"Catch This"


There’s nothing like an inane “All Time Top X” list to get my juices flowing, and TV Land’s “100 Greatest TV Quotes & Catchphrases” is one of the all-time inanities (and one of the best reasons for me to get to work on my “Top Several” project. Anyway, they’ve released the entire list in alphabetical order prior to the unveiling of the numerical order the week of December 11 (five hours for a list of 100, that’s 20 per hour, 3 minutes per catchphrase – less commercials, about 2 minutes… this is gonna be mind-numbing).

A proper analysis of the list requires a little breaking down. first between the Quotes (famous for being said once) and the Catchphrases (famous for being said over and over and over). There are only 10 quotes, 7 of them from non-fiction TV (and 6 of those from non-TV-professional people):

  • “Ask not what your country can do for you …” (John F. Kennedy)
  • “Do you believe in miracles?” (Al Michaels, 1980 Winter Olympics)
  • “Have you no sense of decency?” (Joseph Welch to Sen. McCarthy)
  • “I’m not a crook …” (Richard Nixon)
  • “One small step for man …” (Neil Armstrong)
  • “Read my lips: No new taxes!” (George H.W. Bush)
  • “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy” (Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle)

The 3 fictional one-time quotes:

  • “Oh, my nose!” (Marcia Brady, “The Brady Bunch”)
  • “Welcome to the O.C., bitch” (Luke, “The O.C.”) (Correct me if this has been said more than once; I’ve never watched more than 5 minutes of this show)
  • “You’ve got spunk …” (Lou Grant, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”) (They should’ve used the entire quote, which ends: “I HATE spunk”.)

It must be noted that the one-time quotes would qualify as “Classic TV Moments” except for the fact that TV Land already did a list of “100 Most Unexpected TV Moments” that showed that they don’t know the meaning of the word “moment” (several on the list are entire shows).

11 of the remaining 90 are from TV commercials (It’s interesting that many of these are not commercial slogans per se)

  • “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” (Alka Seltzer ad)
  • “I want my MTV!” (MTV slogan)
  • “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV” (Vicks Formula 44 ad)
  • “It keeps going and going and going …” (Energizer Batteries slogan)
  • “It takes a licking …” (Timex slogan) (Again they left off part of it: “And keeps on ticking”. Is TV Land afraid that full-length quotes will bore its audience?
  • “Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?” (Grey Poupon slogan, kind of)
  • “Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids” (Trix cereal slogan)
  • “Tastes great! Less filling!” (Miller Lite beer slogan)
  • “Time to make the donuts” (“Dunkin’ Donuts” slogan, kind of)
  • “Whassup?” (Budweiser ad)
  • “Where’s the beef?” (Wendy’s ad)

56 of the remaining I would categorize as “character catchphrases”, 10 are “personality catchphrases” (associated with semi-real people, not fictional TV characters) and the remaining 13 I consider “show catchphrases”, openings, closings and the like, although most of them are associated with specific people or characters. There may be some category overlap, which I admit to below. First, the “Show Catchphrases”:

  • “And that’s the way it is” (Walter Cronkite, “CBS Evening News”)
  • “Come on down!” (credited to Johnny Olson but also said by Rod Roddy and whoever’s doing the announcing now, “The Price is Right”)
  • “Good night, and good luck” (Edward R. Murrow, “See It Now” recently stolen by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, but with a more cynical delivery)
  • “Here it is, your moment of Zen” (credited to Jon Stewart but originally said by Craig Kilborn, “The Daily Show”)
  • “Here’s Johnny!” (Ed McMahon, “The Tonight Show”)
  • “Is that your final answer?” (credited to Regis Philbin but also said by Meredith Vieira, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”) (Yeah, Regis uses it elsewhere, but it really belongs to the show, IMO)
  • “Smile, you’re on `Candid Camera'” (“Candid Camera”)
  • “Space, the final frontier …” (credited to Capt. Kirk but also said by Capt. Picard, “Star Trek”)
  • “The truth is out there” (Fox Mulder, “The X-Files”) (I don’t recall the character saying it much, but it was displayed in big letters in the show’s opening for much of the series.)
  • “The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat” (Jim McKay, “ABC’s Wide World of Sports”)
  • “The tribe has spoken” (Jeff Probst, “Survivor”)
  • “This is the city …” (Sgt. Joe Friday, “Dragnet”)
  • “Two thumbs up” (credited to Siskel & Ebert, “Siskel & Ebert”, but used by whover is currently hosting that movie review show)

