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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: 603- The Dead Talk Back (with short: ‘The Selling Wizard’)

Short: (1954) An industrial number showcasing the attributes of grocery store refrigeration units, with the help of shapely model.
Movie: (1957) A paranormal researcher claims he has invented a device that will permit communication with the dead. Oh, it’s true.

First shown: 7/30/94
Opening: Gypsy calls a fire drill
Intro: Dr. F. tries pin-point cigarette marketing on Mike
Host segment 1: Crow’s radio talk show: “The Dead Talk Back”
Host segment 2: M&tB are “The Dead”
Host segment 3: Dr. F. tries his hand at interrogation and Frank quickly cracks; meanwhile, the guitar solo continues
End: Crow is still playing, Tom is acting up, Gypsy starts another fire drill, Mike reads a letter, Dr. F. practices his crossbow skills
Stinger: Woman screams after seeing dead body
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (243 votes, average: 4.43 out of 5)


• This is a weird episode, featuring an odd short and even odder movie. It’s fun, but not a favorite of mine.
• This episode was included on Rhino’s Vol. 8.
• Though clearly made in the ’50s, the movie was never released until it was discovered and purchased by a low-budget video company in the 1990s.
• I wonder if the fire drill segment led to the later fire safety PSA that they did.
• It’s the “umbilicon” again in this episode.
• The short is a bit of departure. This is what is known as an “industrial,” quite a different animal from the mental hygiene shorts they’d mostly done up until now. I’m not sure it always works for MST3K, as in this case. This may be my least favorite short MST3K ever did.
• Callback: “Plenty of lip and tongue action” (from the speech short). Frank says “I killed that fat barkeep” (The Beatniks)
• Spaghetti ball bumpers: beaker, film canister, book.
• Then-current reference: “James Farentino visits Tina Sinatra.” Farentino was charged with stalking his former girlfriend, Tina Sinatra, in 1993.
• “Oh, its true!” became a frequent callback in many future episodes.
• Segment 1 features the voice of Trace, one of the few times he ever did a “guest spot” on the show.
• Say what you want, Churchill was right about the Bills.
• The Rhino release of this episode had some encoding problems and was reissued.
• I was never much of a deadhead. I liked ’em, but a little guitar jamming goes a long way for me. Gypsy seems pretty natural as one, though.
• The closeup on Crow’s guitar gives us a close look at the stick that controls Gypsy’s jaw.
• Later in segment 2, Mike is folding Crow’s sensible slacks. He really DID get a lot of wear out of them!
• I had a nice Twitter DM back and forth with Andy LaCasse, who performed the “cheesy guitar solo.”
LaCasse said: “The director [that would have been Jim, he directed the host segments for that episode] kept laughing out loud and asking me if I could make it more grating and irritating. I said I could, and I did!”
He also recalls: “I brought my 1-year-old daughter, Kayla, with me to the studio. The writers whisked her away for a while. Later, the video guys [that would have been Brad and Tim] let her play with the controls on the video editing machine. The scene had already been shot, so I followed Crow’s hands as he played.”
On the technical side, he notes: “I played a cheap copy of a Fender Stratocaster with EMG pickups through a Big Jam Spit Wah pedal straight into the MST3K video editor.”
“My daughter had a great time and the writers adored her,” he concluded. “I had a blast! Definitely a career highlight for me. It’s still on my résumé.”
• Crow is still wearing his Grateful Dead costume when he reenters the theater. Mike removes it.
• No cast and crew roundup this week. Similar to “Teenage Strangler,” this appears to have been a cast that largely never did anything else.
• Creditswatch: Host segments directed by Jim Mallon. Sarah Wisner does Post Production Coordination with Ellen McDonough for two episodes, instead of Jann Johnson. This is the last of three episodes where Tim Scott gets an audio mixing credit. This is the first of five episodes where Brad Keely gets a lighting credit. This is the last time we see Director of Operations Jeffrey P. Young in the credits. (He lasted all of three episodes and I would LOVE to heard THAT backstage story.) “Cosmic Freight Train” written and arranged by: Michael J. Nelson, Paul Chaplin and David Sussman.
• Fave riff from the short: “But don’t put your tongue on it!” Honorable mention: “Wow, that was close. She was mad!”
• Fave riff from the movie: “Well! I’m going home for lunch.” Honorable mention: “…than springtime are you, sir.”

