TV Dinner

Nightmare SausageWhat ever happened to the trope of the “bad food” nighttime hallucination? It seemed like there was an era when any television-based father figure who ate a sausage and took a nap, while suffering some sort of moral quandary, would have their rest interrupted by a roaming hallucinatory spirit, or alternate-universe versions of their own children.

Cliff Huxtable eats a hoagie and bam, he’s suffering the delusion that Theo is dropping out of school and Rudy is climbing up his leg with a knife clenched between her teeth.
Huxtable and a Hoagie
For the youngsters in the crowd who might be doubting that this sort of thing happened, allow me to quote a snippet from, regarding The Cosby Show, season 6, episode 8.

Cliff dreams that the eruption of a volcano in Peru has sent spores into the drinking water and caused men to become pregnant. Cliff, Elvin, Martin and Theo are all pregnant. Theo deals with stares and unkind comments because he is an “unwed father.”

Was ergot poisoning just a lot more common back then?

The Cos wasn’t the only one to suffer through this situation (repeatedly) though, I’m fairly sure that this gag was used in quite a few shows to help grease the wheels for a seasonal ripping off of “A Christmas Carol” – heck, if I recall correctly, the entire run of Newhart was blamed on some bad “Japanese food” in the final episode.
Newhart finaleI’m reminded of this Mitch Hedburg quotation:

I hate dreaming. Because when you sleep, you wanna sleep. Dreaming is work, you know – there I am in a comfortable bed, the next thing you know I have to build a go-kart with my ex-landlord. I want a dream of me watching myself sleep.