Support Us

Satellite News is not financially supported by Best Brains or any other entity. It is a labor of love, paid for out of our own pockets. If you value this site, we would be delighted if you showed it by making an occasional donation of any amount. Thanks.

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.

Social Media

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 (219 votes, average: 4.45 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 available on Shout Factory’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol XXXII.”
• 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.
• Unlike “Code Name: Diamond Head,” this pilot DID go to series, however briefly. Clu Gulagher was the only cast member from the pilot to be asked back. 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 was kicked out of a Los Angeles bar after an altercation. He returned with a gun and shot and killed one guy and wounded another. 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!”

151 Replies to “Episode guide: 614- San Francisco International”

  1. swh1939 says:

    David Hartman thought the host segments were mushy.


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

    I can only give this one 3 stars.

    The movie is so slight and drab as to hardly be there at all. The rhythms of the various plotlines makes no sense to me, it’s a mess and hard to watch. The riffing is solid, but I think they are hampered by the drabness.

    The interminable scene with Joe Businessman trying to have Bob Flowerchild arrested for assualt seems to go on for what… a week ?
    But Clugu Lager is outta sight.

    Agree with Sampo… Debate and Contractors are good, especially Contractors, which had a lot of meat to it, in more ways than 2 :) The rest were weak… I like the idea of rounding up all the characters, but the Urkel part itself was weak. Big ears was just odd.

    I do like the Bonanza jokes though. And the ‘Tab’ riff complex was very good too.

    Let’s split this Tab….


  3. Ryan says:

    Hey, I liked Urkel back in the day. The joke goes on too long, which is the point, but that doesn’t make it funnier. But seeing all the other characters is great, particularly TORGO! I love Torgo. Also, it’s deliciously meta to have a good Mike impersonation commenting dissaprovingly on a bad Mike impersonation.


  4. jjb3k says:

    Again, I’m one of the select few who thinks this episode is great all the way through. Even the Urkel skits get a laugh – it’s just the Brains’ over-wrought way of saying “Hey, Urkel’s not funny”, but I love all the walk-ons from previous SOL and Deep 13 guests, not to mention the fact that it’s Torgo of all people who makes them realize that the emperor has no clothes, as it were. I always knew Torgo was smarter than he let on…

    TV movies from the ’70s almost always make for good riffing, but the fact that this one came in mid-Season 6 when the Brains had their A-game going makes it twice as funny. All the converging plot points from kidnapped wifey to plane-stealing Davey make for great comedy. In fact, the last 25 minutes after Davey steals the plane give us some of the funniest riffs in the entire season. (“I’m gonna shave my back!”, “I’m a car, and the plane is…”, “The faces of those you’ve wronged will be floating up on your left”, “Now, Davey! Pull the throttle out now!” “But before you do that…!”, etc.)

    Also, count me in as someone who laughed uproariously at Trace’s “REEEOW!” whenever the bad guy tears open a bag of money. It’s just so hilariously non-sequitur, and they don’t even have to say “Oh, there’s a cat in here!” Trace’s yowls are enough.

    “Now if I could only find some wire, I could– HOLY COW!”


  5. Richard R. says:

    I don’t recall liking this episode that much when it first ran, although I have warmed to it over the years. It seemed like a weird movie choice at the time.

    I’m with Torgo: I never cared much for Urkel. (One tries not to use the phrase “I’m with Torgo” too often…) It was a good excuse to bring back all the past characters for cameos.

    Favorite lines:

    “The answer, my friend, is blow it out your ass.”
    “There’s a Grace Slick on the runaway.”
    “Jeez, they overbooked the credits.”
    “I’ve never spanked a member of the Ponderosa.”
    “This is what lonely people did before sci-fi conventions.”
    “It’s like a dense smug rolling in.”
    “Davey, you’re going to meet a man in a black robe who will want to play chess with you…”

    In fact, all the ragging on Davey was hysterically harsh (a combination only they can get away with.) Still, he deserved it.

    The list goes on…

    It’s not one of my top favorite episodes, but whenever I put it on I end up liking it a lot more than I think I will, if that makes any sense.

    It does remind me of the opening line from Douglas Adams’ “Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul”: “It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth has ever produced the expression ‘As pretty as an airport.’” The sludgy orange-brown cinematography (courtesy of Old Hickory) actually improves the *appearance* of the airport (I’ve been in and out of San Francisco International a few times.)


