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Film / UHF

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"We got it all on UHF!"

Bob: I don't know 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 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 himself and his friend and roommate Bob fired from yet another job due to excessive daydreaming, he is appointed by his uncle Harvey as manager of Channel U62, a local UHF television station that Harvey won in a poker game.

George and Bob soon discover that U62 is near-abandoned, with a support 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 is already pretty much destined for bankruptcy; the local airwaves are dominated by Channel 8, a network affiliate VHF station whose owners are card carrying villains with good publicity.

The station's fortunes change when, in a fit of pique, a depressed George carelessly puts station janitor Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards) in charge of the channel's morning kids' show; to everyone's surprise, Stanley's Cloud Cuckoolander antics become an instant hit across all demographics. Emboldened and flush with new ad revenue, 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, buoyed by enthusiastic test screenings. Unfortunately, the movie opened on July 21 and was surrounded by nearly a dozen other summer blockbusters playing at the same time.note  As a result, UHF barely broke even at the box office and was relegated to obscurity, until eventually finding itself as a Cult Classic thanks to home video and cable showings.

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. This makes it seem as if his entire quite expensive storyline (lots of live animals) was nothing but a set-up for a lame "stinkin' badges" pun - which is arguably even funnier.
  • 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!
  • AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle: Uncle Harvey mispronounces "Rodeo Drive" note , as "Ro-DEE-Oh" (like the event with bulls and horses) instead of the proper "Ro-DAY-Oh".
  • Achievements in Ignorance: Just by being his dimwitted, yet lovable self on live television, Stanley singlehandedly turns the channel from a flop to a hit overnight.
  • 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.
  • The Ahnold: Conan the Librarian has a distinct Schwarzeneggerian accent whenever he speaks.
  • Artistic License – Law: Upon learning that George is not an employee when he brings his package over, Fletcher threatens to have him arrested for trespassing if he doesn't leave. This would only be possible if George already had been legally banned from the premises for a serious reason (harrassment, assault, theft, etc) and all the police would actally be able to do is escort George out of the building while chastising Fletcher for wasting their time.
  • 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!
  • 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, a Mad Scientist, and definitely an alien.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • George does this In-Universe, when in a depression from Teri 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!
  • Ambiguously Jewish: George Newman, his Uncle Harvey, and Pamela Finkelstein (given that Pamela is played by Fran Drescher, it's not that ambiguous).
  • An Arm and a Leg: During the Indiana Jones fantasy scene in the intro, one of the men accompanying George pulls a gun on him from behind. George sees this coming though, and uses his whip to sever his assailant's arm. The assailant, who seems more surprised than hurt, quickly retreats. (The crew also mistakenly showed his left arm being severed, but cut to his right arm falling to the ground.)
  • 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 to be 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 referred to in the title is still included off to the side of the main action.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: Exaggerated with Raul, who keeps ducks in dog crates and a monkey in his dresser drawer.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ax-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.
  • 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).
  • Berserk Button: Just try to take Stanley's mop away. We dare you.
  • BFS: Conan The Librarian manages to one-up the character he's parodying but carrying an claymore which he uses to split a teen in half with one one swing.
  • Big Bad: R.J. Fletcher serves as the primary one, while Big Louie serves as the Greater-Scope Villain.
  • Big Damn Kiss: George and Teri reconcile with each other with a passionate kiss when the studio is saved.
  • 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.
  • 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]
  • 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.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Al kicks off the DVD Commentary (following confusion at the MGM lion's presence) by singing "Orion, Orion, is bankrupt, now!" to the Orion logo theme. Became Gallows Humor when you consider Orion did bankrupt themselves with stupid decisions like this film's release.
  • Bizarre Alien Psychology: Philo apparently spends his entire life inside U-62, and can make radioactive materials out of common household items - which he demonstrates on air, essentially providing a blueprint for nuclear materials to anyone in the area with a television. To top it off, his mission on Earth was apparently to work at a UHF station until it was brought back to life, which is certainly a unique quest.
  • Bizarre Gambling Winnings: Harvey wins a failing TV station at poker and, having no better idea what to do with it, hires his nephew George as manager.
  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: Raul tries to teach poodles to fly by throwing them out the window, expressing disappointment when he sees that all this accomplishes is creating a pile of dead poodles under the window.
