us/We're blue!/Oh, Conrad, we love you ...”
“What is happening?” [Sung.] “What’s Happening theme song.” Hi, Raj.
This is the theme song to the 1970s TV sitcom What’s Happening!!, composed by Henry Mancini. Roger "Raj" Thomas, played by Ernest Thomas, was the main character, a teenage boy living with his mom and his sister in Watts who wanted to be a writer.
The Humunga-changa was a chimichanga served at Chi-Chi’s Mexican restaurants in the 1990s.
Thank you, honey, and men.
A riff on a line from the 1974 album Everything You Know Is Wrong by surrealistic comedy troupe Firesign Theatre. The album is a bizarre satire of UFOlogy, and at one point an Army general, his wife, and two subordinates are being served breakfast. After getting his two sunny-side up eggs, the general says: “Honey, and men, I have something awesome to reveal to you. Two flying saucers have just landed on my plate.”
“What about my eggs, dear?”
“They’re in … everybody’s eggs.”
World’s biggest Cub Scout.
Cub Scouts are proto Boy Scouts; the program is aimed at young boys in elementary school.
She was watching that stupid Barney show. God, I hate ...
Barney the big purple dinosaur is a staple of kiddie programming, much to the dismay of many parents. His kids’ show, Barney and Friends, has aired on PBS since 1992.
Sorry, honey, needs of the many and all.
In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Spock sacrifices himself to save the lives of everyone on board the Enterprise, and explains his actions by saying, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few … or the one.”
“Go ahead, sheriff. Use your gun. Cut me down.” Make her day.
“Go ahead. Make my day” is the classic line uttered by renegade cop Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood). It was only used in Sudden Impact (1983), the fourth of five films in the series.
Can we not play bombardment? You guys have the advantage.
Bombardment is a sadomasochistic favorite of gym coaches that consists of splitting the class into two teams and arming each with a bunch of hard red rubber balls that the kids then fling at each other. If a kid is hit, he’s out; if he catches the ball that’s thrown at him, the kid who threw it is out. Basically, dodgeball on steroids.
Okay, we want huge Underoos, gigantic flush toilets, and a four-day workweek.
Underoos were a brand of children’s underwear produced by Fruit of the Loom and featuring various licensed designs ranging from Batman and Superman to the Dukes of Hazzard. They were first marketed in 1978.
“You all have freedom of speech, just as long as we approve of what you say.” The young Jesse Helms.
Jesse Helms (1921-2008) was an ultraconservative senator from North Carolina who was immensely influential on U.S. foreign policy. First elected to the Senate in 1972, he tried to get an abortion ban into the Constitution, fought to institute school prayer, filibustered the Voting Rights Act, railed against homosexuals, and once tried to make Carol Moseley Braun, the first Black female senator, cry by singing “Dixie.” (He failed.) In 1989 he led the fight against the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) over the controversial photograph Piss Christ.
It’s the little mermaid of Copenhagen.
The statue of the Little Mermaid, designed after the classic fairy tale, is one of the main tourist attractions in Copenhagen. It sits on a boulder just offshore in the city’s main harbor. The statue has suffered significant damage from vandals over the years, unfortunately, so it’s not always available for viewing.
If you could just hear me, I’m reading you the riot act.
In 18th-century England, there was a real Riot Act, and authorities had to actually read a proclamation from it, out loud, before they could order crowds to disperse.
And some hot rollers.
Hot rollers are a hairstyling device that consists of hair curlers that are heated individually and retain the heat while styling hair.
Hey, you know, Ron must have gotten directing tips from Bert I.
See note on Ron Howard, above. Ron Howard has been nominated twice for Best Director Oscars, and won once, for A Beautiful Mind.
That’s why he made Willow.
He was not nominated for Willow. See note on Willow, above.
Hey, I liked Willow!
