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Goodbye Sci-Fi

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

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And check out the official web site of Joel Hodgson.

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RIP Joe Franklin

Joe+Franklin+Premiere+Crazy+Love+PArJ_Kqf-bil NEW YORK — Pioneering radio and TV host Joe Franklin died Jan. 24 of cancer. For several days I have been pondering if he was mentioned during a host segment and thanks to two helpful twitterers, @mst3kbots and @frostyplum, I have pinned it down to a comment by Frank during the invention exchange in episode 205- ROCKET ATTACK USA. You can see it here, at the 4:15 mark.

The New York Times has an obit.

This Date in MSTory

1891: Frank Mills, who played a plant worker in the movie in episode 602- INVASION U.S.A.
1893: Ben Bard, dialogue director for the movie in episode 902- THE PHANTOM PLANET.
1899: Wyllis Cooper, who wrote the original story for the season two serial THE PHANTOM CREEPS.
1904: Douglas Evans, who played Colonel Norm in the movie in episode 517- BEGINNING OF THE END.
1908: Dennis Moore, who played a police dispatcher in the movie in episode 517- BEGINNING OF THE END.
1914: Dorothy Neumann, who played the witch Meg Maud in the movie in episode 806- THE UNDEAD.
1915: William Hopper, who played Dr. Nedrick Jackson in the movie in episode 804- THE DEADLY MANTIS.
1921: Ashley Cowan, who played Capt. Mel Lockhart in the movie in episode 106- THE CRAWLING HAND.
1934: Pietro Ceccarelli, who appeared in the movie “Operation Kid Brother,” seen in episode 508- OPERATION DOUBLE 007
1938: Michael Andersen, musical score composer for the movie in episode 524- 12 TO THE MOON.*
1940: Marrisa Mathes, who played a juror in the movie in episode 902- THE PHANTOM PLANET.*
1942: Joy N. Houck Jr., associate producer of the movie in episode 1006- BOGGY CREEK II.

1963: Ole Olsen (age 70), who appeared in the short JOHNNY AT THE FAIR seen in episode 419- THE REBEL SET.
1977: Maggie a.k.a. Margaret Hayes (age 60), who played Mother Veronica in the movie in episode 601- GIRLS TOWN.
1985: Mario Petri (age 63), who played Zenith, priest of Uranus, in the movie in episode 412- HERCULES AND THE CAPTIVE WOMEN.
1997: Edward G. Simmel (age 76), producer/director of the short A DATE WITH YOUR FAMILY, seen in episode 602- INVASION U.S.A.

This Date in MSTory is written and compiled by Steve Finley, Chris Cornell and Brian Henry. Copyright © 2015 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.

Weekend Discussion Thread: Riff or Line as a Slogan

Yes, it’s another topic from Sue:

If you could pick one MST3K riff as your personal slogan, what would it be?

I’d have to go philosophical with “I wonder if there’s beer on the sun?”

I’m expanding this to include anything they said on the show, including during host segments. Mine, for a long time, has been:

“I’ve undergone a complex personal evolution wherein painful confusion has given way to what I like to think of as some degree of wisdom culminating in my current Zarasthustrian sense of self. Is that it?”

What’s yours?

Now Available from RiffTrax…


Just one letter away from being a Stephen King movie. Stream or download it here.

Episode guide: 201- Rocketship X-M

Movie: (1950) A rocket ship expedition to the Moon is accidentally diverted to Mars, where the crew finds the ruins of a long-dead civilization.

First shown: 9/22/90
Opening: The SOL has a new look; Joel is working on Tom and Crow has a toothache
Invention exchange: Tom gets a new voice and when Joel calls to the Mads they meet new trainee Frank; Joel shows off the BGC-19; Frank somehow has the same idea and is punished
Host segment 1: J&tB salute to the reporters of “Rocketship X-M”
Host segment 2: Joel gives a zero-gravity humor lesson
Host segment 3: J&tB are daydreaming when Valaria from “Robot Holocaust” visits on the Hexfield
End: J&tB disapprove of the movie, Joel reads a letter, Frank learns to push the button
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (107 votes, average: 4.22 out of 5)

