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Sampo & Erhardt

Discuss the show!

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.

Social Media


Visit these!


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.

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This Date in MSTory

BORN TODAY
1898: Rocky Cline, who did mechanical effects for the movie in episode 602- INVASION U.S.A.
1925: Gonzalo Gavira, who did the sound effects for the movie in episode 703- DEATHSTALKER AND THE WARRIORS FROM HELL.
1927: Lee Grant, who played Celia Pruett in the movie “Marooned,” featured in episode 401- SPACE TRAVELERS.*
1936: Michael Landon, who played Tony Rivers in the movie in episode 809- I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF.
1943: Anton Phillips, who played Dr. Bob Mathias in the movie in episode K10- COSMIC PRINCESS.*

DIED TODAY
1952: Frank Heath (age 60), assistant director for the movie in episode 201- ROCKETSHIP X-M.
1958: Tom Pittman (age 26), who played Marvin Grant in the movie in episode 618- HIGH SCHOOL BIG SHOT.
1988: Varvara Popova (age 88), who played an old woman in the movie in episode 813- JACK FROST.
2003: Fred A. Chulack (age 77), editor of the movie in episode 512- MITCHELL.

EVENTS
1956: The movies seen in episodes 503- SWAMP DIAMONDS and 803- THE MOLE PEOPLE are reviewed in Variety.
1962: The movie in episode 211- FIRST SPACESHIP ON VENUS is released in the U.S.A.


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.

RiffTrax Live: Your Thoughts?

An open thread for your thoughts on tonight’s show.

As always, we ask folks in the western half of the country to avert their eyes until after their time-delayed show, and for folks in the eastern half to go easy on the spoilers, or at least wait till after 11 p.m. eastern, when the westcoasters will be safely in the theater. And if you’re planning to see the repeat showing next week, well, just skip this thread altogether until then, I guess.

UPDATE: More Pre-Show Interviews

Kevin and Mike called in to Shawn Quinn at 105.9 The Mountain.
Unlike a lot of morning deejays they talk to, this one seems to have done his homework, a little.

Adam Dileo at IGN.com interviews Mike, Kevin and Bill.

Brittany S Frederick of Starpulse.com interviews Mike.

An unnamed staffer at or for PasteMagazine.com interviews Mike.

An unnamed person at EOnline.com interviews Mike, Kevin and Bill.

UPDATE:Jon Serba at MLive.com interviews Mike.

Episode guide: 102- The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy (with short: ‘Radar Men from the Moon,’ Episode 1: Moon Rocket)

Short: (1951) A jet-pack-equipped scientist and his team investigate reports of sabotage by spies from the moon and their hired thugs.
Movie: (1957) A mad scientist builds a robot to battle the mummy guarding an Aztec treasure.

First shown: approx. 11/18/89? (See below.)
Opening: None.
Invention exchange: Joel demonstrates the airbag helmet; The Mads unveil The Chalkman, and then show off Deep 13’s new security system.
Host segment 1: Demon dogs attack; Tom takes them on, and fares poorly.
Host segment 2: Talks with Enoch, the demon dog king, don’t go well.
Host segment 3: Crow’s attempt to impersonate Enoch also fails.
End: Joel’s trick fools the demon dogs…or does it? Doh!
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (152 votes, average: 3.47 out of 5)
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Short: (1951) A jet-pack-equipped scientist and his team investigate reports of sabotage by spies from the moon and their hired thugs.
Movie: (1957) A mad scientist builds a robot to battle the mummy guarding an Aztec treasure.

