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Episode guide: 612- The Starfighters

Movie: (1964) An air force pilot is eager to learn to fly the F-104 jet, and that means mid-air refueling.

First shown: 10/29/94
Opening: Crow tries to log onto the information super-highway
Intro: The Mads have cranial ports; but M&tB have Cowboy Mike’s barbecue sauce and it’s bold!
Host segment 1: While he and Tom reenact the refueling scene, Crow misses a call
Host segment 2: The bots “debrief” Mike
Host segment 3: The United Servo Academy Men’s Chorus performs
End: Crow finally logs onto the information super-highway, Mike reads a letter, the Mads are sharing their thoughts
Stinger: Lady elbows hubby
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (201 votes, average: 4.40 out of 5)


• This episode is especially near and dear to me. The movie is JUST. SO. BAD. The riffing is great, considering how little they had to work with, and the host segments are silly and endearing.
• This episode is included in The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 12
• Ah, 1994, the year that most people discovered the “online” world, and we began to hear a certain automotive metaphor. By the way, Al Gore didn’t invent the Internet, but he did coin the phrase “information superhighway.”
A personal story: In 1994 I was working for an electronics retailing trade magazine, and one of the big stories of that year was that some electronics retailers (anybody remember Circuit City?) were just starting to carry computers, though nobody (including my boss!) could really say why, exactly, a consumer would want one. And keep in mind that modems were often not standard equipment on many of the computers that were coming to market at that time. Having been online (mostly on Prodigy and AOL) for a couple of years at that point, I tried to explain that “going online” was going to be the killer app for these things. He had no idea what I was talking about and refused to let me do a story about it. He was fired a few months later.
• A quick whois lookup shows that one John Bresee in Park City, Utah, owns the domain No word if there is a “” address working.
• In the comments, several experts explained the “looking for uart at fx1050” prompt–essentially it’s saying that there’s a hardware/software conflict, probably involving the modem.
• I love how Crow starts dancing slightly to the hold music as he waits.
• That’s Kevin as the first tech support voice. The next voice is Jim, I think, then the live voice is Paul.
• “It’s bold!!” became an immediate catchphrase.
• I sometimes note especially “naughty” riffs, but it would be impossible to do for this episode. There are dozens during the refueling scenes. My favorite is: “I think he has whiskey jet.”
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers: datebook, beaker, film canister.
• I once showed this episode to my brother, who was an Air Force pilot. He hated it.
• There was much discussion in online MSTie forums about Crow and Tom, ahem, “refueling.”
• There’s an extreme closeup on the phone at one point, and, based on the spray paint flecks on it, I assume it’s been laying around in the prop room.
• Notable theater moment: Mike and Servo get up and dance.
• Those bouncing bombs looked strange to me but several commenters explained that with low-level bombing you need time to get away and the bouncing is designed to give the pilot that.
• Art riff: “Christo’s latest installa-[boom]…well, good.”
• Random riff: Crow just blurts out: “I hope they blow up Blossom.” (Glad they didn’t.)
• Callbacks: “Shut up Iris.” (The Beatniks), “People seemed to laugh more then:”(Stranded in Space), “Eegah” and “Watch out for snakes!” (Eegah).
• Then-current reference: Tailhook. Honorable mention: “Marilu Henner is replacing Vicky!”
• The topic of corn de-tassling also got a lot of discussion in the forums.
• Segment 2 is great, and I know that many female fans of Mike enjoyed the notion of him being debriefed (tighty whitey alert!)
• Servo does something they rarely do on the show–he takes note of the reel change alert in the corner of the screen and comments on it.
• As if the previous great segments weren’t enough, in segment 3 we are treated to a performance by the United Servo Academy chorus. Kevin wrote both the music and lyrics and I assume spent hours overdubbing himself into four-part harmony. The commenters explained that Mike is imitating Bill McGlaughlin from the local classical music radio show “St. Paul Sunday.”
• Somebody once dissected the lyrics of the song, indicating where every line was stolen from. This has links to almost all them. By the way, if you’d like to hear/see a very nice live version of the song, check out this now-legendary moment from the first JoCo Cruise.
• One of the few Cheech and Chong references comes as Tom Servo imitates Sister Mary Elephant.
• As soon as the character on screen says “poopie suit,” that’s it. Off Tom and Crow go on a long string of scatology, and there’s no stopping them. Mike’s Joel-esque pleas for them to stop fall on deaf ears.
• The “Boogers” incident actually happened, according to the ACEG.
• There is no cast/crew roundup. Nobody involved in this movie worked on any other MSTed movie.
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Jim Mallon. For interns David J. Belmont, Shannon McNeely and Peter Nicolai, this was the final episode they worked on.
• Fave riff: “You know, it’s all kind of dull until you remember how sharp those wings are.” Honorable mention: “Found him! He was under a pile of blankets in my room.”

