107: Robot Monster
by Trey Yeatts
I don’t know. I thought my invention was a good idea. –The flaming whoopee cushion, that was brilliance. –No, not that. Mine. My bubble thing. –Oh, yeah. I like bubbles.
The whoopee cushion is a prank device consisting of a rubber bladder inflated with air that makes flatulent noises from a flap when compressed. They were known to be used by RomÏan Emperor Elagabalus in the third century to get a laugh. The modern version was invented in 1930 by JEM Rubber Company in Toronto, Canada.
Oh, look, it’s a bomb. –That scene wasn’t in last time. –That’s ‘cause they didn’t get the film back from the drugstore yet.
Back in the pre-digital days, if amateur filmmakers made home movies, very often development-delivery services were provided by local pharmacies. Undeveloped film was sent off to professional developers by the drugstores, and they served as the recipient of the completed product, too.
Upon further review, the refs find that Cody is dead. The play stands. Cody is dead.
A reference to American football and the concept of instant replay. If a referee’s call is contested, referees are able to examine footage of the play to see what really happened. If a call is changed, the alteration is usually announced by beginning with the phrase, “Upon further review ...”
Yellowstone National Park is located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It was established in 1872.
Hey! His face rings a bell. –An MPA System bell. –Motion Picture Association? –It’s possible.
MPA was a maker of alarm systems in the mid-20th century. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) was started in 1922 to represent the business interests of the studios and distributors. For most of its existence, the MPAA has been known as the administrator of its oft-criticized ratings system.
Oh, what a time to get a kink in the back. You got one, too. The heartbreak of psoriasis.
“The Heartbreak of Psoriasis” is a phrase used by now-defunct Tegrin Medicated Soap beginning in the 1960s.
Hey, this isn’t the way to Taco John’s!
Taco John’s is a chain of Mexican-oriented fast food restaurants based in Wyoming and with more than 400 locations across 25 states.
Gomez, I’m not your new best friend.
A possible reference to Gomez Addams, patriarch of the macabre Addams Family, introduced by New Yorker cartoonist Charles Addams in 1938. He was known to get “grabby” with his wife, Morticia, especially when she spoke French.
Hey. It’s John Cleese.
John Cleese is a founding member of the classic British comedy troupe Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Meanwhile, back at Caesars Palace.
The phrase “Meanwhile, back at _____” originated with cards inserted in silent films of the early 20th century. In westerns, this was often “Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...” Once audio became a common component, the phrase was still used by narrators in films, radio, and television shows. Most recently, it was used frequently in the various Superfriends animated series of the late 1970s and early ‘80s. Caesars Palace is a famed casino and luxury hotel in Las Vegas, well known for having top performers as semi-permanent musical acts. It opened in 1966.
“Take him to ...” –Paradise City?
A reference to the 1987 Guns N’ Roses song “Paradise City,” which began: “Take me down to the Paradise City/Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty.”
Oh, I’d hate to shoot a butt like that.
According to an interview with Josh Weinstein (Servo), this wasn’t based on anything in particular. It was a line he came up with during a writers’ session and Joel loved it, so they kept using it.
Works every time.
“It works every time” is the longtime slogan for Colt 45 malt liquor.
Yeah? Well that’s for Enrico Fermi!
Enrico Fermi (1901-1954) was a physicist best known for his work on the first nuclear reactor, the study of radioactivity, and pioneering the field of quantum physics.
If I’ve told you once I’ve told you a thousand times, we’re not rounding off pi to four!
No one has ever tried rounding off pi to four, but in 1897, the Indiana General Assembly famously tried to pass a law declaring that pi was now equal to 3.2. An Indiana mathematician believed he had found a solution for “squaring the circle” and managed to persuade a legislator buddy of his to enshrine his solution into law; unfortunately, his solution was incorrect, and would have had the awkward secondary effect of changing the value of pi. The bill made it quite a long way toward passage before saner heads (and ridicule in the newspapers) finally killed it.
You MIT guys think you’re pretty tough.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that is considered one of the top scientific and technological research centers in the world. It has made important advances in aeronautics and analog computing, among many other fields. Total enrollment is about 11,000; admissions are extremely competitive.
And that’s for Madame Curie.
Madame Marie Curie (1867-1934) was a French physicist who, with her husband Pierre, discovered several new elements and first identified the property known as radioactivity in such elements as uranium. This information was later crucial in the development of nuclear power—and the atomic bomb. Marie won the Nobel Prize twice: first with her husband and then later on her own. She died of leukemia caused by her repeated exposure to radioactive elements in the course of her research.
Geronimo (1829-1909) was the chief of the Chiracahua Apache, who fought against Mexico and the United States as both powers encroached upon their tribal lands. The use of the word “Geronimo!” as an exclamation—in particular, one yelled by someone parachuting from an airplane—dates back to 1940 and U.S. Private Aubrey Eberhardt at Fort Benning, Georgia. The day before the first mass test of parachutist infantry, the men of the unit watched the 1939 film Geronimo. Eberhardt was teased about being so scared he’d forget his name. Eberhardt retorted that he wouldn’t be scared and, in fact, he’d yell, “Geronimo,” as loud as he could when he leapt. And so he did.
Yeah, tell your friends Crick and Watson.
Francis Crick (1916-2004) and James Watson are credited (along with Maurice Wilkins) with discovering the double-helix nature and nucleotide composition of DNA molecules. The three received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1962 for their work. (Chemist Rosalind Franklin, whose work was also crucial to the discovery, was not eligible for the prize as she had died four years earlier.)
[Feminine voice.] I’ve got a headache this big ...
Excedrin is a brand of over-the-counter pain reliever that contains aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine. The caffeine acts as an adjuvant, making the pain relievers more potent and fast-acting. In various advertisements for the brand that date back to the 1970s, sufferers would say, “I’ve got a headache this big and it’s got Excedrin written all over it.”
Well, they seemed like nice enough fellas ... –At first.
According to Josh Weinstein, this is another one of those inside jokes that they included because it made them laugh; not because it referenced anything in particular.
They must have Joan. They’re taking her to the San Diego Zoo.
