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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: 324- Master Ninja II

Movie: (1984 TV episodes; 1991 combined movie) An occidental ninja and his mush-mouthed pal help a feisty union organizer, and then help stop a gang of international terrorists.

First shown: 1/25/92
Opening: J&tB are an improv group
Invention exchange: The Mads have invented a conveyor belt buffet, while J&tB have created a (hopefully) self-perpetuating hamster habitat
Host segment 1: The bots design their own custom vans
Host segment 2: Crow is General Timothy Van Patton
Host segment 3: Tom has a new subroutine that allows him to pair detectives with their appropriate pets
End: Joel shows off the Van Cleef dress-up doll and reads a letter; Frank makes a heartfelt plea for the return of “The Second Hundred Years”
Stinger: Lee! Take it easy with the hamster!
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (115 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)

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• And so, season three comes to a close with a middling effort. This one has some stretches with solid riffing, and other stretches that are less strong. It has one of my favorite host segments and some forgettable ones. All in all, it will pass the time, but it’s nothing remarkable.
• This episode is included in Shout! Factory’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XX.”
• In the “improv group” bits, there’s a lot of jargon only professional comedians who have done improv would know (“going to your where,” “you negated me”, “yes, and”). I think a lot of ordinary folks would hear that stuff and go “huh?”
• I’m guessing the hamster-loving hero of the movie led to the idea for Joel’s invention, while the conveyor belt in the canning factory sparked the Mads’ invention.
• I like the way Cambot goes right through the terrarium at movie sign.
• The two episodes in this movie were “State Of The Union” (which originally aired Feb. 3, 1984) and “Hostages” (which aired Feb. 10, 1984).
References.
• Again, Joel makes a special mention of Michael Sloan.
• As they’re digging the grave in the movie, Crow goes completely off the rails with his Cryptkeeper impression. Joel and Tom are ready to kill him.
• Who made those van illustrations?
• “MENDOZAAA!!” is a nice little nod to “The Simpsons.”
• It’s pretty clear the Brains cut the movie for time, and the cuts were so noticeable they felt the need to have the bots mention the edits.
• Callbacks: Several “Hikeebas” and “Charles Moffet: feared not” (Ring of Terror); “Ator! No!” (Cave Dwellers) “Ya got me!” (Catalina Caper), “McCloud” (Pod People).
• Segment 3, where Tom pairs detectives with appropriate pets, is a classic, the kind of sketch that made MST3K so beloved: Clever, well-written and off the wall.
• Tom does a great little song at the end.
• At one point, BBI was talking about doing “Master Ninja 3.” Cooler heads prevailed, I guess.
• Tom yells “FOUCAULT!!!” at the end of the episode–hope the censors didn’t have a fit.
• Cast roundup: Robert Hoy also appears in “Revenge of the Creature” and “The Mole People.”
• CreditsWatch: After almost a whole season of “Host segments directed by Jim Mallon,” for this last episode of the season, Mike directed. Additional contributing writer: Mike Gandolfi; additional special thanks: St. Paul Harley Davidson (not sure why). Trace and Frank are “villians” for the last time. Dr. F’s last name is still spelled “Forrestor.”
• Fave riff: “The wizard’s not in!!” Honorable mention: “It’s great we can joke about now that his hips are crushed.”

97 Replies to “Episode guide: 324- Master Ninja II”

  1. Stressfactor says:

    @ #46

    You Write:

    -The exposition in the union episode is so incredibly telegraphic and pedantic. They take LOTS of time establishing that Lee can slow down his heart and play dead. The writers are practically screaming, “Remember this scene! We’ll use this information later! There will be a test!”

    There is a TV tropes term from this since it’s used so much in television writing — Chekhov’s Gun http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ChekhovsGun?from=Main.ptitlexn9xzsjd5fif

       0 likes

  2. Sitting Duck says:

    Joseph Nebus #31: I’ve seen the conveyor-belt concept at some sushi places too, and it’s … uh … well, probably a good way to eat a lot of sushi without realizing it, probably. I didn’t quite get into it myself, but, different folks and whatnot, right?

    In the travel documentary Around the World in Eighty Days with Michael Palin, Micael visits such an establishment when he goes out for a night on the town with a BBC Tokyo correspondent.