157 Replies to “Episode guide: 603- The Dead Talk Back (with short: ‘The Selling Wizard’)”

  1. I'm not a medium, I'm a petite says:

    again, MY signature episode: the source of my handle.
    Love the short and love the film.


  2. bad wolf says:

    “The Dead talk back” reminds me of old post-EC, post-code Horror comic stories, where they weren’t allowed to show ‘real’ magic or undead. I think DC’s Dr. Thirteen comes from this period.


  3. sol-survivor says:

    If I were the Pizza Dominatrix I would have been quite insulted when the narrator says she has “capacity”. It makes it sound like she had junk in her trunk. Or maybe I’m just sensitive.

    I only live a couple hours from Alpine Valley, and I went there once back in the 70s. I did smell a certain substance, but it wasn’t because I was watching The Dead. I was actually watching a symphony. Really.


  4. Mr. B(ob) says:

    Looking at my comments at #15 above from 2009 my opinion of this one hasn’t changed much since then. When I watched it on DVD after Rhino released it I found it to just be okay fun, but nothing remarkable. I thought the short was more fun than the movie. I still like it better than episodes like Kitten With A Whip because unlike that one the movie itself doesn’t bother or annoy me, The Dead Talk Back engages the viewer so little that it’s just kind of there for MST3K to hang their jokes on it. Remarkable that films like this got and still get made and even more remarkable that it got released around 40 years after production thanks to home video. Luckily I didn’t find this one in video bargain bins like I did some others before they were done on MST3K such as Indestructible Man or Sword And The Dragon, those movies are kind of fun on their own. If I had bought this one even in a VHS bargain bin for say $1 to $5 I would have found it to be disappointing because it’s not bad enough to be really funny, it’s just dull and bad. It really says something about the quality of MST3K that they could make this film entertaining in any way at all.


  5. schippers says:

    I like this movie a lot. Oh, it’s true.

    I especially like how M&tB gradually sync their voices with Krasker’s as he’s doing his opening…shpiel. Brilliant.


  6. Dan in WI says:

    Atomic Warble #96> This comment got me thinking: The Krasker character was (likely unknowingly) refined and found some sucess as the Shawn Spencer character from Psych.


  7. Cheapskate Crow says:

    @86 Spector: I totally agree that this movie had a likable terribleness to it. Krasker’s opening monologue reminded me of the opening monologue of Plan 9 From Outer Space but it went on about 3 times longer. I am surprised this was never released, I got the impression from other MST movies that there was absolutely no limit to how bad a movie could be to stop it from being released. I would rather watch this unriffed than many other MST movies.

    I hadn’t seen this one since the original airing and found it to be more entertaining than I remembered, I may go back to it sooner than 18 years from now. The riffing was good overall and the movie was weird enough that it was quite watchable for me. I knew people like Gypsy’s Deadhead in college too, it was all done very accurately and it’s always good to see Crow’s sensible pants again. Favorite lines I haven’t seen listed yet:

    Movie: “The capacity to meet your individual needs.”
    Servo: “What if I need love?”

    “NC-17, 50s style”


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

    According to the IMDB and Wikipedia, Aldo “Krasker” Farnese later worked as a local children’s TV show host with his very own set of (I’m *guessing*) wisecracking puppets, local to Pennsylvania and Massachusetts just as MST3K was originally local to Minnesota:

    Oh, it’s true…


  9. ck says:

    The Selling Wizard was no Mr. B Natural, but
    also was less scary. Btw, this could be the type
    of film the 1950s supermarket Mad Men watched after
    a three martini lunch.
    “Oh, yeah. I’m gonna get that freezer. Does
    the chick come with it?”


