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That’s a Sicily You Don’t See on Postcards: Annotating Sophia

April 12, 2010

I've got a better case than Valerie Harper!

One of the things I am frequently asked – as it relates to GG – is to explain bits of pop culture or history references by the show. Here are a few I have been asked about on more than one occasion.

” I never liked that show. Every episode it was the same thing, ‘Ricky, why can’t I be in the show?’ ‘Ricky, why can’t I be in the show?’ Why couldn’t she be in the show? Her performances at home were all right, his acts at the club stank. What’s so entertaining about a Cuban beating a drum?”

2×23 – Son in Law Dearest

  • One of the recurring themes on I Love Lucy involved Lucy being framed as “untalented” and Ricky barring her from his show. The joke here is that any time the act was featured it was quite clear Ricky was not exactly talent personified himself. It was one of those chicken wing calling the pizza greasy situations.

“You want him to show up with Barbara Eden and the college all-American football team? It’s a dream not a Bob Hope special!

2×10 – Scared Straight

  • The College All-American Football Team is a honor bestowed on the top players of various position. Barbara Eden played “Jeannie” on I Dream of Jeannie and Bob Hope specials were frequently riddled with more celebs than 24 hours of programming on VH1. The Bob Hope reference also alludes to his surprise cameo later in the season.

“Of course I am. I survived war, disease and two seasons of Designing Woman.”

4×02 – Stanley Takes a Wife

  • Designing Women, of course, was also a show which utilized four strong, fully realized female characters to examine topical issues such as AIDS, politics, homosexuality and aging. DW was moved to various time slots throughout its run (1986 – 1993) and in some ways was an attempt by CBS (GG aired on NBC) to attract a similar viewer base, despite the show never actually airing opposite GG. Still there was talk regarding this, but fortunately CBS opted to anchor DW to its Monday night juggernaut Murphy Brown and by the fourth season of GG, all talk of a Saturday night relocation was done. It was also a snark at DW creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason who was positioned by some in the media (at the time) as the “new” Susan Harris (a prediction which did not turn out to be true), which suggested the “old” Susan Harris was no longer relevant. This is just my take on it.

“It was Chicago and in those days Chicago stood for two things…[Rose asks what two things] How the hell should I know, do I look like Studs Terkel?”

2×15 -Valentine’s Day

  • Studs Terkel was a Chicago institution and oral historian, covering topics such as race relations, work in American and WWII. He was known for seeking out “ordinary” folks and giving their stories a voice and platform.

“I have no recollection period since last Thursday! Anything could have happened in three days. I just hope I’m not carrying Steve Garvey’s baby.”

4×21 Little Sister

We don’t exactly watch it either [television], with our crummy TV. We get two channels at once. For a while there I thought Benson was having an affair with Miss Ellie.”

1×23 – Blind Ambitions

  • “Benson” was a spin off from the show “Soap” and both were shows also created by Susan Harris. Miss Ellie – a character on Dallas – was played by Barbara Bel Geddes throughout the bulk of the series and Donna Reed for one year.
7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 12, 2010 9:31 am

    Thanks for filling in the cultural references for those of us too young to know who Lucy and Jeannie were (ha)! Seriously, it’s impressive how well Ms. Harris knew her audiences — she seemed really good at mixing then-old and then-current references into the dialog.

  2. msjacks permalink
    April 12, 2010 11:01 am

    These days, Sophia Petrillo would have guest blogged at IFMiB quite frequently.

  3. April 12, 2010 11:23 am

    Sophia was totally the master of the obscure yet applicable pop culture reference. I loved as I got older I started to get the references.

    I also kind of wish the College all-American Football Team and Barbara Eden would who up in my dreams once in a while. That image always made me laugh. I pictured them carrying Eden on their shoulders and her nodding her head and granting wishes.

  4. evmaroon permalink
    April 12, 2010 12:39 pm

    I couldn’t stand Sophia when I watched the series back in the day, but now I find myself howling with laughter at her delivery. Maybe I needed to grow up some to understand her.

  5. April 12, 2010 3:16 pm

    I couldn’t stand Sophia when I watched the series back in the day, but now I find myself howling with laughter at her delivery. Maybe I needed to grow up some to understand her.

    It seems from time to time Arthur shared your childhood sentiment!

  6. April 12, 2010 11:35 pm

    When I found out Bea Arthur was actually older than Estelle Getty I was shocked. Estelle had that gorgeous red hair, too. They made her hide her beauty under that wig.

  7. April 12, 2010 11:39 pm

    I know! If you watch Mannequin you can see Estelle all cute and youthful! She also originated the mama role in “Torch Song Trilogy”!

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