That's how a turkey created TV
March 22, 2012 5:21 AM   Subscribe

The IMDB says of the Canadian-produced, early 90s Nickelodeon show Turkey Television: A series comprised entirely of short (several per episode) comedy sketches. Unfortunately practically nothing of the show survives on the internet today, other than two clips: the theme songs from the two formats of the show and a commercial showing off some archive clips. Page on the Classic Nick Wiki - Everything2 node

A kind of semi-sequel to You Can't Do That On Television and sharing some of the same cast, it combined a lot of public domain and found footage from shows from around the world with bits from other shows such as New Jersey's "The Uncle Floyd Show" and Monty Python, and cheaply-made original comedy bits such as The Uncle Hogram Program (along with his hand puppet Pippy) and Day In The Life Of A Food (stock video clips of people eating, dubbed with sounds of screaming). The show used short cartoon segments staring Thurman T. Turkey to introduce and return from commercials. Thurman got his name from, was voiced by, and was probably animated by Jim Thurman, a.k.a. the Teeny Little Super Guy (mefi).
posted by JHarris (25 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
This is one of those posts I felt I had to make, just to memorialize something nearly completely forgotten, before I forgot it too.
posted by JHarris at 5:29 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure where you're getting "early 90s" from -- the e2 page says it was cancelled by 1986.
posted by modernserf at 5:33 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Reruns... The show had legs.

And WTF? The internet's army of basement dwelling troglodytes aren't dusting off their VHS tapes and uploading this stuff?

I weep for the children of tomorrow.
posted by mikelieman at 5:40 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Next I'm going to find out that Marlo and the Magic Movie Machine also didn't survive. At least I got me a couple of DVDs of Uncle Floyd!
posted by mikelieman at 5:41 AM on March 22, 2012

Turkey Television lasted a long time in reruns, they would especially fill odd hours with it on Nick At Nite. I'm fairly certain it was aired long after 1986.
posted by JHarris at 5:42 AM on March 22, 2012

The only skit from this show that I remember was "Attack of the Killer Bs", in which the letter Bs of the world unite against humanity. Good stuff.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:43 AM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Unfortunately practically nothing of the show survives on the internet today

This is the saddest thing I've read today. Turkey Television was great.
posted by absalom at 5:46 AM on March 22, 2012

Turkey Television, geez. It was a collage of elements so aggressively strange that it actually creeped me out a little, but I couldn't tear myself away from it; it was like the later Liquid Television with the edges sanded down. I will be watching this thread—thank you for posting it!—with near-pathological interest, not least because Turkey Television is, I'm almost absolutely certain, the source of one of my weird media memories about which I cannot find a trace, despite having scraped the corners of the internet every couple of months or so for well over a decade.

I seem to remember this skit, see, or linked series of skits, filmed in black and white and intercut with title cards, all of which took the form "Pun #X", where X may or may not have been a sequential number. These "puns" were, like, three-to-five second film clips of a fellow in a gorilla suit doing something inexplicable (e.g. walking up the steps of a courthouse, walking to the end of a pier and jumping off, etc.). In addition to having completely banjaxed my understanding of what a "pun" is for a few years, these clips also apparently completely disappeared from the living memory of human civilization and it's driven me a little bit bananas.

I'm pretty sure that was a pun.
posted by Mothra Pisces at 5:59 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Because of Turkey TV (and now the theme is stuck in my head, hooray), I still think of Dana Carvey as the "Choppin' Broccoli" guy.

"She's choppin' broc-oh-laaah-ha!"

They ran the shit out of that routine.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 6:13 AM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

Well here is what I remember. Turkey Television was like an hour-long block of comedy and assorted strange bits packaged MTV-style, complete with notices in the corner of titles and makers. The two bits I mentioned in the opening are:

Opens with a title card and short theme song that I remember very well. A male voice sings "Daaaay... in-the-life (beat beat...) Day in the life (beat beat...) Day in the life of a foooood!" What follows is an ordinary clip of someone fixing to eat something. Dubbed over the footage is audio of the food's reaction, usually painful. The fact that this is all stuck in my brain is why I can't remember the capital of Nebraska.

Opens with a strangely-attired person whose face is up close to the camera, introducing himself happily: "Hello kids! I'm Uncle Hogram! And this is the Uncle Hogram Program!" The second syllable of both "Hogram" and "Program" are pronounced "grim," so it's "Hogrim" and "Progrim." This is followed with "And now, let's say hi to Pippy!" Pippy is his hand, made up in the style of Señor Wences' Johnny with lipstick and googly eyes. He does a falsetto voice for Pippy, using bad ventriloquism. Hogram asks Pippy how he's feeling today. Pippy says something about a problem he's having with his life, which causes Uncle Hogram to solve the problem in a way that causes Pippy grief, like smushing his face into a pie. Sometimes this seems like it should actually cause pain to Pippy. The effect is not unlike Mr. Bill's trouble with Mr. Hands. We're left wondering what the point of this strange segment is; Pippy is obvious Uncle Hogram's own hand, so is this not "self abuse"? (Maybe that was the joke, now that I think of it. Considering the high-pitched voice, Pippy could in fact be Pippi, although that makes a strange sketch seem even stranger, and a bit unsettling.)

