George: Don't worry, Bob. It's just like working in a fish market! Except you don't have to clean and gut fish all day.
UHF is a 1989 movie starring "Weird Al" Yankovic, written by Al and his manager Jay Levey (who directed). Al plays George Newman, a young man with an all-too-fertile imagination adrift in life. After getting fired from yet another job due to excessive daydreaming, he is appointed by his uncle Harvey as manager of Channel 62, a local UHF television station that Harvey won in a poker game.
George and his friend Bob soon discover that U62 is a near-abandoned station with a staff of four, almost no reception to speak of, and nothing but stale reruns for programming. With optimistic enthusiasm, George tries to revitalize the station's schedule, but quickly realizes that the channel will soon go bankrupt; the local airwaves are dominated by Channel 8, a network affiliate VHF station whose owners are card carrying villains with good publicity.
Things change when a depressed George carelessly puts station janitor Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards) in charge of the channel's early-morning kids' show; to everyone's surprise, Stanley's Cloud Cuckoolander antics become an instant hit across all demographics. Emboldened, George unleashes the full force of his creativity with a line of unique, oddball shows to fill out the rest of the schedule, with Stanley as their flagship superstar. These moves quickly catapult U62's ratings to #1 in town — which prompts Channel 8 head honcho R.J. Fletcher (played by sci-fi B-movie legend Kevin McCarthy) to take them down by any means necessary...
Like Weird Al's music, the film focuses its comedy on oddball humor and satire, parody, and pastiche of pop culture. Released in 1989, at the height of Weird Al's popularity, the film was expected to be a summer blockbuster, but barely broke even at the box office (opening against the 1989 Batman movie, amongst other heavy hitter movies) and instead became a Cult Classic.
For information on the movie's soundtrack and Al's sixth studio album, go here.
TV the way it was meant to be seen. In a trope listing.:
- Aborted Arc: Raul's subplot got aborted due to Trinidad Silva's death during filming.
- Abusive Parents: When R.J. Fletcher is introduced castigating an employee ruthlessly for not giving him the right type of pencil, it turns out that the employee is also his son!
- Actionized Sequel: Parodied with the commercial for Gandhi 2, an actionized sequel to Gandhi of all things. In this version, Gandhi is a jet-setting vigilante who beats up hoodlums, drives a Ferrari, eats steak and... you know... isn't dead.
- Affectionate Parody: The film is a parody of cheaply run UHF stations from the 70s and 80s. It also features a number of parodies of well-known shows and movies.
- Alternate Character Interpretation: George does this In-Universe, when in a depression from Terri leaving him. He describes the Road Runner cartoons as the Coyote being sad and pathetic, and the road runner being cruel and mocking the coyote for his pain.
- Then there's Mohandas Gandhi...the butt-kicking, gun-shooting, steak-chomping, lady-shagging, crime-fighting, vigilante action flick hero!
- A-Team Firing: Taken to a ludicrous extreme in the Rambo sequence.
- All or Nothing: In the end of the Wheel of Fish segment, the prize box is shown to be empty.Kuni: Inside the box is, (the box is shown as empty) NOTHING! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! STUPID, YOU'RE SO STUPID!Audience: STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID!
- All There in the Manual: Bob and Teri's last names (Steckler and Campbell), and the names of two of Fletcher's thugs (Frankie, the head thug, and Eddie, the killer thug). (Teri previously had the last name Moore, and Pamela had the last name of Taylor.) All of this was provided by Al in the DVD commentary.
- The quiet & corpulent camera guy was named "Burt Reynolds" (according to an early script, it was "Bert", with an "E"), and in earlier scripts, there was a guy, Roger Dickson ('The Bowl-O-Rama Casanova') who kept hitting on Teri when George wasn't around; Morris Beckman, Uncle Harvey's accountant; and Noodles MacIntosh had a dominatrix named Rock Sands for a girlfriend.
- Almighty Janitor: Broken into two roles. Stanley lives for being a humble janitor even after becoming famous as a show host (and God help you if you try to take his mop from him). Philo's the somewhat spacey engineer of this run-down station who proves to be a damn sneaky bastard when needed,
possiblya Mad Scientist, and definitely an alien.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Multiple professional reviews of the film refer to Stanley as "mentally retarded," but the character is never stated to be mentally disabled, nor would Yankovic likely ever mock the mentally disabled. At most he just seems a little childlike.
- Ambiguously Jewish: George Newman, his Uncle Harvey, and Pamela Finkelstein (given that Pamela is played by Fran Drescher, it's not that ambiguous).
- And Starring: "and Victoria Jackson as Teri". Apparently, Al and Victoria were dating at the time, which couldn't have hurt.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The human version... during the "Town Talk" promo, a bunch of weird guests are on the panel. They are, in order, A Neo-Nazi, A Dominatrix, A Klansman... A little girl with blond pigtails... and an axe-wielding expy of Jason Voorhees. Then subverted because the little girl is implied as an Enfant Terrible with a perpetual Slasher Smile.
- The Artifact: In-universe: as Stanley's set gets more elaborate as he rises in popularity, the original clubhouse the title refers is still still included off to the side of the main action.
- Asian Speekee Engrish: Played for a pun in the last act: a bunch of Asians jump out of a supply closet to surprise someone: "SUPPLIES!"
- Though the joke would be lost on people not aware of jokes involving Asian accents, since as Al points out in the commentary, the setup for the joke got cut for time.