Joan Embery, the “Goodwill Ambassador” for the San Diego Zoo, has appeared on numerous talk shows, accompanied by various zoo denizens.
[Servo sneezes] –Bless you. –‘sund. –You’re not supposed to do that. –Stirred up my ROMs, real bad.
“‘Sund” appears to be a contraction of the German word “gesundheit,” which means “health” and is used as a response to someone who has sneezed. “ROM” is computer-speak for “Read-Only Memory,” meaning data files that cannot normally be altered.
Window! Hey! Window! Look out! Whew.
In the 1950s television show Adventures of Superman, the Kryptonian (played by George Reeves) would enthusiastically leap from open windows to fly to the rescue of Lois and Jimmy from some kidnappers or gangsters.
Here I come to save the dame.
A paraphrased version of the rallying cry of animated superhero Mighty Mouse. He was created by Izzy Klein in 1942 as a parody of Superman, but Klein’s first pass on the character was as a fly. Terrytoons studio head Paul Terry changed it into a mouse. Mighty Mouse often fought cat opponents and rescued damsels in distress (usually either Pearl Pureheart or Mitzi Mouse) while crying “Here I come to save the day!” He appeared in dozens of animated shorts into the early 1960s (and comics, as well) and gained great fame thanks to Saturday-morning showings on television. There were a few additional revivals in the 1970s and ‘80s, including one controversial series by animator Ralph Bakshi.
Oh, Cody’s shooting. Wasn’t there something in the rulebook about equal and opposite reactions, Joel?
A reference to Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of motion, stating that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In the case of Commando Cody shooting his pistol while in flight, the effects of this law on Cody’s flight path would be minimal. Otherwise, military planes wouldn’t be able to shoot anything.
Just like Karen Black.
Karen Black is an actress and singer-songwriter. She has appeared in Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, The Great Gatsby, and Nashville.
Where’s Charlton Heston when you need him?
Charlton Heston (1923-2008) was an actor and political activist who appeared in such movies as The Ten Commandments and Planet of the Apes. He was a longtime spokesman for the National Rifle Association.
Hi, honey. Come die with me.
A corruption of the 1957 song “Come Fly with Me” by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn. Its most famous version was released by Frank Sinatra in 1958.
Hey, deplane. Deplane. Boss.
A punny reference to Hervé Villechaize (1943-1993), a midget actor (his preferred term) who became famous for the line “De plane! De plane!” on the TV show Fantasy Island, which he appeared on from 1978-1983, playing the part of Mr. Roarke’s assistant, Tattoo. He worked very little after leaving the series and became depressed, ultimately killing himself in 1993.
Just think of it as getting a booster shot twice in the same day, by the same doctor. –Yeah. Dr. Mengele. –Right.
Dr. Josef Mengele (1911-1979) was a German physician known for human experimentation at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, which earned him the nickname “Angel of Death.” (Hang on to something.) Mengele singled out children, twins, and dwarves for his research. He studied eye color by injecting chemicals into eyeballs, conducted forced sterilizations, practiced shock therapy in the extreme, autopsied twins simultaneously, and vivisected pregnant women. Unfortunately, Mengele evaded capture after the war and lived out his days in secret in South America.
Doesn’t the Geneva Convention have rules against this sort of thing?
Geneva is a city known for meetings between world leaders and representatives in the neutral country of Switzerland. The so-called “Geneva Conventions” refer to four major treaties and other resolutions that dictate the actions of parties engaged in warfare, primarily relating to the humanitarian treatment of prisoners and victims. They were signed and ratified in 1949 by 194 countries.
You can’t make me…you can’t make me…
Crow may be riffing on a classic bit of comedy shtick popularized by Bob Denver as Gilligan in the TV sitcom Gilligan’s Island (CBS, 1964-1967). When Gilligan was being urged to do something outrageous, such as dress up in a grass skirt and coconut brassiere, he would repeat “You can’t make me, you can’t make me!” -- followed by a jump cut to Gilligan dressed in a grass skirt and coconut brassiere. The technique became so firmly associated with the show it is now known as a “Gilligan cut.” (Thanks to Basil for this reference.)
This is Buddhist. You’ve created us to suffer.
A reference to the first of the Four Noble Truths in Buddhism: life is suffering.
Goodbye, pretty lady. Enjoy your in-flight meal: Baked Alaska!
Baked Alaska is a dessert consisting of ice cream and sponge cake topped with meringue and then flash-baked. A variation called Bombe Alaska adds a splash of rum set alight.
Here’s Chaz wearing his Armani from the Desert Wear collection. –For goons on the go.
Giorgio Armani is a world-renowned Italian fashion house known for their suits, jewelry, shoes, and more. It was started in 1975.
He flies better than Superman.
Superman is the name given to the fictional character Kal-El from the planet Krypton. The super-powered being with the alter ego Clark Kent was created in 1938 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Superman appeared in many radio and cinematic serials, animated shorts, live-action and animated TV series, and several films.
Meanwhile, back in the bowels of the Earth.
See above note on “Meanwhile ...”
Hire someone else. Hmm. I wonder if Kelly has a thug department.
Kelly Services is a temporary staffing company founded in 1946 by William Kelly and headquartered in Troy, Michigan.
Meanwhile, further along in the script.
See above note on “Meanwhile ...”
[In monotone police radio dispatcher voice.] Be on the lookout for a 1935 murder car. Smart looker. Priced to move. You’ll be the hit of your neighborhood. Owned by a little old lady. 1935 Porter. That’s my mother dear. Helps me through everything I do and I’m so glad she’s here. –That’s a stunning Jerry Van Dyke. –You know, Jerry Van Dyke has a bumper sticker that says, “My other car is my mother.” –Oh, he’s a nut.
A reference to the short-lived and oft-maligned mid-1960s NBC sitcom My Mother the Car, starring Jerry Van Dyke as a man who bought a crappy car because it was somehow the reincarnated form of his late mother. The car in the series was supposedly a 1928 Porter, not 1935. As you may be able to guess, the Porter Motor Company was an early 20th-century car maker, but their cars were steam-powered. The company didn’t last long, folding in 1901. The car used in the series was actually a mutt of various cars, but mostly a 1924 Ford Model T with some Porter detailing.
