The episode: “Progress Island, USA,” the second short in front of “The Beast of Yucca Flats,” ep. 621
The riff: Quipped by Crow as a bevy of young, brunette dancers are shown dancing in San Juan.
The explanation: Harper is an American actress who was best known for the role of Rhoda Morgenstern, which she initially played on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” As the upstairs neighbor and friend of Mary, she was the sardonic foil to Mary’s “everywoman” likability. The character was popular enough to get her own spin-off into another sitcom simply called “Rhoda,” which ran from 1974-1978, winning both Emmy’s and Golden Globes along the way. Unfortunately, she has recently been in the news for her public battle with cancer.
Novelty factor: I can recognize that this should have been an easy one, but I honestly didn’t know the name when I heard it. Sorry! I know vaguely about “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” but that knowledge stops somewhere before knowing the other actors.
The episode: “Money Talks,” the first of two shorts before “The Beast of Yucca Flats,” ep. 621
The riff: Asked by Mike as the spirit (more like the shadow) of Benjamin Franklin appears and says “William? William, my boy…”
The explanation: In the upper Midwest, the phrase “borrow” as a different colloquial meaning for whatever reason, being used in situations where the rest of the country would say “lend.” I’m not sure why it’s centered around this area, but it stands to reason that all of the lakes in Minneapolis have a way of making their nearby residents deranged in the ways of the English language.
Novelty factor: I’m not even sure why I know this, but I did. I know I’ve heard it before, but I’m not really sure where. I’m sure it would be confusing to someone outside the Midwest, though.
The episode: “The Beast of Yucca Flats,” ep. 621 (Note: I’ve already done the two shorts in front of this one, so I figured I should do one from the film even though, for my money, this is the single worst movie they ever viewed. Source: Coleman Francis.)
The riff: Howled by Crow as a car full of Russian spies chases an American scientist and his black driver.
The explanation: Crow is imitating the character of Rochester van Jones from the old Jack Benny radio and television shows. Played by comedian Eddie Anderson, Rochester was Benny’s main foil, a manservant of sorts who gradually became as big a character on the show as Benny himself. His distinctive, raspy voice was often used in song, and he always referred to his employer as “Mr. Benny.”
Novelty factor: This one sounded vaguely familiar to me when I heard it, but I didn’t really know enough about the Jack Benny show to put it together. My pop culture knowledge goes back pretty far most of the time for someone my age, but this was beyond me.
The episode: “Progress Island U.S.A.,” the SECOND short in front of “The Beast of Yucca Flats,” ep. 621
The riff: Exclaimed by Servo right after the short’s title card.
The explanation: Quinn Martin, as it turns out, was one of the most successful television producers of all time. In the 1960s and 1970s he produced successful shows like “The Fugitive,” “The Streets of San Francisco” and “Barnaby Jones.” He also produced 20 made-for-TV movies. He holds the distinction to this day of having the most years back-to-back of having at least one show he was producing running in prime time, with 21. From 1959 to 1980, that made him a major television figure. His shows would play that fact up, proclaiming themselves as “Quinn Martin Productions”!
Novelty factor: Never heard of this dude in my life, I must say. When Servo said the riff, it could have meant anything to me.
The episode: “Money Talks!”, the first of TWO shorts before “The Beast of Yucca Flats,” ep. 621
The riff: Spoken in a sad-sack voice by Crow as the short’s title character complains within his own mind about his poor money management.
The explanation: They’re talking about the object on his desk, which I think is a large, bell-shaped inkwell. Mallomars are a regionally popular dessert cookie that consists of puffed marshmallow, a graham cracker bottom and chocolate outer coating. They are especially popular in the New York area, where the vast majority are consumed–but only during the winter, because Mallomars are seasonal for whatever reason. This has led to a certain cult of personality around them, as the true Mallomar devotees buy up enough of them in the winter to last them until next year. Of course, the rub is that they never make it to the next year because they all drop dead from eating Mallomars all day.
Novelty factor: I’ve heard the term “Mallomars” on a few occasions and was aware they were some kind of dessert, but I never knew the details of their actual composition. Judging from my distaste for marshmallow Peeps, it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that would tempt me. Enjoy this informative documentary on Mallomars.