Wednesday, January 12, 2005


It's the first episode of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show back in 1970....

For whatever reason, Mary Richards finds herself in the men's room at the WJM-TV studios in Minneapolis.
Ted Baxter is there doing his business at the urinal, but upon her entrance, he zips up and spins around, holding out his hand in greeting.

"We haven't met. I'm Ted Baxter."

Mary stares at the hand in revulsion.

"Aren't you even going to wash that first?"

"I keep a very clean penis."

You don't remember that scene? Don't worry; you're not getting forgetful in your old age like Denny Crane. That snippet of conversation actually occurred on Denny's show 'Boston Legal' this past week. But instead of Ted Baxter, substitute Alan Shore. And his scene partner was Shirley Schmidt, not Mary Richards.

(I'm fairly certain you've already figured out that it took place in a Boston men's room, not in Minneapolis.....)

What I was trying to show is that the exchange was perfectly in keeping with the character of Alan Shore. (And that conversation only got better. Trust me! Catch it in reruns.) But when you try to imagine some other TV character saying such things....

It's not that Mary Richards didn't have her own edge. When her mother left Mary and her father alone one evening to get to know each other better, Mrs. Richards said, "Don't forget to take your pill."

Both Mary and her father replied, "I won't."

Okay, it seems tame by today's standards, but for the mid-70s (and ANY MTM character!) that was edgy.

I've found myself lately lifting lines of dialogue out of today's TV series and ascribing them instead to classic TV characters of the past. Just one of those little TV-oriented amusements, like re-writing those interminable email jokes that get passed around endlessly so that they are about TV characters (or sometimes family members!) instead.

Here's another example - when Marni Fliss and Nate Solomon were getting to know each other on their accidental blind date in the pilot episode of 'Committed', Marni trilled:

"So then I said, 'Hey, you can't touch me there! You're my uncle!' (Laughs) Aaah, family......."

Let's face it. For a sitcom, that's way past "edgy". That's pretty sick. (It sure goes a long way to splain why Marni is so off-the-wall though!)

But if you think that's bad enough as it is, take it out of context and give it to some other TV character to recite........

"So then I said, 'Hey, you can't touch me there! You're my uncle!' (Laughs) Aaah, family........"
- Jody Davis
'Family Affair'

You've just raised the "Ewwwwww" content by 47%!

Although I don't have any examples to hand, I've also taken some rather prickly quotes by Dr. Gregory House of 'House' and had 'Marcus Welby, M.D.' saying them instead.

Picture Jack Bauer's interrogation style on '24' being used by Captain Kangaroo while talking with Bunny Rabbit......

Why not give it a try yourself? And of course, I'd love to see what you come up with. Send them to me at and I'll share them on the Inner Toob blog.


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