Meanwhile, back at the Cody Institute for Scientists Who Get Pummeled.
See above note on “Meanwhile ...”
All right, gimme a snow cone and two Bomb Pops.
The Bomb Pop is a frozen treat made by Blue Bunny. It is a tall Popsicle-like confection consisting of three different flavors. There are many variations, but the original trio of flavors were cherry, lime, and blue raspberry.
I’m wearing white, though. That’s not very good humor.
Good Humor is a brand of ice cream treats first marketed in 1920. The “Good Humor Man” became an American institution, as kids across America lined up during the summers to buy ice cream from the white-clad men who drove the trucks with the tinkling bells.
I ever tell you guys about how James Dean died?
James Dean (1931-1955) was an actor who had lead roles in only three films—Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden, and Giant—before his untimely death in an auto accident when someone crossed the center line into his lane while he was driving a Porsche 550 Spyder. He’s the only actor to ever be nominated posthumously for two Academy Awards.
George Nader. That’s Ralph Nader’s naughty brother. He wrote Safe at Any Speed.
George Nader (1921-2002) is known to MST3K fans from Show K18 (The Million Eyes of Sumuru) and Show 420 (The Human Duplicators). Ralph Nader is a safety advocate and political activist best known for his scathing critiques of the automobile industry in the 1960s and 1970s. He wrote the book Unsafe At Any Speed about the Chevrolet Corvair and others. He has unsuccessfully run for president several times, the first attempt occurring in 1972. George and Ralph are not related.
Claudia Barrett. From the comedy team Grin & Barrett.
Claudia Barrett was a character actress who had many roles on television and in film. Some of her bigger shows included The Roy Rogers Show, Death Valley Days, The Lone Ranger, and The Jack Benny Program.
Selena Royale? What a great movie. Wasn’t Woody Allen in that?
Selena Royle (sometimes “Selena Royale,” 1904-1983) was another character actress. She had a 1950s run on the soap As the World Turns until Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Red Scare branded her a Communist and her career came to a halt. Casino Royale is a 1967 spy movie spoof loosely based on Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel of that name. It starred David Niven as James Bond, Peter Sellers as James Bond, and Woody Allen as Jimmy Bond, who (spoiler alert) turns out to be Dr. Noah, the villain.
John Mylong. From the comedy team Mylong & Winding Road.
John Mylong (1892-1975) was yet another character actor. The faux comedy team name is a reference to The Beatles’ 1970 ballad “The Long and Winding Road,” written by Paul McCartney. It appeared on the album Let It Be, which was controversially produced by Phil Spector, who added his trademark “Wall of Sound” to it. McCartney was so infuriated by this he included “The Long and Winding Road” as one of his six reasons for legally dissolving The Beatles the following year.
Gregory Moffett, who went on to star in Yards of Leather.
Gregory Moffett was a child actor whose last role was in the TV series The Adventures of Superman when he was 14. I could find no film with the name Yards of Leather, but I think the fetishistic nature of the title ... yeah, you can figure it out.
Pamela Paulson. She’s never made a bad film.
Robot Monster was, in fact, the only film young Pamela Paulson made.
George Barrows. Too ashamed to show his own face.
George Barrows (1914-1994) was an actor and stuntman who often performed “man-in-suit” roles as he does here, wearing the gorilla costume he made himself. He appeared as a gorilla in both The Addams Family and The Beverly Hillbillies and, amusingly, an episode ofMy Mother the Car. The voice of Ro-man was provided by radio star John Brown.
Wow. Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004) was an Academy Award-winning composer known for films such as The Ten Commandments, The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, Cape Fear (1991), To Kill a Mockingbird, and Ghostbusters. So why did Bernstein do this turkey? Like Selena Royale, he was caught up in the Red Scare. Bernstein had publicly acknowledged some sympathies to leftist groups and he was “gray-listed” (as opposed to “black-listed”), meaning that he could still work but not for any major studio projects.
Wyott Ordung. –Wyott. –Yeah, Wyott.
Wyott Ordung (1922-2005) was a writer and director who occasionally acted. Other than this film, he would probably be best known for acting in the 1950s TV series Dick Tracy as BB-Eyes.
Music by Pianosaurus. –No, it’s the band that’s called Stop Us If We Get Annoying.
Pianosaurus was a 1980s band that played all of their songs using toy instruments. In fact, they got their name from a toy piano that was shaped like a dinosaur.
Hey, I’ve seen this movie. Isn’t this The Boy in the Plastic Bubble? –That’s the kid’s disease. He grows up to be John Travolta. –Oh, no. That’s so sad.
The Boy in the Plastic Bubble is a 1976 made-for-TV movie about a teen who suffers from an inactive immune system, requiring him to be hermetically sealed to prevent any kind of germs or other pathogens from infecting him. It was sort of based on a true story. In 2010, MST3K vets Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett released a downloadable RiffTrax for this film. John Travolta starred as the immunodeficient boy. The following year, he rocketed to fame with his appearance as disco dancer Tony Manero in the filmSaturday Night Fever. After his career became somewhat moribund in the 1980s, he enjoyed a comeback in the 1990s with appearances in such movies as Pulp Fiction and Face/Off.
Hey, it’s Randolph Mantooth. –He played Johnny Gage, right? Rampart.
Johnny Gage (Randolph Mantooth) was a character from the 1972-1979 NBC medical action dramaEmergency! Rampart General Hospital was their base of operations. Mantooth has had a lengthy career on television, usually as a guest star on a wide variety of programs.
Think his head is Pop-O-Matic?
Pop-O-Matic is a self-contained method for rolling the dice in several board games, including Trouble, Kimble, and Yipes. It features a clear plastic dome at the center of the board over a black metal (or plastic) panel that indents and springs back when the dome is depressed. This causes the die (or dice) to tumble inside.
Nice family. How’d you like to put them in a museum. Little Mason jar action. Real nice.
When it comes to home canning and food storage, Mason jars are ubiquitous. They were first produced in 1858 by John Mason. One of the earliest ways to seal the jars involved pouring wax into a channel of the jar’s lid. People hated that. Then came the so-called Lightning lid (because the jar had “Lightning” written on the side) which involved a metal wire that was pulled down the side of the jar, locking the lid in place. The type found most often today is a screw-top ring that goes over a flat metal lid.