• And so, with the words “TURN DOWN YOUR LIGHTS (Where applicable)” the modern era of MST3K begins. This is not on DVD, but it’s one of those “transition” episodes, so it should be (though I hear the rights issues are a nightmare). It’s a quantum leap forward from season one, with an incredibly riffable movie, strong riffing all the way through and great host segments. A real winner and a series milestone.
• The stretch between the end of season 1 and the beginning of season 2 was 231 days, the third-longest amount of time MSTies had to wait between episodes.
• New things: The SOL set, the Deep 13 set, Frank, Tom’s voice (Kevin), Jerry and Sylvia, Joel’s jumpsuit (it’s teal), a more-or-less final version of Tom Servo with several tweaks on the design, Alex Carr taking over as Magic Voice from Jann Johnson (except for Kevin filling in during segment 2) and the theme song has new visuals.
• Some connect this season to the show’s move from The Comedy Channel to Comedy Central, but that’s not really accurate. For the record, during the first run of season two, the show was still on The Comedy Channel. The Comedy Channel didn’t merge with Ha! until April 1, 1991. (It was known for a couple of months as CTV: The Comedy Network but there was apparently a legal dispute over that name and they had to change it.) On June 1, 1991, it became Comedy Central. That was the same day season three began. These season two episodes reran many times on Comedy Central, but I just wanted to note that when they debuted they were still on The Comedy Channel.
• Frank is terrific right off the bat and he brings a very different kind of energy.
• Dr. Erhardt is declared “missing”; as proof, Frank holds up a milk carton with his face on it. Younger folks may not understand that: back in the late ’80s, milk cartons sometimes bore the faces of “missing” kids in hopes somebody would recognize them.
• Kevin takes over as the voice of Tom Servo–but for this and several episodes, he seems to be trying to sound a bit like Josh. It would be mid-season before he would truly relax and give Tom the voice we know for the next nine seasons.
• A look at the credits confirms the swift rise to power and authority of one Michael J. Nelson–hired less than a year ago “to do some typing” he has now gained Joel’s and Jim’s trust to such an extent that he has been named Head Writer.
• Tom’s neck has extended before (during the “rock ‘em sock ‘em robots” bit, for one instance) but it now extends much further in the opening and invention exchange segments.
• The set is, of course, a massive re-think, its formerly blank walls are now plastered with every weird piece of junk you can imagine. Also new is the hexfield viewscreen and that floor-level hatch, supposedly Joel’s entrance to the “spiral on down” which leads to the theater (although it was later put to other uses).
• The new counter at which J&tB stand is there at one moment, then miraculously vanishes a moment later when Joel demonstrates the BGC19. Then it’s back again right before movie sign.
• The mole people are not yet working the camera in Deep 13. Dr. F. is controlling it via a button on the techtronic panel.
• Dr. F sounds a lot like Crow when he yells “What? NO!”
• Joel has movie sign alone and arrives in the theater with Tom and Crow already there waiting for him.
• Movie trivia: “Rocketship X-M” is considered by some to be a ground-breaking sci-fi movie, because it was the first American film to depict space travel seriously for an adult audience. It was made very quickly to beat George Pal’s “Destination Moon” to the theaters, yet some consider it the better of the two. Its unhappy ending was very unusual for its time (or today for that matter). The exterior Martian scenes were filmed in Death Valley, Calif.
• J&tB supply the lyrics to the “Rocketship XM” theme. It will not be the last time we get new lyrics to an insipid theme.
• “Once the rockets go up, who cares where they come down?” is a lyric by the great Tom Lehrer. (Look him up, kids.)
• Tom seems to go out of his way to say “Mike Nelson of ‘Sea Hunt’ fame.” What other Mike Nelsons are there?
