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Sampo & Erhardt

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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: 403- City Limits

Movie: (1984) In a bleak future, teen biker gangs and a sinister corporation battle for control of an abandoned city.

First shown: 6/20/92
Opening: Crow and Tom get Joel to say “ping-pong balls” and Joel soon wishes he hadn’t
Invention exchange: J&tB present Mr. meat & potato head, while the Mads demonstrate pop star Tupperware, featuring Morrissey
Host segment 1: Crow sings: “Oh, Kim Cattrall!”
Host segment 2: J&tB list some of the Fantastic 85
Host segment 3: J&tB keep listing superheroes
End: J&tB try to play the City Limits trivia game, Joel reads letters, the Mads have had enough of Morrissey
Stinger: Tiny radio-controlled death from on high
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (201 votes, average: 3.87 out of 5)


• I’m not a big fan of this one. It has its moments (every MST3K episode does) but J&TB seem to be fending this one off, rather than tearing it up. The plot’s confusing and most of the action is a little hard to see. The host segments are just sort of so-so. It’s just sort of a middling episode. Part of the problem is I don’t get why I am supposed to root for the biker kids. An apparently hopeful and rebuilding government has contracted with Kim Cattrall and Robbie Benson to restore basic services. That’s evil why, again?
• This episode has not yet been released on commercial DVD.
• It is, probably, with this episode that the “Turn down your lights (where applicable)” message at the beginning of each episode, was replaced by a title card featuring a still from the movie and a gruff voice (usually that of editor Tim Scott) saying “Mystery Science Theater 3000, show [show number here]; reel one.” But my copy, taped off TV, doesn’t have that. I can’t say for certain, because many showings on CC did not include it and just went right into the episode. However, some commenters say they saw rerun showings where it appeared. My guess: Nobody at BBI told anybody at CC about the change, and some drone at CC looked at it, didn’t think it was something the public was supposed to see, and skipped past it to the start of the theme song.
• The ping-pong ball bit comes from the old “Captain Kangaroo” show. Unfortunately, like so many daily kids shows of that era, most of “Captain Kangaroo” was not recorded and very little of it survives. But a running gag on the show was that the puppet characters would try to trick the captain into saying the words “ping-pong balls,” at which point a veritable cloudburst of the little guys would pour down from the heavens onto the Captain. You had to be there…and you had to be 6.
• Callbacks: Frank’s is humming “I sing whenever I sing” from Giant Gila Monster; Crow’s “help me!” is a callback from a well-remembered “Rocket Attack USA.” “Hi, I’m Max Keller.” (Master Ninja) “…After the Robot Holocaust.” “My own FLESH I don’t love better!” (Sidehackers) “I’m a Grimalt warrior!” (Viking Women), “I feel like a happy king!” (Mr. B Natural), “…not allowed…” (The Crawling Hand) and “McCloud!” (Pod People).
• Mike is just hilarious as Morrissey.
• The opening of the movie says that it takes place “15 years from now.” The movie was made in 1985, so “15 years from now” was 2000. Thankfully the world in 2000 looked very little like the one this movie predicts. (By the way, it’s been more than 15 years since this episode debuted, and it is 15 years [and counting] from “15 years from now.”)
• Early on, there is a very clever solution to the appearance of some brief female nudity when Joel inexplicably feels the urge to stand up and open an umbrella in the theater.
• Kim Cattrall tells the story that one evening she had just checked into a hotel and she turned on the TV and by pure chance host segment 1 was running on Comedy Central. At first she thought the hotel had cooked it up to welcome her. She says she was completely baffled as to why a golden puppet was repeatedly singing her name.
• There’s a mention of “Far Side Gallery,” a book I also owned. That shot does look like the cover, a little.
• Somewhat obscure riff: “I’m still here, Happer, you crap hound!” (From one of my favorite movies.)
• More obscure riff: “But all I have is an alcove!” (From another of my favorite movies.)
• For a full list of the Fantastic 185, visit Ward E.
• A rare moment: Tom does something they almost never do—he quietly explains a riff (after quoting Lady Macbeth). Wonder why they felt that riff, among all the others, needed explaining.
• Several times the movie shows flashbacks of moments we’ve never seen. I assume this was stuff cut by either Film Ventures International or BBI.
• Movie observation: I do love how all the characters get gussied up to beat the band before making their big assault.
• Dated reference: a mention of the shortlived-and-now-forgotten James Earl Jones series “Gabriel’s Fire.”
• Watch the handoff from Joel to Kevin following after segment 3. You can see Kevin moving around.
• There’s another reference to Apple’s System 7, along with observation “we gotta get Windows for this thing.” In 1992 that was actually techie jargon.
• Tom still has ping pong balls in his head in a couple of segments.
• Great throwaway line by Crow: “Daddy needs a new pair o’ hydraulic talons!”
• During her appearance at the second convention, Kim’s recollections about making this movie included always filming at night in a dangerous part of L.A., and suffering with the ever-present stench from a nearby dogfood factory.
• Cast and crew roundup: One of the minor characters in this movie (the guy J&tB keep calling “Michelle Shocked”) is played by a fellow named Dean Devlin. He also appeared in the movies “My Bodyguard” and “The Wild Life” before going on to become a big Hollywood producer, bringing us such mindless, noisy blockbusters as “Independence Day” and “Godzilla.” Premiere magazine ranked Devlin and ID4 director Roland Emmerich No. 44 on 1997’s Power List of the 100 Most Influential People in the Hollywood Industry. Score composer Mitchell Froom has produced recordings for such acts as Los Lobos, Del Fuegos, Crowded House, Elvis Costello, Richard Thompson, and his then-wife (1995-98), Suzanne Vega. He was one of the founders of The Latin Playboys. He also composed the theme from the TV show “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.” Sound mixer: Mark Ulano also worked on “Being from Another Planet.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Jim Mallon. Production person Ellen “Ellie” McDonough joins the show. She’ll be there through season six. This is one of three episodes this season where Andrea DuCane did hair and makeup. Clayton James did most of them. Occasional prop assistant Barb Oswald, who did work back in season three as well, gets a new title this week: “Toolmaster Jr.” Brendan Glynn finishes up a three-episode stint as intern. Additional writer: John Carney. Dr. F’s name is still spelled “Forrestor.”
• Fave riff: “I’m getting beaten up by the cast of ‘Pirates of Penzance!'” “Okay, let’s stop for a moment and look at our scripts. Oh, I guess it DOES say Boy George comes riding in lobbing molotov cocktails.”