Willow did get Oscar nominations for Sound Editing and Visual Effects, but lost to Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Cthulhu is a monster invented by horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. It is described as a sort of octopus/dragon creature. (Lovecraft liked keeping things vague.)
It’s going into Charles Bukowski’s sink.
Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) was a Los Angeles poet and novelist who specialized in tales of alcoholics, gamblers, hookers, and similarly down-on-their-luck folk.
See note on Willow, above. Two characters in Willow were named after film critics: the evil General Kael, and the two-headed dragon Sispert.
Opie’s first martini.
See note on Opie Taylor, above. Martinis are a genre of alcoholic cocktail made with gin (or sometimes vodka) and vermouth and usually garnished with olives or lemon rind. They were first served in the late 1800s.
Should a boy offer a dog a martini?
“Should a gentleman offer a lady a Tiparillo?” was an old advertising slogan for Tiparillo cigarettes back in the 1960s.
The NRA nightmare.
The National Rifle Association, or NRA, is a national organization dedicated to promoting gun ownership. It is a powerful lobbying organization, successfully and fiercely resisting any and all gun control measures. Until the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, the NRA was largely an organization for sportsmen. The “gun grabber” rhetoric only emerged in the past few decades.
Hey, an article by William Safire.
William Safire (1929-2009) was a conservative commentator and newspaper columnist whose columns appeared in The New York Times and many other papers.
Must be classic Coke.
In 1985, the Coca-Cola Company decided to tinker with its secret formula, introducing so-called “New Coke.” It was met with a huge public outcry, and within three months the company relented and began selling its original recipe again, this time under the name “Classic Coke.”
“We’ve got to get us a hostage of our own.” Terry Anderson.
Terry Anderson was a reporter for the Associated Press, assigned to cover the Middle East, when he was abducted off a Beirut street in 1985 and held hostage for almost seven years. He was finally released in 1991.
[Sung.] Waa-waa-waa, waa-waa-waa-waa …
This song is aptly titled "The Stripper" and is performed by David Rose & His Orchestra. (Thanks to Juanita Walls for this reference.)
[Sung.] Giant steps are what you take …
A line from The Police song “Walking on the Moon.” Sample lyrics: “Giant steps are what you take/Walking on the moon/I hope my legs don't break/Walking on the moon …”
Look, Ed Gein’s the driver.
Ed Gein (1906-1984) was a notorious Wisconsin serial killer. In 1957 police discovered the headless body of a local shopkeeper hanging in the kitchen of Gein’s farmhouse outside Plainfield, Wisconsin. They searched the house and found belts, lampshades, bowls, and other items fashioned from body parts. Gein confessed to the murders of only two women, although he was suspected in four other cases; most of his “trophies” had been obtained by exhuming recently buried corpses from the local graveyard. Gein was committed to a psychiatric hospital and remained there until he died. Several fictional killers have been based on Gein, including Buffalo Bill and Norman Bates.
They’re funny cars, but they’re not really that funny.
Funny Cars are a class of drag racing vehicle that can reach speeds of 300 mph in a 1,000-foot race.
In the 1969 film Easy Rider, a young Peter Fonda (1940-2019) plays a motorcyclist traveling across America.
Oh, come on. The effects in Willow was better than this.
See note on Willow, above. ILM did the special effects for Willow; it was the first film to employ morphing, a breakthrough in CGI.
Hey, you liked Willow.
The effects in Willow didn’t really hold up over time, but they led to more sophisticated digital techniques such as the “bullet time” effects in The Matrix.
Suddenly he snaps a tether and kills a coolie.
Probably a reference to George Orwell’s essay “Shooting an Elephant” (1936), in which an elephant in musth breaks its chains and kills a man, referred to by the narrator several times as a “coolie.” (In its original sense, “coolie” was an Asian word for an indentured servant or slave who worked at hard manual labor; in modern times it is considered a highly offensive term.)
