1013: Danger: Diabolik
by Wyn Hilty
Oh, my! The two fat ladies have their own gang now!
The Two Fat Ladies was a very successful British cooking show in the late 1990s. It starred chefs Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright, who zoomed around England on a motorcycle looking for scrumptious recipes, and to hell with the calories. The show aired in the United States on the Food Network.
Oh, no, is this a Pink Floyd video?
Pink Floyd is a British rock band known for such concept albums as Dark Side of the Moon (1973) and The Wall (1979).
The Dr Pepper formula requires very high security.
Dr Pepper is a soft drink manufactured by the Dr Pepper/Seven Up corporation. It was first introduced in 1885, and, like all major soft drinks, its exact formulation is a carefully guarded secret.
Uniforms designed by William Rehnquist.
William Rehnquist (1924-2005) was the sixteenth chief justice of the Supreme Court. In 1995, inspired by the costume of the Lord Chancellor he saw in a production of Iolanthe, he added four gold stripes to the sleeves of his robe. His successor, John Roberts, reverted to the original, plainer design upon taking up his gavel. (Thanks to Ralph Dosser for this reference.)
If Hitler had won, and hired Stu Sutcliffe as a fashion designer.
Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) was the leader of Nazi Germany during World War II (1939-1945). Stu Sutcliffe (1940-1962) was an art student friend of John Lennon’s and is considered one of the original members of the Beatles. He died of a brain hemorrhage in 1962.
Malcolm Forbes and friends go camping.
Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990) was an American publisher of the magazine that bears his family’s name. It is one of the most successful business magazines on the market, and its annual list of the richest people in America is widely known even among those who do not read the magazine. In his later years, Forbes became an avid motorcyclist, with a particular fondness for fully loaded Harley-Davidson motorcycles, which he collected and gave as gifts (famously, he presented a Harley dubbed "Purple Passion" to Elizabeth Taylor), and founded a motorcycle club for rich white guys called The Capitalist Tools. Forbes was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.
Mike Brady world headquarters.
Mike Brady (played by Robert Reed) was the patriarch of the Brady family in the TV sitcom The Brady Bunch (ABC, 1969-1974). It revolved around the adventures of a large step-family. The Brady house was the quintessential of late 1960s/early 1970s décor.
“The whole underworld worries me less than a single man.” Michael Jeter.
Michael Jeter (1954-2003) was an actor who was best known by adults for his work on the TV series Evening Shade and to preschoolers for his appearances as Mr. Noodle’s brother on Sesame Street.
The Scrooge McDuck fortune.
Scrooge McDuck is the wealthy uncle of Disney’s Donald Duck. He first appeared in 1947 in the pages of Disney comics and later in animated cartoons.
Boy, Lech Walesa is rich!
Lech Walesa is a Polish labor organizer who helped found Poland’s first independent labor union and who later became president of Poland in 1990, after the communist government of that country collapsed.
Oh, there it goes—the liquid center just exploded.
Probably a reference to the various chewing gums that became popular during the 1970s, which consisted of bubble gum wrapped around a “liquid center.” Freshen-up is one example.
The young Mr. Boston story.
Old Mr. Boston was a storied distillery that operated in Boston from 1933 to 1986, manufacturing gin, bourbon, rum, brandy, and liqueurs. In addition to the drinks, it published a well-known reference book for bartenders filled with cocktail recipes, Old Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide, which was known among bartenders as the "bible of booze." The company logo was a picture of an old gent in an old-fashioned red jacket, side whiskers, and a top hat, who was dubbed "Mr. Bostic."
Sir, are you trying to seduce me?
A reference to a famous line in the 1967 film The Graduate, which starred Dustin Hoffman as an at-loose-ends college graduate who becomes involved with an older married woman. The actual line, spoken as Anne Bancroft reclines on a bed with one leg bent at the knee: “Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me.”
[Imitating.] Michael, we’re lost.
An imitation of K.I.T.T., the talking car on the TV series Knight Rider, which aired from 1982-1986. The show starred David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight; the car’s voice was supplied by William Daniels.
They’re going over to John Steed’s house for a kegger.
John Wickham Gascone Berresford Steed was the ultra-suave, umbrella-wielding spy on the British TV series The Avengers, which ran from 1961-1969. The part was played by Patrick Macnee (1922-2015). A kegger is an informal party in which a keg, or many kegs, of beer is the central focus. Keggers are an underage drinking rite of passage for American high-school students, and pretty standard social gatherings on or around college campuses.