• The first host segment is wordy–almost overwritten compared to what we’re used to–but very funny. It’s a vast departure from the sort of segments we were getting at the end of season 1. But why is Joel reading the movie still’s time code at the end of each of his lines?
• The second host segment is a true classic–one of the cleverest of the entire series–and it gives the viewer a small primer of the MST3K sensibility and worldview. From “The Flying Nun” to Gallagher, we get a sense of what the Brains think is funny and not funny. The only technical problem with the bit is that we never get a clear look at the floating wrench–Tom’s bubble is in the way.
• Movie observation: I love the moment when the two scientists have work out the problem out with pencils—a process that one says will take hours. Ah, the days before calculators.
• Callback: “Spacom!” (Project Moonbase). “Dames like this always got beer around” (The Crawling Hand).
• In segment 3 we get the series’ first hexfield viewscreen visitor (Mike Nelson, in his first on-camera appearance) doing an impression of evil vixen Valaria from “Robot Holocaust.” Folks who had not seen that episode must have been pretty baffled.
• The hexfield viewscreen is obviously still a work in progress: its opening appears to be a window shade, and then Mike just switches off a light at the end–but we can still see him!
• Then-current catchphrase: Hello, Federal!
• Stinger suggestion: “MAHS! Extending us a velcome!”
• Cast and crew roundup: This is our first exposure to the work of Robert L. Lippert, who also was the executive producer for “Jungle Goddess,” “Lost Continent,” “King Dinosaur,” “Radar Secret Service” and “Last of the Wild Horses.” Writer Orville Hampton also worked on “Lost Continent.” Cinematographer Karl Struss also worked on “The Rebel Set.” Editor Harry Gerstad also worked on “The Magic Sword.” Special effects guy Jack Rabin also worked on “Robot Monster,” “Viking Women and the Sea Serpent” and “Invasion USA.” Special effects guy/matte painter Irving A. Block also worked on “Viking Women.” Makeup guy Don Cash also worked on “The Crawling Hand.” Production designer/art director Theobold Holsopple also worked on “The Indestructible Man” and the short “Once Upon A Honeymoon.” Production manager Betty Sinclair also worked on “The Unearthly.” Set designer Clarence Steensen also worked on “The Leech Woman.” And, of course, this is our first exposure to musical score composer, Albert Glasser, who worked on 11 MSTed movies. In front of the camera, Judd Holdren, who plays one of the reporters, can also be seen in “The Amazing Colossal Man and “Manhunt in Space.”
• CreditsWatch: This is a big one. Mole person Jerry was played by intern Brent Peterson; mole person Sylvia was played by BBI staffer Alex Carr. “Head writer: Michael J. Nelson” appears for the first time. Josh is, of course, gone from the writers list and Frank is added. The credit for “Joel Hodgson’s Puppet Bots” is gone. Host segments “produced” by Jim Mallon. (For the rest of the season it would say “directed” by.) Trace is listed as “Special guest villain” and it says “Introducing” Frank Conniff. Of course, the Dr. Erhardt credit is gone and Tom Servo’s has changed. “Toolmaster: Jef Maynard” appears for the first time. Production assistant is now Jann L. Johnson alone (gone are Steve Rosenberer and Sara J. Sandborn). “Special Effects and Other Fancy Stuff: Trace Beaulieu” appears for the first time, as does “Additional Visual Effects: Industrial Plumbing and Heating.” “Editor: Tim Paulson” appears for the first time. Under “Lighting,” Ken Fournelle has been added. “Audio: John Calder” appears for the first time. Make-up: Faye Burkholder. Interns: Nathan Molstead, Tamra Lewis, Amy Kane, James Smith, Michelle Molhan and Robert Czech. “Video Services: Fournelle Video Production Services” appears for the first time. Special thanks: removed from the list are “KTMA TV23,” David Cambell and Rick Leed. “Shot entirely on location at Best Brains Studios, Minneapolis,” “Filmed in Shadowrama” and “Keep circulating the tapes” appear for the first time.
• Fave riff: “I thought ‘wormfood’ was a bit strong, Lloyd.” Honorable mention: “There’s a Mr. ‘Oh My God My Hair Is On Fire’ on line one, sir.”