  • 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 two of George's fantasy sequences.
    • In his Indiana Jones fantasy sequence, the boulder follows him for untold miles, before flattening him with absolutely no blood.
    • In his 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 for a late book.
  • Bloody Hilarious: In the first Town Talk segment, when the wood shop teacher cuts his finger off while demonstrating a machine.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Not the film, but the DVD itself, with Al goofing off behind the menus, becoming increasingly annoyed when you try to look at special features on the wrong side of the disc, and, during the commentary track, he gets up and steps into frame three times, once to snark "They're coming through the window! [Beat] Told You!", and the second time to get one of the other commentators a doughnut, as well as to come back with the doughnut.
  • Bullet Catch: In the Rambo parody Imagine Spot, George catches a bullet in his teeth, chews it up, and then fires it from his mouth like a machine gun.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Stanley, who is a world-class Cloudcuckoolander but also a remarkably diligent janitor and, eventually, the top star in his television market by a country mile. Ditto for George, who can't hold down a normal job to save his life but (with a HUGE boost from Stanley) eventually turns a borderline derelict UHF station into a huge success in relatively little time. In both cases, their quirkiness proves to be an asset as their town apparently can't get enough absurd programming.
  • 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 that 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.
  • Cartridges in Flight: Actually justified in that it's an Imagine Spot George is having, but the fired bullet he catches in his teeth is still in its shell casing.
  • Caught Monologuing: George manages to pull victory from the jaws of defeat, thanks to R.J. Fletcher's need to not only win, but berate his opponents for even dreaming of going against him. While Fletcher is busy taunting the crowd for trying to save a fly-by-night UHF station, George manages to get enough money and pay off Uncle Harvey's gambling debt, right under his nose.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: Happens quite a lot in the revamped Town Talk.
  • Chekhov's Gag:
    • During one scene, George mentions in Philo's earshot that he wishes that they could spy on R.J. Fletcher. Later, he's seen installing a ridiculously large camera system into R.J Fletcher's roof, the presence of which, as well as the fact Philo controls it, is what allows them to broadcast his Motive Rant.
    • 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.
    • 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, causing him to go into a berserk fury and 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.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: 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 (named Frankie in some deleted scenes). He's this sort of "Intense Italian Mobster" kind of guynote  (subverted a bit in the cut scenes; when it comes to bugs, he turns into a screaming ninny). The "Killer Thug" (named as Eddie, also in the deleted bits) 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.
    • In The Wheel Of Fish, the contestant has a choice of a red snapper or whatever is in the box. She picks the box and wins... absolutely nothing.
  • 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.
  • 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. Later, R.J. Fletcher gives him a single coin... that happens to be also a extremely rare coin, and makes him thousands of dollars.
  • 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?)
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Fletcher's goons get completely obliterated by Kuni and his crew.
  • 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.
  • Description Cut: George is told that his Uncle Harvey is at a late-night business meeting; cut to Harvey at a poker game.
  • 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? [the kids in the audience stare in bored disinterest] 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.
    Random Kid in the audience: 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!!"
  • Didn't Think This Through: 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.
  • 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. He's a simple minded Manchild who loves his job.
  • 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.
  • Dude Magnet: Pamela, as both Philo and Bob seem rather sweet on her.
  • 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, instead of R.J. Fletcher, it proves to be worth every moment.
  • Ear Worm: The hard rock mash-up of Dire Straits' Money for Nothing music video with The Ballad of Jed Clampett is so goddamned catchy that at least part of the lyrics will get stuck in your head.
  • 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 that 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!"
  • Eating Pet Food: 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!"//
  • Echoing Acoustics: Utilized when Philo introduces himself in "Secrets of the Universe".
  • Enemy to All Living Things:
  • 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.
  • Eye Take: The cameraman who's always eating a sandwich gives one after Joe Earley cuts off his thumb.
  • 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!"
  • Fire Hose Cannon: Played for laughs. When a kid finds a marble in a sandbox filled with oatmeal, he wins the prize of drinking from the firehose, which blows him across the room.
  • 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.
