1.06 "Return of the Kane"

Aired Nov 02, 2004

Cultural References

The Lord of the Rings (Literature, Movies)

Episode Title: Return of the Kane

It is conceivable that this tale of Duncan finding purpose and taking the first steps in assuming the political power to which he is heir is taken from the title of Tolkien's third and last book in his popular opus, The Lord of the Rings. After all, in 2004 one couldn't move for the plaudits that Peter Jackson's movie adaptation of the book garnered. The Return of the King follows Aragorn as he assumes his rightful place as the ruler of Gondor after years in the wilderness. The final chapter, the final film, and Duncan's struggle to emote, all share another quality — you think it's all over, but it just keeps on going.

See all references about The Lord of the Rings
Xanadu (Places)

"You're not allowed delivery."
"And you're not allowed to breathe my air. Go. Shoo. Return to Xanadu."

Wanda Varner may have a serious character flaw, but she is no dumb cookie. She rightly sees Madison Sinclair as a vapid idiot of means. Xanadu was real — the summer capital of Kublai Khan's vast Mongolian Empire. It was renowned for its splendor, tales of which were brought back to Europe by Marco Polo. The poet Coleridge made Xanadu enduring and a metaphor for opulence in his poem "Kublai Khan," from which many can quote of Khan's decree to create a stately pleasure-dome. In Citizen Kane, Xanadu was the mansion built by Charles Foster Kane, a thinly disguised characterization of the real-life publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst. Xanadu represents wonder and lavishness, yes, but there's a definite air of folly, waste, excess, and disconnection with real life in the mix, too. As for Madison, it is likely that this rich cultural history went right over her head. The best we might hope for is that Madison thinks Wanda wants her to go to a roller disco under the heavenly gaze of Olivia Newton-John.

Raymond Chandler (People)
Philip Marlowe (Characters)

"Tough day?"
"That ain't the half of it. See, this dame walks in and you shoulda seen the getaway sticks on her. Says something's hinky with her old man."
"D'ya put the screws to him?"
"You ain't kidding. He sang like a canary."
"Well, you're in luck, Philip Marlowe, because it's dessert for dinner tonight and I've got a whole sundae thing set up here."

With lines like "dead men are heavier than broken hearts," Raymond Chandler made detective pulp fiction respectable, giving hard-boiled crime tales mainstream credibility. In books such as The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely and The Long Goodbye, Chandler kicked serious literary butt. For many, his greatest achievements were his artistic use of the vernacular and the creation of Philip Marlowe, a world-weary gumshoe who could walk the mean streets without being a mean man — tough but with an implacable honor. Keith Mars is a modern-day Marlowe to be sure, as Veronica recognizes when she greets her tired pop with ice cream.

Who's Who bio: Philip Marlowe
The Bible (Religion, Folklore, and Urban Legends)

"Student council giveth, student council taketh away."

"The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away" is the oft-quoted Biblical passage on Job's suffering as God and Satan play double-dare. As is oft the case, the words are misquoted, as the actual King James version is "the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away." Duncan both misquotes and adapts to complacently comment on Wanda Varner's plan to deprive the 09ers of their cherished Pirate Points. That's a handy skill for any budding politician.

See all references about The Bible
Give me liberty or give me death (Words, Sayings, and Slogans)

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" With such oratory did Patrick Henry, a representative in Virginia's House of Burgesses in 1775, persuade his fellow Virginians to join the war of American independence. Corny is willing to die for Wanda, fighting for liberty from Pirate Points. Little did he know that his heroine had more in common with Benedict Arnold than Patrick Henry.

Fair and balanced (Words, Sayings, and Slogans)

"All I'm saying is I admire your enthusiasm, just don't let it get in the way of-"
"Fair and balanced, that's me."

The expression used to refer to the state of ensuring that both sides of a story were presented, without favor to one or the other. It was something for which news outlets and journalists could nobly strive. Then Fox News, that paean to conservative thinking, trademarked the saying, and the world lost the ability to use the expression without irony. Veronica thus cannot reassure Miss Dent as to her intentions.

A Fish Called Wanda (Movies)

"Bravo, Logan. It's a new low. And just when the critics were having some doubts."
"Mmm. Must be talking about your, uh, narc friend, W-W-W-Wanda."

L-L-L-Logan shows off his m-m-movie trivia knowledge as he channels the stuttering Michael Palin from the comedy hit of 1988. Palin's character, the animal-loving Ken, spent most of the movie trying to kill a sweet little old lady only to kill a succession of sweet little doggies instead. Have we seen Backup lately?

