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Weekend Discussion Thread: Favorite ‘Wizard of Oz’ Reference

I cannot believe we haven’t done this one, but apparently we haven’t.

This month was the 75th anniversary of the debut of “The Wizard of Oz,” (the movie I argue is the last, perhaps the only, commonly shared experience in America) and on another forum somebody has been asking “How many ‘Wizard of Oz’ references did they make?” I don’t know that anybody has ever counted them all, but let’s cite out favorites.

Mine comes from “Girls Town,” when Silver and Mary Lee’s gnarled mom yells out the window and Crow yells: “How would you like it if somebody picked apples off of you??”

What’s your pick?

(Keep those topics coming!)

56 comments to Weekend Discussion Thread: Favorite ‘Wizard of Oz’ Reference

  • 1
    eegah says:

    Joel’s departure scene: “I can’t come back, I don’t know how it works! Goodbye, folks!”


  • 2
    Professor Gunther says:

    “Poppies will make you sleep” — HERCULES (Season 5). It’s the emphatic way Joel says it that gets me. (That was Joel, right? Correct me if I’m wrong!)

    I’m WAY in the minority here, but I can’t watch THE WIZARD OF OZ, because it creeps me out so much. I LOVE references to the film, however; they help me approach it (and my deepest fears, or something).


  • 3
    Professor Gunther says:

    I will also add that HERC (season 5) is the perfect film for a Wizard of Oz reference, because both films are insanely colourful. (And I should point out that while The Wizard of Oz DOES creep me out, I thoroughly recognize its SIGNIFICANCE. I am also intrigued by — and impressed with — Sampo’s idea that it represents the “last, perhaps the only, commonly shared experience in America.” If that doesn’t have brilliant essay written all over it, nothing does.)


  • 4
    robot rump! says:

    ‘Angel’s Revenge.’ the disturbing beach scene where Palance Jr. is all gagged up and trying to warn his half wit friend of the naughty women and their evil intentions. Just as he is asked what he just grunted, Crow squeaks out ‘oil can! oil can!’ ala the tin man.


  • 5
    robot rump! says:

    BTW if ‘Wizard of Oz’ has the most references, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ has to be a close second.


  • 6
    MSTie says:

    #1 eegah already mentioned my favorite WoO reference, in Joel’s departure scene. I’ll chime in with the classic line, “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Lions, and tigers and bears, oh my!,” which I think is in Pod People.


  • 7
    radioman970 says:

    ^^^ yes yes yes! “Lions and tigers and bear…”

    ANYTIME Joel says… “and what about Scarecrow’s brain?!!!”

    (and Joel’s departure as already posted above…classic Joel!


  • 8
    AlbuquerqueTurkey says:

    Is there ANY MST episode that does not have at least one Wizard of Oz reference? I have tried to notice this over the years, and I believe I have noted at least one in every episode. Some obviously have several references. There are so many that I can’t think of one ultimate favorite. I always like the times when Joel pulls out “How about a little fire, Scarecrow?”, and anytime “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” is used, as I use those in daily speech myself.


  • 9
    Son of Peanut says:

    I guess my favorite is from Prince of Space when Krankor’s ship is flying across the sky and Mike says “Surrender Dorothy”.

    I also like the moment in Phantom Planet when the tiny aliens approach while someone sings “Come out. Come out.”


  • 10
    Comfort Fulton says:

    Agree with #7. Especially at the end of Cave Dwellers (I think) in the last host segment the bots are complaining about the movie while Joel stays silent with a dumbfounded look until the very end. “Yeah, and what about Scarecrow’s brain!” Out of nowhere and perfectly timed.

    Also in This Island Earth during the host segment about the interocater(sp?) and Dr. Forrester fading in with “Help Auntie Em” is pretty great too.


  • 11
    sol-survivor says:

    I believe during “Lost Continent” right after the plane crashes Crow (?) says something like “We landed on a witch. Maybe the film will be in color from now on”. Been quite a while since I watched it so the quote might not be accurate.


  • 12
    agentmom says:

    It would have to be (for me) “It Conquers the World.” Every time Peter Graves gets on that bike, Joel and the Bots start singing the Wicked Witch theme that plays over Miss Gulch riding her bike.


  • 13
    RPG says:

    I can’t even remember the episode it came from but the line was: “It’s one of those ‘Fly, Monkeys, fly’ monkeys.


