Whenever my life gets me so down,
I know I can go down
To where the music and the fun never ends!
As long as the music keeps playin', you know what I'm sayin',
You know that I can find a friend...
At the Roundhouse!
The oft forgotten show of the two-hour-long Snick
block back in The Nineties
, with the other three being Clarissa Explains It All
, The Ren & Stimpy Show
, and Are You Afraid of the Dark?
's version of the Saturday Night Live
-type sketch show featuring a young cast of performers and crazy sketches with average to low production values. It was, in most respects, Nickelodeon's first attempt at a Spiritual Successor
to their hit 80's sketch show You Cant Do That On Television
(which was cancelled two years prior). Unfortunately, its Darker and Edgier
tone compared to most other Nick shows prevented it from reaching the popularity of the former series, and it was soon replaced by the far more popular (and kid-friendly
) All That
Set in the titular train roundhouse, the cast would entertain the audience — both the live, present one and those watching at home — with skits based around popular culture, as well as musical and dance acts, with a Framing Device
of the Anyfamily family and what they went through day by day.
The show ran from Snick's debut in 1992 until 1994 (although it remained in reruns until 1996), and it was conceived by Buddy Sheffield of In Living Color!
. No relation to Chuck Norris
' most powerful attack.
This show provides examples of:
- Aerith and Bob: The characters in the Mighty Groovin' Flower Power Rangers skit are Rainbow, Sunshine, Moonbeam and Carl (who just joined the team).
- All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": The Trope Namer is spoofed in season 2 with a sketch called The Crying Game: The Early Years. It's about a baby boy in the infirmary talking about a baby girl that he was attracted to. Until the nurse came to change her diaper, and we find out that she's actually a boy (played by castmember Seymour Green).
Mark: "Someone must have taped that bow to his head by mistake! I was making passes at a GUY!!!"
- American Gothic Couple: In the gang violence episode, John and Shawn stick their heads into a cutout of this painting and muse about social progress.
- Audience Participation: An odd case - sometimes the actors will do some stuff in the audience, such as the "Sally Jessy Rafael" parody character introduced in season 2's "Best Friends", and the "Stupid People's Choice Awards" in the school dropout episode. One of the few cases of audience involvement was in the talent show episode, where they got two random people as "judges" for the talent show and called them Tina Yothers and Urkel. Castmates Seymour Green and Alfred Carr would also do some warm-ups with the audience before filming began (one of these for the Christmas Episode appeared on their commercially-released video 2's A Crowd).
- Bait and Switch: The season 3 premiere about equality parodied the Energizer commercials' use of this trope, with two separate bits of the dad watching a "Curtain Rod Stewart" concert on Empty V and a commercial for "Crack Flags" (a spray for when you have a bug up your butt). Both instances, they would be interrupted by the mom waxing Straw Feminist phrases like "Why can't the post office send fe-mail? And mailmen should be called 'person-persons'!"
Still going. Nothing outlasts the Feminizer. She keeps going, and going... and going.
- Big Damn Movie: See Title: The Adaptation below.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: The cast occasionally spoofed (fellow Viacom affiliate) MTV with "Empty-V".
- Breakout Character: David Sidoni's "Dumb Kid" recieved a lot more prominence in season 3. Not to Fonzie levels, but still.
- Bumbling Dad: Especially in the disasters episode, in which he moves his family to a place that's extremely prone to earthquakes and mudslides.
- Buffy Speak: In one episode, Dad says something like "Flying out of windows like... things that fly out of windows!"
- Catch Phrase / Share Phrase: "Reprise the theme song and roll the credits!"
- Fun note: During the second taping of the final episode, they actually said "Reprise the theme song and roll the reruns!" but used the first taping's catchphrase in editing.
- The principal (Mark with a cardboard speaker over his head) has "This is just a reminder..."
- Christmas Creep: Parodied in the time episode, where a store called "Needless Markup" advertises their pre-Christmas sale. Micki lampshades this by saying it's not even Thanksgiving yet.
- Christmas Episode: Among other things, it spoofed Yet Another Christmas Carol with the Ghosts of Christmas Specials, who had to make their visitation quick because they had to make a Saved by the Bell appearance in less than an hour.
- The episode also features a string of Parody Commercials for non-existent Christmas Specials, including "How David Lynch Stole Christmas" ("You're a weird one, Mister Lynch.") and "Shirley McClane's 'It's A Wonderful Afterlife'".