The “Personality Catchphrases”:

  • “Bam!” (Emeril Lagasse, “Emeril Live”)
  • “How sweet it is!” (Jackie Gleason, “The Jackie Gleason Show”)
  • “Let’s get ready to rumble!” (Michael Buffer, various sports events) (Could this also be classified as an “Opening”?)
  • “Makin’ whoopie” (Bob Eubanks, “The Newlywed Game”)
  • “Mom always liked you best” (Tommy Smothers, “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour”)
  • “Now cut that out!” (Jack Benny, “The Jack Benny Program”) (Benny was playing a fictionalized version of himself, so this might be considered a “Character Catchphrase”)
    -“Say good night, Gracie” (George Burns, “The Burns & Allen Show”) (Same as Benny, plus it was part of the show’s closing… sometimes things just don’t fit in easy categories)
  • “That’s hot” (Paris Hilton, “The Simple Life”)
  • “We’ve got a really big show!” (Ed Sullivan, “The Ed Sullivan Show”)
  • “You’re fired!” (Donald Trump, “The Apprentice”) (Since they didn’t let Martha Stewart use it, the phrase belongs to the Donald, not the show)

And now, the purest of the pure catchprases, the ones associated with (and frequently repeated by) TV characters:

  • “Aaay” (Fonzie, “Happy Days”)
  • “Baby, you’re the greatest” (Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden, “The Honeymooners”)
  • “Book ’em, Danno” (Steve McGarrett, “Hawaii Five-O”) (Yes, this could be classified as a Show Closing, but that’s more picky than even I am)
  • “Danger, Will Robinson” (Robot, “Lost in Space”)
  • “De plane! De plane!” (Tattoo, “Fantasy Island”)
  • “Denny Crane” (Denny Crane, “Boston Legal”)
  • “D’oh!” (Homer Simpson, “The Simpsons”)
  • “Don’t make me angry …” (David Banner, “The Incredible Hulk”) (Another incomplete quote: “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”)
  • “Dyn-o-mite” (J.J., “Good Times”)
  • “Elizabeth, I’m coming!” (Fred Sanford, “Sanford and Son”) (Didn’t he usually phrase it: “I’m coming, Elizabeth!”?)
  • “Gee, Mrs. Cleaver …” (Eddie Haskell, “Leave it to Beaver”)
  • “God’ll get you for that” (Maude, “Maude”)
  • “Good grief” (Charlie Brown, “Peanuts” specials) (This was so obviously a comic strip catchphrase years before it became a TV catchphrase… I wonder if they just included it to contrast with “Good night and good luck”.)
  • “Good night, John Boy” (“The Waltons”)
  • “Heh heh” (Beavis and Butt-head, “Beavis and Butthead”) (Shouldn’t there be a third ‘heh’?)
  • “Hey now!” (Hank Kingsley, “The Larry Sanders Show”)
  • “Hey hey hey!” (Dwayne Nelson, “What’s Happening!!”)
  • “Hey hey hey!” (Fat Albert, “Fat Albert”) (What does it say about America’s literacy when this list contains TWO “Hey hey heys” – although Dwayne and Fat Albert used strikingly different deliveries on it – plus “Hey now!”, “Heh heh” and “Aaay”… and we haven’t gotten to the “yabbas and yadas” yet.)
  • “Holy (whatever), Batman!” (Robin, “Batman”) (Interestingly, the only catchphrase on the list with unlimited variations.)
  • “Holy crap!” (Frank Barone, “Everybody Loves Raymond”)
  • “Homey don’t play that!” (Homey the Clown, “In Living Color”)
  • “How you doin’?” (Joey Tribbiani, “Friends”)
  • “I know nothing!” (Sgt. Schultz, “Hogan’s Heroes”)
