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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: 614- San Francisco International

Movie: (1970) Series pilot in which the administrators of a large metropolitan airport must deal with several crises and problems.

First shown: 11/19/94
Opening: Tom and Crow have a political debate on politics
Intro: The Mads are construction workers, M&TB do the old board routine
Host segment 1: It’s Urkel! Hahahahaha!
Host segment 2: It’s still Urkel! Hahahahaha!
Host segment 3: More Urkel hilarity until Torgo has his say
End: Comments on the movie, Tom and Mike read letters, Dr. F.’s ears
Stinger: “My job, my way.”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (179 votes, average: 4.41 out of 5)


• Ah, the TV pilot: they usually have great riffablilty and the riffing really clicks here. And that’s good because the Urkel host segments are, for me, a long walk to not much of a payoff. As for the other segments, I do like the political debate at the beginning, and Trace and Frank are hilarious as the shirtless contractors, but the ever-increasing ears bit at the end doesn’t do much for me either (though whoever created the ears deserves kudos).
• This episode is not currently available on DVD.
• Callbacks: “Shut up Iris.” (The Beatniks) “o/` Laaaa-da-da-daaaa o/` (The Starfighters), “Megaweapon!” (Warrior of the Lost World)
• Perhaps the ultimate “then-current reference:” This ep was made in the heyday, such as it was, of Jaleel White’s rein of terror as wacky neighbor Steve Urkel on TV’s “Family Matters.” He really did loom large on the cultural landscape at that point, and the segments really do take you through the stages of feelings most people had toward him. But topicality has its dangers and this is a classic example.
• Clu Gulagher was the only cast member from the pilot to be asked back when the show went to series. It started airing in 1970 in rotation on NBC’s “Four-in-One.” (The other three series were “McCloud,” “Night Gallery” and “The Psychiatrist”). Pernell Roberts, as was noted by the riffers, was replaced by Lloyd Bridges, and new characters were added. It only ran three episodes.
• Celebrity dirt: Robert Sorrells, who plays the big-eared thug who kidnaps David Hartman’s wife, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in 2005. On the afternoon of July 24, 2004, he shot and killed one guy and wounded another guy in a Los Angeles bar where he had been kicked out earlier. Sorrells had reportedly been depressed over the death of his mother and his dog. He was sentenced to 32 years to life, and as far as I know he’s still behind bars.
• Great repeating bit: the kitty noises Crow makes every time somebody jabs a knife into a bag.
• Non-spaghetti-ball bumpers: Beaker, date book, bulletin board.
• Cast and crew roundup: Costume guy Charles Waldo also worked on “Riding with Death.” Makeup guy Bud Westmore did a bunch of MSTed movies, including “This Island Earth,” “Revenge of the Creature,” “The Leech Woman.” “The Mole People,” “The Deadly Mantis” and “The Thing That Couldn’t Die.” Set designer John McCarthy also worked on “Radar Men from the Moon” and “Kitten With a Whip.”
In front of the camera, Clu Gulagher was also in “Master Ninja I.” Van Johnson was in “Superdome.” Walter Brooke was also in “Space Travelers,” and “Bloodlust.” Jim B. Smith was also in “Mitchell.” Frank Gerstle was also in “Atomic Brain.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Kevin Murphy. One Tim Paulson, who had worked as an editor for a total of 15 episodes in seasons two and three, returns to the editing booth for the remainder of the season. For the record, that’s Mary Jo as Jan in the Pan, Paul as Huggy Bear, Patrick as Rooster, Bridget as Nuveena (though the credits said “herself”), Kevin as Santa, Paul as Pitch and Mike as Torgo.
• Fave riff: “The answer, my friend, is blow it out your ass.” Honorable mention: “You know, Tab Hunter was Troy Donahue at one point.” “If only I had some thread — oh wow!”

124 comments to Episode guide: 614- San Francisco International

  • 101
    Gorn Captain says:

    And now Jaleel White hosts a game show about people screaming while they touch things in the dark on the SyFy Channel. Wink


  • 102
    Mitchell "Rowsdower" Beardsley says:

    robot rump! #95

    What can I say, I just don’t, and never did from the day they aired, dig most of Season 6. It’s not always the movies they did, (outside of perhaps Coleman Francis and Starfighters/Skydivers), it’s just the vibe of the show. The host segments, for me, were mostly bad, whereas previously when they left the theater I’d be excited to see what would happen. They just seemed like they needed to get through the season, so they slogged through it. Just my opinion.