- Circling Birdies: In the natural disasters episode, Ivan takes a tumble during a mudslide, and Shawn says that she can tell he's injured because of the tweeting birdies, prompted by Natasha holding a mobile of stars over Ivan's head.
- In another episode, Ivan is clonked with an anvil and says that he sees "stars," as a castmate spins a mobile with cutouts of actors around his head.
- Cliché Storm: Horror film tropes are parodied to hell and back with the Real Trailer, Fake Movie Hellraiser Freddy The Thirteenth Halloween Chainsaw Massacre On Elm Street 12: "You've seen it all at least eleven times."
- Cool Chair: Dad's. In one commercial/interview, the actor who played Dad said he could even drive that thing in the water.
- Cool Old Lady: Grandma or an aunt sometimes.
- Curse Cut Short: In the natural disaster episode, during The Hollywood Squares parody, one of the questions was about the famous Catch Phrase made famous by Last Action Hero. The answer, as said by Mark, was "Hey! I paid 7 bucks to see this piece of-" *BZZ* "Ohh sorry we ran out of time!"
- Darker and Edgier: The show was this compared to just about any other Nick show being made at the time, dishing out some pretty heavy-handed humor (see Getting Crap Past the Radar below) and featuring a relatively adult ensemble cast (a good portion of which was over the age of 21). Not to mention the titular "roundhouse" - which was a pretty (literally and figuratively) dark setting for what was supposed to be a kid's show. This is most likely the reason why the show never really took off with viewers, as it was pretty quickly replaced with the far more kid friendly (and better-remembered) All That after airing for only two years and four seasons (at least it got a proper finale).
- Dartboard of Hate: In the Christmas episode, during the Hollywood Giftwrap segment, Amy opens a gift wrapped in this manner and finds a Shannon Doherty dartboard. This wasn't the first 90210-related Take That on the show and it definitely wasn't the last.
- Eat the Dog: In the intolerance episode, Ivan has an Imagine Spot about visiting his foreign crush's (Amy) house. During the visit, Amy shows him their puppy. Ivan remarks, "Wow, what a cute little puppy! Can I feed him?" to which the mother replies "Of course, we are fattening him up for dinner." This causes Ivan to freak out, causing the Imagine Spot to end.
- End of Series Awareness: See "No Fourth Wall" below.
- The Everyman: It's right there in their last name — "Anyfamily".
- They go and take that a step further, too. The family of Anyfamily lives on Anystreet, in Anytown, USA, and the kids attend Anytown Junior High School, class of 19Anyyear.
- Fantastic Racism: The intolerance episode takes this trope to its Logical Extreme, as it treats those with "innie" and "outie" belly buttons as different races. The main plot involves the Anyfamily son, who is an "outie" struggling with his feelings for a girl who is an "innie".
- Flipping the Bird: In the intolerance episode during the Race Krispies Parody Commercial, Mark does this after asking Ivan how many fingers the former is holding up. It's obscured with a piece of cardboard, but still.
- Follow the Bouncing Ball: Done in the Christmas Episode in the sketch mentioned below under Something Something Leonard Bernstein. The "lyrics" are printed on a long curtain sheet manned by two stagehands while Micki provides the "bouncing ball" part with a tennis ball attached to a stick.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: The climax of the school dropout episode features Sidoni hiding from police behind a restroom door. If you look closely, you'll see that the back of the door is signed by the entire cast (it was likely to be auctioned off later for charity).
- Gasshole: Dad, who's constantly asking people to pull his finger.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Lampshaded in the Jerry Lewis and Clark sketch, which opens with him being referred to as "France's favorite comic".
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Every episode, they manage to do something.
- There was the beauty pageant episode, where one of the girls puts a pair of balloons on her chest to be Dolly Parton (a gag that comes up multiple times during the show's run).
- The sports episode of season one also uses this gag, the "Sheebok Pump" training bra, to attract guys. After one of the balloons on the bra accidentally gets popped, Julene "grows" a new one, to which an astonished Ivan goes, "Wow, I wonder if they make one for guys, too!"
- There was one memorable quote in the beauty pageant episode:
John: "Don't get mad, get Pest-Off!"
- This quote from the song "Airbrain" from the beauty pageant episode:
The guys: "Brains are great until we find organs of another kind."
- The talent show episode from season 3 contains this quote:
"If you can't get the girl, you can always play your own instrument."