[Sung.] Wild thing/Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo …
A line from the song “Wild Thing,” made most famous by The Troggs in 1966. Sample lyrics: “Wild thing/You make my heart sing/You make everything/Groovy …”
Lifebuoy soap is credited with originating the use of the initials BO for “body odor” in its early radio advertisements, which stretched the letters out into a foghorn sound. Those ads were parodied in a number of Warner Brothers Looney Tunes cartoons.
Joni Mitchell must be nearby.
Joni Mitchell is one of the divas of the 1960s, known for songs like “Big Yellow Taxi.”
It’s the Dick Butkus newspaper grill!
The Qwik-Cook Grill was a grill that burned newspapers for fuel. They were advertised via infomercials starring former footballer Dick Butkus (1942-2023). Omnipresent for a time in the 1990s, today they are difficult to find.
Hey, you’re having sex with me. Now cut that out!
An exasperated “Now cut that out!” was one of the many catchphrases coined by Jack Benny (1894-1974), an American vaudevillian, radio and television comedian, movie actor, and quite good violinist, though playing the violin wincingly bad was part of his shtick. His weekly radio show, The Jack Benny Program, was one of the most popular of the radio era, and ran from 1932 to 1955; the TV version of his show, which aired concurrently with the radio show for several years, ran from 1950-1965. Benny was considered a master of comic timing and the “slow burn”: the gradual sliding scale of emotions on a person’s face as they went from neutral to extreme anger or disgust. The style and structure of The Jack Benny Program are considered to be a kind of early blueprint for the modern sitcom.
The Rolls is going to heaven! Well, they’re great cars.
Rolls-Royce is a British brand of luxury automobiles, first produced in 1906 and often lauded as the world’s best car.
They’re downwind of the Rainbow Gathering.
The Rainbow Gathering is an annual event that began in the 1970s and continues today. It consists of a bunch of people meeting in some part of the U.S. National Forests and conducting a group meditation for world peace. There has been considerable friction over the years between the organizers of the gatherings and the U.S. government over the issue of permits.
And still Union Carbide claims they’re meeting all guidelines.
In 1984, a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, suffered a catastrophic leak of poisonous gas, killing at least 4,000 people immediately. More than 100,000 people were injured, and survivors continue to suffer long-term health problems, including visual, respiratory, and neurological issues, as well as increased infant mortality rates. Union Carbide paid $470 million in fines and funded the construction of a hospital in Bhopal.
Oh, God, is someone gonna tell us that something is shagadelic, man?
A reference to the Austin Powers series of films, which began with 1997’s Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.
Wheel of fortuna.
Wheel of Fortune is a long-running television game show, which first aired in 1975.
Uh-oh. Mike, I need my Dramamine.
Dramamine is an over-the-counter anti-nausea medicine used to combat motion sickness. It is manufactured by Pfizer.
The true story of spin art.
Spin art is a system of painting that uses a machine to spin the paper (or frisbee, as is sometimes used) around while the artiste drops in paint to create swirling designs. You can rent the machines for use at kids’ parties and whatnot.
Man, I feel sicker than when I went on the Tilt-a-Whirl ten times in a row.
The Tilt-a-Whirl is a venerable carnival ride first produced in 1926. It is manufactured by Sellner Manufacturing of Minnesota.
This must be from the point of view of a Scrubbing Bubble.
Scrubbing Bubbles is a brand of bathroom cleaner manufactured by S.C. Johnson.
Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da this guy!
An imitation of the theme to the campy TV series Batman, which aired from 1966-1968.
Good thing Britt Ekland is waiting for him.
Britt Ekland is a Swedish actress who got her start in the 1960s. She is probably best known to American audiences for playing James Bond's assistant, Mary Goodnight, in the 1974 film The Man with the Golden Gun.
George Jones tours Italy.
George Jones (1931-2013) was a famously hard-living, hard-drinking country singer. In March 1999, he nearly lost his life in a road accident while driving under the influence.
Hmm, I don’t know—a white car before Memorial Day?
There is a long-standing rule of etiquette (now considered largely obsolete) that says you’re not supposed to wear white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day.
I had Willy Wonka’s contractor do this part.
Willy Wonka is a character in Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The book was made into a 1971 film starring Gene Wilder in the Wonka role; the movie featured famously bizarre sets. A 2005 remake, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starred Johnny Depp as Wonka.
Yeah, you go through Mop & Glo by the case keeping this place shiny.
Mop & Glo is a brand of floor cleaner manufactured by Reckitt Benckiser.
Let’s have a Tantric quickie.