  • 14
    maclen says:

    One i just recalled that hasn’t been mentioned…in Village of the Giants when Ron Howard’s “Genius” comes to the rescue at the end with the giant antidote riding in on his bike…there’s the riff of “Opie, Opie, Opie” set to theme music in the movie


  • 15
    jaybird3rd says:

    “The Wizard of Oz” must be the most-frequently-quoted movie in all of MSTiedom. As Sampo points out, that movie had a special aura around it for those of us who grew up before VCRs and home video because getting to watch it was an “event” that came only once or twice a year. The networks would rebroadcast it during the holidays, and for most of us, that was the only opportunity to see it. It must have entered the Brains’ subconscious early in life: Joel has said in interviews that he was one of those kids who stayed up late to watch it at Thanksgiving, and I’m just old enough to remember doing that, too.

    My favorite quote was from “Fire Maidens of Outer Space”: when the astronauts land in the cowfield in Wisconsin on the 13th moon of Jupiter and get rocks thrown at them from the woods by the skinny guy wearing a hairless ape mask “man with the head of a beast”, Joel says “How’d you like it if we picked your apples?” That scene was visually reminiscent of the apple-throwing scene from “The Wizard of Oz”, so it was perfectly timed.


  • 16

    Well, I’d argue that Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon was the last shared experience, but aaaaaaa-aaanyway…

    From the big chase scene in Wild Rebels:
    Banjo: Follow the yellow brick road…!
    Servo: We’re not in Kansas anymore, dude!


  • 17
    Viking Woman says:

    Two I love from “The Undead”:

    (The witch Meg Maude enters the tavern)
    Mike: “She’s hitting Happy Hour with Margaret Hamilton.”

    Meg Maude: “I’ll take that challenge…”
    Servo: “… And your little dog, too!”


  • 18
    Viking Woman says:

    Also from “The Undead”:

    Crow, as the imp: “Satan, I’d like to move up the ladder in the Lollipop Guild.”


  • 19
    Flying Saucers Over Oz says:

    ‘Platform Posture,’ the Aunt Bea – Margaret Dumont type lady: “Our subject today is flowers. Don’t you just adore flowers?” Joel, in Witch’s voice: “Poppies!”


  • 20
    radioman970 says:

    @jaybird, same here! We’d see the listing in the TV Guide, usually a little box with the characters there. I couldn’t read but mom would remind me and big sis when it was coming on. Of course, they would advertise it endlessly. We never missed it or Willy Wonka or anything like that. … the whole family had a huge love for the film. That’s why it was funny when my sister’s youngest kid panicked when it got to the flying monkey parts during his first view. We just sat in shock. He was screaming for us to shut it off. He was fine up until that moment… well seemed to be, but I’ll bet the witch’s appearances stoked the coals. I did remember things about that movie that scared me as a boy, witch, monkeys, but never ever enough to load my shorts over! lol It went with the territory. In contrast, one of his favorite movies as a kid was the horror film HOUSE. Isn’t that way scarier? just weird what Oz does to some kids.


  • 21
    EricJ says:

    – The Lollipop Guild Police, designed to make Rondo Hatton look taller in The Brute Man.

    – The robot from Phantom Creeps: “Oil can, oil can!” “I’m dead, please don’t smoke.”

    – And can’t remember the reference from Magic Voyage of Sinbad, but following King Neptune with “Somebody pulled my tail, buh-huhh…”


  • 22
    Luther Heggs aka Number 6 says:

    MST3K The Movie… Dr. Forrester coming through Tom Servo’s interocitor, saying, “Wait, help! Auntie Em! Auntie Em!”

    What a dickweed.


  • 23
    jaybird3rd says:

    How about when Crow is finally unfrozen at the beginning of K07: “Oil can … oil can … I had the strangest dream, and you (Joel) and you (Servo) were there!”


  • 24
    Mike "ex-genius" Kelley says:

    My wife and I always thought a better topic would be “What MST3K episode does NOT have a WoO reference?”.

    As posters here have noted, they are in every single one. The game my wife and I play is always to see how soon into the episode the reference (at least the first one — often there are many in the same episode) comes. So let me throw that challenge out here as well — what’s the earliest reference and the latest reference (in terms of minutes/seconds into the show)?


  • 25
    edge10 says:

    Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man…


  • 26
    Mike "ex-genius" Kelley says:

    And to prove my point, we were just watching “Beast of Yucca Flats” and about five minutes into the movie we got “You dare question the great Oz!” when the bomb went off.

    However, this wasn’t early in the episode since there were two preceding shorts (neither of which had a reference we caught, but we could have missed one).


  • 27
    EricJ says:

    Back in the ad-libbed S1 days, when Crow and Servo are doing a host-seg for Robot Monster, with Crow as the Great Leader on the Monitor, you can hear him try (and fail) to remember “You clinking, clanking, c-lattering collection of caliginous junk!”