159 comments to Episode guide: 612- The Starfighters

  • 151
    Angie Schultz says:

    Why was the father so upset at his son?

    I read something a few months ago and thought, “Oh, that’s what all that folderol in Starfighters was about!” A bomber pilot is the boss of the plane, which includes several other men. A fighter pilot is only the boss of himself (unless he gets to be squadron leader). Businesses looked more favorably on former bomber pilots, rather than fighter pilots, for executive positions because they’d had executive experience already. So in Witkowski, Sr.’s mind it’s probably: obligatory military experience, business executive experience, stint in Congress…and, dare we say it?…the White House!


  • 152
    ASimPerson says:

    The funny thing about Senator Dad is that, as it turns out, the F-104 was actually kind of unsafe, even for a fighter jet capable of flying at Mach 2.


  • 153
    Fred Burroughs says:

    I caught this episode as part of a Turkey-day marathon; my tape had run out, and I abandoned the family to run down and check what was happening on the MST marathon. I turned on the TV and…refueling. I watched for a few minutes, profoundly confused. I had never seen more nothing on the screen; I thought, maybe MST has switched over to watching discarded B-roll from other movies…but no, that’s the actual movie. I tuned in later to see the poopie suits, a refreshing breath of freshingly fresh air.

    I, too, am still convinced this was bankrolled by the AF as a training/recruitment film. It is kind of amazing how deftly the editing was handled to avoid any tension or drama, even though several dangerous events happen in the movie. At the time, lite jazz was fun and a little edgy and worked great in some soundtracks (like the legendary Charlie Brown Christmas); not so much here, especially in hindsight, it not only seems horribly dated, but hugely inappropriate music for fighter jets and bombing runs. (Thanks to Top Gun, we now expect canned 80s metal music over our jets, thank you.) Am I wrong, or did M&TB sing the “baaaaa-bababaah” music over shots of jet planes in several episodes PRIOR to Starfighters being shown? Even in season 5? Or am I imagining that?

    The most disturbing scene has to be the double date with the greasy married couple in the convertible(“Wasn’t he caucasian?”), and the wayyyyy too close-ups of the pawing and groping and face mashing by Bob Dornan and his date. She was cute, but I cant eat after seeing them let loose in a Ford.


  • 154
    Strummergas says:

    This episode is “decidedly UN-bold”. A typical 2-parter in that I can’t make it through in just one sitting. The host segments are fantastic and the riffing is good for what they have to work with, but man, I can’t agree with all the positive reviews for this episode. I like when the movies suck, but I like it even better when they suck AND stuff actually happens. I doubt I’ll come back to this one unless I watch all the episodes in order again.


  • 155
    JohnnyRyde says:

    Count me in with the “loved it” crowd.

    The movie is so absolutely bizarre that I can’t help but love the episode. The biggest action is a rain storm… off-screen.

    They set up Bob Congressmanson as the good pilot who avoids the rain. They also set up married guy and the bad pilot who does the wrong thing. And then forget to do anything with that. There’s no punishment, reward, redemption. Nothing. Apart from the characters having the same names throughout the movie, not one scene has any impact on any scene that comes before it or after it. It’s just amazing.


  • 156
    KidFlash25 says:

    Definitely one of my all-timers.

    Showed a friend the Cowboy Mike’s bit just as we were walking into a Quaker Steak location a few weeks ago. It was perfect.


  • 157
    thedumpster says:

    Does anyone know the name of the song or the group who sings during the re-fueling sequence?


  • 158

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  • 159
    LD says:

    The turtle called Gamera is approaching the base. -Crow