And so, after a meal of crushed granite and Pop Rocks, they slept.
Pop Rocks are a kind of candy that come in small paper packets; when eaten, they “pop” and fizz in the mouth. Although the fizzing effect was perfectly safe, achieved by incorporating small pockets of carbonation in the candy, rumors quickly spread on playgrounds across the nation that eating Pop Rocks while drinking soda would cause your stomach to explode. It was first sold to the public in 1975, though the concept was patented in 1956.
It’s Gecko-Roman Wrestling.
A play on the sport Greco-Roman wrestling. Despite the name, it was neither. It was French, first exhibited by a Napoleonic soldier, Jean Exbrayat. Originating in the 1800s, French wrestlers contested using open-hand holds and no holds below the waist. It was later termed “Greco-Roman” because supporters felt it carried forward ancient values. It debuted in the first revitalized Olympics in 1896.
Looks like outtakes from Mutual of Omaha: 20 Million B.C.
Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom is a program focused on wildlife that first aired on NBC in 1963. It was hosted by Marlin Perkins and his assistant Jim Fowler. In the 1970s, the show moved into syndication and came to an end in 1988. It was revived in 2002 on the cable channel Animal Planet, where it still runs today. Yes, it is still sponsored by the insurance company.
Oh, man. That Schlitz Malt Liquor. Boy, do I have the zactlies. –What are the “zactlies”? –Uhhh ... –That’s all right.
Schlitz Malt Liquor was introduced by the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company in 1963. It’s well known thanks to the presence of a large blue bull (named Prince) in its ads and on its cans, as well as commercials in the 1980s and ‘90s with a live bull (named Zane) breaking into homes to party, one presumes. “Zactlies” is a bit of charming slang: after a night of drinking, one wakes up with a taste in one’s mouth (or breath) that tastes (or smells) “zactly” like one’s ... anus.
“Cheese it,” meaning to “be quiet” or “stop it,” first appeared in published form in O. Henry’s 1908 bookThe Voice of the City but it was being used in the 1800s in the United Kingdom. As to its origin, it may come from its similarity to the word “cease.”
This is what comes from teaching apes sign language.
Trainer Francine Patterson has taught her charge Koko, a western lowland gorilla, about one thousand signs based on American Sign Language; Koko is able to communicate with humans using the signs.
Hey, look, they have Asteroids. –They must be pretty advanced if they have Atari.
Asteroids was an arcade game that debuted in 1979 at the beginning of the arcade craze. It featured simple vector graphics: an arrowhead-shaped spaceship fires dots at small-, medium-, and large-shaped asteroids and the occasional UFO. Atari is the video game and consumer electronics brand founded by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney in 1972. The name came from the Japanese board game Go, in which “atari” means “to hit the target.” In 1977, they released the famed Atari 2600 (initially called the VCS: “Video Computer System”) and soon became the fastest-growing company in the United States. After the release of the Atari 5200 in 1982 came the Video Game Crash of 1983, wherein the market was saturated with often-inferior games and personal computers were on the rise. The company became splintered among its varied divisions and corporate maneuvering led to its demise in 1984. Various companies have purchased the brand and produced games with the name in the ensuing years.
Estes model rockets.
Estes Industries is a Colorado company that makes model rocket parts and engines; it was founded in 1958.
He comes from a planet where they evolved from apes and water coolers.
A reference to the famous line from the 1968 film Planet of the Apes: “A planet where apes evolved from men?!”
What’s he looking through? –A glass, darkly.
A likely reference to a 1961 Swedish film by Ingmar Bergman, Through a Glass Darkly. The title comes from a biblical verse, I Corinthians 13, and has been used for various book and TV episode titles over the years.
Oh, good. You saved Six Flags and Disneyland. Great.
Six Flags is a chain of amusement parks that includes Six Flags Over Texas, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and Six Flags Great America, among many others. The Disneyland theme park was opened by the Walt Disney Company in 1955 in Anaheim, California.
It’s the Berlin Wall. –No, this is the future. It’s the Great Wall of Cleveland. –Ohhh.
After World War II, the four primary allied nations (U.S., U.K., France, and the USSR) divided Germany and its capital city, Berlin, into quadrants. Except for the USSR, three quadrants were unified and became known as West Germany. The USSR’s portion became East Germany. As Cold War tensions continued to mount throughout the 1950s, East and West Germany became further isolated. Unfortunately, Berlin was located fully inside East Germany, and the three Western powers’ sections of the city became islands in a sea of Soviet influence. In 1961, after years of citizens fleeing the oppressive Soviet-influenced East German regime, the East Germans erected the Berlin Wall to contain East Berlin citizens. For the next twenty-odd years, some 5,000 people were able to successfully defect to the West, while between 100 and 200 people were killed in their attempts. In 1987, as freedom continued to swell in Eastern European nations, President Ronald Reagan urged the Soviet general secretary, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” In 1989, Hungary and Czechoslovakia dismantled border stations and East Germans flooded out. The government cracked down followed by widespread protests and strikes. On November 9, the government relented and opened their borders. That evening, tens of thousands of people descended on the Wall and began tearing it apart with hammers and cables. In 1990, East and West Germany reunified and the last pieces of the Wall were removed in 1991. “The Great Wall of Cleveland” is a reference to the Great Wall of China, a collection of defensive barriers that were first constructed more than 2,500 years ago, stretching across nearly 4,000 miles.
We’d be crispy critters.
Crispy Critters was originally a breakfast cereal during the 1960s. The cereal failed, but the name survived as firefighter slang for a burned body.
Johnny, don’t be a hero. Don’t be a fool with your life.
Paraphrased lines from the chorus of the song “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero,” which was a hit in the U.K. in 1974 for the British band Paper Lace; in the U.S., people are more familiar with the cover version released the same year by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods, which hit #1 for two weeks. Though associated with Vietnam, the lyrics are actually about the Civil War. (Thanks to Lynn Knott for the Bo Donaldson reference.)
“Anybody home?” –Bob Vila’s here.