- Even without the Asian accent the pun works regardless, whether it's a bunch of Anglo-Americans jumping out or a bunch of Latinos. The "supplies/surprise" word swap is plenty obvious as a joke on its own, without involving racial humor.
- Aside Glance: Right at the end of the film, George and Teri seemingly spontaneously act out Gone with the Wind. Then when Teri says "Because tomorrow is another day!", George glances at the camera and says to the audience "I knew she was gonna say that".
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: George is this in spades, especially in the film's early scenes.
- Axe-Crazy: The "Killer Thug" is implied to be this.
- Bad "Bad Acting": The owner of Spatula City makes a very stilted appearance in the commercial for his store.
- Berserk Button: Just try to take Stanley's mop away. We dare you.
- Bait-and-Switch: "And take that ridiculous thing off!" Not the silly hat, but the fake mustache you can't even tell is fake. Weird Al helpfully explains why this is funny in the commentary track (though he's obviously kidding).
- Big Bad: R.J. Fletcher serves as the primary one, while Big Louie serves as the Greater-Scope Villain.
- Big Eater: The U-62 camera man is hinted to be this. He's a very large man (played by one of the guys in Weird Al's Fat video) who's seen eating a big sub sandwich while operating the camera during the "Joe Early" scene and guzzles an entire pot of coffee by himself (straight from the carafe, mind you) during the telethon. In fact, there is not a single shot of him where he's not holding some type of food or drink.
- Big "SHUT UP!":George: (dejectedly) Hey kids, where ya wanna go? (cut to the audience of bored and half-asleep kids; then cut back to George) That's right. To Uncle Nutzy's Clubhouse. And boy, oh boy, are we gonna have "big fun" today. We're gonna have so much fun... (sighs) We'll forget about how miserable we are, and how much life sucks. And how we're all gonna grow old and die someday...
"Little Weasel" Kid: I wanna go home!
George: (angrily) Shut up, you little weasel!
- From "Town Talk":Satan: Look, all I was trying to do was—
George: Oh, shut up, you pinhead! You make me sick!
- With R.J. and Richard Fletcher:R.J. Fletcher: You idiot! Can't you do anything I tell you to do? Does this look like a number 2 pencil?
Richard Fletcher: No, but I just thought—
R.J.: You thought? I don't pay you to think!
Richard: But, dad—
R.J.: Shut up!
- R.J. Fletcher's henchmen have kidnapped Stanley and locked him in a storage closet, and one of the thugs' is losing his patience after Stanley's blindfold has fallen off:Killer Thug: (to head thug) Will you shut him up?
Stanley: I got an itch!
Head Thug: Stanley, I don't want to have to tell you this again: shut up, you're making us nuts!
- After George has just broken into the Channel 8 studio offices to rescue Stanley:George: Listen, I can see you guys are pretty busy, how about if I come back later?
Killer Thug: Forget it pal, we're all going for a little ride.
George: Well, we'll have to take your car, mine's a two-seater.
Head Thug: Just shut up, kid. You know, you really botch things up. If you hadn't stuck your face in our business, we'd all be going home real soon.
- From "Town Talk":
- Big "WHAT?!": Just when Uncle Harvey is about to head out the door, Aunt Esther (no, not that one) receives a phone call from George telling her about his proposal to sell the station to R.J. Fletcher:Esther: Oh, hi George, it's so good to hear from you. How's everything?
[George tells her about Harvey's proposed deal with Fletcher]
Esther: He WHAT? HARVEY BILCHIK, 'GET in HERE!'
- Big Win Sirens: Used in "Stanley Spadowski's Funhouse" when the kid finds a marble in a sandbox full of oatmeal. His prize? Getting blasted in the face with a fire hose.
- Bland-Name Product: Neither station mentioned in the film are given proper call letters. Channel 8 is just "the network affiliate (for which network is never mentioned. As detailed below, Tulsa's actual channel 8 is an ABC station) downtown", and U62 is simply "a UHF station".
- Bloodless Carnage: Spoofed in George's Rambo fantasy sequence, where he sweeps an automatic rifle along a line of Mooks on a hillside. A moment later, they bloodlessly collapse simultaneously. Also during the Conan the Barbarian spoof; Conan splits a patron bloodlessly in half.
- Bloody Hilarious: In the first Town Talk segment, when the wood shop teacher cuts his finger off while demonstrating a machine.
- Burger Fool: George and Bob start off the film working at Big Edna's Burger World, but they can't even hold down that job.
- But Now I Must Go: Philo heads back to his home planet once the station is saved.
- The Cameo:
- Dr. Demento appears for a split second during a montage of Channel 62's shows, getting whipped cream sprayed into his mouth by Stanley (this was actually a portion of a larger scene that was cut, but was put in to provide Dr. D a cameo).
- The Kipper Kids, a performance art duo, appear during the telethon doing a strange song-and-dance routine to the tune of 'The Umbrella Man' (though this scene was cut so heavily that in the actual film it seems like they are just making repetitive noises instead of singing a full song).
- Emo Philips is the accident-prone high school shop teacher George interviews.
- Candid Camera Prank: One of the many parody shows mentioned in the movie, and an especially mean-spirited one. The short clip we see from the show is of the fat cameraman tripping an old lady as she walks out of a store.
