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The Beatniks

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I killed that fat barkeep!

415 - The Beatniks
Air Date November 25, 1992
Movie Director Paul Frees
Year 1960
Cast Tony Travis, Joyce Terry, Peter Breck, Karen Kadler
Short General Hospital, segment 2
Cast Roy Thinnes, Emily McLaughlin
Year 414 - Tormented
Preceded by 416 - Fire Maidens of Outer Space

The Short


Jessie loves her husband Phil, who is in love with another woman, who is engaged to another man. . . so Jessie decides to host a painfully awkward engagement party.


The Movie


It's 1960 Los Angeles, and 28-year old petty thug Eddie Crane (Tony Travis) is headed nowhere. He leads a pack of hateful hoodlums who don Halloween masks and rob mom-and-pop stores for drinking money, then decamp to a one-table "diner" to squabble over the pathetic spoils. He's quite the cynic ("Nobody does nothin' for nobody for nothin'", he opines bitterly, if redundantly) and he seems to harbor a grudge against the world. In a more realistic film, Eddie would have a serious drinking and/or drug habit by this stage in his life.

When superannuated talent agent Harry Bayliss (Charles Delaney, who passed away before the film was released) chances to see Eddie twitch, warble, writhe, gesture and smirk to the strains of a jukebox in a closet-sized greasy spoon - (it is playing a song about sideburns) - he wants to sign him to a big recording contract. "You call that singin'? That was nothin'!" scoffs the jaded Eddie. Initially disinterested, when the potential of large sums of money is mentioned, Iris, Eddie's gun moll, goads him into accepting the proposition.

Eddie and his friends arrive at Bayliss' office. He jettisons his tough persona with suspicious alacrity long enough to sensitively render a maudlin love ballad during an audition for one of Bayliss' show biz contacts and then he's on his way to fame and fortune. After a hasty cleanup over a montage with Bayliss' secretary Helen Tracy and a tender sharing of intimacies over lunch with same, Eddie delivers a couple of remarkably somnambulistic "live" television performances that counter-intuitively inspire feverish screams of girlish desire, causing the studio switchboards to be jammed with fans' phone calls and rocket his career skyward.

From the very first, Eddie is drawn to Helen - perhaps the only decent girl he has ever known and a stark contrast to Iris, the hateful psychopathic harpy he hangs around with. He begins to dimly sense the existence of a better world than the one in which he has hitherto dwelled and starts to view his running buddies in a starkly malignant light.

Bayliss installs Eddie et al in a local hotel while he waits to do a show or a recording or something. They proceed to party heartily by drinking, dancing, playing loud music and trashing the place. (Curiously, they don't invite anyone else up to their room). When a comedy relief hotel manager shows up to complain, Mooney (Peter Breck) amuses himself by tormenting him. Suddenly there is a knock on the door. Eddie: "It's just the 'house dick' - I'll handle it." "How accommodating!", Tom Servo chirps.

As Eddies' star rises, his "pal", the jealous, semi-psychotic Mooney waxes ever more violent and determined to keep Eddie in his place - with the gang, in the gutter. When Mooney shoots a big-boned barkeep over a ham sandwich, Eddie plunges into existential despair. He telephones Helen to emote on her and tell her he's not going to go the show biz route. When she tries to talk him out of it, declaring her love for him, like a poisonous adder he strikes at her, accusing her of being motivated by greed. She hangs up on him and he realizes he needs to apologize. "I'm comin' over!", he says to the dial tone.

Meanwhile, at Helen's insistence, Bayliss goes to the hotel room of "the gang" to find out what the problem is, where the shrieking, paranoid Mooney promptly slashes him with a straight razor. Bayliss is conveyed to the hospital in serious condition and the police begin a manhunt for Eddie, thinking he is the culprit.

Up to this point, Eddie has not demonstrated many positive qualities that do not also nakedly serve his self-interest (except some disgusted reluctance to join in the gang's hotel room "fun" and the ability to be courteous when the situation demands it). When he goes looking for Mooney, it's not clear whether it is from a quest for justice for Bayliss, out of anger at Mooney's interference in his affairs, or in an attempt to impress Helen. This is why we never really develop much sympathy for the Eddie character.

Will Eddie really lose out on the promise of a new life - the decent, respectable girl, the career, the fame and the money - and stay with his despicable cronies?

Contains some of the worst attempts at songs ever written, a plethora of continuity errors and boom shadows, and no beatniks.

Shut up, Iris.


The Episode

Host Segments

Prologue: Joel cruelly dominates the Bots in a painful game of rock-paper-scissors, until Gypsy crushes Joel in revenge.

Segment One (Invention Exchange): Everyone recovers from their injuries received the prologue. The Mads have developed Good Luck Troll Costumes, based on those weird little plastic troll dolls that were all the rage in the 90's. Joel demos his literal take on Pocket Pool, though he denies Tom Servo the use of the bridge.

Segment Two: Either you are or you aren't a beatnik, according to Joel and the Bots, and the folks in the movie really aren't. To help the folks at home, they helpfully list ways to tell if you aren't a beatnik.

Segment Three: The Bots hold a slumber party, and discuss dreamy Tony Travis from the movie. Turns out he's a high school pal of Joel's; however, the phone call they end up placing is less than inspiring.

Segment Four: Servo stars in a dramatization of the life of a 50’s rock star based on the movie, from anonymity to overnight stardom to pathetic has-been.

Segment Five: Crow goes nuts like Peter Breck's character Mooney. Joel reads a letter in the meantime, and he and Tom debate if "dickweed" a swear word. The Mads find their costumes less than ideal for pushing the button.

Stinger: A crazed Mooney throws his gun.

Other Notes

Guest Stars

Airdate Notes

Obscure References

  • "I have seen the best guys of my emanation deployed by badness."

Frank is misquoting the Allen Ginsberg poem "Howl".

  • "...Mrs. Harvey." "She's a big rabbit!"

A reference to the 1944 stage play Harvey, (which was subsequently made into a feature film starring Jimmy Stewart) in which the main character is a man with a six-foot-tall rabbit named Harvey for an imaginary friend.

  • "E-O eleven..."

From the theme song to the original version of Ocean's Eleven.

  • "Let's do some crimes!"

A quote from the 1984 movie Repo Man.

  • "Travis Bickle?!" "Sometimes I wish a rain would come and wash away all the scum of the city."

Travis Bickle was the title character in the 1976 film Taxi Driver (which is also the source of the "rain" line).

  • (Harry Bayliss: "Get in touch with Morrisey...") "... And tell him to stop crying."

​A reference to singer/professional sadsack Morrisey , warbler of angsty depressing songs.

  • "Hey, I was watching 'She's the Sheriff'!"

She's the Sheriff was a sitcom that aired in first-run syndication from 1987 to 1989.

  • "I was thinkin' we could go down there, grab us some quick loot; go down to Mexico and be Ban-Dee-Dos!" "Yeah and we can then ride Yoshi to the Mushroom Kingdom."

A riff playing off of Mooney's complete detachment from reality; Yoshi is the green dinosaurian eating-machine which the Super Mario Bros. would occasionally ride. When this episode aired, Yoshi just made his debut in Super Mario World. (Which takes place in Dinosaur Land rather than the Mushroom Kingdom.)

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