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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: 601- Girls Town

Movie: (1959) A teen bombshell is sent to a Catholic reform school after she’s framed for a murder.

First shown: 7/16/94
Opening: Preparing for Dr. F.’s big announcement
Intro: Dr. F. unveils the Umbilicus
Host segment 1: Tom “scats” until Mike and Crow have had enough
Host segment 2: Mike explains the “honor system”
Host segment 3: Designing the woman of the future
End: M&TB make good use of the Umbilicus
Stinger: “You tell that boy to go home right now, or I’ll call the police!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (105 votes, average: 4.72 out of 5)


Off we go on season six!
• The stretch between the end of season 5 and the beginning of season 6 was 161 days, the seventh-longest amount of time MSTies had to wait between episodes.
• For me, this is one of those episodes where the movie, and riffing of the movie, are great fun, but the host segments…meh. Nothing really catches fire. Of course, the big news in this episode was the introduction of Umbilicus — the physical link between Deep 13 and the SOL — with its umbuliport, umbilipod and other umbili-named things that would come later, which was connected to Gypsy, until it wasn’t. The science of the thing is, of course, crazy (and how does he eat and breathe?) but who cares? The Brains said the idea was to create a way for more interaction between the SOL and Deep 13, and that it certainly did, though I don’t really think it got off to an auspicious start with the pie gag.
• This episode is not yet on home video.
References One they missed is the reference to the mostly-forgotten TV show “Father Dowling Mysteries.” They also missed “We’re all bozos on this bus,” a Firesign Theatre reference (and one of the first since Joel’s departure).
• There’s a ladies’ room on the SOL?
• The Power Steves are Mary Jo, Paul and writer David Sussman in, I believe, his only appearance on the show. Sussman joined the writing staff for some season four episodes, worked on a lot of season five (including helping to write some of the songs) and the first five episodes of season six, before he dropped off the credits. He remains something of a mystery. If anybody knows David, please let him know we’re trying to find him for an interview. And David, if you’re out there, email us.
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers: desk calendar, beaker, bulletin board, film canister.
• This episode may have the most Bill Clinton jokes of any show they did, largely because that one guy sort of looked like him.
• Each of the host segments just kind of lays there for me. Segment 1 (“Tom scats”) is pretty much a one-joke bit that goes on too long even though they hurry through it. Segment 2 (“the honor system”) is cute, but we can see the punchline coming down Broadway, and the payoff is nothing special. Segment 3 is just weird.
• As the differs return from segment 2, Mike has to help an engorged Tom Servo into his seat.
• Annoying commercial: My copy is from the ’94 Turkey Day, and featured bumpers featuring Mamie and Adam West. It also features that incredibly irritating (apparently homemade) commercial for a CD featuring comedian Jackie “the Joke Man” Martling.
• Callbacks: “Shut up, Iris!”(Beatniks) “No ,Lupita!” (Santa Claus) “Radar!” (Radar Secret Service) “He’d never touch you, Terry, you’re dirt,” (Teenage Crime Wave) and ”Who’s gonna make, Daddy-O”
• I love Tom’s “..and then he died” bit during Kitten’s confession.
• Cast and crew roundup: Producer Albert Zugsmith also produced the movie in the next episode, “Invasion USA.” John L. Russell was his cinematographer for both movies, and he also worked on “The Indestructible Man.” Makeup guy William Tuttle also worked on “The Painted Hills.” In front of the camera, Mamie, of course, is also in “Untamed Youth.” Dick Contino, of course, is also in “Daddy-O.” Peter Leeds is also in “High School Big Shot.” Gloria Talbott is also in “The Leech Woman.”
• CreditsWatch: New season, several changes: Mike Dodge joins the writing staff (he would stay for the entire season). Tim Scott joins the writing staff (he would stay for five episodes). Contributing writer Colleen Henjum-Williams becomes Colleen Williams. Host segments directed by Trace Beaulieu. Audio guy Brad Keeley and technical supervisor Tim Scott switch jobs. Production coordinator Ellen McDonough becomes Ellen McDonough Thomas. The post of assistant editor (held by Brad) is gone and now both Brad and Tim are editors. Jann is alone in the position of post production coordinator (last season she shared it with Ellie, and they will share it again later in the season). Interns, for this and the next 11 episodes, are David J. Belmont, Shannon McNelly and Peter Ncolai.
• Fave riff: “Do you know ‘White Light, White Heat’?” Honorable mentions: “The last call shall be answered first…” and “We are knee-deep in a Freudian quagmire here!”