137 Replies to “Episode Guide: 403- City Limits”

  1. dsman71 says:

    I wasnt into this ep too much , I mean its okay..but not a highlight of the 4th season…I remember Joel having a hair cut with his longer bangs gone and his head looking like he had hair breakage, it looks like there is a crack in his in his silhouette – I used to have this on VHS with the Tozai brand, it was a crappy print and wound up getting a VHS from Skyroniter I think
    Im surprised its not on a box set but its not a very popular episode, so maybe its in the *if we run out of good episodes* pile or something.
    At least next week we get *really old teenagers from outer space*
    Joels Hair
    Joels knees
    hair breakage
    old teenagers
    therapy from outer space please


  2. jjb3k says:

    This episode created an extremely awkward moment for me. I was going through all my MST3K episodes in order, and my mom (who still can’t understand what I see in this show) happened to join me for this one, as did a friend of hers who’d never seen the show before. I told them both that MST3K is the funniest TV show I’ve ever seen, and they were in for a treat. Unfortunately, it was my first time watching this episode too, and after 20 minutes in the theater with middling-to-average riffing and a confusing movie so dark you can’t even see the shadowrama half the time, up comes this host segment with Crow just standing there singing “Kim Cattrall, Kim Cattrall, Kim Cattrall” over and over again. I looked sheepishly at my bewildered mom and her equally bewildered friend and said “Uh, they’re usually funnier than this…”

    Lesson learned: if you’re going to try and hook a newcomer to the show, make sure you use an episode that you know is good.


