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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: 314- Mighty Jack

Movie: (1968 TV series; 1987 compilation movie) A top secret organization, called Mighty Jack, makes use of a giant submarine, called Mighty Jack, to battle terrorist organization Q.

First shown: 9/21/91
Opening: Something horrible has happened on the SOL … face!
Invention exchange: The Mads show off the formal flipper; J&tB demonstrate ear-shaped earmuffs
Host segment 1: The bots show Joel their Mighty Jack pet food commercial
Host segment 2: The bots put Joel in the blinding light compartment
Host segment 3: Joel goes off the deep end while suggesting underwater movie ideas
End: J&tB sing “Slow the Plot Down!” and Frank’s quoting Melville, arr.
Stinger: He died as he lived … lovin’ his work.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (121 votes, average: 4.16 out of 5)

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• I’m going to put this in the “good-not great” column. The Brains are on such a roll at this point in the season that even a bolus like this movie can’t stop their momentum. There are a few slow/quiet patches in the riffing and segment 3 is a bit strange, but there’s a lot more to like in this episode than dislike.
• This episode appears on Shout Factory’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XXII.”
• For one of of only two times until he would leave the show, Joel is NOT wearing the standard maroon jumpsuit he’s been wearing since episode 212. Our jumpsuit list in Ward E calls it “pastel green,” dsman71 calls it “teal.” You make the call.
• The opening is a lot of fun. “I’m blind! That thing cut me!” cracks me up every time.
• Jerry the Mole person gets another mention.
• Then-hot phrase: “Hello, Federal!”
• At the beginning of the invention exchange, you may be wondering why there is Velcro on the bots’ heads. You soon find out.
• Tom’s little speech about winter sounds like it’s from something. Anybody recognize it?”
• Yikes, those awful pictures at the beginning of the movie. Bleah.
• Yes, Joel, the joke was a little racist, or at least languageist.
• Callbacks: Puma? (Ring of Terror) Also: “That’s pretty good!” (Sidehackers) “Glenn Corbett! (Stranded in Space) “Hikeeba!” (Women of the Prehistoric Planet) “You’re stuck here!” and “He tried to kill me…” (Fugitive Alien) and “It’s Gamera!”
• Segment 1 is just so conversational and laid-back, it’s a great example of their unique style of humor.
• Obscure riff (for me, at least): Riffing on the horn stuff in score, Servo rattles off the names of several horn players I recognized. But Teo Macero I had not heard of.
• Segment two is a real gem, one for the highlight reel. “You have GOT to be KIDDING me, Crow!”
• You can tell this episode was written only a few months after the end of the first Gulf War. It features a lot of buzzwords and phrases from that era, including “collateral damage” and “baby formula factory.”
• Vaguely dirty riff: “I was just daydreaming.” Also: Movie: “Full thrust!” Crow: “Really!?”
• Regional riff: There’s a reference to Tommy Bartlett, the Wisconsin impresario responsible for several attractions in the Wisconsin Dells. You pretty much have to have vacationed in the Midwest to get that one.
• Like “Time of the Apes” and “Fugitive Alien” before it, this is the first and last episodes of a TV series season, with a little connecting filler thrown in. Initially I, like Crow, could barely even remember anything that I had seen. The movie seemed to self-erase in my memory as I watched it. It took many viewings to get any sense of what the damn thing was about, or for any of it to stick in my memory.
• Joel follows right up on the “Earth vs Soup” bit from last week.
• Joel mentions Shake-a-Pudd’n. I loved Shake-a-Pudd’n. Or maybe I just loved the commercials. I forget.
• The “Slow the Plot Down” song is a classic. Note the way the camera rocks slightly as they sing. Makes me a little nauseous.
• There really isn’t a cast and crew roundup this time. There were a few people who were in other episodes but they were all mentioned already in previous episode guide installments.
• CreditsWatch: Mary Flaa completes her two-episode stint as hair and makeup person, and was never seen or heard from again. Trace and Frank are still guest “villians” (misspelled) and Dr. F’s last name is still spelled “Forrestor.”
• Fave riff: “Meanwhile, back on the Greasy Bastard…” Honorable mention: “Oh, my aching imperialist dogs!”

78 Replies to “Episode guide: 314- Mighty Jack”

  1. Richard the Lion-Footed says:

    This is one of those episodes that shows the genius of MST3K.
    A totally unwatchable movie made enjoyable by the comic genius.
    Like most of you, I had a hard time figuring out the plot (past the basic bad guy wants to kill good guy)
    but I did not care. The riffing is solid and the Host segments are enjoyable.

