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Where are the quality shows-- the shows that stimulate your mind, that enrich the human condition? ...Ah, gunfire.

Eric Duckman while channel surfing.

T.V. or Not to Be is the second episode of the USA Network original series Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man. This episode aired on March 12, 1994.


Duckman and Cornfed are hired by a religious preacher-- Mother Mirabelle-- to find the stolen painting of The Blessed Mother of the Weeping Soles.


Everyone is enjoying Mother Mirabelle's TV show, except for Duckman.

On the live broadcast it is revealed that the painting from the show which apparently causes miracles was stolen, the family demands Duckman solve the case.

He and Cornfed track a perp to the art museum where Duckman is nearly killed.

Upon waking up, he claims to have been to Heaven and been given the meaning of life on an Etch A Sketch.

His outlook on life changed, Duckman seeks to spread the word.

Nobody seems to have any interest in what he has to say, so he resorts to crashing Mother Mirabelle's show, to tell her that he's seen the other side.

He causes a full-fledged battle between religious impersonators that Mirabelle propped up as a live religious unity for a ratings boost on the show. Duckman and the impersonators get thrown out of the building, and the impersonators walk off as a group, proud of their performance on stage. Duckman is upset that both they, and Mother Mirabelle were frauds, and he takes solace that his miracle was real... except it wasn't.

Cornfed is dropped off by a police vehicle, with the police taking away Mother Mirabelle, along with Big Da Da Duchamp and Crisco. Duckman then learns through Cornfed's explanation that his miracle was merely a hallucination brought on while Cornfed was solving the case of the painting. Duckman was also wrapped in polymethyl styrene, which is a pink plastic that causes hallucinations.

Dejected, Duckman returns home, saying he's made a fool of himself. Bernice responds, telling him to not be upset, and how many religious visionaries were often publicly humiliated in their time. Though, she also says that those visionaries never went on live television waving around a magic Etch A Sketch. Duckman vows to never let any sort of force dictate his life and rule him again. Right after, Ajax call the family's attention to the television, and they all gather around.

A voice that is watching the show is heard, noting the episode's message that television is being worshipped like a religion. The voice then notes his hatred of message shows, and shuts off the screen.


Actor Character
Jason Alexander ... Eric Duckman
Nancy Travis ... Bernice
Gregg Berger ... Cornfed Pig
Dweezil Zappa ... Ajax
Dana Hill ... Charles
Elizabeth Daily ... Mambo
Pat Musick ... Fluffy and Uranus
Judith Ivey ... Mother Mirabelle
Walt Reno Jr. ...
Don Stark ...
Beau Weaver ...
Michael Bell ...
John Kassir ...
Tress MacNeille ... Nurse
Mari Weiss ...
Frank Renzulli ...
Charles Shaughnessy ...
Danny Mann ...


  • Mother Mirabelle is a parody of Tammy Faye Messner (Formerly Tammy Faye Bakker) who hosted a Christian talk show with her husband, Jim Bakker known as the 700 Club, and then PTL Club and was known for her extravagant hair and makeup. Like Mirabelle's show, PTL Club was funded by donations. At one point they garnered enough donations to build the failed theme park and resort, Heritage, USA. 
  • Episode Title Reference: The famous Hamlet quote "To be or not to be."
  • One of the things Duckman flips through on TV is the Looney Tunes cartoon Sinkin' in the Bathtub.
  • The tornado that takes Duckman from Hell to Heaven is similar to the sequence in the Wizard of Oz.
  • The glass elevator is also similar to the one from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory / Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.


  • Throughout the series, the to-do list on the fridge has "Watch Mother Mirabelle" as an item.


  • When Uranus dresses Duckman up in a multitude of artist disguises, his colors change to Fluffy's colors after the first option was shown. He reverts back when Cornfed explains to Duckman what the third disguise was supposed to be.