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Episode guide: 805- The Thing that Couldn’t Die

805

Movie: (1958) A traysure-hunting family at a dude ranch digs up a severed head with evil powers.

First shown: 3/1/97
Opening: Artiste Tom creates negative images of patron Crow
Intro: We meet The Observers, super-intelligent beings who carry their brains around with them. Pearl and Bobo are their guests
Host segment 1: An irritating Observer arrives and observes
Host segment 2: The Observers enable Mike to materialize anyone from his memory
Host segment 3: Crow premieres his documentary on the Civil War
End: Tom has a plan to make Crow do unspeakable acts; Pearl and Bobo get ready for bed
Stinger: Observers
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (207 votes, average: 4.43 out of 5)

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• Check out Paul’s take on this episode here.
• This episode is included in Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XXIX.
• This episode definitely causes me a lot of playsure, but it’s also a bit of a comedown after the wacky fun of “Deadly Mantis.” Some of the segments are more clever than funny, and this is a classic example of a movie that would be unwatchable without the riffing. But it’s there, and it is very good. That’s one thing I have to say about this whole period we’re getting into where some fans began to complain (about the loss of the stingers, about the sameness of the movies (see below), about the new premise, blah blah blah): I maintain that the riffing in all these episodes is as consistently good (and occasionally better) as what we saw in the Comedy Central years. There, I said it, I’d say it again if I had to.
References.
• It was about at this point that the string of black-and-white Universal b-movies began to wear on some fans. In retrospect, the relief that was “Giant Spider Invasion” was only a few episodes away, but at the time the sameness of the movies irritated some. My sense is that Sci-Fi Channel lined these up for them, thinking that these were the sort of movies fans wanted them to riff. (Though, to be sure, there were at least two others reasons: because they were compatible with the channel, and because, at that time, the company that owned these Universal movies was the same one that owned the channel, making them cheap to acquire.) But the complaints were less about each movie taken by itself and more about the sameness of the sequence. Had they interspersed these movie with some other types of films, the issue might never have come up. The moral: a little variety is always nice.
• Of course, the big news in this episode was the introduction of The Observers, characters not directly from any particular “Star Trek” episode, but certainly reminiscent of many of the sort of supposedly omniscient beings that Captain Kirk seemed to encounter often.
• Tom notes that much of the music in the movie is essentially a needle-drop on the “This Island Earth” soundtrack. It’s hard to miss.
• Callbacks: “She’s getting squishy!” (A Young Man’s Fancy); “Old Timer Billy Slater” (Junior Rodeo Daredevils).
• Early in the movie, something called a “trade rat” is mentioned. The writers apparently never heard the term before (neither had I), and so they have a lot of fun with the phrase. Well, the Columbia Encyclopedia says a “trade rat” is synonymous with “pack rat ,” a rodent of the genus neotoma, noted for its habit of collecting bright, shiny objects and leaving other objects, such as nuts or pebbles, in their place; also called trade rat or wood rat … the pack rat stores the objects it collects to decorate its nest.” There, don’t say you’ve never learned anything from Satellite News. :-)
• As Jessica prepares to leave, Crow wonders aloud where the heck she’s going. Pay attention, Crow. She said loud and clear she was going to her cousin’s.
• Paul is hilarious as the Observer. “I hate him, and can take solace only in my own cool detachment.”
• There were a total of 12 “Dale” riffs this season, and there were Dale riffs in 11 consecutive episodes beginning in this episode. (And there were some in previous seasons! For a complete list, visit Ward E.) From this point forward, they will be referred to as “Daleisms.” This episode’s Daleism: Mike the lunkhead (in the movie) looks at his hands and Mike (the lunkhead, in the theater) says “I thought you were Dale.”
• When Kevin’s appears as Hadrian, his helmet begins to come loose almost immediately and eventually falls off even though he attempts to secure it in mid-scene.
• Then Mike shoves Bridget in the face … THAT must have been a delicate rehearsal…
• Obscure references: Larry Wilcox, who played Officer Jonathan “Jon” Baker in TV’s “CHiPs” and Tracy Gold, best remembered as daughter Carol on the TV’s “Growing Pains.”
• One movie complaint: Toward the second half of the movie, the inhabitants of the ranch decide to dig for the coffin containing the head’s body. I have to ask: Why is the oily beat artist guy digging? He’s a GUEST at the ranch! Sure, both the ranch’s hands are dead, but that’s Flavia’s problem, isn’t it? If I were a guest at a dude ranch (an unlikely prospect, I assure you), you wouldn’t catch me doing heavy labor for the ranch’s owner without a serious cut in the room rate.
• There’s a classic moment in this one when the two women crawl into bed together, and Crow and Tom celebrate in great style.
• A lot of fans were very surprised and not many were pleased when the Observers usurped the stinger. It would continue for three episodes, and the howls of dismay grew louder each week.
• In a thread we did a while back, the consensus choice for the stinger was “You’re all evil and I hope you die!”
• Cast and crew roundup: Screenwriter David Duncan also worked on “Black Scorpion” and “The Leech Woman.” Cinematographer Clifford Stine also worked on “This Island Earth,” “The Creeping Terror” and “The Mole People.” Costumer Bill Thomas also worked on “The Leech Woman.” Makeup guy Bud Westmore blah, blah, blah. Same with art director Alexander Golitzen, set designer Russell A. Gausman, sound person Leslie I. Carey, score composer/music supervisor Joseph Gershenson and score composer Henry Mancini.
In front of the camera: Robin Hughes was also in “The Mole People.” Peggy Converse was also in “The Brute Man.” Phil Harvey was also in “The Deadly Mantis.” Thomas Browne Henry was also in “Beginning of the End.
• CreditsWatch: Bill’s credit as “Observer” begins; it will run though the end of the series. Paul and Mike’s credit as “Observer” begins and runs for three more episodes. Jim gets both the producer and director credit this time, and Kevin continues as associate producer. That’s Paul as Finnigan, Kevin as Hadrian and Bridget as Adrienne Barbeau.
• Fave riff: “Oh E.G. Marshall, you ARE a bold one…” Honorable mentions: “Well, there’s that all-night historical society.” “Now I want her more than ever!” and “Here’s lookin’ up your neck hole!”