First shown: approx. 11/18/89? (See below.)
Opening: None.
Invention exchange: Joel demonstrates the airbag helmet; The Mads unveil the Chalk Man, and then show off Deep 13’s new security system.
Host segment 1: Demon dogs attack; Tom takes them on, and fares poorly.
Host segment 2: Talks with Enoch, the demon dog king, don’t go well.
Host segment 3: Crow’s attempt to impersonate Enoch also fails.
End: Joel’s trick fools the demon dogs…or does it? Doh!
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (152 votes, average: 3.47 out of 5)
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• As discussed in last week’s entry, it appears that this episode was actually the first one The Comedy Channel showed, just days after going on the air.
• This episode is part of Shout’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XVII.
• Again, no opening segment.
• Again, the early Tom Servo design
• Again, no buttons on table, so Joel just slaps it.
• No Bots are present during invention exchange.
• The “airbag helmet” was another bit from Joel’s standup act.
References.
• The Mads’ invention, a riff on the old Close and Play phonograph has one small problem. The dialog has the Mads’ saying that you are to “close it” and “open it,” echoing the old Close and Play commercial, but they’re not actually closing and opening it. They’re just lifting the tone arm up and putting it down. Kinda ruins the joke, but they were just getting the prop shop running, so I will let them slide.
• Say what you will about Josh, he was really “inside” Tom Servo; Kevin never used a phrase like “You can look me in the bubble and say that??” as Josh does here.
• The thinner bluescreen level makes Tom Servo look very odd in the theater–kind of elongated. Tom is also VERY animated in the theater–a stark contrast to his wooden behavior in the host segments.
• After 18 weeks of the little tiny KTMA theater seats, the standard-size seats take a little getting used to.
• In some scenes, the seats were fully black this week, not tinted at all, that I can see. But in very dark scenes the seats are tinted dark gray, like last week.
• The “demon dogs” were made out of a “Masters of the Universe” toy called “Battle bones,” painted red and black and added with some contruction paper ears.
• That is clearly Jim Mallon doing the voice of Enoch, the king and charismatic leader of the dog people. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to make out what he is saying thanks to the incessant clacking of the puppet’s mouth.
• Josh makes an odd comment during host segment 2, calling the SOL “the 2525″ and telling Cambot that the SOL’s schematics are under “2525” in his files. Is this weird Zager and Evans reference?
• Watch carefully early in the feature during the flashback of the Aztec ceremony scene, as Joel covers the irritating singing lady’s mouth: Joel clearly has something in his hand–between his two fingers, as one would hold a cigarette. Was Joel smoking in the theater? Gasp! Smile
• In addition to smoking, reportedly this was the only episode in which the riffers were drinking while shooting the theater scenes.
• There are also two spots where the Brains experimented by playing with the sound. In one spot, as the men stand in a row with their backs to the camera in a way that suggested that they were relieving themselves, they added the sound of liquid streaming. And in the aforementioned musical ceremony, when Joel covers the lady’s mouth the sound cuts back as if he is muffling her. They seldom did it again.
• At one point, Joel comments that the cemetery was ANOTHER place that would make a great miniature golf course. “Like that other movie,” he says. WHAT other movie? What’s he talking about?
• The demon dog in the theater at the end is the first of many unexpected guests who would invade the theater over the years.
• Cast and Crew Roundup for the short: special effects guy Howard Lydecker also worked on “Undersea Kingdom.” Makeup guy Bob Mark also worked on “The Human Duplicators.” Set designer John McCarthy Jr. also worked on “San Francisco International” and “Kitten With A Whip. Sound guy Dick Tyler Sr. also worked on “Beginning of the End.” Score composer Stanley Wilson was music director for “The Beatniks.” In front of the camera: Tom Steele was also in “Undersea Kingdom.” Dale Van Sickel was also in “Manhunt in Space.” Paul McGuire was also in “Gunslinger.” Carey Loftin was also in “The Rebel Set.” Kenneth Terrell was also in “The Indestructible Man.” Roy Barcroft was also in “The Phantom Creeps.”
• Cast and Crew Roundup for the movie: Producer (he also got a story credit)Guillermo Calderon a.k.a. William C. Stell also worked on “Santa Claus.” Producer Luis Garcia DeLeon also worked on “Samson Vs. the Vampire Women,” as did director Manuel San Fernando. Score composer Antonio Diaz Conde also worked on “Santa Claus.” And of course, K. Gordon Murray also imported “Santa Claus” and “Samson Vs. The Vampire Women.” In front of the camera, Arturo Martinez was also in “The Black Scorpion.”
• CreditsWatch: Special Guest Puppet: Enoch (Jim Mallon)
• Favorite riff from short: “Oh, I hate to shoot a butt like that.” Honorable mention: “Eat lead, space pansy!”
• Favorite riff from the movie: “We’re hitting people!” Honorable mention: “Maybe she should choke up on it a little.”