    I, like many of us, copied my library off the air. When I switched to digital I replaced most of my shows wit better quality ones.
    Unfortunately (now) I lost a lot of the commercials during the original run. I say unfortunately becasue these commercials are as much a part of pop culture as anything Joel and the bots took on.

    Fortunately, my copy of Mighty Jack was made from my own, relatively good condition, VHS tape with the commercials intact.
    You forget what was the style of the time and the dominant ads. WHat “new” technology made us sit up and wonder, and what was the item of the future we must all have. These ads reminded me.

    My copy is from the late night run of MST3K and featured an ad for the opening of “Mall Rats.” This makes it October, 1995.
    Microsoft was touting Windows 95 and “Multitasking,” Becks wanted us all to “sail away,” and Sony had a new video camera with a screen in the rear. (AND $200 off special purchases – How much WAS that camera then??). Two 1/4 pounders with cheese for $2, only one Free Psychic” ad, and no cell phone ads and no 10 cent a minute ones either. The dominate ad for this midnight to 2 am time slot was “Burn Cycle” a “CD Rom” game (not to be confused with the 3 1/2 inch floppy ones).

    Comedy Central had yet to put the ridiculous bug on the screen and was touting its “Out in Hollywood” gay and lesbian comedy special.
    AH for the days when Comedy Central was run by college students and not corporate suites who did not know what comedy was.

    Oddly enough, they took a swat at “Shark Week” in an ad for their “original programing” (Politically Incorrect, Exit 57, Dr. Katz).
    I never realized Shark Week went back sixteen years.

    Dated reference – “Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral. He doesn’t own that anymore, but you can. They are in bankruptcy right now.

       1 likes

  2. Stressfactor says:

    I don’t blame them for using the old jumpsuit at the opening though. They seemed like a fairly frugal bunch so why destroy a jumpsuit they’re still using when they could destroy an old one. And destroy it they did.

    Besides which, the black “scorch marks” show up so much better on the lighter color. : >

       1 likes

  3. Skiptastic says:

    This is one of my favorite episodes, if not my favorite of all time. I wish I had time to explain here, but I’ll try tomorrow or something…this episode just keeps on giving.

       1 likes

  4. Cornjob says:

    I love all the Marijauna jokes in this episode. How would favorite pot jokes be for a weekly topic? My own is the “Lots of seeds in this stuff” riff in Teenagers from Outer Space.

       7 likes

  5. James Cimarusti says:

    @Wilford B.Wolf: Teo Macero was also a composer/arranger and still did some playing/arranging after becoming a Jazz producer at Columbia Records.

       0 likes

  6. fathermushroom says:

    “Mighty Jack” so completely loses me in the first half-hour, that I never manage to get a lot of laughs out of it.

    I’ve tried and tried, but I just can’t make it through MJ and therefore I never formed any emotional attachment to it as an episode.

    I basically remember nothing, though I last watched it over the summer, except that Captain Joe looks utterly horrible with those gopher cheek pouch implants.

       2 likes

  7. frankenforcer says:

    I realized that Mighty Jack may also indicate the first time they got to view Agent Double 007. The Mads’ James Bond invention exchange, but Frank’s “I know” finally smacked me in the head to get me to realize that it’s a reference to Neil’s movie.

       1 likes

  8. Kenneth Morgan says:

    After all these years, I’m still trying to figure out something: if you have an organization dedicated to protecting the innocent people of the world from a multi-national bunch of murderous criminals, why do you call your group Mighty Jack? What kind of a lousy name is that?

       1 likes

  9. Sitting Duck says:

    Mighty Jack fails the Bechdel Test. At no point do any two female characters speak with each other.

    So why did the radio guy report his findings to the ship’s doctor? You think the captain or his CO would have been more appropriate.

    The scene which inspired HS #2 does come off as rather ridiculous the way it is presented. However, I would argue that it can be quite difficult to forcibly keep your eyes closed.

    And oh my Gawd, it really does look like Fritz is humping his briefcase.

    @ #48: According to August Ramone in the extra on the Mighty Jack DVD, the monsters were from a second season called Fight Mighty Jack. Bet if Sandy Frank had imported that instead and the Brains used it, we wouldn’t find it so forgettable.

    Favorite riffs

    I’m not too proud of this. Just print my name small.

    If I’m not mistaken, there’s a phone… oh no, that’s just my insole.

    This is only a test. Had this been an actual movie…

    “I want you to tell us about your mission.”
    “Never!”
    Then tell us about the rabbits, George.

    “I know it sounds strange…”
    But I think I’m a zebra.

    I’m through making coffee!

    “How’s Atari?”
    Kind of a jerk, but he grows on you.

    And that attachment for the hard to reach assassinations.

