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Mollusks - 'Live' TV Documentary

The cast:

Eric Idle
Michael Palin
Graham Chapman
Terry Jones
John Cleese

The sketch:

(Cut to an ordinary suburban living room. Mr. and Mrs. Jalin are sitting on a sofa. The previous item in the show is visible on their TV set. Mrs. Jalin is stuffing a chicken. Mr. Jalin is reading the telephone directory. The picture changes and we hear voice from TV.)

Voice: The 'Nine O'clock News' which was to follow has been cancelled tonight so we can bring you the quarter final of the All Essex Badminton Championship. Your commentator as usual is Edna O'Brien.

Commentator: (Irish accent) Hullo fans. Begorra an' to be sure there's some fine badminton down there in Essex this afternoon. We really...

(Mr. Jalin picks up a jousting ball and chain and smashes the TV set. There is a ring from the doorbell. Mr. Jalin sits, Mrs. Jalin goes to the door, exits and comes back.)

Mrs. Jalin: George.

Mr. Jalin: Yes, Gladys.

Mrs. Jalin: There's a man at the door with a moustache.

Mr. Jalin: Tell him I've already got one. (Mrs. Jalin hits him hard with a newspaper) All right, all right. What's he want then?

Mrs. Jalin: He says do we want a documentary on mollusks.

Mr. Jalin: Mollusks!

Mrs. Jalin: Yes.

Mr. Jalin: What's he mean, mollusks?


Mr. Jalin: Oh mollusks, I thought you said bacon. (she hits him again) All right, all right. What's he charge then?

Mrs. Jalin: It's free.

Mr. Jalin: Ooh! Where does he want us to sit?

Mrs. Jalin: (calling through the door) He says yes.

(Mr. Zorba enters carrying plywood flat with portion cut out to represent TV. He stands behind flat and starts.)

Zorba: Good evening. Tonight mollusks. The mollusk is a soft-bodied, unsegmented invertebrate animal usually protected by a large shell. One of the most numerous groups of invertebrates, it is exceeded in number of species only by the arthropods ... viz. (he holds up a lobster)

Mrs. Jalin: Not very interesting is it?

Zorba: What?

Mrs. Jalin: I was talking to him.

Zorba: Oh. Anyway, the typical mollusk, viz, a snail (holds one up) consists of a prominent muscular portion... the head-foot... a visceral mass and a shell which is secreted by the free edge of the mantle.

Mrs. Jalin: Dreadful isn't it?

Zorba: What?

Mrs. Jalin: I was talking to him.

Zorba: Oh. Well anyway... in some mollusks, however, viz, slugs, (holds one up) the shell is absent or rudimentary...

Mr. Jalin: Switch him off.

(Mrs. Jalin gets up and looks for the switch unsuccessfully)

Zorba: Whereas in others, viz, cephalopods the head-foot is greatly modified and forms tentacles, viz, the squid. (looking out) What are you doing?

Mrs. Jalin: Switching you off.

Zorba: Why, don't you like it?

Mrs. Jalin: Oh it's dreadful.

Mr. Jalin: Embarrassing.

Zorba: Is it?

Mrs. Jalin: Yes, it's perfectly awful.

Mr. Jalin: Disgraceful! I don't know how they've got the nerve to put it on.

Mrs. Jalin: It's so boring.

Zorba: Well ... it's not much of a subject is it ... be fair.

Mrs. Jalin: What do you think, George?

Mr. Jalin: Give him another twenty seconds.

Zorba: Anyway the majority of the mollusks are included in three large groups, the gastropods, the lamellibranchs and the cephalopods...

Mrs. Jalin: We knew that (she gets up and goes to the set)

Zorba: However, what is more interesting, er ... is the mollusk's er ... sex life.

Mrs. Jalin: (stopping dead) Oh!

Zorba: Yes, the mollusk is a randy little fellow whose primitive brain scarcely strays from the subject of the you know what.

Mrs. Jalin: (going back to sofa) Disgusting!

Mr. Jalin: Ought not to be allowed.

Zorba: The randiest of the gastropods is the limpet. This hot-blooded little beast with its tent-like shell is always on the job. Its extra-marital activities are something startling. Frankly I don't know how the female limpet finds the time to adhere to the rock-face. How am I doing?

Mrs. Jalin: Disgusting.

Mr. Jalin: But more interesting.

Mrs. Jalin: Oh yes, tch, tch, tch.

Zorba: Another loose-living gastropod is the periwinkle. This shameless little libertine with its characteristic ventral locomotion ... is not the marrying kind: Anywhere anytime is its motto. Up with the shell and they're at it.

Mrs. Jalin: How about the lamellibranchs?

Zorba: I'm coming to them ... the great scallop (holds one up) ... this tatty, scrofulous old rapist, is second in depravity only to the common clam. (holds up a clam) This latter is a fight whore, a harlot, a trollop, a cynical bed-hopping firm-breasted Rabelaisian bit of sea food that makes Fanny Hill look like a dead Pope... and finally among the lamellibranch bivalves, that most depraved of the whole sub-species - the whelk. The whelk is nothing but a homosexual of the worst kind. This gay boy of the gastropods, this queer crustacean, this mincing mollusk, this screaming, prancing, limp-wristed queen of the deep makes me sick.

Mrs. Jalin: Have you got one?

Zorba: Here! (holds one up)

Mrs. Jalin: Let's kill it. Disgusting.

(Zorba throws it on the floor and Mr. and Mrs. Jalin stamp on it.)

Mr. Jalin: That'll teach it. Well thank you for a very interesting program.

Zorba: Oh, not at all. Thank you.

Mrs. Jalin: Yes, that was very nice.

Zorba: Thank you. (he shakes hands with her)

Mrs. Jalin: Oh, thank you.

(Cut to a studio presenter at a desk.)

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