- Chairman of the Brawl: Happens quite a lot in the revamped Town Talk.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- The single coin Fletcher gives to the homeless guy winds up being his undoing, being rare and valuable enough to pay for the last couple hundred shares of stock in Channel 62.
- When Teri comes into R.J. Fletcher's office, his reaction to what the community wants is secretly videotaped by Philo to be played later on in place of Channel 8's editorial bulletin.
- Stanley's treasured mop. It gets taken from him after he gets fired from Channel 8, but then later he spots it in the storage room where he's being kept hostage and uses it to escape.
- Chiaroscuro: Provided by a darkened office & a TV's glow during the scene where R.J. Fletcher & his Thugs plot to kidnap Stanley.
- Closer to Earth: George's girlfriend, Teri.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Basically all of the sympathetic characters, but particularly Stanley and Philo who is an alien.
- The Comically Serious: The "Head Thug" played by David Proval. He's this sort of "Intense Italian Mobster" kind of guy;note (subverted a bit in the cut scenes; when it comes to bugs, he turns into a screaming ninny). The "Killer Thug" might qualify as well. If he wasn't in a family-friendly comedy film, he would likely be Nightmare Fuel. Instead, he's just an over-eager guy with a creepy face.
- Companion Cube: Stanley's mop.
- Computer-Generated Images: The entire Beverly Hillbillies dream sequence.note
- Consolation Backfire: The protagonist George discovers at one point that he is broke, can't pay the rent, and has just run his uncle's business into the ground, with no hope of being employed by anyone in the city (as he's already been fired from every business and his uncle will certainly not offer him another job after he's ruined his TV station). He recalls his girlfriend, saying, "Well, at least I have Teri..." Cue phone call from Teri calling to tell him that he is an insensitive creep for failing to show up at the birthday dinner he promised, and that she never wants to see him again.
- Contrived Clumsiness: One of the jerkasses (in this case, his own son, Richard) from R. J. Fletcher's station trips the little cameraman, Noodles Macintosh for U62, and sarcastically chimes "Oopsie!" Later, Noodles enacts his revenge by doing the same thing to Richard, except this time, the trip ends in a mud puddle.
- Corpsing: The kid who spits on George's nose is clearly trying as hard as he can not to laugh afterwards, even covering his mouth with his hand.
- Victoria Jackson when listening to George's message on the answering is trying not to laugh...though this was intentional as a part of Teri's character trying not to be amused by George's antics because she doesn't want to love him anymore. It doesn't help that Al was off screen as he did his anguished pleas.
- Jackson legitimately corpses earlier, though, when George is banging his head on her counter yelling about how he lost his job again and how he doesn't know what's wrong with him.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: R.J. Fletcher and his goons.
- Crazy Homeless People: The coin-collecting bum who ends up saving the station. In an often-missed gag, his first appearance has him hitting up George for change; not as a handout, but because he wants to break a dollar.
- Creator's Apathy: Parodied In-Universe with Gandhi II, in which the original classic is given a cheesy action sequel that directly opposes everything about the original film and Gandhi's way of life. Instead of a Hindu, ascetic, passive resistance icon, he's a steak-chomping, high-rolling, gun-toting, shit-talking street vigilante with martial arts skills. (Indiasploitation?)
- Cute, but Cacophonic: Pamela Finklestein (she's played by Fran Drescher, after all).
- Delayed Reaction: "Hey, wait a minute! You guys aren't from the pizza place!" ...After Stanley's already been handcuffed, blindfolded, and kidnapped.
- Depraved Kids' Show Host: Downplayed with George having to deal with Teri berating him for no-showing at her birthday dinner, and Channel 62 experiencing financial difficulties. The next day, "Uncle Nutzy" loses it and takes his frustrations out on the audience of kids.
- Despair Event Horizon: This is Played for Laughs when George is about to lose the station, and Teri left him. The next day his mood is comically nihilistic when he tries to do "Uncle Nutzy's Clubhouse."George [in a monotonous voice]: Hey, kids. Where y'wanna go? That's right. To Uncle Nutzy's Clubhouse. And boy, oh boy, are we gonna have big fun today. We're gonna have so much fun, we'll forget about how miserable we are, and how much life sucks. And how we're all gonna grow old and die someday.
Random Audience Kid: I wanna go home!
George: Shut up, you little weasel! Okay. Right now, I'd like to show you one of my favorite cartoons. It's a sad, depressing story about a pathetic coyote who spends every waking moment of his life in the futile pursuit of a sadistic roadrunner who mocks him and laughs at him as he's repeatedly crushed and maimed! HOPE YOU'LL ENJOY IT!!
- The Devil Is a Loser: Satan appears as a guest on Town Talk, and George is able to insult him to his face without apparent consequence.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu??: In an ad for Town Talk, George interrupts a seemingly pleasant Satan by throwing a cup of water in his face shouting "You make me SICK!!"
- Dissimile:Bob: I dunno about this, George... We don't know the first thing about what goes on in a television station.
George: Don't worry, Bob! It's just like working in a fish market, except you don't have to clean or gut fish all day.
- The Ditz: Stanley Spadowski.
- Drowning My Sorrows: George's blueberry daiquiri (and Bob's beer).
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Evoked hilariously in the beginning sequence. The Satipo expy is run over by a freight train out of nowhere when he flees the Hovitos Temple.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: George and company have to fight off loan sharks, mobsters and high competition for the sake of their little UHF station. But once he gets Harvey's signature on the station lease, it proves to be worth every moment.George: WE DID IT! THE STATION'S OURS!!