  3. Stressfactor says:

    Okay, admittedly, the copy of this I saw was not ‘first generation’ but was the sound mix off to anyone else? In addition to the film being too dark to see the sound was so low that nine times out of ten I couldn’t *hear* what anyone was saying but the riffers? I could hear Joel’s jumpsuit rustling every time he moved and someone — I don’t know if it was Trace, Joel, or Kevin — was breathing heavily through his nose and that came through on the sound pretty loud. It was actually kind of annoying.

    Aside from that…

    For this film, I think the problem the teenage biker gang had was not so much that the government wanted to restore services it was that, apparently, the private contractor the government hired to do the job were going to take the people living in the city and *force* them to do the labor.

    This still, of course, makes no sense as, to the best of my knowledge, it still takes a certain amount of technical skill to repair electrical cables and conduits and such and the people we saw living in the city were…. well…. idiots. I mean, if you wanted to restore services like electricity and water wouldn’t it make more sense to round up some people who either still remembered how to do that kind of work or who had been trained elsewhere (after all, if there’s a government somewhere then that implies that civilization has been re-established somewhere and presumably they’ve already got people who they’ve trained how to do this work) and then bring them to the city to do the job? Things would go much more quickly and smoothly…. But I guess if they did something so logical they wouldn’t have had a plot.

    My favorite moment was, after one of the times Joel complained about Crow doing an “NBC Mystery Movie” joke Crow replied “You programmed us….. Weiner.” You can hear Joel chuckle softly in response.

    Second favorite is Crow in his James Earl Jones voice doing “This is F-U-N.”

    Oh, and Sampo? I don’t think all the flashback scenes were cut… I think it was just another matter of poor filmmaking. The filmmakers created the flashback scenes to try to show the audience that the dead biker in question really did mean something to Mick — that there were all these “happy” memories. Of course, since we’d never seen these “happy” moments before and because the guy was already *dead* it really didn’t do anything to give his death emotional weight.

    I also think that this one isn’t so bad as it’s painted on the riffing. I think the guys were pretty inspired at the beginning and then at the end it’s just the middle where things bog down a bit and that’s because the middle of the film just doesn’t really give them much to work with. Stuff stops happening and we’re left with characters who spend a lot of time sitting around.


  4. Stressfactor says:

    Also, I will admit, the host segments aren’t the best. The naming off of “original” superheroes gets boring after a while.

    Oh, and Sampo, that reminds me — you missed a callback. When Joel and the bots are coming back into the theatre after, IIRC the second host segment they’re still naming off superheroes and Joel says “Servo-Crow-ation Boy” — a reference back to season 1’s “The Mad Monster” where Joel switched Servo and Crow’s heads and called them Servo-Crow-ation.


  5. Matthew Shine says:

    Now this… Well, anything was going to pale in comparison of Giant Gila Monster but…really?

    The movie drags the episode down for me. I like Robot Holocaust which has the same basic plot but the movie is SO DULL AND SO BORING AND NOTHING HAPPENS. Robot Holocaust had the sock puppet worms, the C3P0 knockoff, VALERIA, avocado dad, the She Zone, etc.
    It seems like this movie really had nothing to make fun of other than the skullmasks, James Earl Jones and the “Bleh! Bleh! Bleh!” rap.

    Speaking of James Earl Jones, my mom met him at a party once. Apparently, he’s a really nice guy.


    But I still love the Fantastic 85, the City Limits board game (“Now, Crow. In City Limits, what was the name of the movie?” and Crow’s little “HELP ME!”.


  6. JBagels says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this is the only MST movie to have a rap song in it. Being 1984, rap was really taking off at the time, and if you back and look at a lot of 80s movies, rap songs over the credits was very popular.


  7. JBagels says:

    I like this episode more than most people, as it again features an 80s movie which I’ve said before was always a welcome treat. I also liked the comic book stuff being the huge comic fan I was at the time, although I think the second superhero segment was unnecesary.


