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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: 804- The Deadly Mantis

Movie: (1957) A monstrous praying mantis is awakened from hibernation, and attacks the East Coast. Smug scientists are dispatched to stop it.

First shown: 2/22/97
Intro: Tom sets the rules for the SOL’s “business casual day”
Opening: The apes fix their mutant neighbors’ malfunctioning thermonuclear device; an alarmed Pearl skeedaddles
Host segment 1: The rumors of Pearl’s death are greatly exaggerated and she has a stowaway; Gypsy shakes her off their tail
Host segment 2: Mike searches for something good on the radio…and fails
Host segment 3: Tom hits something that really likes Crow!
End: Crow serves up juicy revenge, a letter from Dr. Peanut, a last word from Pearl
Stinger: The smarmy corporal out Donny Most-ing
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (230 votes, average: 4.43 out of 5)


• I love this one, largely because, after dopey rocketship movies, giant bug movies are my favorite kind of dumb ’50s sci-fi. I only wish MST3K had done more of them. But this one’s lots of fun. The riffing is also terrific and the promised “endless chase” premise finally kicks into gear, and does so with considerable flair.
• Mary Jo’s take on this episode is here.
• This episode was included in “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XXVII.”
• I think that’s Beez’ voice as the bomb recording, but it’s uncredited and we neglected to ask at the time, so now I’m sure they (including Beez) have probably forgotten.
• That’s Bill, Beez and Paul as the bomb worshippers. I believe this was the first time Bill face was actually shown on the show.
• The opening segment is LONG, at least compared to what we’re used to.
• Note that Mike does the patented Star Trek shirt tug (aka “the Picard maneuver”) before giving a command to engage.
• This marks the first appearance of the bridge steering wheel, which seems to materialize and dematerialize at will. It also marks the first appearance of The Widowmaker, Pearl’s VW astro-bus.
• Callbacks: Starfighters music, “Gamera!” “Shut up, Iris!” (The Beatniks) “Poopie suits” (Starfitghters) “Everyone’s legs are sticking out!” (reference to a line in MST3K The Movie) Also: “Your crank is turned to Frank,” during the host segment.
• After several episodes in which the Sci-Fi Channel logo, or “bug” was obscuring Crow in the theater, fans began to gently gripe online about it (mindful that their incessant griping seemed to piss off the LAST channel that ran the show). In response, going WAY out of their way, they arranged to move the bug to the left side of the screen — just for this one show (this apparently involved hacking some computer at the channel). By this episode, the bug had officially moved.
• Segment two features the voices of almost the entire cast as country music singers, radio announcers, etc.
• Crow’s voice really settles in with this episode. Compare to his voice in 801, it’s much more natural, with more less strain, much more like Bill’s real voice.
• Gypsy has a nice moment as the “Shirley Muldowney of deep space.” Note that she uses the phrase “Out out out!” just as Mike did to her in MST3K: The Movie.
• I love the riffs as the old scientist. “Marie died, ya know!”
• Then-current reference: “The final desperate hours of the Dole campaign,” (might as well be the Dewey campaign, now) “Kelsey, throw us the keys!” (referencing actor Kelsey Grammar’s run-ins with the law).
• That’s Patrick inside the big blue monster suit.
• Nice job on the digested version of Crow
• When Crow is doing the voice of the Mantis, he sounds just like Observer.
• Cast and crew roundup: producer William Alland also worked on “Revenge of the Creature,” “The Mole People.” “The Space Children” and “This Island Earth.” Scriptwriter Martin Berkeley also worked on “Revenge of the Creature.” Cinematographer Ellis Carter also worked on “Leech Woman” and “The Mole People.” Special effects guy Fred Knoth also worked in “This Island Earth.” Costumer Jay A. Morley Jr. also worked on “Revenge of the Creature” and “The Mole People. Makeup guy Bud Westmore did a whole slew of MSTed movies, as did art directors Alexander Golitzen and Robert Clatworthy and set designer Russell A. Gausman, sound person Leslie I. Carey and music supervisior Joseph Gershenson. Set designer Oliver Emert also worked on “Kitten with a Whip.” Score composer Irving Gertz also worked on “Leech Woman” and “Jungle Goddess.” Score composer Henry Mancini also worked on “This Island Earth,” “Revenge of the Creature,” “The Mole People” and “The Thing that Couldn’t Die.” In front of the camera, John Close was also in “Slime People” and “Beginning of the End.” David McMahon was also in “It Conquered the World.” Paul Frees can also be heard in “War of the Colossal Beast,” “The Sword and the Dragon” and “The Beatniks” (which he also produced and directed).
• CreditsWatch: This time the show is produced by Jim, directed by Kevin. “Additional music” (the various performances on the space radio) by the “Best Brains Ad Hoc Radio Band.”
• Fave riff: “Get back in your little boat, Grandpa!” Honorable mention: “But ah got a mantis in mah pantis…”
• Great host segment line: “Foghat, Lawgiver?”

152 Replies to “Episode guide: 804- The Deadly Mantis”

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

    Speaking of bugs

    Were we? ;-)

    An addendum to a comment that I made under “Mole People” occurred to me: When noting that G. Octavius Neon (who so resembles Dr. Forrester) probably couldn’t be Dr. Forrester’s father because he didn’t have the name of any of Pearl’s ex-husbands (is that the term for dead husbands, or is there another?), I failed to realize that “Jerome” can also (if rarely) be spelled “Gerome.” So, not that it matters, but there’s that, anyway.


  2. Johnny Drama says:

    touches no one’s life, then leaves: If one wishes to think so, Crow MIGHT have just been yanking Mike and Servo’s chain, allowing them to THINK the meat loaf was the creature while the creature was in fact alive and well off-camera.

    Thank you for that, now I can sleep at night!


Comments are closed.