  6. Kenotic says:

    I thought Urkel was amusing his first 2-3 years, then the show pretty much revolved around him, others characters disappeared and the story got really dumb. Around the time the audience claps for a person when they come on stage (Urkel, Kramer, Fonzie, Exidor – I think) is the time they start to get tiresome.


  7. Another one that I’ve only seen once while working on other things at the same time so I can’t offer a thorough analysis other than a favorite riff:

    “Forgive me, father, for I have rubbed Pernell’s toupee all over my body.”


  8. The Toblerone Effect says:

    I am with I’m not a Medium here, regarding the number of stars I gave this episode; this is a middling-to-good one for me. The riffing is decent but doesn’t blow you out of your seat, and the host segments are uninspired. (Although I’ll concede that having Torgo be the one to point out Urkel’s unfunniness was itself a humorously clever move). I’m willing to bet that one of the writers had the idea to bring back many past “visitors” of the show all at once, and they figured the Urkel angle was the best way to do so.

    I actually liked the ending, with Forrester’s suddenly big and hairy ears; Frank’s “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that?” and subsequent laughing and pointing was, I thought, a light-hearted way to end the show.

    Fav riff (it’s kinda naughty): with Tab Hunter’s character leading Katie Barrett away to be kidnapped, I think it’s Crow that says, “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned; I’ve fantasized rubbing Pernell Roberts’ toupe all over my naked body!”

    Speaking of Katie Barrett, the actress playing her, Beth Brickell, in my opinion is quite attractive, in spite of Crow calling her “made-for-TV pretty”.

    I also liked the David Hartman jokes referencing his time on “Good Morning America”. After seeing him (and all of his glorious mushiness) in this, I can see why he had a career change of sorts. Having said that, I remember watching and liking him and Joan Loundon every day on GMA as a kid. Those jokes were very nostalgic all these years later….

    ….”Now over to Spencer Christian with the weather”. :cry: Man, I’m getting old!


  9. Klisch says:

    This is another episode that I’ve never seen. My loss.


  10. thecorman says:

    I guess I’m in the minority, having loved this one with the exception of the Urkel bits; I thought the riffing while “Davy” was on screen was some of the best of the season, and the David Hartman bits were hilarious. I wish they had done more television shows; there’s just so many openings for great riffs.


  11. bad wolf says:

    The host segments here are what i imagine when people suggest getting the Rifftrax crew and the Cinematic Titanic crew together for one big jam-fest. MST just works better in a small room most times.


  12. The movie’s kind of bland up until the time Davey takes the plane in flight, then the riffs get really funny. (Actually, any scene with Davey in it is hilarious, including the opening when his mother tries to tenderly explain why she and Van Johnson are breaking up.)

    DAVEY’S MOTHER: Sometimes people…
    CROW: …break up because of their kids.

    DAVEY: Are you and Dad going to have a divorce?
    CROW: Yes, and I don’t want custody.

    There are a few other funny bits, like the riffs on David Hartman’s … “unique” looks, but in general Davey’s irritating simpiness makes the film for me.

    As for Urkel… well, at least it brings Torgo back at one point, but my God, it’s annoying. Was there nothing about this film they could recreate or mock?


  13. Spector says:

    I too only give this thee stars, maybe 3.5. Not a particularly memorable episode, and the Urkel segments are not only dated, they weren’t particularly funny when they were first aired. I realize they were merely mocking the then-appeal of the Family Matters character but they went to the well once too often. At least we got to see Bridget as Nuveena again…rowr! Mike Nelson, you’re a lucky, lucky man.


  14. badger1970 says:

    The members of the crew were always good at riffing stupid, almost Darwin award winning children, and making the animals much, much smarter than the human actors (e.g. “The Painted Hills”)

    I was hoping the owner of the plane would have smacked Davey a few (okay, more than a few) times.


