363. “Smilla’s Sense of Crap.”

The episode:Jack Frost,” ep. 813

The riff: Spoken by Crow as the titular character of Jack Frost applies ice and snow to a stand of trees in a long, protracted scene.

The explanation: Crow is playing off the title of 1997 Danish film called “Smilla’s Sense of Snow,” based off a 1992 Danish novel, “Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow.” The book and movie are thrillers about a young woman investigating the death of a child in her housing complex. It was well known for its bizarre ending, which involved a plot to harness energy from a fallen meteorite.

Novelty factor: Never heard of it before in my life, but it really sounds like the film had one goofy ending.


319. “Al Lewis, survivalist.”

The episode:Jack Frost,” ep. 813

The riff: Labeled by Tom as a haggard witch with a pointy nose comes stumbling out of her living house, which is on chicken legs. She’s clearly based on the Slavic myth of Baba Yaga.

The explanation: Al Lewis was an American character actor best known for his role as Grandpa Munster on “The Munsters.” He looks just like this lady, with his pointy nose and crazy hair. On the show, he was a vaguely vampiric character, another oddball among many in the Munster family. Later in Lewis’ career, he became a political activist and also opened an Italian restaurant in New York, where he often appeared in costume.

Novelty factor: I always enjoyed “Munsters” reruns as a kid, but I didn’t actually know the actor who played Grandpa. I had a good laugh when I realized the comparison they were making.

223. “Woah, there’s a bullsnake on her neck.”

The episode:Jack Frost,” ep. 813

The riff: Noted by Crow in reaction to our heroine Nastenka’s long, dark brown braid, which is frequently commented upon and admired by other characters in the film.

The explanation: The bullsnake (yes, it’s one word) is a species of medium-sized, nonvenomous snakes found throughout the central United States. It preys largely on small mammals, reptiles and other snakes. It’s considered pretty much harmless to humans, but is still occasionally killed because its patterning and coloration are similar to dangerous rattlesnakes. In reality though, it provides more help than harm, as it feeds on vermin and even smaller venomous snakes.

Novelty factor: I’ve watched enough nature shows to have heard of snakes like this one and the similar Kingsnake.

89. “Bob Keeshan IS…Mr. Natural.”

The episode:Jack Frost,” ep. 607

The riff: Sarcastically spoken by Mike as the movie’s title character, Jack Frost, saunters into the frame. He’s a round-faced man with a long, white beard.

The explanation: A multi-part joke with two references. Bob Keeshan was a television actor known to millions as the title character of “Captain Kangaroo” from 1955-1984. Jack Frost has a very similar face in this movie, but his comical beard was more akin to “Mr. Natural,” the famous creation of underground “comix” artist R. Crumb in the 1960s. The character was cast as something between a phony guru and a criminal con-man. Of note: This has nothing to do with the famous MST3k short “Mr. B Natural.”

Novelty factor: I recognized the “Mr. Natural” reference because a previous riff led to me reading about R. Crumb (I don’t remember which). Bob Keeshan I didn’t know, although I am familiar with Captain Kangaroo. The character made some great appearances in “Black Dynamite.”

Just combine this guy...

Just combine this guy…

...with this guy, and you're there.

…with this guy, and you’re there.

20. “Invasion of the Matryoshka people.”

The episode:Jack Frost,” ep. 813

The riff: Solemnly uttered by Mike as a herd of Russian grannies in colorful rags glide into frame and fill the screen.

The explanation: The old women resemble the traditional Matryoshka doll, which is better known in English as a Russian “nesting” doll. You’ve probably seen them before–they’re those wooden Russian dolls where progressively smaller ones fit inside larger ones, typically with family members painted on them. The largest of the dolls is usually a grandmotherly type figure. “Matryoshka” apparently means “little maiden,” although I have a friend who is a Russian language expert who might want to chime in on this one…

Novelty factor: I had no idea what Mike was talking about when he said the line–which he pronounced closer to “matrushka,” by the way. I am familiar with Russian nesting dolls–I remember my grandmother had some–but I never knew they were known as “Matryoshka” in their native tongue. It makes me wonder how the writers were aware of the terminology. Because when you think about it, this is a linguistics joke first and foremost.

Formidible film villains indeed.

Formidible film villains indeed.