  8. Fred Burroughs says:

    This is one of my fave’s, maybe because this is when I started taping episodes myself, and as a result, I’ve seen City Limits roughly 400 times. All the host segs are great, esp. the Fantastic 185. And a roommate from college just a year or so before was a BIG Morrisey fan, and droned that whiney depressing music all year; as a result, I got some of those jokes.

    The team that made this movie (Don Opper, Dean Devlin, etc) also made “Android” with Klaus Kinski ; and later became the Roland/Toby Emmerich team that made crappy later big budget movies like “Godzilla.” really they should have stopped after Android. CL is perfect MST fodder: goofy costumes, dated apocalypse cliches, some recognizable actors in firmly B-movie fare; jumbled, juvenile plot. All around a win-win.

    I’ve seen Norbert Weisser in a few things since then, and Tony Plana (Ugly Betty’s dad) was great in ‘3 Amigos.” But whenevr I see any of these actors, I think of City Limits, and have a hearty chuckle.


  9. JBagels says:

    I actually like the Smiths but Morrisey can be very annoying.


  10. This Guy says:

    Okay, whence comes “But all I have is an alcove”? For some reason, I had a flash of a sitcom of the era in which a character had to live in an alcove, but no idea what sitcom, whether that was the reference, or if that even ever happened.


  11. Jbagels says:

    I should probably type my thoughts in one big comment rather than a bunch of comments through out the day when I’m bored at work but anyway, I thought the Joel umbrella thing was funny (it’s rare to see props in the theater after season 1) but the 9 year old boy me was very disappointed. This was pre Internet for the most part.


  12. Insect Man #47 says:

    I obviously love this episode (Insect Man #47 is the comic book the Clippers gave to Ray as barter to allow the “contest” with Lee). It points out to me, again, what a diverse community us Misties really are. Some of the favorite ep’s of others, I really don’t care for that much. Some of my favorites, others don’t like. This one makes me laugh every time, and I’m not really sure why. And Sampo, the flashbacks in the middle of the movie are just sharing with the audience the memories Mick had of Whitey and himself growing up, after Whitey’s murder by Bolo. And I agree, it takes several dozen viewings of this flick to understand the plot.


  13. Insect Man #47 says:

    #58 – You’re right – Norbert Weisser is an accomplished actor. He was in “Midnight Express”, and was a crazed Nazi in “Schindler’s List”, among others.


  14. Mr. B(ob) says:

    This one grows on you like a fungus, but a good edible fungus. I didn’t care for it much till I’d seen it a few times, then found I really enjoyed the jokes once I’d gotten more understanding of what’s going on in the lackluster film. The comic book based civilization and stupid youth rituals in the film provide good fodder for jokes and the fact that there are a few name actors in the film opens a door to humor not usually possible with the no-name cast so prevalent in MSTed films.

    I remember Kim Catrall telling that story at the second Convention-Con about how she discovered the show. It was an amusingly told tale whether or not it’s accurate. She was very nice to meet in the autograph line too my wife took my picture with her and I took my wife’s picture with Russel Johnson who was brilliantly funny.

    I love the joke at the beginning about the film featuring “James Earl Jones at a low point in his career and Kim Catrall at a high point in hers”. Ouch! Of course, this was before Catrall got Sex And The City and she had kind of fallen off the Hollywood radar a bit after some of the mediocre movies she’d been in around that time.

    Frank singing “I sing whenever I sing” makes me smile every time. So does the “death by desk” in the movie and the jokes made at that scene. I’ll give the filmmakers credit for a little originality, I definitely didn’t see that one coming.

    It’s always great when a film has geek elements within it that will surely call up jokes about things that are surely popular with a good sized segment of the MST3K fan base. The comic book elements of this movie provided endless jokes that were well within the realm of interest for many fans I’m sure. Really funny stuff, even for more casual superhero fans.

    The movie is pretty dull and uninteresting at times, demanding some serious effort to pay attention to it to see what’s going on, but I found it worthwhile in the end because it made the jokes seem all the funnier after that. This must have been a tough one for repeated viewings in the MST3K writing room. A good solid episode all around even if not on the favorites list.