    I was trying to remain positive by citing how impressed and happily surprised I was with Season 8 on Sci Fi. By far my favorite Mike season. Yeah, I agree, Season’s 9 and 10 had some clunkers too. But they also had some classics.

    Having said all that, I do like Angels’ Revenge, Girls’ Town and Danger: Death Ray.

    I love MST3K more than anyone I’ve ever met, but every show has a low point, and Season 6 is it, without a doubt, for me. That’s all.


  • 103
    JCC says:

    An addendum to my original post in #53 – While I do think it was hilarious the first 100 times I saw it, I now skip over the Urkel sketches. I don’t think they’re bad, I’m just burnt out on them. Urkel needed skewering in his heyday and I’m glad MST provided it, even though it hasn’t quite aged well.

    Every season of the show is the same for me though – some great episodes and some episodes I don’t like as much but are still better than about 90% of televised comedy.


  • 104
    casterberus says:

    “WOOOO!!! Rush albums!!!”

    I LOVE this episode in all its muddy, cruddy, coffee-stained glory.

    I think the whole 70s tv movie genre brought out some of their best riffing, and the Davey stuff slays me EVERY time.


  • 105
    Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    This was maybe the third time I’ve watched this episode, and it’s grown on me considerably. The Urkel Host Segments are very very weak indeed (Torgo sums it up nicely), but the opening political debate segment works for me. The riffing is strong over what is a very boring (TV) movie, if you give into the drab, actionlessness of the whole thing, it really is quite enjoyable.

    Seems some commenters don’t really dig Season 6. I disagree. While not my favorite (that’d be Season 4), Season 6 still has many great and even classic episodes (Zombie Nightmare, Angels’ Revenge, Girls Town). Of course, you have to be into the whole “punishingly”-bad-movies-thing if you’re going to dig on the Coleman Francis trilogy, The Starfighters, The Creeping Terror, and/or San Fran International.

    Also, lets remember that this was Frank’s last season on the show, and it seems they indulged a lot of his whims and interests in the movie selection for the season (not just for his final show, Sampson vs. the Vampire Women), and it seems that Frank is really, really into the so-bad-it-hurts kind of bad movies. (For the most part, I am too).


    Servo: “Land on us, we’ll cushion your fall!”

    credit for Tab Hunter as Stayczek,
    Crow: “Didn’t Werner Herzog direct Stayczek?” —–reference to Herzog’s 1977 film, Stroszek.

    screen credit for Andrew Jackson,
    Crow: “Old Hickory, A.S.C.”

    Mike: “It’s an elaborate plan to get a drink.”

    Mike: “Oh, he’s a made-for-TV hippie.”

    Servo: “Does anyone want to get high?”

    Mike: “The answer my friend, is blow it out your ass.”

    Mike: “I hope there’s a bell tower where we’re moving to!”


    Crow: “This is what lonely people did before sci-fi conventions.”

    Mike: “The movie staggers from one commercial break to another.”

    Servo: “It’s Fergie running from the press.”

    Crow: “I’m too high. . . ”

    Servo: “You’re going to crash…, down there.”

    Mike: “No, no. . .too dumb.”

    Crow: “I did it for Jodie Foster.”

    The Brains miss quite a few chances to do callbacks on ‘Petey Plane,”
    but maybe they wrote this one before they did Skydivers..?

    Another solid episode, despite the presence of Urkel,

    I give it 4/5 made-for-TV mushy nosewheels,



  • 106
    Bombastic Biscuit Boy says:

    URKEL?! How DELIGHTFUL!! eh, not so much…

    personally, i look at Season 6 and i tell myself “yeah, it was pretty bad – but not as bad as Season 7!!” i love how they skewer the sappy Davy subplot!

    old fireman puts on silver suit “I’m Ziggy Stardust!”
    Frank, isn’t the plane with the Senate Safety Committee? “Ahhh, let ’em crash!”
    “See all the people down there? Those are the people you disappointed, Davy!”
    “Oh Davy, when we die there’s only a dark nothingness, just wanted to let you know.”
    Pernell grimaces into Davy’s plane “Ahhh! Ahhhh! It’s Satan! I’m in Hell!!”


  • 107
    Pulatso says:

    One of the first episodes I ever saw, and still one of my favorites. Unfortunately, it was one that sort of made me tune out to the host segments (to the point I actually recorded a few episodes without them) for a while. Favorite riff: “See all those people down there Davey? Those are all the people you disappointed today.”


  • 108
    Jbagels says:

    Not saying it’s the greatest collection of host segments ever written or anything but I think people who criticize the Urkel skits for being repetitive are missing the point. The entire premise is how how repetitive Urkel is and it’s taken to an absurd length. The Sideshow Bob getting hit with the rakes type of comedy that the Brains seemed to be into around this time.


  • 109
    Fred Burroughs says:

    Good Ep. (yes, they are all pretty good.)This is a standout for the cruelty of the made-for-tv riffs, and the sheer number of really clever riffs, that were obviously thought out and planned. failed acting career jokes, priest jokes, divorce kid jokes, 70’s jokes…what a smorgasbord. yet, the acting was pretty good and the heist plot made sense.

    I had torgo’s line “…never been a big U-urkel fan!” as a soundbite on my computer for years before i knew where it was from. It was hilarious, but squashed the humor a bit when I saw the actual show. I, for one, am glad they had the leeway to fill the 2-hour show with moments like these when they stretched out a joke, even if they were just having fun themselves. (Not like current ‘Family Guy’ or SNL jokes that go on forever.)

    Also: Does Trace still have six-pack abs?

    And: I too, have never seen Clu Gulager and Yvonne Goolagong in the same room.


  • 110
    Tom Carberry says:

    It was not my intention to start or fan the embers of a potential flame war. Just saying, Season 6 isn’t my go to season for episodes on a rainy day.

    YMMV is a creed I live by.

    Good night, and good luck.


  • 111
    ToolAssist says:

    Here’s an episode I really enjoy. The riffing is really funny and the movie is just silly enough to provide them with plenty of material. The ending scene with Conrad and Davy flying is extremely hilarious, full of lines like these:

    See all the people down there? Those are the people you’ve disappointed, Davy!
    “I’m Jim Conrad.” The last man you’ll ever talk to.
    NO WAIT DON’T DO THAT!!! OH GOD!!! Just kidding.

    The way Mike says “Just kidding”… I had to pause because I was laughing so hard.


  • 112
    schippers says:

    Hey, anybody see Urkel’s porn tape?

    Or maybe I’m thinking of Screech…


  • 113
    schippers says:

    #100 – A good, Republican cloth coat is something Nixon talked about in a speech he gave when he was on the ropes due to allegations he was guilty of receiving questionable campaign reimbursements. Anyway, he stated that his wife had herself a good, Republican cloth coat by way of indicating how humble their means were (not any more by that point, of course), and also that the family had gratefully accepted only one gift, a dog (Checkers), on behalf of his kids.

    Mike seemed to be fond of doing Nixon saying “good Republican cloth coat.”


  • 114
    Depressing Aunt says:

    Thanks for that! Grin

    About the whole Urkel thing, well, I enjoy that more than when the bots torture Mike for his stir-crazy, character-impersonating antics.


  • 115
    Tom Carberry says:

    #112–You are thinking of Screech. I haven’t seen it, but I understand “Dirty Sanchez” is involved.


  • 116
    halfmoonmaiden says:

    Dr. F. can show me his Action Torso any day. In Love


  • 117
    incrediblehorriblemrlimpet says:


    * Mike, as the fire truck driver racing toward Pernell Roberts’ plane speeding crossway down the runway just after landing: “Uh, I believe I have the right of way..JEEEZ!! WAIT!!”.

    * Crow, as Pernell Roberts looking out the plane window at the converging emergency vehicles: “Ahh, it’s the cops!”

    I wonder if the trauma caused by having to deal with the likes of Mickey, Eric, Jenny and Uncle Lady drove Reverend Snow to change professions to become a Western Airlines lead mechanic, choosing instead to tackle lesser issues like mushy nose wheels?

    I was about 12 when the first Airport movie came out. The 747 was brand spanking new and a marvel to behold as it had no equal. Cheerios offered a Pan Am model of the plane to anyone sending in a couple of box tops and a $1.50. At that age, all I cared about was watching planes and hoping for any 747 sightings which this movie provided. Even with my obsessive enthusiasm with aviation, I knew at my age that SFO was a knock-off of “Airport” and was trying to capture its Mel Bakersfeld-y head of airport woes, trials and angst but I was riveted to the screen nonetheless.

