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Sampo & Erhardt

Sci-Fi Archives


Visit our archives of the MST3K pages previously hosted by the Sci-Fi Channel's SCIFI.COM.

Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Episode Guide: 1103- The Time Travelers

Movie: (1964) A group of scientists create a portal that takes them to a barren, mutant-inhabited Earth.

Opening: J&tB are playing a game of “Never Did I Ever”
Invention exchange: Crow has Dr. Crow’s Old Edible Silica Packets; The Mads have the Afterlife Alert
Segment 1: Gypsy leads a time portal safety drill
Segment 2: Jonah introduces some new robots. Crow and Tom hogpile them
Segment 3: Dr. Varno and Larry visit on Rocket Number 9
Closing: The bots are delighted to have time travel dopplegangers; Kinga is seeking anniversary dollars
Stinger: Danny is diggin’ it.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (36 votes, average: 3.92 out of 5)

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• To me, it’s with this episode that everything seems to fall into place after a couple of episodes that were cute and clever and diverting but not really ha-ha funny. I laughed a lot during this one.
• Note that Max is wearing an amulet on a chain around his neck that looks like the one the little kid wore in the previous episode.
• This movie was made in an interesting era when the writers knew what lasers were, but the actors still didn’t know how to pronounce them.
• Tom pushing the rocket up is probably the best use so far of his flying abilities
• Callbacks: mention of an interociter (“This Island Earth”), “It stinks!” (Pod People).
• With Joel in segment 3 is show writer Elliott Kalan. A very funny guy but, this was not his best performance. More wry than funny, though Joel’s takes to the camera almost save it.
• An interesting tidbit: director Ib Melchior (who co-wrote the movie in episode 1101- REPTILICUS) came up with a comic book series, “Space Family Robinson,” which Melchior believed was the inspiration for “Lost in Space.” Considering that Joel took his character’s surname of Joel Robinson, it’s reasonable to think Ib might have had an influence (consciously or unconsciously) on MST3K’s first test subject’s name.
• This movie was produced by Samuel Z Arkoff, whose other riffed films include “I Was a Teenage Werewolf,” “The Amazing Colossal Man,” “Viking Women,” “War of The Colossal Beast,” “ She-Creature,” “Teenage Caveman,” “Terror from the Year 5000,” “It Conquered the World” and “Viking Women.”
• Cast and crew roundup: Merry Anders was in “Women of the Prehistoric Planet.” John Hoyt was in “Lost Continent.” Forrest Ackerman also appeared in a “Future War.” Steve Franken was in “Avalanche.” Makeup artist Marc Snegoff was also the makeup artist in “Agent of H.A.R.M” and “Catalina Caper” (which he also acted in). Script supervisor Hannah Sheel was also the script supervisor on “The Bat People.” Reynold Brown did the poster art for “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die,” “Teenage Cave Man,” “Viking Women,” “I Was A Teenage Werewolf, “Revenge of the Creature” and “This Island Earth.”
• Fave riff: “And which part of the human centipede do YOU want to be?” Honorable mention: “Bechdel test score: zero” and “I have a slinky and a Dilbert calendar.”

113 Replies to “Episode Guide: 1103- The Time Travelers”

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

    the great crowdini:

    I know this might sound a bit strange, but the underground society in this movie reminded me of a faction called The Institute from the 2015 video game Fallout 4.
    Shared similarities include:
    Forced underground due to nuclear attack.
    Repopulation within the small group of survivors.
    Synthetic beings being assembled for slavery purposes.
    A hatred/fear of surface survivors.
    And a fatherly type that serves as their leader, although that bare chest look is strictly a Varno thang!

    Have we reached the point where video games contain enough plot be riffed? (not that it really requires all that much, I suppose) I have no strong feelings about that one way or the other, I’m just not sure I ever realized that before. I did already know that video games have gotten so detailed that some of the fictional worlds within contain their own (meta)fictional TV shows, though, and that their “mythologies” have gotten complex enough that video game characters can fit into shared universes like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen* as easily as any literary, film, or TV character. I doubt that anyone envisioned that back in the early days of video games.

