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Sampo & Erhardt

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Sci-Fi Archives


Visit our archives of the MST3K pages previously hosted by the Sci-Fi Channel's SCIFI.COM.

Goodbye Sci-Fi

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

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Visit mst3k.com, the official site of Best Brains, Inc. and Mystery Science Theater 3000.

And be sure to visit Cinematic Titanic by Joel Hodgson and other original MST3K cast members.

And don't forget about rifftrax.com, the place to download DVD commentaries by Michael J. Nelson.

And check out the official web site of Joel Hodgson.

Get Darkstar Today!

Vol. XXXI Reviews

The set comes out next week and the reviews are starting. Here’s one from our pal Bruce Westbrook.

Joe Corey at InsidePulse.com has a review. He mentions that the ’93 and ’94 Turkey Day bumpers were not included on the set, and kindly includes them at the end of his piece. Yes, that’s me and Erhardt in the ’93 bumpers. I was dressed as Washington Post TV critic and (then-)MSTie Tom Shales. Kind of an inside joke. Erhardt was dressed as Bavaro from “Crash of the Moons.” That was the first time we’d ever actually met. I’ve fallen out of touch with nearly all the people in those bumpers, and we’re all 20 years older (and a few are no longer with us). I hope everybody is well, and I do hope Debbie Tobin has forgiven us.

DVD Corner has a review.

Alex Biese, app.com’s resident MSTie, has a review.

This Date in MSTory

BORN TODAY
1893: Chris Beute, production manager for the movie in episode 409- THE INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN.
1897: Julia Heron, set decorator the movies in episodes 801- REVENGE OF THE CREATURE and 805- THE THING THAT COULDN’T DIE, plus THIS ISLAND EARTH riffed in MST3K: THE MOVIE.
1902: Frank Hursley, co-creator of the TV soap opera GENERAL HOSPITAL, episodes of which were seen as shorts in season four.
1912: Ralph Butler, sound man for the movie WORLD WITHOUT END, riffed in MST3K’s first live show.
1917: Dorothy Arnold, who played reporter Jean Drew in season two serial THE PHANTOM CREEPS.
1919: Steve Brodie, who played Dr. Charles Vance in the movie in episode 810- THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION and Flanagan in the movie in episode 515- THE WILD, WILD WORLD OF BATWOMAN.
1920: Tim McCrory, process photographer of the movie in episode 804- THE DEADLY MANTIS.
1933: Joseph Campanella, who played Frank Lafferty in the movie in episode K19- HANGAR 18.*
1933: Louie Elias, who played a soldier in the movie in episode 319- WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST and also appeared in the movie in episode 509- THE GIRL IN LOVERS LANE.*
1939: Jeannot Szwarc, producer and director of the movie in episode 608- CODE NAME: DIAMOND HEAD.*

DIED TODAY
1996: Sandro Continenza (age 76) screenwriter for the movie in episode 412- HERCULES AND THE CAPTIVE WOMEN.

EVENTS
1962: The movie in episode 1009- HAMLET is reviewed in Variety.
1987: Demi Moore, star of episode 322- MASTER NINJA I, married actor Bruce Willis.


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.

Get Ready for Turkey Day

Our friends at Shout! Factory sent this message along.

It’s time to talk turkey, Mystery Science Theater 3000 style! This Thanksgiving, fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 have two reasons to give thanks: The Turkey Day Collection DVD Box Set and a newly curated Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day streaming marathon, hosted by show creator Joel Hodgson.

The MST3K Turkey Day Marathon starts at 9 a.m. PT/ noon ET on Thursday, Nov. 27, and will feature six timeless episodes hand-picked by creator himself, along with new episode intros and special guest appearances. Fans who have suggestions for episodes they’d like included in this year’s marathon are encouraged to tweet Joel (@JoelGHodgson) with their votes. Visit MST3KTurkeyDay.com to watch the marathon and participate in the event on Twitter by using the hashtag #mst3k.

The Turkey Day Collection Box Set, available Nov. 25, features four never-before-on-DVD episodes, Jungle Goddess The Painted Hills The Screaming Skull and Squirm. The set is stuffed with bonus features, including exclusive new Turkey Day episode introductions by Joel Hodgson, a new interview with Squirm star Don Scardino, new featurettes Undercooked & Overstuffed: Inside the Turkey Day Marathon, Bumper To Bumper: Turkey Day Through The Years, This Film May Kill You: Making ‘The Screaming Skull’ and Gumby & Clokey; as well as four exclusive Mini Posters by artist Steve Vance!