Tantra is an Asian tradition of meditation techniques and rituals that is all about a person focusing divine energy into themselves. Although sexual rites are a minor part of Tantric traditions, a misunderstood idea of them captured the imagination of the West in the 1990s: prolonging sexual arousal while delaying gratification for a very long time. So “Tantric quickie” is an oxymoron.
Pretty fancy-schmancy Jiffy Lube they go to.
Jiffy Lube is a chain of oil-change centers with thousands of locations nationwide.
And this is just my mud room.
Many American suburban homes, particularly in the Midwest where the winters are long and nasty, have a small room as part of the entryway to the house, where people can remove and store their boots, galoshes, coats, scarves, hats, etc.: this is known as the mud room.
Mmm—I love your Habitrail.
Habitrail is a brand of hamster cages consisting of a series of interconnected tubes and chambers meant to mimic the underground tunnels of the hamster’s natural habitat.
Please get Ravi Shankar out of the living room.
Ravi Shankar (1920-2012) was an Indian musician known for his mastery of the sitar, a stringed instrument. His association with the Beatles during the 1960s helped introduce the West to Indian music.
I ought to take down that Simon game I superglued on the ceiling.
Simon is an electronic version of the old “Simon Says” game, in which players attempt to reproduce a sequence of blinking lights. It became popular in the late 1970s.
Might as well throw these Hardee’s wrappers away now, while I’m here.
Hardee’s is a chain of fast food burger restaurants.
Yeah, he actually lives in an efficiency over at the campus with some guys.
An efficiency apartment is a small apartment where the living room, bedroom, and kitchen are combined into one room.
He’s pretending to be the Pretender.
The Pretender was a television drama that aired from 1996-2000. It starred Michael T. Weiss as a young man with an uncanny ability to put himself in any role imaginable, a power he used mainly to help people with their personal problems.
It’s Steve Forbes and his wife!
Steve Forbes is a publishing executive and head of Forbes magazine, which was founded by his family (he is the son of Malcolm Forbes—see above note). Forbes has repeatedly run for president on a “flat tax” platform, along with other causes beloved to conservative hearts.
The young Alan Greenspan.
From 1987-2006, Alan Greenspan was the chair of the Federal Reserve Board, which governs interest rates in the United States. For decades he was one of the most influential men in the country when it came to monetary policy. Some of the luster came off his reputation during the financial crisis of 2007-2009, which was attributed largely to recklessly lax banking practices. Some people believed the Fed had allowed banks too much leeway during Greenspan's tenure. Greenspan himself said of the crisis, which followed quite rapidly after his departure, that he erred in assuming that banks' self-interest would prevent them from making catastrophically ill-advised decisions.
Member FDIC. Heh heh heh heh.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is an independent government corporation that insures bank deposits against the possibility of a catastrophic failure of the banking system. It was put into place after the panic of the Great Depression, in which many banks closed and customers lost their life’s savings.
“[The government] has restored the death penalty.” And so Sister Helen Prejean pulls out a rifle and shoots him.
Sister Helen Prejean is a well-known anti-death penalty activist. She wrote a book about her relationship with a Death Row inmate called Dead Man Walking that was later made into a movie starring Susan Sarandon.
In the 1939 movie version of L. Frank Baum’s children’s classic The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy (played by Judy Garland) wears a pair of ruby high heels she swipes from the Wicked Witch of the East. (In the book, the shoes are silver.)
Dan Quayle announces his candidacy.
Dan Quayle was vice president of the United States from 1989-1993, under President George H.W. Bush. He made a try at securing the Republican nomination for president in 2000 but his campaign quickly foundered.
Oh, no, abandon ship—Sebastian Junger wrote a book about us!
Sebastian Junger is the author of the book The Perfect Storm, about the crew of a fishing boat lost at sea during a terrible storm.
Hey, look, it’s my nest up there.
A crow’s nest is a small structure or platform built onto the upper part of the main mast of a ship or other structure that is used as a lookout.
It’s too rough to feed you! Oh, wait, you’re models—never mind. You don’t eat.
A riff on some lyrics from “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” a 1976 song by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. A number-one hit in the U.S. and Canada, the song commemorates the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, an ore freighter and the longest ship operating in the Great Lakes at that time. On November 10, 1975, “Big Fitz” encountered extreme weather conditions, broke apart, and sank in Lake Superior, killing all twenty-nine crew members. The pertinent lyrics: “When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck/Sayin' ‘Fellas, it's too rough to feed ya’/At seven p.m. a main hatchway caved in/He said, ‘Fellas, it's been good to know ya’.”