A quick impression of Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States, whose folksy manner of speaking led him to begin many sentences with “Well …”
Jeez, Snap, Crackle, and Pop could hold him back.
Snap, Crackle, and Pop are the longtime advertising icons for Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal, designed by Vernon Grant in the early 1930s.
Jim Begg, who plays Fatso in Village of the Giants, is also familiar to MSTies as the hapless henchman Larry in Show 204, Catalina Caper.
This is like the Swiftian part of a Fellini film.
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was an English novelist and satirist best known for Gulliver’s Travels, in which Gulliver travels to Brobdingnag, land of the giants. Federico Fellini (1920-1993) was a bizarre Italian film director known for such fare as Satyricon and Juliet of the Spirits.
And it’s Kafkaesque.
Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was a German writer, most of whose works were published posthumously. The term Kafkaesque describes most of his works, such as The Trial: having a nightmarish, bizarre quality.
We can make S’mores.
S’mores are a favorite campfire snack, consisting of a toasted marshmallow and a square of chocolate (ideally Hershey’s) sandwiched between two halves of a graham cracker. Their origin is unclear, but recipes have appeared as early as the 1920s. The origin of the name is a bit more obvious: a contraction of “some more.”
I just made Miller Clear.
Miller Clear was part of the clear beverage craze of the early 1990s; it was regular beer that had been intensively filtered to remove its natural amber coloration. It was test-marketed in 1993 but failed to catch on.
Oh, wait—Clint drank it all.
See above note on Clint Howard.
“Ever heard of David and Goliath?” Yeah, a dopey cartoon-like thing, right?
Davey and Goliath was a claymation TV series that aired from 1962 to 1977. It was developed by Art Clokey, creator of Gumby, for the Lutheran Church as a Christian show for children.
Our very own Fannie Flagg.
Fannie Flagg (the stage name of Patricia Neal) is an actress and author best known for her novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.
[Sung.] Life savers, life savers can’t be beat … –Hey, life savers …
“Life Savers, Life Savers can’t be beat/Super flavors fun to eat/Hey, Life Savers!” is an ad jingle for Life Savers candy from the 1970s.
If that were Lucy I’d have to kill myself.
A riff on the famously redheaded actress Lucille Ball (who was actually a natural brunette).
[Sung.] No, our love will not fade away ...
A paraphrase of the 1957 Buddy Holly song "Not Fade Away." Sample lyrics: "I'm a-gonna tell you how it's gonna be/You're gonna give your love to me/A love to last more than one day/A love is love a-not fade away ..." (Thanks to Joel Boutiere for this reference.)
Come on, it’s like getting turned on by Thumbelina to them.
Thumbelina is the heroine of an 1835 fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, a story about a woman who wishes for a child and gets one about the size of a thumb—hence her name.
Didn’t Tammy Wynette donate that getup to charity?
Tammy Wynette (1942-1998) was a country singer best known for her number-one hit “Stand By Your Man.” Over the course of her lengthy career she had 23 number-one songs and recorded more than 50 albums.
[Sung.] Bus, bus, the magic bus ...
A reference to the 1968 song "Magic Bus" by the Who. (Thanks to reader TServo 2049 for this reference.)
Oh Ricky, you’re so fine, you’re so fine …
A paraphrase of the 1982 hit song “Mickey,” by Toni Basil, who just happens to be the woman dancing in this scene (see above note). Sample lyrics: “Oh Mickey, you're so fine/You're so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey/Hey Mickey.”
“Some chicken, Nancy?” Yes, it is.
A running gag on the short-lived 1982 absurdist comedy TV series Police Squad! : whenever Leslie Nielsen, who played Detective Frank Drebin, offered someone a cigarette, they would reply, “Yes, it is,” or "Yes, I know."
Yeah, right. There must be a pony around here.
The punchline of an old joke: A kid who gets only a pile of manure on Christmas morning optimistically declares, “There must be a pony around here somewhere!”