  15. Zee says:

    The movie segments are FABULOUS in this one, yet another plane-obsessed Season 6 movie (see also “Starfighters” and the Coleman Francis trilogy)

    “Serum, the new album from Rush.”
    “Ahhh! It’s Satan! I’m in Hell!”
    “I’d like to run a Tab… all over my nude body!”
    (those are just from memory)

    The Urkel host segments are another example of the “phoned-in” host segments that pop up way too often in Season Six. I think writing the show, struggling to get the movie made, and also working on the book, CD-Rom, etc, really put a strain on the writing team. I think putting all those characters into ONE Urkel-themed host segment would’ve been more striking.


  16. Miqel says:


    This one is probably my least favorite of the 70’s TV pilot episodes. Pretty good riffing but the movie is kinda boring and the plot is improbable on many levels. I LOVE the Urkel host segments though – totally random!

    The riffs on the teenager & divorcing parents are hilariously brutal
    (Mother) “I’ll explain it to you again ..”
    (Mike)”you’re a looser and we’re sending you away”

    (Mother) “it’s just that sometimes married people …”
    (Crow) “Break up because of their kids.”

    (Crow) “Davy, all those people down there are getting divorced because of you”
    (Crow) “Davy, I need to know where your dental records are”

    Anyone ever seen the “Listen to the Tower” feature in an airport? at 43:59 Tab Hunter is listening to the air traffic controllers on a strange looking phone with a sign above it indicating “Listen to the TOWER, hear the actual take off and landing instructions. 25 cents”


  17. R. Totale says:

    “Mom, why’s the music so poignant?”

    Love this episode.


  18. Droppo says:

    I’m shocked this isn’t rated higher! This has to be one of my Top 5 all-time Mike episodes. I do agree that the Urkel segments don’t have great replay value (although Frank’s reaction is priceless: “Urkel?!? That is DELIGHTFUL!”

    However, the film and the riffing? As good as anything the show has ever done. Pernell’s arrogance and hairpiece provide some of the best fodder since Joe Don Baker. Every riff involving Davey is hilarious. Tab Hunter. I could go on and on!

    San Francisco International, I love you!


  19. Miqel says:

    I almost wish they had re-riffed ‘SST: DEATH FLIGHT’ from the KTMA days … plenty of good material for riffing and even more b-list actors.


  20. Kouban says:

    I admit, when I first saw this ep a couple years ago, it took me until someone explained it to get that Mike was being Urkel.


  21. MattG says:

    My favorite part of this experiment is the candy counter encounter between the wormy businessman and the made-for-TV hippie. It’s just such a hilarious non-starter, as if the writers thought audiences would care about the outcome of the guy at the candy counter stuffing his face with diet gum. In fact, most everything about the movie seems that the writers assumed everything they wrote was dramatic and exciting.


  22. MikeK says:

    5 stars! This is a really fun episode with a lot energy from everyone involved.

    The host segments are good. The Mads as construction workers, the debate (I love how Mike holds interest in the nonsense banter of Tom and Crow.), and the Urkel bits work well. The Urkel parts are making fun of the idea of Urkel as being comedy gold. I think it was good that Torgo (played by Mike) ended Mike’s Urkel bit. Dr. F’s huge ears were silly, but that’s okay. Where do you go after Urkel?

    San Francisco International is pure TV movie with a non-stop flight of great riffing.


  23. MikeK says:

    Some good riffs:

    “I wish this movie was in color.”

    “Hey David. Why the long face?”

    “I AM Starbuck.”


  24. Miss Mary says:

    David Hartman is an ugly, ugly man.


  25. DON3k says:

    Yeah, this is what I call a comfortable episode. I can put it on, smile and laugh a bit, but don’t have to get overly into it. It’s a winner because of this, and I’ve always been pretty neutral, or maybe it’s forgiving, over the Urkel skit. I feel like the Brains were enjoying themselves, while making their rather blunted point, and that’s good enough for me.

    Fave riff is definitely “The answer, my friend, is blow it out your ass.”


  26. Meadows says:

    Always loved the “Insert Tab A into B-Movie” riff.


  27. rockyjones says:

    I’d give this one four stars….I’d give it five if only they’d boiled the whole “Urkel” thing down to one host segment. The construction worker scene with Dr. F and Frank is probably one of their all-time best moments.

    The “diet gum/hippie” scene is what always stands out in my mind when I think of this episode. The then “already-outdated-by-ten-years” views and attitude of the Bigoted Businessman, and the overly supercool “laid-back-ness” of the Groovy Dude make them both such bloated, “made-for-tv” sterotypes…I can’t help but crack up at the “Dragnet absurity” of the whole thing. While the writers at least tried (in vain) to tie most of the other plot elements together at one point or another, this entire scene is obviously just a ridiculous attempt at padding. Pure made-for-tv gold.

