Really, really hard TV trivia question

I don’t even know how to research this one, so the only way someone can answer it is if they remember the scene as well.

When I was a wee lad TV watcher (circa 1969-1974) there was a sitcom, set in an office (maybe. Could have been Arnie or something similar).

Scene: Boss and underling standing in office. Boss is reading a report. Comes to an unfamiliar word. Asks underling “What is this word?” underling says the word out loud, then adds “it means…” And the Boss interrupts “I know what it means. I’ve just never seen it written out before.” Cue laugh track.

Forty years on, I still wonder what the word was. Was it a “dirty” word that you could say, but the definition might get you in trouble with Standards and Practices. Or was the joke as simple as it is written, and the word was innocuous?

I did a internet search before I started this thread, and I actually found someone saying the exact phrase “straight” (not acknowledging that they are quoting). Maybe the great SD search engine can help with this Question that I am Just Asking, and solve a mystery going on 40 years.

Sounds like something Ted Baxter might have said on Mary Tyler Moore? Or maybe Oscar Madison on The Odd Couple? :dubious:

Come to think of it, there was an episode of Odd Couple where Oscar temporarily held a job as an editor at a Playboy-type magazine. John Astin (aka Gomez Addams) was his Hugh Hefner–type boss. Does this ring a bell?

Question: When he said the word, was it audible? :confused:

I remember something similar to this, but it was on the Flip Wilson show, not a sitcom. In that sketch, they end up coming up with other offensive words to add to the newscast, but obviously none were ever spoken. I just don’t remember who the other actor with Flip was.

Could be. My memory (as much as it can be trusted) has the boss looking like Herb Edelman, but that doesn’t mean that’s the way it really was. I picture the underling as younger than Oscar. But, I did watch The Odd Couple, so it could be.

And, I believe he said it out loud.

Going by how you described the scene, it doesn’t sound like it was a dirty word. I think the joke was (remember, sitcoms were ultra corny back then) that the ego of the boss would not allow himself to admit that he didn’t know the word, so he’s trying to play it off that it only threw him to see it in written form.

I suspect you are right. That does fit with the humor at the time.

Trouble is, I didn’t know what the word was either! Or else, I’d have remembered it. In my defense, I was 10-ish.:slight_smile:

Could it have been Lou Grant on MTM? :confused:

Reading the OP, I was going to say it sounded like a scene between Lou and Murray.

Pretty sure no on that one.

Not that memory can be trusted (see the “That’s the beauty of it. It doesn’t DO anything” discussion) but MTM was filed higher up in my memory banks. I remember a lot of MTM bits (“I hate spunk”). If it was from MTM, I think it would be ‘filed’ there in my brain.

While I think it isn’t, I never say never! (well, hardly ever).

I have a decent mental image of the scene. But with the fluidity of old memories, that doesn’t mean I’m not mixing two completely different images. Herb Edelman could really be Lou, but I picture the underling as Jonathan Daly (Lt Whipple in CPO Sharkey) who looks a lot different than Murray. (heck, it might have been CPO Sharkey! That’s later than my memory places it, though. Maybe, maybe…)

What it sounds like to me is that it was a novice writer trying to impress his new boss (editor?) with a big word that would never be used in normal speech or text. The boss simply wants to hear his suspicions confirmed by the writer himself.

Does this make sense/ring a bell? Could it have been Lou Grant on Lou Grant?

Oddly enough, I seem to have this same memory emerging from somewhere in the back of my head, but I’ll be damned if I can pin it down either!

The only show I remember with Herb Edelman in a boss-like role was The Good Guys, with Edelman as a diner owner and Bob Denver as his cab driver buddy who sometimes helped out at the diner. But I don’t remember any specific scenes from that show.

Arnie’s boss was played by Roger Bowen (Col. Henry Blake in the movie MASH*), who looks nothing like Edelman.

Actually, either Felix or Oscar could have said it on The Odd Couple, keeping in mind that Felix was the more erudite of the two. Both worked in publishing, albeit in different capacities.

Funny, to me the description made it sound like it *was *a dirty word. The scene sounds vaguely familiar to me, but I seem to remember that what they were reading wasn’t a report, but another employee’s angry resignation letter, or possibly a letter from a dissatisfied customer.

That thought occurred to me too. I do remember one episode where they were laboring over the text of a TV commercial, but only one line sticks in my mind: “Come to Bert’s Diner, where the coffee smells [Long pause while the cue cards are flipped] like a night in Brazil!”

Early '70s? Could this have been Henry Blake and Radar on MASH***? :dubious:

Damn! Now I’ve got another unsolved mystery to keep me awake tonight!!! :mad:

I’ve never to my knowledge watched The Good Guys, so I don’t think that is it. (but we never say never)

I don’t think MASH for the same reason I don’t think it was Lou Grant - I watched them both regularly, and the memories from them are ‘flagged’ the same (HashtagMASH!)

I’m glad you are all wondering! Cartoonancy : your thought about it being a customer letter or resignation rings a bell. Also, you are right about Edelman. Maybe I’m crossing two memories.

I have to be careful about altering my own memories, but CPO Sharkey could be a possibility. Richard X Slattery could be crossed in my head with Edelman. Navy uniforms could look like business suits in a half-remembered image. Trouble is, there aren’t any quotes in IMDB or any fan websites that I can check.

There’s an old joke similar to that involving the word “scrod” which is interpreted by the boss (in this case) as the past tense of screwed.

Any idea whether it was color or black-and-white, and whether it was first run or syndicated?

It sounds like something that Alan Brady (or possibly Buddy) might have said on The Dick Van Dyke Show…but your timeframe is too late for a first run broadcast, and I’m not sure when syndication started.