  15. Mitchell Rowsdower Beardsley says:

    This is a middle episode for me. Funny but not one of the very best. I think that continued for a couple more episodes, until Killer Shrews which was great.

    and let me just say, I think Rae Dawn Chong is way hotter in this than Kim Cattrall. Yes, I said it.


  16. Mr. B(ob) says:

    By the time of the second MST3K Convention-Con Independence Day was already a huge hit and of course, Stargate a couple years before that. Dean Devlin co-wrote both of those films, clearly doing better financially with that than he did as an actor in films like City Limits a decade earlier. Someone asked Kim Catrall about working with Dean Devlin at the Q&A session at the Convention-Con and she made a comment to the effect that he’d gone on to do alright for himself in spite of his limited success as an actor.


  17. schippers says:

    #46 – Don’t count on Rocketship X-M being commercially available in its MSTed form anytime soon. It’s owned by Wade Davis, who is noted for being pretty protective of of 50s sci-fi properties.

    At least you can get a copy of Rocketship X-M on DVD through Image. It’s a good movie to watch even without J&tB riffing away at it.


  18. schippers says:

    #58 – I believe before they hit it big (eh) w/ the likes of ID4 and Godzilla, team Emmerich (maybe not Devlin at that point) made “Making Contact,” a film about a possessed doll. I haven’t seen it myself, although I have long meant to.


  19. Rich says:

    No sir, Mr. schippers ! “Making Contact” is awful. You have been warned.


  20. Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    Like others, this one has grown on me, but it has grown from a “I don’t like it” to an “it’s an okay episode.” As mentioned above, CITY LIMITS is just an unintelligible movie, maybe the most so since MIGHTY JACK, and its murky lighting really hampers the proceedings. Plus, all the characters are stupid. The riffing is pretty good, they keep a brisk pace. I for one really dislike all the James Earl Jones “This is CNN” riffs; they just get annoying. Also annoying is Host Segment #1, Crow singing “Kim Cattrall” over and over, and then a lame “scene” from Mannequin..? Ugh. Not funny.

    But you know, I did like HS#2 and the way it leads into HS#3. The comic book theme hits home for me, it’s all so enjoyably goofy. I particularly like “Lumber Man.” Also I loved the Mads’ ‘Tupperware to Lock in Pop Star Freshness’ Invention Exchange, as I HATE Morrissey and Mike does a killer impersonation. “Is it wrong to not always be glad? Did I mention I cried?” That’s what all Morrissey/The Smiths songs sound like to me…

    So overall, I have to give this one a 3/5,
    that’s the limit, man.


    TVs Frank: “I sing whenever I sing whenever I sing..”

    Joel: “15 years from now is really depressing.”

    Crow: “Hi, I’m Max Keller.”

    The umbrella gag at the beginning has special meaning to me: I caught this episode once on CC back in the day, circa 1996, and either I didn’t record it (the shame!) or I lost the tape it was recorded on (double shame!!) but for years I had this vivid memory of a movie they did where Joel uses an umbrella to cover up some nudity, but could not remember which film it was. Flashforward to 2009 and some serious downloading from DAPcentral and low and behold, CITY LIMITS was seen and I had my answer. (Too bad the episode didn’t live up to expectations)

    Servo: “After the Robot Holocaust..”

    movie: “Looks like you’re over the line.”
    Joel: “Yeah, one toke.

    movie: “We win, we do what we want with him.”
    Joel: “Starting with the nasty.”

    Joel: “I feel like a happy king.”

    arthouse film reference,
    Servo: “I am curious yellow.”

    Crow: “Hey it’s the NBC Mystery Movie!”
    Servo: (whistles theme)
    Joel: “Would you guys stop!” ——I love this running gag.

    Speaking of running gags, this episode has two “Jim Henson’s — Babies” riffs, which I guess aren’t very popular for some, but I’ve always dug ’em. Is this the first instance of this riff, or did it appear in an earlier episode?