137 Replies to “Episode guide: 601- Girls Town”

  1. Blast Hardcheese says:

    Dan in WI:

    “I’ll give you three seconds to stop licking my face” is great, but Frank’s response–“Count slow”–knocks it completely out of the park. One of the all-time great Frank lines.


  2. Depressing Aunt says:

    Yeah, what up with Serafina at the end there? She practically had a psychotic break–wow, it would really help her mental health if she became a nun. Huh? Geez.

    So, teenage idols are always non-threatening boys I guess.


  3. Edward says:

    Servo saying, “Notorious for it’s shallow roots, the common cliff shrub gives easily to gentle pressure” as Chip is struggling on the cliff gets me every time.


  4. Ralph C. says:

    I’ve watched this episode many times since my January 4, 2009 comment. It always makes me laugh.

    I still like laughing.


  5. Captn Ross Hagen says:

    Mamie + Mitchells bottle of baby oil= WOW


  6. Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    Everyone has a first time….

    As I mentioned up at #72 (apparently back when I first started leaving comments on this site (i’ve been visiting this site since the late 90’s)) this was and is the first episode of MST that I ever saw. Take a moment with me, won’t you? I can’t say for sure if I saw the premiere of this one, but the date lines up (7/16/94), as I remember distinctly it was a summer night, and a weekend (the 16th was a Saturday..), and a friend of mine was staying over at my house. We were both 14, heading into what would be our freshman year in High School, both still very awkward and weird (as boys tend to be at that age) and we were just goofing off, flipping channels on the new satellite dish that my parents had recently bought, when the channel landed on Comedy Central, and there was this black and white movie with these “weirdos” making fun of it. My friend said he had seen this before, at someone else’s house, so we watched the rest of it and laughed our asses off. I can’t recall the exact point we entered the episode, but Tom started scatting and Mel Torme was onscreen and I lost it. After that I would sporadically look for the show and catch it when I could. Then a lightbulb went off and I said, “hey! I should be taping these!” The rest is history, and almost 20 years (!) later, I’m as big a fan as ever.

    So yeah, this one is a favorite, always makes me laugh and smile when I watch it. Plus, the movie is pretty watchable, it glides along smoothly (like velvet fog) and Mamie displays her goods at every opportunity (of course I liked this when I was 14!). The opening/closing with the Umbilicus is another great showcase for Frank (“Count slow”) and the Host Segments are pretty okay, #1 being a quick job, #2 being obvious and workman like, and #3 being the best, and as Blast Hardcheese (#99) mentioned above, it does remind me of Joel-era Host Segments, more witty and warm than punchline/gag driven. Crow and Servo postulating over the future of women…leads to this great line from Crow: “Huge eyelids! Big enough to roll up and hide in,” which is simultaneously hilarious, creepy, and speaks of Crow’s Freudian, deep seeded need to feel protected and be mothered. (Oh wait, he’s just a puppet… I should just relax…)


    Crow: “A weasel ripped my dress! RIZZZZ!!”

    Crow: “When did this director look into my dreams?”

    Mike: “Jude’s wearing a wire!”

    Crow: “I’m ODing on slang here!”

    Mike: “Mel insisted on doing his own stunts.”
    Servo: “First of many burgers today for Mel..”

    sisters dials phone,
    Crow (as voice on the other end): “Earl’s Town.”

    race scene, drivers have their hands in air,
    Servo: “Driving with their areas or something?”

    Servo: “Even when he’s dead he still gets fresh.”

    Sarafina sleeping on bed, w/ cross on wall,
    Crow ( in ‘Exorcist’ voice): “Get out! GET OUT!”

    Crow: “They’re on to us sister, let’s beat cheeks.” :laugh:

    Mel Torme gets beat up,
    Mike: “Please, that’s where my velvet fog emanates from.”

    Hard for me to not be biased, but…


    As for Season 6, it’s a mixed bag of episodes that I am very familiar with (Creeping Terror, Bloodlust, the Colman Francis trilogy, Zombie Nightmare, Angels Revenge,) ones that I’ve seen only occasionally (San Fran International, High School Big Shot), and some only once or twice (Colossus and Headhunters, Dead Talk Back, Amazing Transparent Man). There is one episode, #620 DANGER! DEATH RAY, that I used to have on video tape back in the day, but lost it somewhere, so I haven’t seen it in 15 years, which basically feels like I’ve never seen it. Having downloaded it last year, I am looking forward to getting to that one. (After that, there will be ONE episode of MST I’ve never seen: #909 Gorgo, which I’ll be saving for when the Episode Guide wraps around to it in late 2013).


  7. Season 6 is my favorite. It’s the season that celebrates diversity. (In movie genres.)


  8. Mel says:

    This was one of the very first MST3K episodes that I had seen, so it holds a special place in my heart. That said, I thought it had great riffing but the host segments weren’t very memorable. And how ridiculously wrong was it for the nuns to allow the object of Serafina’s stalking to come sing for her again, and IN PERSON?

    Favorite riffs:
    “Listen to me girls (Yeah?) Watch your P’s and Q’s (Uh Huh!)”
    Man: “I’ll never understand what my son saw in you.” *Mamie turns toward man* Crow: “Do THESE explain anything?”
    “Let me get rid of my nun and my teen idol.”
    “Paul Anka’s beefy security nuns step in.”
    “Coming into my room and seeing this young girl in a lace nighty…” Servo: “I did it my way!”
    “Tom Stewart killed me!”


  9. Strummergas says:

    I’ve always loved this episode. I used to have it on tape back in the day and would watch this one fairly often compared to the others in my collection. Having an iconic cast certainly helps as the Brains were always at their best when riffing on celebrites, even if they were B-List.

    I’m surprised there weren’t any Night Court jokes in the Mel Torme riffs. He used to be mentioned or make a cameo on that show quite a bit as he was Harry’s favorite singer. In fact, that was my first exposure to Mel. Thankfully, reruns of Night Court and Girls Town satisfy all of my Mel needs as I really don’t care for his music. Or Paul Anka’s for that matter. Totally Squaresville! The Platters are cool though.

    Speaking of satisfying needs, Mamie Van Doren….oh, never mind.

    Anyway, a great way to kick off Season 6, especially since I’m not too familiar with a lot of the experiments from this season. It’s nice to start it off with a favorite.

    4 stars!


  10. Dan in WI says:

    Strummergas #109
    “I’m surprised there weren’t any Night Court jokes in the Mel Torme riffs. He used to be mentioned or make a cameo on that show quite a bit as he was Harry’s favorite singer. In fact, that was my first exposure to Mel.”

    Good call. I can totally relate to this statement. I too would call this a missed riff opportunity. I suppose it is possible there were no Night Court fans among the Brains.


  11. 1 adam 12 says:

    I love this episode, if only for the incredible hotness of Mamie Van Doren. Oh, and the riffing is hilarious too. I still call Mel Torme “The Velvet Hog” to this very day (with him being deceased it doesn’t come up as often, but still). The best riff I can come up with off the top of my head: when the girls’ crazy aunt pokes her head out the window, Crow says, “How would you like it if somebody picked YOUR apples?!?!” far more maniacally than the tree in the Wizard of Oz ever did. Gets me every time…


  12. Gorn Captain says:

    The riff about Paul Anka fighting Nazis on the Moon still cracks me up. Kind of a prophetic riff, as someone actually made a movie about Moon Nazis recently…


  13. GarrettCRW says:

    Mamie is and was an under-tapped resource for the Brains. Smoking hot lady, but HOLY CRAP are her films cheesy.

    So, does Elinor Donohue have a stipulation in her contract that she must wear a head scarf? It’s utterly bizarre that she’d be wearing one on two wildly different productions.

