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Trivia / You Can't Do That on Television

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  • Banned Episode: Two episodes of the show were banned:
    • In America, the 1987 episode "Adoption" was banned due to fears that adopted children would find some of the sketches offensive (despite a very clear warning at the beginning stating that the jokes weren't meant to hurt anyone), as a lot of the sketches depicted adopted kids being used as slave labor and pets, which would rightfully make a lot of American viewers cry out, "Dude, Not Funny!." In Canada, this episode was allowed to air, but the part where Lance Prevert tries to give his adopted kid (Adam) back to the agency, only to learn that "adoption is forever"note  had the line "You get over here, right away, you damn bureaucrat!" cut to remove "...damn bureaucrat!".
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    • In Canada, the 1984 episode "Divorce" was banned for the same reason America cut the "Adoption" episode (a lot of jokes about a subject matter that many viewers would find inappropriate on a children's show), but returned to circulation for the YTV re-runs.
  • The Danza: The entire cast of children had the same names as their "characters", with one exception: Darryl Lucas as Barth's (sub-)minimum wage employee, Zilch.
  • Dawson Casting: Subverted then played straight with Christine McGlade. In the earliest seasons she was acknowledged as being older than the other kids and she even pointed out she was now an adult in one episode.note  However, by the 1983 season she was being called a kid and was lumped in with the other kids in terms of whatever child laws or rules needed to be followed.
  • Deleted Scene: In one Season One episode, Christine introduces a batch of cut scenes from the Whatever Turns You On pilot as "an exclusive for our local audience." The cut scenes included one in which WTYO guest-star Ruth Buzzi was slimed and pied (thus making Ruth Buzzi likely the first Hollywood celebrity ever to be green slimed, though no one outside of CJOH's viewing audience saw it at the time).
    • According to 1984-87 series director Brenda Mason, no other "lost footage" of the series exists today, as whatever was shot and not used was destroyed. Some still photos do remain as evidence of the "lost footage," however, including a second Alanis Morissette sliming shot for the 1986 episode "TV Commercials" but never used.
  • Edited for Syndication:
    • The 1981 series was shot in a similar format to the 1979 live series, running for an hour and featuring musical guests and viewer contests. The Nickelodeon versions of the episodes were edited down to half an hour, preserving only the sketches and link segments. Some skits had to be rewritten to remove local references and reshot for the half-hour edits.
    • The 1982 series featured Parody Commercials as a lead-in to the actual commercial breaks; these were cut from Nickelodeon broadcasts when the network switched to advertiser support in 1983.
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    • Three episodes on the American Nickelodeon version had parts censored:
      • The 1981 episode "Safety First" had two scenes where Barth says "that damn cat." Nickelodeon originally aired the episode with the scenes intact, but when they edited the episodes for commercial time they removed the scenes.
      • The 1984 episode "Body Parts" was cut to remove a lot of sexual innuendo and scenes that wouldn't fly on American children's TV — one sketch had Alasdair and Ben Schreiner reading a Playboy magazine, another sketch was an "Opposites" sketch where Mr. Schidtler shows his class a porno film, and the last thing cut was Karen Grant's line about how her favorite body part is "what's in the pants" (a wallet). In the new cut of the episode, two dress rehearsal sketches were shown: one where Moose eats a chocolate-covered grasshopper, and another where a boy with a backwards leg goes to the Groucho Marx-esque doctor.
      • "Fears, Worries, and Anxieties" from 1985 had a sketch where Alasdair is afraid of going to school because there's a bully there who picks on him named "Killer Curtis." At the time this episode aired in America, there really was a serial killer in the news named "Killer Curtis." The Nickelodeon version redubs "Killer Curtis" with "Crusher Willis" (though one can tell it's a redub because the Nickelodeon censors re-used Alasdair Gillis' voice, and Gillis was going through puberty at the time and had a noticeably deeper voice for the redub).
      • The above bit with Lance and Adam from "Adoption".
    • To top it off, Nickelodeon's airing of the 1986 episode "Enemies and Paranoia" in 2004 (as an "Old School Pick", the last time the show was aired before The Splat was introduced in 2015) was cut short and replaced with an episode of The Fairly OddParents. Why? Because the episode had a lot of jokes about Ronald Reagan as President of the United States and the episode just happened to air shortly after Reagan's death made the news (why the channel did not opt to just air another episode is anyone's guess).
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The show was Nickelodeon's first huge hit in the United States (in fact, the green slime and irreverent aesthetic of the show is what transformed the channel from a kids' cable channel that aired educational shows and imported cartoons to one that was purely entertainment and is best remembered for a lot of loud and outrageous programming). Many of the cast members have said they were treated like celebrities in the US, causing Beatles-like hysteria wherever they went, but back in Canada they were just normal kids.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: A DVD release has been imminent since at least 2003, but hasn't come to fruition due to issues with the cast members' royalties. The first 21 episodes were available for download on Amazon in three 7-episode volumes, but are no longer available for purchase.
    • Finally averted when the series was added to Paramount+ on March 24, 2021. However, it only includes the first season of the US Version (2nd season overall) so the rest of the episodes still haven't been released.
  • Missing Episode: For many years, only three episodes from the 1979 season, which aired live in the Ottawa area only, were known to circulate (ostensibly from home-video recordings made off CJOH-TV on the days the episodes aired). However, when various YCDTOTV and 1980s Nickelodeon fans contacted producer Roger Price, he revealed that he had a full set of tapes of the 1979 season, all of which were available on YouTube for a while (though with the music videos and disco segments cut for copyright reasons).
    • However, most of the hour-long locally broadcast episodes of the 1981 season remain missing, except for three which were also posted on YouTube ("Sexual Equality," "Crime and Vandalism," and "Peer Pressure").
  • Name's the Same: Shockingly, there was also a pilot show of the same name called You Can't Do That On Television, which premiered on ABC back in 1968 but was unable to become a weekly series. Emceed by Alan Hamel of Nightcap and featuring McLean Stevenson and future Laugh-In regular Ann Elder, it was one of the few Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In clones that didn't work out... though thankfully and oddly enough Roger Price may have channeled whoever did the 1968 version first, retooling it to the familiar kid show we all know.
  • Only So Many Canadian Actors: Les Lye and Abby Hagyard are two names that show up in the credits of many animated series with voice parts recorded in Canada, including The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin and For Better or for Worse. Vanessa Lindores, one of the most popular kids on the show, voiced a minor character in The Raccoons. And among live-action productions, 1989-90 cast member Jill Stanley was in a movie called Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller prior to being cast on YCDTOTV, and Rekha Shah (1986-89 cast member) appeared as Janice (alongside Ryan Reynolds) on the second season of Nickelodeon's teen soap opera Fifteen (aka Hillside), which, like YCDTOTV, was taped at CJOH in Ottawa (the first season was taped in Vancouver).
  • Pop Culture Urban Legends: For the longest time, there was a rumor that the master tapes were destroyed in a fire at CTV Ottawa (CJOH no longer identifies with its call letters) Studios in 2009, a rumor which thankfully proved untrue as those tapes were located in another part of CJOH's building that was unaffected by it.
  • Real-Life Relative:
    • Christine McGlade's father appeared as himself in the 1981 episode "Work, Work, Work". Her sister, Lisa, played Christine as a child in the 1982 episode "Cosmetics", while her brother, Michael, appeared as both himself and as Ross as a kid in the same episode. Lisa McGlade was also an extra in various classroom scenes.
    • Several sibling pairs appeared in the series: Matthew and Amyas Godfrey (1986-87 and 1986-89, respectively), Roddy and Eugene Contreras (1982 and 1982-85, respectively), Vikram and Sidharth Sahay (1986-87 and 1989, respectively), Jill and Amy Stanley (1989-90), and identical twins Kyle and Korbett Matthews (1984).
  • Throw It In!: Leaving aside the various flubbed lines and Corpsing that made their way into the finished products, there were two notable examples of the performers' offscreen lives being mined for recurring references.
    • Christine McGlade mentioned during production of the 1979 series that her childhood nickname was "Moose"; writers and producers Geoffrey Darby and Roger Price promptly worked this nickname into the next seven years of scripts.
    • Lisa Ruddy was late for a read-through of the 1981 episode "Nutrition" after receiving a detention for talking in class. Darby and Price proceeded to re-write the script to include a Running Gag in which Lisa annoys everyone by talking incessantly, and it became one of her defining character traits (her nickname was Motor Mouth).
    • 1989-90 cast member Jill Stanley was notorious for never being able to remember her lines; thus, her "character" on the show was always forgetting her lines.
    • Another 1989 cast member, Nick Belcourt, accidentally read lines assigned to Ted Wilson during one script read-through. This became another Running Gag that season with Nick's "character" never being able to remember whether his name was Nick or Ted.
  • Written by Cast Member: The writers for the 1989-90 episodes included Kevin Ward, a member of the cast at the time, and Adam Reid, a member of the cast from 1984-87 who appeared in the 1989 episode "Punishment" in his capacity as a writer.
  • You Might Remember Me from...:
    • Les Lye and Abby Hagyard worked as voice actors for a number of American cartoons that outsourced their voice talents to Canada, such as The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin. Les Lye had already been a popular radio and television personality in Ottawa for decades (best known locally for his work on the long-running Uncle Willy and Floyd, another CJOH production), although virtually unknown in the U.S. prior to YCDTOTV.
    • Vanessa Lindores (cast member from 1982 to 1987) had a bit role as "Julie" on the popular Canadian cartoon series The Raccoons.
    • A few kids already had professional acting roles to their credit before their time on the show. Justin Cammy (cast member from 1983 to 1985) had voiced "Kevin" in the special Care Bears in the Land Without Feelings, which also starred Les Lye and Abby Hagyard. Jill Stanley (cast member in 1989 and 1990) played "Nancy" in the 1988 Canadian children's film Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller (which was hinted at in her debut episode, "Chores," with Jill pouting that she was above doing chores because she was an actress).
    • Richard Cooper, a screenwriter for the series, is a member of the popular late 1970s Ottawa band The Cooper Brothers, whose 1978 hit "The Dream Never Dies" was honored by ASCAP as one of the most-played songs on U.S. radio that year. Interestingly, The Cooper Brothers previously appeared on the YCDTOTV spin-off Whatever Turns You On in 1979, performing their hit "I'll Know Her When I See Her."

Additional trivia

  • The whole idea of dumping green slime on a cast member for saying "I don't know" came from Episode 7 of the 1979 Ottawa-only series. The dungeon master Nasti agreed to free his prisoner, Jim Stechyson (who only appeared in the 1979 series), if he could answer two questions, but if he failed, he would get the green slime. The first question was, "What is the largest lake in Canada," which Jim correctly answered with, "The Great Bear Lake." The second question was, "How many fish are in it," which brought forth the first "I don't know." This became a Running Gag for other "How many fish are in it" questions, and eventually the words themselves instead of just an admission of ignorance became the trigger.note 
    • Later versions of this gag (in Whatever Turns You On and the 1981 season) changed the setup to "name one of the Great Lakes."
  • Among the cast members who were never slimed, Marjorie Silcoff appeared in the most episodes, with eight appearances in 1984 and 1985.note  This fact was mentioned in the "Project 131" special from 2004 featuring Marjorie, Brodie, and Vanessa (with cameos from Alasdair and Justin)... in which, once again, Marjorie escaped without a sliming.note 
  • Christine "Moose" McGlade hadn't planned to try out for YCDTOTV, and only tagged along to support a friend. She was forced to give one herself after being told by Roger Price to either audition or leave. Despite having no prior acting experience, her charisma and quick sense of humor led to her being cast on the show over her friend. (She denies, however, that she and said friend fell out over it, as has been reported elsewhere.) Here it is straight from the Moose's mouth, along with the audition tape.
    • Christine's preferred hobby at the time she was cast on the show was gymnastics, but she had to give it up when her role on YCDTOTV left her no time for it.
  • The 1984 episode "Clubs" was the only episode in the entire run to feature no green slime, water, pies, or any other form of "stage pollution".
  • Strangely enough, none of the cast members of YCDTOTV went on to become cast members on adult-oriented sketch shows, particularly Saturday Night Live. This might not be significant if it wasn't for the fact that two former Nickelodeon sketch show actors (Kenan Thompson from All That and Taran Killam from The Amanda Show) actually became cast members on that show (and Killam is also notable for being on Saturday Night Live's rival show MADtv, another sketch show that the You Can't Do That On Television cast could have joined either as writers or cast members). You'd think Lorne Michaels or Quincy Jones would've at least considered the possibility.
    • However, Bill Prady, a writer on the series during the 1986 season, went on to co-create The Big Bang Theory and Alanis Morissette was a musical guest on Saturday Night Livenote  and cameoed on an episode of MADtv in a parody of MTV Diarynote .
    • Also, one 1989-90 cast member, Ted Wilson (who now goes by Teddy Wilson), has gone on to a career as a presenter on several Canadian TV shows, and castmate Patrick Mills (who now goes by Pat Mills) is a playwright and actor in Toronto. Les Lye also had a long broadcasting career in Ottawa, and Abby Hagyard was also a radio personality as well as a comic.


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