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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.

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Episode guide: 902- The Phantom Planet

Movie: (1961) An astronaut crashes on a planet inhabited by tiny people. After he shrinks down to their size, he learns they are at war with an aggressive neighboring planet.

First shown: 3/21/98
Opening: Crow and Tom challenge Mike to an Andy Rooney-off
Intro: Pearl’s World Domination Starter Kit arrives from Speigel, but the all-important “thing” has been mis-delivered to the SOL
Host segment 1: Mike and Tom focus their attention on the Good and the Beautiful
Host segment 2: Mike slips Crow’s mind; spooky sounds in Castle Forrester turn out to be less than other-worldly
Host segment 3: Crow and Tom, having taken up water glass rim music, invite Mike to try it, and soon regret that they did
End: Crow is baffled and enraged by his Solarite costume; Pearl despairs of taking over the world until torch-wielding neighbors arrive
Stinger: The “Good and the Beautiful” are extolled
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (250 votes, average: 4.24 out of 5)


• If I choose to focus my attention on the good and the beautiful, as I should, there’s much to enjoy in this episode. First of all, the movie. I love these rocketship movies. They’re my favorite genre of MST3K movie (giant bug movies are a close second). And this one is just pure cheese from start to finish, complete with the obligatory flock of Fiddle Faddle asteroids, “Lost in Space” quality sets and squarejawed white guys piloting the space ships. The riffing is great in this one too. The host segments are hit-and-miss, but generally it’s a fun episode.
• This episode was included in Rhino’s The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 8.
• Bill’s observations on this one are here.
• The “good and the beautiful” speech became an instant hit in internet MSTie forums.
• The Andy Rooney-off classic is a classic bit that sounds like something that started as a friendly competition in the writing room.
• After the sound problem in last week’s episode, I couldn’t help noticing that the sound on this one is also a little echoey, but not enough to be distracting or any kind of problem.
• Then-current reference: Anna Nichole Smith, then young and sexy, is presented as an example of “the beautiful.” What a long time ago that was.
• The effect of Mike floating away in segment 2 looks very nice. The spooky sounds bit, however, is one of those “long walk for a little joke” things they sometimes get themselves into.
• Take note: The Francis X. Bushman character is named Sesom: that’s Moses spelled backwards.
• “I should really just relax” item of the week: Hey, suddenly Tom’s hands work in segment 3!
• The bit at the end where Crow again goes insane is similar to the several previous bits, including the Bellerian bit in Space Mutiny, but Bill commits and it works anyway.
• That’s Patrick, Peter Rudrud and Beez as the voices of the scalded villagers.
• On my Rhino disk, the stinger cuts out about two seconds too soon. Does anybody else’s do that or did I get a defect?
• Cast and crew roundup: Producer-screenwriter-story guy Fred Gebhardt also did “12 to the Moon.” Hmm, I think we know who to blame for this one. Production designer Robert Kinoshita also worked on “Viking Women.” Assistant director/production supervisor Maurice Vaccarino also worked on “The Screaming Skull” and “Teenage Caveman.” Assistant producer/editor Hugo Grimaldi also worked on “First Spaceship on Venus,” “Human Duplicators” and “Hercules and the Captive Women.” Editor Donald Wolfe also worked on “Human Duplicators.” Special effects guy Louis DeWitt also worked on “Viking Women.” Special effects guy Charles R. Duncan also worked on “The Crawling Hand” and “Slime People.” Costumer Oscar Rodriguez also worked on “The Magic Sword” and “I Was a Teenage Werewolf.” Set designer Joseph Kish also worked on “The Rebel Set.” Sound mixer Al Overton also worked “Screaming Skull,” “Earth Vs. the Spider” and “Attack of the Giant Leeches.” Score composer Gordon Zahler also worked on “First Spaceship to Venus,” “Hercules and the Captive Women,” “Human Duplicators” and “Women of the Prehistoric Planet.”
In front of the camera: Coleen Gray was also in “The Leech Woman.” Anthony Dexter was also in “12 to the Moon” and “Firemaidens From Outer Space.” Dolores Faith was also in “Human Duplicators.” Francis X. Bushman was also in “12 to the Moon,” as was Richard Weber. Lori Lyons was also in “Human Duplicators.” Richard Kiel was also in “The Magic Sword,” “Human Duplicators” and “Eegah.” Marvin Miller is also in “King Dinosaur” and “Day the Earth Froze.” Leon D. Selznick was also in “Hercules and the Captive Women.” Gloria Moreland was also in “The Rebel Set.”
• CreditsWatch: Produced and directed by Kevin. Brad gets another credit–Technical Supervisor. This would be intern Todd Severson’s last of two shows. The “Teachers of America” are again thanked at the end of the credits, but after this they are gone for good.
• Fave riff: “Thank you for attending pleated skirt day here at Combat Rod Park.” Honorable mention: “So you can just take a hard left in space?”

122 Replies to “Episode guide: 902- The Phantom Planet”

  1. Of No Account

    A Good & Beautiful episode.

    On the issue of the tiny doors, at least it’s more realistic than the spaceships with 12 foot ceilings & 1000 square feet of empty floor space.

    Is there a single movie from this era, involving rocketships, that did NOT have them attacked by random asteroid fields? I know there’s not a lot of road hazards in space, but still…


  2. Sitting Duck

    The Phantom Planet fails the Bechdel Test. None of the female characters converse with each other.

