The Ben Stiller Show  

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Episode 12

A trailer for "A Few Good Scouts" finds Tom Cruise (Stiller) investigating the case of Willie Santiago, who was hung by his underwear from a flagpole by his fellow Cub Scouts. Demi Moore (Garofalo) plays the Den Mother to the troop, and together they take on the powerful and arrogant Jack Nicholson (Mick Lazinski). He warns them: "You want to investigate me? Roll the dice and take your chances. I eat breakfast every morning with twelve fathers who think I'm secretly touching their kids, so don't think you can come down here, flash a Merit Badge and scare me." They also question a character played by Kiefer Sutherland (Dick), but his accent renders him incoherent. A production of Oscar-Craving Pictures, Cruise does his best to look serious in this very important role.

The cast members are all upset that Ben brought in an actor to play the Jack Nicholson role, and each one offers their own take on how they would have done the impersonation. Bob does the famous "Here's Johnny!" line from "The Shining", while Andy and John both offer their take on the sandwich scene from "Five Easy Pieces". The best Janeane can do is say: "I'm the guy from 'Terms of Enderment'."

Officer DeSipio of Essex (Stiller) and Lieutenant O'Donohue of Loxley (John O'Donohue) answer a disturbing the peace call on "Cops in Medeval Times". A drunken sorcerer (Dick) has accidentally turned his wife into an ox and is creating a scene, blowing up things with his magic wand as he tries to return her to her normal state. DeSipio explains: "A situation like this, we'll apprehend the suspect and then we'll impound the wand, run a check on usually turns out it's hot." A note tied to an arrow tells the officers a domestic disturbance is taking place nearby, and they leave to check it out. Another drunk (Odenkirk) is trying to pull a sword from a stone, much to the irritation of his wife (Garofalo) and young child. The officers manage to calm the man down and his son ends up pulling the sword out and is transformed into the King. "I loosened it for him!" the man protests. The officers head off, as DeSipio reccommends O'Donohue use leeches to cure his "touch of the plague that's going around".

Tabitha Soren (Garofalo) hosts "Ben Stiller's Music News", reporting on a trio of back-up singers named Vanilla Heat. Suing the entire music industry for discrimanation are Val (Stiller), Kim (Odenkirk) and Mosely (Dick). Convinced that men cannot get work singing back-up, the bitter threesome have over 700 cases pending in court. A couple of defendants, Casey Kasem and Marky Mark, appear as themselves to express their confusion. Dressed in spandex bicycle shorts and goofy berets, the group is seen practicing their horrible act. None of them can hit a note, but that doesn't stop them from storming Blind Jam Records and trying to get an audition. "It's happening again," Mosely tells the camera when the receptionist refuses to let them in and calls security. "Maybe we should have worn our dresses!" Kim adds with disgust. The threesome try to stage a sit-in, but are dragged out as they sing: "we will not move, till we get a break..."

"American Profiles" features Billybob Hoyt (Odenkirk), a "high-tech hillbilly" who is " preserve the hillbilly lifestyle by making it profitable." Billybob and his eighth cousin Floyd (Stiller) have come up with such inventions as the Beard O' Matic to make facial hair pointer and the Pick O' Matic 2000, which picks your feet clean, "leaving your hands free to shoot flies away, smoke a pipe, whatever". They are also working on a brand of non-alcoholic moonshine ("all of the kick, none of the sick") and Feud Technology, where they hunt members of the Hatfield family. Billybob is honored with The Golden Jug Award, and he explains: "I'm a hillbilly, I'm a businessman...but mostly I'm just a guy who never understood the word 'cain't'."

Ben shows the cast a list of words they can say on the air, now that they're on at 10:30 p.m.. The cast read over the list with considerable excitement, continuing even when Ben asks them to stop.

