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Film / The Earth Day Special

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"We have searched the skys for signals... Our spacecraft have explored dozens of exquisite worlds in the family of our sun... But as far as we've looked, there's only one place in the entire universe where the miracle of life exists... Our own planet Earth. Life is so rare and precious. We must safeguard... protect... and cherish it."

And so begins The Earth Day Special, presented by Time Warner and aired on ABC in 1990 to mark the 20th anniversary of Earth Day. It's Earth Day, and a man named Every Man is boasting about the progress mankind has made. Suddenly, Mother Earth appears in the skies, chiding them all for taking the web of life for granted. Feeling ill, she falls to Earth. Now humanity must learn to get their act together or Mother Earth's a goner.

    Starring (in alphabetical order) 


This special provides examples of:

  • Argument of Contradictions: Martin Short as Nathan Firm engages in one with Harold Ramis as Elon Spengler.
  • Award-Bait Song: Barbra Streisand's "One Day". The opening has a bit of her 1985 song "Somewhere".
  • Bad Future: Doc Brown has witnessed the year 2057, and it's not pretty.
  • Blipvert: Especially at the beginning, when Mother Earth is rushed into the hospital.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Bugs Bunny, naturally, and Martin Short as Nathan Firm. The latter does have some merit, however, as he was being filmed by Downtown Julie Brown's news crew. Bette Midler and Robin Williams break character at the end, and Midler even says, "It's going to take a whole lot more, though, than just one television show..."
  • Expy: Harold Ramis as Dr. Elon Spengler, brother of Dr. Egon Spengler and president of Wastebusters.
  • Advertisement:
  • Framing Device
  • Greek Chorus: Paula and Victor.
  • Green Aesop: What's an Earth Day special without one?
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Some of the parting advice from the All-Star Cast before the credits end up as nothing more than flubs.
  • Large Ham: Robin Williams as Every Man.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Every Man brags about Man having a very large... brain.
  • Laugh Track: The Saturday Night Live and Dating Game segments, and a little bit in the Cheers segment.
  • Leitmotif: Some characters from other sources have one taken straight from their source material.
  • Logo Joke: The Blue Office Pictures logo at the beginning turns into "Green Office Pictures". The Vault Productions logo also turns green.
  • Made-for-TV Movie
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: A good number of actors reprised their roles of characters they were known for portraying at the time (Neil Patrick Harris in Doogie Howser, M.D., for example).
  • Mood Whiplash: All over the place.
  • Muppet Cameo: This just so happened to be one of Jim Henson's last projects - The Earth Day Special aired mere weeks before Jim passed away.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Vic dreams about his buddies making fun of him and taking the environment for granted, then witnessing Mother Earth flatlining.
  • Opening Monologue: Quoted above.
  • Precision F-Strike: The word "Hell" is used sparingly throughout this special.
  • Physical God: Mother Earth.
  • PSA: They don't kick in until late in the special.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: The end of Vic's nightmare.
    Doogie Howser: "Vic, this is ALL... YOUR... FAULT!"
  • Random Events Plot
  • Recurring Riff: The melody from "One Day" underscores the action occasionally.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: How the Looney Tunes characters were able to appear in the special.
  • Say My Name: Every Man when Mother Earth faints.
  • Tempting Fate: In Every Man's speech, he says "[Mother Earth]'s the type of mom who could never say no." Cue Mother Earth putting him in his place.
  • Visual Pun: As Bugs leaves, he mutters, "This was a great place to live, 'til man set foot on it." Cue closeup of one of Every Man's feet stepping into frame.
  • Wrong Turn at Albuquerque: Bugs doesn't say the actual phrase, but he was trying to get to the Cucamonga Carrot Festival.