    Of course, even some songs contain distinct fictional characters, that’s been true from the start. Some even contain super-heroes and giant monsters. And I’m rambling. And I’ll stop. ;-)

    (except to note that super-hero films (where the heroes were created-for-film, like Pumaman, not Marvel or DC or the other usual suspects) is just one of many genres I’m hoping the new MST3K will tackle eventually)

    Regarding Varno’s look, well, remember, the leader sets the fashions, the leader can dress however he wants. At least he’s not an emperor with no clothes. ;-)

    “Varno” is oddly similar to “Varney” as in “Vampire” from the dime novels. I doubt that was intentional, though. If the MUTANTS had a leader named “Varno,” THAT I’d think might have been intentional.

    ===
    *”What MSTed film characters would you include in your own League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?” That’s a potential topic for some occasion or another. :-)

       1 likes

  2. Loran Alan Davis:
    One of my favorites from season 11, though I really wish Joel had left in the surreal time-loop sequence at the end of the film. By the way, it’s not mentioned in Sampo’s remarks (as of this writing), but Steve Franken was also in Stranded in Space.

    majorjoe23: It’s in the cast and crew roundup.

    I just checked again. The cast roundup mentions Franken was in Avalance, but not Stranded In Space.

       1 likes

  3. Sitting Duck says:

    touches no one’s life, then leaves: *”What MSTed film characters would you include in your own League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?” That’s a potential topic for some occasion or another. :-)

    We have done something similar.

    http://www.mst3kinfo.com/?p=20239

       2 likes

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

    Speaking of travelers, and of time, I realized that there’s a fourth Crow co-existing with Crow and his two time-travel doppelgangers because during the timespan between Season Seven and the year 2525, Crow was mostly all by himself in the Satellite of Love at the end of the universe. I suppose that version of the Satellite is also teeming with Servo duplicates unless they departed in the interim and Tom simply made some new ones upon return from the edge of the universe.

    Tom, Mike, Gypsy, Cambot, and Magic Voice are all “presently” still pure energy roaming the universe. If the show ever needs a literal deus ex machina , one of the above (although not Mike) could manifest on Earth and it’ll literally be “I’m the god! I’m the god!” time.

    I am relaxed. I can think about stuff like this while simultaneously being relaxed. ;-)

       2 likes

  5. • An interesting tidbit: director Ib Melchior (who co-wrote the movie in episode 1101- REPTILICUS) came up with a comic book series, “Space Family Robinson,” which Melchior believed was the inspiration for “Lost in Space.” Considering that Joel took his character’s surname of Joel Robinson, it’s reasonable to think Ib might have had an influence (consciously or unconsciously) on MST3K’s first test subject’s name.

    60’s boomer TV? Yyyyeah, pretty sure Hodgson was going for the Lost in Space reference with or without Ib. Call it a hunch.

       1 likes

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

    Random Thought That Occurred to Me:

    How did Joel get onto the Satellite of Love in the first place? It’s easy enough to guess WHY the Mads didn’t like him (they resented the fact that a janitor — “He’s a Janitor! A Janitor!” — was (I suspect) smarter than either of them or maybe both of them put together), but did they lure him into it, did they force him into it, or did they just take advantage of him already being in there cleaning it?

    Not an important question by any means, but that’s never stopped anyone around here (including me) before. ;-)

    An even les important thought: Has there been any fan art depicting the Satellite’s control center or whatever BEFORE Joel extracted those “special parts”? What was the original function of Crow’s beak, Servo’s head, Gypsy’s eye, “and the rest” (I’m not sure if Joel built Cambot or if Cambot was already there because, well, without him, how would the Mads be able to monitor Joel in the first place)? It could be kind of like Where’s Waldo? except it would be Where Are the PIECES of the Bots?

       3 likes

  7. GizmonicTemp:
    “Time Travelers” is a Tuesday night movie that involves post-dinner coffee and goatee-stroking, keeping my brain alive for Wednesday.

    I’m with GizmonicTemp. Not that this is a bad episode, it’s that it’s almost a good movie. Danny was a bit too much of a goof, the Simon concert lasted too long, Dr. von Steiner was a bit too stereotypically Austrian, but all in all it’s relatively bearable.