Invader Zim Comes to Hulu

Variety reports that the Internet TV service Hulu has renewed its distribution deal with Viacom, and that it will expand its kids’ lineup with additional shows from Nickelodeon.

Pretty boring stuff (unless you’re into “Hey Arnold” — not that there’s anything wrong with that) until you dig down and discover that one of the additions will be a little animated series called “Invader Zim,” on which Frank was first a writer, then a head writer.

In celebration, Gir will sing The Doom Song now.

Weekend Discussion Thread: Film/Short Crossovers

Alert regular Ken writes:

Which movie characters would you like to see make cameo appearances in the shorts, and what would they do? Me, I can imagine Torgo paying Nick a visit in “What To Do on a Date” and showing him how to put all those wicked hand moves on the ladies, so that when things were swinging into high at the wienie roast he would know exactly what to do.

I’m going to expand this and also ask what characters from shorts would you like to see in a MSTed movie? For example, wouldn’t it be great if the escapees from “Swamp Diamonds” stumbled upon Ross Allen from “Catching Trouble”? Ross and Touch would eventually have it out for sure, while Emo made his move on their llllladies.

What would YOU like to see?

Episode guide: 101- The Crawling Eye

Movie: (1958) After some mysterious deaths in the Swiss Alps, a U.N. troubleshooter is sent to assist a scientist who is investigating the situation. But a pretty young psychic may be the most help.

