“And the guy that he rescued was grateful as can be / And it turns out he’s a big-shot producer on TV / So he gave Al a contract and what do you know? / Now he’s got his very own Weird Al Show!”
I was always disappointed that Weird Al Yankovic never starred in a full-length feature film after UHF (although he made plenty of cameos). But if there ever was a sequel to that oddball tale of a dorky guy who turned an obscure UHF station into a ratings powerhouse, it was the short-lived Weird Al Show.
The Weird Al Show aired in the fall of 1997 on CBS, bringing a little weirdness to the Saturday morning crowd. It’s best described as kind of the host segments of Mystery Science Theater 3000 combined with the parodies of UHF and the general bizarre nature of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Weird Al played a fictional version of himself who lived in a cave “20 miles below the earth” and got into a lot of foolishness over the course of 13 episodes. There were musical numbers, exaggerated reactions, guest stars, and random inventions from the host. It also had an amazingly catchy theme song — but what else do you expect from Weird Al?
According to Wikipedia, CBS demanded that the show have a moral to it, so Weird Al hired Billy West to scream the moral at the audience at the start of each episode. Which is hilarious.
I took it upon myself to watch the full show run and had a blast doing it. If you like Weird Al, you’ll love his genial goofiness and laugh-out-loud moments, trust me.
Episode 1: Bad Influence
Weird Al is trying to join a cool gang, but the leader Spike puts Al through a lot of hazing until Al realizes that he’s not such a nice guy after all. We also find out that Al has a strange assortment of friends, including Bobby the Inquisitive Boy and a superhero named the Hooded Avenger. It’s a decent start, although it kind of made Al out to be a naive dope from the start. Memorable highlights: Pirate Day Care, a cameo from Patton Oswalt, the “Water is Wet” song, and the Harvey the Wonder Hamster song. Also, the Barenaked Ladies show up to perform why not.
Episode 2: Promises, Promises
When his possé gushes over John Tesh — you know, that Entertainment Tonight guy from the ’90s — Weird Al claims that he’s besties with John and can get him to come visit. Which is most likely true in real life, but here, it’s a fib. So Weird Al tries to raise $82,000 for an appearance fee by doing infomercials and… yeah, it doesn’t go well. Memorable highlights: The guy who lives in Al’s wall (what’s his story?) and Fred Huggins, a Mr. Rogers who lost his marbles and performs inane songs to two tormented puppets.
Episode 3: Mining Accident
A group of gruff miners break into Al’s home and there’s a bit of fraction before they become good friends. Also, there’s a disturbing amount of “uvula” talk. It made me uncomfortable. Memorable highlights: Knight vs. fireman race, the disturbing “Got Milk?” commercial, and “Wow, the world’s fate looks a lot like a potato!”
Episode 4: Back to School
Al feels disheartened when everyone around him seems so smart, so he becomes determined to learn everything by the end of the week. Memorable highlights: A parody commercial (with Alex Trebek!) featuring a never-ending stream of symptoms that a poor guy is suffering. Also, the return of Kuni from UHF, the crazy martial arts instructor. You’re so STUPID!
Episode 5: Time Machine
When Al forgets Harvey’s birthday, he starts using a time machine to jump back in half-hour increments to fix everything. Unfortunately, there’s a problem in every time period and there’s no way to keep up with it. Memorable highlights: Al’s repeated and manic jumps into the past. He begins by jumping into the very distant past and has to deal with volcanoes and dinos.
Episode 6: One for the Record Books
Harvey the Wonder Hamster gets dosed with radiation and becomes the Guinness World Record holder for largest hamster. Al’s jealous and struggles to set his own record. Memorable highlights: When all of the other record holders visit the cave. Al’s “boneless boy dance.” Hanson arrives and makes me remember that Hanson used to be a thing.
Episode 7: Because I Said So
A kid shows up and bullies Weird Al for a half-hour. It’s painfully unfunny and annoying, and even my 11-year-old son was begging for Weird Al to hit the kid with a pillow. Memorable highlights: A quick but thankfully amusing Fred Huggins bit.
Episode 8: Talent Show
Weird Al throws a talent show and all of his friends and family come to participate, although his cousin Corky (Danielle Weeks) is afraid to be a part of it. It’s kind of entertaining. A bit of a mixed bag, although I’ll always sit down for a performance by Madame Judy. She’s just the right kind of crazy manic for me. Memorable highlights: There’s a really great TV parody run. I would’ve been happy if this whole show was nothing but the TV bits.
Episode 9: Al Plays Hooky
Faced with cleaning the cave, Al decides to play hooky and head out to Hawaii instead. Corky has to take over in his absence. Memorable highlights: Weird Al is side-splittingly funny when he’s apathetic and on break. Also, the trailer for “60% Chance of Rain.” I’d go see that.
Episode 10: He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Hamster
Allegedly, this was supposed to be the pilot episode, so there’s a lot of explaining going on. In any case, Al has a tiff with Harvey and has to make it up to him. Memorable highlights: Sabrina the Teenage Fish, Weird Al’s home movies (with Doctor Demento!).
Episode 11: The Competition
Weird Al gets into a competition with Fred Huggins (also played by Weird Al) and Uncle Ralphie for “Best TV Host.” There’s a lot of pot shots and pranks between the shows, including killer poodles. Whoever loses, we all win! Also, we’re reminded that back in the ’90s, there was a band called Radish for like ten minutes. Memorable moments: Madame Judy predicts the present, someone parodies Weird Al, the “lip bomb” pun, lots of Fred Huggins, “Maybe you’d like to watch… the collected works of Pauly Shore!” “NOOO!”
Episode 12: The Obligatory Holiday Episode
Weird Al throws a holiday party. ALL the holidays. But Al isn’t really listening to his guests (each who is dressed as a certain holiday), which more funny than you’d think. I think it’s one of the best episodes, along with The Competition. Memorable moments: Madame Judy’s apocalyptic palm reading, “Maybe tuna punch is an acquired taste,” the Yankovic family fruitcake, and Fred Huggins finally cracks completely with his “Kitty” song.
Episode 13: Al Gets Robbed
Al comes back from a convention to find that his whole cave was robbed. We also find out that Weird Al’s imaginary friend is a very real Gilbert Godfrey. Memorable moments: Weird Al makes a barking poodle with origami, the abrupt wrestling match between Randy Savage and a hamster, and Bobby asks Al where he came from.
I was so incredibly “This is a THING?! REALLY?!?!?!” psyched when I learned about the show. Even more so when I saw it.