161 Replies to “Episode guide: 805- The Thing that Couldn’t Die”

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

    “I better call Mitch and see how the little Brenner Girl’s doing.”

    Ce que cela signifie?

    Dan in WI:
    There is some really nice detail in the art exhibit (art about Art. Get it?) opening. I like the painting of Crow squashing Tom with his thumb. That said there really isn’t any ha-ha funny there. I do like the idea of Crow tossing kittens into a meat grinder. And I’m a cat person.

    And, again, Tom is out to get Crow, just as in the Comedy Central years, except he’s left off physical attacks (for now) and is instead defaming him in “public” (in addition to taking his money and giving him exactly the art that he DIDN’T want).

    Dan in WI:
    Jessica to Gordon about the necklace “You put it there. You’re the only one who can take it off.” Tom as Gordon “I helped you put your bra on too remember?”

    But that would mean he’s ALREADY seen her nude breast, so it wouldn’t mean quite as much.

    Fred Burroughs:
    Side note: earlier this year, I was re-watching Star Trek season one, and the first 10 episodes are hilarious when you see all the themes since lampooned thusly by the Cow Towners. (Actually, after the 7th episode or so, they start repeating the same plots without much variation.)

    Well, that was a long time ago. They didn’t have as many plots back then, so they conserved.

    Kali:
    “Now can we milk the horses?”

    I presume that, technically, it IS possible to milk horses. After all, what else do colts drink if not horse milk?

    Kali:
    “Oh, EG Marshall, you ARE a bold one.” Then, having her dream of Will Geer and Mike Douglas…

    Did you know that Will Geer was gay? I’m guessing that the Brains didn’t.

    No, really, he was.

       1 likes

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

    Last post re this one for me. Unless it isn’t. I have narrowed it down to those TWO possibilities.

    >>>Of course, the big news in this episode was the introduction of The Observers, characters not directly from any particular “Star Trek” episode, but certainly reminiscent of many of the sort of supposedly omniscient beings that Captain Kirk seemed to encounter often

    They’re particularly reminiscent of the Gamesters of Triskelion, aka the Providers, who were also just…brains. There’s even just three of them, as with the Providers. Did Kirk convincing the Providers to alter their society qualify as violating the Prime Directive? Well, it’s not like he FORCED them to do it. Judgment call.

    Crow’s devotion to Adrienne Barbeau kind of comes out of nowhere (and goes right back). She’s in neither “Mannequin” nor “Willow,” two films that we know are among Crow’s favorites (although his tastes may have changed over the course of 500 years). Oh well.

    Back in high school, I saw “Mannequin” in a theater; what I found most memorable was the theme song, which became one of my favorites back then. I happened to be sitting next to one of my classmates, who, as the film ended, told me it was the best film she’d ever seen. Yet she was quite intelligent (IIRC she was in Honors-level classes with me). Go figure.

       2 likes

  3. Sitting Duck says:

    touches no one’s life, then leaves:
    >>>Of course, the big news in this episode was the introduction of The Observers, characters not directly from any particular “Star Trek” episode, but certainly reminiscent of many of the sort of supposedly omniscient beings that Captain Kirk seemed to encounter often

    They’re particularly reminiscent of the Gamesters of Triskelion, aka the Providers, who were also just…brains.