       0 likes

  3. lancecorbain says:

    The conveyor-belt eating device may not have been thought up by the Mads, but it showed up in an episode of Absolutely Fabulous years later, with Edina recalling a sushi bar that operated that way. Ahhhh….Master Ninja. Frankly, I remember us just being delighted that we were getting more, not unlike Fugitive Alien II. The premise just gets more ridiculous the more time that you’re exposed to it. I like’em both, and what’s-her-name from Wings just made this funnier, doing her best Sally Fields impression. It still goes on today, you know, that taking the plot of any movie out there and plugging it into your damn hour-long drama show. Quantum Leap was notorious for this, but whatever.

       1 likes

  4. dad1153 says:

    As someone that brought up in the “Master Ninja I” thread that watching the two “MN” experiments back-to-back shows how recycled the jokes on “II” feel I have a theory. Bear with me. The Brains obviously thought that doing “MN II” so soon after “MN I” would make for an easier-to-riff experiment to end their first (very tiring to write/perform) 24-episode season. The audience was already familiar with Max, the Master, Henry the gerbil and the quest for Lee Van Cleef’s missing daughter from the first experiment, the Brains thought. But, instead of audience familiarity resulting in continued laughs from the first “MN,” IMO “MN II” makes the tragic mistake of assuming everyone watching “II” has already seen “I.” Even in its Comedy Central heyday the show was aired at all kinds of days/nights/time slots, and that (plus the show’s strong cult after-life on home video and DAP) means a lot of people came into “MN II” without meeting/hanging out with these characters before.

    And I propose to you that the two “MN II” episodes aren’t as strong an introduction to the “show’s” premise/characters because they’re packed with premises/guest stars that relegate Max and the Master to guest-star status in their own series/movie. When I think “Master Ninja I” I do think of Demi Moore and Claude Akins and Clu Gallagher, but first and foremost I have goofy Max and stuntman-Texas-switch Master Lee on my mind. Lee fighting Sho Kosugi… Max getting thrown out of the bar… Lee sucking his gut… Max throwing goofy one-liners… it’s Van Patten’s and Van Cleef’s show, they’re the stars. In “Master Ninja II” the hostage-taking terrorists story is the first I think of while the opening hour with Crystal Bernard and the Master allowing himself to go into deep sleep is just padding time. And, when the ‘Hostages’ segment kicks in, I always remeber George Lazenby and David McCallum (whom Joel seems genuinely surprised and happy to see, just like when he identified Cameron Mitchell in “Marooned”) plus the jokes made at their expense more than the Max/Master riffs. So, whether intentional or not, “MN II” makes the stars and lead characters of the series/movie secondary to the ‘guest stars’ which is a big no-no for me. The riffing consistency throughout “MN I” was perfect, almost the ideal quota of goofy-without-breaking-the-tilt funny from start to end. “MN II” has a super-boring first hour with ocassional spikes of funny and an almost-too-packed second hour dense with jokes (mostly at Lazenby’s and McCullum’s expense) but few of them about Max and the Master. Guess if Cinematic Titanic or Rifftrax (probably the former since the “MN” experiments came on Joel’s on-camera watch, although I’d love to hear Mike’s sardonic take on the Lee-stuntman switches :silly: ) ever decide to tackle a “MN III” we could see just how audience familiarity with the subject matter could affect the joy.

    Anywho, THREE STARS for “Master Ninja II.” It’s funny but not that funny compared with the goodness that came two weeks prior. Favorite riff: Lee petting Henry (the only time a non-verbal stinger is my favorite part of the flick… so effin creepy!).

       0 likes

  5. Jbagels says:

    I always liked this one. The movies (or tv shows) from the 80s were always a treat and a nice change of pace in the earlier seasons.

    “it’s like a party in my mouth” is Ken Griffey Jr’s line from Homer at the Bat not from Flaming Moe.

       0 likes

  6. schippers says:

    #46 – You said it about Foucault. While this is probably not the place to bash on academia, and I feel sort of bad doing it, but Foucault embodies (for me, at least) with perfect clarity and precision why the great unwashed scorns the ivory tower. Taking a lot of words to say…I’m not really sure what.

       0 likes

  7. schippers says:

    Oh, so anyway, Master Ninja II – I really do wish they would have done MNIII, cuz honestly these are a lot of fun. I find almost all the TV “movies” MST did to be a blast to watch, and such a time capsule, too. Young people who were not around in the early 80s: you need to understand how AWESOME ninjas were at that time. And not “awesome” in the “ironic kewl” mode of today’s hipster scene, but, like, 80s hair metal awesome. I remember picking up a hyper-violent comic book (can’t remember the name) back then that was just, like, six stories about different ninjas killing people. AWESOME.

    Tip: watch “The Octagon” to see the movie that kick-started ninja fever in America. At least, that’s one interpretation.

       3 likes

  8. Lee Harvey Osmond says:

    While both parts of MN1 had me laughing just about all the way through, only the first half of MN2 did the same for me (I think I might even like it the best out of the four episodes in total. Crystal Bernard alone does it for me. What a babe!). Like MN1, I liked the episode more on my second viewing, but the second half of it really started to drag with only a couple of good riffs here and there. As far as the skits go, I love the improv bit, the bots’ van designs (Gypsy just amuses me almost all the time and Crow and Servo’s descriptions had me rolling), Crow as General Timothy Van Patton (it’s yet another reference that I get even though I haven’t seen the actual film it’s referencing), and Frank’s plea to bring back “The Second Hundred Years”.

    Overall, it’s a solid episode but not a total winner. For filler, I’ve really enjoyed these last few episodes even though this one was my least favorite of them (Fu Manchu is SOOOO underrated, guys. I’m serious). 4 stars.

    I too have read about the Brains wanting to use Master Ninja III as the Season 6 finale. I’m not sure where exactly I heard about it (specifically about them choosing Samson over it since Frank wanted it and it was his last episode), but there IS this right here:

    http://www.mst3ktemple.com/images/lsk-d-eps.jpg

    that clearly lists episode 624 as “Master Ninja III” (it’s small, but look closely). Hmm…

       1 likes

  9. Sharktopus says:

    I wish I could remember just where I first cam across the #624/Master Ninja 3 rumor, but clearly I’m not the only one who’s heard it. (I just double-checked, and it’s not in the ACEG.) I wonder who among the Brains has the keenest memory of that time…

    Personally, I would’ve liked to see them riff more of The Master, but I’ll never complain about a cheezy Lucha horror movie.

    I know it’s MST tradition to grab onto a flaw or misunderstanding of the movie and run with it for comic effect, but I have no trouble understanding Max in either of these “movies.” (Maybe because I’m from NY myself?) Sure, his enunciation could be better, but as Long Island accents go, it could be far, far, FAR worse.

       0 likes

  10. Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    I dunno, it is pretty close, but I think I may have actually enjoyed this episode more than Master Ninja I. The Host Segments are better in MN1, but the movie in MN2 is enjoyably goofier. The riffing in both is solid and both contain TVPatton and Lee Van Cleef. Hmm, at the very least they are on par.

    Master Ninja I < or = Master Ninja II.

    Or maybe not?
    I dunno, what does it matter,
    they are both a 4/5 episode for me.

    RIFFS AND THINGS:

    during the Invention Exchange, Frank calls his conveyor belt mashed potatoes "Mashed Enchantment," which I plan on adopting this holiday season.

    Also, the Mads conveyor belt is a play on the old Lucy Show bit, which makes it a truly evil invention, indeed.

    Joel gives a spirited "ALL OVER THE WORLD!" early in the movie.

    When Van Cleef crushes that biker guy from Home Improvement's hand in a handshake,
    Servo: "My walnuts are in there!"

    I forget what was going on in the movie (probably some terrible action scene), but at one point Crow says "Looks like Tony Scott directed," which I made a note of because in 1991 Tony Scott was mainly known for Top Gun and Days of Thunder. He would go on to direct crappier movies (if you can believe it).

    After Max's motorcycle race, Van Cleef trots up to him,
    JOEL: "Max, I lost the hamster."

    The guy at the dock or factory has an accident and the people pick him up, Servo screams "AH, DON'T MOVE ME!" and then it cuts to Max and the southern girl chitchatting and cuts back to the guy being moved and Servo screams "AHHHH!" Kills me.

    Crow: "A Garden Weasel!"
    & later,
    Servo: "Garden Weasel!" –Those things were all over TV back in the 1990's, there was an infomercial or something.

    Crow: "I'm Max Keller. I used to be able to walk."

    Crow: "His act is kind of prop heavy." After he says this, he looks at Joel."

    When Patton is hang-gliding later in the movie,
    Servo: "ATOR! NO!


    Also
    the cuts in the second episode, er, um, second half of the movie are completely jarring and almost whiplash inducing. Did BBI make those cuts, and if so, what the hell man?

    Well, Season 3 comes to an end,
    another solid episode,
    in a solid season,
    (but not the best)

    4/5

       4 likes

  11. JCC says:

    @55 Jbagels – The “Homer At The Bat” line is a callback to the original joke in “Flaming Moe’s”.

