Saturday, November 6, 2010
Shatner's toupee in pop-culture: Garfield and Friends.
Garfield and Friends was a children's animated series that ran on US TV from 1988-1994. The second season's "Show 29" featured a segment called "Swine Trek", essentially a parody of Star Trek - the segment also contains some not-so-subtle lampooning of Bill Shatner's legendary toupee-wearing:
Orson Pig (the characters in this segment are from the "U.S. Acres" comic strip by Garfield creator Jim Davis) has a fever. Lying in bed, his spaced-out state leads him to have a dream...
...the barn becomes an Enterprise-like starship flying through space...
...the animated farm animals are now its crew.
The characters' respective new idiosyncrasies in this dream closely match those associated with the original Star Trek crew - we have a Spock (Sheldon), Uhura (Lanolin Sheep), McCoy (Wade Duck), Scotty (Bo Sheep), Sulu (Roy Rooster) and a Chekov (Booker). There's even some subtle jesting (see Galaxy Quest) about the lesser characters not being given enough to do.
Meanwhile, Orson Pig is the captain, modeled on Captain Kirk...modeled on William Shatner!
The parody is very much of the original 60s Star Trek-era styles - except for one thing: the captain's hair. Orson is wearing a very thick (and surprisingly accurate-looking) "TJ Curly" toupee (the kind that Bill Shatner wore during the period when this episode was made).
The episode has a considerable amount of fun with Orson's toupee. Virtually every movement that the character makes leads to it becoming momentarily dislodged - sometimes in dramatic fashion. It's a joke that many young viewers (particularly those unfamiliar with Bill Shatner or Star Trek) would likely have missed - to the rest of us, the joke is surely impossible to miss!
Indeed, the producers of Garfield and Friends also appear to demonstrate an understanding of the tremendous potential for knowledge that Bill Shatner's toupee-wearing represents: this particular toupological depiction helps to highlight the principle of weightlessness caused by free fall rather effectively.
In one sequence (pictured above and below), as Orson's body (and head) quickly falls to the ground as part of his sharp downward steps, the toupee is momentarily left in a state of weightlessness before gravity and atmospheric effects take over.
It is, in effect, a microcosm of the Vomit Comet effect (flaws in our science? - please let us know).
Here's an extended segment from the show:
Garfield and Friends is available to buy on DVD.
Our thanks to reader "Ratty Lost Years Piece" for the great tip. You can read his "first suspicions" story regarding this episode here.