Bob Vila was the bearded, genial host of the home-improvement PBS series This Old House, from 1979 to 1989, and the host of the syndicated series Bob Vila’s Home Again from 1990 to 2005. He often entered properties where work was in progress by asking “Anybody home?” when he knew darn well people were there working. Vila never helped. Lazy.
Jason? McCloud? Is Dennis Weaver in this film?
Dennis Weaver (1924-2006) was an actor best known for playing New Mexico Marshal Sam McCloud in New York City in the NBC drama McCloud. He also played an unwitting commuter hunted down by a psychotic tanker truck driver in Steven Spielberg’s awesome 1971 TV movie Duel. As for “Jason,” it is probably a reference to Weaver’s role as Colonel Jason Forrest in the 1978 ABC miniseries Pearl, about events leading up to the Imperial Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Dibs. –I’ll get a stool and a pail. –That’s udderly ridiculous. –Oh, cow could you say that? –Are you gonna milk this for all it’s worth.
Dibs is generally a childhood method of laying claim to something or a position by yelling out “dibs!” In most English-speaking nations, this is referred to as “bags” and dates back to the mid-1800s. As for the origin of the word “dibs,” theories vary. Two leading thoughts: 1) that the word is an abbreviation of the Yiddish phrase “fin dibsy,” meaning “lay claim,” and 2) that “dibs” derives from the verb “to divvy.”
“What time is it?” –It’s Miller Time. –“No, what day, Roy?” –It’s Miller Day.
Miller Brewing Company produces several varieties of beer and has since 1855. Beginning in the 1970s, Miller’s advertisements became directed toward “the working man,” essentially saying, after a hard day’s work, you’ve earned a break, so “it’s Miller time.”
This is what Dr. Cornelius would look like if he was played by Raymond Burr.
Cornelius is an archaeologist in the Planet of the Apes series of films. The character was played by Roddy McDowall. Raymond Burr (1917-1993) was a burly actor best known for his role as Perry Mason in the television series of the same name.
Time for another fireside chat with Ro-Man.
Fireside chat refers to radio addresses given by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s and ‘40s. The practice began when Roosevelt was governor of New York in 1929 and he would address radio listeners there in order to drum up support for his initiatives. He began the practice anew in 1933 to get the Great Depression-stricken population to support banks and write to Congress, asking legislators to back Roosevelt’s desired agenda. Though Roosevelt only gave 30 of these radio “chats,” every president since has had a regular radio address. In 1977, hoping to evoke memories of Roosevelt, President Jimmy Carter gave a televised address by the fireside to discuss the energy crisis. He wore a cardigan instead of a suit and that seemed to be all anyone remembered about it.
Oh, it’s just a V-2 rocket. –He coulda had a V8. [Smack.] A joke, Joel. Joke. Sorry. –I thought it was hilarious. [Smack.]
The V-2 long-range ballistic missile was used by Nazi Germany during the latter period of World War II to attack targets in Belgium, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere in Europe. The “V” represented “Vergeltungswaffe,” translating into English as “retaliation weapon.” More than 3,000 V-2s were launched by Germany, killing an estimated 7,250 people (though 12,000 forced laborers were killed in the production and testing of it). In the final days of the war, scientists who worked on the V-2 (including Wernher von Braun) surrendered to the United States to ensure that they didn’t fall into Soviet hands. The U.S. raced to capture as much of the technology as they could and the USSR was able to procure some as well. For the better part of a decade, the U.S. tested V-2s with the help of von Braun, and this led to the development of the Redstone rocket, which carried the Mercury astronauts into space. V8 is a beverage made of blended vegetable juices. It was first produced in 1933 and is now manufactured by the Campbell Soup Company. “I could have had a V8” was a frequently used advertising slogan in the 1980s. Usually in televised ads with the phrase, the person saying it would smack his/her forehead, so it is possible that Joel wasn’t punishing Tom Servo as much as he was re-enacting the commercials.
That’s a Lucas effect, isn’t it? –Buddy Lucas.
A reference to the special visual effects company started by director George Lucas, Industrial Light & Magic. Gathered in 1975, Lucas wanted hands-on control for his upcoming project, Star Wars, so some of the “giants” in the special effects field came together. They were formally established as ILM in 1980 forStar Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Since then, they have provided visual effects for nearly 300 films and won dozens of awards, including 15 Oscars.
What is this, a Shedd’s Spread commercial?
A reference to a series of ads for Shedd’s Spread Country Crock margarine. Throughout the 1980s and into the ‘90s, commercials featured hands spreading the product on various things while the people conversed. For a stretch in the late ‘80s, there was even a romantic plotline between the hands (or, rather, the people the hands belonged to).
Hey, Ro-man got a CD player. –I think there’s a ham radio. –And a lunchbox. –Maybe it’s a ham and cheese radio.
CD, or compact disc, is a polycarbonate disc with binary data burned onto it and sandwiched between plastic discs and a reflective disc designed to reflect the laser that reads the data. They were designed in the late 1970s as a smaller-scale spinoff of Laserdisc video technology by Sony. In 1982, the first CD sold in stores was Billy Joel’s album, 52nd Street. At this time, the discs themselves were $30+ and the players were $900. By 2007, more than 200 billion CDs had been made but by that year, their decline was in full swing as downloadable music files took hold. “Ham radio” refers to amateur radio operators, licensed and assigned specific radio frequencies on which to transmit. They frequently communicate with other operators around the world and sometimes attempt to amass a collection of call signs. “Ham” came to be used as slang for these radio operators because of a pejorative against the amateurs used by professional radio and telegraph operators in the early 20th century. The pros would say that these amateurs were “hams” or “hamming it up” over the airwaves and the name stuck.
Looks like Gino Vannelli with a kettle head.
Gino Vannelli is a Canadian singer/songwriter whose hits include “People Gotta Move” and “I Just Wanna Stop.”
She can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worth ... well, maybe not.
A paraphrase of the theme song to The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977), written by Sonny Curtis: “Who can turn the world on with her smile?/Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?/Well, it's you girl, and you should know it/With each glance and every little movement, you show it ….”
“Take my assistant, Roy.” –Please.