- Easter Egg: The original DVD release of the movie is double-sided, with a widescreen version of the movie and some DVD Bonus Content on one side and a Pan and Scan version and different bonus content on the other. However, the menu for both sides lists all of the bonus content. Select something that isn't on the side you're on, and Weird Al will walk on screen and explain you need to flip the disk over to watch that. Keep selecting the same option, and Weird Al will get increasingly irate, culminating in yelling, "It's on the other side!"
- Echoing Acoustics: Utilized when Philo introduces himself in "Secrets of the Universe".
- Enemy to All Living Things: Raul. Sadly, had Trinidad Silva not died during filming, we would've seen the poodles get their revenge.
- Engineered Public Confession:R.J. Fletcher: This community means about as much to me as a festering bowl of dog snot! You think I care about the pea-brained yokels of this town?! If you took their combined IQ, and multiplied it by 100, you might have enough intelligence to tie your shoe, if you didn't drool all over yourself first! I can't stand those sniveling maggots! They make me want to puke! But, there is one good thing about broadcasting to a town full of mindless sheep: I always know I've got them exactly where I want them! (maniacal laugh)"
- Establishing Character Moment: Right before R.J. Fletcher's introduction, Pamela is worried when the station is mistakenly delivered a package meant for Channel 8, intending on taking the package there later and warning George when he offers to, knowing R.J.'s reputation. Cut to R.J. yelling at an employee... Over not using a number two pencil, and then we learn that the employee he was yelling at is his own son.
- Evil Is Hammy: R.J. Fletcher is not a subtle antagonist. Sure he's not the only ham in the movie, but he takes his villainous acting to comical extremes.
- Evil Laugh: R.J. Fletcher has a grand old time with these. His son takes a few cracks at it too, and has quite possibly the most pathetic evil laugh you will ever hear.
- Evil Old Folks: R.J. Fletcher, who else?
- Excited Kids' Show Host: Stanley Spadowski proves to act like this all the time. Putting him in front of the camera was just lucky. Subverted beforehand in that George tried to fill this role and failed miserably.
- Excuse Plot: It's a vehicle to get "Weird Al" Yankovic's style of parody into the realm of movies and television. In case you couldn't tell.
- The Faceless: Big Louie.
- Fingore: The clumsy shop teacher, Joe Earley, with a table saw, during George's interview with him."Just call me mis-ter but-ter fin-gers!"
- Five-Temperament Ensemble: Harvey (choleric), Teri (melancholic), George (phlegmatic), Stanley (sanguine), and Bob (leukine).
- The Fool: George Newman.
- Free Prize at the Bottom: Stanley Spadowski, while hosting his show, goes through the process of digging a cheap plastic toy out from the bottom of a box of cereal.Stanley: Don't let your mom know that you do this.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: One scene has a brief shot of the U-62 Fall Schedule, which includes shows like The Flying Pope, Wonderful World of Phlegm, and Bestiality Today.
- When Richard Fletcher and the thug are at City Hall, the truck behind them is actually the satellite truck from the real-life channel 8 in Tulsa, KTUL, an ABC station; ironically, the channel 8 logo used in the film mirrors the one used by another ABC station in Dallas, WFAA since 1996.
- If you look at the "Transmitter Status" screen in Philo's lab, one of the lines of text reads "Q36 Explosive Space Modulator"; that's the component that Marvin the Martian often needed, but lacked in the Looney Tunes cartoons when he tried to destroy the earth. You can see it best when Stanley is barricading the doors in Fletcher's office and Philo's engrossed in an experiment.
- Funny Background Event: In the scene in the guys' apartment at the beginning of the movie you can still hear Kuni's karate students smashing through windows and him calling them stupid while George and Bob talk.
- Fun Personified: Stanley.
- Gainax Ending: While the movie is zany enough, did anyone really expect Philo to be revealed to be an alien?
- The Gambling Addict: Uncle Harvey, who regularly plays the horses and poker - the latter got him the station, and the former nearly resulted in him selling it to R.J. Fletcher.
- George Jetson Job Security: The janitor Stanley Spadowski got fired from Channel 8 by R.J. Fletcher who accused him of throwing away some very important files. They were later discovered right where Fletcher had left them, but Stanley wasn't rehired.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: For the most part, it's a very family-friendly film, with one or two mild swear words like "hell" thrown in here and there. Then, in the scene where George is organizing his new programming schedule for the fall season, you can see a program called Bestiality Today. (Although it does seem to be scheduled appropriately far past Safe Harbor, for what it's worth)
- The film was intended to be a PG, but the more graphically violent scenes (such as Emo Phillips cutting his thumb off and the "Conan The Librarian" sequence) bumped it up to a PG-13.
- Gilligan Cut:
- (on the DVD Commentary, Al Lampshades these gags by declaring "CUT TO!...")
- From Uncle Harvey saying "no way" about George becoming the manager of a TV station, to George and Teri on their way to the station for the first time.
- Before that, George asks where Uncle Harvey is. His aunt responds he's at a very important last-minute business meeting. Cut to Uncle Harvey with some guys playing poker.
- A package meant for Channel 8 (Fletcher's station & lair of doom) arrives at Channel 62 (George's UHF station) by accident. George offers to deliver it personally to Fletcher. Pamela warns "...he's not the nicest guy in the world." After George scoffs and says "You just have to know how to talk to those guys..." CUT TO Fletcher berating his son about a pencil (see Abusive Parents example above).