    @58 Lee Harvey Osmond – HA! I got one of those Info Club Episode Lists in early ’95. I just remember looking over it again and again, drooling, wondering when I would be able to see those episodes.

       3 likes

  12. Jbagels says:

    Youre right. My fault, I always associate that line with Griffey but I forgot Moe said it first.

       0 likes

  13. Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    ‘Cause I’m sure you’re all wondering,
    this is how I would rank Season 3 episodes,
    upon this re-watch I enjoyed it very much,
    some classic episodes and iconic moments,
    but a lot of the eps are good-not-great,
    but that’s just comparatively speaking,
    MST still beats most shows on tv now,
    anyway, on to the arbitrary ranking,
    with which I’m sure you’ll disagree,

    #324- Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
    #307- Daddy-O -w/ short Alphabet Antics
    #303- Pod People
    #309- The Amazing Colossal Man
    #319- War of the Colossal Best -w/ short Mr. B Natural
    #320- The Unearthly -w/ shorts Posture Pals & Appreciating our Parents
    #324- Master Ninja II
    #322- Master Ninja I
    #313- Earth vs. Spider -w/short Speech: Using your Voice
    #310- Fugitive Alien
    #301- Cave Dwellers
    #317- Viking Women vs. The Sea Serpent -w/ short The Home Economics Story
    #315- Teenage Caveman -w/ shorts Aquatic Wizards & Catching Trouble
    #311- It Conquered the World -w/ short Snow Thrills
    #306- Time of the Apes
    #308- Gamera vs. Gaos
    #312- Gamera vs. Guiron
    #305- Stranded in Space
    #304- Gamera vs. Barugon
    #316- Gamera vs. Zigra
    #302- Gamera
    #314- Mighty Jack
    #318- Star Force: Fugitive Alien II
    #323- The Castle of Fu Manchu


    What do you think, Steve?
    Thank you, won’t you.

       5 likes

  14. Cornjob says:

    Are we done with this since it’s not on the front page? I was thinking of sharing a ninja story or two from the old days, but not if no one will see it. Maybe some ninjas will pop up in later episodes. We’re stealthy and inconspicuous you know. Even when tearing a place apart when someone touches our stuff, or throwing smoke bombs in an office, or making cars crash with throwing stars.

    BTW Shuriken (throwing stars) are really minor weapons used more to distract or weaken than kill or cripple. It’s almost impossible to take someone down with just a shuriken, and those who can could do it other ways a lot easier. They do look cool, and are fun and easy to use. Far easier than throwing knives. Not even my trainer could throw knives effectively.

    Ninja Cornjob signing out.

       3 likes

  15. Herkaleez says:

    What better way to cap off an iconic season than with a remarkable, stellar episode like “Master Ninja II.” The only thing dragging this season down are those old, boring, black & white American films, which are quite a slog to get through. Below is a list of how I would rank season 3:

    #324- Master Ninja II
    #322- Master Ninja I
    #312- Gamera vs. Guiron
    #316- Gamera vs. Zigra
    #324- Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
    #314- Mighty Jack
    #306- Time of the Apes
    #323- The Castle of Fu Manchu
    #304- Gamera vs. Barugon
    #308- Gamera vs. Gaos
    #318- Star Force: Fugitive Alien II
    #310- Fugitive Alien
    #305- Stranded in Space
    #302- Gamera
    #301- Cave Dwellers
    #303- Pod People
    #307- Daddy-O -w/ short Alphabet Antics
    #309- The Amazing Colossal Man
    #319- War of the Colossal Best -w/ short Mr. B Natural
    #315- Teenage Caveman -w/ shorts Aquatic Wizards & Catching Trouble
    #317- Viking Women vs. The Sea Serpent -w/ short The Home Economics Story
    #311- It Conquered the World -w/ short Snow Thrills
    #313- Earth vs. Spider -w/short Speech: Using your Voice
    #320- The Unearthly -w/ shorts Posture Pals & Appreciating our Parents

       2 likes

  16. Alex says:

    I watched my copy of this the other day and it’s not as good as Master Ninja ‘I’ but still funny. When Master Ninja ‘dies’ Tom does his Batman announcer ‘What this, the end of the Master Ninja. Tune in next time…’ and crow does some great Crypt Keeper riffs during the fight in the cemetary. Anyone notice that the hidden fortress was right beneath the Hollywood sign? That skeletor lady had some bad lighting for sure. Atleast I hope it was the lighting.