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

    #109: Well, THAT put me in mind of “Women in Refrigerators”…


  11. Sitting Duck says:

    Overall, it felt like they took an episode of Inner Sanctum, excised the stuff that makes Inner Sanctum episodes enjoyable, and fill the empty spaces with padding (though they sure didn’t use love).

    That plaid vest the Selling Wizard wears is a real eyesore.

    Was there a purpose for the presence of the bongo players, perhaps explained by an edited scene?

    In the shot of the SOL, it looks as if the Umbilicus/Umbilicon goes down to South America.

    When they reenter the theater after HS #2, Crow is still wearing his wig, but not his beard.

    Loved the bit in the end credits where it noted who was responsible for the cheesy guitar solo.

    @ #6: Well there’s no one alive who has actually heard Lincoln speak, and he died before audio recording equipment was invented. So he could have sounded like that.

    Favorite Riffs:

    “I don’t think I’ll ever become callous to murder.”
    Now where’s the stiff?

    “Henry, I’ve known you a long time.”
    Not kneeing you in the groin is a constant struggle.

    Friar Tuck’s been fingered.

    Another senseless drive-by filming.

    Can we get back to our bleak, meaningless lives?

    “And I also knew he was something of a showman.”
    This was clearly an off-night.

    Sam, I said no witchcraft.


  12. big61al says:

    I love this episode. A rare hidden gem found years after it was made.


  13. Depressing Aunt says:

    My favorite little moment here is when the cop is sitting at the desk, covers his mouth briefly with his hand, and Tom does the little sobbing noises. It doesn’t last long, and that’s the charm. It’s totally ludicrous.


  14. Blast Hardcheese says:

    I can’t quite get why people don’t like either the short or the movie–this is exactly the kind of ham-handed cheesiness (yes, I know I worked both ham and cheese in there–I’m writing this around lunchtime) that the show thrives on. Watching “The Selling Wizard” without the commentary would be slow torture–I’m trying to imagine frozen food execs having to sit through it in one their many charcoal-grey suits; I’ll bet none of them got as excited about freezers as Tom does.

    As for the movie itself–it’s actually not a bad story, but it’s sure hampered by the fact that no one in the movie can act his or her way out of a paper bag. Even the woman playing Renee–who may hold some kind of record for Longest Proportion of Screen Time Spent in One’s Underwear–was supposed to be a hard-nosed, greedy bitch, but ends up almost sympathetic. The guy playing the religious fanatic comes across like a community theatre reject, and everyone else just ov-er-e-nun-ci-a-ted to the point where they made Shatner look like Olivier. The riffing is pretty good, too–no real dead zones I can remember, and lots of goofy characters (including kids!) for them to work with. The only thing that’s disappointing to me are the host segments: Crow’s guitar solo is great, of course, as is Gypsy’s Deadhead impression, but everything else just seems…I dunno…underwhelmed. The Radio Show bit wasn’t nearly as funny as it could have been, and the idea of being “The Dead” is an incredibly lame joke, rescued by Crow’s never-ending solo, which just gets funnier as it continues even into the end credits. Not a favourite episode for me, but better than average.


  15. Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    This is a rare instance (the only?) of an episode where the short AND the feature are both zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..

    This one does nothing for me, the short is shrug worthy, the movie is bland and grey, the Host Segments are limp (Frank cracking under interrogation in HS#3 being the lone moment of smiles), and the Grateful Dead impression, while accurate, bothers me greatly, because the Dead (and all jam-bands) bother me greatly.



    Mike: “The selling revolution will not be televised!”

    movie: “impulse buys like ice cream..”
    Servo: “..or smack.”


    Crow: “PETE TOWNSEND!”

    Crow: “Thank God you’re here officers, they came in and just started doing that!” –(about the bongo players)

    Mike: “Stop, in the name of Eddie Deezen!”