Burt Bacharach’s put on some weight.
Burt Bacharach (1928-2023) was a silver-haired composer, songwriter, pianist and producer who reached his height of fame in the 1960s and 1970s with such songs as “The Look of Love” and “What the World Needs Now.” Considered one of the most influential figures in 20th century pop music, his compositions became massive hits for such artists as Dionne Warwick, B.J. Thomas, and the Carpenters.
“What flowers would you like me to order?” How about Wayland Flowers, boss?
Wayland Flowers (1939-1988) and his puppet Madame were a popular ventriloquist act during the 1970s. They were regulars on the TV show Laugh-In.
The S.S. Jo Anne Worley.
Jo Anne Worley was a regular on the television skit comedy series Laugh-In (1968-1973), where she became known for her loud, rowdy style of humor. She has also appeared in several Disney films (including The Shaggy D.A.) and has done some voiceover work for cartoons.
Can I have another HoHo?
HoHos are snack cakes manufactured by Hostess. They consist of a chocolate cake layer wrapped around a creamy filling and then covered in chocolate.
“You say all the narcotics …” Are in Keith Richards, yes.
Keith Richards is the lead guitarist for the Rolling Stones. He has had widely publicized problems with drug addiction, particularly heroin.
Wow. He can afford White Owls.
White Owl is an American brand of cigars, introduced in 1887 and now owned by Swedish Match. Their big selling point has always been how cheap they are: currently two for a buck. In 1920 they were three for 25 cents.
“I’m calling you, Inspector, on behalf of law and order.” I love Jerry Orbach.
Jerry Orbach (1935-2004) was one of the lead actors on the television series Law & Order, which debuted in 1990. He played the role of Detective Lennie Briscoe from 1992 until his death from prostate cancer in 2004.
“Joe, give me the tape recording of the meeting.” Our Promise Keepers meeting.
Promise Keepers is a Christian organization founded in 1990 by Bill McCartney. The group held rallies across the United States throughout the 1990s, at its peak attracting more than one million attendees a year. It focused on men’s role and responsibilities as the head of the family and of the family’s spiritual life; critics argued it was an attempt to return women to a pre-feminist state of subjugation to their husbands.
If Northwest flight attendants had their way.
Northwest Airlines was a passenger airline that merged with Delta in 2008. Their hub was the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, so the MST3K gang would have pretty much had to deal with them if they did any traveling. At the time this episode was written, Northwest had a good on-time record, but appallingly bad customer service, which might explain the writers' ire.
“So.” Shall we watch Sounder?
Sounder is a 1972 film about a family of black sharecroppers in Louisiana whose father is sent to a prison camp.
Oh, Phyllis Diller dropped by.
Phyllis Diller (1917-2012) was a comedian known for her self-deprecating humor and her flamboyant outfits. Feathers, furs, and wildly colorful prints made frequent appearances.
Hef taught me that move.
Hugh Hefner, a.k.a. “Hef,” (1926-2017) was the founder of Playboy magazine and one of the last bastions of the 1960s bachelor lifestyle.
A young Sam Donaldson scores.
Sam Donaldson is a venerable television journalist who appeared on ABC News in various positions since 1967, including World News Sunday, Primetime Live, and 20/20. He retired in 2013.
"Closed-circuit TV." Ali/Spinks tonight.
A reference to the famous rivalry between boxers Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) and Leon Spinks (1953-2021). In 1978, Ali lost his heavyweight title to Spinks in a split decision, but he regained it in a second bout seven months later. (Thanks to Aaron Drewniak for this reference.)
No, she wasn’t Hitler.
Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) was the dictator of Germany during World War II (1939-1945).
This is actually electric ladyland.
Electric Ladyland is the title of a 1968 double album by guitarist par excellence Jimi Hendrix. It is also the name of a recording studio in New York, founded by Hendrix. (Thanks to Krystl Brown for this reference.)
Cleopatra drives a Jaguar.
Cleopatra (69-30 B.C.E.) was the queen of Egypt, the lover of Julius Caesar, and the wife of Marc Antony. She committed suicide after a crushing military defeat by the Roman armies, after which time Rome took control of Egypt and the time of the pharaohs came to an end. Jaguars are a brand of luxury cars first produced in 1936.
Oh, can’t the Navy SEALs ever just come in the front door?
Navy SEALs (the acronym stands for SEa-Air-Land) are the elite military unit of the U.S. Navy. They trace their origin back to Navy frogmen in World War II (1939-1945).