    Another missed riffing opportunity revolves around Mel Torme’s son, Tracy, but other than creating Dixon Hill and writing “The Big Goodbye” for Star Trek: TNG, he wasn’t as well known as he would later be, so I’ll let it slide.


  14. Johnny's nonchalance says:

    rock the calypso meets ave maria

    I’m such a lonely boy… why does that not surprise me?



  15. Sitting Duck says:

    @ #29: Yes, you are reading too much into this. The Hayley Mills riff could have been alluding to her role in The Parent Trap.


  16. Ralph C. says:

    Update: I’ve watched this even many more times since my October 20, 2012 and it still makes me laugh.

    Even today, I still like laughing.

    Ralph C.:
    I’ve watched this episode many times since my January 4, 2009 comment.It always makes me laugh.

    I still like laughing.


  17. Atorgo says:

    I’m sure it’s been done, but Mel’s classic performance here made me want to read a Least Threatening Villains weekend thread. I believe he gets hit with a pie at one point? Not scary at all. The dorks from Kitten With A Whip would eat him alive.


  18. DarkGrandmaofDeath says:

    Ralph C.:
    Update:I’ve watched this even many more times since my October 20, 2012 and it still makes me laugh.

    Even today, I still like laughing.

    I believe what you’ve been saying for the past few years is that you love to laugh, loud and long and clear. And that’s a good thing – yay!


  19. thequietman says:

    Tonight on “Viper” (now there’s a dated reference…)

    Wow, where has this episode been all my life? I’d never seen it before tonight, and for me it was a terrific season opener. The host segments are all great, with only ‘woman of the future’ failing to get a laugh-out-loud moment from me.

    I do hope that with the recent release of other Time Warner-owned titles like “The Painted Hills” and “Untamed Youth” this one is on the short list for DVD release. I’m gonna be jonesing for it til then!

    Fave riffs:
    Fight choreography by Jimmy Finlayson.

    [Nun gets out of car]
    Servo: Sister, if you hear any shooting, just pull around the corner and get ready to gun it!

    Anka tells girl who’s crushing on him to consider him her brother
    Mike: We are knee-deep in a Freudian quagmire!


  20. Ralph C. says:

    Oh, you noticed my subtlety. :-)

    DarkGrandmaofDeath: I believe what you’ve been saying for the past few years is that you love to laugh, loud and long and clear.And that’s a good thing – yay!


  21. I ran across Paul Anka’s 2013 autobiography MY WAY last year and there are a few pages that discuss Girls Town, as well as a mention of MST3k.

    he seems good natured about it all, even if this is a slight overstatement:

    “These movies were so unbelievably corny and unrealistic, they’re now considered classics — camp classics! . . . . . Girls Town is in everyone’s Top Twenty episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. (By the way, they have quite a bit of fun at my expense!)”

    Ok, Girls Town is in MY Top 20, but I doubt its in everyone’s.
    ALSO, I found this QUITE interesting:

    “Did I have an affair with Mamie Van Doren? Can you call two and a half minutes an affair? I think I came before I walked in the door. I walked in with the ukulele to teach her a song. The next thing I know my pants are down, the ukulele is in my left hand.”

    :blush: :shock: :blush:


  22. Bruce Boxliker says:

    Look out! He’s going to Scat!


  23. Atorgo says:

    Girl’s Town is in my Top Twenty! My Top Ten even. I’m always down to watch this one again.


  24. Cornjob says:

    “I’m mental not stupid”.

    Great line.


  25. Ro-man says:

    I really really like this one… and have to admit, the presence of Mamie Van Doren’s, um… attributes… does not hurt the ep.

    Favorite riff:
    It’s the battle of the Laura Petries… (in MTM voice) “There can be only one…”
    ~ Kills me: sheer perfection, and I think, one of the better MST3K moments ever. Gulliver, I think you nailed something really deeply profound:

    Gulliver: I have a theory about the neuroscience of MST3K (no, really, stay with me here) and about why we enjoy this show so much. I think it calls on disparate sections if our brains to “fire” simultaneously, producing a pleasurable reaction not usually found in nature. The more disparate the connection the greater the neuronal pleasure. And it reaches it apotheosis in this episode. Take for example the moment where the two girls wearing Capri pants are fighting and M&TB remark that they look like dueling Laurie Petries: “There can be only onnnnne…” (in quavering, Mary Tyler Moore c. 1962 voice.) This quip demands that we simultaneously hold in our brains Mary Tyler Moore in the DICK VAN DYKE SHOW and … HIGHLANDER. Not concepts that are usually connected in our minds. A new neural connection is required, and the blazing of that new trail feels good inside our heads.

