By Tom Rose
When we ran our recent Top 10 TV Catchphrases we had no idea it would strike such an enthusiastic chord with our readers, who opened the floodgates of memory by posting their own unforgettable examples.
So we’ve decided to expand the list to include the Top 100 TV Catchphrases Of All Time. As a congratulatory nod to our extremely savvy subscriber base, the first entry in the series is this Top 10 TV Catchphrases as suggested by you, our faithful readers. Check back regularly as the countdown continues through the coming weeks. In the meantime “Engage.”
100. “There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.”: Narrator, Naked City. The phrase was always ominously intoned at the close of each episode of this unusually raw and realistic (for its time) drama about NYPD Blues that was strong on character development and renowned for its early use of location filming in and around the gritty streets of Manhattan. Thanks to Shirley Snead.
99. “Missed it by that much.”: Maxwell Smart, Get Smart. Agent 86 (Don Adams) the bumbling CONTROL agent and secret paramour of the lovely Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) never quite managed the knack of perfect execution effortlessly achieved by so many other suavely smooth undercover spies of the time. Thanks to lochnez.
98. “Well Excuuuuse Me!”: Steve Martin, Saturday Night Live. Although Steve Martin encouraged America to get over itself when he exploded on the comedy scene in the Mid-70s, he was always irked when fans forgot their manners and demanded he do some of his classic bits at every show, including SNL. Thanks to TheCannyScot.
97. “Morticia, you spoke French!”: Gomez Addams, The Addams Family. There was a touch of madness in the Addams household, where every day is Halloween. Bear rugs growl, a disembodied hand delivers the mail, and the children enjoy such hobbies as playing autopsy or exploding model trains. Gomez (John Astin) and Morticia (Carolyn Jones) were one of television’s most passionate couples, with Gomez being driven to arm-kissing ecstasy anytime Morticia spoke French. Cara Mia! Thanks to dt2101.
96. “Stifle, Edith!”: Archie Bunker, All In The Family. Based on the British television series “Till Death Us Do Part” the show broke ground in its depiction of issues previously considered unsuitable for U.S. network television comedy, including racism, homosexuality, women’s liberation, rape, miscarriage, breast cancer and impotence. And, of course, Archie’s (Carroll O’Connor) neanderthalic treatment of long suffering “dingbat” Edith (Jean Stapleton) the real heart (and brains) of the family. Thanks to pianolady.
95. “Dyn-o-mite!”: J. J. Evans, Good Times. TV Guide had a field day describing Jimmie Walker to their readers. “He has the neck movement of an automatic sprinkler, and the bulb-eyed glare of an aggravated emu, all supported by a physique that resembles an inverted 6-foot tuning fork.” But the reaction that J.J. Evans got from the studio audience was unexpected. They went into convulsions on his very first entrance, before he even opened his mouth. On the second episode, he uttered the phrase that paid. From then on he was “Kid Dyn-o-mite!” – and the rest is history. Thanks to quatlevine.
94. “Get to steppin’ Gina!”: Martin Payne, Martin. Here’s one example where the character took the catchphrase to heart in real life. During the show’s run, Gina Payne (Tisha Campbell) sued Martin Lawrence for sexual harassment. Campbell’s appearances on the series began to dwindle, since she refused to appear in the same scenes as Lawrence. When she returned to the series, she and Lawrence only appeared via split screen format while talking on the phone, causing Martin to Jump the Shark way before its time. Thanks to ticka1234.
93. “No Soup For You!”: The Soup Nazi, Seinfeld. The fictional character who uttered this immortal catchphrase was inspired by Al Yeganeh, a real-life New York City soup vendor. His broths were renowned for their excellent quality, but his interactions with customers became increasingly bizarre as his popularity increased. After the episode aired, Jerry Seinfeld and several writers went to Yeganeh’s soup stand for lunch. Recognizing Seinfeld, Yeganeh launched into a profanity-laced rant about how the show had ruined his life, bellowed “No soup for you!” and ejected Seinfeld and his friends from the restaurant. Yada, Yada, Yada… Thanks to soniclink28.
92. “Kiss mah grits!”: Flo, Alice. On her way out to Hollywood to become a singer, Alice Hyatt (Linda Lavin) instead takes a waitressing job at Mel’s Diner. For the next 9 years the slow pace of the roadside burger joint, located somewhere near Phoenix, was picked up every now and then by the fiery patois between Mel Sharples, (Vic Tayback) the ornery owner and anti-feminist chef, and the man-hungry, gum-cracking whipper-snapper, Florence Jean “Flo” Castleberry (Polly Holliday). More than once she had the nerve to turn, point to her rump and tell Mel where he could plant a big fat wet one. Mel never obliged. Thanks to kellyjohns08.
91. “Energize!”: Captain Kirk, Star Trek. Perhaps the single most quoted series of all time. As avid reader and Catchphrase Generator Extraordinaire Ronn Kettlehake points out, there’s enough for Star Trek to have it’s own Top 10 list. We’ll be working on that Ronn – meanwhile here’s some other memorable catchphrases from the timeless classic that should hold us over until the next time:
—“He’s dead Jim.” Bones McCoy (Deforrest Kelley)
—“Highly illogical.” Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy)
—“Shields Up!” Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner)