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Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Episode guide: K09- Phase IV

Movie: (1974) An astronomical event endows an ant colony in the Arizona desert with sentience. Two scientists are sent to investigate, but who’s testing whom?

First shown: 1/15/89
Opening: The Mads are running low on funding
Host segment 1: Joel discusses Isaac Asimov’s Laws of Robotics
Host segment 2: J&tB discuss the first thing they plan to do when they get to Earth
Host segment 3: A game of “I spy” becomes a performance of “Wipeout.”
End: Joel programs Crow and Gypsy to recite a new robotic law
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (100 votes, average: 4.02 out of 5)
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• This episode is the first episode (not counting KTMA episodes 1-3) to feature a non-Gamera movie, and the first episode featuring a movie that would not be riffed on the show later. As such I will, with this entry, begin the “Cast and Crew Roundup” feature (I will do the Sandy Frank titles when they come back around in season 3).
• There’s lots going on in the opening. It’s the first time the show has started with The Mads instead of Joel. It’s also the first time we get a sense that there is somebody with authority over The Mads (btw, the nickname “Old Leadbottom” is from a ’60s TV show called “McHale’s Navy.” Look it up, kids!). We also get the first mention of “the madscientist-mobile,” which would come up again.
• Also this is the first time, as far as we know, that Joel did the “getting run down by Cambot” routine, which both he and Mike would do again in the future.
• One thing that has surprised me is: there’s been no explicit mention so far of Gizmonic Institute! Clearly The Mads are transmitting FROM Gizmonic Institute during KTMA (Joel once directly confirmed that to me). I guess he had not come up with the name yet?
• I saw this movie when it first came out. I thought it was a pretty good little sci-fi thriller and I still do. The ant photography, as well-done as it is, goes on a little long and slows the pace down too much, and the acting by the humans is pretty low-key, but it’s not really a “cheesy” movie.
• The Brains must have thought so too. They seem to get into it. Several times they say something like “uh-oh” when a plot development unfolds, a sure sign they are caught up.
• However, Josh never seems to quite get the premise of the movie. “Yes, because most ants have the power of reasoning…” he says sarcastically when the movie suggests that they do. Later he yells: “They’re ants!!” when a character suggests that there is an intelligence behind their actions. That’s the premise of the movie, Josh!
• A segment of riffing in the theater, starting at about 7 minutes into the episode (not counting commercials), was included on the pitch tape that was used to sell the show to the Comedy Channel. That tape was included included on the MST3K Scrapbook tape. Question: Was that really the most sparkling few minutes of riffing the whole season?
• Servo extends his head again in the theater.
• Another first in segment 2: The first time a bot mentions his “load pan.”
• Now-dated reference: When a high-pitched sound makes some glass break, Crow says “Ella!” That’s a reference to a then-popular Memorex commercial featuring jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald.
• Uh, could Segment 3 get any more random? It’s completely stream-of-consciousness. Were they are just killing time?
• At one point in the theater somebody drops something and it makes a rather large noise, so loud the performers feel they can’t ignore it, so they acknowledge that it happened. Then there is a strange scraping noise, which they don’t acknowledge. Was someone dragging whatever it was away?
• Movie observation: For a science lab that was just built, it sure has a lot of shelves full of spare parts laying around, like a warehouse that has been sitting there for years.
• Joel calls Gypsy Gipsum again.
• Cast and Crew Roundup: Screenwriter Mayo Simon also wrote “Space Travelers. ?Camera operator Jack Mills also worked on “Gorgo.” In front of the camera, Alan Gifford was also in “Devil Doll.”
• Fave riff: Meanwhile Grandma and Grandpa are patty melts out on the lawn. Honorable mention: Hope nobody’s eating rice at this point…

This Date in MSTory

1725: John Newton, composer of the song “Amazing Grace” which was heard in the movie in episode 908- THE TOUCH OF SATAN.
1890: Robert E. Barnes, assistant director of the movie in episode 107- ROBOT MONSTER.
1893: Edward R. Robinson, set designer for the movie in episode 702- THE BRUTE MAN.
1894: Hans Weeren, sound engineer for the movie in episode 103- THE MAD MONSTER.
1909: Stuart Randall, who played Captain John Lauder in the movie in episode 409- THE INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN.
1909: Alan Curtis, who played a guardsman in the season four serial UNDERSEA KINGDOM.
1912: Nicholas Webster, director of the movie in episode 321- SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS.
1925: John McNamara, who played a neurologist in the movie in episode 319- WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST.
1927: Wilfred Josephs, composer of the musical score for the movie in episode 905- THE DEADLY BEES.
1932: Sandra Giles, who played Jana Ryan in the movie in episode 307- DADDY-O.*
1936: Phyllis Douglas, who played Eleanor in the movie in episode 601- GIRLS TOWN.
1946: Leo Anthony Gallagher, aka Gallagher, who was described as “extremely unfunny floating” in a host segment in episode 201- ROCKETSHIP X-M.*

1984: Vincent Beck (age 59), who played Voldar in the movie in episode 321- SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS.
1997: Laszlo Gorog (age 93), screenwriter for the movies in episodes 313- EARTH VS. THE SPIDER and 803- THE MOLE PEOPLE.
2003: Iya Arepina (age 73), who played Alyenushka in the movie “Ilya Muromets,” seen in episode 617- THE SWORD AND THE DRAGON.