Dan Castellaneta, who voices Homer on The Simpsons, has said he borrowed his famous catchphrase from comedian James Finlayson, who appeared in a number of Laurel & Hardy shorts.
“Don’t do this, don’t do that …” Can’t you read the sign?
A line from the 1971 song "Signs" (see above note).
[Sung.] No, no, no, no, no-no-no-no ...
“Nobody But Me” is a 1963 song recorded by the Isley Brothers and written by O’Kelly, Rudolph and Ronald Isley. It was covered and released by The Human Beinz in 1967. In just two minutes and sixteen seconds, the word “no” is said more than 100 times; “nobody” is said more than forty.(Thanks to Sarah McKinney for this reference.)
You’re no god to us, mister!
A line from the Star Trek episode “Who Mourns for Adonais?” Kirk’s full line: “If you want to play god and call yourself Apollo, that’s your business. But you’re no god to us, mister!”
I will get them with my mighty click-clacks.
Click-clacks were a ‘70s toy: two acrylic balls on the end of a string that clacked when you hit them together. Sometimes they shattered into sharp pieces. They were banned in 1985.
[Whistled.] The Good, the Bad and the Ugly theme.
This is the famous theme to the spaghetti Western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, written by composer Ennio Morricone.
The intifada begins.
Intifada is an Arabic word meaning “uprising.” It is strongly associated with clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the late 20th/early 21st centuries.
It’s like David and Holly Golightly.
Holly Golightly is the devil-may-care heroine of the novel and film Breakfast at Tiffany’s; she was played by Audrey Hepburn in the film.
You’re disrupting Come Blow Your Horn.
Come Blow Your Horn is a play by Neil Simon about two brothers living the swingin’ single life in New York City. It was made into a movie starring Frank Sinatra in 1963.
Attack of the fifty-foot ABBA.
ABBA was a Swedish supergroup in the 1970s: two men, two women. They were renowned for such hits as “Mamma Mia,” “Fernando,” and “Dancing Queen.” Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is a classic B-movie from 1958, starring Allison Hayes as an heiress who finds herself growing to enormous proportions and takes the opportunity to get revenge on her cheating husband.
She thinks I'm cuuuute!
A line from the 1964 Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated movie Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Rudolph demonstrates his flying prowess to the reindeer coach after a doe named Clarice tells him she thinks he is cute. He leaps into the air and flies, shouting, "She thinks I'm cute!" The nasal quality of the statement is due to Rudolph having his nose covered with mud to hide his unique attribute. (Thanks to Robb Buzan for this reference.)
A variation on the popular MST3K catchphrase “I’m huge!” Joel Hodgson says it came from the comic Jimbo, Adventures in Paradise, by Gary Panter.
“That’s exactly what I’m going to do.” Mr. Bond.
An imitation of Auric Goldfinger, the supervillain in the James Bond flick Goldfinger (1964). The role was played by Gert Fröbe, although his voice was dubbed by English actor Michael Collins, due to Fröbe's shaky command of the language. (Fröbe did voice his part for the German dub of the film, however.)
[Sung.] Gotta dance …
A line from the song “Broadway Rhythm Ballet” from the musical Singin’ in the Rain. Sample lyrics: “A million lights, they flicker there/A million hearts beat quicker there/No skies are gray on that great white way/That's the Broadway Melody!/Gotta dance gotta dance gotta dance!”
Oh, just saw Jim Begg’s love handles. Oh, no, there they are again.
See note on Jim Begg, above.
She likes to watch.
A variant of a line from the Peter Sellers film Being There: “I like to watch.”
I think it was John the Baptist.
In the New Testament, Salome, daughter of King Herod, dances for her father and is granted anything she might wish, so she asks him for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. The king reluctantly agrees and puts the holy man to death.
Well, at least the trains ran on time.
When Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) became dictator of Italy, he held up the newly efficient train system as proof that fascism was a good thing for the people of Italy. The trains did not always run on time, however; their legendary infallibility was more a product of propaganda than reality. The phrase “at least he made the trains run on time” has taken on a sarcastic edge, meant to suggest that even the most brutal, repressive dictatorship has its silver lining.
[Imitating.] I’m turning into Elvis, baby.
Elvis Presley (1935-1977), the King of Rock and Roll, was one of the most popular musicians from the 1950s until his death in the late 1970s. He was a teen idol in the late 1950s, helped usher in the era of rock and roll, became a movie star, created an enormous and opulent home at Graceland in Memphis, developed problems with drug abuse, and finally died of a heart attack at the age of 42.
Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
A famous phrase uttered by the King (Yul Brynner) in The King and I. The full line: “When I sit, you sit. When I kneel, you kneel. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!” (Thanks to Sarah McKinney for this reference.)
Lolita … sweet …
Lolita is a 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov. The novel is narrated by Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged pedophile. In Lolita, a barely pubescent girl, he finally finds an accessible “nymphet.” Humbert is of course an unreliable narrator; he assures us that the 12-year-old Lolita welcomes his advances, but reading between the lines it seems clear he is a monster. The novel has been wildly controversial since its publication; it has regularly been the focus of censorship efforts, but it is also seen as one of the finest works of literature of the 20th century. The movie version, which came out in 1962, starred James Mason and Sue Lyon.
Jim Begg and the IM Force.
See note on Jim Begg, above. The Impossible Missions, or IM, Force was the group of highly trained secret agents on the TV series Mission: Impossible, which aired from 1966-1973. It was led by Jim Phelps (Peter Graves).
Should any of you or your pudgy incompetents be caught or killed …
The statement that ended the tape-recorded instructions on Mission: Impossible every week was: “As always, should you or any of your IM Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.”
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of the breasts …
A parody of the classic line from the Twenty-Third Psalm: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.”
[Sung.] I feel good …
A line from the 1964 James Brown song “I Got You (I Feel Good).”
Is this the H.G. Wells part?
See note on H.G. Wells, above. Bert I. Gordon actually made a second film in 1976, titled The Food of the Gods, also based on the H.G. Wells book. It was a little closer to the plot of the original.
Eldridge Cleaver (1935-1998) was a radical in the 1960s, one of the early leaders of the militant Black Panthers. In 1968 he ran for president as a member of the Peace and Freedom Party; that same year, he was forced to flee the country after a shootout between Black Panthers and police. When he returned in 1975, he renounced the Panthers, became a born-again Christian, and unsuccessfully ran for the Senate as a Republican in the 1980s. Cleaver died in 1998.
Whoa, he’s headed for Snack Canyon.
In the 1970s, Coca-Cola ran an animated ad in movie theaters in which a group of penguins discovered “Snack Canyon” and reveled in the delicious beverages they found there.
I’m melting … melting … melting …
A reference to the famous scene in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy throws water over the Wicked Witch and melts her.
Aromatherapy is a method of altering one’s mood or psychological state using aromatic oils or powders.
Hmm. Smells like Tom Bosley.
Tom Bosley played Ron Howard’s father, Howard Cunningham, in the TV series Happy Days, which aired from 1974-1984.
Yeah, Willow sucked.
See note on Willow, above.
She’s dreaming she’s Susan.
In the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan, housewife Rosanna Arquette obsesses over and suffers a series of plot contrivances to the point that she thinks she’s Susan (Madonna).
Sounds like Shaft is coming. –Shut your mouth. –I’m just talking about Shaft.
A reference to the Oscar-winning theme to the 1971 blaxploitation movie Shaft, written by Isaac Hayes. Actual lyrics: “Who's the Black private dick/That's a sex machine to all the chicks?/Shaft! … You see this cat Shaft is a bad mother—/Shut your mouth!/But I'm talkin' about Shaft.”
Everything’s up to date in—whoa!