- In the self-esteem episode, the cast plays a word association game. After pairing Ren and Stimpy and Beavis and Butt-Head, they pair Madonna with Anything That Moves.
- Among other things, the show managed to avert the No Periods, Period trope in the feminism episode, combined with All Periods Are PMS. This was confined to a single sketch, a Parody Commercial for "Cramprin", a medication that gives guys the cramps. John and Ivan are just gullible enough to mistake it for candy, and leave the sketch all emotional.
Micki: Because if you're gonna have cramps...
Shawn: Why not make them suffer too?
Natalie: Cramprin is available at the AF-PMS Mini-Mart, open 24 hours a day, closed 7 days a month.
- In the school dropout episode, Ivan (during the Tattleship segment) says "Ohhhh, I took a bullet to my cruiser!"
- Groin Attack: Parodied in the "Tele-Quick" segment in the time episode:
Ivan: AHHH MY GROIN!!
- Here We Go Again: One episode revolved around the dad acting like Elvis Presley after getting hit by a flying videotape. By the end of the episode the mom was able to revert him back by hitting him on the head. At first it looks like he's back to normal, until, to the family's bewilderment, he starts acting like Marilyn Monroe!
- Hong Kong Dub: Parodied with every Speed Racer parody that the show does, where the characters are "dubbed" by some of the other actors, who have their backs turned to the camera. In the trouble episode, it's Speed Limit Racer; in the intolerance episode it's Speed Racist, and in the Live Episode it's Speed Eraser.
- Hollywood Giftwrap: In the Christmas Episode, Shawn gives a monologue about going to a special school where she learned to wrap the box and the top separately. This is followed by Amy opening a box wrapped in such a manner, which holds the Shannon Doherty Dartboard. In the background Ivan can be seen trying to rip apart a more complex present.
- "I Am" Song: "We're A Family", "TV Head", "Be Popular", "Bark Baby Bark", "Defender Of The Universe", "I'm A Bully" and "Stage Mother".
- I Am What I Am: The song "I Only Want To Be Me."
- "I Want" Song: "I Can Dream", "Be A Rebel", "Still Waiting For Love", "Talk To Me", "I Want To Be A Success," "Trying To Reach You" and "Could It Be You".
- Imagine Spot: A couple; these are triggered by cast members waving their hands in front of the camera. On at least one occasion Imagine Spotting came into play.
- This was parodied in the divorce episode: After an Imagine Spot involving Shawn as "Madonna Reed", there is a scene with Lisa and Shawn in which the former worries about John being all alone.
Lisa: "Just imagine what his life is like.
Shawn: Let's see.
Lisa: I said, imagine what his life is like!
(We then see Ivan and Seymour sitting on the other side of the stage, implying that they were supposed to wave their hands to cue the Imagine Spot)
Ivan: Hey! We just did a dream sequence.
Seymour: Yeah, we're on a break.
Shawn: Oh, forget it, we'll do it ourselves!
(Lisa and Shawn join hands and wave their arms to cue in the next sketch)
- I'm Going to Disney World: The Live Episode ends with a discussion in this form. Ivan decides to learn from his mistake but scores with Natasha anyway. A news reporter asks him what he'll do next. His reply:
- Insane Proprietor: The dad, for his garage sale. The sketch ends with him getting carted away.
- It's a Wonderful Plot: The mistakes episode did this, as a guardian angel (Mark) shows Ivan what would happen if the latter won his little league championship. Except that Mark made all of that up, and reminds Ivan that there are no second chances.
- The Christmas Episode did this as well. A brief sketch involves Shirley Maclaine (Jennifer) pondering what would happen if she was never born again.
- Large Ham: The entire cast of guilty of this at some point or another, although, with Roundhouse, it might be intentional.
- Laser-Guided Karma: The good luck episode revolves around the son wanting to audition for the show Claptrap (a Self-Parody). He is given a callback after getting a wedgie, and insists that his underwear is lucky and vows to never change them. By the time he's prepared for the audition though, his underwear has become too crusty for him to dance properly. The producers give him another chance anyway - all he has to do is read a title card showing the Catch Phrase, but he ends up mangling it.
- Live Episode: The "Mistakes" episode in season 4.
- Mic Drop: In the environmentalism episode, Alfred and Seymour (as "Sister Future and Brother Nature") do this multiple times in the course of about two and a half minutes.
