360. “Ooh, Maynard Ferguson playing a ballad there.”

The episode:Santa Claus Conquers the Martians,” ep. 321

The riff: Noted in an impressed sort of way by Tom as the soundtrack suddenly spins out of control with crazy trumpets out of nowhere.

The explanation: Maynard Ferguson was a Canadian jazz trumpet player and bandleader who was noted for his ability to play accurately in extremely high registers. He was an adaptable musician who was able to find roles within popular music from 1940 all the way to the 2000s, changing with the times. Before his death in 2006, he was inducted into multiple halls of fame for musicians.

Novelty factor: Can’t say I’ve ever actually heard of the guy before, but he produced an absolutely ridiculous number of recordings in his career.


10. “I’m fine Dmitri, you’re fine, we’re both fine, it’s good to be fine.”

The episode:Santa Claus Conquers the Martians,” ep. 321

The riff: Spoken by Tom Servo as a martian father warmly greets his two young children with gentle headbutts (as is martian custom).

The explanation: Servo is referencing Peter Sellers’ famous telephone conversation from the war room of Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove.” In the scene, Sellers’ character (the American president) is trying to break the news of possible impending nuclear war as tactfully as he can to the Russians, but he is clearly reticent. Here, I think they use the line because given the poor acting, the sentiments of the martians are just as phony as the American president’s pleasure that the line is “coming through just fine.”

Novelty factor: I was always amused by this line, but I have to admit I didn’t catch the reference. I should probably rewatch “Dr. Strangelove” in the near future. In the video below, the inspiration for the riff stars around 22 seconds in.