Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Meat Freezer Routine

One of the most popular episodes of I Love Lucy was "The Freezer" (1952), in which Lucy accidentally locks herself in a walk-in meat freezer and becomes frozen stiff.  This comic business did not entirely originate with Lucy.  Curly Howard became frozen while locked in the back of a refrigerated ice cream wagon in the Three Stooges' Violent Is the Word for Curly (1938).

Still, it was through the influence of the I Love Lucy episode that getting trapped in a meat freezer turned into a stock sitcom premise.  Nearly the same scene is played out in a Car 54, Where are You? episode called "Boom, Boom, Boom" (1962).

Writers expanded on the premise for a number of other sitcoms, including Brady Bunch ("Big Little Man," 1972), Three's Company ("Baby, It's Cold Inside, 1984), It's Garry Shandling's Show ("Go Go Goldblum,"1988), Due South ("They Eat Horses Don't They?," 1994), Kenan and Kel ("Freezer Burned,"1999), Desperate Housewives ("Into the Woods," 2007), and Trailer Park Boys ("I Fuckin' Miss Cory and Trevor," 2007).

The Brady Bunch

Three's Company

A frozen cod makes a funny prop in the Kenan and Kel episode.

This episode enlarged the number of participants by having Kel accidentally turn the arrow on a restaurant's restroom sign to point in the direction of the meat freezer.  One by one, patrons stumble inside the freezer and shut the door before they realize where they are.  Eventually, the freezer is packed wall to wall with people.

Due South's heroes remain warm by wearing meat jackets.

A married woman falls into the embrace of a co-worker to keep warm in Desperate Housewives.

A meat robbery goes wrong results in the hapless Bubbles being locked in a freezer in the Trailer Park Boys episode.

A quirky Belgium comedy, L'Iceberg (2005), uses this incident as the jumping-off point for an entire feature.   Fiona, the manager of a fast-food restaurant, accidentally locks herself in the restaurant's walk-in freezer overnight.  She escapes only to find that her family didn't notice she was missing.  Depressed, she looks to her near-death experience to find meaning in her life and develops a strange affection for ice and cold.  One morning, she climbs into a frozen goods delivery truck and leaves home in search of an iceberg.

The Losing Pants in Public Routine

The timeworn routine of a man losing his pants in public can be traced as far back as a 1905 Dutch comedy, The Misadventure of a French Gentleman Without Pants.  The routine is being kept alive by a number of sitcom writers.   

The Big Bang Theory "The Pants Alternative" (2010)

Mad Love "The Young and The Reckless" (2011)