    Never thought about it in that way, but have to agree – that putting of disparate things together in such unexpectedly funny ways does really seem to be true of some of the best MST3K moments. Brilliant; you should write a book. Still… I don’t know much about neuroscience, but I know what I like. ;-)

    Other greats:

    The Bill Clinton “bimbo eruption” references — especially funny in today’s context: “Hey, Hillary who, baby?”

    “And its a lights-out cage baptism.”

    “I’m going to kill Eisenhower to prove my love for him!”

    It’s not a prison, Silver … “Its just the Catholic Church”

    Many of the girls a bitter when they first get here… “We break them”

    “Gigan… tooor” I’m just a little YOUNG for this one… not often I can say that… had to look it up. :-D

    If I had a sister, I’d want one just like you, with pretty black hair and big brown eyes… “…and a gut full of pills.”

    The Pee Wee Herman impression (when Silver’s sister is talking through her sobs)

    Saint Jude statue speaks… “Say, thanks for coming down tonight and supporting live liturgy…”

    Mother Veronica — “Now theres going to be some real ass kicking”

    Yeah, Paul was right about me, at least… certainly in my top 20. :-)


  26. trickymutha says:

    GF points out when we watched this last weekend- what?? Mel Torme doesn’t sing in this? What a rip.

    Still, we find it a 5star episode.


  27. Ro-man says:

    Watch-out-for-Snakes: Did I have an affair with Mamie Van Doren? Can you call two and a half minutes an affair? ….

    Eeewwwwwww…. :shock:


  28. littleaimishboy says:

    So, she didn’t call or anything afterwards?


  29. Cornjob says:

    If I ever run for office maybe I’ll use, “I’m mental, not stupid”, as a campaign slogan.


  30. Cornjob says:

    The latest Wolfenstein video game had some Nazis on the Moon.

    “How did they get there?
    Wheels of progress…”


  31. GornCaptain says:

    The latest Wolfenstein video game had some Nazis on the Moon.

    “How did they get there?
    Wheels of progress…”

    There was a computer game in the 80’s called Rocket Ranger that had Nazis on the Moon. I actually thought the riff was a sly reference to that first time I heard it.


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

    Is this the closest thing to a “Women In Prison” film that MST3K ever tackled? I mean, okay, “Teen-Age Crime Wave” had an actual scene of women (or rather girls) in prison, but it was only a few minutes long and in no way crucial to the plot.


  33. Sitting Duck says:

    @ #132: Untamed Youth took place in prison-like environs.


  34. Dihgdfj says:

    Way to go, Paul Anka! sorta.


  35. Dan in WI says:

    touches no one’s life, then leaves:
    Is this the closest thing to a “Women In Prison” film that MST3K ever tackled? I mean, okay, “Teen-Age Crime Wave” had an actual scene of women (or rather girls) in prison, but it was only a few minutes long and in no way crucial to the plot.

    Swamp Diamonds opened with women in prison before they escaped.


  36. James Hickson says:

    Callback I haven’t seen mentioned yet: “Tom Stewart killed me!” when we get a shot of the cliffs.
    Callback to Episode 414, Tormented.


  37. MSTie says:

    Watched this last night. Why, in the 1950s, were 30-somethings and 40-somethings so often cast as teenagers? Oh well. I enjoyed seeing Gloria Talbott (Vida, the judo girl), because I’m a fan of hers from 1955’s We’re No Angels, aka the best Christmas movie ever, which also stars Humphrey Bogart, Basil Rathbone, and Peter Ustinov.

    Favorite riff, paraphrased: St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes…. I used to be with the Mariners! (Fave baseball team, the Mariners, have MLB’s longest playoff appearance drought, so this riff from 1994 is even funnier now.)


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