Future Future

Dec 22, 2017

We peek into the future with a music parody game where songs with sci-fi themes are rewritten to be about TV shows that are— at least partially— set in the future.

Heard On Anthony Ramos: A Quiz-mas Carol

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JONATHAN COULTON: This is NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton, here with puzzle guru Ebenezer Scrooge.

WILL HINES: (As Ebenezer Scrooge) Hello.

COULTON: Now here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.



Thank you, Jonathan. Today, an ASK ME ANOTHER Quiz-mas Carol. We're trying to warm the heart of puzzle guru Ebenezer Scrooge with trivia games about the past, present and future. So, Scrooge, how's it going with embracing the Quiz-mas spirit?

HINES: (As Ebenezer Scrooge) I don't know, Ophira. If everyone's going to keep being so perky and smart, I'm going to have to embrace some kind of spirit to get through the rest of this show.

EISENBERG: Yes. Our next game is actually a music parody game from the future. Listeners, you're hearing it in your present, but it was recorded in the past, which is my future. Charlie, you won the last game, so you win this, and you're in the final round. Dylan, you need to win this, or you're going to wake up and discover it was all a dream, and you still have time to change your life.


EISENBERG: Jonathan Coulton, take it away.

COULTON: We took songs with a futuristic or sci-fi theme and rewrote them to be about TV shows that are at least partially set in the future. So ring in to name the show I'm singing about. And if you get that right, for a bonus point you can tell me the name of the song or the artist that I'm parodying. Here we go.

(Singing, playing guitar) Mike or Joel to Crow and Tom. Jonah Ray to Crow and Tom. It's the Mads with the B movie on the com. Roll call Gypsy, Cambot, Crow and Tom. A cinematic bomb. Oh, those flashing lights mean we've got movie sign.


COULTON: Charlie.

CHARLES COHEN: I can picture the show, and I can picture the robots that are puppets. And I'm just having difficulty remembering the actual - I've actually watched this show a lot. It's...

COULTON: You've convinced me that you should know the answer.

COHEN: 3TK (ph), which stands for "Mystery Science Theater 3000."


COULTON: That's right. Wow. It was like pulling a sword out of a stone. That was fantastic.


COULTON: And for a bonus point, can you name the song or the artist?

COHEN: David Bowie - Major Tom?

COULTON: It's called "Space Oddity."

COHEN: Space Odyssey (ph).

COULTON: But yes, you get the point anyway. That's right.


COULTON: Here we go. (Singing, playing guitar) Pregnancy is rare. If you've got a working womb, please beware. They call me Offred. It's a bit confusing 'cause I wear red.



DYLAN SORENSEN: It's "The Handmaid's Tale."

COULTON: It is "The Handmaid's Tale."


COULTON: For a bonus point, can you name the artist or the song?

SORENSEN: "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath.

COULTON: That's right.


COULTON: (Singing, playing guitar) And I think it's going to be a long, long time until I can train this teen to combat crime. What kind of Dark Knight has a heart attack? I'm so damned old. I'm a Gotham man. Gotham man - training my replacement cartoon son.


COULTON: Charlie.

COHEN: "Batman Begins." No, "Batman: Legacy," Batman...


COULTON: You're killing me, Charlie.

HINES: (As Ebenezer Scrooge) We have to stop you there.


COULTON: You've given a lot of answers that are very close.

EISENBERG: But, Charlie, we know you know.


COHEN: That's fair.

COULTON: Dylan, do you know the answer?

SORENSEN: "Batman Beyond."

COULTON: That is correct. "Batman Beyond."


COULTON: For a bonus point, the song or the artist?

SORENSEN: I already forgot what you were singing.



COULTON: Means I am doing my job well.

HINES: (As Ebenezer Scrooge) Good strategy, Charlie. Talk long enough that we can't remember the songs.

COULTON: (Laughter) That's right.

HINES: (As Ebenezer Scrooge) Good defensive approach.


COULTON: It was "Rocket Man" by Elton John.


COULTON: (Singing, playing guitar) Four, three, two, one - sci-fi franchise pre-Kirk timeline. Not for broadcast - only online.



SORENSEN: "Star Trek: Discovery."

COULTON: That is correct.


COULTON: Can you name the song or the artist?

SORENSEN: You'd think the musician would be better at this. No.

COULTON: No. Weirdly, that one is called "Major Tom."


COULTON: That's by Peter Schilling. This is your last clue. (Singing, playing guitar) Want to know who gave birth to these teenagers, want to see if Robin's the one or not. Flash back - they're all at MacLaren's now. Want to hear the voice of Bob Saget, want to see who ends up with Ted Mosby. Flash back - see Barney Stinson now.



SORENSEN: "How I Met Your Mother."

COULTON: Yeah, you got it.


COULTON: Do you know the song or the artist?

SORENSEN: Still no.

COULTON: Still no. That's "Song For A Future Generation" by The B-52s.

EISENBERG: Yeah. See, no one even cared about that one. So it's fine.


COULTON: Puzzle guru Ebenezer Scrooge, how did our contestants do?

HINES: (As Ebenezer Scrooge) You each won a game, so it's time for quick Game 3 to decide who will move on. So the first contestant to mess up will be eliminated. I like how harsh that is. Ring in to answer first. So here's your category. Aside from a "Muppet Christmas Carol," name the seven other theatrically released Muppet films.


HINES: (As Ebenezer Scrooge) Dylan.

SORENSEN: "Muppet Treasure Island."

HINES: (As Ebenezer Scrooge) Correct. Charlie.

COHEN: "Muppets Take Manhattan."

HINES: (As Ebenezer Scrooge) Yes. Dylan.

SORENSEN: "Muppets In Space" (ph).

HINES: (As Ebenezer Scrooge) Yes. Charlie.

COHEN: "The Great Muppet Caper."

HINES: (As Ebenezer Scrooge) That's right. Dylan.

SORENSEN: "The Muppet Movie."

HINES: (As Ebenezer Scrooge) Yes. Two more. Charlie.

COHEN: "The Muppet Movie Two" (ph)?

HINES: (As Ebenezer Scrooge) Should've been, but unfortunately...

HINES: (As Ebenezer Scrooge) No. I'm sorry, Charlie, that's not right. The other ones are "The Muppets" and "Muppets Most Wanted." Charlie, we're sorry to see you go. Dylan, you're headed to the final round.


HINES: (As Ebenezer Scrooge) Names of female characters, huge pause - Muppet movies - boom, boom, boom, boom.

EISENBERG: Nobody expected them to get that far.


THE SONICS: (Singing) Hey, Santa Claus, where have you been? Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.