A reference to comedian Henny Youngman’s (1906-1998) most famous routine. Famed for his one-liners, Youngman’s best-remembered bit was “Take my wife—please!” His wife, Sadie, was often the subject of his jokes (despite his lifelong adoration of her) and the origin of the line dates to the 1930s when Youngman asked a theater usher to escort his wife to their seats. He said, “Take my wife, please,” and the usher laughed, thinking it was a joke. A classic bit was born.
[Sung.] Peeking through the knothole, in grandma’s wooden leg. Why do they build the shore so near the ocean? [Goofy voice takes over, making the rest unintelligible.]
Partial lyrics to the song “Go Get the Axe” (a.k.a. “The Nonsense Song”); it dates back to the early 1900s. The voice Joel is emulating here and (sigh) elsewhere is similar to several in cartoondom, but most especially to Goofy, Mickey Mouse’s pal. The Disney character first appeared in the 1932 short “Mickey’s Revue” under the name “Dippy Dawg,” but quickly became so popular that he was promoted to supporting character and his name was changed to Goofy. He has been voiced by Pinto Colvig, George Johnson, Hal Smith, Tony Pope, Will Ryan, and Bill Farmer.
Hey, it’s an old film of Bigfoot.
Bigfoot, a.k.a. the Sasquatch, is a legendary ape-like creature supposed to haunt the Pacific Northwest and western Canada. What is generally considered the best evidence for its existence—a blurry film taken in 1967—has been debunked as a hoax, but the debate rages on. A fixture on the ‘70s paranormal “documentary” series In Search Of..., Bigfoot was even a recurring character on episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man, where he was played by wrestler André the Giant in a two-parter (revealing that he is the protector of alien visitors) and Ted Cassidy (Lurch on The Addams Family) in later episodes.
The little boy who crumbled the Ro-man empire. –And killed the fatted calf.
“The fatted calf” is a biblical reference to the Parable of the Prodigal Son, wherein a specially fed and prepared animal was to be slaughtered for a special occasion. These days, the phrase usually means “to celebrate, hardcore.”
[Sung in nigh unintelligible Goofy voice.] Oh, three Irishmen, three Irishmen, were diggin’ a ditch [unknown] planet Earth [unknown] …
“Three Irishmen” is a folk song or playground rhyme that misleads the listener into thinking swear words were going to be said. The initial lines are: “Three Irishmen, three Irishmen, digging in a ditch/One called the other a dirty son of a .../Peter Murphy had a dog, a brindle dog was he,” and so on.
[High-pitched, whiny voice.] Ben! Ben! –Good Clint Howard impression there. I like that. –I got the eyebrows for it.
Gentle Ben is a children’s novel written by Walt Morey and published in 1965. It inspired the 1967-1969 CBS series of the same name that starred Clint Howard (Ron Howard’s brother) as a boy named Mark who has adventures with a large black bear named Ben (played by Bruno the Bear). Howard has been an actor since he was three, primarily on television. Other than Gentle Ben, he has also appeared on shows like The Andy Griffith Show, Star Trek, The Streets of San Francisco, and The Virginian.
Is Ro-man on the Parade of Homes? –He’s just roamin’ around.
Parade of Homes (a.k.a. “Tour of Homes”) is an annual showcase of new, remodeled, and designer homes held all over the United States. They are usually sponsored and organized by local realtors and Home Builders Associations.
How’d you hear about my anti-biotic? –His Uncle Biotic. –And all the little Biotics. –The Biotic Man.
“Biotic Man” is likely a reference to “The Bionic Man,” the name occasionally given to Steve Austin in the 1970s series The Six Million Dollar Man. A spinoff series was produced, titled The Bionic Woman. In recent reboot attempts for the franchise, the dated monetary title had been abandoned for the more generic Bionic Man.
What’s so scary about an alien that looks like the mascot of a college football team? –He must be from Texas A&M. You know, Ape and Monster. –Hit him. –That didn’t hurt.
Texas A&M University (“A” is for “Agricultural”; “M” is for “Mechanical”) was founded in 1871 in College Station, Texas, and is the sixth-largest university in the nation. TAMU’s sports teams are called Aggies (short for “Agricultural”), and their mascot is a collie named Reveille.
The hills are alive with the sound of really weird music.
A paraphrasing of the title song from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The Sound of Music. In the 1965 film, it was sung by Julie Andrews.
He looks like a walking paint brush. –Maybe he’s from that Sherwin-Williams planet. You know, the one that’s covered with paint?
Sherwin-Williams is a maker of paints, sealants, and other home building supplies. It was founded in 1866 by Henry Sherwin and Edward Williams in Ohio. Their logo does, indeed, feature a globe being coated with a ridiculous amount of paint and the ominous slogan “Cover the Earth.”
You know, he kinda looks like Baloo the bear from The Jungle Book. Those “Ape Necessities.” –“Robot Monster Necessities.”
The Jungle Book is the name given to a collection of stories by British author Rudyard Kipling that were first published in 1893. Several stories deal a boy named Mowgli, raised by wolves in India and aided by a friendly bear named Baloo. Live-action adaptations of some stories were filmed in 1937, 1942, 1994, 1997, and 1998. The most famous adaptation is an animated film by Disney released in 1967. Baloo was voiced by comedian and musician Phil Harris. The best-remembered song from the film is “The Bare Necessities,” written by Terry Gilkyson, which was nominated for an Oscar.
See above note on Gentle Ben.
Run! –Von Ryan! /Run, Von Ryan! –Schnell! Schnell! (gun noises) Shoot the Amerikanischer! –Come into the bunker!
References to the 1965 World War II prison escape film Von Ryan’s Express, starring Frank Sinatra as the title character.
[Announcer voice.] Solar flares of the end of the Earth. Even at the end of the world, love springs eternal. Man needs woman to feed his steed. Woman needs man, yeah, now she got the need. –Is that right, Joel? –I think it’s something like that. It’s an old Alice Cooper song.
Partially remembered lyrics to the 1975 Alice Cooper song “Only Women Bleed.” The actual lines are as follows: “Man’s got his woman to take his seed/He’s got the power, oh/She’s got the need.” Alice Cooper (b. Vincent Furnier) is a hard rock/heavy metal musician who achieved most of his fame in the 1970s with hits like “School’s Out” and “I’m Eighteen.”
