Dolphins seem to have a habit of showing up on TV just when you thought you’d seen the last of them. For the most part, the appearance of dolphins in TV history have been in the form of highly evolved creatures with a hint of superiority. Like, for instance, every time the 1972 Miami Dolphins appeared on TV during what remains the only season in which an NFL team remained undefeated all the way through the Super Bowl. But that superiority afforded dolphins has sometimes taken a malevolent turn.
For many, the words dolphins and TV means just one thing: “Flipper.” From the mid-60s to the early-late-60s, Flipper helped out Ranger Ricks and his sons Sandy and Bud in situations ranging from mysterious loners hanging around Coral Key Park to sinister members of Congress wanting to halt funding to National Parks. And this was decades before anyone had ever even heard of Marco Rubio!
The opposite of Flipper were the dolphins who took over the world in a Treehouse of Horror Halloween episode of “The Simpsons.” Everything started when that nosy little liberal do-gooder buttinsky Lisa Simpson thought it would be the ultimate show of humanity to free a captive dolphin from a water park. But how could Lisa have known King Snorky–as the dolphin was known among his own–was the leader of the dolphins who grew increasingly resentful of our species during his years as a prisoner. Suffice to say that the dolphins get their revenge. For an added bonus attached to memorable moments in TV history featuring dolphins, check out the deleted scenes on the DVD containing this episode. The scene where a dolphin explodes to reveal Grandpa Simpson had been inside may well be the funniest deleted scene in history.
But back to dolphins as utterly delightful helpers to humanity. “Dolphin Cove” sought to become the “Flipper” of the 1990s but, alas, never even made it out of 1989. The key element of “Dolphin Cove” was the car accident that claimed the wife and mother of the three characters at the heart of the show. The daughter had lost her speech in that accident and the sudden upheaval of moving to Australia didn’t seem likely to help her regain it. But then she met the dolphins in that Aussie cove and something resembling telepathy between dolphin and human started taking place.
Mystery Science Theater 3000
Dolphins make an importance appearance in the movie “Devil Fish” that is riffed to pieces by the crew of the Satellite of Love. During one of the host segments, the gang of three commence things by commenting upon how intelligent dolphins are. This love for dolphins quickly and somewhat bizarrely makes a sharp and unexpected left turn into a hatefest. Insults of dolphin intelligence turns into an ill-conceived phone call that ultimately ends with Mike, Tom and Servo learning that you do not mess with dolphins. A lesson that Lisa Simpson could have learned them, indeedly-doodly.