    Joel: “Jim Henson’s Rae Dawn Chong Babies.”

    Crow: “Jim Henson’s Flying Leatherneck Babies.”

    Servo: “Windy last night. Cows stuck to the barn.”

    On the way out of the theater into HS#3, Crow says “Super Sim Cattrall,” and Joel replies, “SIM Cattrall?” I think Trace flubbed his line there….

    Joel: “I’m a prince, I’m a Grimault warrior!”

    Crow: “Even the band is vomiting.”

    Yup, me too.


  21. Seneca says:

    I never saw a really good print of this episode, and the movie itself looks like direct to video crap, and I’ve shunned movies of that sort since I was in high school (1980s). I’m the target audience for this movie and I hate it. ‘Nuff said.


  22. Seneca says:

    I never saw a really good print of this episode, and the movie itself looks like direct to video crap, and I’ve shunned movies of that sort since I was in high school (1980s). I’m the target audience for this movie and I hate it. ‘Nuff said.


  23. Sampo says:

    #60 This Guy: “But I only have an alcove” is from the play and movie “A Thousand Clowns.” A very funny movie I highly recommend.


  24. Tom Carberry says:

    The 1984 post-apocalyptic episode #403, in the words of Dr. Clayton Forrester, “comes from that shameful decade known as the eighties. It’s a film called “City Limits” and it stars James Earl Jones at the low point in his career and Kim Cattrall at a high point. It also has Robbie Benson and Rae Dawn Chong doing things they’re not happy with either.”

    For such a bad movie, it’s “actors” and “actresses” seem to have overcome this on their resumes and have actually gone on to make their marks in the industry. Who would have thought Dean Devlin (for better or worse) would have such a career as a producer (Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla). John Stockwell (probably best remembered as the high school jock with the broken leg in “Christine”) has had a nice career as an actor, director, producer and writer. Rae Dawn Chong is still busy, although I don’t recall seeing her in anything since 1985’s “Commando” with Arnold S. Even Tony Plana, John Diehl, and Danny De La Paz worked after this. In an ironic twist the “guest star” Robbie Benson’s career augered in leaving a scorch mark—although he does seem to be doing some voice work.

    Favorite lines:

    Someone’s been digging in the remnant pile big time.
    [of Darrell Larson] Hey, I found Ed Begley Jr., can I keep him?
    Oh come on, this is so offensive on so many levels.
    [Kim looking at Robbie Benson] What’s it like being a has-been?
    Bullet Proof Vespas—in color.
    [During the closing credits soundtrack] Even the band is vomiting.


  25. Dan in WI says:

    Watchout #70> This might be the first Jim Henson’s ________ Babies. That was pretty much an early season four thing and I don’t recall any in 401 or 402.

    Tom Carberry #74> The last I remember of Rae Dawn Chong was an episode of Highlander in the mid 90’s. But if you look at IMBD she seems to have had plenty of work. Just nothing I recognize personally.


  26. Mrs. Dick Courrier says:

    Don’t remember much about this one, been so long since I’ve seen it. I remember the whole Mannequin skit, since I loved that movie of course. And I remember Morrisey, although I like many others had no idea who he was at the time.

    Never did find out who he was until years later. A girl from Rural Virginia with no internet didn’t have many resources.

    Thank I’ll go online and try to find it.

    Just read on IMDB that Dean Devlin produced Stargate. That makes him alright in my book


  27. pondoscp says:

    I LOVE THIS EPISODE. It’s easily one of the best ever, right up there with Daddy-O, It Conquered The World, and the Master Ninjas.

    Lots of dislike for this episode abounds. That’s Sampo’s Theorum for you. I can watch this one over and over again. It’s great.

    And yes, it did have a title card in the beginning. I saw the card over on the ForrestCrow boards a while back.


  28. cambottalks says:

    Anybody else think the line “It’s Really Deep Man; he’s really deep, man!” sounds A LOT like it could be something from Firesign Theatre.


