Readers share their Kaplutii
Whew! I'm not the only one who has experienced the phenomenon of , a TV episode that you stumble across years after the show in question has gone off the air.
My co-worker Jon has a good theory about why there are so many of these Kaplutii (plural form Jon's, but it works for me). He says "There's another plausible reason why these episodes would have appeared out of nowhere: some of the lowlights aren't included in syndication runs, and so they often aren't aired again after the original network run. For someone coming to a show in syndication (like “Seinfeld,” for instance) your body of knowledge of the show will entirely omit the Kaplutii unless you get the full DVDs."
Jon's Kaplutis of the moment? "Simpsons" first-season episode in which we see Homer in the doghouse after going to see an exotic dancer. He notes: "Like most Kaplutii, it has all the essential elements for being buried by the syndication gods: (1) dealing with a relatively unusual topic for the show (suicide, nekkid dancers, aliens, &c.), and (2) departing from the tone of the show. In the "Simpsons" case, the episode feels tonally off because of the implication that Homer might be tempted by another woman than Marge. ... It's possible that it is in rotation and I just missed it, but I've watched the syndicated runs for years and it truly was a Kaplutis for me."
Here are some of your other Kaplutii:
CLIFF’S PATIENT, JACK TRIPPER
“I have a great Kaplutis (I just never knew what to call it before). There is an episode of The “Cosby Show” from 1991, titled “Total Control”. It guest stars John Ritter & Amy Yasbeck as a married couple, expecting a baby. I don’t think any of the regular cast members were even in this episode, except Cliff. I came across it while I was in a hotel in Chicago on a business trip. It was sooo funny, I’m sure the people in the room next to mine thought I was crazy because I was laughing so loud & often. I haven’t been able to find it since, but I will continue to look for it.” --Tasha
[Gael says: There's also a truly bizarre "Cosby Show" episode that consists almost entirely of the Hillman College president's retirement ceremony on the Hillman campus. The whole family treks down there — Cliff delivers a speech, Clair sings, and the new college president delivers a lengthy oration about loving the school "because...it's Hillman." It may in fact be Hillman, but they may as well have called it Huxtable College, the family was so uber-involved with the school. Also, weirdly, I love this episode.]
BABY ON THE BUS“There’s the episode of “Friends” where Joey and Chandler leave baby Ben on the city bus. I went years never having seen that one.” --Tiffanie
COUCH GAGS“I have a semi-Kaplutal situation to report. While my husband and I can recite entire episodes of “The Simpsons” verbatim, we are often caught off guard by the varied opening couch sequences. I’ve often wondered if they’ve produced more of those than actual shows, because of the number of times I’ve caught myself saying, “Huh, never saw that before!’ ” --Jill
REDS IN SPACE“My Kaplutis was a “Star Trek” episode. I thought I had seen every one several times until I came across this one. Called “The Omega Glory”. It ends up being a kind of parallel Earth type of thing, with the Yangs (Yankees) battling the Kohms (communists). The Pledge of Allegiance, Constitution & American flag were all thrown in to belabor the point.” --Rory
PAUL THE LOVER“The most infamous ‘Kaplutis’ amongst my friends is an episode of ‘The Wonder Years’ where Paul “gets lucky”. We were all huge fans of the show, and I even shed some tear at the finale, but I have yet to see this episode or believe it even exists. Needless to say, whenever we talk about TV shows, my friend Aaron points out that yes, even nerdy Paul got some action.” --Jennifer
OPPOSITE OF A KAPLUTIS?
“What’s the opposite of a Kaplutis? How about an episode you’ve always heard about, but never seen...a la the ‘Gilligan’s Island’ episode where Gilligan meets the jungle boy played by Kurt Russell. I’ve heard about this episode many times, including being referenced by Dana Delaney in a movie, but I’ve never actually seen it in all the years of Gilligan reruns. Did Kurt get this one shelved?” --Debbie
DISCOVERING UNAIRED EPISODES“Variation on your theme.... the whole season (only season) of "Profit" is on DVD and there are three episodes that never aired! I was thrilled to find that the Jim Profit's twisted talent for manipulating and seducing others didn't let down in those missing episodes.” --Tim
REVERSE KAPLUTIS: THE TALKING SHOES EFFECT
“What about the reverse-Kaplutis, or as I like to call it, "the talking shoes effect"? Shows that you saw when they aired, that later, in re-runs, you swear they originally had scenes that were so real in your mind, but others have no idea what you're talking about. Such as in 'The Simpsons,' season 7, "Homerpalooza" episode. For years, I'd been telling people that there was a scene in that episode where Otto the bus driver saw his shoes talking to him. No one believed me, because Fox had repeated that episode probably a hundred times and no one had ever seen it. Until season 7 hit DVD, and I was (thankfully) vindicated. Or when you see a movie on TV that you've seen a hundred times, but it has scenes you swear were never there before. A little over a month ago, I saw this with airings of both "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" and "Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets." --Sean
Introducing the Kaplutis
By now, many TV viewers are familiar with Jon Hein's ingenious term referring to that moment when a TV show starts to go irretrievably downhill. Back in 2004, MSNBC.com contributors Tara Ariano and Sarah D. Bunting introduced the concept of , a name for the one actor in an ensemble cast who will never have a hit again.