- Good News, Bad News:Bob: Well... I've got some good news and some bad news.
George: Okay... gimme the bad news first.
Bob: Well, given our present financial situation, compounded by on-going fixed expenses and outstanding invoices, I figure this station will be flat broke by the end of the week.
George: What's the good news?
Bob: I lied. There is no good news.
- Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Because of Al's refusal to use vulgar words, the script is prone to liberal uses of "slime" and "scum" in place of heavier words, the heaviest insults being "weasel" and "pinhead."
- RJ Fletcher's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the town is notoriously this. "Festering bowl of dog snot"?
- Groin Attack: R.J. Fletcher gets kicked right in the crotch from another senior citizen at the end (see Humiliation Conga below).
- During the Gandhi II sequence Gandhi himself knees a bad guy right in the crotch.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Big Louie the loan shark/potential crime boss, who drives the plot by forcing Uncle Harvey to repay a horse-gambling debt. One has to wonder if he was even aware of U-62 outside of him pulling up through the crowd and his limited interaction with George—he never even met Fletcher.
- Gun Nut: Earl Ramsey, a guy Pamela is interviewing when George interrupts with a "Bulletin" to invite Teri to dinner at a French restaurant for her birthday.Earl Ramsey: Gun Control is for wimps and commies. Let's get one thing straight. Guns don't kill people... AHHH DO! (make bizarre gurning face while aiming gun at camera)
- The fact that his actor could make that face was literally the only reason he was hired for the film.
- High-Pressure Blood: When the shop teacher slices his thumb off, he squirts blood all over himself and copiously stains George's shirt when showing him his injury.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: RJ Fletcher is undone because he gave a single penny to the beggar. It happened to be worth thousands and the bum was able to save U-62 by buying up the last of its stock. More directly, he also failed to pay his license fees on time, which would normally be penalized with stiff fines, but with his crummy attitude being outed to the public, the FCC guy decided to just revoke his license right then and there.
- Historical Badass Upgrade: Gandhi II. He can punch through torsos, and carries a machine gun into restaurants.
- Homing Boulders: The Super-Persistent Predator in the Indy Escape (also see the respective entries).
- Humiliation Conga: R.J. Fletcher. First his true beliefs about the community are revealed, making him the most hated man in the city; then he loses his contract because a random homeless person purchased enough stock to save U-62; gets his license revoked due to his failure to pay his dues on time and being denied the usual fines and late fees due to his abhorrent attitude being outed to the public; gets called a "worthless slobbering pig" by Pamela, who overheard the revoke; gets kicked in the nuts by an old lady; learns the one coin he gave the already mentioned homeless person was what caused his downfall; and the homeless man was able to get the same watch Fletcher wanted. Weird Al states in the commentary that he put this in because he doesn't like it when a movie has a Karma Houdini.
- I Ate WHAT?!: George accidentally feeds dog biscuits to Bob during filming of a Product Placement segment during the kids' show. As Bob is in character as "Bobbo the Clown", he has to fake a smile even as he's grossed out by the taste of the "cookies" he's eating."Uh oh, Bobbo's been eating Yappy's Dog Treats! That's right! Your dog will love that real liver and tuna taste...(cue sound of Bob being violently ill)...With just a hint of cheese!"//
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Parodied in the Rambo scene. A mook with a machine gun can't even hit George from about two feet away.
- Improbable Weapon User: Stanley fights off the thugs at channel 8 using his mop and a staple gun. And during the revamped Town Talk, one audience member can be seen in the back hoisting a boulder.
- I'm Your Worst Nightmare: George says this during his Rambo-parodying fantasy ("during" to him, but shown back in the real world).
- Incoming Ham: Fletcher's Establishing Character Moment:"YOU IDIOT! Can't you do anything I tell you to do?! Does this LOOK like a #2 pencil?!" 8C
- Indy Escape: Parodied in a dream sequence with a dauntless boulder. Averted since he doesn't escape, but rather is killed.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Invoked by George, but Bob calls him on it, saying he doesn't drink; George says he's been meaning to start.
- Ironic Echo: Noodles trips R.J.'s son during the Humiliation Conga: "Awwwwwwww, did I do that? Oopsy!" Because that's what happened to Noodles earlier.
- Irony: R.J. Fletcher shouts at his son for not giving him a Rolex for Father's Day. The homeless man, he gave a penny to, buys a Rolex for himself from selling that valuable penny.
- Its Pronounced Tro Pay: Uncle Harvey mispronounces "Rodeo Drive" note , as "Ro-DEE-Oh" (like the event with bulls and horses) instead of the proper "Ro-DAY-Oh".
- Japanese Ranguage: "Supplies!"
- Inverted immediately afterwards: "Hajime!"note
- Jingle: "Spatula City, we sell spatulas... and that's all!"
- Karma Houdini: Raul Hernandez. It would have been a case of Laser-Guided Karma instead, had his actor Trinidad Silva not been slain by a drunk hit-and-run driver before all of his scenes were filmed.
- Kick the Dog: Fletcher gives a homeless man a penny, sarcastically saying "Don't spend it all in one place". This comes back to bite him, because the homeless man also had coin collecting skills, and the penny was a very valuable one.