Another one I just remembered:
Opens with a female voice singing to music, as if a recording: "Say 'HI' to Mister Fuddle...." Onscreen is Mister Fuddle, who is obviously Les Lye (Ross from You Can't Do That On Television) dressed like a grandfather, affecting an elderly voice. I think he sits in a rocking chair. He says to the camera, "Hi kids!" A chorus of child voices is heard, saying happily, as if responding, "Hi Mister Fuddle!" in a sing-song kind of way. Lye makes casual conversation, the kids reply "Yes, Mister Fuddle!" Lye then says the important question: "Want to hear a story?" The kids respond, in the same happy tone of voice: "No, Mister Fuddle!" Mister Fuddle says "I knew you would!" and tells the story anyway, which is always entirely made-up in an over-the-top fashion, in the style of a grandfather telling you how he had to trudge 12 miles to get to school each morning. When the story is over, the kids' voices are heard moaning. Mister Fuddle says "You don't believe me?!" The kids' voices, now irate, say "NO!" Fuddle says "I knew you would. Come back next time and I'll tell you (something else unlikely). Bye, kids!" Kid voices, annoyed: "Bye, Mister Fuddle." Female singer resumes: "Say 'bye' to Mister Fuddle, the biggest liar of aaaalll!" Bit then closes with Les Lye saying to the camera: "I heard that!"
posted by JHarris at 6:27 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

And yes, Harvey Jerkwater is correct, the Chopping Broccoli bit seemed to appear about every episode for a while. Another much-played bit was him talking about growing up with his brother Brad. They had the music videos for some Dr. Demento-type novelty songs in rotation too, including Fish Heads.
posted by JHarris at 6:31 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Holy Crap! Everything2 is still around :) Wow. Wikipedia before wikipedia! I wonder if I can still login...
posted by symbioid at 6:38 AM on March 22, 2012

(Aside to symbioid, yes, although they were recently sold from the Everything Development Company to user JayBonci.)
posted by JHarris at 6:42 AM on March 22, 2012

Wow. That was one of the set of shows that all of us girls could agree on during the mid/late 80s, when we fought over "the remote" All The Time. Weird but true: mom refused to buy a remote. She thought it was good for us to have to get up and change the channel.

The Killer Bs!
Chopping Broccoli!
Pippi! (Pippy?!)

I'd completely forgotten about Turkey TV, thank you for bringing it back. :) Hopefully maybe someone will dust off those bootleg VHS tapes....
posted by epersonae at 6:50 AM on March 22, 2012

Not to mention Out of Control:

I'm still trying to recover from this whole human bird wings thing though, so I can't process TV memories right now.
posted by nutate at 8:15 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

The reruns were definitely on Nickelodeon in the late 80s, because that's when I watched it. In fact, I think at some point they showed Turkey TV back-to-back with You Can't Do That on Television.

The "Day in the Life of a Food" song is now running on a loop in my head, thanks. I had totally forgotten Mister Fuddle until your comment, JHarris.

And yes, it seemed like they played the Fish Heads video on like, every other episode or something.

posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:17 AM on March 22, 2012

Didn't they also play the hell out of Robin Williams doing his "Elmer Fudd sings Bruce Springsteen" bit?

Looking back, I think a lot of my early standup comedy exposure was from Turkey Television. And somehow I think that's where I first heard of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
posted by COBRA! at 8:19 AM on March 22, 2012

Ha, I remember Mr. Fuddle! I also remember The Wizard of Speed and Time! Also pretty sure I saw the video for "Mexican Radio" for the first time on Turkey TV. What a great, weird show, it had that "public access tv gone wrong" vibe and blew my young mind.
posted by chaff at 9:26 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

The theme song from the second format of the show ("Turkey, Turkey TV, Turkey, Turkey TV... TURKEY TV!") has been in and out of my head for the last 20 years.
posted by aabbbiee at 9:36 AM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:01 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh please take note, the first version of the theme song so totally has a Doonesbury reference in it.
posted by JHarris at 10:18 AM on March 22, 2012

I still remember the "Greensleeves" sketch where they overdubbed a b&w clip with some guy saying he wore green sleeves so he could wipe his nose without worrying about snot stains on his sleeves.

Also, the contest they once ran on Thanksgiving. I tried desperately to call and win whatever it was, but alas, it was not meant to be.
posted by luckynerd at 10:46 AM on March 22, 2012

And WTF? The internet's army of basement dwelling troglodytes aren't dusting off their VHS tapes and uploading this stuff?

I wouldn't be surprised if posting this to Reddit got results; there was a few months ago a "nobody anywhere has a copy of this tv movie" post, and pretty quickly someone found it.
posted by inigo2 at 1:16 PM on March 22, 2012

mikelieman! You are the only person I've ever met who remembers both Turkey TV and Marlo. Thank you for validating my childhood.

(3-year-old me still remembers the heartbreak of the day McNeil-Lehrer stole Marlo's timeslot on our local PBS channel.)
posted by Flannery Culp at 1:45 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Turkey TV blew my mind when I was a kid. It began my love affair with public access, where I discovered things like Damon Zex and Eat More Carp.
posted by WASP-12b at 5:15 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

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