    “I made-for-TV love you!”


  28. John M. Hanna says:

    I find it funny that the Brains made so many ‘Battlestar Galactica’ jokes in this episode, but totally blanked on them in ‘Space Mutiny’.

    The Uerkel segments do go to show that a little Uerkel goes a long way. Poor Jalleel White. No matter what he does for the rest of his life, he will be forever remembered as Steve Uerkel. Thats the curse of television I guess.

    If there is one thing this episode taught us is the importance of checking your nose wheel for mushiness.


  29. MikeH says:

    If it’s made-for-tv, it’s MST gold. This form of entertainment is always prefect fodder for Best Brains and this one is no exception. This actually did go to series for one year, but Lloyd Bridges replaced Pernell Roberts. I think Clu stayed around though. Fave quotes?

    Mommy mommy look at that man’s ears
    Toupee and Greyweave..they’re cops!!
    Ladies and gentlemen, the parents of the beatles.
    Fred Garvin: male prostitute.
    Listen to John Tower 25 cents.

    and Davey getting ripped apart by Miek and the Bots is hilarious, such a simple and weak character. Another A+ episode.


  30. This is one of my favorites – I love the made-for-TV stuff. Like others, I particularly like the scene with the made-for-TV hippie. No one played unflappable like Clu Gulager.

    I think Sampo got one thing wrong up top, though. I believe several episodes of this aired in rotation with other shows, so it wasn’t unsold.


  31. alex. says:

    I agree with #4.

    I think the Urkel skits are on the same level as Crow’s Grateful Dead guitar solo from “The Dead Talk Back.”

    I liked them.


  32. H says:

    I’d also agree with #4. I could definitely tell Urkel was a flash in the pan and the guys showed that very well. It was a nice excuse to trot out (in Torgo’s case, literally) some of our favorite characters. Other host segments were good too. Movie is pretty good. They do well with this sort of thing.


  33. bigdaddy320 says:

    I felt this was a really good ep. It wasn’t over the top funny and the movie wasn’t so bad that it was hard to get through. It was a nice well rounded ep. I did like the debate bit.

    “You sir are a kindergarten baby and you wash your face in gravy”

    That cracks me up everytime. I think the Urkel bit went on a bit long though. I too never really understood the whole Urkel thing. I think you have to be a different kind of person for that kind of sitcom humor. I generally think if you liked Urkel than you probably don’t get MST3K. And vice versa. IMO

    “Will the distinguished gentleman from Califoria please scooch over.”


  34. pearliemae says:

    Clugu Lager? :lol: I agree, he is outta site!


  35. Zee says:

    The show did go to series, but with Lloyd Bridges replacing Pernell, I think. Tom Servo references this I think. Maybe I dreamed that.

    I forgot, i LOVE the Diet gum scene. My friend J.D. and I have quoted that over and over again over the years. The stuffy businessman is Dana Elcar, aka Macguyver’s boss!


  36. bobbyknightmare says:

    I liked this movie for the most part, but having suffered abuse as a child and gone through a venomous divorce and custody battle, I thought that some of the jokes made about the boy crossed the line. But I know it wasn’t anything malicious.


  37. crowschmo says:

    Never kept this episode on tape, it’s been years since I’ve seen it, so…uh….No Comment.


  38. Ralph C. says:

    You refuse to even learn about Wink Martindale!!!


  39. big61al says:

    David Hartman – If I had to watch this without the riffs his wierd looks and even wierder voice would make the brains cell spontanously burst into flames :twisted: It has been years since I seen this – dare I tempt it? :???:


  40. Htom Sirveaux says:

    This is one of the best eps IMO. I like the Blow it out your ass line also, as well as: “There’s a guy dressed like a priest” “. . . walks into a bar.”

    Also, the line where Dr. F listens to Frank’s construction advice and says, “Long run, you’re going to be glad you did!” hit home with me. I’ve worked with construction guys, and they’re always going on and on about how the methods used (30 years ago) were corner-cutting and how the previous guys were lazy and how their own work would last longer.