[Sung.] Let’s go security guarding now, everybody’s learning how, come on and security guard with me!
A paraphrase of the Beach Boys song “Surfin’ Safari.” Actual lyrics: “Let's go surfin', now/Everybody's learning how/Come on a safari with me …”
Omaha Beach. June fifth. I was early.
Omaha Beach was the site of a bloody battle during World War II, when Allied forces stormed the beach against heavy German fire on D-Day: June 6, 1944. It was one of the five landing places for the Allied forces during the invasion of Normandy.
Now for my Acme giant pogo stick.
A reference to the Road Runner cartoons created by Chuck Jones, in which Wile E. Coyote employs various devices from the Acme company in his efforts to catch the speedy bird. The Acme Jet-Propelled Pogo Stick appeared in the 1959 cartoon Hot Rod & Reel.
Come along, Vivaldi.
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) was a composer who is best known for his work The Four Seasons.
They’re gonna play the Montgolfier brothers.
Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier were two French brothers who conducted the first untethered flights of a hot-air balloon, in 1783.
He brought his Lars Tetens cigars with him, that’s good.
Lars Tetens is a brand of cigars widely available on the Internet, although reportedly a little hard to find in stores.
He needs Wallace’s trousers.
The Wrong Trousers is an Academy Award-winning animated short about an inventor named Wallace, his dog Gromit, a suspicious penguin, and a pair of mechanical trousers.
Happy Halloween. I came as Powder.
Powder is a 1995 film about a young, pale, bald boy with strange powers (played by Sean Patrick Flanery). The film caused a deal of controversy when it came out due to writer/director Victor Salva's conviction for molesting a child actor during production of his previous film, Clownhouse. He was sentenced to three years in prison and served fifteen months. When the conviction came to light, the actor in that case, Nathan Forrest Winters, led an effort to boycott Powder. In 2019 Winters was the subject of a documentary about his ordeal, The Babysitter.
It takes a buto dancer.
Buto dancing is a form of Japanese modern dance; in a typical performance, dancers covered in white powder, with shaved heads, slowly uncurl from fetal positions.
Salieri, Mozart, Scarlatti—you’re with me. Come on.
Antonio Salieri (1750-1825) was an Italian composer and a contemporary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (see note on The Magic Flute, above). There are two possibilities for Scarlatti: Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) was a composer known for his harpsichord sonatas, while his father, Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725), wrote more than a hundred operas.
Kapellmeister, break the door.
A kapellmeister is the director of a choir; in the olden days in Germany, it referred to the leader of an orchestra, choir, or opera company in the employ of a prince.
Step aside, Voltaire.
Voltaire (1694-1778) was the grand old man of French letters, considered by many one of the greatest French writers in history. He is known for such works as the short novel Candide.
She's dressed like Sheridan liqueur.
Sheridan's is a brand of "layered" coffee-flavored liqueur that comes in a bottle with two compartments: one dark, one white. (Thanks to Errin for this reference.)
So Europe just looks like Hampshire, Illinois.
Hampshire, Illinois, is a small town west of Chicago with a population of about 7,800.
The pool’s all cluttered with Sociables and dip …
Sociables are a brand of crackers manufactured by Nabisco.
“Ralph, phone.” I’m coming, Alice.
A reference to the 1950s television sitcom The Honeymooners, which starred Jackie Gleason as bus driver Ralph Kramden and Audrey Meadows as his long-suffering wife Alice.
Would you like a sample of Giorgio?
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.”
The death of Gregg Allman.
Gregg Allman (1947-2017) was one of the founding members of the Allman Brothers Band, consisting of Duane and Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks, and Jaimoe. They released several blues-rock albums in the early 1970s; the third, titled Live at the Fillmore East, went gold only a few days before Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident. A year later, a motorcycle accident also killed Oakley. Gregg Allman died about 18 years after this episode aired, after a lengthy battle with liver cancer.
“Relax.” [Sung.] Don’t do it.
A line from the song “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Sample lyrics: “Relax don’t do it/When you want to go to it/Relax don’t do it/When you want to come …”
“I’ve got a couple of experts at dealing with women here.” Dudley Moore and Rick James.
Comedian Dudley Moore (1935-2002) was best known for his role of the lovable drunk in Arthur, his partnership with fellow comedian Peter Cook, and his considerable musical talent. In the early 1990s, his fourth wife had him arrested, claiming he had tried to choke her during an argument; she later withdrew the charges. Rick James (1948-2004) was a funk and soul musician known for his turbulent personal life; in 1993 James was convicted of assaulting two women and served two years in prison.
