Wednesday, April 1, 2015

That's Our Ralph!

A little known series from the 1980s, That's Our Ralph! aired on NBC in 1982 for just six episodes as a mid-season replacement.  It didn't do well enough to be picked up for a second season, and the show has been mostly forgotten.  And yet, as far as crossovers go, it has made a huge impact on the TVCU and pop culture in general.

The series was set in an unnamed suburb, featuring wacky dad Ralph Wiggum, his wife Nancy, and children Scotty and Lucy.  Ralph was played by stand-up comedian Billy Stiper, a graduate of Second City.  Nancy was played by Jill Larson, better known for her soap work. The kids were little known at the time but have become big names since.  Scotty was played by Ethan Hawke in his first role.  Lucy was played by the adorable little Alyson Hannigan.

early alyson hannigan

The basic premise was that Ralph would typically screw up in some way, in the classic tropes, like forgetting an anniversary or lying so he can go bowling.  It was a really bad show.  But here's the chronology.
c. January 7, 1982--THAT'S OUR RALPH!--"Pilot"--Ralph forgets his wedding anniversary!  In this episode, Ralph mentions his cousin Archie, whose daughter married that Polish liberal and how that marriage ended badly.  This is clearly a reference to ALL IN THE FAMILY, which spun-off another bad show called GLORIA, which would debut later in this year.

c. January 14, 1982--THAT'S OUR RALPH!--"The Great Frame-Up!"--Ralph looks just like a man who is wanted by the FBI!  Robert Culp appears as an unnamed FBI agent.  At one point, he says that nothing surprises him since the "little green men".  This is a reference to his character Bill Maxwell on the Greatest American Hero.  Despite the fact that the aliens who gave Ralph Hinkley his super-suit were not little green men, Bill would often refer to them as such.  The agent played by Culp in this episode also ask Ralph is he's wearing wearing red pajamas, another clear identification as to who the agent is.

c. January 21, 1982-THAT'S OUR RALPH!--"The Big Lie"--Ralph pretends he has to work late in order to go bowling with his friends.  In this series, the setting is never named, nor is Ralph's occupation ever stated, but in this episode, Ralph refers to his boss as Mr. White, adding "Boy, does he hate being called Chief."  He also says he has to work late because he's the only reliable employee, as Clark, Lois and Jimmy are always leaving the office sticking Ralph with all the work.  Clearly, this is a Superman reference, and so the series must take place in Metropolis.  But which Superman and which Metropolis?  For TVCU purposes, this is likely the silver age Superman, Clark Kent who is the Superman from the Adventures of Superman, thus placing this Metropolis as Los Angeles.

c. January 28, 1982--THAT'S OUR RALPH!--"Mr. R"--Ralph takes Scott to a boxing match where Ralph accidentally upsets the champion, played by Mr. T.  Mr. T, as always, seems to portray the same character in everything, but here he even is called Mr. T!

c. March 11, 1982--THAT'S OUR RALPH!--"Pizza Pizza!"--Ralph offers to manage his friend's pizza place while the friend is in the hospital.  In one scene, Nancy scolds Ralph from constantly ordering things from the Acme mail-order catalogue.  

Image result for acme mail order catalogue

c. March 25, 1982--THAT'S OUR RALPH!--"Grand Canyon Vacation Part I"--The family takes a trip to the grand canyon and get stranded in the desert.  This story was never concluded.  There's a news report that references Senator Fonzerelli of Wisconsin.  So now we now what became of the Fonz from HAPPY DAYS!

Image result for henry winkler 2002

July 1982--ACTION COMICS # 533--"Trackdown!"--A Daily Planet staff member is drawn to resemble Ralph Wiggum, as a nod to the reference from the show.  

Action Comics 533

c. January 23, 1983--A-TEAM--"Mexican Slayride"--B.A. yells at Murdock, "I'll take you out like I did that fool Ralph Wiggum!"

1983--NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION--According to the DVD commentary, Harold Ramis states that the skeleton Clark Griswald finds in the desert is Ralph Wiggum.

1993--LAST ACTION HERO--In the police station, Ethan Hawke is seen in the police station, handcuffed.  A cop calls him Wiggum.  

2014--HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER--"Gary Blauman"--In Ted's story to his kids, he reveals that Scooter married Lily's doppelganger, Jasmine.  Jasmine's real name is revealed to be Lucy Wiggum.



CARTOON UNIVERSE--According to Matt Groening, Ralph Wiggum on the Simpsons was a nod to this not so classic series.

Ralph Wiggum

Happy April Fool's Day!!!

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