The Ben Stiller Show  

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Episode 3

Ben is considerably excited at the start of this episode, as this week's special guest is slated to by James "Scotty" Doohan from the original "Star Trek" series. Andy is somewhat less enthusiastic, wanting to know why they couldn't get somebody Bruce Springsteen.

This leads to the first segment of "Legends of Springsteen", in which ordinary people discuss their encounters with the great rock-and-roller. Joey Bentley (Dick) relates the story of how he was alone and depressed in seedy local bar, unable to get tickets to the Boss' big concert. Just then, Springsteen (Stiller) appears in the door, bathed in a golden light like some kind of angel. Bentley goes on to say that Bruce performed for over 15 hours, even singing his all-time favorite song ("99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall"). After the bar has cleared out, Bentley is amazed to see Springsteen grab a mob and start cleaning up the place. "I mean, he was really scrubbing!" Bentley marvels. Bruce even refills all the ketchup bottles. And when Bentley awakens the next morning, he finds himself cleanly shaven and his shoes freshly polished.

Mark DeCarlo (Stiller) hosts "Amish Studs" from Lancaster, Pennsylvania; contestants Noah (Odenkirk) and Jebediah (Dick) are competing for a date. All the participants are uncomfortable by the sexual overones DeCarlo and the audience seem to read into such innocent statements as "he really knew how to churn butter" and "I was impressed with his incredible plowing ability". Jebediah ends up choosing Beth (Garofalo) to continue "courting", providing it is approved by the deacon and her father. Noah selects the sexy Suzie, the only non-Amish contestant, "because of her incredible is forbidden fruit, and I'm a fruit fly!"

Janeane is criticizing Ben for picking on "defenseless, peace-loving people" like the Amish, and Ben suggests she speak to his agent if she has a problem with it. Janeane retorts that Ben's agent never returns her calls, but Ben explains his agent is too busy with other clients.

Ben's agent, Michael Pheret (Stiller) returns, to take a meeting with rap group Run D.M.C. (appearing as themselves). They are interested in performing on "The Ben Stiller Show", but Michael advises them to do something different. He suggests a sitcom, a talk show or an informercial for a product that has something to do with magnets. He thinks they would all be perfect for "Batman 3": "J, just make up an animal. J, who am I? Ooh, I'm Koala Man...Yeah, I climb up trees and then I scrape people and I got a little fuzzy nose and I go on an airline..." As Michael is finishing up his lengthy rant, Run D.M.C. are making a quick exit.

Janet Paulson (Garofalo), a nine-and-a-half months pregnant waitress, is finishing up a double shift at a local bar when her water breaks. The nearest hospital is too far away and none of the patrons know what to do. But in walks Bruce Springsteen to save the day, in this second installment of "Legends of Springsteen". Springsteen helps deliver a healthy little girl, "born in the U.S.A.!" Paulson is overjoyed, until two space aliens enter the bar and say they need to baby "to fuel their rocket ship". Springsteen just happens to speak their language, and manages to get the two to leave without a scene. Paulson and her baby, "Springsteena" are grateful Bruce saved the baby from ending up on "some gas station up on Venus".

Because they are up against "60 Minutes", Bob tells Ben they should do some "informative" programming. However, because they're on Fox, it also needs to be a bit "racy". So Ben introduces a documentary on space travel: "The Quest For Space, Chapter Seven: Forgotten Heroes". The story recalls how in 1960, President Kennedy came up with the idea of sending high-fashion models into space. Out of 4,000 applicants--all of whom the President screens privately--only two are chosen. Called "Bim" (Anna Karin) and "Bo" (Alicia Ann), the two spend hours at NASA learning such necessities as what a shape a star is. The "model-nauts" are launced successfully into space, but Bim has made the mistake of bringing along her personal stylist (Dick). With the extra weight in the capsule, they cannot make it back to earth...but NASA considers the mission a success anyway.

James Doohan finally arrives on the lot, and Ben is eager to talk about "Star Trek". But first there is a quick commercial, asking "What is Sexy?" As a couple of model-types (Dick and Jeanne Triplehorn) are featured in a montage of dancing, fighting and chewing their toenails, the advertiser is revealed as the "Wilson Post-Hole Digger".

Ben is bombarding James Doohan with all kinds of "Star Trek" questions, wanting to know "the difference between impulse power and warp drive" and about the layout of the engineering room. James politely answers a slew of questions, as Ben fantasizes about how great it would be if the two of them became friends. He drifts into a dream sequence (set to the "Star Trek" theme) where the two bond over coffee, cook lobsters a la "Annie Hall" and paint models of the U.S.S. Enterprises. James even cooks a dinner for Ben and his date, but beams Ben out of the dining room and takes his place. The fantasy is completed when James gives Ben his red "Star Trek" jersey, and the two embrace. As he drifts back to reality, James is growing irritated with Ben's questions. He's sick of all the Trekkies and everyone calling him "Scotty".

Abraham Lincoln (Odenkirk) is trying to write the Gettysburg Address, but is stuck with a terrible writer's block. Luckily, Bruce Springsteen appears and spends three hours working with him in this third installment of "Legends of Springsteen". He suggests Lincoln use the phrase "four score and seven years ago" because "it's got a better ring to it than eighty-seven". Lincoln raises a glass to Springsteen, declaring: "I got a lot of mileage out of that speech! Thanks, Bruce!"

As Ben wraps up the show, he gives an increasingly impatient James a "Scotty" doll and suggests they hang out sometime. James is trying to make a quick exit, but Ben follows him offstage with more "Star Trek" questions. The closing credits feature Springsteen performing to the tune of "Hungry Heart", but his song is just a collection of unrelated sentences strung together:

"I've gonna drive out to the shore
I'm gonna drive, I'm gonna go fast now--
Fortune teller gonna drive me insane
I just met a girl, and I don't know her name..."


Odenkirk's "stud" Noah, looks exactly like Odenkirk's Lincoln. I think it's even the same beard. Just an observation.

"The Quest For Space" documentary again displays the excellent production values found on "Ben Stiller". Mixing actual film of Kennedy and NASA with their own footage, Stiller assembles a quality production to rival Oliver Stone's "JFK". Before "Ben Stiller", most variety programs stuck to sketch comedy and would never even attempt something so ambitious. Segments like "The Quest For Space" represent how truly ground-breaking Stiller's show was.


"This guy's acting like I just installed electricity in his house!"--Mark DeCarlo, referring to an angry Amish elder.


"This is the weakest episode of the ones I've seen. The first Springsteen sketch is funny, but the other two just drag the joke out."--Kevin

"Out of everything we've seen, this is my favorite!"--Joy

Overall Show Quality....7

This episode tested the lowest of them all, largely due to Kevin rating the "performances" so low. His particular complaint was with Stiller's Springsteen, who he felt looked nothing like the Boss, "in spite of all that obvious make-up". Another character that seemed to be an acquired taste was the agent Michael Pheret. At first, response to this character was ambivalent. However, in later episodes some members of the group actually applauded when Pheret appeared.

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