This weekend, many of us will follow around the little ones as they scurry around the house stockpiling hidden chocolate Easter eggs, aww’ing and ahh’ing when really all we want is to do is switch places with the lucky little so-and-so's.
Equally satisfying is the TV show “Easter egg” hunt.
Originally a gaming phenomenon, an Easter egg hunt is where fans scour their favourite shows for intentionally hidden bits of info, secret jokes or sometimes even mind-blowing revelations.
Here are a few of them...
1. Community summons Beetlejuice
It’s not a fact, but if the Community set is any indication then I’m fairly sure baby Dan Harmon refused to go anywhere near a breast during feeding time, and instead sucked on the household’s television screen.
As the creator of Community, Harmon skillfully and regularly regurgitates most of what was ingested, both overtly, subtly and then also in the deep, deep background. Google “Community Easter Eggs” and you’ll find enough to feed an entire nation.
Harmon is so into layers of textuality that sometimes, you need to piece together few-second clips from three separate episodes to find the egg, which is what the man did with Beetlejuice.
For the 8-year-old readers amongst you, Michael Keaton (you know – Birdman) played the titular character in Tim Burton’s classic Beetlejuice (1988) – an unkempt, uncouth, sadistic jester of a ghost. When Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin and my then-future-wife Winona Ryder learn that speaking aloud the name “Beetlejuice” three times will summon the ghost, nobody expected him to actually appear.
Some crazy fan noticed that over three episodes, a character had said “Beetlejuice”, and another crazy fan put those moments together.
Keep your eye on the background the moment after the third “Beetlejuice”.
2. Vikings invokes the poetry of T.S. Eliot
Vikings is that show where every man is the shirtless owner of a lifetime of pure machismo, and many of them fight each other, which is heaps, heaps hot.
For such a distracting show, it must be hard to locate a single Easter egg, let alone enter a hunt for eggs, plural, but a few viewers have noticed a few Thomas Stearns Eliot quotes popping up between the heaving chests and timeless hairstyles.
In episode ten of last season, King Echbert recites a few lines of Eliot's poem “Burnt Norton” from his work Four Quarters, at the unforgiving sky:
“Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable…”
And in another scene, Helga remarks to Floki:
“After such knowledge, what forgiveness?”
That's a line from the poem "Gerontion".
Want to embark on an Easter egg hunt of your own? Try to find all of Hirst's references to The Beatles throughout the series (he says they're everywhere).
3. Hand references on Arrested Development
Arrested Development was a dream for wordsmiths, puzzle players, lateral thinkers, and those blessed with the power of recall. From Tobias’ poor word choice and relationship with the colour blue, to “No Touching” and G.O.B’s “Come on!”, to the sign attached to any vehicle conducting surveillance…
But nothing compares to the dedicated milking of Buster losing his hand - an event in the plot that has an entire world of Easter eggs hidden both before and after it.
In season one, Gob marries seal trainer extraordinaire, played by Amy Poehler.
In season two, Buster plays a "skilltester" game that sees him use a mechanical arm to retrieve a toy seal. Upon noticing the hand-me-down chair his mother had given their maid, he also admits, “I never thought I’d miss a hand so much”.
After G.O.B. adds a live seal to his act that grows dangerous and is forced to return it to the ocean, he says goodbye with the words: “You’re not going to be hand-fed anymore.”
In an act of defiance against his mother Lucille and Army, the sea-fearing Buster braves an ocean dip, where a passer-by warns him of a “loose seal”.
These references continue throughout the rest of the show, and those with ADD (Arrested Development Disorder) are still finding more hand/seal related references to this day.
4. Steve Carrell's final episode on The Office (US) finally makes sense of the opening credits
For the entire run of The Office, Michael Scott straightens a trophy on his desk in the opening credits. At the end of the show's seventh season, Scott (Steve Carrell) shows us the award, which was given to him by his staff, and puts it on his desk.
Whether giving the opening titles a backstory was always intended, or an idea that emerged from the season seven writers’ room, it was a lovely bit of fan-service that came with the added benefit of packing an emotional punch.
5. Breaking Bad‘s title puzzle
Season two was the only Breaking Bad season that was planned from start to finish before the writing process began. In what now appears to be more of a gimmick than a treat for the fans, creator Vince Gilligan used the episode titles to hint at the final episode’s flight disaster.
But even as a fun literary device, you have to know which titles to include.
Here are the titles of all 13 episodes, with those that constitute an Easter egg in bold.
Seven-Thirty-Seven, Grilled, Bit By A Dead Bee, Down, Breakage, Peekaboo, Negro y Azul, Better Call Saul, 4 Days Out, Over, mandala, Phoenix. ABQ.
737 down over ABQ.
A bit more straight forward was Walt passing his missing pants from the pilot episode. After several seasons, those khakis are still in the desert.
6. Everyone on The Simpsons has four fingers - except God and Jesus
7. A ‘RESERVED’ sign on the perpetually available Central Perk table on Friends
8. The name of the funeral parlor in the season 3 finale of Lost is an anagram for "flash forward", which teases the end of season reveal
9. On Game of Thrones, Khaleesi utters a line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelled of elderberries!” - in Low Valyrian
And that's not the only Python reference on GoT...
10. On Seinfeld, George Steinbrenner, who we only ever see from behind, is voiced by Larry David
11. On Gilmore Girls, Luke leaves his phone number on Lorelai's answering machine - if you called that number, you got a recorded spiel from Scott Patterson, who plays Luke
12. Northern Exposure's sneak Twin Peaks diss
As the more acclaimed Twin Peaks was airing around the same time and was set on similar terrain, NE included a bizarre, Lynchian scene – which was either an homage, a light-hearted jab, or a massive middle finger.
(It's even more devastating in Hungarian.)