A video with information about all of Shout! Factory’s Turkey Day activities can be seen here.

Episode guide: 105- The Corpse Vanishes (with short: Radar Men from the Moon, Chapter 3: ‘Bridge of Death’)

Short: (1951) After Cody and his team escape, Retik sends his hired thugs on Earth to set up an ambush.
Movie: (1942) A series of brides die on their wedding days, then their bodies are stolen. A feisty lady reporter investigates.

First shown: 12/9/89 (unconfirmed)
Opening: None
Invention exchange: Dr. F has a gift for Larry, Joel demonstrates the chiro-gyro, the Mads show off the flame-throwing flower
Host segment 1: Crow and Tom are reading “Tiger Bot” magazine
Host segment 2: J&tB play tag
Host segment 3: Joel gets a haircut
End: Good thing/bad thing (Tom’s head explodes).
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (119 votes, average: 3.90 out of 5)
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• The best way to describe this one is: They’re getting better. The presence of Bela saves this otherwise dopey movie, the riffing is getting stronger each week and the host segments are really coming along. Nowhere near where it’s going to be, but showing improvement.
• And we’re back to the early days, after last week’s flash-forward to the end of the season: There’s no opening segment after the theme song, no Bots are present during the invention exchange and possibly no buttons on the table (the table is not visible during movie sign, so we can’t be sure, but Joel slaps the right side [his left] of the table top, which is not the spot where the buttons eventually would be).
• Both this movie and “Mad Monster” were released in 1942, but this movie beat that one by a week–it opened in theaters a week before “Mad Monster.” But in any case, as mentioned already, “Undersea Kingdom,” made in 1936, beats them all.
• Shadowrama is green this week.
References.
• This movie is part of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XVI.
• More Asimov references in the sketches, although technically the two shows where he’s mentioned were made seven episodes apart, so it’s not like they were intentionally piling on.
• The “chiro-gyro” and the “flame-throwing flower” were props from Joel’s standup act.
• Joel calls the Mads “The professors” as he walks in to the theater after the opening. Huh?
• Servo and Crow are in place in the theater when Joel arrives.
• Servo’s has had some alterations and is slowly evolving into the Servo we know: his weird fat white beak has changed to the familiar silver one. Also: Servo’s arms are working in segment 1.
• There are two mentions of driver’s ed jargon (“hands at 10 and 2 on the wheel, signal your intentions…” ) in this one. That’s what happens when you have a 17-year-old writer.
• Gypsy’s light is still off during segment 2 (which is a do-over of a segment from K11- HUMANOID WOMAN).
• At the end of segment 2, Joel runs down the doorway sequence and is run over by Cambot. This is the first time he’s done it in the national series, but he did it at least twice in KTMA episodes.
• The third host segment is another classic moment from season one, a re-think of a sketch originally done for episode K10- COSMIC PRINCESS. Great line: “They’re STILL pickin’ up clown noses!”
• In the theater, Joel produces a broom and proceeds to “clean up” the screen.
• Tom Servo’s head blows up for the first time in the final segment. It won’t be the last.
• Cast and crew roundup: producer Sam Katzman also did “Teen-Age Crime Wave.” Producer Jack Dietz also did “The Black Scorpion.” Associate producer Barney A. Sarecky produced “Radar Secret Service” and was production supervisor for “Undersea Kingdom.” Art director David Milton also worked on “The Rebel Set. Sound guy Glen Glenn also worked on “Hangar 18” and “Master Ninjas I and II. In front of the camera, Luana Walters also appeared in “The She-Creature.” Tristram Coffin also appeared in “Radar Secret Service;” “The Crawling Hand and “The Brute Man.” Angelo Rossitto also appeared in “The Magic Sword.” And, of course, Bela Lugosi also appeared in “The Phantom Creeps” and “Bride Of The Monster.”
• CreditsWatch: Melanie Hartley was an additional production assistant and Jim Erickson was additional production staff. Post production audio was handled by Rich Cook and (or of) Teleedit in Minneapolis.
• Stinger suggestion (by commenter CJBeiting): “The moment where the reporter is suddenly slapped in the face by Bela’s wife.”
• Fave riff from the short: “Nipple, nipple, tweak, tweak, fly! fly! fly!” Honorable mention: “Nice shot of me!”
• Fave riff from the movie: “Hey, lady, art exhibit in my nose!” Honorable mention: “Audience baffled by free-floating headlines.”

