Happy hunting. Here’s your map.
Hidden in lots of your favorite TV shows—sometimes in plain sight, sometimes off to the side and out of focus—there are surprises and delights. They’re little bubbles of meaning that you’d only find if you know what to look for, and sometimes only if you know to look in the first place.
They’re beside the point. They’re totally superfluous to character and plot. They’re placed there with something like love. They’re Easter eggs. Delicious! Let’s go hunting.
Find Easter eggs in shows and movies any time. Remember, you can pause live TV with your Hopper DVR if you think you’ve spotted something. Or, watch past episodes using DISH OnDemand or stream them on DISH Anywhere. You’ll also find Easter eggs aplenty on Netflix shows, which you can watch using the integrated Netflix app. Unlike regular Easter eggs, TV Easter eggs appear all year long. So tune in and pay very close attention.
CW, Thursdays at 9/8c
Riverdale is a re-imagining of the Archie comics universe, but it takes inspiration from lots of sources. One of them is early ‘90s cult classic Twin Peaks.
The most obvious and delicious Riverdale–Twin Peaks Easter egg arrives when Mädchen Amick, playing Alice Cooper, cuts into a sumptuous cherry pie. This is basically a reprisal of her role as Shelley Johnson, who constantly served Agent Dale Cooper his beloved cherry pie in Twin Peaks.
The “Welcome to Riverdale” road sign is a very funny callback to the iconic “Welcome to Twin Peaks” sign. The Twin Peaks sign features two illustrated mountaintops, while the Riverdale sign shows a river flowing from between the base of two mountains drawn in a very similar style.
Jason Blossom, whose murder kicks off Riverdale’s plot (much like Laura Palmer’s kicks off Twin Peaks!), shows up as a zombie in a vision his sister Cheryl has. This recalls the comics series Afterlife with Archie, written by none other than Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. The zombie invasion in that series is touched off by Sabrina Spellman, a.k.a. Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Notably, Sabrina the Teenage Witch lives in the next town over from Riverdale. Hmm!
NBC, Thursdays at 8:30/7:30c
The Easter eggs come fast and furious in this new corner of the DC universe. There are nods aplenty to Batman and other heroes and villains both major and minor. Some of the more amusing ones:
In the third episode, we learn that one of Wayne Security’s oldest accounts is Ace Chemicals, and we see one of Ace’s signature vats. Indeed, it was their tumbles into vats full of sloshing Ace Chemicals that turned the Joker and Harley Quinn into the deranged maniacs they became. Don’t fall into sloshing vats of chemicals, people!
We had to laugh when weirdo DC villain Starro showed up in a flashback. Starro is an alien starfish creature who can sprout legions of starfish clones to do his bidding. These spawn can then attach themselves to people’s faces and compel them to do Starro’s bidding.
We also were delighted that the show name-checked Donald Glover and his show Atlanta. Ron tells Emily he’s from Atlantis, and she hears “Atlanta.” Ron rejoins, “No, that’s Donald Glover, and it might be racist that you heard that.”
Netflix, season 2 coming October 2017
Not a shot goes by in Netflix series Stranger Things that isn’t a tribute to some piece of 1980s pop culture. Spielberg looms large here with Jaws and E.T. But we also get lots of Poltergeist, Alien, Star Wars, The Thing, and The Evil Dead, not to mention Stanley Kubrick and Stephen King. The only horror icon from that era that doesn’t make it into Stranger Things is the late 1980s New York Yankees. Here are some quick hits.
In episode one, Joyce gives Will tickets to Poltergeist. Soon, she starts communicating with him through interdimensional portals in her walls—and then chopping through her walls with an axe.
In fact, Joyce hacking a wall up would remind you very much of Jack Nicholson in Kubrick’s The Shining.
Weirdly, when Joyce hacks the wall up, she goes outside and realizes there was nothing on the other side. Similarly, in The Shining, there are all manner of windows you can see the outdoors through, but which are on walls that don’t face the outside. We love a good spatial paradox tbqh.
Stephen King comes through loud and clear, starting with Stranger Things’s title font, which was all over social media for a while. Look at any 80s King novel and you’ll get a shock of recognition. Characters also read King books and talk about him frequently. Cujo makes an appearance, as does It–in the form of a bunch of dead clowns spinning on a baby’s mobile. It is getting its own remake, coming soon, by the way.
FX, season one on DISH OnDemand
Legion is another show that wears its influences on its sleeve. And there are lots. The first season was full of visual references to contemporary directors as much as callouts to Marvel comics. You can watch Legion on DISH OnDemand or on DISH Anywhere.
We find Kubrick again (he seems pretty influential…) as the main character David Heller stays in Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital, a nod to Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. The nefarious reeducation techniques the hospital uses are similar to the ones deployed against Alex in the 1971 film.
Legion’s Oliver Bird, a recluse in his own, personal astral dimension, lives in a domicile he calls his “ice cube.” It bears a striking resemblance to the extradimensional bedroom Dave Bowman passes an age in after being transported through the monolith near Jupiter in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
And there’s more Kubrick! In the series premiere, David stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd reference here) as they wear identical track suits (Wes Anderson reference there) and face the camera staring down a narrow hallway. The composition is identical to the shot of the two twins in The Shining. You might say the references here are… legion.
See, it’s sort of incredible what you can pick up on when you’re looking for weird coincidences and allusions. Everything starts to seem connected in ways you can’t really account for. Spooky! But it’s part of the fun of TV. Happy watching, and happy hunting.