Last time on Weird Movie of the Week, we covered a touching tale of dolphin assassins. Today, we tackle The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.
Young Bart Collins, lulled to sleep by the monotony of his piano lessons, dreams of a castle ruled by his piano teacher, the eccentric Dr. Teriwilliker. Dr. T is determined to prove that his “Happy Fingers Method” of teaching piano is the best method in the world. Having banished all other musical instruments to the dungeon, Dr. T lures 500 reluctant little boys to perform in a colossal concert on the grandest grand piano ever built. In his effort to escape, Bart comes in contact with some of the strangest characters imaginable – Siamese twins on roller skates, a human drum and the most memorable villian since the “Grinch”. Filled with surreal landscapes and tongue-twisting rhymes, for which Dr. Seuss is famous, this is a movie children and their parents will love to watch again and again.
Or, you know, not. Audiences at the time apparently didn’t, as this was a colossal bomb. Still, it boasts a screenplay by Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss), even if he pretty much disowned the film and made quippy remarks like “As to who was most responsible for this debaculous fiasco, I will have nothing more to say until all the participants have passed away, including myself.”
Also of note to eagle-eyed Simpsons fans is the fact that the name Teriwilliker was lifted from this film to be used as Sideshow Bob’s last name. And we all know that Bart is Sideshow Bob’s nemesis, just as this movie’s Bart is Dr. T’s nemesis. It’s amazing to me that I’m still, after 25 years, unpacking references made by The Simpsons.