Welcome, Dr. Meacham.
Dr. Cal Meacham is the strong-jawed hero of the 1955 sci-fi classic This Island Earth; the writers lampooned the film in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.
It’s full of Jean Nate Friction Pour Le Bain!
Jean Nate is an inexpensive perfume manufactured by Revlon and available at fine drugstores everywhere.
“It all seems to be here.” But I’m a cartoon walrus!
Probably a reference to the dim-witted Wally Walrus, who appeared in the old Woody Woodpecker cartoons starting in 1948.
“Boss, we’re over the target now.” We need any discount items?
Target is a nationwide chain of discount stores; the first Target opened in 1962.
Well, I was just reaching for my snotty Kleenex, but sure.
Kleenex is a brand of facial tissue made by Kimberly-Clark. It was introduced in 1924 and has become an informal brand eponym for all such facial tissues.
"Pull the cord!" No, it's [imitating] pull the string!
"Pull the string" is a line from the opening monologue to the Ed Wood schlockfest Glen or Glenda. It is spoken by narrator Bela Lugosi.
Wow, I really missed Yankee Stadium.
Yankee Stadium is a large stadium in New York, home to the New York Yankees. The original stadium was built in 1923, renovated significantly in the 1970s, and ultimately demolished in 2009. Its replacement, built across the street, opened in 2012.
Ow. I crushed all my Pringles.
Pringles are a brand of potato chips developed by Procter & Gamble in 1967 and now owned by Kellogg’s. Unlike other chips, which involve slices of actual potatoes and come in bags, Pringles are machine-made: compressed potato residue and wheat starch chips sold neatly stacked in cylindrical cardboard tubes.
Rat Patrol, too? Man!
Rat Patrol was a TV series set in North Africa during World War II, which aired from 1966 to 1968.
They're trucking in Nittany Lions.
The Nittany Lion is the mascot of Pennsylvania State University. (Thanks to Neal Stidham for this reference.)
Next birthday I’m taking you to Olive Garden.
The Olive Garden is a midscale chain of Italian restaurants. As of 2023, it had around 900 locations nationwide.
Okay, I’ll go find Nova and hang with her for a while.
In the first two Planet of the Apes films, Planet of the Apes (1968), and Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), Nova (played by Linda Harrison) is the mute, voluptuous human female companion of Taylor, played by Charlton Heston.
[Sung.] George, George, George of the jungle/Strong as he can be …
This is part of the theme song to George of the Jungle, an animated TV series that ran from 1967-1970. Sample lyrics: “George, George, George of the Jungle/Strong as he can be./(Ahhhhhhhh)/Watch out for that tree.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah—hang on. I’ve got to get a Sen-Sen.
Sen-Sen is a brand of breath mint that has been sold since the 19th century. (Thanks to Kurt Basham for this reference.)
My steel reusable Fleet.
Fleet is a brand of enema sold in drugstores everywhere.
Uh, Spock, are you going back?
The phrase “I’m not going back, Jim,” a reference to the Star Trek episode “This Side of Paradise,” was one of the writers’ favorites. Mary Jo Pehl’s comment, from the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide: “’I’m not going back, Jim’ was one of our favorite catchphrases around here, until we rented the video of that Star Trek episode and were stunned to realize that Spock never says that.”
[Sung.] It’s been a hard day’s night …
A line from the Beatles song “A Hard Day’s Night.” 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 …”
Good night, sweet thin guy. –A flight of Jaguars sing thee to thy rest.
A reference to Horatio’s famous line from Act V, Scene II of Hamlet: “Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”
I’m not Werner Klemperer—please don’t hurt me!
Werner Klemperer (1920-2000) was an actor best known for his portrayal of Colonel Wilhelm Klink on the TV sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, which aired from 1965-1971.
You know, Quincy wouldn’t take crap like this.
Quincy, M.E. was a TV series starring Jack Klugman as Dr. R. Quincy, a coroner who investigates suspicious deaths. It ran from 1976-1983.
Let’s see—Anonymous P. Hancock.
John Hancock (1737-1793) was a leader during the American Revolution and the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence, which he did in a famously bold hand, as a gesture of defiance toward the British.
I’ll take a pack of Marlboros too.
Marlboros are a brand of cigarettes manufactured by Philip Morris.
“Yes, he’s ready.” For some football.
