Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Faking of "THAT'S OUR RALPH!"

In case you haven't figured it out, THAT'S OUR RALPH! is a completely made up TV series.  It was an April Fool's Day prank.  It was a lot of fun trying to create a fake TVCU blog that seemed real, and I thought I'd share the process.

  • The title--I was really trying to capture the essence of the early 1980s, and the numerous really bad failed sitcoms that I remember.  Thus I came up with this generic, cheesy title that just seemed perfect for the type of show I was trying to represent.  
  • The premise--Using that logic, I created a show that was the typical sitcom trope of that era, which had come before and still exists, but really seemed to populate the 1980s.  A man who is kind of the dumb, scheming family man, with the smart nagging wife, and cute, generic kids.  

  • The picture used for the show's star is a generic picture I found in a Google images search.  I have no idea who this guy is.  But he's absolutely not Billy Stiper.
  • In fact, Billy Stiper is completely fictitious.  There was no such comedian.  But this was an era when many stand-ups were getting really bad, generic sitcoms that didn't last more than half a season, so it seemed to make sense.
  • Jill Larson--This is a real actress.  For the actress playing the mom, I looked up actresses who would have been 35 years old in 1982, and then looked for an actress who could look like a generic TV wife/mom.  I also wanted someone not as famous, perhaps someone whose career was kind of fizzled at the time.  Jill Larson was doing a lot of one time appearances on numerous TV shows around this time.

  • The kids.  I did a search of actors who would have been 12 and 8 in 1982, who may have had acting careers at that time or shortly after.  Ethan Hawke was 12 and Alyson Hannigan was 8 in 1982.  Both had not started acting yet (according to IMDB) but had their first acting credits shortly after.  Also, it helped that I found pictures of both that were from when they were that age.  It's pretty common for big name stars to have early credits on failed sitcoms, especially as child stars, so it seemed logical to find two bigger names for the kids.
early alyson hannigan

  • The plotlines and story titles--Again, went for some very generic tropes.
  • Crossovers--I tried to find a wide range of plausible crossovers that would span the genres of the TVCU.  Also, I really wanted this to be a lame show, but written by someone in Hollywood who loved Easter egg type crossovers that he could sneak in.  Additionally, I wanted this to be one of those shows where the writers would have had a fondness for the show enough that even though it was bad, it would still be remembered enough in Hollywood to get homages later on.
  • All in the Family/Gloria Crossover--This was around the time of the Gloria spin-off, and I was looking for a real classic sitcom to cross over with.
  • Greatest American Hero Crossover--I really wanted to make an A-Team cross, but I set this show a year to early for that, so I compromised by this and the Mr. T crosses.  
  • I just had to make a Superman connection, and I tried to do so in a general way.  It also made this feel more authentic as a TVCU post by throwing in some reference to one of my TVCU generational heroes theories. 
  • Mr. T was appearing as a boxer and wrestler, playing himself or a similar character in numerous roles prior to the A-Team.  The picture I used in the blog was from Rocky III.

  • Another attempt to make this a typical TVCU post was to make a link to the Looniverse/Cartoon Universe, by making the Acme connection.
  • I used a generic modern Henry Winkler picture for Senator Fonzerelli.  I just really liked the idea of showing what became of a Happy Days character in the future, while Happy Days was still on the air, (set 20 years in the past).  
  • The two parter.  To demonstrate how networks operate typically, I left the series with an unresolved cliffhanger.  
  • I used a real issue of Action Comics, which does not have any appearance of Ralph Wiggum of course.
  • I also used a real episode of the A-Team, but the crossover reference is completely made up.
  • Harold Ramis never made any such claims in the commentary for Vacation.  For all of these crossovers, I tried to make claims that seemed plausible and were not likely to be fact checked.
  • Ethan Hawke was not in Last Action Hero.
  • The picture I used for Last Action Hero isn't even from that film.  Nor is it Ethan Hawke in the picture.  It came from a generic search of police station scenes.  

  • How I Met Your Mother is one of my favorite shows, one I just finished rewatching from start to finish, and I'm currently working on an expanded update of that post.  I had already decided to cast Hannigan as the daughter, so why not make the Lily doppelganger whose real name was never revealed as Lucy Wiggum?  Of course, that would mean the accent is fake.
  • Ralph Wiggum.  I chose the name Ralph because it just seemed perfect for the title character, and was an homage to Ralph Cramden.  As I was coming up with this, I was going to use a generic last name, but I kept thinking of Ralph Wiggum from the Simpsons, so I just went with it.  Saying Groening used the name as an homage seemed plausible.  Also, having at least one thing in the AU section made it seem like a more realistic TVCU post.
  • The flaws:  Normally, a TVCU post would have some reference to Toobworld or Poobala, and some quotes from TVCU Crew members like Matt Hickman.  But since they weren't in on the joke, I didn't want them to see themselves referenced and immediately identify this as a fake blog post.  I also didn't include my usual cut and pastes from IMDB or Wikipedia references that often appear in different fonts.  I could have made some fake ones, but I didn't think they would really add value.  
  • I hope you enjoyed my little joke.  I had a lot of fun making it.

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