  29. Jbagels says:

    To quote the late, great Peter Falk “just one more thing”. My family knew Captain Kangaroo somehow and my baby cousin threw up on him at some family function. The opening segment was very funny to my father.


  30. Cornjob says:

    Is it me or is Joel’s umbrella that covers the nudity an early version of the Breast Blimp later seen in CT?

    This is another episode I shared with my idiot best friend and roommate in the early 90’s. In fact season 4 was current then. “This is CNN/FUN” became another of our running jokes.

    I once drew a picture of a Bee flying along and singing, “I sting whenever I sting whenever I sting…”

    It is ironic watching all the jokes about Kim Cattral being a nobody in light of her later success. It’s nice she’s been such a good sport.

    BTW, comic books, trade paperbacks, and graphic novels are all slightly different things. But I doubt most of you care, and those of you who do already know, and it would give even me a headache to try and explain, and I love comic books (no I don’t bag them or but them in climate controlled vaults)

    This is FUN


  31. JeremyR says:

    #65 Does that even need to be said? It’s obvious that Rae Dawn Chong is hotter…


  32. Blast Hardcheese says:

    OK, here’s my question: Who saw this when it came out in 1985? I was going to a lot of movies back then, but I don’t for the life of me remember this one. I remembered Rae Dawn from “Quest For Fire” (about the only thing I remember about QFF), and I remember being aware of Kim Cattrall before “Sex and the City” (because she kept turning up in low-budget Canadian tax write-offs, and, well, one remembers a face like hers…yeah, face, that’s right…)–but did this movie register on anyone’s radar? I’m not even sure it played in Ottawa, where I was living in ’85.

    OK–enough about that. This one is an OK episode, but everyone is so forgettable, and there’s not much of a plot, that it took a couple of viewings before I could even figure out what was happening. Even James Earl Jones, who normally raises the level of any movie just by his sheer presence, is reduced to almost nothing here. Plus, I have an aversion to badly-lit night scenes, especially when thy occupy more than half of the movie (that being said, “Blade Runner” is almost entirely dark, and the early video transfers were almost unwatchable because of this. Thank heaven for DVD).

    The host segments (Crow’s “Kim Cattrall” caterwaul being the exception) saved this episode–especially the hero names, the City Limits board game (and the cruel joke about the massive promo campaign for this film–hence my question), and Mike’s Morrisey, which is as spot-on a parody of a self-absorbed 80s counterculture figure as you’re likely to get (Ian Curtis, Robert Smith–you get the idea).


  33. lancecorbain says:

    This is F-U-N, heh, heh, heh. Best riff of the whole thing.


  34. Cornjob says:

    This episode also features one of my all time favorite riffs, “Well, that could have gone better.” I think this often when reading newspapers or history books. From World War 2 to Transformers 2, the comment fits.


  35. Stressfactor says:

    I forgot to mention, I also liked Joel’s pot-shot at himself with the riff:

    “Darn prop comics; gotta bring their stuff everywhere.”

    And another little callback missed — Servo mentions the Geometric Nucleous from “Cave Dwellers”

    Oh and anyone else catch that —

    Joel: “Sounds like U2 is playing on the roof.”

    Nice mash-up of U2 and the Beatles. The Beatles infamously played an impromptu concert on the roof of Apple Studios which was broken up by police as the crowds gathered below were causing a traffic hazard.


  36. Jbagels says:

    @stressfactor, U2 is actually famous for playing on roofs. They did so in the Streets have no name video and they performed on the roof of a liquor store once in LA. They still play rooftops today.


  37. Stressfactor says:

    @ Jbagels…

    Huh. Didn’t know that one. Wonder if they were inspired by the Beatles doing so?

    Either way… “They still haven’t found what they’re looking for”.


  38. JBagels says:

    I’m sure they were. The Beatles influenced everyone in Rock music.


  39. Blast Hardcheese says:


    I’m not sure how impromptu the Apple Rooftop concert was. If you listen to the Get Back tapes, there are seemingly endless discussions (mostly from Paul) about The Beatles playing some kind of live gig–everything from the Roundhouse to a cruise ship. Paul really wanted the Fabs to play live again, and no one else was really interested, so as a compromise they staged the concert on the roof, mostly as a good windup to the film (“Let It Be,” which was one long segment of Paul urging a very bored-looking John to consider getting back on stage and doing it live again). The police came in because they got angry calls from surrounding businesses–Savile Row, where Apple used to be, just happens to be the street where the most exclusive tailor’s shops in London were and still are. Dunno what they thought when the Hell’s Angels showed up in December of 68, but it can’t have been positive. The concert was just the last straw. There are also shots in the film of Mal Evans trying to keep the cops from going upstairs and hauling everyone off to jail–they’d get John and Yoko a few months later anyway.


  40. Blast Hardcheese says:

    Sorry, that should read “Let It Be” *has* one long segment…. The film was one long segment of four guys figuring out how much they dislike each other, coupled with moments of discovering how cool Billy Preston is.


  41. Stressfactor says:

    I have to say that I’ve never delved too deeply into the Beatles later years. I know enough that I don’t blame Yoko for the breakup as a lot of people did and still do but honestly, by then the music was interesting but even listening to it you can hear the competing directions… and I’m sure the harder drugs didn’t help the guys’ moods any.


  42. Stressfactor says:

    Oh, and getting back on topic — what really makes the “ping pong ball” gag work is Joel’s reaction — taking it all in stride as if this is nothing terribly surprising.


  43. EricJ says:

    @ 92 – Like they say, “You had to be there…and you had to be 6.”
    I was, and it was a perfect metal-tipped uniquely Joel-style Psychic Lawn Dart. :)
    (I’d found some 60’s and 70’s Kangaroo on YouTube, including the bit with the Feuerfest Polka, but I still can’t find any evidence of that vacation episode in Curacao.)

    @ 58 – The team that made this movie (Don Opper, Dean Devlin, etc) also made “Android” with Klaus Kinski ; and later became the Roland/Toby Emmerich team that made crappy later big budget movies like “Godzilla.” really they should have stopped after Android.

    In between was Don Opper appearing in the original Critters series. (Before they put Leo DiCaprio in it.) I’d seen Aaron Lipstadt’s “Android” in an arthouse theater when it opened, but didn’t know it had spawned Dean Devlin…Thought Lipstadt had pretty much dropped off the face of the earth after this one.
    (And I can see why–I remember seeing this movie floating around B-movie markets for years without a trace, but the episode itself causes just as much Mighty Jack amnesia. At least we know what Robby Benson was doing in the “lost” 80’s years before Beauty & the Beast.)


  44. schippers says:

    #69 – But, you know, funny awful, or Dane Cook awful?


  45. schippers says:

    #82 – Blast, did you see DEFCON-4 when it played in theaters? Given that it’s Canucksploitation, I imagine it was showing at least somewhere or other up north. I’m just curious; the question has almost zero relevance to the current discussion thread.


  46. Richard says:

    This episode is actually in my Top 10 favorite list. I’ve loved it since I first saw it.


  47. Blast Hardcheese says:

    @ 95: Didn’t see it, but I do remember it–although that may be because it has been shown on CBC-TV as one of their “summer movie” offerings–gotta love those Canadian Content regulations (which don’t exist for cinemas–so DEFCON-4 did play in the theatres, but only for about a week or so).


  48. mst3ktemple says:

    So does anyone have a screen grab of the slate for this episode? I love to see it. I also don’t have slates for 406 or 517. I think 519 was the last. The last I have any way.


  49. Cornjob says:

    I’ve got a soft spot for DefCon 4. Nice to know I’m not the only one who’s seen it. I think it had the bad guy who liked to gag his prisoners with duck tape and tin foil. Maybe they all had a potato stuck in their mouths.


  50. Creepygirl says:

    This is only a “meh” episode for me. It is also the first time I’ve seen it in close to five years. That simple fact actually made the episode almost breand new to me. I found it entertaining but not great.

    IMO a solid middle-of-the-road experiment. 3 stars


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