    Other episodes which have stupid smart guys include The Squire of Gothos, Who Mourns for Adonis, and Plato’s Stepchildren.

    There’s even just three of them, as with the Providers. Did Kirk convincing the Providers to alter their society qualify as violating the Prime Directive? Well, it’s not like he FORCED them to do it. Judgment call.

    Kirk regularly violated the Prime Directive six times before breakfast.

       2 likes

  4. SaveFerris says:



    Did you know that Will Geer was gay? I’m guessing that the Brains didn’t.
    No, really, he was.



    Okay……….talk about the ODD places our discussions sometimes lead us! (Oh, The Places You’ll Go! ;-)


    Can honestly say (if true) that I never saw that ONE coming. So, Will Geer, good ‘ol Grandpa Walton, was REALLY gay (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) ??? How did I NEVER hear anything about that (though come to think of it, he and I were never really that close, so how COULD I have known) ???


    Anyhoo……apropos of nothing, I’ve got a question here for anyone/everyone who happens to read this.


    Does anybody/everybody still have the individual numbers displayed on every comment made in all of the comment sections here? Since the changeover to the ‘new’ website I no longer have the individual numbers displayed on each of the comments made here, and assumed that’s how it was for everyone, yet I still see people using specific comment numbers when referring back to previous comments.


    Does that mean those people are actually (physically) counting all the comments in order to do that, or does everybody still have each of the numbers displayed just as on the ‘old’ boards (as a side note, I’ve been having A LOT of trouble lately with browser lock-ups/crashes lately (Google Chrome, on a Windows 10 pc) which (almost) never seemed to happen before, but for whatever reason, now seems to happen all the time, and ended up making a number of changes on my system (for instance, disabling Adobe’s Flash Player) in hopes of stopping/cutting down the crashes, and it occurred to me I may have changed something that no longer allows certain things (like individual numbers on a comment page) to display properly)?


    Anyone ???

       3 likes

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

    SaveFerris:


    Did you know that Will Geer was gay? I’m guessing that the Brains didn’t.
    No, really, he was.



    Okay……….talk about the ODD places our discussions sometimes lead us! (Oh, The Places You’ll Go!;-)

    Will Geer was mentioned in a riff, so there’s nothing particularly odd in discussing him further.

    Admittedly, I myself personally can’t PROVE he was gay, but Wikipedia (which, well, as ever, you know…) seems pretty sure about it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Geer

    Seems he was also a communist and was blacklisted during the 1950s (although not necessarily for being a communist). Every life has a story.

       1 likes

  6. littleaimishboy says:

    Anyhoo……apropos of nothing, I’ve got a question here for anyone/everyone who happens to read this.


    Does anybody/everybody still have the individual numbers displayed on every comment made in all of the comment sections here?Since the changeover to the ‘new’ website I no longer have the individual numbers displayed on each of the comments made here, and assumed that’s how it was for everyone, yet I still see people using specific comment numbers when referring back to previous comments.


    Does that mean those people are actually (physically) counting all the comments in order to do that, or does everybody still have each of the numbers displayed just as on the ‘old’ boards (as a side note, I’ve been having A LOT of trouble lately with browser lock-ups/crashes lately (Google Chrome, on a Windows 10 pc) which (almost) never seemed to happen before, but for whatever reason, now seems to happen all the time, and ended up making a number of changes on my system (for instance, disabling Adobe’s Flash Player) in hopes of stopping/cutting down the crashes, and it occurred to me I may have changed something that no longer allows certain things (like individual numbers on a comment page) to display properly)?


    Anyone ???

    The numbers are gone, no word on if they’ll be restored.

       2 likes

  7. Cornjob says:

    Our days are numbered but our posts are not.

       4 likes

  8. SaveFerris says:



    Thanks for that, “littleamishboy”, and GOOD ONE, “Cornjob” !!!

       2 likes

  9. Cornjob says:

    This bad guy was in complete control when he was decapitated, and was almost instantly defeated and destroyed as soon as he reunited with his body. Clearly he should have quit while he was a head.

       1 likes

  10. Sitting Duck says:

    Cornjob:
    This bad guy was in complete control when he was decapitated, and was almost instantly defeated and destroyed as soon as he reunited with his body. Clearly he should have quit while he was a head.

    You did that joke the previous time around.

       1 likes

  11. Cornjob says:

    Oops, so I did. Made the same observation and didn’t read the previous pages, and got ahead of myself. But I’m probably not the only person that forgets to check previous pages, and now there’s no numbers to refer to either. And I can only sign in through facebook now so my avatar has to match my facebook one. And what’s the deal with string cheese…

       1 likes

Comments are closed.