    • In the scene for the revamped Town Talk, panning through the apparent horrible show guests, which include Neo-Nazi, a Dominatrix, a Klansman, a little girl with blond pigtails and who carries a creepy smile, and an axe-wielding expy of Jason Voorhees, all the above get into a combined fight except for... the Dominatrix who just calmly gets out of her chair, walks away from the fighting, and watches the chaos unfold from a safe distance!
  • 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: Seemingly everyone at Channel 8. Stanley is fired on the flimsiest of pretexts despite being an excellent (if eccentric) janitor, and when proof of his innocence surfaces mere moments later, nobody cares and he's still tossed out on the street. A few minutes later, Fletcher then "fires" George for stealing mail (despite the fact that George is literally there to bring it to him), until George points out the minor detail that he doesn't even work there. The entire office completely freezes up when George addresses Fletcher casually, suggesting this is business as usual.
  • 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 that 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 Dang It to Heck!: Because of Al's refusal to use vulgar words, the script is prone to liberal uses of "slime", "scum", "weasel", "pinhead", etc. in place of heavier words, the heaviest insults being "sucks", "crap" and a mention of "hell" in George's answering machine message to Teri.
  • 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 U62 outside of him pulling up through the crowd and his limited interaction with George — he never even met Fletcher.
  • Growing the Beard: In-Universe, George's attempt at running a kids' show is a lackluster mess. But Stanley manages to revive the show single-handedly, and George's attempt at running the station, with his wacky sense of humor.
  • 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... I DO! (make bizarre gurning face while aiming gun at camera)
  • Head Desk: George bangs his head against a bar when he's at his lowest.
  • Henpecked Husband: Uncle Harvey, though his wife treats him this way for good intentions. After dismissing his wife's suggestion that George be made manager of U62, he is strong-armed into doing so off-screen and when he later tries to sneak out of town to sell the station to RJ behind George's back, she loudly orders him back inside with the tone of an irate mother and he meekly walks back inside, despite being halfway inside a taxi.
  • 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.
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: Gandhi II. He can punch through torsos, and carries a machine gun into restaurants.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Virtually every major dickish thing RJ Fletcher does in the film comes back to bite him in the ass later on:
    • His decision to cruelly fire the station's janitor Stanley Spadowski on the assumption that Stanley threw away an important document, then not bothering to re-hire him when said report was actually on the seat of his office chair, results in Stanley getting picked up by George and becoming the new janitor and then flagship star of Channel 62, which outclasses Channel 8 in the ratings and infuriates RJ.
    • His "festering bowl of dog snot" tirade to Teri when she attempts to talk him out of continuing his feud with George provides Philo with the perfect spycam-footage by which to reveal Fletcher's contempt to the public, as well as the FCC (see below) and destroy his Villain with Good Publicity status.
    • When he stops by the station to engage in Evil Gloating by informing George and his friends that he will be acquiring the deed to Channel 62 from Uncle Harvey in exchange for helping Harvey pay off his gambling losses to Big Louie, then deciding to demolish the studio when Bob reminds him it's illegal for someone to own two television stations in the same town, George notifies his Aunt Esther, who predictably is not happy about her husband deciding to sell the station behind George's back without his consent, and forces him to allow their nephew a chance to match Fletcher's offer before Big Louie's deadline expires, screwing Fletcher out of what could have been an easy victory for him had he just kept his mouth shut.
    • He is ultimately undone because he condescendingly gave a single penny to a beggar. Said penny happened to be a rare one worth thousands, and the bum was able to save U62 by buying up the last of its stock.
    • When the time limit on George's moneymaking scheme expires, it's not enough for Fletcher to just hand over his money to Harvey... he has to engage in more Evil Gloating to berate the crowd there to save the station— giving George enough time to sell the outstanding shares to the beggar and pay off the debt.
    • Fletcher also failed to pay his license fees on time, which would normally just 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.
  • Hollywood Economics: While $75,000 isn't chump change, especially in 1989, it's treated as an insurmountable obstacle at first by people who are running what is, by that point, the #1 station in their market. They seem to run non-stop original programming and films at their own expense and have plenty of sponsors and commercials to support them. Basically, if they can afford to get Gorbachev over to do some mud wrestling, they can probably come up with $75,000. Of course, a dramatic last-minute telethon is much more entertaining than watching a television station manage its assets for an hour, so Rule of Drama and Rule of Fun rightly win the day.
  • 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 mere 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 that 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 that 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.