       1 likes

  8. Episode three of the new guys and things are moving along nicely. This is another strong episode, however I think I like it less than the two previous experiments. As a movie, THE TIME TRAVELERS is a little bit dry for me, even with all the truly impressive (and weird) special effects on display, the goofiness with Danny is what sort of kills it. Jonah and the bots do a great job, though, keeping this one alive.

    The Opening with the “never did I ever” game has the bots razzing Jonah on being alive. Love Crow’s dig of “never did I ever have to confront my own mortality!”

    In the Invention Exchange, the idea is pretty funny, and those edible silicon packets look tasty.

    Host Segment #1 has the time portal safety demo, what I love is that Crow punches Jonah, twice!
    HS#2 begins our bots constant battle with new bots, even if Fixy, Slappy, and Qwozy(?) aren’t even real robots. Anyone know what toy they were all made of?
    HS#3 is pretty funny with Varno and Larry showing up and asking “do you cats like to party?” Joel is especially funny as the silent Larry.

    Happy 200th episode MST3K!

    RIFFS:

    Gypsy: “Rip Torn is Doctor Strange!”

    Crow: “Oh they’re watching Heavy Metal Parking Lot, yeah!”

    Crow: “Is Danny waiting for a tip? Just give him a dollar so he can go.”

    Crow: “Do I get paid overtime for traveling over time?”

    Jonah: “Pistachios anyone?”

    Servo: “I’m getting a Grey Gardens vibe off this woman.”

    Crow: “He’s like if Rutger Hauer had a baby with Susan Powter.”

    Crow: “Just checking to make sure all the androids are caucasian.”

    Jonah: “And which part of The Human Centipede do you want to be?”

    Jonah: “Danny doesn’t care.”

    Jonah: “Ya know Woody Allen stole this bit for Sleeper.”

    Jonah: “Not a lot of options at this key party, Carol.”
    Servo: “I know.”

    Crow: “Ok, enough with the glissandos, Joanna Newsom.”

    Crow: “It stinks!”

    Servo: “I’m out of herrreeeee.” ——obscure reference to a sketch from MTV’s The State, used to love that show!

    Crow: “Then we can free up some of this equipment to grow marijuana.”

    Crow: “It’s jazz, baby!”

    Servo: “Sooooooo. . . Panera?”

    Jonah: “Guess what, there was a fly in the chamber too!”

    Jonah: “He turned into a bong, man.”

    Crow: “Wait, did the movie just lap itself?”


    In the first Host Segment, Crow slaps Jonah twice and in the Closing he slaps himself a bunch (“Why am I hitting myself?!”). This new Crow is a violent.

    This is a really good episode, I was gonna give a 3/5 rating based on not being as good as the previous two,
    but honestly the episode is really funny even when the movie is kind of a drag, so I give it 4 out of 5 android heads.

    HAPPY 200TH EPISODE MST3K!!!

       2 likes

  9. Speedy B. says:

    I feel like the writers of “The Time Travelers” wrote themselves into a corner with the ending, as unique as it is.

       0 likes

  10. Johnny Drama says:

    Pemmican: they never cut for time in the original series!

    Pretty sure they did, other wise how did we end up with uniform 37 and 32 minute episodes back in the day?

       0 likes

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

    I found it ever so faintly odd that the guys started with the condescending riffs on Danny almost immediately. Just because he’s not a scientist, that doesn’t automatically mean he’s stupid, y’know. Danny kind of plays the same role in the film that Rembrandt Brown originally played in “Sliders,” caught up in something that has nothing to do with him sheerly because of proximity. If the scientists hadn’t been paying so little attention to Danny’s initial observations on the portal (“Not now, Danny.”), they probably could have prevented him from venturing out through the portal and thus brought the film to a complete stop at the first plot point. So it goes.

    Actor Steve Franken appeared in lots of stuff, mostly TV — even in “Rat Patrol” like that one guy in Code Name Diamond Head — but near as I can tell, the closest thing he had to a “major” role was as the recurring Chatsworth Osborne, Jr. on “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” and if there were Dobie riffs in the episode, well, I might easily have not recognized them as such, anyway. I remember him as Cousin Henry from “Bewitched” even though that was the only time he played that role (I had the vague impression that it had been recurring but ’twas not), although he played several different roles throughout the show’s seasons.

