They Might Be Giants Dance Number on “Bunheads” Wins My TV Week, and It’s Only Monday

Apparently because the showrunners can peer inside my mind and divine all the right ways to earn an instant thumbs-up, tonight’s episode of Bunheads concluded with Sasha (played by Julia Goldani Telles — in Archie Comics terms, she’s the Reggie of our four teen heroines) and two backup dancers performing a routine set to They Might Be Giants’ classic “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”. It pains me to realize their version of the song is now over twenty years old and therefore qualified for “classic” status on age alone, despite complete lack of Top-40 love or common-man opinion, but there it is. I owned a copy of Flood long before the song was famously featured in an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures.

Their Malcolm in the Middle theme notwithstanding, any other chance to hear TMBG tunes outside the Internet or my CD collection is a rare major event in my life. I have zero (0) local friends who get them, not even my own family. In all their years of existence I’ve heard Indianapolis radio play exactly one TMBG song exactly one time, and why that honor went to a single rotation of “AKA Driver” I cannot even begin to speculate. I’ve seen them twice in concert — once at the now-defunct Music Mill and once at the Vogue — and in both cases I had to attend alone. Hence their headline status tonight. For me this is huge, even if it’s just for me and only me.

To the show’s credit, tonight’s episode was full of fun concepts even before the epilogue. Concept #1 provided the episode title, “Movie Truck”. Our main characters spend an evening grouped separately by age inside a full-on movie truck, which I gathered from the background glimpses is like Indianapolis’ own food trucks, except instead of food they serve a cinema inside a truck, walled with gypsy quilts and furnished with interior seating for a fair crowd. Someone must invent this if they haven’t already.

Trendsetting concept #2 in dire need of widespread acceptance and franchising: the cupcake ATM. When Michelle’s birthday night-on-the-town threatens to end before dawn because of Paradise’s small-town closing hours (I’ve known this pain, albeit without Michelle’s love of alcohol), a blessedly sober Truly is still enthralled by night-on-the-town fever (in an increasingly bubblier performance by Stacey Oristano as a meek-girl-gone-slightly-less-mild) and offers to drive them out to a rumored 24-hour cupcake ATM over in L.A. One scene later it’s dawn, they’re still awake but a little less toasted, and they have cupcakes thanks to the invention of a Redbox stocked with snacks instead of flicks. I can only hope the contents of this magical bakery-vending machine aren’t facilitated by an evil preservative formula that maintains freshness from within the product, like a reverse Hostess wrapper.

I hastily researched but couldn’t confirm the existence of a movie truck in real life (yet). To prove Bunheads isn’t secretly a science fiction show, I did find the following evidence of an alleged cupcake ATM sighting that doesn’t appear to be an SNL Digital Short or College Humor offering:

Concept #3 wouldn’t be my thing if it were real, but I won’t be surprised to see it exist within a year: Mountain of Arms, the R-rated movie-within-the-episode that I assume is like The Crawling Hand crossed with The Human Centipede. Our Four Teen Heroines obtain movie-truck passes and sneak out to see this future Criterion Collection classic without permission, all the better to escape an unfortunately epic rumble between Sasha’s troubled parents. I never had the wherewithal to pull such a stunt when I was a teen, but there was the time when I was eleven and snuck over to my friends’ house to watch Friday the 13th parts 1 and 3 on a surprise snow day when parents had to work. I recognize this ritual even if I naturally don’t condone it as an adult. (The moral: kids, do as I say now and not as I did then. And that’s…one to grow on.)

Between the majority of the above and an amusing sequence of movie-truck musical chairs, I found this a great character-building episode tonight (and I think I finally have all four girls’ names memorized now), even if it ended on a downer of a note, as relations between Sasha’s parents hit a new low, and a fateful letter in the wake of last week’s Joffrey Ballet auditions brings rewarding news that threatens to separate one of our lucky heroines from her best friends. I’m not sure which part of that is meant to be symbolized by Sasha’s non sequitur “Istanbul” set. Some deep thinking might be in order.

ABC Family will post the episode for online viewing on Tuesday, so another run-through of Flood will have to do until then.

* * * * *

Updated 7/24/2012, 7:30 EDT: Someone’s posted the “Istanbul” segment online! Enjoy before Disney or ABC Family shoot it down:

Updated 8/2/2012, 8:05 EDT: As expected, the YouTube user took it down days ago. I’ve left it up for posterity because I hate being too much of a George Lucas with my old posts.

Updated 12/9/2012, 7:00 EST: Oh, what the heck — here it is anyway:

10 responses

    • I’ll concede that Sasha has Veronica’s cash flow, but in terms of character, she reminds me of Reggie in that she often plays the villain, but is somehow on the heroes’ side anyway. Other distant cousins would be Cordelia Chase from the first two seasons of Buffy, and Eric with the shield from the old “Dungeons & Dragons” cartoon.

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    • I first encountered them on MTV’s “120 Minutes” waaay back when, and have been a fan ever since. I’ve brought TMBG CDs with us on some of our annual family road trips, but no one ever applauds or clamors for more.

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  1. I might have to officially stalk you. Sasha’s “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” dance on Bunheads is stuck in my mind; it’s piercing. I hoped others were commenting about it online and had to search them out for catharsis. Then you said no locals/family understands TMBG. Crazy talk! TMBG are awesome! Where do you live? Then posts mentioning Holiday World (aka to me, The Best Place on Earth) and Metropolis, IL (which I have visited and loved but did not know about the Superman Celebration so will have to check it out the 2nd week of June 2013). Thanks for sharing some common interests! No worries about stalking. I’ll just follow the blog and enjoy.

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    • We’re in Indianapolis, which certainly had enough local TMBG fans to fill up the Vogue when they came to town on tour for “The Else” (I missed them last year when they were touring for “Join Us”), but I apparently share no social circles whatsoever with any of these smart, discerning listeners. I try not to hold it against my poor, uncultured loved ones.

      Anyway, stalking or no stalking, glad you enjoyed! And yes, the Superman Celebration is definitely to be tried at least once It’s smaller than the average comic convention, but has more optimistic attendees and much better food.

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    • I’d like to think cupcake ATMs will spread to the Midwest within the next few years. We have a couple of food trucks that specialize in cupcakes, but they’re impossible to hunt down and catch. An ATM would be a much slower target.

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