    They’re using every toy in the box.

    Wallpaper Theater will be back right after this.

    Ricky, they’re beating me up for messing up at the chocolate factory.

    “The newspapers often talk about Mighty Jack.”
    But nobody does anything about it.

    “You see, Fritz is my son.”
    You named your son Fritz?

    He died as he lived. Loving his work.

    They beat us, Flopsy. It’s generic kitty little from now on.

       5 likes

  10. EricJ says:

    Kenneth Morgan:
    After all these years, I’m still trying to figure out something: if you have an organization dedicated to protecting the innocent people of the world from a multi-national bunch of murderous criminals, why do you call your group Mighty Jack?What kind of a lousy name is that?

    “Joe” was already taken.

       4 likes

  11. Johnny's nonchalance says:

    EricJ: “Joe” was already taken.

    You die Joe!

       4 likes

  12. torm says:

    Mary Flaa returned in season 9. I think.

       2 likes

  13. Be Right There says:

    This isn’t one of my favorite episodes as a whole, but I will say “Slow the Plot Down” is one of my all time favorite musical segments on the show.
    During segment three, Joel tosses a Droopy Dog toy in the fish tank while referring to it as “Deputy Dawg”. I rewatched the sketch recently, and thought to myself “That’s Droopy!” about a second before Servo mutters the exact same thing in the background. Maybe something similar happened in the writing room when the sketch was being put together?

       2 likes

  14. robot rump! says:

    this ep took on new meaning for me recently. the CEO of my new employer has the last name of Yabuki. so, unfortunately, whenever his name is mentioned i suddenly hear J&tB singing ‘Yabuki, Yabuki, Yabuki’ followed by Tom’s fake Japanese. i’m sure i’m going to hell for that somehow.

       4 likes

  15. I did this months ago, but here’s my review for “Mighty Jack”

    Memorable riffs:

    Servo: “Featuring our all vegetarian dishes…”

    Guy on radio: “It’s a beautiful night…”
    Joel: “… for a moon dance.”

    Crow: “We’re getting hemorrhoids!”

    Man: “Who is this Atari?”
    Joel: “He invented Pong.”

    Joel: “Hey, Aqua Lung…”

    Servo: “It’s the M.C. Escher house!”

    Crow: “Oh, no! They hit the Howell’s hut!”

    Servo: “And we’d like to welcome you to Collateral Damage Playhouse!”

    Joel: “There goes the Ken and Barbie dream home!”

    Servo: “Evil Good Humor men!”

    Servo: “You named your son Fritz?”

    Crow: “Try ‘swordfish’.”

    Servo: “It’s Disneyland Tokyo!”

    Servo: “They beat us, Flopsy. It’s just generic kitty litter from now on.”

    Fav. Riff:
    Joel: “Oh, I was just daydreaming, Doctor!”

    Comments:
    – It sounds like a crew member, or someone off-camera laughs at the end of the opening segment.
    – Damn….. Trace has some nice legs…. Erm, I mean…. Never mind.
    – I swear I once saw “Earmuff that look like ears” at a Spencer’s store once.
    – Joel mistakes “SFX” for “SEX”. Kinda funny, since that’s what some people did in regards to the “SFX” graphic in “The Lion King”.
    – Funny shadowrama moment: A cigarette in the movie lines up perfectly with Crow’s beak, making it look like he’s smoking in the theater.
    – Is Gypsy calling Crow “Richard” supposed to be another odd to Richard Basehart? Also, it’s funny that Gypsy has a dog food bowl.
    – Servo somehow predicts a live-action “Casper” movie, and Joel predicts a live-action “Josie and the Pussycats” movie. Were these guys psychics, or what?
    – I wonder why “Slow the Plot Down” wasn’t included on the “Clowns in the Sky” CD. And, who wrote this song? There’s no listing in the credits!

    Best Segment: Segment 3 is a lot of fun. I always like it when Joel went a little crazy.
    Worst Segment: Segment 2 is a bore.

    Overall: A weak Season 3 entry IMO. A dull movie, and less-than stellar riffing. ** stars.

    I have more reviews here: http://forrestcrow.proboards.com/thread/13657/xerxes-cats-mst3k-episodes-reviews?page=4

       2 likes

  16. pondoscp says:

    Cornjob:
    I love all the Marijauna jokes in this episode. How would favorite pot jokes be for a weekly topic? My own is the “Lots of seeds in this stuff” riff in Teenagers from Outer Space.

    Yep, this may be the ultimate pot joke episode of MST3K. I still love the incoherence of this episode, lots of fun.