    You get to see George Lazenbee, too. I think I saw him in two shows since then some ‘B-Adult’ film I came by one night and quickly turned the channel and that episode of the Pretender. I always found it strange George Lazenbee was in the on Bond film where you saw something that hadn’t happened in any other Bond film before or since. He got married and she was quickly killed. Strange. YOu also get the girl from the begginning of Ghostbusters. I wondered if they went on that date after Venkman tricked her into believing she was psychic.

    I think the jokes during the film itself were strong and the breaks were a bit weak. The jokes they do about television shows of that era were just great. “Where are we in the script, Tim.”

    Good stuff.

       1 likes

  17. Alex says:

    Also, Bil Keane died today there was yet another joke about his art in this particular episode and also in a couple other episodes. So R.I.P.

       1 likes

  18. bobhoncho says:

    I don’t see this mentioned, and I think it’s worth mentioning that this is the last episode with the thinner bluescreen, and hence, the last one where Crow’s net “vanishes” in the theater.

       3 likes

  19. 323 – Master Ninja II

    Memorable Riffs:
    Servo: “Now believe me, it’s a really big crowd!”

    Joel: “Looks like the camera lost interest in Timothy.”

    Servo: “No, that’s my wife!”

    Servo: “It’s a potluck! We gotta bring a dish!”

    Fav. Riff:
    Crow: “He’s the butt of that joke.”

    Comments:
    – Is the opening segment meant to be some kind of ‘Take That’ against ‘Whose Line?” or are they just funning improv in general?

    – Funny line from the movie: “You’re going’ faster than the car!”

    – Obscure reference: Joel mentions the “Groovy Goulies” at one point.

    – In the closing segment, a fan letter asks the crew what they’re favorite movie is. Crow *doesn’t* say “Road House”!

    – Frank’s speech about writing to a network to save a show sounds awfully prophetic.

    Best Segment: The General “Timothy Van Patten” segment is gold.
    Worst Segment: The opening improv sketch is weak.

    Overall: A terrible way to end Season 3, which is overall a great season, but this episode leaves me kind of hanging.

       0 likes

  20. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    #4
    Maybe they wanted chicken that ranked higher than a colonel.

    Who is General Tso and why are we eating his chicken?

       1 likes

  21. Joseph Nebus says:

    General Tso was Tso Tso T’sung-t’ang, 1812-1885, a Chinese statesman who was successful in suppressing the Taiping Rebellion — the bloodiest war in the 19th Century and possibly the bloodiest of human history — in his appointed province of Chekiang. And he managed this while suffering from malaria and dysentery, so you can see why his was the perfect name for a new chicken dish that appeared in 1970s New York City.

    History: It’s the way to make even the most mundane of things depressing.

       3 likes

  22. Bruce Boxliker says:

    I do like Master Ninja I better, but this is still a great episode. The sudden jump from dealing with small-town thugs to dealing with international terrorists & Bond clones is comedy in and of itself.
    Our ‘Master’ Ninja getting snuck up on & knocked out by some nameless guard was pretty funny, too. (I feel like that guard should have had a ‘!’ over his head… Maybe I’m playing too much Metal Gear).
    Also, as a relative of General George S. Patton, I find the General Timothy Van Patton skit hilarious!

    You’ve gotta goooo where the hamster goooes, you’re a ninja!

       2 likes

  23. Bruce Boxliker says:

    Oh, and Lee with the hamster made me laugh so hard it hurt the first time I ever saw this episode. It still makes me laugh, just not painfully so.
    As someone who had various hamsters when he was younger, I’m somewhat astonished that the little guy didn’t bite Lee. Hamsters really like to bite….

       1 likes

  24. Sitting Duck says:

    Master Ninja II passes the Bechdel Test. During the first half, Carrie has some brief conversations with a couple of nameless female characters, mainly about union organization activities.

    I think you can count the number of TV shows that feature CPR being administered properly on the fingers of one hand.

    The interior of Gypsy’s van sure is creepy.

    Since when is an afternoon garden party a black tie affair?

    Favorite riffs

    There’s no Kosugi like Sho Kosugi like no Kosugi I know.

    Damn, I just injected him with blowfish poison.

    “Doesn’t look as if anybody’s hurt.”
    Well we can dream, can’t we?

    “I’m not used to seeing them walk away from you.”
    Usually they run screaming.

    It’s great we can joke about it now that his hips are crushed.