    Johnny Drama:
    This is the third episode in a row with a reference to the show “Lost.” I wonder who on the writing staff kept putting those in?

    I wouldn’t necessarily presume it’s the same writer again and again. The CC incarnation probably had “Wizard of Oz” riffs in three episodes or more in a row — or “It’s a Wonderful Life” riffs or Tolkien riffs or “Dr. Strangelove” riffs or… — but I doubt that such riffs could always be attributed to the same writer every time. “Lost” is a major historic TV…thing; in a few decades, it’ll be every bit as “immortal/old school” as the other cited material are.

    Mr. Sack: Agreed.I always wonder why, when Comedy Central was demanding a shorter version of MST3K to fit into their evolving time schedule, they didn’t consider just doing “short” episodes where all they do is riff shorts.Seems like it would work…which might have given leverage for CC to continue messing with Best Brains and their formula.If so, good on them for resisting.But now, an all-shorts episode would be most appreciated.

    I don’t think full-length episodes of nothing but shorts would’ve held an audience quite as well. There’d be nothing to “ground” the episode, they’d just be flitting from mood to mood to mood to mood, like Saturday Night Live or Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Wouldn’t have had the same tone at all. IMHO.

    Nahtmmm:
    This episode contains the first substantial verbal flub I’ve noticed, as Jonah trips over his w’s and r’s in one of the host segments.

    Oh, “substantial,” what’s “substantial” in this context? People flub like that in day-to-day conversation all the time. I think moments like that make the characters more “real.” :-)

    IMDB’s Time Travelers entry offers this “trivia”:

    “When the scientists discover that the future humans are travelling to Alpha Centauri, one scientist responds “25 thousand billion miles!” Alpha Centauri is about 4.37 light-years from our solar system, a little over 25 trillion miles.”

    Uh, 25 thousand billion miles and 25 trillion miles are the exact same thing. In contrast, “trivia” and “statement of the flippin’ obvious” are entirely different concepts. IMDB…I don’t get you.

    Alpha Centauri has of course been mentioned in any number of films and TV shows, although I’m not sure if any riffs acknowledged such references. It’s probably best known from Star Trek re “Zefram Cochrane of Alpha Centauri” (it was later established that Cochrane was an Earth-human, so Alpha Centauri must have been where he retired to and subsequently vanished from). When history was changed in the STDS9 two-parter “Past Tense” so that the Federation never existed, the Romulans and not the Federation had control of the Alpha Centauri system, which led me to wonder if control of Alpha Centauri might have been pivotal to the Earth-Romulan Wars that preceded The Original Series. On a tangent, I for some reason doubt that the notion of Earth having a prolonged state of war with an alien race without actually having any idea what said alien race even looked like would go over well today. Hm.

    “Mad is the crew bound for Alpha Centauri, dreamers and poets and clowns…”

       1 likes

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

    touches no one’s life, then leaves:

    Tom, Mike, Gypsy, Cambot, and Magic Voice are all “presently” still pure energy roaming the universe. If the show ever needs a literal deus ex machina , one of the above (although not Mike)

    ‘Cause, see, unlike the robots, Mike is not a “machina.” It belatedly occurred to me that perhaps that was unclear. Perhaps.

       1 likes

  13. Johnny Drama says:

    “I wouldn’t necessarily presume it’s the same writer again and again. The CC incarnation probably had “Wizard of Oz” riffs in three episodes or more in a row — or “It’s a Wonderful Life” riffs or Tolkien riffs or “Dr. Strangelove” riffs or… — but I doubt that such riffs could always be attributed to the same writer every time. “Lost” is a major historic TV…thing; in a few decades, it’ll be every bit as “immortal/old school” as the other cited material are.”

    I figured everyone had forgotten about Lost, hence my surprise.
    And the Wizard of Oz refs go deeper than that. There’s a Beatles or Oz ref in virtually every ep, season 11 included. Makes for a fun game to play while watching.

       1 likes

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