Well, I've got a new concept to introduce: The Kaplutis, my name for that one episode in a classic series that you never saw or heard of before discovering it years after the show was gone. Maybe you saw it in Nick at Nite, or on a complete season DVD, but wherever you found it, it seemed to come out of nowhere.
As more and more classic TV series come out on DVD, even the most dedicated fan of old shows is sure to discover their own Kaplutis (would more than one be “Kapluti”?). “Brady Bunch” freak that I am, I was floored to find a “Brady” episode that somehow completely escaped me despite the years of endless reruns I've imbibed over the years. Called it's a truly weird episode about astronauts and UFOs and an excruciatingly long dream sequence for Bobby. Midget aliens from the planet Kaplutis give their name to this new concept (reportedly, the actors who play aliens Herm and Sherm were actually the stand-ins for Mike Lookinland's Bobby and Susan Olsen's Cindy).
While tuning in to the I discovered a Kaplutis there also. The second season features an episode in which Blair runs for student-council president against a diplomat's daughter named Cynthia, who eventually takes pills and kills herself. I was floored: Teen suicide on "The Facts of Life"? Sure, the show prided itself on dealing with real teen issues, but I don't remember it getting quite this somber. I kept thinking "She can't be dead! Since when did they kill off students on ‘Facts of Life’? I don't remember this at all. And also, if they had to start murdering the cast, couldn't they begin with that annoying Sue Ann?"
Discovering a “Kaplutis” is not a bad thing — if you enjoy the show, it can be like discovering that your favorite author wrote a sequel you never knew about. The lost episodes themselves, however, usually are not very strong — if they were, we would have remembered them, or they'd have slipped into the show's pop-culture canon some other way. And sometimes, as with the "Brady" aliens and "Facts" suicide, they're episodes that are at such jarring odds with the show itself that they don't seem to fit in at all.
So now you can say to your friends “The heck? I watched the entire second season of “The Cosby Show” on DVD this weekend and I was completely Kaplutised by one where Cliff’s doctor friend confesses that he has a daughter who’s a coke addict.” Or: “You know, I thought I was addicted to ‘Quincy’ as a kid, but I had no idea they staged a D.B. Cooper ripoff episode. Kaplutis Central Station.” You and your friends may have different Kaplutises, and then you can lord over them that you had 25 years of knowing about the “Emergency” episode where Roy gets electrocuted before they ever discovered it. Kaplutis One-Upmanship.
Have a Kaplutis of your own? Send it in.
Just another Multi-link Monday, wish it were Sunday, 'cause that's my fun day. Hey, is Sunday really a fun day? It's kinda draggy for me, most weeks. But on to the random linkage.
• VH1 now has a collection of classic arcade games on its Web site. Itching to play Defender II, Joust, Rampage or other games? .
• And, uh, speaking of arcade games...presented with no further comment, .
• I don't often link to YouTube videos, but I , in which comedian Judson Laipply boogies and twists and "YMCAs" his way through five decades of dance. It's six minutes long, but some of the dances he does will almost certainly trip a switch in your memory. I'm amazed he doesn't get tired and collapse midway through his routine.
• Clip art + sarcastic captions = comedy gold. Have you met the ? They "remain undefeated thanks to good ball movement, strong rebounding, and an unwillingness to ever play another team." (Via Deadspin.)
• I've linked to Goodyear's contest to name their newest blimp, and reader Edie points out that the contest is . Obviously the word "Spirit" was a recurring trend, which makes sense since the company has already had blimps named Spirit of Goodyear and Spirit of Akron. My vote goes to "Liberty."