    It’s sad when one of the most memorable things about this episode is the appearance of Crow’s brown dress slacks in HS#2..

    Season 6 is a uneven season, with many highs and many lows.
    This is a low…..2/5


  16. trickymutha says:

    I love this episode, and, the short. One night my girl friend and I were having a discussion on whether or not one can communicate with those who have departed this life (her aunt has just passed after a long illness, and, GF had a dream they were talking)- I put this one in the player, and we laughed for the entire episode (Renee now has 5 minutes to live)…also, how many MST episodes are there with crossbows? My goodness- season six seems to be full of them.HUZZAH


  17. MSTie says:

    @115 — “This is a rare instance (the only?) of an episode where the short AND the feature are both zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..”

    Well, I’m mildly happy that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I found both incredibly boring and unable to be saved by the riffs. I doubt I’ll ever watch either one again by choice. No knocks to anyone who likes the short and/or the feature; wish I did!


  18. bobhoncho says:

    Fave riff from the short: “Ah, better plug in de car!”

    Fave riff from the movie: (After the explanation of a metaphysician) “So, he’s not a lot of help at an accident scene!”


  19. Bobby 23-Skidoo says:

    The short is really tough to get through. I’d rather watch the season 1 serials instead. Maybe I’ll be in the mood to give it a chance again, but when I’m in the mood for this episode, I head right for the movie. Is it wrong to hate the call-in sketch because I’m a perpetually-miserable Bills fan, knowing the team will never win enough to make the playoffs, and never lose enough to get a really high draft pick?

    Fave riff: “That was Interrogation in D”


  20. Eric says:

    I genuinely liked the short- even without the riffing. It’s one of those boy-the-world-was-a-really-different-place-back-then type of shorts. Can you imagine anheuser busch running something like that now?

    And the hand painted ice cream box art with dry brush technique… They just don’t make’em like that any more.

    I actually kind of like the movie too. It was just so goofy. The lead was in the so awul he’s entertaining category.The movie had a really competent student film vibe about it. Like if the director had a bigger budget and some better actors and maybe a few more pictures under his belt, he might be able to make a decent movie…. :)


  21. Alex says:

    I think this is the one where they joked about different kinds of Vanilla Ice Cream. Crow does his never-ending Dead solo and the Pizza Dominatrix is mad. I remember the short, but not the movie.


  22. Fred Burroughs says:

    Very tough combination of the short about nothing and the dull incompetent movie. Still, the Brains seized on the aspects that make them entertaining: the short really tries to make freezers sound exciting; and the movie has all the lame characters. But whoo what a stink. It was filmed almost entirely in that one location, the living room of that stupid house, and sometimes the porch or the basement of the same house; ouch. My favorite riffs are the ones about the policemen’s office (“No…I still can’t go, sir”) with its bathroom or broom closet suite. Nice map though. I’m going to have to give this one another chance, for its ahem ‘charm.’

    The thing that bugs me about short is the girl. She’s an obvious bit of cheesecake, but I find her more creepy than attractive. She never speaks, but when spoken to, she shakes her head in a kind of convulsion, like she’s a dachshund waiting to be let outside to pee. I feel bad for her, like she’s manic or abused; I got it when crow gets worried: ‘I think she’s really mad!” In this twisted red world of giant freezers, other freezers, and faceless industry silhouette men, the smooth voice-over is really the authority and the ‘selling wizard’ girl is his pet.


  23. jjb3k says:

    I still consider this one to be an underrated episode. Yeah, the movie never does anything, but the riffing still makes me laugh.

    As an industrial short, “The Selling Wizard” is kind of different for the show, but I still dig it. It’s like riffing on a really long commercial. Plus, the silent and mysterious Pizza Dominatrix gives the guys plenty to work with. “Forget the ice cream, I’ll be right back!”

    The movie is like “Law and Order” 33 years before the fact, only nowhere near as interesting. But it does have Krasker, that one weird character who the guys can latch onto and just mine endless amounts of riffs from. I get a lot of use out of the riff “You know, not kneeing you in the groin is a constant struggle for me.”