    Good memories having shows like this, Columbo, McCloud, Then Came Bronson, et al.

    As previously stated, Beth Brickell was indeed a pretty lady. I took note of that when she was Clint Howard’s mom and Dennis Weaver’s wife in “Gentle BEEEeen”.


  • 118
    EricJ says:

    @103 – “It’s Urkel! It’s More Urkel! It’s Even More Urkel, and (like Emmet eating) it’s still funny! You haven’t seen anything this marathon-funny since Nuveena danced for the whole episode! Thank heavens for running gags, because we never pay enough attention to the movie to think of anything to host-seg about it!”

    …Welcome to Season 6. Frown
    At least SyFy would give them an EXCUSE for ignoring the movie.


  • 119
    CaptainSpam says:

    This one’s always been one that needs time to get up to speed. It starts out sort of tedious for me, but starts picking up steam when the sinister made-for-TV scheme kicks in. And it just keeps gaining more and more speed until Mike and the Bots are just knocking them out of the park when Davy’s flying over the bay and Conrad’s trying to talk him down.

    I’m also dubiously proud that, thanks to the magic of portable computing, I have achieved the MiSTie feat of watching San Francisco International on a flight to San Francisco International. The place has changed a wee bit in the intervening years, it turns out.


  • 120
    Cornjob says:

    Never saw Urkel before or after this episode. Fine with me I think.

    I also think little Davy should get some kind of MST3K award for most stupid male child in an annoying subplot role. I wouldn’t have even thought of trying to drive a car WITH permission at his age. Hijacking an airplane is stupid bordering on a death wish. I hope Davy didn’t live long enough to reproduce. Made for great riffing though.

    This episode seemed to be one of the last times the riffers liked RUSH. They, particularly Joel, seemed to like them in the early years and then hate them during the Sci-fi years. Did Geddy Lee run over Mike’s Dog or steal his keyboard?

    Oh, was the “hippie” part of the misdirection of the heist. I can never figure that out.


  • 121
    syferdet says:

    Riff that doesn’t appear to have been mentioned yet:
    TOM: “She’s wearing appliance green.”
    Why did they use that color on appliances back in the 70’s? Ick.

    Cornjob @ #120: I’ve always thought the scene where the guy misidentifies the hippie that he got in to a scuffle with was just filler. The pilot was probably running short and they needed some kind of five minute scene to meet the final length of the episode. To me, it was an unnecessary scene that takes place in the middle of the episode, normally where today a two-hour pilot would end part one. So, if San Fran International were aired in syndication – that scene would be the end of the episode.

    Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but I’m just looking at it as one who has developed pilot episodes.


  • 122
    Cornjob says:

    Thanks for the input syferdet. I used to think the hippie was part of the heist, but the last time I watched, it looked like the two were unconnected and they were just setting up some antagonism between Clu and the cranky businessman.


  • 123
    Strummergas says:

    I like this one. It was my first time watching it this weekend. I like the experiments where they riff on made-for-TV movies, and I especially have a soft spot for the ones with the drab 70’s pilots. I’m too young to have seen these shows when they first aired, but I remember seeing a lot of these types of “movies” on dreary Sunday afternoons while visiting relatives and having nothing else to do but watch television. Fun times!

    To jump in on the Season 6 debate, I find it to be very inconsistent. Some of what I think are great eps and some which I think are the worst eps are in this season. Every show goes through a dry spell. Most of the time, it means the end of the series. Luckily for us, it was just a bump in the road.

    Definitely an above average episode for me. 3.5 stars, if that were possible.


  • 124
    Stacia says:

    This is one of my favorite episodes. The 1970s TV spilots and made-for-TV movies that featured character actors who had been around for millennia and aging former Hollywood stars are an absolute hoot. The riffing on this was great — all the good ones have been quoted already, though I don’t think anyone mentioned the series of reaction shots of cranky businessmen on a plane early on. One of my favorite parts. The unfortunate Urkel segments are easy enough to get through though they do bog the episode down.

    I really enjoyed Season 6. Danger!! Death Ray is one of my favorites, and Dead Talk Back, Sinister Urge, and the horrifying exploitation flicks Racket Girls and Girls Town are great. But I think if you can’t stand the boring, hardcore bad films like Red Zone Cuba or Starfighters, you’re going to hate Season 6, and no one can really fault you for that.