The episode: “Escape 2000,” ep. 705
The riff: Exclaimed by Tom as the movie’s hero, “Trash,” blows away one of the thugs who apparently just killed his parents. Yes, the movie’s hero is named “Trash.”
The explanation: The nerdy-looking thug who meets an untimely death via bullet from Trash looks a lot like legendary TV nerd Arnold Horshack from the series “Welcome Back, Kotter,” especially with the hat he’s wearing. On the show, Horshack is one of the “Sweathogs,” a group of remedial students that Kotter, a teacher, must teach to succeed in high school. Played by Ron Palillo, he was known for his distinctive wheezing laugh and obnoxious behavior. Palillo passed away in August.
Novelty factor: When I first heard this riff, I had a weird moment of deja vu. I realized that I knew it was from “Welcome Back, Kotter,” but I didn’t know how I realized this. Then I realized it–while viewing an earlier episode of MST3k for this blog, I had heard a different riff referencing Horshack and looked up the reference. I didn’t use it then, but I’m using it now. This marks the first time that research I’ve done as part of this blog has in turn given me the information needed to understand a future riff. Weird, right?