    Wilford Brimley, Safecracker.

    Grandpa Ninja saves the day.

    You know you’re boring when you’re boring a Van Patten.

    “Let’s see a show of hands.”
    I lost my hand in a fish chopper.

    Oh no, not this again. I thought their jeep blew up.

    I’m Max Keller. I used to be able to walk.

    You plant your ninjas in the late fall.

    I’ll just be by the tree looking cute.

    And in an unrelated incident, a car pulled over today.

    Not Sybil Danning, but an incredible simulation.

    “I was just telling her the same thing.”
    Yeah, but in a sleazy, sexist way.

    I used to be Bond. James Bond. Now I’m in movies. Bad movies.

    I bet Holiday Inn has a policy on this stuff.

    Let Hostage House cater your next caper.

       2 likes

  25. snowdog says:

    One funny thing I noticed about the “movie” this time: during the brawl in the restaurant early in the film, we briefly see a young woman using a pay phone to order pizza, “half pepperoni, half mushroom”. That must have been one terrible restaurant! Either that, or the owner was denying service to a lot of people.

       3 likes

  26. cornjob2 says:

    (off the bat, i should say since i should have realized by now someone would have used the name “cornjob,” i’ll have to try to think of another name. however i am feeling totally lazy and considering just going with “cornjob2” for now… sorry, original cornjob!)

    the “master ninjas” are a guilty-pleasure favorite of mine, mainly for the cornball seventies TV shlock of it all. going off of memory for this one, but my favorite parts are tmp’s completely unnecessary, totally limp voice-overs, always along the lines of “you’d prob’ly think we were gonna have an ordinary day. not when you’re hangin’ out wit da mastah.”

    i crack up insanely every time when crow shows off the oh-so-very sensible interior design of his van… until they drop down the outside design done ALL ROBERT WILLIAMS-STYLE POPPIN’ WHEELIES WITH MY EYES BUGGIN’ OUT MAN WOOOOOOOO!

    and a sudden inspiration: so “master ninja” has “the master”… so does “manos”… i wonder if some goofy video mashup could be made of the two to make it appear tmp is actually co-starring in a TV show actually revolving around “manos.” every cutaway shot where lvc could appear, cut in some “manos” instead… would be a hoot!

    p.s. yeah, so i went with “cornjob2…” so sue me! (not you, cornjob, i hope heh!) all the common mst3k-related ones must be taken by now; think i’ll have to come up with something else later.

    p.p.s. re: “general tsao’s chicken” and #71’s elucidation on it, i think of what joel said from another episode recently featured: “oh it’s just part of the american way… turning a neighboring country rich in culture and beauty… into a goofy appetizer oops i think the mads are calling.”

       2 likes

  27. jaybird3rd says:

    Most people seem to prefer whichever “Master Ninja” episode they happen to see first, but although I saw them in order, I actually like this one better. As #72 says, the switch to an international terrorist story in the second episode second half of the movie keeps the whole thing from feeling too drawn out. I also like the two lead actresses in this episode, Crystal Bernard and Jennifer Runyon, more than the two in “Master Ninja I.”

    A few random observations and questions about this episode:

    * There’s a recurring riff that appears multiple times in the two “Master Ninja” movies that I’m curious about. Toward the beginning of the second episode of “Master Ninja I”, when Lee Van Cleef grabs hold of Soon Tek Oh (the bad ninja) in the dance club, Crow says “Isn’t everyone here really phony?” as they’re glaring at each other. In Master Ninja II”, that riff appears twice: Servo says it as Webster is approaching Lee Van Cleef in the restaurant (“Aren’t these people phony?”), and Crow says it again as George Lazenby walks up to Van Cleef at the garden party (“Isn’t everyone in here so phony?”). Is this just a funny line, or is it a reference to something specific?

    * For all the “washed-up star” jokes, it’s worth noting that several of the people in this “movie” actually went on to bigger and better things. We all know that Timothy Van Patten has had a highly successful directing career, but Crystal Bernard later became famous for her role in “Wings,” and at 82, David McCallum is still a household name thanks to his role in “NCIS.” George Lazenby has worked steadily as an actor since his stint as James Bond and has also been highly successful in other ventures, and his net worth is reportedly higher than any of the other Bond actors except Sean Connery himself.

    * Speaking of Lazenby, it’s somewhat interesting that Lazenby, McCallum, and Michael Sloan all worked together a year earlier in the TV movie “The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair.”