  • “I love it when a plan comes together” (Hannibal, “The A-Team”)
  • “I’m Larry, this is my brother Darryl …” (Larry, “Newhart”) (I’m getting tired of finishing these for them… “and this is my other brother Darryl.” They left off the punch line!)
  • “I’m Rick James, bitch!” (Dave Chappelle as Rick James, “Chappelle’s Show”)
  • “If it weren’t for you meddling kids!” (Various villains, “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?”) (This time they left off the first part… “And I would’ve gotten away with it…”, plus the ending “…and your dumb dog!”)
  • “Jane, you ignorant slut” (Dan Aykroyd to Jane Curtin, “Saturday Night Live”)
  • “Just one more thing …” (Columbo, “Columbo”)
  • “Let’s be careful out there” (Sgt. Esterhaus, “Hill Street Blues”)
  • “Live long and prosper” (Spock, “Star Trek”)
  • “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! (Jan Brady, “The Brady Bunch”)
  • “Never assume …” (Felix Unger, “The Odd Couple”)
  • “Nip it!” (Barney Fife, “The Andy Griffith Show”)
  • “No soup for you!” (The Soup Nazi, “Seinfeld”) (Maybe this should’ve been in the Quotes category, since the character was only in one episode.)
  • “Norm!” (“Cheers”)
  • “Oh, my God! They killed Kenny!” (Stan and Kyle, “South Park”) (Okay, maybe they had a reason for leaving off “The bastards!”)
  • “Resistance is futile” (credited to Picard as Borg, which all good Trekkies know should be Locutus of Borg, as well as every other Borg including Seven of Nine, “Star Trek: The Next Generation”)
  • “Schwing!” (Mike Myers and Dana Carvey as Wayne and Garth, “Saturday Night Live”)
  • “Sock it to me” (“Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In”)
  • “Stifle!” (Archie Bunker, “All in the Family”) (I would’ve picked “You meathead” before this for Archie.)
  • “Suit up!” (Barney Stinson, “How I Met Your Mother”)
  • “Tell me what you don’t like about yourself” (Dr. McNamara and Dr. Troy, “Nip/Tuck”)
  • “Up your nose with a rubber hose” (Vinnie Barbarino, “Welcome Back, Kotter”)
  • “We are two wild and crazy guys!” (Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd as Czech playboys, “Saturday Night Live”)
  • “Well, isn’t that special?” (Dana Carvey as the Church Lady, “Saturday Night Live”)
  • “What you see is what you get!” (Geraldine, “The Flip Wilson Show”)
  • “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” (Arnold Drummond, “Diff’rent Strokes”)
  • “Who loves you, baby?” (Kojak, “Kojak”)
  • “Would you believe?” (Maxwell Smart, “Get Smart”)
  • “Yabba dabba do!” (Fred Flintstone, “The Flintstones”)
  • “Yada, yada, yada” (“Seinfeld”)
  • “Yeah, that’s the ticket” (Jon Lovitz as the pathological liar, “Saturday Night Live”)
  • “You eeeediot!” (Ren, “Ren & Stimpy”)
  • “You look mahvelous!” (Billy Crystal as Fernando, “Saturday Night Live”)
  • “You rang?” (Lurch, “The Addams Family”)

Of course, there are many (besides “Meathead”) that were not included but deserve to be on this list. There’s a MetaFilter thread full of them, and I’ll be discussing those and a few of my own later. Right now, this blog post is long enough.

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