Series: The Weird Al Show
"And he really makes a mighty fine jellybean and pickle sandwich/For what it's worth."The Weird Al Show
is a half-hour, Saturday morning live action show hosted by "Weird Al" Yankovic
. It showed a little adventure of Weird Al living in a cave 20 miles below the surface of the earth with his hamster, Harvey, then taught An Aesop
. It was only on for 13 episodes in 1997 before CBS
took it off.
Yankovic had wanted to make a straight entertainment program for kids (a la Pee-Wee's Playhouse
), but the show ran into severe Executive Meddling
. The previous year, the Children's Television Act had been amended to require U.S. broadcast stations to air a minimum three hours of educational programming for children each week. As such, CBS wanted its Saturday morning lineup to focus on shows that met the guidelines, and thus The Weird Al Show
had to incorporate pro-social Aesops into each show, which the creators found frustrating to say the least — and that was only part of the meddling they faced. Still, the makers did their best under the circumstances.
This show provides examples of:
- An Aesop: Every episode would start and end with one.
- Anvilicious: Every episode would also spend the next half hour pounding the moral into your head from all directions.
- Androcles Lion: Per the Expository Theme Tune, how Weird Al got the show. Al was in the forest trying to get a tan when he heard the tortured screaming of a funny little man. He was caught in a bear trap and Al set him free, and the guy that he rescued was as grateful as can be, and it turns out he's a big shot producer on TV. So he gives Al a contract, and whadda know? Now he's got his very own Weird Al Show!
- Berserk Button: Fatman doesn't care if a villain will change all water to pea soup or turn the town into a giant omelette, and will even be tempted to help the villain. But if it's BAD food, like a plain egg omelet, THEN he gets angry.
- Blind Without 'Em: A real life case, as the show was filmed shortly before Al had surgery to correct his vision. He notes on the commentary that his blind, wide-eyed stare while playing the glasses-less Fred Huggins actually adds a good deal to the performance.
- Bowdlerization: Thanks to Executive Meddling, Al was not allowed to call Barenaked Ladies by their actual name, instead forced to introduce the band as "BNL". Note that plenty of other kids networks at the time had no problems with using their actual name - just Al's. In the end, he called them by their full name anyway.
- Broken Aesop / Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Several episodes seem to be giving either the opposite message they were trying to convey, or a message that isn't exactly worthy of emulating (i.e. "Don't try to be the best at anything — it's too hard.").
- The Celebrity Lie: Weird Al claims to know John Tesh and brags to his friends about inviting him over, and then spends the rest of the episode having to come up with a scheme to raise money to book him for the afternoon to continue the lie.
- Christmas Episode: "The Obligatory Holiday Episode", which covers most of the other holidays as well.
- Classy Cat-Burglar: Valory Brentwood: Gal Spy - in appearance anyway.
- Continuity: Quite a few lapses occurred, most of which are pointed out (and mocked) in the DVD Commentary. Two notable ones include the youngest Hanson brother's hairstyle switching back and forth occasionally from regular to a ponytail (due to his refusal to keep his hair the same way as previous takes during the last take of their performance) and the Hooded Avenger putting on a party hat in one shot and the hat going back into his hand in a shot barely two seconds later (which Al Handwaved in an "Ask Al" column as "one of [The Hooded Avenger's] many superpowers!").
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: In one episode, a sadistic kid's show host threatens his sidekick with a "Pauly Shore marathon".
- Cool, but Inefficient: "The Egg Man" flies around with helicopters that look like eggs and have eggbeaters for rotors.
- The Danza: The show's character claims to be Weird Al, even though the real Weird Al never lived in a cave (that we know of) nor acted like a monstrous jerk to everyone he knew.
- Dark Horse Victory: Al and a competing TV Show host both lose the TV Show Host of the Year award to recurring character Fred Huggins, the only host who played fair.
- Don't Explain the Joke: A frequent piece of Executive Meddling. Many of the explanations noticeably come from someone who's not onscreen at the moment, a sure sign that they were dubbed in at the last minute.