  • 28
    David Mello says:

    Actually, Dr. F. did the “Auntie Em” bit before the movie when he gleefully saw Joel and the bots suffer through “Castle of Fu Manchu”.
    And to RPG, it was “Terror From the Year 5000” with the line, “It’s one of those ‘Fly, monkeys, fly’ monkeys.”


  • 29
    Cambot J.Nson says:

    “I *do* believe in spooks, I *do* believe in spooks. I do, I do, I do, I *do* believe in spooks!

    …Don’t I?


  • 30
    Lex says:

    Wild Rebels (which I was just watching) they are running from the police and Jeter says “Down the yellow brick road, man.”

    Tom Servo: “Yeah, we’re not in Kansas anymore, dude.” You can sort of here him say “Go kill Dorthy.” It’s a bit low on the volume.


  • 31
    littleaimishboy says:

    Although “The Wizard of Oz” has the most references, having so many classic lines, many of which just so apply to situations in everyday life (“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”), I wonder if “White Heat” doesn’t hold the record for most references to/exact quotes of a single line.


  • 32
    Luther Heggs aka Number 6 says:

    @ 28

    “Actually”, my pick stands as my favorite, the interocitor functioning as an analog of the witch’s crystal ball. Grin


  • 33
    Droppo says:

    Joel’s farewell, for sure. Now, anytime I see that scene in the Wizard of Oz, all I think of is Joel leaving.

    It was the perfect sendoff – somehow, it encapsulated everything that made Joel so wonderful.


  • 34
    Warren says:

    The photographer in Deadly Mantis nodded in an odd way and the riff was “Mrs. Bert Lahr”. Some of my relatives were in a school play version of Oz so I get more references now in repeat MST viewings.


  • 35
    Kali says:

    Definitely from The Brute Man, with the cops a little too small for the part

    Servo: Whoa, midgets!

    Shall we go? Everyone: “We represent the Lollipop Guild!”


  • 36
    Fart Bargo says:

    @ 21 “I’m dead, please don’t smoke.” I don’t remember that quote from WOO. I do remember that quote from one of the first anti smoking TV ads. It was Yul Brenner who as diagnosed with terminal lung cancer who stated “Please don’t smoke.” A very cringe worthy riff.

    In GODZILLA VS SEA MONSTER, Joel and Dr F were arguing over who thought of the invention first when TVs Frank, dressed as TVs Giordi Laforge throws in “What about Scarecrow’s brain?”.


  • 37
    Charlie says:

    A few that have not been mentioned yet:

    From The Amazing Colossal Man, as it’s discovered that Glen’s dead skin cells have magically healed.
    Carol: “Why, he’s going to be all right!”
    Tom: “Yeah right, Dorothy, you can go back to Kansas now!”

    From The Brain That Wouldn’t Die:
    Curt: “She has a brain, and a soul…”
    Tom: “And da noive!”

    And from Girls Town, I do not remember the exact context of the scene but of the girls gives a “Ha ha ha!” line to which Tom responds with “Ho ho ho!” and Crow chimes in with “and a couple of Tra La La’s!”


  • 38
    Ian L. says:

    In “I Accuse My Parents” when Tom regrets trying to become a real boy:

    “Now I KNOW I’m a real boy; I can hear my heart breaking!”
    “It’s okay, it’s okay…” (Joel leans his head on Tom)
    “Commercial sign now.”
    “Sitting here, smiling, watching Tommy grow…”
    “Uh, I’m still wet, you know. Um, I think you’re stuck…”


  • 39
    bobhoncho says:

    Considering how popular this episode is, I’m surprised it hasn’t been mentioned yet. In Catalina Caper, during the scuba treasure hunt, the kids come back up to the surface:

    Duvall: “What have we got?”
    Joel: “What do we ain’t got?!”
    All 3 (in unison): “COURAGE!!”


  • 40
    maclen says:

    Watched The Skydivers last night. There was the first skydive by Pete…and as his chute opens and he “boing boing boings”… he looks from side to side, the riff in the voice of the Tinman “I can see my feet from here.” In a scene when Beth is at the gas pumps in her jumpsuit, Crow riffs, “she looks like a munchkin from this angle” and then as she walks toward the car, Tom riffs, ” “In the merry ol’ land of Oz”


  • 41

    Way too many for my taste. TWOZ was a MST crutch I wish they would have thrown away after season 3. Enough already. We get it. It’s a cultural touchstone. Please stop touching it or you’ll go blind.


  • 42
    Huggybear says:

    From The Violent Years. As Paula and her friend go through the plate glass window. I think it’s Servo that cries “Auntie Em”!

    That’s the first one that came to mind.


  • 43
    maclen says:

    @Cinematic Fanatic

    Yeah, there are many repeated “theme” riffs throughout the history of the show. Surely, Oz is used very often…who WOULDN’T recognize the references. Personally, I still get a huge laugh out of the repeated “paging Mr. Herman’…and “Jethro wants to be a rock star” myself.


  • 44
    Jay K. says:

    What keeps our legs all warm and hot? PANTS!
    What prevents a buffalo shot? PANTS!
    So what do they got that I ain’t got?! Pants.

    You can say that again… Huh?


  • 45
    ready4sumfootball says:

    @8: I think I’ve seen a few episodes without Oz references before, maybe I simply missed them, but as you point out the show was incredibly rich with references to The Wizard of Oz.

    I was watching some of Phase IV once. Normally the KTMAs are too rough for me to enjoy too much of, but I remember there being one Oz reference in there that actually got a good laugh out of me. It was perfectly timed too, and now when people talk about the Oz jokes in MST3K my mind immediately jumps to that one.


  • 46
    Mike "ex-genius" Kelley says:

    As I said in my post, I have never seen an MST3K episode without one reference to WoO — but that would be a challenge in and of itself.

    My wife and I always comment when the first one in the episode is made (“And there’s the Wizard of Oz reference!”) and we have gone through all the episodes at least three times now (working on our fourth and up to the end of Season Six). We haven’t yet come across an episode without a reference for sure this last time but there may be one in seasons 7-10 we just haven’t remembered (remembered the lack of one, that is). If someone wants to throw out the challenge, that would be it (just say “I don’t think there is a reference in episode XXX” and we’ll make sure ).


  • 47
    Son of Peanut says:

    @13 & 28
    There was also a great “Fly monkeys fly!” in Bloodlust just before the girls climb out the window.


  • 48
    jjb3k says:

    Someone already mentioned Servo’s “You dare question the Great Oz?” from “The Beast of Yucca Flats”, but there’s another great one from that episode that I also love:

    NARRATOR: These men are also from behind the Iron Curtain.
    CROW: Pay no attention to them.


  • 49
    Brandon says:

    I don’t know for sure if *EVERY* MST3K episode had an Oz reference, but damn near every Joel-era episode did.

    Mike’s first episode has host The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, had an Oz joke, but that’s mainly because there’s a line in the movie that totally sets itself up for one:

    “She had a heart….. and a brain!”

    Servo: “And da noive!”


  • 50
    Pritcher says:

    From “I Accuse My Parents”. Kitty is breaking it off with Jimmy because her gangster boyfriend is hiding in the closet. At one point, the shot switches to Kitty looking, with her mane-like head of hair, much like the Cowardly Lion. She blurts out “Why you chump!” in a rather Bert Lahr-like manner and Crow (in Cowardly Lion voice) quickly adds “Courage!” It is just so perfectly executed, it gets me every time.


  • 51
    Noraml_View82 says:

    Son of Peanut already referenced the line from an actual MST3K episode, but I love the slightly modified version from the Rifftrax Live: Plan 9 from Outer Space broadcast.

    An Army General is looking through his binoculars at an incoming flying saucer assault and I think it’s Bill that quips, “Surrender Dorothy…what the hell?”. I just love the addition of WTH, it’s the perfect sentiment to cap off the riff.


  • 52
    Ngobleus says:

    #20–funny you should mention this being so scary for a kid; we had this on VHS at my parents’ house and watched it a lot when I was little. Funnily enough, the movie itself didn’t scare me all that much, but I had this bizarre fear of the MGM logo (not the original in the film, but the ‘static’ one of the lion in mid-roar included on the VHS print). To this day I can’t figure out why, although it didn’t help me with sitting through Don Bluth animated films (considering most of them were distributed my MGM on home video at the time).


  • 53
    Meranalf says:

    I was almost done with a list of Oz references for Ward E when my computer crashed and I lost the file that had everything on it. I did notice a trend in their frequencies. There was a distinct drop-off when Joel left the show, and another when Trace left the show. In fact, during the Sci-Fi years, it was more common to not have an Oz reference than for there to be one. Season ten was particularly bereft of Oz references; looking at my hand-written notes, I only found two references. (Compare that to Teenagers from Outer Space, which has seven references, just in one episode.)


  • 54

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  • 56
    MWH1980 says:

    I do love when Forrester mocks the guys when they are losing their sanity over “The Castle of Fu Manchu.”