A line from the song “Kansas City,” from the musical Oklahoma! Sample lyrics: “Ev'rythin's up to date in Kansas City/They've gone about as fur as they c'n go!/They went and built a skyscraper seven stories high/About as high as a buildin' orta grow.”
And the David and Goliath analogy slips even further.
In the biblical tale of David and Goliath, young boy (and future king) David fends off Philistine giant Goliath with a simple sling and a rock.
Hey, now, that’s a Carnegie library.
Around the turn of the 20th century, industrialist Andrew Carnegie built some 2,500 public libraries across the nation and in countries around the world. Generally he would offer to pony up the cash for a library if the town in which it was built would commit a certain amount of funds for upkeep, book buying and the like. Most are still standing, although few are used as libraries anymore, the collections having outgrown the buildings.
But in David and Goliath, David wins!
See previous note on David and Goliath.
I’m getting stronger now … gonna fly …
Lines from “Gonna Fly Now,” a.k.a. the theme from Rocky, composed by Bill Conti.
Oh, my God, Opie’s on fire!
See note on Opie Taylor, above.
Surrender Aunt Bee!
A reference to the famous skywriting sequence in The Wizard of Oz, in which the Wicked Witch spells out “Surrender Dorothy” with her broom in the sky. Also see note on Aunt Bee, above.
Oh, no! Patchouli!
Patchouli is a fragrant herb in the mint family that is commonly used to make perfume. Thanks to its ability to mask the odor of marijuana, patchouli oil was extremely popular during the 1960s and to some extent has become associated with the counterculture of that decade.
That’s funny—that kid’s dusting crops where there ain’t no crops.
"That's funny—that plane's dusting crops where there ain't no crops" is a line from the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock film North by Northwest. (Thanks to Kurt Steidl for this reference.)
Mustard gas, eww.
The chemical weapon mustard gas was developed in the 19th century, but was first used in warfare by German forces during World War I. It is a terrible weapon: contact with the gas causes anywhere from first- to third-degree chemical burns; inhaling it causes those burns inside the lungs. The burns are agonizingly painful. It is still being used in war, despite being outlawed; Iraqi forces used it against Kurdish rebels in 2015.
By this time my son’s lungs were aching for air.
A take on one of the writers’ favorite catchphrases: “By this time my lungs were aching for air”—another reference to the TV show Sea Hunt, which starred Beau Bridges' father Lloyd.
Don’t breathe the yellow Opie.
See note on Opie Taylor, above. Also probably a reference to the Frank Zappa song “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow,” or to the famous warning at Woodstock to stay away from the brown acid.
This is the running of the half-naked teens in Hainesville.
Starting on July 6 of every year and continuing every morning for a week, residents and tourists in the Spanish town of Pamplona let a bunch of bulls loose in the streets and try to outrun them. The “running of the bulls” is a traditional part of the Festival of San Fermin. It is fairly dangerous; at least 15 people have been killed over the years, and about 50-100 are injured each year.
You can call me Ray, or you can call me Ray …
Comedian Bill Saluga has a famous routine in which he appears as Raymond J. Johnson, Jr., a smoking fellow in a Zoot suit who gets irritated when addressed as “Mr. Johnson,” launching into a long routine about how “you can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay, or you can call me RJ …” The character was briefly popular in the late 1970s.
The shamed cast of The Terror of Tiny Town meets the shamed cast of Village of the Giants.
The Terror of Tiny Town, believe it or not, is an all-dwarf musical western. Why anyone thought this was a good idea …
It’s like wearing William Conrad’s underpants and a balaclava.
See note on William Conrad, above.
It’s like waking up, rolling over, and seeing Jim Varney.
Jim Varney (1949-2000) was an actor, comedian and writer best known for his portrayal of the bumbling Ernest P. Worrell on commercials and in a series of movies.
It’s like being trapped inside Jim Begg.
See note on Jim Begg, above.