287. “You could learn a lot from a dummy.”

The episode:Village of the Giants,” ep. 523

The riff: Asserted by Mike as a bunch of crazy teenagers pile out of a car in a ditch and began dancing and frolicking wildly in the rain.

The explanation: “You could learn a lot from a dummy” was the slogan of a 1980s campaign by the U.S. Department of Transportation that featured two talking crash test dummies named Vince and Larry. The series was all about teaching people to wear seatbelts, and in this it was apparently very effective. The commercials were so popular that the characters transcended them, becoming a line of action figures from Tyco. There was even an animated film featuring them.

Novelty factor: I totally remember the commercials and especially the toys. A friend of mine had a Crash Test Dummies car toy that would crumple when you crashed it, and the dummies themselves could break into a bunch of pieces and be reassembled. In retrospect, they must have been great choking hazards.

55. “His boots are from Gateway Computer.”

The episode:Final Justice,” ep. 1008

The riff: Quipped by Crow as Joe Don Baker’s Texas Ranger character lays back in a prison bed, revealing his oddly black and white-spotted boots.

The explanation: The pattern on his shoes looks a lot like the black and white splotches of a Holstein cow, which has long been the symbol of Gateway Computers. In the 1990s, the brand first became popular after a series of commercials featuring the black and white spotted Gateway boxes and a cow mascot. Unbelievably upon reflection, this is when human beings were getting new computers by ordering them over the phone because they saw a TV commercial. Even though I lived in that period, the thought is still bizarre to me.

Novelty factor: I was perplexed for a moment when I heard the riff, and then I had a flash of memory and made the connection. I remember the cow commercials in particular, like the one embedded below.