Vol. XXXII Press release

Here it is.

Available March 24th, 2015 from Shout! Factory
Mystery Science Theater 3000:Vol. XXXII

Four DVD Box Set Features Previously Unreleased Episodes
Space Travelers, Hercules, Radar Secret Service and San
Francisco International

For spring break this year, skip the boring ocean cruise and instead set sail with Joel, Mike and the bots on a madcap journey aboard the Satellite of Love! On March 24th, 2015, Shout! Factory will release Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXXII, featuring four never before on DVD episodes Space Travelers, Hercules, Radar Secret Service and San Francisco International. The DVD box set is also filled with bonus features, including brand new episode introductions by Frank Conniff, new featurettes Barnum Of Baltimore: The Early Films Of Joseph E. Levine; Marooned: A Forgotten Odyssey; Sampo Speaks! A Brief History Of Satellite News and MST-UK with Trace and Frank; as well as theatrical trailers and four exclusive Mini Posters by artist Steve Vance!

Fans who order this title from will receive free standard shipping to US and Canada, with their copies shipping three weeks before street date. Pre-orders can be placed at

They were four total strangers, with nothing in common, except themselves.   A space drama, a sword and sandals epic, a ‘50s spy film and a TV pilot about an airport. Before the experiment was over, they broke the rules and made us cringe in ways we never dreamed possible. In this 32nd collection of episodes from the cult comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000, Joel, Mike, Tom Servo and Crow spend detention aboard the Satellite of Love with a breakfast club of cheesy movies. To our everlasting good fortune, though, they endure the punishment by delivering a steady stream of wisecracks, and it’s definitely some kind of wonderful. 

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XXXII gives us Radar Secret Service, an atomic age bomb of a spy thriller from Sam Newfield and Robert Lippert that features G-Men tracking stolen Uranium ore using radar and an even stealthier weapon — an undercover blonde! Space Travelers, a dramatic, Academy-Award© winning (really!) tale of about astronauts trapped in space that stars Gene Hackman, Richard Crenna, Gregory Peck and Lee Grant; Hercules, the first of the score of Italian Hercules movies, starring Steve Reeves as the legendary strongman who helps Jason retrieve the Golden Fleece and reclaim his rightful throne from his scheming uncle; and San Francisco International, a made for TV movie / backdoor pilot that never got off the ground. Pernell Roberts leads a respectable cast in this “day in the life” story of an airport and its maverick chief of security.

Bonus Features Include:
New Introductions By Frank Conniff
Barnum Of Baltimore: The Early Films Of Joseph E. Levine
Marooned: A Forgotten Odyssey
Sampo Speaks! A Brief History Of Satellite News
MST-UK with Trace and Frank
Theatrical Trailers
4 Exclusive Mini-Posters By Artist Steve Vance

Bad Movie Thursday in Scranton

For folks in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the Scranton Cultural Center will host the triumphant return of Bad Movie Thursdays with MST3K — hosted by yours truly — Thursday at 7 p.m. (Cocktails start at 6.) The month’s offering is episode 505- MAGIC VOYAGE OF SINBAD. (And yes, we know he’s not Sinbad.)
More info here. If you live in the area, or are visiting, join us, won’t we?

Weekend Discussion Thread: Questions about the MSTed Movies

mattygsmail writes:

Hi, while watching “The Rebel Set” last night I realized that the question “who is Merritt Stone?” was not really answered (Tom’s Poirotesque effort notwithstanding – is Poirotesque a word?). It made me wonder about other unresolved questions/plot points that were left hanging in other episodes, like Lt. Lamont in Space Mutiny – was she actually dead or just mostly dead?

I’m going to use matty’s suggestion as a jumping off point and expand this a bit: What questions do you have that a MSTed movie should have answered, but never did?

Mine is: Was Peter Graves’ character in “The Beginning of the End” ever prosecuted by the authorities, or sued by the city of Chicago? His sloppy experiment DIRECTLY CAUSED the invasion. I want him frogmarched (or grasshoppermarched) out of his laboratory!

What’s your question?
(Oh and, for those of you who don’t know: Dark, slender and gaunt MERRITT STONE played the spider-eaten dad Pete Flynn in 313-EARTH VS. THE SPIDER; a clergyman in 414-TORMENTED; a consoling cop (uncredited) near the end of 319-WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST; and the “King Grady” in 411-THE MAGIC SWORD. Note that he does NOT appear in 419-THE REBEL SET!)

New Short from RiffTrax…

Yes, they’ve taken on the “Plan 9″ of educational shorts…


Download or stream it here.

More Scholarly Study of MST3K

The Southwest Popular American Cultural Association will hold its annual conference Feb 11-14 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and one of the tracks is “Mystery Science Theater and the Culture of Riffing.”
(Sorry about the bad link. Now fixed.)

Topics include:

* Mystery Science Theater and the Culture of Riffing 1

* Mystery Science Theater: Screening: The Films of Joe Don Baker – “Final Justice”

* “Keep Your Stupid Comments in Your Pocket!”: Riffing as Collective Composition and the Cult of ‘The Room’

* Next Sunday, A.D.: The Sociocultural Value of Riffing and Its Future With Fans Of “Mystery Science Theater 3000″

* Sting, Debbie Reynolds, and God: “Mystery Science Theater 3000″ as Cultural Palimpsest

* Robotic, All Too Robotic: Kierkegaard and Nietzsche On Board the Satellite of Love

Thanks to “M” for the heads up.