       6 likes

  17. pondoscp says:

    “We’ve been smoking Lebanese Blonde and we’re flying!”
    “I am so high.”
    “You roll us a doob, I’ll put on some Allman Brothers, the Eat A Peach album.”

    That’s some good stuff, there! MIGHTY JACK!

       7 likes

  18. thequietman says:

    Yeah, beside the mighty voice “MIGHTY JACK” I really didn’t remember much from this one. The host segments were far more entertaining, especially segment three, but this definitely seems like the weakest of the Sandy Frank series.

    Now, I have to go spackle my teeth…

       0 likes

  19. Sitting Duck says:

    Kenneth Morgan:
    After all these years, I’m still trying to figure out something: if you have an organization dedicated to protecting the innocent people of the world from a multi-national bunch of murderous criminals, why do you call your group Mighty Jack?What kind of a lousy name is that?

    Japanese media has a tradition of coming up with a series title by taking two English words seemingly at random and slapping them together with no regard for coherence. One that particularly comes to mind is an anime series called Pumpkin Scissors. Now what do you think a show with a name like that would be about? If you guessed post-war recovery, I would question your reasoning methods. But you would also be correct.

       4 likes

  20. Into The Void says:

    Cornjob:
    I love all the Marijauna jokes in this episode. How would favorite pot jokes be for a weekly topic? My own is the “Lots of seeds in this stuff” riff in Teenagers from Outer Space.

    I had a similar suggestion for topic some time back:

    favorite “Mmm-hmm…that’s good ___________!!!”
    (fill in the blank – pot, amyl nitrate, booze, blow, etc)

    Granted, most of those bits unfortunately went by the wayside after Joel split, but still…

       3 likes

  21. Bruce Boxliker says:

    There’s something about the incoherent nature of this movie that appeals to me. Maybe I’m just a masochist. The riffing was great, though.

    The show seems like it’s a combination of the 1963 Toho film ‘Atragon’ (which featured a flying submarine with a drill on the front – redesigned & re-used in Godzilla Final Wars as the Goten-Go), Thunderbirds, and James Bond. How that idea came about, I can’t imagine.

    The DVD’s & CD soundtracks are still available in Japan. You can get the entirety of both series for about $130 or so.

    Dan in WI: But Clayton on the other hand… It is funny that he ended up wearing the lady’s flipper. Wouldn’t he normally torment Frank into that?

    Trace has the better legs.

       2 likes

  22. Cornjob says:

    The look Dr. F. gives Frank after he says, “I want children” is classic.

       2 likes

  23. Ro-man says:

    Watching this one for the first time tonight.
    The 20,000 dollar pyramid bit was classic.

       0 likes

  24. ahaerhar says:

    @71
    Atragon was just the name they used for English translations for reasons I’ve never heard, but they stuck with it through the weird “Super Atragon” animated video remake back in the 90s so apparently Toho thought it was cool I guess.

    Yeah Tsuburaya liked him his flying subs. Can’t blame him but he sure seemed to do a few.

       0 likes

  25. Cornjob says:

    See #44,#50 and #54 for my previous comments. I think I figured out that Perez is a traitor (maybe), but I still don’t know why non-melting ice would be such a big deal. An absolute favorite episode. Now where’s that Lebanese Blonde?

       3 likes

  26. trickymutha says:

    I broke down and watched this- making it part of my weekend menu- I was quite surprised, although I had no idea what was going on- (The Atari breakfast speech is classic- but why is he telling this to the old guy overlord?) and, why the hell is there some folk singer and a weird reporter type and a German son? Yet, though all this- I was entertained. Why? Because over ten years ago I watched every episode in numerical order a couple times, and, fondly recall this one. Comfort food for my MSTIE soul. SLOW THE PLOT DOWN

       3 likes

  27. Lex says:

    I had the last 40 or 50 minutes of this one on a VHS and the rest got taped over. Fortunately, the rest of the tape was a couple old episodes of Saturday Night live from 92 and 93. Copies of those episodes are very hard to find. Sinbad (the comedian as mentioned on MST3k a couple times) played Black Lightning at Superman’s funeral. Funny stuff, actually.

    As for this episode, what I did have, was very funny. I still have no clue what Mighty Jack is and hopefully I’ll see the rest of this one again someday. It finally answered the question that if you are stuck with in a small space and they threaten you with a poison sandwich, you just don’t eat it.

    “Unreal!”

       0 likes

  28. mnenoch says:

    This is an episode to me where the host segments totally outshine the film. My favorite is Joel being in the blinding light compartment. The ending segment and singing Slow The Plot Down is a great time as well.

    The movie itself is good riffing material but it is so over the place because it had been hacked apart twice. It is fun in some places and dull in others. Overall a good episode.

       0 likes

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