"The Legend of T.J. O'Pootertoot" begins with the first day of work for waitress Faith (Garofalo) at a restaurant where all of the employees are required to wear bushy moustaches and push such food as "atomic liver crisps" and "pudding shots". Faith inadvertently offends fellow waiter Dwayne (Odenkirk) by relating how her boyfriend thought fake theme restaurants were corny. "It isn't a fake theme," Dwayne replies tensely. The creepy Manager (Stiller) keeps a intent gaze fixed on Faith as she deals with a difficult customer (Dick). When she's asked what kind of meat is in "pooterballs", she replies: "it's pooter-meat...with a taste that's oddly familiar." Dwayne brags about all the "pooter-points" he's racking up by selling appetizers, but Faith points out that all he gets with "pooter-points" is T.J.'s mustache wax. "I know you didn't mean that," Dwayne replies edgily, then mutters, "You should be more careful. If somebody overhears you, we could both get shipped off to Pootertoot Spirit Camp!" The Manager tries to get Faith to join an "alley rally"--where all the waiters band together and sing--but she claims she's too busy. "We're having an alley rally," he replies stoically, and three waiters band behind him. They begin to advance on Faith, backing her against the wall.

"Who's the best, East or West?" the Manager chants.
"T.J. O'POOTERTOOT'S!" the waiters chime in.
"Where does the guest rest with zest?"
"Who always passes the fun-food test?"

Faith's boyfriend David (David Cross) bursts into the kitchen just in time, holding the waiters at bay with an electric razor. Carrying "The Book of Pooter," he explains to Faith that T.J. O'Pootertoot was a member of the Donner party--the pioneers who were forced to resort to cannibalism after being snowed in. "It's people!" David tells her. "Pooter-balls are made out of people!" Faith manages to trim the mustache of the Manger, and she and David escape the restaurant. A hysterical Dwayne reminds the Manager they "need a female to repopulate with... T.J. must have a male heir. It is written!" Luckily, a young woman comes up to apply for a job and is led back into the kitchen.

A commercial for Grady's Oats finds spokesman Wilford Brimley (Dana Gould) doing his best Travis Bickle ("You talkin' to me?") impersonation with his .38 caliber. When a baseball breaks through his window, he snaps and begins shooting at the local kids.

As the show ends, Janeane thanks the rest of the cast for always being respectful and supportive to her as the only girl. But when Andy leaves to go to his trailer, he is follwed by catcalls and whistles. Vanilla Heat are seen rehearsing a commercial jingle for soap as the credits end.


After being regulated to the 10:30 p.m. time slot, "The Ben Stiller Show" responded with this sharp and hilarious installment. Not that they were all sharp and hilarious, but this one stands apart as probably the best single episode in the entire series.

Every single sketch works on several different levels, beginning with the ingenious "A Few Good Men" parody. Garofalo is wonderful as Demi Moore, perfectly capturing her husky voice and steely glare. And Stiller's performance will spring to mind anytime you try to watch Tom Cruise play outrage.

The "American Profiles" sketch is another example of the small touches that make "Ben Stiller" so exceptional. Odenkirk's Billybob Hoyt is a perfect mix of hillbilly and young executive. He wears a fancy suit, but the pants are cut off just above the knees, exposing mounds of untamed leg hair. Not to mention Odenkirk's outrageous cowlick, pointed beard and giant freckles. There's even a bottle of moonshine on his desk with a giant "XXX" on it.

The highlight of the show, of course, is the "T.J. O'Pootertoot" sketch. In the 94-95 season of "Saturday Night Live", they attempted to do a parody of "Soylent Green" with Charlton Heston's character being stuck in a series of sequels that always found him repeating the famous line: "It's people! Soylent green is made out of people!" Basically a one-joke idea, Heston would insert "Soylent Red", "Soylent White" and even "Soylent Cow Flops" in the according movie. While this was mildly amusing for about twenty seconds, it shows none of the absurdity and originality of "T.J. O'Pootertoot". The writer(s) of this sketch know that there's a dark side to everything- even those cheesey little theme restaurants where everyone seems so happy. This is also an extremely intelligent sketch, with references to everything from "Soylent Green" to the Donner Party. But most importantly, it's just balls-out funny.


Andy wailing "stop harrassing me, once and for all!" before storming out on the cast as they taunt him.

The entire "T.J. O'Pootertoot" sketch.


"Yes, 'T.J. O'Pootertoot' is funny. But I wouldn't make it my religion."--Kristy

Overall Show Quality....9

The high scores of this episode can be attributed to several factors. First, this is an excellent show--even without the T.J. O'Pootertoot's sketch. Another possibility is that the control group was adjusting to the offbeat humor and style of the program. Everyone scored the "humor" as a 9 or better, and the "performances" were rated a 10 straight across the board. This is probably due to the oustanding impersonations in the "Few Good Scouts" parody, which seemed to be a turning point for the viewers. From this point on, every episode was rated extremely high.

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