12 Fun Facts About You Can't Do That on Television

YouTube
YouTube

Two years after Nickelodeon’s official launch, it began airing the comedy series that would set the standard for the kid-friendly comedies that have dominated the channel’s programming lineup in the nearly 40 years since. Like a tween version of Laugh-In, You Can’t Do That On Television offered kids a somewhat subversive take on the sketch comedy genre. Its ensuing popularity essentially defined the network in the 1980s, and introduced its iconic green slime to the world. Here are 12 fun facts you might not have known about You Can't Do That on Television.

1. IT DIDN’T START OUT AS A NICKELODEON SHOW.

Two years before making its international debut, You Can’t Do That on Television was created in Ottawa, Canada with the intention of airing there and only there. It wasn’t until two years after its original premiere that Nickelodeon took a shine to it and expressed interest in bringing it to cable television. In early 1982, Nickelodeon took a chance on the series and began airing some edited versions of the show to gauge audience reaction. It quickly became the channel’s biggest hit.

2. THE OPENING CREDITS WERE INSPIRED BY TERRY GILLIAM.

If the opening credits to You Can’t Do That on Television look familiar, you might be thinking of Monty Python’s Flying Circus or any number of other Terry Gilliam-created animations. When asked about the similarities in animation style by Splitsider, You Can’t Do That on Television executive producer Geoffrey Darby admitted that, yes, “The opening was definitely influenced by [Gilliam]. In fact, it was very much a crib on some of the things he had done previously. Not the sausage factory, but the conveyor belt and hitting the head, and having it crack open. That was very much the style of a lot of animation in 1979 and 1980. It was very much the cutout Terry Gilliam style.”

3. CHRISTINE MCGLADE WAS CAST AS THE HOST ALMOST ACCIDENTALLY.

Christine “Moose” McGlade showed up at the first audition for You Can’t Do That on Television with no intention of auditioning. She was there merely as emotional support for a friend and fellow actress, who was trying out. But show creator Roger Price wasn’t having it: he reportedly insisted that McGlade either audition or leave. She opted for the former and ended up being cast as the show’s host.

4. IT HELPED LAUNCH THE CAREERS OF SOME FUTURE STARS.

While not all of You Can’t Do That on Television’s kid stars remained in show biz, the series did help to kickstart the careers of a few household names—most notably, singer Alanis Morissette, who appeared in a handful of episodes of the show in 1986; less than a decade later, she released her hit album Jagged Little Pill, which became one of the best-selling albums of all time. Bill Prady, who would go on to executive produce Gilmore Girls and The Big Bang Theory, was a writer on the show.

5. IT WAS INTENTIONALLY ANTI-EDUCATIONAL.

Whereas other kid television creators were aiming for education over entertainment, Roger Price was focused squarely on making kids laugh. “You Can’t Do That on Television was kind of anti-educational,” McGlade told The Huffington Post. “It’s funny because I’ve worked in educational media and one of my former cast mates grew up to be a teacher. But actually, Roger Price was a very rebellious anti-establishment man. His thought process was 'If the kids took over the studio, all these fun, silly, hilarious things could happen.'"

6. IT’S BEEN CREDITED AS THE BIRTHPLACE OF “GROSS” HUMOR.

As part of that “anti-establishment” mentality, You Can’t Do That on Television was full of bathroom humor—so much so that many people point to the series as the birthplace of gross-out humor. "[You Can't Do That on Television] was probably the first," Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi told The Ottawa Citizen of how the show opened the door for more potty humor-loving kids series. “If it hadn't been for them, we wouldn't have been able to do our thing. It was Les Lye and all those wacky guys who paved the way."

7. THE KIDS SHOT AFTER SCHOOL AND ON WEEKENDS.

Unlike other kid actors who have on-set tutors, You Can’t Do That on Television's producers wanted the kids who appeared on the show to remain “normal” kids in every sense. So that they could maintain their regular routines, production occurred around school schedules. “They all went to regular school and were in regular classes,” Darby explained. “They would come after school for the table readings and then would work on the weekends. They stayed regular, local kids, because we didn’t want them in a bubble. Because then they’re no longer kids, they’re ‘act-ores.’ Which is never what was wanted.”

8. IT ORIGINATED NICKELODEON’S FAMOUS GREEN SLIME.

To this day, “getting slimed” is a staple of the Nickelodeon network—and it started with You Can’t Do That on Television. Anytime a kid said the phrase “I don’t know,” he or she would be doused with a bucket of bright green slime—which Darby said happened kind of by accident:

“We were in the dungeon set and what happened was we had this joke, which was, ‘Whatever you do, kids, don’t pull on that chain.’

We went to the cafeteria and got them to give us a bucket of slop.

We said, ‘We want you to take all the stuff that’s left on plates over the whole day and put it in this bucket.’ And then we were going to dump it on the kid so that it looked like if he pulled the chain, sewage would come out.

We didn’t get around to shooting the scene because you can’t go into overtime with children. It’s against the law. If you don’t get the scene, you don’t get the scene. We didn’t get it shot.

So we put the set up again the following week to shoot that one scene … The prop man came to me—literally, this is a completely true story—and said, ‘There’s a problem.’ The problem was that he didn’t get a new bucket of slop. He just kept the old one back stage. There was about eight to 1- inches of green crud. Growing. It had grown on the top of this bucket of … stuff. There was mold.

So, we had to get the scene, right? We couldn’t get more slop, because we couldn’t! I said, ‘Dump … it … on … the … kid … anyway.' And that’s how green slime was invented.”

9. BEING SLIMED MEANT A BIGGER PAYCHECK.

Green slime wasn’t the only liquid kids on the show got doused with; any mention of “water” or “wet” would lead to a bucket of water being dumped on their heads. But there was a tradeoff: Kids were paid an extra $75 per episode that required them to be soaked, and $150 per episode that required them to be slimed. “We just thought it was a way to reward them for the horror of having that done,” Darby told Splitsider.

10. ONE EPISODE PROVED SO CONTROVERSIAL THAT IT WAS BANNED IN AMERICA.

In the show’s eighth season, one episode—“Adoption”—proved to be quite controversial. It did air in the U.S., but was quickly banned. Looking back on the episode in 2012, Darby admitted that the episode was a misstep, saying that, “We ourselves didn’t understand what buttons were being pushed about an episode dealing with adoption. And that was our mistake. None of the kids were adopted, we didn’t know anybody who had been adopted. That was really us just not being cognizant of the world of adoption. And so that was a bad show. That was just not being respectful.”

11. MR. ROGERS WASN’T A FAN.

Though kids loved the show, it had its fair share of detractors—many of them parents who didn’t like the way that adults were portrayed on the show. It also had one very famous critic: “Fred Rogers hates the show,'' Price said in 1989. ''He doesn't realize we're saying the same thing—I'm saying it to eight-year-olds and he's saying it to four-year-olds ... I care about my viewers: I don't care what their parents may want them to be, I care about them for what they are.”

12. IT INSPIRED A DOCUMENTARY FEATURE.

More than a decade after You Can’t Do That on Television’s series finale, interest in the show was still strong enough that Shout! Factory released You Can’t Do That on Film, a feature-length documentary about the series, directed by David Dillehunt.

Fans Can Go Behind the Scenes of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child With a New Book

Ben A. Pruchnie/Stringer/Getty Images
Ben A. Pruchnie/Stringer/Getty Images

The final novel in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series was published 12 years ago this month, but the saga didn't end there. In 2016, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child premiered on stage in London. The story picks up in the present day and follows the children of Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Draco Malfoy. Since then, the play has been performed on Broadway in New York City, where it earned eight Tony Awards. Now, the story of its production is getting its own book, Broadway.com reports.

The script of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is already available in book form. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: The Journey: Behind the Scenes of the Award-Winning Stage Production will provide a different look at the play and the work that goes into bringing it to life on stage.

The new book covers every phase of the development and production process, from never-before-seen sketches to photos snapped backstage. Along with full-color photographs that show the making of the stage play, the book includes interviews from the creative minds involved.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is currently playing at theaters around the world, and it's about to open at the Curran Theater in San Francisco. Whether you're a fan of the live production or you've just read the play, the behind-the-scenes book is an essential addition to any Harry Potter fan's home library. You can pre-order it from Amazon today before it's released on November 5.