  • Idea Ding: Happens when George gets the idea to hold a telethon for his TV station.
  • 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?!"
    • George, when he makes his first entrance on Uncle Nutzy's Clubhouse. Sadly, the children don't share his enthusiasm. It works like a charm when Stanley takes over, thankfully.
  • 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 when it looks like the station is going under and he is about to lose yet another job after his girlfriend dumped him, 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, whom he gave a penny to, buys a Rolex for himself from selling that valuable rare penny.
  • Japanese Ranguage: "Supplies!"
  • 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 the rest 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 rare one. The man also takes his advice and, after buying his Rolex, he spends the rest of his money on UHF stock and saves the station.
  • 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.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Uncle Harvey's loan shark Big Louie, who despite not being the main villain of the film, makes it very clear that he means business whenever he's onscreen.
  • 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 to get his mop back.
  • Like a Duck Takes to Water: Once George puts his mind to it, his overactive imagination lends itself well to running a TV show, coming up with all kinds of crazy shows.
  • 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 that 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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 that 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.
  • The Magic Poker Equation: Surprisingly averted given this is such a delightfully silly movie. Harvey is shown winning a pot with two pair - a strong enough hand, but not outrageous - and he wins U-62 by shrewdly bluffing with a couple of sevens.
  • 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). In Israel the title was translated as 'Mission for Beginner Broadcasters', riding on the coattails of the cult success of Police Academy, which was translated as 'Mission for Beginner Policemen'.
  • 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. Strangely, they seem to have no problem with U62 running shows about stripping or bestiality.
  • Mob Debt: A light use of the trope: Nobody is in danger of dying or losing body parts, but George and company will lose U62 if they can't raise enough cash to buy the station before George's uncle sells it to Fletcher to cover gambling debts.
  • Monumental Damage: Parodied in George's Rambo fantasy. After rescuing Stanley with a chopper that is visibly unarmed, he still manages to blow up the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, and the Hollywood sign.
  • 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 Guy: George, Bob & Stanley, quirky as they are, are all fundamentally good-hearted people and easy to root for.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The villain accidentally 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 lose out on 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.
  • No Social Skills: Bob, who randomly (and inexplicably) reminds George of his recent break-up when he's already at rock bottom.
  • 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 that he was supposed to meet Teri and her parents for dinner. An hour ago.
    • The look on Fletcher's face when he begins hearing the rant that he delivered to Teri going out over channel 8 (thanks to Philo hijacking the signal).
    • At the climax of the film, Fletcher has arrived and unplugs the countdown clock, going "This party is over, Mr. Newman!" (with George glaring at him). Harvey then notices something. "You can say that again." Big Louie has arrived on schedule, and they're still short of their goal.
  • 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!"
  • Parental Favoritism: George is clearly the apple of his aunt Esther's eye. (His actual parents are never seen, for whatever reason.) Good thing, too, as it not only gets him the job at U-62 to begin with, but Esther's chiding of Harvey buys George just enough time to put together the telethon that saves the station.
  • 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.
  • Pass the Popcorn: After hijacking Fletcher's feed and playing the video of him trashing everyone in town, Philo sits back in amusement and eats some popcorn from a laboratory beaker.
  • 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!"
  • Race Against the Clock: "Friday night. 10 o'clock. $75,000. In cash." Nothing about Big Louie's demeanor or Harvey's reaction suggests this deadline is optional.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Right Behind Me: This is how Bob and George (no, not those ones) lose their jobs at Burger World.
  • Rousing Speech: Stanley of all people, and twice no less. He gives the first one on his television debut, using his work as a janitor as a metaphor for how you can't ever give up, no matter how rough (or stained) life gets, and you just gotta scrub and scrub until you get it done. The viewers go nuts for it, and even the morose George is visibly inspired. He gives another around the end of the film when he's returned safely to U-62, rallying the troops to see the telethon through to the end to stand up to the evil bullies of Channel 8. For all of his Manchild tendencies, Stanley has some Hidden Depths in there.
  • 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 Gandhi II, which spoofs how some sequels get everything wrong about the original film.
  • Serious Business: Being #1 in the market, apparently, as Fletcher literally has hired goons on hand to kidnap Stanley in the hopes of undermining the telethon. Fletcher is a Corrupt Corporate Executive that seems to be on the brink of full-on supervillainy.
