Movie: (1964) Determined to bring Christmas to their home planet, Martians kidnap Santa Claus.
First shown: 12/21/91
Opening: Crow and Tom are looking at Christmas catalogs
Invention exchange: The Mads demonstrate their wish squisher; J&tB offer up their own misfit toys
Host segment 1: J&tB sing: “A Patrick Swayze Christmas”
Host segment 2: J&tB look over tapes of cheesy Christmas specials
Host segment 3: J&tB read their Christmas essays
End: Caroling, stocking time, Joel reads a letter, meanwhile in Deep 13, the Mads are also exchanging gifts
Stinger: Bad martian’s derisive laughter
• This one is a genuine classic, and for a lot of MSTies it’s as much a part of the holiday season as “White Christmas” or “It’s A Wonderful Life.” All the host segments are gems. The riffing is solid throughout. It’s also another one I have almost completely memorized. But as good as it is, as much fun as it is, as much as “A Patrick Swayze Christmas” has become a yuletide tradition, well, I’ll just say it: Both the RiffTrax and Cinematic Titanic riffs are funnier. That said, this one’s guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit.
• This episode was included in Rhino’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Essentials.”
• This episode was the one they were working on when a crew from Comedy Central arrived at the studios to shoot footage for the documentary “This is MST3K.” Unfortunately, that led to several misunderstandings among some fans. MSTies had been told that bots painted black were used in the theater sequences, but in the special we could see that the regular bots were being used. “What gives?” a lot of fans asked at the time. The answer: The regular bots had been altered slightly with Christmas additions, and so those were used in the theater, this one time, for continuity’s sake, rather than the usual black bots. It’s just unfortunate that cameras were there to capture it.
• The invention exchange segment starts very abruptly, directly in Deep 13 rather than having the usual SOL intro. Were they just hurrying for time?
• What is a “video cassette cartridge game”? Frank seems to think kids would like to get one…
• Why isn’t the tree in the background in Deep 13 decorated?
• The image above was the best one I could get for this movie, because this version has no title card. The version you can download at Archive.org also has no title card. For a while I thought this was the only print available, but the RiffTrax and Cinematic Titanic versions DO have the title card. So, a much cleaner version exists.
• There are a LOT of then-current topical references in this one: C. Everett Koop … “Twin Peaks” … the Thomas hearings … “Gates has been confirmed” … the notion that Drew Barrymore is a little kid … Eric Heiden … Donna Rice … and the first of several references to long forgotten commercial character, “Bonnie, your Time/Life operator.”
• At one point Servo says to Droppo: “You’re the Gilligan of your time.” Um, sorry, Servo, but this movie and “Gilligan’s Island” both came out in the same year.
• Callbacks: “Puma?” (Ring of Terror) “…the Robot Holocaust…”
• Right before they start singing “A Patrick Swayze Christmas.” Joel says “Paul…” Apparently that was meant to be a David Letterman impression, but almost NOBODY got it.
• That’s Mike on the keyboards.
• Note the reference to “suggestive refueling sequences”–we’d get more in season 6.
• In segment 2, Joel seems to “reading” the undersides of unpackaged VHS tapes. What could possibly be written there? They couldn’t have taken two minutes to fabricate little packages? Oh, and Burl Ives has since died.
• Frank’s present has little Shadowrama tape on it.
• The movie reportedly was filmed in some abandoned airplane hangars near the Roosevelt Field Mall in Long Island, New York.
• About Pia. For those who don’t get the “Golden Globe” reference, in 1982 Pia Zadora, who as a child played little Girmar, stunned Hollywood when she won a Golden Globe in the “best new female star” category for her bland performance in a terrible little movie called “Butterfly.” Hollywood whispers had it that her rich husband, many decades her senior, bought her the nomination and award through much publicity — and possibly other methods. Hollywood cringed again when she and her husband bought the former estate of movie legends Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and she promptly started gutting and modernizing the historic home. That said, Pia does appear to be moderately talented, and apparently has a self-deprecating sense of humor, as shown in when she accepted roles in the movies “Hairspray” and “Voyage of the Rock Aliens.” As Joel says in the Cinematic Titanic riff, “You know, I remember thinking that the fact that Pia Zadora was in this was hilarious, but now I can’t remember why.”
• Cast and crew roundup: Executive producer Joseph E. Levine was also responsible for “Hercules” and “Hercules Unchained.” Makeup artist George Fiala also worked on “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die.”
• CreditsWatch: For some reason, this episode has a whole herd of “additional contributing writers”: Lynn-Anne Freise, Tom Wedor, Craig Tollifson, Bob Schrad and Christopher Whiting, whoever they are. It should be no surprise that the music and lyrics for “A Patrick Swayze Christmas” were written by “Road House” aficionado Michael J. Nelson. Trace and Frank are still “guest villians” and Dr. F’s last name is still spelled “Forrestor.”
• Fave riff: “Tonight I’m a space pirate! Permission to come aboard!” Honorable mention: Martian: “Crush him!” Tom Servo (robot voice): “You were adopted!”