- Multi-Part Episode: Season 4 had a two-parter involving time travel.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Another popular gimmick for their skits.
- No Fourth Wall: At least once per episode during the entire show's run, but the final episode completely destroys whatever this show had left of its fourth wall.
Ivan: "Cancelled shows, graduation, terminated? Either this is a really convoluted show about endings or we're-"
Nicoll: "Cancelled! Hello, you didn't get the memo?"
- Ocular Gushers: Natalie Nucci's "Sally Blubbers" character, at least in her first appearance (during the pilot).
- Off to See the Wizard: The episode about running away from home takes on this form. Among the references worked in are a Brick Joke about "Oreos and Yoda", Shannon Doherty as the Wicked Witch, and references to the bands Toto and Kansas.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Subverted, at one point in the episode where Ivan plans to fake his parents' divorce, the dad comes up to their front door holding a moustache up to his face and speaking in a fake Italian accent. Ivan recognizes him right away, because, in his own words, "most normal men don't come to the door in an easy chair."
- Parody Commercial
- Previously On: The second part of season 4's "History of the Anyfamily" opens with one of these, narrated by Bryan. He wraps it up with "Which brings us to this week's show!" Cue the theme song starting up again.
Bryan: WE ALREADY DID THAT!!
- Pun: The usual basis for parody commercials among other things. One notable example was the mom doing laundry and "separating the whites from the colors with new Apart Tide."
- Rapid-Fire Comedy: When it wasn't working on the week's Aesop.
- Real Trailer, Fake Movie: This is Roundhouse we're talking about. Fry Willy from the Straw Feminist episode comes to mind.
- Rewritten Pop Version: Inverted. The first episode's closing number "Back Where We Belong" is composer Benny Hester's album track "Restless Nights" with episode-specific lyrics.
- Running Gag: A few episode-specific ones.
- For example, in the season 1 sports episode, literally every Parody Commercial would be punctuated by Julene going, "(product name) is the official (Overly Narrow Superlative description of said product) of the U.S. Olympian Team!", followed by a snippet of John Williams' Olympic Games fanfare.
- The New Kids on the Block showing up in the new kid episode, only to be chased off by Dad.
- The natural disaster episode had David N., Natalie, Mark and Lisa singing a parody of The Beverly Hillbillies theme song explaining what was happening to the family at the moment ("Well after the commercial break the folks were still alright / but the house had slid for miles in the middle of the night"). At the beginning of act 3, John gets fed up with their singing:
John: I know the Supreme Court said we had a right to parody, but enough is enough!
- Self-Deprecation: One episode did this with a Show Within a Show entitled Claptrap. What little we see of it revolves heavily on Toilet Humor, such as "Hex-lax".
- Severely Specialized Store: In one bit, two Amazingly Embarrassing Parents look for envelopes at the mall. The map indicates a store named "Gee, I Can't Believe There's a Store in This Mall That Sells Nothing But Envelopes, Can You?".
- Shout-Out: Every pop culture reference on the show is either this or a Take That. And there are so, so many of them.
- Silent Credits: See Very Special Episode below.
- Signing Off Catch Phrase: Take a wild guess.
- Sketch Comedy
- Something Something Leonard Bernstein: The Christmas Episode had a Parody Commercial for a fake album entitled Holi-Dazed And Confused, "featuring all the carols nobody really knows the words to!" They render "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" as:
It came upon a midnight clear
Hmm hmm hmm hmm.. old!
Dununannuh (etc)... harps of gold!!
- Stealth Pun: In the Live Episode, the Anykid's name is Casey. He loses the little league game he's playing for. It's a reference to the poem "Casey at the Bat".
- Stock Parodies: One episode was a spoof of The Wizard of Oz.
- Studio Audience: Like most Nickelodeon shows.
- Stylistic Suck: Word of God has said that it was intended to give the feel of a bunch of kids putting on a show with no real props.
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Shawn Daywalt does this during the song "We're A Family" from the first episode:
I can cook your food, and I can sew a stitch
Don't you cross me up, cause I can be a...
difficult person to get along with.
- Happens again in the Christmas special - the mom is reading a Christmas card for atheists, which reads: "You're a firm non-believer, but time will soon tell / Cause you'll soon change your mind when you're dead and in H-E-double-two-hicks."
- "Beans, beans, good for your heart, the more you eat, the more you... (Beat) like them!"