    * Could FVI have put any less effort into their crummy credit sequences? I was curious about where the negative footage in the opening credits came from, so I took some screenshots and reversed the colors. It’s too fuzzy to know for sure, but it almost looks as if it came from an old karate instructional video.

    * I’m impressed by the sharp writing in this episode. They came up with three perfect riffs for three identical shots of the green display panel supposedly in Lazenby’s car, and they do a good job of seizing upon odd little moments (like the weird bucket of chicken in the second episode) and maing running jokes out of them. I also love it when J&TB “get in touch with their feminine side” and come up with catty remarks about someone’s looks: when David McCallum is talking to the poofy-haired terrorist leader with suspiciously dark roots, he says “I’ll get you what you need …”, and Servo quietly says “Peroxide. Lots of it.”

    * So, where did Max suddenly come up with the airplane that he uses to rescue Alicia at the beginning of the second episode? Does he keep it in his van alongside his motorcycle?

    * I’ve never seen anything with Monte Markham in it before, and if J&TB hadn’t identified him, I would have sworn that he was Richard Crenna. Even their voices are uncannily similar.

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  28. littleaimishboy says:

    * There’s a recurring riff

    Crow says “Isn’t everyone here really phony?” as they’re glaring at each other.In Master Ninja II”, that riff appears twice: Servo says it as Webster is approaching Lee Van Cleef in the restaurant (“Aren’t these people phony?”), and Crow says it again as George Lazenby walks up to Van Cleef at the garden party (“Isn’t everyone in here so phony?”).Is this just a funny line, or is it a reference to something specific?

    It’s a stereotypical 1980s swingin’ singles pickup line, that’s all.

       3 likes

  29. jaybird3rd says:

    littleaimishboy: It’s a stereotypical 1980s swingin’ singles pickup line, that’s all.

    Ah, thanks. I guess I’ve lived a sheltered life. :laugh:

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  30. thequietman says:

    And so we bid farewell to Season three. I don’t know, besides the somewhat mediocre host segments (except the ‘Patton’ sketch, of course) I still liked this one. Again, the cheesy 80s action was bad enough to be funny, but not “painful” like ‘Fu Manchu’ was.

    “Wings” would have been on the air by this time, right? Because I don’t think there were any references to it during the cut-rate “Norma Rae” segement (or any references to “Norma Rae” itself for that matter, come to think of it) but I caught several references to Delta Burke and/or “Designing Women”.

    Fave riff:
    [In the cannery] Servo: The weird thing is this is actually a Chrysler factory!

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  31. DirtyTerry says:

    @76 “cornjob2: Electric Boogaloo”.

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  32. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    Recurring riff “So, you live around much?” seems to be a combination of two pickup lines, “Do you live around here?” and “Do you come here often?”

    When I come across lists of pickup lines, I find it hard to believe that some of them have ever been effective; it’s hard to tell which ones are intended “seriously” and which ones as jokes.

    When I was but a child, characters in TV shows (prime time-wise, I watched mostly comedies) would sometimes go out to try to “pick up women” (which is probably where I first heard the term “pickup line”). Since their efforts always ended “comedically” and unsuccessfully, I never really moved past that to wonder what they were in fact trying to accomplish (as a child, when something on TV didn’t make sense to me, I just waited for a part that DID make sense to me; as we all know, children will watch *anything*). It wasn’t until years later that the dime finally dropped: They were trying to find random women to have sex with! Right there on TV! As if that was actually something that people in real life…did!

    So, I too led a sheltered life. ;-)

    As I got older, IIRC the only TV character who was *obviously* picking up random women to have sex with (on a show that I watched) was Dan Fielding on “Night Court,” and he was an utter sleaze and proud of it, so I then received the impression that it was something only sleazy people did. I got over that, though.

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  33. Cornjob says:

    Comedian Steven Wright is the first person I heard say, “Do you live around here often?”

    Re Cornjob 2. I think there’s been another Cornjob beside me already. As long as we don’t have the same avatar I don’t think anyone will get confused. I didn’t create the name and I’m not possessive of it. And how could there be too much Cornjob. People could think of us as Original Cornjob and New Cornjob. Peace.

       3 likes

  34. DirtyTerry says:

    cornjob2: Judgement Day, cornjob2: Die Harder, cornjob2: The Quickening, cornjob2: The Road Warrior, cornjob2: Back in the Habit, cornjob2: The Wrath of Khan, cornjob2:Freddy’s Revenge, cornjob2: The Two Towers…

       4 likes

  35. Cornjob says:

    Where does the, “putting on a dashiki and blowing your mind” reference come from?

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  36. Dan in WI says:

    The cornjob naming controversy reminds me of a classic bit from Spinal Tap. (I’m paraphrasing from memory.) Our band name was The Orginals. Then we found out there was already a band with that name. So we changed our name to the New Orginals. Later the Originals disbanded and we considered changing our name back to the Originals but then thought what’s the point?

       1 likes

  37. Sitting Duck says:

    Some of you may recall my mention of Ninja Slayer in the first Master Ninja discussion. For those who find the description of, “if Terry Gilliam tried his hand at anime,” intriguing, here’s a snippet.

    And now for the educational potion of this discussion. Some of you might think the attempt in the first half to get evidence about the murder would be futile. After all, they’re obtaining it illegally. So wouldn’t that make it inadmissible in court? Actually no. In the 1921 Supreme Court case Burdeau v. McDowell, a 7-2 decision determined that the legality of how evidence was obtained only matters if an agent of the government does it. Should a private individual on their own initiative break into your place and swipe evidence of your misdeeds and hand them over to the police, it can be used against you. Of course that person can still be tried for breaking and entering. But if said evidence puts you on Death Row, that’ll be a very cold comfort.

       3 likes

  38. new cornjob says:

    heh thanks cats and cornjob… “cornjob 2: the quickening” is tempting, but i like the spinal-tap vibe to “new cornjob,” if that’s not too annoying!

       1 likes

  39. Cornjob says:

    All hail the new Cornjob!!

       2 likes

  40. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    #87

    Your turn of phrase reminded me of the phrase “You may be interested to know” as used by Krankor and others. I don’t think they’ve ever used the obvious riff for that one:

    “Hm. No, actually, that doesn’t interest me at all.”

    ;-)

       1 likes

  41. tamlin says:

    Cornjob:
    Where does the, “putting on a dashiki and blowing your mind” reference come from?

    According to Annotated MST for The Leech woman:

    A reference to the 1970s blaxploitation film Ghetto Freaks, about a black man in New York City who seduces white women into being his love slaves. A line in the trailer intones, “A sweet funky black chick is all he wanted, but a freaked-out white chick in a dashiki blew his mind.”

       3 likes

  42. Lex says:

    “Hi, Peter Gabriel. Would you like some ‘Cream of Wheat?'”

    “No, I don’t want ‘Cream of Wheat!'”

    “Freeze!”

    What was Frank doing during his improve? That’s what I want to know. He’s stacking invisible things doing pantomime, then he’s drinking it.

    Somebody actually put some of the Master episodes up on You tube and I watched one they didn’t have on either of these ‘movies’. About what you would expect. Once again we get the blurry Film Venture International credit sequence that makes little sense. Anyone notice the Hollywood sign above the big secret mansion?

    Good episode. I like it a lot.

    “I thought we were having fun.”

       1 likes

  43. Sitting Duck says:

    @ #90: When you end up lying under the sagging bunk of your cellmate Tiny because an occidental Eighties ninja had broken into your place and Burdeau-ed you really good, you may find yourself regretting that dismissive attitude. ;-)

       0 likes

  44. JCC says:

    Yet another potential reason this show may have failed: All the heart attack mentions. Not a pleasant thing to have perpetually lurking in the background of your “fun” light action series. Luckily by the 90’s television stopped featuring old people in featured roles on their shows!

       0 likes

  45. Terry the Sensitive Knight says:

    Sampo said “did we really need more of this?” when discussing Fugitive Alien 2… well, that’s pretty much my sentiment towards Master Ninja 2

       0 likes

  46. Jason says:

    It’s funny how people have different opinions on episodes. I absolutely love Master Ninja I & II. My brother had been watching the show for a while and I hadn’t given the show a chance. I thought the idea was stupid. My brother lent me his tape and I watched these back to back and I was sold on the show. I’ve been watching since ’93 and have never looked back. I may be biased towards these two episodes because they got me hooked on the show, but they are still two of my favorite. “Oh, excellent Master Dipstick. That was 50,000 dollars worth of merchandise, LEE!!”

       1 likes

  47. mnenoch says:

    Another one of my favorite episodes. The Master Ninja episodes are just the perfect mix of stupid, dumb, and lighthearted fare that I can see get riffed over and over. Crow’s Patton segment is one my absolute favorites in the whole series. Trace is really gifted all around.

       1 likes

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