- Kitschy Local Commercial: There are a few of these, including the Spatula City ad ("we sell spatulas, and that's all!") and the ad for Crazy Eddie's Used Car Emporium.
- Large Ham: Kevin McCarthy's performance is really hammy. Michael Richards also plays it up in a few scenes.
- Laugh with Me!: When R.J. Fletcher starts laughing, the two managers under him realize, after a short pause, that they'd better start forcing themselves to nervously laugh along with him.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: Stanley really wanted his mop.
- Like Reality Unless Noted: The town. It's a normal city with normal people watching their normal Channel 8... but when you see the odd content being aired on Channel 62 and realize all these people and things must have been out there already before they got TV shows, it makes you wonder what anyone found weird or odd about George at the beginning of the movie.
- Better yet, this is a world where getting blasted in the face with a fire hose is so awesomely fun that children will show up at a kid show just to be able to win the chance to experience it.
- And, despite being oft censor-happy U.S. television (in regards to nudity & explicit sex), shows like Strip Solitaire & Bestiality Today can be aired on a non-cable network with no controversy or FCC fines.
- Also, a weird Mad Scientist guy even if he's a space alien can make seriously radioactive material with stuff found around the house (a cut scene reveals that it involves Jello, an eggbeater & a microwave) and TEACH THIS to folks at home on his science show!
- A weird guy in a grungy apartment can manage to have a show (which appears mysteriously) where he basically commits various acts of animal cruelty, manages to make it darkly hilarious and gets absolutely no public outrage or Animal Control visits.
- A large, fat, very mean woman can toss two grown men 100 or so yards easily, karate students can crash though windows and fall 2 stories with no injury, and a very weird shop teacher treats a severed thumb and serious blood loss like a very mild annoyance. Though in the film's defense, no one else treats that last bit as casually as the victim does.
- Satan is a real flesh & blood person and appears on a trashy talk show. Maybe.
- There are stores dedicated to spatulas (not kitchen ware, only spatulas) and people give them as gifts to loved ones like they're flowers and candy.
- Funeral homes with salad bars (unless the place has a separate kitchen, the implications are disturbing).
- An eccentric young man, after a breakup, basically breaks into his ex's apartment, leaves a bunch of over-the-top heart-shaped mementos (among them a massive glowing sign) begging her to take him back....and manages to win her heart rather than creeping her out.
- See the YMMV page for the Fridge Brilliance conclusion to this.
- Loan Shark: Uncle Harvey owes $75,000 to an unseen shark, "Big Louie" who has a detachable hand he can replace with a cleaver.
- Mad Scientist: Philo the station engineer and secretly a shape-shifting alien.
- Made of Bologna: A promo for the in-universe TV series Conan The Librarian shows Conan splitting a teen in half lengthwise for returning a borrowed book late. The shot is brief, but reveals only reddish meat within the victim.
- Major Injury Underreaction: The shop teacher on "Town Talk" who reacts with sheepish embarrassment when he chops his thumb off with a table saw.
- Manchild: Stanley, so very much. George shows shades of this as well.
- Market-Based Title: Since the concept of UHF stations are not commonly known overseas, they asked Al for an alternate title. He suggested "The Vidiot," or "Vidiots." The film was then released in some countries, much to Al's chagrin, as "The Vidiot From UHF," succeeding only in transforming an incomprehensible title to a terrible one. The Latin-American Spanish dub is known as "Los Telelocos" ("The TV Crazies" in English)note and the French one as "Télé Ringards" ("TV Dorks" in English).
- Media Watchdog: The FCC appeared at the end of the movie, revoking channel 8's license - ostensibly for being late on renewing it, but primarily because of R.J.'s Engineered Public Confession.
- Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: It rates a 6, although it would be higher on the scale if the violence wasn't so cartoonish and played for laughs. Joe Earley's (Emo Philips) thumb is cut off by a table saw, with plenty of blood squirting out, Conan the Librarian (Roger Callard) cuts a guy (Jeff Maynard) in two from head to groin, some people explode in the Rambo daydream scene, and George Newman ("Weird Al" Yankovic) gets completely flattened by a boulder during his Indiana Jones fantasy.
- Most Common Card Game: The bad guys guarding Stanley Spadowski spend their time playing jacks and making string figures. Al mentions in the commentary that there was also a scene of them playing Candyland which was cut (you can still see the board on the table).
- Mr. Imagination: George; he tends to get fired a lot because of his constant daydreaming. He finally manages to put this trait to good use at U-62, with his various ideas for wacky, home-grown programming. Stanley is one to a lesser extent.
- Mundane Made Awesome: George acts this way when he unlocked Al Capone's glove compartment.George: Ah ha! ROAD MAPS!
- Mythology Gag: Look very closely at the model railroad town in Stanley Spadowski's Clubhouse: the model movie theater is playing "Slime Creatures from Outer Space" (a song on Al's album Dare to Be Stupid). Also, next door is a Belvedere Hotel, possibly but not-too-likely a reference to a teenage Al's "Belvedere Cruising".
- Nepotism: Implied with R. J. Fletcher's son, who occupies an executive position under his father despite his general incompetence, though R. J. still treats his son as nastily as the rest of his employees. Played straight with Harvey Bilchik. He installs his nephew as station manager despite his total lack of experience. George does prove himself capable later, and the station was on the verge of bankruptcy anyway.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: The villain accidentially saves the station and is Hoist by His Own Petard.