First shown: approx. 11/25/89? (See below).
Opening: None
Invention exchange: Electric bagpipes, canine anti-perspirant, welcome to Deep 13
Host segment 1: Crow and Tom fail to understand why losing your head is a big deal
Host segment 2: Gypsy uncoils
Host segment 3: J&TB discuss the whole “giant eye” premise
End: Good thing/bad thing, the Mads are happy
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (142 votes, average: 4.01 out of 5)
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• In the months between Memorial Day weekend (when the last KTMA episode aired) and the end of November (when this episode first aired), the Brains put together a nine-minute pitch video with what they considered to be the funniest moments from the show (that video was later included on the Scrapbook Tape). Joel called in some favors and managed to get meetings with executives at The Comedy Channel and Ha!, the two competing 24-hour comedy basic cable channels that had just started up, or were about to. Joel and Jim headed to New York with high hopes. The Ha! executives took a pass (the show really didn’t fit in with their lineup of mostly sitcom reruns) but the Comedy Channel executives liked what they saw–especially the fact that the show would be two hours long, really helping to fill their programming grid. Stu Smiley, a well-regarded TV producer who was then working at HBO (The Comedy Channel’s parent company) once told me that the other reason they went with the show is that the executives knew and trusted Joel. They offered a 13-show deal and Jim and Joel signed. Jim and Kevin quit their jobs at the KTMA (it wasn’t THAT courageous a leap–the station was circling the drain), and, with Joel, Trace and Josh, incorporated as Best Brains Inc. in July. A friend had some empty warehouse space in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie. It was just what they needed. They moved in and set about building new sets, new bots and generally rebooting the whole show. This is the result.
• Do I like it? It’s such an icon that, like the Taj Mahal, it almost seems above my likes and dislikes. Yes, the riffing is funny and steady, but the whole thing is still pretty rough. Really it’s not much more than a somewhat polished KTMA episode, not even close to the level of entertainment we’d get even later this season, and certainly in season two and forward. But there are definitely some fun spots, and it’s where it all began.
• This episode is part of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XVII.
References.
• The Comedy Channel went live on Nov. 15, 1989, and we now believe, thanks to the diligent work of Tom Noel, that the first episode actually aired was episode 102- ROBOT VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY, on Nov. 18, and that this episode appeared the following weekend, on Nov. 25. Cast members have said, somewhat casually, that it first ran on Thanksgiving day, 1989. That year Thanksgiving fell on the 23rd, but we do not believe an episode actually aired on that date. That was a Thursday, and the show aired on Saturdays. But, let’s face it, back then, nobody was keeping track of this stuff. If somebody has TV Guides or some other TV schedule from the second half of November, 1989, and it lists The Comedy Channel, let us know!
• The stretch between the end of the KTMA season and the beginning of season one (if we assume the first episode aired on Nov. 18) was 173 days, the fifth-longest amount of time MSTies had to wait between episodes.
• Firsts (in addition to being the first national show): The first episode to be fully scripted, first mention of Gizmonic Institute, first invention exchange, first episode to be filmed at Best Brains studios, first movie to have a film used with permission, first episode with Jim doing the voice and puppeteering for Gypsy and the first episode with scenes set in Deep 13. Also this was the first episode to end its credits with: “Keep circulating the tapes.”
• Changes from KTMA: A completely redesigned dog-bone shaped satellite, a new door sequence, new sets and new theme lyrics.
• A little about The Comedy Channel (since there is VERY little video of it on YouTube that I could find): The premise was that it was going to be a comedy version of MTV — MTV the way it was back when it first started and actually showed music videos, that is. When MTV started, they had hosts (veejays as they were called) who introduced the videos and generally chatted between videos. The Comedy Channel wanted to emulate that setup: It called its hosts “ceejays” and they generally showed clips of comedy shows (they had all all those HBO comedy specials in their vault) and movies. But, one by one, most of the ceejays evolved their shows into something else. Alan Havey turned his into a talk show. The Higgins Boys and Gruber turned theirs into a sketch comedy show, and so forth. But not all the programming was like that. Rich Hall had a terrific series (hey Shout! get the rights!) called “Onion World.” And then, of course, there was MST3K. Initially they ran it on Saturday morning, playing off the idea that it was a parody of a kid’s show, but it also played in the wee hours. One last note: The Comedy Channel was not available in many areas of the Twin Cities when the show debuted. BBI staffers found a bar that carried it and went there to celebrate and watch it when this show first debuted.
• During the theme song, we see Joel (as the lyrics say) “working” and “cleaning up” but in these shots we can see that he’s in Deep 13 and on the SOL. We never actually see him working at Gizmonic Institute. You’d think they could have just had him go out into the hallway at the BBI offices and shot some footage. Maybe that footage in Deep 13 is from when he cleaned up that Flubber spill? I know, it’s just a show…
• During the opening theme, you can spot Jim’s head sticking up–it’s during the section where Joel sings “…to make his robot friends…” You can also spot the PVC pipe that was used to work Crow.
• There is no opening host segment between the theme song and the first commercial, something that became institutionalized later.
• In Deep 13, Dr. F. appears to be controlling the camera with some sort of remote control device that looks like a little satellite antenna. In season two, they would create the notion of the Mole People assisting on camera and such … and then they just stopped worrying about explaining who was behind the camera.