Who's Who bio: Wanda Varner
The Smoking Gun (Places)

"Gotta check out The Smoking Gun website."

Like watching train wrecks or other tragedies, there is a morbid voyeuristic fascination in viewing the troubles of others, particularly celebrities. The Freedom of Information Act gave the public access to court documents, arrest records, and similar papers, and in 1997 a couple of enterprizing internet kids created a place to collect such papers that usually escaped the mainstream media. Logan's skid-row boxing is right up their alley.

Greene's Guides to Educational Planning: Making It Into a Top College: 10 Steps to Gaining Admission to Selective Colleges and Universities (Literature)

"So. Is this one any good?"
"Umm, I, uh, I don't know, I haven't read it."
"Yeah. Most of these college guides are pretty unreadable."

Wanda risks the wrath of the Greenes, purveyors of advice for the masses on how to get into the best universities. Somebody on the crew must have had a copy on their bookshelf, because this 2000 best-seller is now hard to find new, although secondhand copies are abundant. Promising to take the mystery out of the college admission process with its ten-step program, it has to make you wonder: if it's that easy, why isn't everybody isn't Stanford/Harvard/Yale/Williams/wherever?

Access Hollywood (TV)
Entertainment Tonight (TV)
E! (TV)

"I couldn't sleep. What with the phone ringing every five minutes. Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, E! Any guesses what they wanted to talk about? My charity work? No. My latest Christmas movie? No. They wanted to talk about my son's latest opus. Skid Row Boxing."

It's tough being a movie star with a wayward son. Aaron complains bitterly of the attention that Logan's antics have drawn from the entertainment media. Entertainment Tonight, which started in 1981, is the longest running daily entertainment news show, facing stiff competition from upstart Access Hollywood since its inception by a former ET producer in 1996. Both shows run in syndication. If it wasn't enough to have vapid presenters present vapid "news" daily, in 1990 the E! Entertainment Television network was launched broadcasting around the clock and giving the world such gems as the E! True Hollywood Story (tabloid exposés), Fashion Police (armchair fashion gurus - okay, no, Joan Rivers and daughter before they got a better offer), and The Simple Life (Paris Hilton pretends to work for a living). Aren't we lucky?

Ecstasy (Things)

"Do we need any…provisions?"
"Provisions? With a capital E, absolutely. But I know a guy."
"Oh, jealous. Wish I knew a guy."

Like the entertainment network, this E also stands for something else. E, without the exclamation point, is short for Ecstasy, which itself is a nickname for 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. Like that needs a nickname. It's a drug that induces feelings of euphoria and self-awareness in some. It's also killed people. It's popular at raves where it helps to mask just how bad the music is. So, it's not the entertainment network, despite the fact that both addle the brain.

Don King (People)

"Hey. It's Don King. Hey, you find some sucker who's willing to make a bitch outta hisself for cash?"

The homeless vet recognizes the great and the seedy in young Logan, calling him by the name of the infamous boxing promoter. Don King overcame the hairstyle from hell to put on the "Rumble in the Jungle" and the "Thrilla in Manila" with Muhammad Ali and to promote Mike Tyson and other boxers. A few dead bodies in the closet and being sued by many of the boxers he dealt with indicate a man of questionable honor, just like Logan.

Who's Who bio: Don King
The Cat in the Hat (Literature)

The cat in the hat is a very cool cat
On top of whose head sits a tall stripy hat
Made out of a fabric all fluffy and soft
It makes quite a statement on head held aloft
Veronica's short, it has to be said
So wearing the hat makes her taller a head
Give thanks to the doctor, the one known as Seuss
Whose books for the young 'uns gave her the excuse
To make fools of those who would snare her in traps
Like narc Wanda Varner and Deputy Sacks

Spy vs. Spy (Literature)

"I'm lying. You know I'm lying. I don't want things to be like this between us anymore."
"Like what?"
"Like our own game of Spy vs. Spy."

This comic strip first appeared in MAD Magazine in 1961 and has been a popular feature ever since. The identical pointy-faced protagonists, distinguishable only by their garb of black or white, are the human Cold War equivalent of Tom and Jerry, each trying ingenious ways to kill the other and being foiled. Veronica and Keith hadn't quite got to the homicidal stage yet, but Veronica calls a halt to her working behind Keith's back for the time being, no doubt to avoid taking on triangular features.

See all references about MAD Magazine

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