- Part of it comes when the deadline hits and Big Louie's limo promptly arrives. Harvey tells RJ that he wins and begs him to sign the contract, but rather than take a few seconds to sign the contract right away, RJ decides to give the town a speech about how tearing down the station will benefit the town. This allows enough time for a last-minute purchase of the remaining stock, allowing Louie to be paid in time and RJ to go without ownership.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: As a parody of Geraldo Rivera's trashy talk show, George announces his next topic: "Lesbian Nazi hookers, abducted by UFOs and forced into weight-loss programs!"
- Non-Ironic Clown: Bobbo the Clown in George's "Uncle Nutsy" segment. He doesn't end up enjoying his role much.
- Oh, Crap!: The cameraman's expression when the shop teacher slices off his thumb on the tablesaw.
- George's expression screams this when he suddenly remembers he was supposed to meet Terri and her parents for dinner. An hour ago.
- 1-Dimensional Thinking: Double-subverted on the Raiders sequence. George, who definitely didn't go to the Prometheus School Of Running Away From Things, sidesteps the rock that is after him at the first chance he gets. The double subversion is that the rock stops on a dime, turns, and keeps chasing after him.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Or in this case, Stanley's Simpleton Voice. During the scene where George and Stanley mope outside the station after Fletcher claims ownership, listen carefully to Stanley asking, "Is there anything I can do to help?".
- Out of Focus: Bob during the latter half of the film, with Stanley largely taking over.
- The One Thing I Don't Hate About You: R. J. Fletcher's Engineered Public Confession ends with "But, there is one good thing about broadcasting to a town full of mindless sheep: I always know I've got them exactly where I want them!"
- Parody Commercial: Contains a number of commercials for various U62 shows and original films, including "Gandhi II", "Conan the Librarian", and "Wheel of Fish", as well as a few businesses, such as "Spatula City" and "Crazy Eddie's Used Car Emporium". The audio for some of these commercials was included on Weird Al's UHF album.
- Periphery Demographic: In-universe, this is what turns around U62's fortunes.
- Pity the Kidnapper: After being kidnapped, Stanley spends so much time talking and rambling that the kidnappers are seriously tempted to just murder him.
- Point-and-Laugh Show: "Town Talk With George" is an in-universe example.
- Politician Guest Star: Parodied. In-Universe, Mikhail Gorbachev is depicted as an upcoming contestant on the U62 show Celebrity Mud Wrestling.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "A U! H! F! Station!"
- Raiders of the Lost Parody: The opening scene. Weird Al in adventurer attire grabs the Oscar, sets off a booby trap, and runs away from a boulder that follows his every turn, past several famous world landmarks.
- Rare Money: The penny that Fletcher gives to the beggar turns out to be a rare 1955 doubled die penny, which is worth thousands of dollars even in well-worn condition.
- Reaction Shot: Being a goofy comedy, the film is filled with them, most notably from the heavyset cameraman who tends to react in horror to the things he's filming (and not without reason).
- Real Trailer, Fake Movie: Gandhi II and Conan the Librarian.
- Reality Ensues: George bursts in like a badass to save Stanley from his kidnappers and winds up getting himself captured in seconds. Why? Well, the "bursting in like a badass" part was as far as he thought it through.
- Red Right Hand: Although he's technically a Greater-Scope Villain, Big Louie is a spooky unseen loanshark/crime boss (similar to Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget) with a detachable meat-cleaver hand. Also, Evil Sounds Deep applies to him as well.
- Reference Overdosed
- Right Behind Me: This is how Bob and George (no, not those ones) lose their jobs at Burger World.
- Rule of Funny: The boulder chasing George through the "Raiders" dream sequence actually stops and turns to continue the pursuit when George flees away from its path.
- Rule 34: Believe it or not.
- Sassy Secretary: Pamela Finklestein.
- Saving the Orphanage: Well, the television station.
- Scary Librarian: Conan: The Librarian.Conan: Don't you know dah dew-ay dec-ihm-ahl sys-tahm?
- Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: R.J. Fletcher
- Sequelitis: In-Universe, there is Ghandi II, which spoofs how some sequels get everything wrong about the original film.
- Severely Specialized Store: Spatula City provides the page image. Remember — they're in the Yellow Pages, under "Spatulas"!Jingle: Spatula City, we sell Spatulas... and that's all!
- Ship Tease: Bob and Pamela, from some moments at the end (and some trimmed off parts from that sequence).
- Shouting Shooter: In the Rambo parody.
- Shout-Out: And it justified all the references by having them all be from the station or from George's imagination.
George: This means something. This is important.
- George's show, "Uncle Nutzy's Clubhouse" takes its name from a skit in an issue of MAD. Similarly, George's last name, Newman, was chosen as a reference to the magazine's mascot, Alfred E. Newman.
- At the beginning, George works at Burger World, a place mentioned a year before in the "Fat" music video, when the fat, black guys say that they haven't seen Al eating at Burger World lately.
- Stanley's speech about running to a window and shouting "These floors are dirty as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" is a reference to the famous scene in Network. The whole concept of a station/network rising to instant unscripted prominence could be considered one, too.
- Philo is named after Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of the television.
- Anthony Geary is a resident of Utah and a Mormon, as was his namesake, Philo T. Farnsworth.
- George molds mashed potatoes into Devil's Tower like Richard Dreyfus in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".
- The final scene is a fantasy sequence with George and Teri as Rhett and Scarlett in Gone with the Wind.
- Stanley waves his mop like a Star Wars light saber, complete with the sound effects.
- One of the unseen shows on U62's lineup is "The Volcano Worshippers Hour". The Volcano Worshippers were a made-up group Al created in high school just so he and his other friends on the yearbook committee could get an extra picture of themselves in the yearbook.
- The "Money For Nothing" parody is all about The Beverly Hillbillies. It contains scenes from the show as well as parodies of the original song's video.
- When George is threatened by Fletcher's henchmen while attempting to rescue Stanley: "Redrum! Redruuum!"
- Philo is first seen testing an Interociter.
- The high school shop teacher Joe Earley was named after Al's high school friend who performed with him when Al was just getting started. Similarly, Joel Miller, the boy who found the marble in the oatmeal and was sprayed with the fire hose on Stanley Spadowski's Clubhouse, was named after Al's dorm roommate at Cal Poly who was also an early member of his band.
- Shaft is referenced in "Gandhi II":Announcer: Next week on U62: He's back, and this time, he's mad! Gandhi II. No more mister passive resistance. He's out to kick some butt. This is one bad mother you don't wanna mess with.
- R.J. Fletcher's Engineered Public Confession is remarkably similar to one given by Andy Griffith as Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes in A Face in the Crowd:R.J. Fletcher: This community means about as much to me as a festering ball of dog snot! You think I care about the pea-brained yokels of this town? If you took their combined I.Q., and multiplied it by a hundred, you might have enough intelligence to tie your shoe, if you didn't drool all over yourself first. I can't stand those sniveling maggots! They make me want to puke! But, there is one good thing about broadcasting to a town full of mindless sheep. I always know I have them exactly where I want them. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes: Those morons out there? Shucks, I could take chicken fertilizer and sell it to them as caviar. I could make them eat dog food and think it was steak. Sure, I got 'em like this... You know what the public's like? A cage of guinea pigs. Good night, you stupid idiots, good night, you miserable slobs. They're a lot of trained seals; I toss them a dead fish and they'll flap their flippers.
- On the DVD's behind-the-scenes audio commentary on this scene, Al mentions:"Weird" Al Yankovic: I think this whole scene is a little reminiscent of the 1957 Andy Griffith movie A Face in the Crowd, don't YOU?
- On the DVD's behind-the-scenes audio commentary on this scene, Al mentions:
- The revamped version of Town Talk is full of references to Geraldo Rivera, such as his infamous "investigation" of Al Capone's vault, and the time a guest broke his nose.
- Smoldering Shoes: The machine gun mook after George blows him up with an exploding arrow in the Rambo sequence.
- Smug Snake: RJ Fletcher.
- Springtime for Hitler: An unintentional example; George and Bob do their best to run the station, even though it faces demolition with a $75,000 gambling debt to Big Louie incurred by George's Uncle Harvey, who gave them the deed to the station. When Uncle Nutzy's Clubhouse is at its lowest point, George resigns and hands the show over to Stanley Spadowski, who quickly turns it into a ratings smash and becomes a celebrity. Without Stanley's presence, the telethon's donations don't come in as quickly, which leads George to rescue Stanley from Channel 8, leading to a last-minute rally which is helped by a hobo who found a rare double-die coin that was worth enough money to buy the remaining stocks and save the station.
- Styrofoam Rocks: Parodied. In the opening sequence, a rock bounces right off George Newman's head mid-fantasy and does nothing to him.
- Super-Persistent Predator: Parodied, along with 1-Dimensional Thinking, with the boulder in George's dream sequence in the opening. When Al turns a corner to avoid it, the boulder turns the corner, too.
- Take That!: At Prince - while promoting the film in '89, Al described it as "Like Purple Rain, but it's intentionally funny."
- That Reminds Me of a Song: "Money For Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies."
- Trailers Always Spoil
- Ungrateful Bastard: When George delivers to Channel 8 a package intended for R.J. Fletcher that ended up at his own station by mistake, Fletcher threatens to have the law on him for stealing his mail, and then accuses him of trespassing when George tries to explain he was just returning it.
- The Unseen: The only thing we see of Big Louie is is right hand, which turns out to be a prop hand. He later twists it off and puts a meat cleaver in its place.note
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: George and Bob give no reaction to the antics of the martial arts dojo they share their building with. Including a man being thrown out a window, and someone else punching his fist clear through the wall. The implication is that this is so common that they don't even notice it anymore.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Raul just vanished from the film after the "stinking badgers" scene. Justified by his actor getting killed during filming.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Although the station's location is never mentioned, it is clearly filmed in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with several landmarks making appearances. There's an entire fan page listing these locations. Al lists off the addresses for many of the locations as they appear during his commentary track.
- You Bastard!: Not towards the movie itself, but done in-universe with George's introduction to the Roadrunner cartoons (shortly after breaking up with Teri), in which he describes them as "a sad, depressing story about a pathetic coyote in futile pursuit of a sadistic roadrunner, who mocks him and laughs at him as he is repeatedly crushed and maimed."
- Your Favorite: The "Twinkie Wiener" sandwich, a hot dog cut into a Twinkie and topped with spray cheese, offered by Al to his friend Bob. These remain Al's Trademark Favorite Food in Real Life, though as a vegetarian he uses tofu dogs now.
George: Okay, well... have fun!