Here comes Rompin’ Roddy Ro-man.
Perhaps an attempted reference to former WWE (née WWF) pro-wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper (b. Roderick Toombs). Though he is Canadian, Piper’s shtick involved wearing a kilt and entering the arena to the strains of bagpipes.
Meanwhile, at the monkey house, Baloo just awakened from a long winter’s nap.
See above note on The Jungle Book.
Think he’s gonna get jealous that Alice is getting married to another guy? –Only time will tell. –It’s gonna be like the Curly knife scene in Oklahoma!
Oklahoma! is a 1943 Broadway musical; the first written by the famed team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. It tells the stories of different romances in 1906 Oklahoma on the range. A 1955 feature film adaptation won several Oscars. Curly is a lead character in the musical, the betrothed of farm girl Laurey. Jud is an evil farmhand, fired for his misdeeds, who returns after Curly’s and Laurey’s wedding, because he always had eyes for her and daggers for him. He had a real dagger in a climatic fight scene, on which drunken Jud fell.
Janitor-in-a-Drum is a heavy-duty cleaner produced by SC Johnson Wax since the 1960s.
Remember your S Training.
Possibly a reference to the then-current action film Navy Seals (1990), starring Charlie Sheen. “S Training” is short for “BUD/S Training,” meaning “Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training.”
[Imitating Lawrence Welk.] We’ll-a be right back-a after this-a message from-a Geritol.
Bandleader Lawrence Welk (1903-1992) hosted The Lawrence Welk Show from 1955 to 1982 (and countless repeats on PBS). Welk was born in North Dakota, so you may be wondering where he got that accent: his parents were ethnic Germans from the Ukraine. Geritol was created in 1950 as an iron and vitamin tonic in an alcohol solution but began to offer different versions in the 1970s. With a name that sounds so much like “geriatric,” it should be no surprise that they frequently sponsored television shows like Lawrence Welk.
Hey, no shoes, no shirt, no ceremony.
Signs reading “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” used to frequently be posted at the doors of restaurants, grocery stores, and department stores. Theories on their origin seem to fall into two camps. The first and most likely has them originating at beachfront shops (perhaps Atlantic City) in order to discourage people strolling into the store straight from the shore and tracking in sand. The second theory relates to an anti-hippie backlash from square shop owners in the early 1970s.
It’s an Armageddon Weddin’. –Armageddon married in the morning.
Paraphrased lyrics to the song “Get Me to the Church on Time” from the 1956 musical My Fair Lady.
The rule of inverse proportions.
Inverse proportionality is a mathematical concept that means one variable in an equation can decrease as another variable increases. For example, the amount of time a bag of potato chips will last decreases as the number of people eating from it increases. Math is yummy!
No, the Forbidden Zone. We’re just gonna monkey around for a while. Twit.
Another reference to Planet of the Apes, specifically an area rendered wasteland by nuclear holocaust and forbidden for any ape citizen to traverse. It was seen most extensively in 1970’s Beneath the Planet of the Apes.
It’s Magilla Gorilla. [Goofy voice.] Peeking through a knothole, in grandma’s wooden leg ...
The Magilla Gorilla Show was a 1964-1967 Hanna-Barbera animated series about a trouble-prone ape who went on adventures with would-be owners who purchased him from Mr. Peebles’ pet shop. (See above note on “Go Get the Axe.”)
It looks like he’s just gonna break out and say “Twenty-three skidoo” at any second.
“Twenty-three skidoo” was popular American slang in the 1920s. The exact origin of the phrase is unknown, except that it started pre-World War I. It refers to departure; depending on the context, it could mean being forced to leave or taking an opportunity to leave quickly.
Now, come back here. I’ve got some etchings I’d love to show you.
The clichéd pickup line “Want to come up and look at my etchings?” dates back to the late 19th century and has its origins in the popular novels of Horatio Alger. It soon became an object of parody, such as the James Thurber cartoon showing a man standing in the lobby of his apartment building, saying to his date, “You wait here—I’ll bring the etchings down.”
Did I ever tell you about the game against Stanford back in 2030?
Leland Stanford Junior University is considered a “private research university” founded in 1891 near Palo Alto, California.
Uh-oh. –Love-ly. Love-ly ...
An imitation of the “Necktie Killer” in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1972 film Frenzy.
This is Casey Kasem for America’s Top 40. Our first letter comes from Darla in Rice Lake who writes, “Casey, ...”
Casey Kasem (1932-2014) was the long-standing host of the syndicated radio show American Top 40 (1970-1988; 1998-2003). A regular feature of the show were the “long-distance dedications,” in which listeners submitted requests to have a song “dedicated” to a loved one.
The practice of saying a word and then repeating it with the letters “shm” replacing the initial sound of the word in order to denigrate it is not a new one. It is a practice born out of Yiddish- and Hebrew-speaking communities and believed to date as far back as the early 1600s. (A manuscript was found, stating, “Hallig, shmallig,” meaning, “Holy, shmoly.” Also, the famed “money, shmoney” comes from the 1800s, as Eastern European Jews were fond of saying, “Gelt, shmelt.”)
When do we get to see the other three Banana Splits?
The Banana Splits were animal rock musicians on a Saturday morning kiddie show in the late 1960s. They lived in Hocus Pocus Park, where their cuckoo clock always read 6:55. The band consisted of Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper, and Snork.
“Run away!” was screamed by King Arthur (played by Graham Chapman) in the 1974 comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail as the French hurled cows at his party.
[Imitating.] I got the girl, I got the girl. Oh, happy day. I will love her and pet her and hug her and squeeze her and I will call her Georgette.
An imitation and paraphrasing of the Abominable Snowman as the character appeared in some Looney Tunes shorts. Its name was Hugo and he first appeared in 1961’s The Abominable Snow Rabbit, directed by Chuck Jones and voiced by Mel Blanc. The character was itself a reference to Of Mice and Men, a 1937 short novel by John Steinbeck, and the character of Lennie. Lennie has a love for soft things (including rabbits) but he doesn’t know his own strength ... Let’s just say things go tragically awry.