[h/t Broadway.com]

12 Facts About Revenge of the Nerds For Its 35th Anniversary

Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

In the summer of 1984, nerds were mainly perceived as guys who wore pocket protectors and had tape on their glasses. But in Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs was inventing the type of nerd culture we’re familiar with today. Decades later, nerds rule the world.

Revenge of the Nerds starred then-unknowns Anthony Edwards, Robert Carradine, Curtis Armstrong, James Cromwell, Larry B. Scott, John Goodman, and Timothy Busfield. In the movie, the jock-filled Alpha Beta fraternity bullies the geeks on the campus of Adams College, so to fight back, they form a frat chapter under black fraternity Lambda Lambda Lambda (Tri-Lambs), and take down the jocks. The movie’s plot and title come from a magazine article published around that time about Silicon Valley innovators—who just happened to be nerds.

The film, which was budgeted at $6 million, only opened on 364 screens (it eventually expanded to 877). Somehow the movie had legs and grossed $40,874,452 at the box office and ranked as the 16th highest-grossing film of 1984. It was successful enough to spawn three sequels, none of which were as popular as the original. To celebrate Revenge of the Nerds' 35th anniversary, here are some geeky facts about the underdog comedy.

1. Greek officials at the University of Arizona objected to the movie being filmed on their campus.

The movie filmed at the University of Arizona, and involved the college’s Greek system. The Greek officials didn’t want the movie to be another Animal House, so they threatened to halt production. “We meet with the sororities, and we’re worried we’re about to deal with a bunch of feminists who are pissed because this is a fairly sexist movie,” the film’s director, Jeff Kanew, told the Arizona Daily Star. “I just say to them, ‘Look, I have kids, and I’ll tell you now, I’d let them see this movie. It’s about the triumph of the underdog, not judging a book by its cover. This is a good movie.’” The filmmakers won, and the Greeks allowed them to film there.

2. The set was one big party.

Ted McGinley—who played Alpha Beta honcho Stan Gable—told The A.V. Club: “I was so embarrassed to say Revenge Of The Nerds.” Kanew cast him because he saw him on the cover of a Men of USC calendar, sold at the University of Arizona bookstore. His good looks attracted “hot girls” from the UofA campus to watch the dailies with the cast and crew. “They had beer and pizza and sandwiches,” McGinley said. “I mean, you just don’t do that on movie sets. It was just so much fun, and I thought, ‘It can’t be better than this!’”

3. Curtis Armstrong knew it would be a good movie, even though his character wasn't fully fleshed out.

Curtis Armstrong filmed Risky Business but then was unemployed for a year before he got Revenge of the Nerds. “You have to realize the character of Booger in the original script was non-existent almost,” Armstrong told Entertainment Weekly. “What was there was just, ‘We’ve got b*sh!’ and ‘Mother’s little d**chebag’—those kinds of lines. I was looking at it and thinking, ‘How do I take this and even begin to make it likeable or accessible?’”

With its strong cast, writers, and director, Armstrong said, “It has to be a good movie. But I wasn’t sure how it was going to be taken as opposed to Risky Business, which was sort of an art-house-type movie. This was very much broader and very much cruder, but it had a message that went beyond sex jokes.”

4. The scenes between Booger and Takashi were improvised.

The actors would bring ideas to the director and vice versa, creating a lot of improvisation in the movie. In one scene, Booger and Takashi (Brian Tochi) engage in a friendly game of cards. But unbeknownst to Takashi, Booger tricks him. “We ran and got our cots, and Brian and I were next to each other,” Armstrong told Entertainment Weekly. “It wasn’t planned that we would be next to each other. It just happened that way.”

The production asked the guys to “come up with something” for them to film. “We had nothing at all!” Armstrong said. “We went to the prop people, and they had a deck of cards. And that’s where that scene [and Booger’s whole bit about taking money from Takashi] came from. And they liked it so much that, every time Takashi and I were in the room together, we would have to come up with something else.”