    What’s the point of the bongo players, exactly? “I’d ask ’em to leave, but they’d think I was racist!”

    “A Child’s Introduction to Jazz” gets stuck in my head from time to time. “Toot-te-toot-toot…”

    I’m still not a Grateful Dead fan, and frankly, I’m okay with that. But I still love Crow’s meandering guitar solo, as well as Servo’s “Oh, thank God!” when movie sign happens.

    It’s an obvious joke, but when one of the cops tests out the crossbow and Servo goes “AAARGH!” as if he just shot a guy offscreen, I laugh every time. :D

    Frank’s breakdown in segment three is a thing of beauty. “I shot J.R.! I killed that fat barkeep! I ate all the Frusen Gladje, and you know what – I’m glad I did it! GLAD!”

    “I can’t hear it clearly…”
    “That’s because it’s A RAZORBLADE IN A GLASS!!!”

    Crow’s Bill Cosby impression as Krasker lights his cigar is a delight. “And m’wife…came downstairs…her face…was split!

    “Big deal, my stools float” gets quoted a lot. Though I’m personally a bigger fan of “Thank you, The Dead.” And hey, say what you will about Krasker, but he did crack the case.

    “The Eno?” :D


  24. jjk says:

    Was the point of The Selling Wizard to go out and buy a hot girl to put in your freezer or was I missing something? I think that might be illegal in some states.


  25. JeremyR says:

    I love this episode. The short is kind of dull, but the model is quite hot. so can’t complain too much.

    This is one of the few Mike era skits that I love (I guess because Pearl isn’t involved). That Grateful Dead bit cracks me up.


  26. Manny Sanguillen says:

    The devil!
    Thats where I know you from!

    (Favorite line & riff)

    “Uh, the dead, can you turn your radio down?”



  27. Cornjob says:

    This episode is working with very dull material, but like Monster A-Go-Go it’s grown on me a bit. It also features what is probably my favorite appearance of Frank and Dr. F during the interrogation host segment. I always have to watch it twice. Once to watch Frank’s brilliant meltdown, then a second to watch Dr. F’s expressions. This might be Trace’s best work on the show.

    There is so much so absurdly wrong with the “scientists” leftover 19th century spiritualism literally wrapped in tin foil I could write an essay about it. Let’s say it worked: how could you determine that the voice on your radio came from the after world? How could you know the identity of the dead person? It could be John Wilkes Booth yanking your chain. And do dead people just float around in Limbo waiting for someone to call? Aaaaahhhh (visualize dismissive hand waving gesture)


  28. erasmus hall says:

    Watched last night-this is one fine episode.
    Joe Friday type interrogations drifting off to
    Krankor(?!)the scientist,the policeman/narrator
    the suspicious German,the crazy preacher,the grandma
    who provides food and sheltar to them all..
    Thank God noone ever paid $ to view this
    as a second feature in a movie house!


  29. Stefanie says:

    This is one of my family’s favorites. Crow looks like a Muppet in his Jerry Hair.

    I had a story in HIGHLIGHTS!!


  30. GRL says:

    Some thoughts about the film:

    1.) Have any details of the production ever emerged? The messiness in the opening (the dueling narrators, the brief shot of incomprehensible action) strikes me as suggesting that, before the decision came not to release, that the Krasker monologue (at the least) was a last-second add-on.

    2.) From what I could piece together from the Los Angeles Times, Gould does seem to have been something of the Krasker character in real life (the mixture of spiritualism and electronic tinkering). He also appears to have, indeed, been dead by the time this episode aired.

    3.) We get some interesting shots of 1950s LA in this- anyone know where they are or what it looks like now?


  31. bad wolf says:

    Holy cow, according to imdb Aldo Farnese passed on July 28, 1994 and this episode was first shown… July 30, 1994.


