16 Out-of-this-World Facts About Roswell

20th Century Fox Television
20th Century Fox Television

Based on a young adult book series by Melinda Metz, Roswell was a series about a group of teenage aliens posing as humans in present day Roswell, New Mexico, trying to keep their identities as extraterrestrials a secret from everyone other than their new human friends and lovers.

During its three seasons on the air, the series acquired a devoted, cult following thanks to its unique mix of teen drama and science fiction. The intense starring performance of Jason Behr, and the efforts of future stars Katherine Heigl, Shiri Appleby, and Colin Hanks, didn’t hurt either. On the 15th anniversary of the series' finale, we're taking a look back at the cult series.

1. THE BOOK SERIES AND TV SERIES WERE DIFFERENT.

Melinda Metz wrote the Roswell High book series. Metz and her editor Laura J. Burns were hired as staff writers during the show’s third season. The two were credited as TV writers for the first time in the episode “A Tale of Two Parties,” which aired on New Year's Day in 2002. Metz and Burns noted that the books were aimed at 10- and 11-year-olds, whereas the TV series was for 17- to 18-year-olds. Also, Liz’s last name was changed from Ortecho to Parker, Alex from Mannis to Whitman, and the character of Jesse was created exclusively for television.

2. HEATH LEDGER AUDITIONED FOR THE ROLE OF MAX EVANS.

Executives were hesitant to hire Ledger after the failure of his short-lived series, Roar. Jason Behr was chosen instead, in part thanks to his performances on other teen shows 7th Heaven and Dawson’s Creek.

3. SHIRI APPLEBY AUDITIONED FOR ALL THREE MAIN FEMALE ROLES, MANY TIMES.

She got the part of Liz at the end of her sophomore year at USC; she spent her time in the waiting room before her fifth audition studying for a final exam.

4. BRENDAN FEHR MOVED FROM CANADA TO PLAY MICHAEL.

The Winnipeg-raised young actor was shocked when a burger he ordered on his first day in the U.S. cost him $15. "I couldn’t stop talking about it for weeks,” recalled Fehr.

5. THE PILOT WAS THE HIGHEST TESTING PILOT AT 20TH CENTURY FOX IN HISTORY.

It was shot on a $2 million budget in 12 days. Director David Nutter was happy he was able to shoot something that was like a high school version of The X-Files (which was another show he directed on occasion). The pilot was shot in mind for the Fox network, but The WB offered a 22 episode order, leading creator Jason Katims and producers to decide to go to the new channel instead.

6. NICK WECHSLER WAS NERVOUS DURING THE PILOT.

The actor was not sure how to play Kyle Valenti in the beginning. "I would try to entertain myself," Wechsler explained. "I would find moments to do weird sh*t, or give it a slightly weird read … I look back on this time so fondly, because I loved not knowing any better."

7. JASON KATIMS ADMITTED THAT THE WRITERS DIDN’T SPECIFICALLY PLAN A LOT DURING SEASON ONE.

The general beats of the inaugural year were plotted out. On a day-to-day basis though, the show's creator/executive producer admitted that the writing staff was “totally winging it.”

8. STAR TREK'S COMMANDER RIKER WAS AN EXECUTIVE PRODUCER.

Jonathan Frakes played himself in three episodes, and directed five. When the series ended, Frakes admitted that he felt that too many of the characters knew the aliens on Roswell were aliens.

9. A FAMOUS STAR TREK LOCATION WAS USED IN THE SERIES.

The Vasquez Rocks in Agua Dulce, California was where the Metrons staged the Captain Kirk/Gorn showdown in the episode "Arena." The location was used for three other episodes of the Star Trek original series, and it was planet Vulcan in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Blazing Saddles and many other TV shows and movies also shot there. It’s where Max, Isabel, Michael, and Tess crash landed. Most of the rest of the series was shot in the California town of Covina. The Crashdown Cafe is now a Casa Moreno Mexican Grill.

10. AFTER WRITING FOR STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, AND BEFORE RUNNING BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, RONALD D. MOORE WAS BROUGHT ON IN SEASON TWO.

Katims and company wanted, and succeeded at, putting in many more science fiction storylines to the series in the second season. To help, Katims assembled an almost completely new writing staff. The new writers believed it would ramp up the stakes for the personal relationships, too. Ronald D. Moore ended up writing 10 episodes of the series, including a co-writing credit with Katims on the series finale. He also became a co-executive producer.

11. THE TABASCO SAUCE WAS ACTUALLY V8 BERRY SPLASH JUICE.

The aliens on the show enjoyed putting Tabasco sauce on their food and in their drinks. Fehr claimed the actors usually tried to avoid actually eating any food in any scene. Once, the actors tried to use the actual Tabasco sauce. The take ended with the actors in tears and running for water.

12. FANS SENT NETWORKS TABASCO SAUCE TO KEEP THE SHOW ON THE AIR.

In an attempt to convince the WB to renew the show for a second year, fans sent bottles of the stuff to network executives (in addition to spending $2,500 on a full-page ad in Variety.) The next year, a reported 12,000 bottles were sent to UPN to convince them to pick up the series.

13. ALEX WAS KILLED OFF BECAUSE COLIN HANKS NEEDED TO FOCUS ON A MOVIE.

Tom Hanks’s son was killed off in order to co-star with Jack Black in Orange County.

14. THE ACTORS DATED ONE ANOTHER.

Behr and Heigl played siblings on the series, but dated in real life. Fehr and Majandra Delfino (Maria) initially didn’t get along, but ended up having an on-again, off-again relationship for two years.

15. FEHR ONCE PEED HIS PANTS ON SET.

Fehr was too lazy to get up to use the facilities, and Behr said he would pay Fehr $100 if he went number one in his pants. Delfino was an accidental witness to Fehr following through and earning his money, which he still has framed.

16. SNOOKI FROM JERSEY SHORE IS A HUGE FAN.

She traveled all the way from New Jersey to Austin, Texas to witness the show’s reunion at last year’s ATX Festival. Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi asked the cast if they believed in aliens (Appleby and Delfino said yes).

Pod Search, a Search Engine for Podcasts, Can Help You Find Your Next Binge-Listen

Milkos/iStock via Getty Images
Milkos/iStock via Getty Images

Having too many options definitely seems like the best problem to have when it comes to picking your next top podcast obsession, but that doesn’t make it any less overwhelming. To streamline the hunt, try Pod Search—a website and mobile app that has all the information you need in order to choose a winner.

As Lifehacker reports, the user-friendly site is organized in several different ways, depending on how you’d like to operate your search. You can browse its list of about 30 categories, which range from “Storytelling” to “Crime & Law,” and each has a set of subcategories so you can get even more specific. If you trust the opinions of the general public, you can choose an already-popular podcast from the “Top Podcasts” tab. Or, if you like to be the first to recommend the next big thing to your friends, you can pick a program from the list of new podcasts.

Pod Search also has a handy tool called MyPodSearch which will pretty much do all the work of choosing the perfect podcast for you. All you have to do is check whichever categories interest you and add any additional keywords you’d like (which is optional), and MyPodSearch will deliver a list of podcasts personalized for your tastes. This is great for people who have wide-ranging interests, a proclivity for indecision, or both.

Each podcast has its own landing page with a description, audio samples, places you can listen, website and social media links for the podcast, and a list of other podcasts from the same producers. You can also create an account and bookmark podcasts for the future—so, hypothetically, you could have MyPodSearch create a personalized list for you, bookmark them all, and then have a binge-listening itinerary that’ll last you until next year.

[h/t Lifehacker]

8 Fun Facts About Muppet Babies

The Jim Henson Company
The Jim Henson Company

Before prequels were a thing, Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies imagined a world in which the felt-covered characters of Henson’s Muppets franchise—Kermit, Miss Piggy, Animal, and Fozzie Bear among them—met up as children in a nursery. Left to their own devices, the animated cast led a rich fantasy life while in diapers. For more on this 1984-1991 show, including why it’s so hard to find anywhere except YouTube, keep reading.

1. Frank Oz didn’t really want Muppet Babies.

The idea to infantilize the Muppets came from Michael Frith, a longtime collaborator of Jim Henson’s, in the early 1980s. Frith believed that regressing the characters could allow them to impart moral or educational messages to children already familiar with them. But Frank Oz, a Muppets performer (Miss Piggy) and film director, argued that the Muppets needed to maintain their subversive edge. It was Henson who found a compromise, suggesting that younger versions of the characters appear in a dream sequence for 1984’s feature film The Muppets Take Manhattan. The response to the scene was overwhelmingly positive, and Henson soon teamed with Marvel Productions and CBS for an animated series that began airing in September 1984.

2. Skeeter was the result of a gender imbalance on Muppet Babies.

Most of the principal Muppet Babies cast was made up of recognizable characters, including Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Rowlf, Gonzo, Animal, Bunsen, and Scooter. But Frith, Henson, and producers Bob Richardson and Hank Saroyan decided that the babies were skewing a little too male. Aside from Piggy and their caretaker, Nanny, there were no female characters. To balance the scales, they introduced Skeeter, Scooter’s twin sister, a brainy problem-solver.

Skeeter has made only fleeting and sporadic appearances in the Muppet franchise since, leading to speculation she might be caught up in rights issues between CBS and the Jim Henson Company, which was purchased by Disney in 2004. Fortunately, the somewhat murky situation appears to be at least partially resolved: It was recently reported Skeeter will resurface in the new computer-animated iteration of Muppet Babies, which is currently airing its second season on Disney Junior and has been renewed for a third season.

3. One of the major creative forces behind Muppet Babies was Moe Howard’s grandson.

In 1985, Muppet Babies writer Jeffrey Scott received a Humanitas Prize from the Human Family Educational and Cultural Institute for an episode of the series which the Institute declared did the best job of any kid’s show that year to “enrich the viewing public.” The episode centered on the group fearing one of them might be sent away. The prolific Scott actually wrote all 13 episodes of the first season. His father, Norman Maurer, worked at Hanna-Barbera Productions and got Scott’s foot in the door. His grandfather was Moe Howard, founder and head Stooge of The Three Stooges fame.

4. The Muppet Babies live-action segments were a result of budgetary constraints.

A hallmark of Muppet Babies is when the cast finds themselves thrust into scenes from famous films, a Walter Mitty-esque bit of fantasy fulfillment that blends live-action sequences with animation. According to Frith, devoting a portion of each episode to clips wasn’t entirely a creative choice. By inserting clips, producers could save money on animation. It was also easy for Henson to secure the rights to popular films like Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark because he was friends with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. While some believe those clips are the reason the show isn’t available to stream—sifting through the legal entanglement of reairing the segments might prove costly—that’s never been confirmed.

5. Muppet Babies never explained what the Muppets were doing in that nursery.

Given time to reflect, it seems odd that the Muppet cast would find themselves in a nursery without being supervised by their own parents. Speaking with the Detroit Free Press in 1987, Michael Frith said that the situation was purposely left vague. “I really appreciate the fact that they don’t [ask],” Frith said of his kid viewers. “Is this a day care center? Is this a foster child home? The more we talked about it, the more we felt it should just exist. The kids accept it.”

6. The voice recording sessions of Muppet Babies included copious farting.

Speaking with CNN in 2011, actor Dave Coulier (Full House) recalled that recording sessions for Muppet Babies sometimes involved flatulence. Coulier, who portrayed Animal and Bunsen, among others, said that “lots of fart humor” punctuated the recording studio. “In one scene, Fozzie [played by Greg Berg] and Animal had to climb a ladder,” he said. “As Animal was pushing Fozzie up the ladder, they were making [grunting] sounds. In mid-scene, Greg Berg farted. I looked at [actor] Frank Welker and we couldn’t contain ourselves. Uncontrollable laughter ensued. I was literally on the floor of the studio laughing.”

7. There was an offshoot of Muppet Babies called Muppet Monsters—and it never aired in full.

Following the success of Muppet Babies, CBS and Jim Henson decided to expand on the Muppets' potential as Saturday morning stars by creating a 90-minute block in 1985 titled Muppets, Babies, and Monsters. (Muppet Babies often aired consecutive half-hour installments for an hour total.) In addition to regular Muppet Babies episodes, the program featured another half-hour of Little Muppet Monsters, which featured puppets of new Muppet monster characters named Tug, Molly, and Boo. The three appeared in a framing device that introduced animated segments of adult Muppets. Only three episodes aired out of 15 produced, reportedly due to both Henson and CBS being unhappy with the finished product and Muppet Babies standing strongly on its own. The remaining episodes have yet to see the light of day.

8. Muppet Babies was turned into a live stage show.

To further incite their juvenile audience and monetize their popularity, the Muppet Babies franchise eventually wound up live and on stage. Muppet Babies Live! debuted in 1986 and featured performers in oversized costumes dancing and acting to a prerecorded track. In one skit, the cast appeared in a Snow White homage. In another, Rowlf became Rowlfgang Amagodus Mozart and played the piano. The arena show toured the country. Hank Saroyan, one of the animated show’s producers, wrote the stage show. The performer for Baby Piggy, Elizabeth Figols, also appeared in a live production of Dirty Dancing. The show ran through 1990.

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