  • 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's show "Uncle Nutzy's Clubhouse" takes its name from a article in an issue of MAD called "MAD Looks At A Typical Kiddie TV Show". 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 (and is played by Anthony Geary, who, like Farnsworth, was born in Utah and raised as a Mormon).
    • George molds mashed potatoes into Devil's Tower like Richard Dreyfus in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".
    George: This means something. This is important.
    • 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 that 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?
    • 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.
  • Sinister Car: When the time comes for Uncle Harvey to pay Big Louie the $75'000 he is owed or pay the ultimate price, a huge black Cadillac limousine with tinted windows arrives on-sight baring a B LOUIE license plate which the crowd actually parts to allow it to make it's way directly to Uncle Harvey. Once George gives Big Louie the money through a rolled-down window, the Cadillac departs.
  • Smoldering Shoes: The machine gun mook after George blows him up with an exploding arrow in the Rambo sequence.
  • Smug Snake: R.J. Fletcher.
  • Spoofs "R" Us: A fake ad advertises "Plots R Us", a service that offers funeral plots, along with "plenty of free parking" and a salad bar.
  • 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. But after Stanley is kidnapped, 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 ended up with a rare double-die coin that was worth enough money to buy the remaining stocks and save the station. Putting George in charge ultimately worked out for the best; Harvey originally planned to shutter the station, only for his wife Esther to overrule him and make him keep the station and put George in charge. If George hadn't been made manager, R.J. Fletcher would've continued to rule the local TV market with an iron fist, Uncle Harvey would've been at the mercy of Big Louie and U-62 would've gone bankrupt.
  • Stock Footage: Used to depict George as Rambo blowing things up; lampshaded (as with everything else) during the DVD commentary by Al ("And here's our stock footage festival.")
  • Stopped Caring: George, after he's lost Teri and is about to lose U-62. He even gives his kid's show to his wacky janitor Stanley (who has never been on television before) before walking off to begin Drowning My Sorrows. Luckily, putting Stanley on-air turns out to be the be the best move he's ever made.
  • Stout Strength: Big Edna, who can carry two grown men at once and toss them practically into the atmosphere.
  • 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."
    • During the DVD Commentary, Al at one point states that Stanley's line while being held hostage ("It's an orange!") is one of the stupidest things he's ever written. Jay Levey chimes in — "Right up there with 'Show me the money'." Al responds "Did I write that?"
  • Technician vs. Performer: George and Fletcher's means of running their TV stations becomes this. Fletcher is a technician: a stern and abusive businessman who produces largely conventional programming and is quick to fire anyone who displeass him. George is the performer: what he lacks in business acument he makes up for with creative and imaginative programs. His more lenient approach to his employees allows them to show their potential.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: "Money For Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies."
  • This Is Gonna Suck: After realizing he forgot his date with Teri, George rushes to the nearest phone, which starts ringing right as he was about to grab it. He winces, knowing that he's about to get chewed out.
  • The Tooth Hurts: Teri accidentally hurts one of her patients when she hears George making (theoretically) romantic noises at her live on air.
  • 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 that he was just returning it.
  • The Unseen: The only thing we see of Big Louie is his 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.
    • There's also the moment when Philo begins to hijack channel 8's signal during the film's climax. The U-62 broadcast tower glows blue and crackles with electrical bolts, and seemingly nobody outside in the crowd notices (at least on-screen). Presumably Philo enhanced it with his alien tech.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Raul just vanished from the film after the "stinking badgers" scene. Justified by his actor getting killed during filminginvoked.
    • Bob is George's sidekick for the first half of the movie and is in almost every scene with George, but after reminding Fletcher that it's illegal to own two TV stations in the same town, he pretty much vanishes from the movie and isn't seen again until Fletcher literally pulls the plug on the telethon and even then, he's only shown among the other station employees being disappointed.
  • 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."
    • On a more serious note, when RJ Fletcher invades the U-62 Telethon during its' final moments, unplugging the clock and bellowing "This party is over, Mr. Newman!", George just stares at Fletcher with a look that screams this.
  • 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.

Philo: Well, it appears that my work on this planet is complete! I must now return to my home... on the planet Zarcon.
George: Okay, well... have fun!


Video Example(s):


Stealing the Oscar

In the Indiana Jones parody at the beginning of UHF, George does this, carefully and dramatically weighing the sand bag in his hands before... sighing and just taking the statue (an Oscar). Somehow the trap is still triggered.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / WeightAndSwitch

Media sources: