Short: (1947) Young Johnny wanders around the 1947 Canadian National Exhibition after his negligent parents lose track of him.
Movie: (1959) A coffeehouse owner wants to knock off an armored car, and gets three losers to help him.
First shown: 12/12/92
Opening: Joel has something really scary to read to the bots at bedtime
Invention exchange: The Mads demonstrate their “quick primp kit,” while J&tB present their paint-by-number Mark Rothko
Host segment 1: Crow tries record album acting lessons with Scott Baio
Host segment 2: J&tB discuss what to do during a four-hour layover in Chicago
Host segment 3: J&tB have a writing workshop, with Merritt Stone in mind
End: Tom “Hercule” Servo tries to ferret out the mystery of Merritt Stone (and his head explodes. In Deep 13, Frank is equally confused
Stinger: “I am bugged!”
• This is the beginning of a stretch of good to really excellent episodes, with everybody on the staff firing on all cylinders. The riffing of the short is classic, and it carries over into the movie. The movie itself is pretty static and dull in the first half, but finally gets going once the robbery starts, giving them plenty to riff on. The segments aren’t all classics, but there are no real clunkers either.
• Clearly the Brains’ don’t like “Life’s Little Instruction Book,” (which I had never heard of when I initially saw this show). Two decades later, it is still available.
• The quick primp kit is a favorite invention exchange of mine, especially Frank’s Fonzie-esque “ayyyy!”
• What a great short and despite Joel’s admonition, they get plenty dark … you know, the way we like it.
• I’ve exchanged emails Charles Pachter, who at the age of 4 played little Johnny (he has only vague memories of the whole thing) and who now is a fairly prominent Toronto artist. Find out more about him at his web site. Those were his real parents playing his parents, by the way.
• I love the little record player they use in segment 1; and that’s Mike’s voice, of course, as Scott Baio.
• What would YOU do with a four-hour layover in Chicago? (Although if it’s a plane layover, it would take you two hours to get into town from O’Hare and two to get back, so…) Me, I think I’d take the architecture boat tour of the Chicago River and note how the structures of so many of the buildings tend to draw my eyes upward… oh, okay, I’d go Navy Pier and get hammered. By the way, I believe what Tom refers to as the Continental Bank building is now the Bank of America building.
• I was glad to see they kept the “Get Smart” jokes to a minimum, though that’s fairly typical. They don’t like to beat one reference to death…usually.
• Obscure reference: “Bizarre” with John Byner.
• Alright, let’s settle this once and for all. Tom’s right, he’s not Merritt Stone. He’s Gene Roth. Although they do whole Merritt Stone thing in this episode, Stone is NOT in this movie. As Daddy-O informs us: Dark, slender and gaunt Merritt Stone played the spider-eaten dad Pete Flynn at the very beginning of 313- EARTH VS. THE SPIDER; a clergyman in 414- TORMENTED; had an uncredited part as a consoling cop near the end of 319- WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST and the King Grady in 411- THE MAGIC SWORD. Looking like Nick Nolte’s father [or, increasingly, like Nick himself], portly, baggy-eyed Gene Roth played the sheriff in both 313- EARTH VS. THE SPIDER and 406- ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES and the lunch cart guy in 414- TORMENTED, as well as a railroad conductor in this movie. Handsome, avuncular Jack Kosslyn portrayed a lieutenant in 309- THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN; the KTLA newscaster in 319- WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST; Fraser in 313- EARTH VS. THE SPIDER; and, under a lot of makeup, the ogre in 411-THE MAGIC SWORD. There, that’s settled.
• Can anybody tell me what that’s a picture of on the Rhino DVD face? It looks like a pizza to me … how that relates to the movie I have no idea.
• Cast and crew roundup: director Gene Fowler Jr. also directed “I Was A Teenage Werewolf.” Cinematographer Karl Struss also worked on “Rocketship X-M” (and later in his career won an Oscar). Special effects guy Augie Lohman also worked on “Lost Continent.” Art director David Milton also worked on “The Corpse Vanishes.” Set builder Joseph Kish also worked on “Phantom Planet.” Score composer Paul Dunlap also worked on “Lost Continent” and “I Was a Teenage Werewolf.”
In front of the camera, In addition to Gene Roth, Don Sullivan, as Tom notes during the episode, was in “The Giant Gila Monster.” Robert Shayne was in “Teenage Caveman” and “The Indestructible Man.” I. Stanford Jolley is also in “The Violent Years.” Byron Foulger is also in “High School Big Shot.” Gloria Moreland was also in “Phantom Planet.” Smoki Whitfield was also in “Jungle Goddess.” Carey Loftin was also in “Radar Men from the Moon.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Trace Beaulieu.
• Fave riff from the short: “Jiminy, thinks Johnny, if only could get a ride in one of those.”
• Fave riff from the movie: “And be sure you have your tickets ready. They’re really strict about that.”