1993: Episode 501- WARRIOR OF THE LOST WORLD first shown.

1954: The third chapter of “CRASH OF MOONS” from TV’s “Rocky Jones, Space Ranger” premieres in syndication. All three chapters would later be released on video as seen in episode 417- CRASH OF MOONS.
1996: Trace Beaulieu announces that he will not continue with MST3K when it returns on The Sci-Fi Channel.

This Date in MSTory is written and compiled by Steve Finley, Chris Cornell and Brian Henry. Copyright © 2014 All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce This Date in MSTory items in any form without express written permission from the authors.
* = According to the IMBD this person is alive. If you can supply evidence that he or she has died, and when, please let us know.
** = If this appears next to a birthday, the IMDB indicates that the person has died, but the IMDB does not have a full death date (probably just a month and year or just the year he or she died). If you can give us the exact date (with some sort of proof we can check), please let us know.
** = If this appears next to a death date, the IMDB does not have this person’s full birthday. If you can provide it (with some sort of proof we can check), please let us know.

RIP John Fasano

kinopoisk.ru Los Angeles–Writer, producer and director John Fasano, had more than 40 credits on feature films and primetime television, died at his home here Saturday, July 19. He was 52. No cause of death was given. He served as assistant director for the movie in episode 604- ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE. He also appeared on screen in that movie as William Washington.
The Hollywood Reporter has an obit here and Variety’s obit is here.

Thanks to Duane and Paul for the heads up.

James Garner, RIP

garner Los Angeles — Actor James Garner, famed for his easy-going portrayals on TV series including “Maverick” and “The Rockford Files,” died at his home here Saturday, July 19. He was 86. MSTies will remember him described as “beef spokesman James Garner” in a host segment in episode 403- CITY LIMITS.
A full obituary is here.

Weekend Discussion Thread: Mini Golf and MSTed Movies

Alert reader Troy suggests:

We all know Season 1 Joel was quite fond of pointing out scenes that would “make a great miniature golf course.” So my question is, what other MSTied movies would make a great (or terrible) miniature golf course? For example: The Space Mutiny hole would look remarkably like an abandoned industrial building, and undoubtedly involve lots of railing bank shots while avoiding an extremely slow moving floor buffer. And the Killer Shrews hole would be a murderous Par 7 because your ball starts off glued to the floor, and it’s very easy to get trapped in a grey featureless void.

Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to try the 18th hole at the “Beast of Yucca Flats” course … it involves getting shot at from overhead planes.

Have at it!

New VOD Title from RiffTrax…


See a sample or download it here.

Episode Guide: K08- Gamera Vs. Guiron

Movie: (1969) In the fifth movie of the long-running Japanese monster series, two boys accidentally hijack an alien spaceship and fly to a dying planet, where they encounter two evil babes and knife-headed monster Guiron. Can Gamera save them?

First shown: 01/08/89
Opening: The Mads think they’re out of Gamera movies, but at the last minute they find one more
Host segment 1: Crow gets conked on the head and dreams that he controls the experiment while the Mads are trapped in space
Host segment 2: Crow is still thinking about his dream in the last segment, and discusses it with Joel and Servo
Host segment 3: More dream talk with Joel, Crow and Gypsy
End: J&TB sing “Satellite of Love”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (84 votes, average: 3.81 out of 5)
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• This show featured the last Gamera film of the KTMA series. For the first time ever, J&TB did not listen to any viewer calls. There’s also a tiny continuity error: at the end of the last episode, Joel announced the name of this week’s film. And Joel starts this week’s episode by saying they’re going to do another Gamera movie. But then, everyone seems shocked when the Mads say that they’re doing another Gamera.
• The opening feels very much like a season one segment.
• It’s becoming increasingly clear that the idea that they completely ad-libbed the riffing is a myth. It’s clear that they had the little song they sang to the Gamera song prepared.
• Servo’s head extends again.
• The carnage we witness once the boys get to the planet is pretty intense. It appears to upset Joel, even though they’re just models.
• Crow calls Gypsy Gipsum again.
• Crow’s dream is strangely prophetic! What he dreamed will come true in episode 613- Last of the Wild Horses.
• I like the Batman (the 60s TV show)-esque slanty camera angle when they show the Mads.
• After the second segment, Josh has a little problem getting Tom Servo set up in the theater.
• In segment 3, we get a rare political joke! Dan Quayle was set to be sworn in as vice president in a few weeks, so I guess it was on their minds.
• Crow’s riff “Ya gotta shave ‘em!” cracks Joel up.
• In the final segment, J&tB sing Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love.” It would become a traditional closing number at their live shows.
• Movie stuff: Terrible, terrible dubbing. The pauses are ridiculous.
• So Gamera was just passing by in outer space when the kids need rescuing?
• The long stretch of clips from other Gamera movies is a bit hard to sit through.
• Fave riff: Bad haircut! Help! Bad haircut!

Joel Interview

Monster Kid Radio interviewed Joel during last month’s Monster Bash.

Screening of ‘Future War’ in Kerrville, TX

Long-time Satellite News reader Chris Wooten will be hosting a public screening of episode 1004- FUTURE WAR this Friday, July 18th, at 6:30pm at the First Christian Church of Kerrville,  1900 Goat Creek Road, Kerrville, TX. Food and drinks will be served.

Mike’s Playlist

Rhino.com asks Mike for his “celebrity playlist.”