• We get as much information as we’re ever going to get about Deep 13 in that first host segment.
• Joel wore a tan jumpsuit in the KTMA episodes. With this episode he switches to bright red and the red jumpsuit continues through the entire season. In season two, he switches up the colors a bit, but we’ll deal with that when we get there.
• The “electric bagpipes” used in the invention exchange were the first of many props from Joel’s old standup act that would re-appear as inventions.
• During the KTMA shows, Joel and the bots (usually Servo) used to signal the approach of a commercial during the theater riffing. It’s a habit they continue in this episode and for many to come before it fades away.
• Both Tom Servo and Crow have been rebuilt. Tom is built slightly different from later eps–larger shoulder thingies and a larger white beak.
• Trace has pretty much abandoned the “baby” voice he used for Crow during KTMA, though we get occasional, er, traces of it.
• Note that there are no buttons on the table: At Movie Sign, Joel just sort of slaps the table! Movie Sign is a somewhat lifeless affair all the way around…no flashing lights, just a little camera-shaking.
• During this season, BBI experimented with making the theater seats different colors, to see if the signature visual element of the show might be a little easier to see especially during dark scenes. In this episode they are just sort of a dark gray.
• BBI was using a “thinner” bluescreen level than they would use later–the result is that Crow’s “net” seems to vanish, and you can see some odd gaps between Servo and the theater seats.
• Even taking the bluescreen level into account, you may notice that Crow’s silhouette in the theater looks a little strange. According to an informed source, BBI used the KTMA Crow for the theater segments here–all they did was add an extra floralier tray and clean him up a little.
• Tom walks into the theater by himself in the first movie segment, just as he often did during the KTMA episodes. Joel carries him in after the first and second host segments, and Tom seems to like it.
• Of course, this is the movie that Mike and the Bots were watching at the end of the final episode of Season 10. As we discussed then, it was a cute “full-circle” kind of thing, but the writers forgot (or decided not to care) that this movie doesn’t start with the credits. It has a “cold” opening right into a mountain climbing scene. Maybe Mike and the bots tuned in late?
• Fans of the terrific cartoon series “Freakazoid” may recall an episode that did an almost scene-for-scene (in spots) takeoff of this movie.
• I was still pretty new to the show when I saw this, and when they said “directed by us!” during the credits, I thought that was some sort of catchphrase that they were going to say every week. I later figured out that they were just referring to the fact that an arrow was pointing at them.
• A couple of times Joel does a funny bit where he provides the the voice of the other person on the telephone when somebody is talking on the phone. Cracks me up.
• You can see the shadows of the puppeteers on the wall during the second host segment. Cambot should not have pulled back quite so far.
• We meet a whole new Gypsy in segment two. She’s completely redesigned and has a new person running her and doing her voice, but her mouth mechanism squeaks so much you can barely make out what she’s saying. And that whole comment from Tom about discovering something that “narrows down” what Gypsy’s sex is–that’s just odd. Also, her light isn’t on. And this is the one and only time Joel removes her “eye”–something that seems to upset her quite a bit.
• Joel blows a line in the the theater: “Pick up some ice and some cubes.” They just keep going.
• I like the radio conversations between the pilot and the guys on the ground, clearly written by somebody with no aviation experience. The guys on the ground address the pilot as “plane.” The pilot addresses the guys on the ground as “party.”
• We get the origin of the “Richard Basehart” running gag in the final host segment. If you ever wondered what the whole Richard Basehart thing was about, it was just a weird non-sequitur.
• Cast and crew roundup: Special effects guy SFX: Les Bowie also worked on “Moon Zero Two.” In front of the camera, Warren Mitchell also appeared in “Moon Zero Two.”
• CreditsWatch: The basic credits for season 1 are: Writers: Trace Beaulieu, Joel Hodgson, Jim Mallon, Kevin Murphy, Mike Nelson, Josh Weinstein. Featuring: Joel Hodgson’s Puppet Bots.Associate Producer: Kevin Murphy.Production Manager: Alexandra B. Carr. Editor: Randy Davis. Art Direction: Trace Beaulieu, Joel Hodgson.Set Design: Trace Beaulieu, Joel Hodgson.Lighting: Kevin Murphy. Make-up: Faye Burkholder, Clayton James. Costumes: Bow Tie. Gizmonic Devices: Joel Hodgson. Production Assistants: Jann L. Johnson, Steve Rosenberer, Sara J. Sandborn. Production/Post Production: Fuller Productions, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Production Staff: Ken Fournelle, Jim Fuller. Production Assistant: Jim Erickson. Special thanks: Randy Herget, Skyline Inc., Bryan Beaulieu, KTMA TV23, The Teachers of America, David Campbell, Rick Leed. Keep circulating the tapes.
• Favorite riff: “o/` I’m Popeye the sailor man…I’ve got a guy’s head in my hand… o/`” Honorable mention: “Fannie Flag and Groucho and Carl Sagan…..”

UPDATE: Bill Interview + RiffTrax Live News

A week out from RiffTrax Live: Anaconda, bigtime MSTie Alex Biese at the Asbury Park Press interviews Bill.

And, RiffTrax has announced they will be doing their fourth RiffTrax Live show this year: A brand new take on K. Gordon Murray’s “Santa Claus” on Thursday, Dec. 4.

AND, Mike, Kevin and Bill did a Facebook Q&A session on Wednesday. Read it here. In it, the announced they are doing two more “Total Riff Off” episodes for the National Geographic Channel. They will air in December, but no details yet.

Kevin Interview

Gavin Jasper at DenOfGeek.us conducts a long and wide-ranging interview with Kevin.

Volume XXXI — The Unboxing

And now, for your dining and dancing pleasure, live from the Hotel Sheetz in downtown Plunketville, we present Vol. XXXI: The Unboxing.

The coasters are kewl.