July 17, 2011


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Tanner ’88
Director Robert Altman did this 10-episode cynical satire of the Presidential primary process, going from New Hampshire to the convention in the run-up to the Bush-Dukakis election. This scene shows the boredom and blasé attitude of the press corps, and features Altman’s signature overlapping dialogue. It’s a little hard to follow what’s going on and I’ve never quite understood—or even heard the line with the Vassar joke clearly. It sounds like “bursary boy”; if anybody knows what that means, or what the actual line is, please let me know.

Thanks to Alan Licht ’90 for the tip.

Sledge Hammer
This is a very silly ’80s sitcom about a gun-happy, daft, fairly crazy cop. An odd Vassar joke, putting the label on a male thug.

A Taste of Money
I’ve found Vassar in an awful lot of genres—silent, science fiction, anime, slasher, to name a few—but I never thought it’d show up in the world of hardcore porn. It’s a costume point only, which is even weirder; I’d give anything to know how that choice was made. These are two scenes here that had a sex scene between them which I eliminated—I mean, nobody’s wearing their Vassar clothes, so there’s not much point. Note, there is some sex happening in the background at one point of what I am showing here, but it’s not terribly distinct or energetic. And yes, Money is the name of the lead female character. Can’t have a porno without a terrible pun in the title.

Tricks of the Trade
An ’80s TV movie with sitcom stars Markie Post (of Night Court) and Cindy Williams (of Laverne & Shirley). Post is a prostitute whose john is Williams’s husband. He’s killed while visiting Post, putting Williams into her orbit as they together work to solve the crime. Williams is wealthy, uptight and unaccustomed to Post’s underworld. Here, Post has dressed her as a (curiously balletic) prostitute so she’ll better blend in when they ask questions. Vassar as character point for uptight and proper.

Thanks to Karen Roberts Turner for the tip.

One Night at Vassar
This was the prospective video the Office of Admissions sent out in 1990 and 1991 to college applicants with their acceptance letter. I’ve saved it all these years and was about to put it up...when I find that Vassar threw it on YouTube a few months back. This is truly priceless.

Physical Evidence
Burt Reynolds turns in a second appearance (see Gator), playing, again, a sexist and obnoxious cop who makes sexist jokes about Vassar girls. Here, he's been accused of murder, which he probably didn't commit, and meets the attorney who will be defending him for the first time.

The Simpsons (5 episodes)
Almost everyone seems to know about these references, which now are a running joke/character point across all 28 years. My understanding is that there was a relation to the college among the writing staff, and some jokes leaked out into a few episodes. The standard joke was for Lisa as the know-it-all to want to go to Vassar, though there are some unusual characterizations of the Seven Sisters here as well -- Vassar is pegged as being for radical, non-conforming hippies.

Another World

A throwaway line during some cocktail chitchat on a longrunning soap. Nothing much to see here. Apologies for quality -- I was only able to find a copy from someone whose VCR had some tracking problems.

Law & Order (9 episodes + 1 from Law & Order: SVU)
There must have been some grads among the writers’ of this long-running NY-based show. Here’s a bunch of quick shots of the Vassar grads who have populated the L & O world...victims, friends, witnesses, and people of interest to the investigators.

Thanks to Eric Black ’94, Bronwen Pardes ’95 and Jim German for the tips.

Designing Women
Another iconic ’80s sitcom. Vassar as character point to reference a place where well-bred and intelligent women attend.

Thanks to Christine Beers for the tip.

Women & Men: Stories of Seduction (The Man in the Brooks Brothers Shirt)
This was a made-for-HBO movie of three famous love stories. Mary McCarthy—one of the college’s more famous alumna–has her story treated here with Beau Bridges discussing his wife with the woman he hopes to be his mistress as they cross the country on a train. Vassar as character point for smart, radical, and worldly.

Thanks to Jim German for the tip.

Quantum Leap
Our first science-fiction entry—but not one set in the future (see Futurama and Babylon 5). The show’s concept is that the hero travels through time and embodies someone in that time period—so all the other characters see him as the person they know. This episode is set in the 1950s on a luxury vessel, and Vassar is, as it so often is, a character point for wealthy and well-bred.

Thanks to Paige Swartley ’92 for the tip.

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