- Executive Meddling: So much. The commentaries on the DVD box set go into great detail about the various forms of creative interference this show faced (concern over "imitatable behavior", for instance).
- Expository Theme Tune: The theme song is composed of three animated segments that explain why Weird Al is on television in a cave underground. It was released on his album, Running With Scissors.
- Extreme Omnivore: Weird Al is definitely one, and to a certain extent, most of his friends are too (though to a lesser degree than he is).
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: A bunch of stuff, but especially notable are the Vomit Indiscretion Shot of Baby Boolie on the Fred Huggins show and the brief HoYay between Fatman and the Slaw Meister.
- And they were somehow able to include the shot from Al's "Jurassic Park" music video where Barney the Dinosaur gets his head graphically bitten off by a T-Rex.
- In one scene of the opening, Al is holding a cocktail glass.
- The DVD commentary even mocked the inclusion of a scene from the "Gump" video of Forrest being carressed by bikini-clad women in a hot tub, wondering how that didn't get flagged for "imitatable behavior."
- Grand Finale: "The Obligatory Holiday Episode", the last in production order, which "celebrates" about three or four holidays and wraps up several ongoing threads. The series ends with show producer Dick Clark (symbolizing New Year's Eve) walking in to have everybody do a countdown to "HAPPY CLOSING CREDITS!"
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Billy West played the voice of Harvey in the Fatman cartoons.
- Hurricane of Puns: One of Fatman's enemies, "The Egg Man", has such a gratuitous overuse of egg puns that that Harvey is annoyed to no end.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: In the Adventures of Fatman, Harvey is obviously more intelligent than Fatman.
- Imaginary Friend: Weird Al has an "imaginary" friend named "Gilbert". He's actually Gilbert Gottfried, and he professes that he's real, even going so far as to try to show Weird Al his driver's license. Al ignores him.
- Jerkass: This universe's version of Al is a selfish, rude, and inconsiderate jerk that lies to his friends, ditches them for people he thinks are "cooler", yells at them for his own mistakes, and berates them for not living up to his standards. The real Al made a running joke in the DVD commentary about what an unlovable cretin his character was on this show. In fact, the only time he wasn't this annoying was in an episode with a one-shot character that was a bigger Jerkass than he was, making Al seem kind and considerate by comparison.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: How Al is likely supposed to be seen. This does shine through now and then, such as when Al used his time machine to try and get Harvey a birthday present, but the character's Jerk streak is just a bit too long for it's own good.
- Large Ham: The announcer. No one else can say the phrase "glandular problem" with more emphasis!
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Cousin Corky.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: See Jerkass.
- Medium Blending: The intro shifts animation styles from 2D animation, CGI, and claymation. Then, at the very end, it switches to live action.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Once an episode, Al shows us how to make food hybrids similar to the Twinkie wiener sandwiches he's fond of. These are intended as a joke however, as most if not all contain an inedible ingredient (which is ironic considering the many scenes containing "imitatable behavior" that were removed thanks to Executive Meddling). An example would be the potato-gummy worm-ink snack mentioned above.
- Out of Order: To the point where the premiere, which introduced the regular characters and sketches, aired tenth. Al and friends make a drinking game out of it in the DVD commentary.
- Pet the Dog: Jerkass that he is, Al obviously does care about Harvey, and heaven help you if you do something bad to him.
- Parody Commercial: Al's tv watching montages often included at least one of these, some of which were more obvious parodies of existing products (such as an action figure that is only a head and his body parts sold separately).
- Punny Name: A helicopter load of eggs descends into "Lake Convenient".
- Scare 'Em Straight: Reedited actual classroom films become hilarious sendups of this (even with the Executive Meddling, they knew their audience quite well).
- The commentaries recall one film which was so hilariously bizarre that they wanted to just air the real thing...only for the execs to tell them it would be too disturbing.
- Screwed by the Network: All the Executive Meddling meant the show never reached its full potential, and the makers knew it. Not to mention that it was on different times on every station, often very early in the morning, and its only advertising was during the Saturday-morning block itself.
- Shout-Out: Several supporting cast members of UHF, Al's only starring role in a film, made appearances.
- Kevin McCarthy, who played the villainous R.J. Fletcher in UHF, played the mayor of the town in the 60% Chance of Rain parody.
- David Bowe (not, not that one), who played George's friend Bob, appeared as one of the miners in the episode "Mining Accident".
- Gedde Watanabe (already somewhat famous for playing Long Duck Dong in Sixteen Candles) played a martial arts instructor that was clearly intended to be a version of UHF's Kuni, complete with his trademark catchphrase.
- Saturday Night Live alumni Victoria Jackson, who played main squeeze Terri in UHF, had a bit part as a crying woman in "Time Machine".
- Longtime friend Emo Philips showed up as the voice of the villainous Slaw Meister (modeled to look very much like Philips at the time) in the Fatman cartoon accompanying the episode "Mining Accident". He appeared again in the show proper as "Dr. Philips", a loony psychiatrist Al hires to try and calm Harvey down in "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Hamster."
- Al's late mom also guest starred as herself in the talent show episode. His band also came in and performed "Yoda" for Harvey's birthday.
- Show Within a Show: Several episodes had the animated Adventures of Fatman. Also, the recurring segment of Al watching TV allowed many different shows-within-a-show to be seen, most notably the Fred Huggins Show.
- Sure, Let's Go with That: In the DVD commentary, Al says that CBS told him they were looking for educational shows. His reply? "Suuuurrreee, we can be educational!"
- Techno Babble: The Hooded Avenger uses technobabble to explain why Hanson taking flash photography of giant Harvey will make him go back to his normal size.
The Hooded Avenger: No, no, stop! The flash effect from those cameras may displace neurons in Harvey's radioactive aura, damaging his neo-electrical field resulting in a complete and immediate growth reversal! (Harvey shrinks) See? Told ya.
- Thematic Rogues Gallery: Fatman's villains are all either food-based or have food-based plans. Or both.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Val Brentwood: Gal Spy doesn't actually perform any espionage or anything spy-like in any of the episodes we see her in. Given the number of episodes where actual spy work would be useful to Al or his friends, it's surprising that she pretty much doesn't do anything but hang around at Al's house.
- Title Theme Tune: Repeats "The Weird Al Show" many times during the end of the theme song.
- The Voiceless: Harvey occasionally communicates with thought bubbles, but is otherwise a normal hamster. This was a compromise, as the execs wanted a Talking Animal.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Quite surprisingly given the strict censorship, we get one from Baby Boolie.
- What Could Have Been: Obviously had it not been for the Executive Meddling, the show would have been more like a 1990s version of Pee-Wee's Playhouse.
- One of the DVD commentaries also talks about dropped characters, such as "The Guy Who Keeps Ringing the Doorbell and Running Away".
- Other bits that ended up not happening due to outside reasons included a sketch with Al as "Luke Skywalker's annoying little brother" in the original Star Wars (which was vetoed by Mark Hamill) and a possible cameo by William Shatner, Leslie Nielsen, or Christopher Walken performing in "The Obligatory Holiday Episode".
- The Guy Boarded Up In the Wall was originally going to be The Unintelligible with only Al understanding his muffled lines. Though changing it allowed them to make him a stand-up comedian.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Fatman's power of flight is slower than cars, thanks to his heft. Also, the Hooded Avenger has the power to craft a tiny horse out of an ice cube with his tongue.
- Writer Revolt: One episode sees Al forced to babysit an executive's nephew...who proceeds to order him to completely redesign the show to his whims. Given what the actual show went through, it's clear they were venting some frustration.
- The commentaries note that beginning each episode with a piece of paper with the moral of the day, which then gets ripped in half, was their protest over being forced to include the morals.