Annotated Version of “Manos”

Our pals at the annotated MST3K web site are at it again. This time “Manos” gets the treatment. If you see something they missed, tell them in the comments — the youtube comments, not the comments here.

Weekend Discussion Thread: Best/Worst Bosses

Alert reader Ken suggests:

Best boss/worst boss in an MST’d movie/short.

The best boss has to be the troubled “Mr. Warren” in “Hired!” He has no idea how to manage people but he’s willing to learn from his flying elf-swattin’ dad!

What’s your pick?

Episode guide: 104- Women of the Prehistoric Planet

Movie: (1966) A spaceship crashes on a prehistoric world, and its companion ship heads back to search for survivors.

First shown: 02/10/90 (unconfirmed)
Opening: Joel has redecorated and seems to be the host of a talk show; Crow made brownies
Invention exchange: Clay & Lar’s Flesh Barn, toilet paper in a bottle
Host segment 1: During “This is Joel’s Life,” a strange machine appears outside the ship, so Joel brings it inside
Host segment 2: J&TB try to disarm the Isaac Asimov’s Literary Doomsday Device, but the instructions are no help
Host segment 3: The device explodes, with horrific consequences
End: The effects wear off, letters, the winners of the “name the plant guy ” contest.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (127 votes, average: 4.06 out of 5)
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• I’m out of order?? This episode’s out of order! The whole show’s out of order!!
Sorry. Yes, this is the episode with the weird production number. In the ACEG, the Brains confirmed what many fans had long suspected: that this was the final episode BBI shot for season one but, for reasons that remain murky, it was given a production number of 104, indicating it was the fourth one shot, which it wasn’t.
• It was pretty clear to fans that something was up long before the Brains admitted it: this episode features a number of elements indicative of a late-season show, including an opening segment before the commercial, buttons on the desk in the SOL and a Movie Sign that looks much more like the Movie Sign we know. There were more clues in the references to several “later” episodes, most notably in the closing segment when Joel announces the winners of a contest that was announced in episode 110- ROBOT HOLOCAUST. Also in that segment, a letter refers to episode 105- THE CORPSE VANISHES and episode 109- PROJECT MOONBASE.
• So why aren’t I waiting to do this one at the end of season? It’s about consistency. I have no idea what other episodes were produced out of order from their production numbers (and I think there are some). If I had a complete, definitive list of every episode in the order it was produced, I might do them in that order. But if I can’t do them ALL like that, I’m not going to do any, and I will stick with the only ordering system I’m sure about.
• This episode is included in Rhino’s The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 9.
References.
• The shadowrama seats are just straight black with no colorization that I can see. There’s also no blue tint on the movie that I can see.
• I’ve told the story before, but this was the episode that I stumbled on to when I discovered the show for the first time. I’d actually seen this movie on TV several years before and had been looking to catch it again, so my first delight was in recognizing the movie I’d been looking for for so long–then that delight was compounded by the commentary. I was hooked.
• So, all that said, this is definitely one of the best of season 1. The riffing is full-on and fierce, at full season 2 level. It’s got a big, bright, wacky movie with a typically smug John Agar, a clearly soused Wendell Corey, young Angel from “The Rockford Files,” the stupid “hi-keeba!” racist comic relief guy and on and on. It also has a nice story arc set of host segments that are, admittedly, more clever than funny (a problem we’ll encounter often in season 2), but they’re fun all the same. You can really see greatness in their future.
• In the opening bit, Joel says he has “redecorated.” That appears to mean only that they’ve lowered the desk and added a somewhat ratty-looking couch. Nothing else appears to be different.
• This episode contains the first original song on the national series: the “Clay and Lar’s Flesh Barn” jingle (and I would love to know who that is playing the kazoo in the background).
• The catchphrase “Wonder what SHE wanted?” arrives.
• When Joel wants to see the alien spacecraft that’s approaching, he shouts: “Give me an exterior of the ship.” No Rocket No. 9 just yet.
• Joel’s line “…and he’s nobody sweetheart” is a Firesign Theatre reference.
• This show features the first speaking role for Mike Nelson (he’s the voice of the killer satellite).
• Tom twice refers to one of the leading men as “Johnny Longtorso,” a name that would later be used in an invention exchange in episode 421- MONSTER A-GO-GO.
• Of course, this episode is where the oft-repeated phrase “Hi-keeba!” came from, shouted by actor Paul Gilbert (NOT Wendell Corey, as the ACEG incorrectly states).
• Great line from segment three: “Ah, the Samuel Becket method!”
• After being turned into Asimovs. when J&tB return to the theater they are still wearing their Asimov facial makeup.
• Tom’s head comes off in the closing segment. They keep going.
• This movie contains several needle-drops of some very familiar incidental music. I tend to think if it as the musical sting from “This Island Earth” (o/` Da-da-daaaaaaa! o/`) but maybe that was a needle-drop too. Any movie score experts out there know what movie this music was in first?
• Let the record show that there’s only one woman on that prehistoric planet … and she’s not FROM the prehistoric planet.
• Cast and crew roundup: Special effects guy Howard A. Anderson also worked on “King Dinosaur,” “12 to the Moon,” “The Amazing Transparent Man” and “It Lives By Night. Art director Paul Sylos also worked on “Monster-A-Go-Go.” Set designer Harry Reif also worked on “I Accuse My Parents, “Radar Secret Service” and “The She-Creature” and was assistant director for “Gunslinger.” Supervising music editor Igo Kantor also worked on “Monster-A-Go-Go and was technical supervisor for “Bride of the Monster.” Music supervisor Gordon Zahler also worked on “Monster-A-Go-Go,” “First Spaceship on Venus,” “Hercules and the Captive Women” and “The Phantom Planet.” In front of the camera: Robert Ito also appeared in “SST: Death Flight.” Glenn Langan also appears in “The Amazing Colossal Man.” Lyle Waggoner also appears in “Catalina Caper. Wendell Corey also appears in “Agent For H.A.R.M.” and John Agar also appears in “Revenge of the Creature” and “The Mole People.”
• CreditsWatch: Alexandra Carr and Jann Johnson both got “additional writers” credits. Melanie Hartley and Neil Brede were “additional production assistants,” probably proto-interns.
• The obvious stinger: “HI-KEEBA! HUT!” (THUD).
• Favorite riff: “Oh, I’m gonna go spank myself!” Honorable mention: “Let’s make some friction with these pelts.”