[Imitating.] I got the girl.
See previous note.
Beautiful maidens in the hands of hideous beasts. This is my kind of movie. –Sort of like a miniature version of King Kong.
King Kong (1933) is a classic film about a giant gorilla on an island in the South Pacific that is captured and brought to New York City. It was remade in 1976 and again in 2005. The dames that drew Kong’s affections are, in chronological order, Fay Wray, Jessica Lange, and Naomi Watts.
Is this the Donner Party story? –Yeah, Donner Reed. I did it again. I’m sorry.
The Donner Party was a group of about 80 settlers who, led by George and Jacob Donner, tried to make it to California during the winter of 1846-1847. They got trapped in a pass by a winter storm in the Sierra Nevadas; half of their number died before they could be rescued, and the survivors resorted to cannibalism to keep themselves alive. The pass where they were trapped is now named Donner Pass. Donna Reed (1921-1986) was an actress who personified the wholesome 1950s woman. She acted in numerous movies, including It’s a Wonderful Life and The Man Who Knew Too Much, and had her own TV series, The Donna Reed Show, which aired from 1958 to 1966.
Am I your first Ro-man? Let me show you what I’ve done with the cave. It’s very romantic. You’re gonna love it. I’ve got mirrors on the stalactites and I got a new CD player.
See above note on CDs.
You know, I got the whole Cowsills collection on CD. It’s gonna be great. You’ll love it.
The Cowsills were a band that formed in the early 1960s: Bill, Bob, Barry, and John (and, later, siblings Susan and Paul and mom Barbara). They were quite popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s; the TV show The Partridge Family was based on them. Their most famous songs were “Hair” and “The Rain, the Park and Other Things.”
Do not violate ape law!
Another reference to the aforementioned 1968 film Planet of the Apes, based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Pierre Boulle. This is the sort of line uttered by Dr. Zaius to Cornelius and Zira as they tried to help stranded astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston).
[Imitating.] Ben? Ben! Ben!
See above note on Gentle Ben.
[Goofy voice.] Peekin’ through the knothole in grandma’s wooden leg ...
See above note on “Go Get the Axe.”
See above note on Frenzy.
Ah, cue the deus ex machina. –Deus ex machine-a, isn’t it? –You say “machine-a,” I say “mackin-a,” let’s call the whole line off.
“Deus ex machina” is Latin for “god out of the machine.” It is a (usually frowned upon) literary device wherein a problem is solved quite suddenly with the introduction of a new element, seemingly out of nowhere. The back-and-forth pronunciation confusion is a reference to the song, “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” written by George and Ira Gershwin for the 1937 film Shall We Dance. Actual lyrics: “You like potayto, and I like potahto/You like tomayto, and I like tomahto/Potayto, potahto/Tomayto, tomahto/Let’s call the whole thing off!”
It’s a Play-Doh fun set come to life. The magic of Claymation.
Play-Doh is a soft, non-toxic modeling clay marketed by Hasbro. It comes in various colors and has a wide range of accessories to help you make food, bugs, body parts, and so forth. It was first made in Cincinnati as a wallpaper cleaner in the 1930s. It wasn’t sold as a children’s product until the mid-’50s. There have been many so-called “fun sets” sold for Play-Doh, most popularly “Play-Doh Fun Factory,” which squishes and extrudes the stuff in various shapes. Claymation is a trademark in the United States, owned by animator Will Vinton since 1978. Vinton has been a pioneer in the field of clay and Plasticene animation. His studio (and the word “Claymation”) became known to most households in the mid-1980s thanks to their California Raisins, Domino’s Pizza, and M&Ms commercials, as well as the film Return to Oz. Since then, the word “Claymation” has become a kind of brand eponym for all forms of clay and Plasticene animation.
Triceratops. –Okay, but I usually don’t like ceratops.
Triceratops (meaning “three-horned face”) is one of the best-known dinosaurs ever discovered. The four-legged herbivore was first found in 1887 Colorado and dates back some 68 million years to the latter portion of the Cretaceous period.
Oh, c’mon. We’ve seen this. –It’s Gecko-Roman Wrestling. Ha. –Yeah. –Alligator turnover. –They both taste like chicken, to each other.
See above note on Greco-Roman wrestling.
There goes the Tyco railroad scenery. –Shame to see it break like that.
Tyco Toys made many playthings, including trains and their accessories. The company was founded by John Tyler in 1926 (the name is a kind of contraction of “Tyler Company”). Since 1997, Tyco has been a division of Mattel.
Mom? I’ve turned Hindu.
In Hinduism, the “dot” seen on some people’s foreheads is called a tilaka. Most often made with a paste of paint, tilaka can mean any number of things, depending on the sect of Hinduism the wearer practices. The placement references the Hindi belief in the “third eye” and spiritual enlightenment. In the past, tilakas were only worn by priests, specific worshippers, and occasionally on their gods in artwork. The dots are also sometimes called bindi, but bindi are sometimes stickers or jewelry and are worn exclusively by women, whereas tilaka can be worn by either gender.
Is this the end of the film, Joel? –I don’t think it is. –You ever had a déjà vu, Joel? –Huh? What? –Is this the end of the film, Joel? –I think it is. –You ever had a déjà vu, Joel? –Huh? What? –Is this the end of the film, Joel? –I think it is. –You ever had a déjà vu, Joel? –Huh? What? –We better get out of here. –Ugh. This is pathetic. –We gotta go. Puke. You ever had a déjà vu, Joel? –Stop it.
“Déjà vu” is French for “already seen” and refers to the feeling that one has already seen or been a part of certain events. While some wish to ascribe spiritual or ethereal reasons for the feeling, most scientists believe it’s simply the mind recognizing specific stimuli and then connecting it to half-forgotten memories or just similar circumstances. Given the circumstances seen at this moment in the film, the Brains may also have been remembering and referencing an episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus titled “Déjà vu,” during which the host of the television show It’s the Mind (played by Michael Palin) realizes he’s suffering from it as his show starts over and over again, followed by sequences of him with a milk truck and then a psychiatrist as the end credits roll over it all, repeating over and over again.