The episode: “Mr. B Natural,” the short in front of “War of the Colossal Beast,” ep. 319
The riff: Whined by Crow as the short’s dumpy little central character, Buzz, trudges up the stairs past his mother, who asks if he wouldn’t rather go outside on this lovely day.
The explanation: Rather a unique use of the word “sebaceous,” which is typically found in the medical world to describe the sebaceous glands located under the skin. These glands produce skin oils called Sebum and contribute to acne, especially around the face and scalp. Crow, however, seems to be referring to the less often used adjective form of the word, calling Buzz “resembling tallow or fat, greasy.”
Novelty factor: I had a general idea from the context of what they meant, but I can’t claim to be a gland expert.
Thank me for choosing to upload this image and not one of the sebaceous cyst removal videos I was tricked into watching on YouTube.
The episode: “Commando Cody pt. 1,” the short in front of “The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy,” ep. 102
The riff: Yelled by Servo as Commando Cody hurtles in toward the camera from above in his rocket suit.
The explanation: It’s a reference to the closing credits of the classic 1960s-1970s animated series “The Jetsons,” which documented the lives of what was essentially a nuclear 1950s family, except, you know…in the future. During the ending credits sequence, George Jetson would come home from work and be tasked with walking the dog, Astro, on the revolving space-walk. When Astro sees a cat he begins to run, accelerating the walkway and sending George hurtling around in circles while he screams for his wife Jane to “stop this crazy thing!”
Novelty factor: Despite the fact that I grew up in the 1990s, I watched a ton of Jetsons and Flintstones reruns. I swear, these Hanna-Barbera cartoons were literally the only thing on Cartoon Network through most of the early 1990s.
Note: It happens around 1:30 in this video.
The episode: “Aquatic Wizards,” the short in front of “Teenage Caveman,” ep. 315
The riff: Interjected by Crow during one of many water-skiing scenes when the narrator says “Let’s watch Willa McGuire…”
The explanation: Alright, this seems to be a riff with multiple layers. First Crow plays off the name “Willa” by referencing American frontier author Willa Cather, the writer of “O, Pioneers!” But the “Baby Snooks” reference seems to be a reference to the water skiers bonnet-type hat, which looks suspiciously like something that might have been worn by comedienne Fanny Brice. Brice was known as the creator of the “Baby Snooks” character, an endearing “little girl” character played by the middle-aged Brice on radio in the 1940s.
Novelty factor: I knew vaguely who Willa Cather was, but the entire “Baby Snooks” segment left me in the dust.
The episode: “Speech: Using Your Voice,” the short in front of “Earth vs. The Spider,” ep. 313
The riff: Inserted as dialog by Tom after a stuttering, mush-mouthed salesman tries to say “It’s really, really simple.”
The explanation: Herbalife is a huge, multi-level and international marketing company that sells various nutritional products, supplements, weight-management and beauty products. It recruits people on numerous levels to sell its products, which has caused claims that the entire corporation is one giant pyramid scheme. It has been formally accused of this by the Commercial Court in Brussels, Belgium, a decision it is appealing. Coincidentally, one of its top salesmen appears to have shot himself just a few days ago.
Novelty factor: I’d actually never heard of the company before, surprisingly. I’m sure it’s probably a pyramid scheme, though–it actually reminds me of the “King of the Hill” episode “Bill of Sales,” which featured Peggy and Bill working for a similar company.
The episode: “Snow Thrills,” the short in front of “It Conquered the World,” ep. 311
The riff: Observed and pointed out by Joel as a large crowd of skaters enjoy some of the short’s titular snow thrills on a large ice rink.
The explanation: He’s referring to the classic 1970 romantic drama “Love Story,” which starred O’Neal and MacGraw as lovers from different social classes who are doomed by MacGraw’s tragic illness. During one of many montages of their developing relationship, they go skating and frolicking in the snow while a famous portion of the Oscar-winning soundtrack plays. Both O’Neal and MacGraw were nominated for Academy Awards for their roles, but neither won.
Novelty factor: I’ve never actually seen “Love Story,” but I suspected this was the source of the riff as soon as Joel followed it up with “Love means never having to watch this movie.”
The episode: “X Marks the Spot,” the short before “King Dinosaur,” ep. 210
The riff: Said in a New York accent by Tom as a big, lumpy-faced guardian angel goes on about the poor driving abilities of a hapless dead guy in celestial traffic court. That’s honestly what this short is about.
The explanation: Bondo is a brand of adhesive putty that is used for making various repairs, manufactured by 3M since 1955. It is often used in automotive and boat repair, but also has applications in woodworking and carpentry.
Novelty factor: I’ve seen this short before, and I think it’s fairly clear from the context what they’re talking about, but I don’t believe I’ve ever actually seen Bondo before. I feel like they refer to the product in multiple other episodes, though.
The episode: “The Phantom Creeps pt. 3,” the short before “Ring of Terror,” ep. 206
The riff: Inserted as dialog by Tom after a scientist mixing chemicals says “Now, if I can just get this formula properly recorded…”
The explanation: David Geffen is a well-known American businessman and philanthropist who is noted for his contributions to medical research in particular. He owned several record labels before also being one of the three founders of film studio Dreamworks in 1994. Tom is clearly referring to the guy in the film hoping to get a medical research grant or something of the like from Geffen.
Novelty factor: I’d actually never heard the name before, although I knew the two other founders of Dreamworks, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.