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Pa does not love Fa? What the hell was Shawn Spencer talking about?

daydolphinA movie from the early ’70s it seems. Not sure what I or Shawn are talking about? Let me recap: During last Friday’s winter premiere of Psych, resident “psychic” Shawn Spencer came “this close” to living his dream of riding a dolphin at the local aquarium. How close? Close enough that he was in his bathing trunks, up on the dock, ready to jump on the dolphin’s back at a moment’s notice.

But, he hesitated. As the dolphin reared its snout over the water Shawn suddenly exclaimed, “Pa does not love Fa! Pa does not love Fa!” I’m sure some younger viewers were confused by the statement and were probably concerned that Shawn was having some sort of seizure. Fortunately, Mr. Spencer was just fine; he was just doing something that he has been known for since the series began: pulling pop culture references out of his rear end. In this case, “Pa does not love Fa” came from an obscure ’70s movie that I, Near King of all Meaningless Trivia, didn’t even know about.

The movie was the 1973 Day of the Dolphin. Directed by Mike Nichols, written by Buck Henry and starring George C. Scott, Dolphin was the story of a brilliant scientist, Dr. Jake Terrell (Scott) who trained dolphins to communicate with humans by speaking English in dolphin-like voices. Unfortunately, like all intelligent animals of the time, the two dolphins Terrell trained — Alpha (“Fa) and Beta (“Be”) — were stolen by a shadowy organization known as the Franklin Institute (which is not the science museum in Philadelphia).

The Institute, led by Curtis Mahoney (Paul Sorvino), proceeds to train the dolphins to carry out an assassination against the President of the United States’ yacht. What? You thought he was teaching them to fly? What happened next? Well, you should really watch the movie to find out.

Day of the Dolphin received mixed reviews and wasn’t commercially successful. On the up side, it did manage to be nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Sound. On the down side, I’m sure that the careers of Scott, Nichols and Henry suffered slightly after the film was released.

There you have it! Another useless piece of pop culture flotsam courtesy of your friends at CliqueClack TV. Add this to your repertoire of useless information and watch those around you gasp impressively at your knowledge. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

Photo Credit: Adventureblog

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9 Responses to “Pa does not love Fa? What the hell was Shawn Spencer talking about?”

January 13, 2009 at 3:22 PM

Ok… I still dont get it. Who is Pa? And why doesn’t he/she love Fa?

January 14, 2009 at 2:17 AM

I didn’t get the reference while watching, but I actually had the thought, “Oh well, cliqueclack will explain it.”

And you did! Thanks Richard!

January 14, 2009 at 4:27 AM

I believe (and I may be totally wrong here, its just an inference from what I’ve read about the movie) Pa loves Fa was some kind of attack command? Is there anyone who’s actually seen the movie?

January 17, 2009 at 11:02 PM

I sort of rememeber Dennis Quaid and Bess Armstrong talking to dolphins in Jaws 3 and doing the “Pa loves Fa” stuff. Shawn usually makes 80s remarks. wouldn’t that be a more likely source?

January 18, 2009 at 2:18 PM

Okay, I’m one who saw the movie when it came out, and it had a major impact on me. Maybe it’s not a great movie, but I loved it.

So here’s some stuff you should know. However, from this point on, it’s loaded with spoilers about how the movie ends, so if you don’t want to know, stop reading NOW!


Firt off, Paul Sorvino was not the head of the Institute. He was a CIA agent (maybe FBI) who was investigating why the Institute was showing interest in the dolphin research facility. This wsa the first time I had ever seen Sorvino in anything, and I thought his character was so cool.

Fritz Weaver was the head of the Institute. Severn Darden was another of its members.

“Pa does not love Fa”: Fa was short for Alpha, the first of the dolphins they were researching, seeing if they could communicate with him. Bee was short for Beta, the girl-friend they got for him when they saw he was getting lonely. “Pa” was George C. Scott and “Ma” was Trish Van Devere his wife; the dolphins saw them as parent surrogates in a way.

At the end, when the Institute’s plot was foiled (They tried to blow up the President’s yacht with a bomb attached to Bee but Fa turned the tables on them!), Paul Sorvino warned Pa and Ma that the Institute was not going to let them survive because they knew too much. They were probably on their way to destroy the place and most definitely kill the dolphins because they knew too much. Literally, they could testify in their limited English as to what had happened.

So Ma and Pa destroyed their files and then told Fa and Bee that they had to go out to sea and stay away from ALL humans and that included Ma and Pa. (They would probably be constantly under surveillance in case they ever made contact with the dolphins again.)

Fa was reluctant to leave and told them that “Fa loves Pa and Ma.” Trish Van Devere started to say that “Ma loves Fa”, but George C. Scott stopped her. He knew the only way to get Fa to leave was to be harsh and cruel to him. And that’s why he growled that “Pa does not love Fa.” You could tell it was breaking his heart but he had to be mean in order to get Fa to leave and save his life.

So. I hope that helps other CliqueClaque readers understand the reference. If you get the chance, see it, even if I have ruined a lot of it for you. It’s still a great movie.

February 4, 2009 at 2:59 PM

At the end when Pa Scott is trying to get the dolphins to leave, the dialog of Fa loves Pa, and Pa loves fa, goes back and forth until, just when you think you can stand no more of this silly broken record dialog, another character breaks in saying in exasperation, “Yes, everybody loves everybody! Now let’s get the hell out of here!” Maybe not the best film in the history of cinema, but an interesting watch. Check out the info on the Internet Movie Data Base web site.

February 4, 2009 at 6:39 PM

My father & I watched this film together one lazy Sunday afternoon back in the 80’s. We got to mimicking the way the dolphins Fa & Be spoke to one another when my dad turned to me and say “Pa loves Be”. That has been my nickname ever since. When people ask me why my family calls me Be, no one has ever seen the movie to understand the reference & get the joke. Maybe now someone will know what we are talking about.

May 4, 2009 at 8:43 PM

Dude I was born way after that movie was made and I picked up on it right away. It’s random movie references like that that make me love Psych.