  32. eegah says:

    I’m not aware of a DVD re-issue of this episode. I sure would like to get my hands on one, if this is actually true. I really hate the glitches on mine and have regretted throwing my VHS copy in the trash when I bought the boxed set.


  33. Big McLargeHuge says:

    #131, so the dead really did talk back after all!


  34. TJ Truffleberry says:

    Although my favorite episode changes often, this one is certainly in the running, and I actually kind of dislike the Grateful Dead segment(s), which would normally tend to disqualify an episode for me. I just find Krasker’s raw animal magnetism so compelling.


  35. Torgo's Pizza says:

    The whole Nelson Cigarettes sketch remains one of my all-time favorites, from Frank’s sleepy, bored delivery of the tagline (“NelsonCigarettesforthespiritofNelsoninsideallofus.”) to Crow’s insistence that Mike really oughta consider taking up smoking (“Fine, smoking is bad and there’s no other side to it. That’s real open-minded, Mike.” or “Hey, you can get a Nelson waterbed with just 20,000 proofs of purchase!”).


  36. dakotaboy says:

    Problems with the Selling Wizard cabinet (the name of the actual product is never mentioned in the short):

    1. Stock rotation. The cabinet is designed for several layers of product to stack on top of each other. The items on the bottom loyer could be crushed by the weight of the items above. Additionally, customers would naturally select items from the top row. Employees would then restock the unit by placing new stock on top. Therefore, the items on the bottom rows would never sell, leading to freezer burn and spoiling. The manager could instruct his employees to rotate the stock, but they would probably ignore him anyway.

    2. Large glass surface could easily scratch and break. Imagine a kid sitting on top of the unit while mom shops. How many kids do you think this unit supports?

    3. Fluorescent lighting tends to make the product appear flat and lifeless, although it does beat the only other option available at the time – incandescent lighting. Also, the lights are not easily accessible for replacement if one burns out. If it were made today, LED lighting would be used.

    4. Forced-air refrigeration is not without its disadvantages. The main one I see here is that fan. It may work well when the unit is brand new, but with use dirt and debris would build up, causing the fan to generate a persistent, irritating noise. Servicing the unit would be a expensive, as a repair technician would need to take the entire cabinet apart just to reach the malfunctioning fan.

    5. Cleaning the inside of this unit would require an employee to first remove all product from the display case, a time-consuming and bothersome task.

    As you may have already guessed, I worked in retail for too many years.

    Why was Anheuser-Busch in the commercial freezer business, anyway?


  37. Satoris McGreggor says:

    I really like this one. A good go-to late night episide. Strange movie that’s at least watchable. Btw, a look at Myron Natwick (the killer) on imdb shows he was an is quite a busy actor. Lots of good riffs here. Underrated.


  38. Sitting Duck says:

    The Dead Talk Back passes the Bechdel Test. Oh, it’s true! Renee and Hope briefly talk about the former’s minimal social life and employment prospects. Also the photo studio clerk and her customer talk about how the latter’s picture turned out.

    For those having trouble making it out, the firefighter helmets Crow and Tom wear say S.O.L.F.D. I can’t read the smaller print, though.

    That had to be the blandest of the Jam Handy shorts they featured on the show. It’s so unmemorable that it doesn’t even get mentioned in the Ballyhoo documentary about Jam Handy.

    Lt. Lewis’ narration sure was full of irrelevant minutiae.

    Actually IIRC the VW Beetle has rather poor fuel efficiency for a vehicle its size due to its non-aerodynamic shape.

    bad wolf #131: Holy cow, according to imdb Aldo Farnese passed on July 28, 1994 and this episode was first shown… July 30, 1994.

    Weird! That’s what it is. Weird!

    Favorite riffs

    This balance of power keeps ice cream in check.

    “Every cabinet designed with your needs in mind.”
    But I need a stove.

    Tonight’s episode, The Dead Go Fishing. With special guest star Robert Culp.

    And Creepy AAA is there.

    “The problem with communicating with the departed…”
    Is that they’re dead.

    Fourteen minutes to live. Wonder if I can get a pizza in that time?

    “At 9:30 P.M., Renee Caldwell was dead.”
    Now on to my next case.

    “I don’t think I’ll ever get callous to murder.”
    Now where’s the stiff?

    “Henry, I’ve known you a long time.”
    You know, not kneeing you in the groin is a constant struggle.

    Another brutal interrogation scene peters out.

    “Why I have known of mediums who have died as a result of the shock.”
    Well, live and learn.

    Can we get back to our bleak, meaningless lives?

    “And I also knew he was something of a showman.”
    This was clearly an off-night.


  39. DarkGrandmaofDeath says:

    I still find this a strong, funny episode with decent host segments and short, and an amazingly odd little movie. There are soooo many spot-on riffs that make it worth re-watching, with some of my favorites during the séance:

    “Don’t rot away, Renee!” (An earworm riff!)

    “We were all surprised when the rosetta iron beeped.”

    “He caught her in a tryst with Aleister Crowley.”


  40. DarkGrandmaofDeath says:

    (Darn, wrap-up/trapping the murderer scene, not séance…)


  41. franknforcer says:

    THis is one of my desert island episodes. I adore this ep and it’s not because I like the GRateful Dead-I don’t. The short is entertaining but the movie is so freaking all over the place with riffs a plenty.

    Two narrators, a lead detective doing the worst Joe Friday I’ve ever seen, and nobody actually talked to the dead.

    It’s fantastic.


  42. Ian L. says:

    I love how the synopsis begins in the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide: “Dumb.”

    Crow jamming like Jerry Garcia is one of my all-time favorite bits in the show.


  43. Ned Raggett says:

    Really do love this film, it’s so engagingly stupid. Nobody *quite* seems like they belong there, which is kinda perfect. I could almost believe that was either Farnese’s or Gould’s actual boarding house they lived in. (As someone mentioned above, the lack of detail about this film’s creation is a bit frustrating — I’d love to know a story or two, including why it never came out.)

    Crow’s solo could never stop AFAIC. I’m willing to believe he’s still playing it somewhere.

    #130: We get some interesting shots of 1950s LA in this- anyone know where they are or what it looks like now?

    Pretty much in Hollywood as it was from what I could tell given the hills in some background shots during ‘the chase’ scene as such, though LA being LA who knows how far they roamed. That one deli — think it’s just called Benny’s — the two cops go get lunch at has to be a real place from one time at least. I like how the main cop is just talking about things in the insert shot and then does that “beNNY! CHECK!” out of nowhere, like he’s trying to put some weird swing on it.


  44. [The Original] Stan McSerr, Destroyer of worlds says:

    dakotaboy (136), you are making the Selling Wizard angry. :-D. But to all fairness, she is cute when she is angry.


  45. I’m a longtime Deadhead from way back, and that “Cosmic Freight Train” bit is one of my all-time favorite host segments. I caught the tour every time they came to town from the late ’70s up ’til the summer Garcia died, and I’ve actually met chicks like Gypsy in the parking lot: “…and then, the moon came out, and it was like Jerry willed it!”

    I’ve also been to some shows where they played sets like the one Gypsy describes in that bit.

    As far as this episode itself, it’s long been one of my go-to episodes for when I’m in the mood for some MST3K, but can’t make up my mind on an episode — not unlike those times when I’m in the mood for some Dead, but can’t make up my mind which show I want to listen to.

    Deep 13’s invention in this one is especially deviously brilliant — “pinpoint marketing”, attempting to sell custom-branded cigs to Nelson, “…For The Rugged Individual Trapped In Space”. Priceless.

    Selling Wizard is one of those shorts that took a long, long time to grow in me; for the longest time, I’d use that nine minutes to run down to the kitchen to make a sandwich and grab a beer. Still, one night recently, Servo’s superb Ed McMahon imitation — “…and remember to buy Ed McMahon’s Budweiser Ice Cream! HI-YOOOOOOOO!” totally busted me up, and I’ve enjoyed Selling Wizard ever since.