Shout! Shops MST3K Episodes to PBS Buyers

Dru Sefton at Current.org has a report that among some 75 shows that public TV programmers are previewing at distributor American Public Television’s annual Fall Marketplace this week is “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

Shout!Factory, the Los Angeles distributor that holds the TV rights, recently approached APT with an offer, said Eric Luskin, v.p. of premium service and syndication. Luskin was not familiar with MST3K but mentioned it to Alison Schmidt, senior program associate, syndication, who reacted enthusiastically. “She said, ‘We have to get this!’” Luskin recalled.

Luskin also knew science fiction was a good fit for public TV; he was an early fan of the pubTV favorite “Doctor Who” and produced the documentary “The Making of Doctor Who: Silver Nemesis.” “So I knew the passion the sci-fi audience has and its positive relationship with public TV,” he said.

APT is offering programmers the chance to initially pick up four episodes, including “Manos: The Hands of Fate,” a howlingly awful 1966 clunker that is considered a MST3K classic. Other titles are “Hercules and the Captive Women,” “Gunslinger” and “The Unearthly.” All four are hosted by Hodgson, who later handed off the series to head writer Mike Nelson to host.

“If programmers embrace these, we could offer an ongoing ‘Best of MST3K,’” Luskin said. Broadcasters would also have digital rights for streaming online.

The episodes, which run between 94 and 97 minutes, will be edited to 88 minutes to conform to public TV schedules, Luskin said.

After Marketplace, programmers vote on which shows they’d most likely schedule. APT should know by mid-December whether MST3K will make the cut, Luskin said.

Thanks to commenter “Tarl Cabot” for the heads up.

Michael Lennick, RIP

lennick Author Robert J. Sawyer has announced on his blog that Canadian author and filmmaker Michael Lennick died Nov. 7 of a brain tumor. For 20 years Michael divided his time between writing and directing kids’ shows and documentaries for the CBC, TV Ontario and PBS, and creating visual effects for numerous film and television projects, including “Videodrome” and the TV version of “War of the Worlds.” MSTies will recall his special video and electronic effects work on the movie in episode K20- THE LAST CHASE. He was 61.

New Short from RiffTrax

WartyToad

Stream or download it here.