5. Lambda Lambda Lambda exists in real life.

On January 15, 2006, the University of Connecticut founded the co-ed social fraternity. It’s “unaffiliated with Greek Life” and is “dedicated to the enjoyment and enrichment of pop culture and to the brotherhood of its members. Tri-Lambs does not discriminate based on race, gender, religion, class, ability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”

6. Booger's belch came from a camel.

In one of the film's more memorable scenes, Booger and Ogre compete in a belching contest. Booger takes a swig of beer and lets out a robust seven-second belch and wins the contest. But the effects were added in post-production. “I can’t even belch on command,” Armstrong told USA Today. “If you said to me, ‘Can you belch now?' I couldn’t do it.”

To make up for Armstrong’s dearth of gas, “They wound up finding a recording of a camel having an orgasm,” Armstrong said. “They took this sound and blended it in with a human belch.”

7. Curtis Armstrong wrote a bio for Booger, but it turned out to be about himself.

Because his character wasn’t fully developed, Armstrong wrote a one-page bio for Booger. Years later he re-read the bio and realized he and Booger had similarities. “I’d basically retold my life as Booger without even being aware of it,” Armstrong told Entertainment Weekly. “[One detail] was that [Booger] used nose-picking and belching as a defense mechanism because [he’s] insecure. Now, mind you, I did not pick my nose and belch because I was insecure. However, I was insecure growing up. I didn’t have dates or anything like that; I was not good around girls. But I had other ways of defending myself other than being crude and picking my nose. When I look at it now with some distance, I realize all I was doing was writing about myself.”

8. A Dallas test screening almost killed Revenge of the Nerds.

The film tested well in Las Vegas—an 85—but when the Fox executives took the movie to Dallas, the number dipped. “You’re gonna send us to Dallas to screen a movie that celebrates nerds and in which the black guys intimidate the white football players?!” director Kanew told the Arizona Daily Star. The movie scored in the 60s, which caused Fox to cut marketing for the film and only release it on 364 screens. “I don’t really understand what happened, but it hung around and grew and grew and grew,” Kanew said.

9. Poindexter was originally named after a prop guy.

When Timothy Busfield auditioned for the movie, his character didn’t have many lines, so he had to read Lamar’s lines. At the time, the character was named Lipschultz, after the prop guy. All that was written for the character description was “a violin-playing Henry Kissinger.”

“There was one line Lipschultz had in the original, but our prop guy was named Lipschultz, and he didn’t like the fact that there was a nerd named Lipschultz, so they changed it to Poindexter,” Busfield said during a San Francisco Sketchfest Nerds reunion. Busfield found Poindexter’s costume at a thrift store and showed up to the audition with his hair parted, and danced to “Beat It.”

10. The sequel to Revenge of the Nerds afforded Anythony Edwards a pool.

Anthony Edwards told The A.V. Club that he didn’t want to appear in Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise, but acquiesced because the producers talked him into it. He’s hardly in the film, but the money he earned afforded him a simple luxury. “I ended up with a pool in my backyard that I called the Revenge of the Nerds II pool,” Edwards said. “Not that I’m complaining, but they seriously overpaid me for my weeks of work on the film, so I used it to put in a pool.”

11. A remake (thankfully) got shut down.

After two weeks of filming in the fall of 2006, a Revenge of the Nerds remake stopped production. Emory University in Atlanta pulled out of filming, but according to Variety, the real reason was because a Fox Atomic executive “was not completely satisfied with the dailies.” The cast included Adam Brody and Jenna Dewan.

12. Revenge of the Nerds pushed nerdom into the mainstream.

“I’m not going to say Revenge of the Nerds was responsible for everything in nerd culture, but I do think you could make an argument that that attitude began with the last scene in Revenge,” Armstrong told HuffPost. “The last scene—the scene I probably love above all in that movie—we’re at the pep rally and come out in front of everybody as nerds, and encourage these people of different generations to join them in their nerdness. I get teary thinking about it, and you could certainly make an argument that that was the beginning of embracing nerd culture by everybody.”

This story has been updated for 2019.

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