    The movie itself, however, is one of my instant favorites — it’s just so dark, dry, weird and stupid. Heavy on the stupid. Yet another movie that violates truth-in-labeling principles, in which we never, ever, really get to see Krasker actually talk to the dead. The closest he comes is staging that fake seance to provoke a confession from the radio DJ guy. Bah!


  46. EricJ says:

    [The Original] Stan McSerr, Destroyer of worlds:
    dakotaboy (136), you are making the Selling Wizard angry. .But to all fairness, she is cute when she is angry.

    Well, she is that. :)

    Ned Raggett:
    Crow’s solo could never stop AFAIC.I’m willing to believe he’s still playing it somewhere.

    For me, it plays more like the big problem of Season 6: M&tB didn’t know how to write host segments that actually scene-specifically had to do with picking at the movie’s faults, so for an almost unbroken string of S6 episodes, we get one mildly tangentially related joke, followed by the attempt to KEEP IT GOING for the entire episode, so they don’t have to tell another one.

    If it was some actual poke at the movie, like Nuveena’s non-stop dancing in the last S5 episode, that might seem like some extra twist of the knife, but if it’s some desperate pun at the title that doesn’t particularly require noticing what’s happening onscreen, and they flog that to within an inch of its life, it starts to become like Groucho Marx’s joke when Chico wouldn’t stop playing the same piano riff over and over: Hey, if you get near a punchline, play it.

    Two narrators, a lead detective doing the worst Joe Friday I’ve ever seen, and nobody actually talked to the dead.

    Of all of the Mike era’s attempt to make Instant Cellar-Dweller Nerds out of any protagonist they didn’t like, NO ONE–not even Winky–truly merited and deserved the badge of pathetic self-delusion that our Kermit-voiced scientist truly earned.
    I’m under the impression the real-life character (assuming this is “based on a true story”) may have produced the movie to show how cool his idea was, and it still didn’t actually work as such.
    Like other posters have noted, this guy just deserves to be in the same boarding house.


  47. Atorgo says:

    Winky was The Joel Era.


  48. Ray Dunakin says:

    My two cents:

    The short is a tough one… much too long, with mostly a narrator rattling off technical specs of freezers, leaving very little for the riffers to work with. Still, they did manage to get in a few good riffs, my favorite being, “The pizza dominatrix!”

    The movie also incredibly dull, but just stupid and goofy enough to provide plenty of good riffs. Krasker actually stands out as the most entertaining part of the movie, but not necessarily in the manner that was intended. To me it was funny how the filmmaker tried to hint at a backstory of Krasker previously helping the cops solve cases, despite the fact he came across as a basement-dwelling loser.

    Host segments:

    I didn’t care for the fire drill, it seemed boring and pointless. My favorite was the radio show, with great figures from history calling and all they want to do is talk sports. (And not even doing much talking at that… “I’ll hang up and listen”!) I also enjoyed the endless guitar solo gag. Dr. F’s interrogation and Frank cracking, was good but not great.


  49. Satoris McGreggor says:

    [The Original] Stan McSerr, Destroyer of worlds:
    dakotaboy (136), you are making the Selling Wizard angry. .But to all fairness, she is cute when she is angry.

    She was cute. Always reminded me of a somewhat racy Judy Garland. I hope she had a better ending….


  50. thequietman says:

    The Eno?

    No disrespect for those who really enjoy this episode, but the only (and I mean only) thing I remembered about this episode was Crow’s Ed Wynn riff when the detectives go to Wynn’s Photo Studio. I didn’t even remember that this had been released on DVD.

    That being said, I did enjoy it once it got going. I’d almost want to compare the feature to “Monster A-Go-Go” or ‘The Creeping Terror’ with narration that seems like it’s there to cover up the fact that not enough footage was shot before the budget ran out.

    As for the short, here’ my fave riff, with Mike’s giddiness putting it over: There’s over THREE kinds of vanilla!


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