- The Green Aesop episode had Seymour and Alfred rapping about the environment. At one point during the segment, Alfred goes:
Recycle all your papers, all your can and all your grass
And if you don't believe me, you can kiss my...
Yeah, you get the picture, peace!
- And the song "Breaking Out" in the self-image episode features this gem:
All I seem to grow are hideous zits
I wish just once, I could drop my....
Amy: physical attributes to give me more confidence.
- Superstition Episode: Season 4 had one, and in true Roundhouse fashion the basic superstition-related tropes are played around with (such as the "Moron Salt Lick" when Ivan spills a salt shaker, and the film Grumpy Omen).
- Take That: At pretty much everything. If it was part of pop culture at the time the episode was written, odds are, it got mocked.
- That Reminds Me of a Song: In the self-image episode, Amy backs out of a scheduled appearance on Empty V due to her stress over how she looked causing her to break out in hives. John remarks to the Empty V host that she's "probably off singing about what she learned from this experience." That song, "Just A Dream", has little to do with the events of the episode.note
- The below-mentioned school dropout episode had the silly love song "Could It Be You". Justified, since the episode revolved around the Anyfamily son being unable to understand things due to dropping out of school.
- That's All, Folks!: Besides the obvious "Reprise the theme song...", the Trope Namer showed up at the end of the "Letters Home From Great Wars As Read By Cartoon Characters" sketch where Sidoni did a Porky Pig impression.
- Title: The Adaptation: Spoofed with Weather Channel — The Movie, which featured an All-Star Cast: See Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts as a solar eclipse!
- Tragic Dropout: Played for Laughs in an season 4 episode. Ivan (coaxed with pressure from "Give Up With People") decides to quit school so he can become a professional skateboarder. He ends up missing the big skateboard competition he's been vying to attend, because he accidentally boarded a train headed for Dumbcluck, Egypt.
- Tropaholics Anonymous: They're fond of this trope as well.
- The second episode of season 4 had one with Elvises. (The B Story of that episode involved the dad acting like Elvis after getting hit by a VHS.)
- The trouble episode had one about Wayne's World addicts, entitled Wayne's World Anonymous Youth (W.W.A.Y.)
Lisa: My name is Sheila.
Guys: Party on, Sheila!
Lisa: And if I were president, I'd be...
Guys: Babe-raham Lincoln! Shwing!
- The self-image episode did this as well, as Amy attends one of these for people with low self-esteem. Turns into a subversion, as everyone else in the group realizes that they're better off than her because she had hives all over her body.
- They even did one of these about cheerleading addiction, which the instructor is also revealed to have by the end of the sketch.
- The superstition episode had one about "Ramblers Anonymous". It Makes Sense in Context.
- Troperiffic: And how.
- Very Special Episode: The show was quite skilled at juxtaposing sketch comedy with mature, real-life issues, but none of their efforts were quite as effective as the season 3 gang violence episode. This being Roundhouse, the episode was filled with the normal pun-based Mundane Made Awesome Rapid-Fire Comedy (bullet-proof tests, Dennis the Menace To Society, John and Shawn as the American Gothic Couple, and "gunderwear", to name a few). However, the ending had it turn out to be All Just a Dream of the Anyfamily son, who realizes the problem still exists in the "real world" and finds that the Catch Phrase doesn't work this time. He then wanders off confused just as the credits — which start with a text reminder that "Gang violence is no joke" — start to roll silently.
- There were also episodes about environmentalism, natural disasters, conflict, divorce, feminism, self-image, justice, intolerance, and war. While they weren't as blunt about it as the gang violence episode, there was no shortage on comedy and they all got the message across nicely.
- Of course, they also did a few parodies as well. For example, the divorce episode featured an Imagine Spot of the father marrying the homeroom milk monitor, which is then framed as an Afterschool Special entitled My Stepmom, My Classmate. The sports episode also had a fake teaser for a special Beverly Hills 90210 episode where a character gets... jock itch.
- Your Television Hates You: Done in the above-mentioned gang violence episode. After the son is accosted by two gangs in school, he talks to the dad about it, who replies, "What's the matter with kids these days? Where do they get these ideas?" We are then treated to a string of parodies related to the Aesop, such as Arson Hall, Northern Explosion, and The Cartridge Family (which shares its name with an episode of The Simpsons).
Reprise the theme song and roll the credits!