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  • 10 Urban Planning References in Television

    Lots of different professions have had their time in the spotlight on television, but it is odd how many times that the planning profession shows its face. Whether it is brought up in passing, as a one-liner, or as a secondary character, the planning profession has had a place in television for at least 50 years, well before the profession was well known or established. From Bugs Bunny episodes in the 1950's, to main characters in prime time television shows like Parks & Recreation planning has spanned the decades. Below is a list of the Top 10 Urban Planning References in Television, as polled by Cyburbia.

    10. King of the Hill - Episode - Flush With Power (2000)


    When water becomes an issue in Arlen, Hank tries to find ways to save water. To his horror, he is asked to install lo-flow toilets. In his search for high-flow toilets Hank finds out that the Board of Zoning and Resources made the selling and installation of high-flows illegal. Hank goes to the Board to request the change, and is told he must be a board member to initiate any changes. Hank joins the board.

    Great jokes about boards, filibustering, and bribes continue from that point on until Hank wins the battle with the chair to get his toilets back.

    9. Numb3rs - Alan Eppes (2005-2010)


    From Wikipedia:
    Alan Eppes is the amiable and kind father of Charlie and Don Eppes, and is particularly protective of his younger son, Charlie. He is a widower and retired city planner, and in "Waste Not", Charlie refers to him as an engineer. He keeps busy by getting involved in the personal lives and careers of his sons as well as volunteering for causes he believes in. It makes him proud to see his competitive sons working together. He knows their best friends and colleagues, most of whom address him respectfully as "Mr Eppes". Also in Season2, in episode "Protest", Eppes reveals that he was also an anti-war activist thirty five years ago, alongside Matthew "Matt" Stirling, the leader of the movement and accused in the ROTC center bombing. Don's superior in FBI also reveals Alan was a "Leader" Eppes, involved in anti-national activities, which Alan vehemently denies.

    8. Family Guy - Episode - E. Peterbus Unum (2000)


    From Wikipedia:
    Peter attempts to build a pool, but once he finds a power cable, he splits it, causing the town of Quahog to lose power. His plans to build a backyard pool are further derailed when a request for a zoning variance leads to Mayor West discovering that Peter's house is not on the map of Quahog, and thus not even part of the United States. Peter declares his house to be the new micronation of "Petoria". He flaunts his diplomatic immunity by singing a parody of MC Hammer's song "U Can't Touch This" (entitled "Can't Touch Me") and mentions that he cannot be sued by Hammer. Snubbed at the United Nations, Peter follows the advice of a diplomat from Iraq and annexes Joe's pool, calling it "Joe-hio." The U.S. Army finally gets Peter to surrender after pointing a tank at him. After some negotiations, Peter ends up repatriating his country and returning Joe's pool.

    7. The Planners are Coming (2008-2009)


    A British series that followed local homeowner's as they dealt with the planning process. The series followed regular people as they were either fighting the planning department, or using the planning department to fight for them. It also followed planners as they dealt with their day to day activities in London and the surrounding communities.

    6. The Wonder Years - Episode - Whose Woods Are these? (1989)


    From Wikipedia:
    Kevin, Winnie and Paul try to stop the destruction of Harper's Woods, their childhood hangout. They don't want it destroyed because it was the place where Winnie and Kevin kissed for the first time and a place they all played together when they were younger.
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. rcgplanner's avatar
      rcgplanner -
      Great list Hink! King of the Hill has a lot of references to planning and zoning. The episode "Square-Footed Monster" is full of planning issues, including McMansions, Noise Violations and Eminent Domain. There are other episodes as well. Definitely a show where planning and zoning is showed in a fairly realistic light.
    1. Tarf's avatar
      Tarf -
      My favorite Mark Brendanawicz quote is when he was presenting at a meeting describing the proposed park site. I'm assuming he isn't AICP... "This property consists of a rectangular parcel with excellent drainage. Any questions?"