"Are you ready for some football?" is a line from the theme song to Monday Night Football, as performed by country singer Hank Williams Jr. The song is based on his 1984 hit “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight,” and was used as the theme from 1989 until 2011, when Williams’s comparison of President Obama to Hitler during a television appearance led ESPN to announce they would be choosing a new theme song.
Mein Fuhrer, I can walk!
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.
You know, sometimes O-rings can twist and lose their structural integrity! Ah, who am I kidding—that’s not gonna happen.
In 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff, killing all seven astronauts aboard. The cause was ultimately determined to be a failure in an O-ring in one of the rocket boosters, which had been weakened by the cold weather.
Chicken in the breadpan, pickin’ up dough.
A line from the song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band. Sample lyrics: “Chicken in the breadpan picking out dough/Granny does your dog bite, ‘No, child, no’ …”
Nazis commute to work.
See note about the Nazi Party, above.
Paging Mr. Herman.
A line from the Paul Reubens (1952-2023) film Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985).
I borrowed Harvey Fierstein’s voice.
Harvey Fierstein is a famously raspy-voiced actor who has appeared in dozens of films and TV shows.
Turns out Diabolik can’t drive a stick.
Before automatic transmissions in automobiles became ubiquitous, even in sports cars, most cars had a manual transmission, requiring the driver to change gears by using a third pedal with their left foot and operating a gearshift lever, usually located where the standard automatic shift lever is in most cars, between the driver and passenger seats. This lever, and by extension any car that had one, was nicknamed a “stick,” short for “stick shift.”
[Sung.] It’s not unusual to steal trucks from anyone …
A paraphrase of the Tom Jones song “It’s Not Unusual.” Actual lyrics: “It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone/It’s not unusual to have fun with anyone/But when I see you hanging about with anyone/It’s not unusual to see me cry …”
This is the song “Mentos.”
Mentos, a brand of chewy mint candies, ran a series of commercials in the 1990s featuring people having the guts to do really annoying things after downing a Mentos. The jingle went, in part, like this: “Fresh goes better, Mentos freshness, fresh goes better with Mentos, fresh and full of life!” The ads were a staple on Comedy Central during MST3K’s run there, and were parodied by Mike and the ‘bots in a host segment in Show 522, Teenage Crime Wave.
George Jones drives a truck.
See note on George Jones, above.
Reginald Perrin’s on that train.
The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin was a 1976 BBC sitcom about a sales executive going through his midlife crisis. The role was played by Leonard Rossiter. One running gag on the show was the train Perrin took to work; no matter what, it was always 11 minutes late.
Flaming truck at Brixton, twenty minutes late, Joan?
See previous note. Joan was Perrin's secretary.
Listen—someone’s beating up Doc Severinsen.
Doc Severinsen was the bandleader on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson from 1967-1992.
"Hi-yo!" was the signature exclamation of longtime sidekick Ed McMahon (1923-2009) on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (see previous note).
Man, Von Ryan really fell bad. –Bye-bye, Von Ryan.
Possibly a reference to the 1965 film Von Ryan’s Express, which starred Frank Sinatra as a World War II-era pilot being held in an Italian POW camp. (Thanks to Geoff Whitford for this reference.)
My tanks are filled with Paul Mitchell products.
Paul Mitchell is a brand of hair car products that first appeared in 1980.
Lyrics by Chachi.
Charles “Chachi” Arcola was Fonzie’s cousin on the TV sitcom Happy Days, which aired from 1974-1984 (the character first appeared in 1977). The role was played by Scott Baio. In 1982 Chachi got his shot at his own television show with the unsuccessful spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi.
Hey, that’s Fonzie joining in with a whoa-whoa.
Fonzie (played by Henry Winkler) was the most popular character on Happy Days (see previous note), a greaser with a heart of gold and an evocative leather jacket.
Jeez, raising the Titanic would be a cinch! Just get a bunch of party balloons!
The Titanic was a luxury passenger ship that sank on its maiden voyage in 1912, killing about 1,500 people on board. Its remains were located on the ocean floor in 1985; five years previously, a movie called Raise the Titanic had been made, starring Jason Robards. One attempt was actually made to raise a section of the hull, but it proved unsuccessful.
He’s on the David Cassidy workout program.
David Cassidy (1950-2017) was a teen heartthrob during the 1970s. He played Keith Partridge on the TV series The Partridge Family, which aired from 1970-1974.
Boy, label makers have come a long way.
Modern label makers are streamlined devices that look like cell phones, but when this episode was written a typical label maker was a pistol-like gadget with a disk on top that the user turned manually to select and then print letters and numbers.