  41. Cubby says:

    Oh, I love this episode.

    I remember catching just a couple of minutes* when this premiered. It was the scene with Davy and the “telescope” thingy. Mike, “When’d your kid get the new glasses?” I couldn’t quite figure out what the Sam Hill they were watching. It would be the better part of a year before I was actually able to tape it and watch it in its entirety.

    Fave riff: Tom, “Oh, this is the shot they used for the album cover!”

    All the 70s TV references are winners:
    “Did this on a Longstreet once.” (Sure it hadn’t aired yet. So what!)
    “I gotta pop over to the Harry-O set.” (again!)
    “Does John Schuck call you?”
    “Going over to Anthony Zerbe’s for brunch!”

    Obviously, they cut the scene where David Hartman came clean – anyone ever seen the original?

    There’s some really top-notch meta-commentary in here.
    “Damn subplots keep washing ashore.”
    “Thanks, my son really enjoyed you in San Francisco International.”
    “Just wait ’til we go to series!”
    “Let’s review our cast!”
    “Once more around the horn!”
    “It’s a TV-movie Mount Rushmore.”
    … and so on.

    As for the host segments. Well, I’m with Torgo. Urkel never did much for me. It looks like it was fun to rope in all the recurring characters, and they go by quickly enough. So even though they don’t wow me, I don’t hold that against the episode.

    *I had a roommate who didn’t like MST. (Need I say any more? She routinely – consciously or not – turned off the timer on my VCR during episodes that year. I got 4 from Season 6 while we lived together. I still thought they’d always be around, and I’d get them all eventually. Ha!! It was true for Season Six, anyway.)


  42. BSBrian says:

    i don’t know, alex–for me crows guitar solo is a true classic that keeps me laughing throughout, while urkel eventually wears out his welcome. I thought the riffs were great in this one, give it a solid 4!


  43. tim says:

    This was the first episode Of Mst3k I ever watched. Very special for me


  44. Kris says:

    OK, so here’s what I learned from this movie:

    1) People in the 70s were greasy, shiny, and universally unattractive.
    2)The 70s themselves were greasy, shiny, brown-y orange, and also universally unattractive.
    3)San Francisco is greasy, shiny, perpetually cloudy, and universally unattractive.

    Very sad.

    I’m also not a huge fan of the excessive Urkel-ness of the host segments, but it’s always a treat to have Torgo return. And I loved the opening segment. So, not a total loss.


  45. hugh says:

    When it went to series on NBC it aired as part of an umbrella series called FOUR IN ONE. There were six episodes of THE PSYCHIATRIST starring Roy Thinnes, six episodes of SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL with LLoyd Bridges as Pernell Roberts, six episodes of ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY, and six episodes of Dennis Weaver as MCCLOUD. Night Gallery would become a regular series, and MCLOUD would move to NBC
    Mystery movie.


  46. Jacob says:

    I can’t believe no one mentioned the line “If you listen real close, you can hear them beating the crap out of Pernell Roberts”. Second only to “The answer my friend…”


  47. Jacob says:

    Wait– I forgot “Well, I hope I’m dead, because my pants are full.”


  48. snowdog says:

    Loved the riffing, but I agree: Too much Urkel

    Fave riff: You’re going to die DOWN THERE!


  49. Smog Monster says:

    If it was up to me, MST3K would never, ever – or at least very very rarely do a ‘movie’ that was actually a television show not-to-be. Imagine all of the movies that you could have done in place of Stranded in Space, Master Ninja, or Cosmic Princess. That being said, San Francisco International goes in the ‘very very rarely column’. I never seen this episode, but from the description the ACEG gives … it sounds like one of your funniest movies, ever ! “You’d think that’s a pretty mundane job, and you’d be right …” LOL ! Riding With Death, also, I’ve never seen before but that sounds pretty funny, too! (Invisible truckers, sci-fi potions …)

    & as for Urkel … my ACEG describes it as more than just Urkel … who do I believe more, MST3KInfo, or my Amazing Collossall Episode Guide ??? Hmmmm …


  50. KSK says:

    “At least I still have Battlestar Galactica! That’ll never be cancelled!”

    “Davey, allow me to introduce you to these federal agents. They’re what you young people call ‘Bad Asses.'”


Comments are closed.