All signs point to the fact that the 8-Ball has become one of those one of those omnipresent pieces of pop culture that is so ingrained into our collective consciousness that we can see it all around us and take little notice of its presence. The 8-ball used in a game of pool and the Magic 8-Ball used to predict the future look almost exactly the same. At first glance, anyway. The outlook is good that you have witnessed the 8-Ball appear on your TV screen either as a representative from the pool hall or a representative of one of the most iconic toys of all time. Without a doubt the memorable appearances by the Magic 8-Ball or the pool ball in TV history is one in which your memory may need just the slightest tug. Here’s the tug.
Puddy, that wonderful breath of fresh sincere air amidst the ironic hipsters of “Seinfeld” represents one of my most favorite all contemporary archetypes: the person whose sense of fashion is not dictated by the brainwashed lemmings in service of the devil wearing Prada. Puddy, brilliantly portrayed by Patrick Warburton, on many episodes of “Seinfeld” reveals a shockingly unique commitment to defining fashion sense on his own terms. One of those terms arrives in the form of big, bold jacket dominated by a large white number 8 centered within a black hole. Nothing else about the image suggests that the jacket was inspired by the Magic 8-Ball toy rather than the unmagical 8-ball of billiards. It is Puddy who gives life to this appearance of the Magic 8-Ball on TV when, in response to Elaine’s query as to whether he plans to wear the jacket all the time, he replies, “All signs point to yes.” Anyone who has ever sought the guidance of the Magic 8-Ball for help in predicting the future will instantly recognize this reference.
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
I can’t verify this fact, but I would be quite surprised if the 8-Ball featured in the opening introduction by Hitchcock for the episode “The Money” does not still reign supreme as the largest in TV history. When the intro commences, it looks for all the world like Hitchcock is standing next to a giant bowling ball or cannon ball that towers over his head by a good foot. It is only when he spins the gigantic black sphere around and reveals the black 8 centered in a field of white that its true identity can be detected. It is Hitchcock’s weekly homage to irony that also reminds us that when an 8-Ball appears on TV, it can become a metaphor for finding yourself in a position which is not amenable to success.
A true Magic 8-Ball not only makes a memorable appearance on “The Simpsons” but also reveals that its potential for clairvoyance may not be overstated. When Milhouse receives a Magic 8-Ball as a birthday gift, the downward spike in the trendiness of the novelty toy during the 1990s is made manifest by Bart mistaking it as merely an oversized pool ball. In one of those rare moments in Springfield when Milhouse has the upper hand over Bart intellectually, he educates the Simpsons lad by informing him that far from being just a great big version of a pool ball, the Magic 8-Ball is endowed with the power to foretell future events. Bart asks the Magic 8-Ball if he will pass his English test, gives it a shake and is rewarded with what he views as confirmation of the ball’s precognitive powers when the icosahedron inside warns that the outlook is not so good.
The Big Bang Theory
And speaking of that icosahedron inside the Magic 8-Ball. While no Magic 8-Ball makes an actual appearance on the episode titled “The Killer Robot Instability” there is a reference to the novelty toy that doubtlessly resonates with just about anyone who ever owned a Magic 8-Ball. Upon consideration of how best to demonstrate the destructive power of their newly built robot, Raj suggest using it to slice open a Magic 8-Ball so everyone can finally find out what lies inside. To which resident genius Sheldon replies that he already did that. When he was 4 years old. The secret to the innards of a Magic 8-Ball is revealed to be merely an icosahedral die contained within plain old water dyed barber cleaning fluid blue. Sheldon doesn’t actually make the reference to the blue cleaning fluid found only in barbershops, but that’s exactly what I’ve always thought it resembled.