Can I get you a cappuccino, sir?
Named for the brown robes worn by friars of the Capuchin Order of the Catholic Church, cappuccino is a coffee beverage made of espresso and hot milk and topped with the foam from steamed milk. It originated, unsurprisingly, in Italy, home of both the Roman Catholic Church and fussy coffee drinks.
“Inspector.” I’m Mr. Wilson.
Mr. Wilson is the long-suffering neighbor in the comic strip “Dennis the Menace.” On the TV show based on the strip, which aired from 1959-1963, the part was played by Joseph Kearns.
“Don’t be funny!” Like Fred Travalena, sir?
Fred Travalena (1942-2009) was a Vegas mainstay, known as the Man of a Thousand Faces for his impersonations of public figures.
“Traces of what?” Love?
A reference to the song “Traces,” which has been recorded by numerous artists. Sample lyrics: “Traces of love long ago/That didn’t work out right/Traces of love/With me tonight …”
The government’s French dressing storehouse.
French dressing is a type of salad dressing. In its simplest form, French dressing can be any blend of oil and vinegar, but American mass-produced French dressing tends to be sweetened and is red or orange in color, thanks to paprika and other ingredients.
Whoa—Dr. Phibes is drunk again.
The Abominable Dr. Phibes is a classic 1971 B-movie starring Vincent Price as a crazed scientist bent on revenge for his wife’s death. A sequel, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, quickly followed in 1972.
“I’ve got to open the locks.” And bagels.
A riff on a popular item in Jewish ethnic cuisine, lox and bagels. Lox is thinly sliced salmon that has been cured in brine (“lox” is derived from the Yiddish word for salmon), and bagels are a bread item originally from Poland: a ring of wheat dough that is first boiled then baked. Cream cheese is also often involved.
A reference to the Green Hornet’s assistant on the TV show of the same name; the part was played by Bruce Lee. (Thanks to John McDonagh for this reference.)
Ha-ha! Useless against your weapons! I mean …
A reference to Show 816, Prince of Space.
[Sung] Some kids get covered with molten gold when they sit and spin …
The Sit n’ Spin is a classic children’s toy. This is a paraphrase of the jingle used in television advertising: “Some kids go when they sit and spin …”
He’s a golden Gumby.
Art Clokey (1921-2010) created Gumby, the green, lopsided claymation figure, in 1956. The television show starring Gumby, Pokey, and friends aired original episodes for seven years, from 1956 to 1963. Clokey is also the visionary behind the Christian animated show Davey and Goliath. Gumby achieved fame for a new generation on Saturday Night Live, where comedian Eddie Murphy played a foul-mouthed version of the character, with the catch phrase “I’m Gumby, damn it!” A Gumby short, “Robot Rumpus,” aired as part of Show 912, The Screaming Skull.
[Sung.] Gold everything …
A paraphrase of the title song to the 1964 James Bond flick Goldfinger. The song was performed by Shirley Bassey.
Sir, is it true you’re dating Ben Affleck?
Ben Affleck is an actor and Hollywood heartthrob. Once known for his work in indie movies like Chasing Amy, his later career has gone more mainstream. His brief relationship with Jennifer Lopez in 2002-2004 was grist for the tabloid mills for months on end. They later reunited and married in 2022.
These guys are part of the Rhythm Nation.
A reference to the Janet Jackson song “Rhythm Nation” from the album of the same name. Sample lyrics: “People of the world today/Are we looking for a better way of life/We are a part of the rhythm nation.”
Shouldn’t the Sandpipers start singing right about now?
The Sandpipers were a folk-pop group popular in the 1960s for such songs as “Guantanamera” and “Come Saturday Morning.” (Thanks to Rosemary Rodgers for this reference.)
Well, I’m off to the Iditarod.
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is an annual dog-sled race between Anchorage and Nome, Alaska. The 1,100-mile course follows part of the old Iditarod Trail. It is held every March.
If only he’d been drenched in zero coupon bonds.
A zero coupon bond is a bond that is purchased at a lower price, then pays its face value when it matures. “Coupon” is another term for interest, and since this type of bond doesn’t accrue interest, they are called “zero coupon.” U.S. savings bonds, for example, are zero coupon bonds.
Oh, man, there’s a cold Heineken sitting right there …
Heineken is a Dutch beer sold in more than 150 countries around the world.
This has been the official biopic of Larry Fine.
Larry Fine (1902-1975) was one of the Three Stooges. He joined the team in 1925, when original member Shemp left the comedy trio.