    I’m completely unfamiliar with Andy Rooney, so the Prologue just doesn’t register.

    I must say, seeing Three-Eyed Crow was startling. Perhaps a nod to the Simpsons episode with Blinky?

    That clock on the rocket looked to be counting off five seconds for every one actual second.

    Callback to The Unearthly: “He needs a posture pal.”

    That must have been their longest stinger ever.

    Favorite riffs:

    “This story you are about to witness is only…”
    A first draft.

    “Log entry, Pegasus 3, March 16, 1980.”
    Oh, our old future.

    What do you know? You’re just an intern.

    Weird. We’re in space and I can hear you scream.

    It was nice of the credits to let those things through.

    I filled my pants, sir. In fact, I think I filled yours, too.

    Jeez, how did I manage to land without that mincing little co-pilot jabbering about the good and the beautiful?

    Help! I’m being smothered in my own jockey shorts!

    The guilty party will receive a dream trip to sunny Cancun!

    Anonymous Similar Guys away!

    Collecting for the March of Dimes is complicated in space.

    You know, in a few minutes they’ll be the best of friends, slugging back tranya.

    “You can’t make someone love you. It’s got to come naturally. You can’t force it, you can’t command it.”
    That’s what the judge told me.

    “Attacked by whom?”
    I’m not saying. You’re mean to me.

    Ma’am, could you quit writhing on the coffee table?

    Their bad technology is light years behind their space-going chicken technology.

    And she’s horrified back into muteness.

    Hey, you want to hear something funny? I found a little dark-haired woman on the bottom of my shoe.


  3. snowdog

    This film was released in 1961. It was pretty optimistic to think we’d be exploring deep space from a lunar base just 19 years in the future. It has now been over 30 years since 1980 and still we’re just mucking around in Earth’s orbit.


  4. Of No Account

    A Good & Beautiful episode.

    On the issue of the tiny doors, at least it’s more realistic than the spaceships with 12 foot ceilings & 1000 square feet of empty floor space.

    Is there a single movie from this era, involving rocketships, that did NOT have them attacked by random asteroid fields? I know there’s not a lot of road hazards in space, but still…

    @#103 – snowdog: Sad, isn’t it? We don’t even have anything that can get to the moon & back anymore. I like our old future better…


  5. Depressing Aunt

    #102 Considering there are only two women with lines, and poor Zetha is only interested in Frank Chapman, it certianly does fail the Bechdel test. It’s cute the way Chapman decides she’s warmer and more sensitive….than the three other people he interacts with on this planet. “And you can’t *say* you don’t like me.”

    The space suits make the men look so hippy, and I can’t tell what part of the monster is his spacesuit and what part of him is his body. I mean, that tulle fringe, wow. I didn’t realize till now that, along with Richard Kiel, Dolores Faith was in “Human Duplicators.” What am I, blind? (That’s my little joke.)

    So, this is an episode I consider just okay, because the movie is so sleepy. But I will always be glad it had these lines from Pearl: “I don’t know, Mike. Maybe this whole taking over the world thing is DUMB. Why don’t YOU do it, or somethin’?” She’s hilariously pouty, and I often whine “Why don’t YOU do it?” before setting off on an unpleasant task. Unfortunately, I’m the only person in the room every single time I say it!


  6. schippers

    It’s amazing that producers were still turning out rocketship movies like this one in the 1960s. You’d really never know this movie wasn’t shot in the early-mid 50s if you weren’t familiar with the relative ages of the performers (or, like didn’t check out the copyright date, or something).

    What I love the most about this movie is that SUCH a lot of hoo-ha is made about the shrinking, when really it amounts to absolutely nothing apart from a device for rendering it impossible for Chapman to escape (oh, and also being a pointless nod to Gulliver’s Travels).

    Imagine if a nation used the same penal code as the one on display in this film. The path to citizenship is just an attempted homicide away!


  7. sol-survivor

    I listened to this episode at work tonight and noticed that Sessom pronounces the name of his planet at least 3 different ways. Roughly RAYton, RayTON, and RayTIN. Maybe he was just tired. He does seem to need to go to bed a lot.

    So with all their great knowledge of science no one could figure out that Zetha was mute because of trauma from a previous Solarite attack? Or maybe she just didn’t have anything to say.


  8. Cornjob

    If a movie fails the Bechdel test does it not get to graduate?


  9. Watch-out-for-Snakes

    The black and white rocketship movies aren’t really my favorite subgenre of MST movie, but they aren’t terrible (unless Rocky and Winky are involved) and The Phantom Planet is one of the better ones. It’s light and fun (except for that sortra dark opening scene with Chapman’s co-pilot getting lost in space) with a nonsense story and goofy special effects, more or less perfect fodder for riffing by Mike and the Bots.

    The Host Segments are so-so, the best ones being HS#1 (the Good and the Beautiful) and the ending with Crow in his Solarite costume (where does he find the time to make these things?).


    Crow: “Grandpa tried to use the microwave again.”

    movie: “Something approaching fast..”
    Mike: “It looks crispy!”

    Crow: “It’s extra crispy, no wait! It’s original recipe!”

    Crow: “Spazz-stronaut.”

    Crow: “Frank, you’ll have to take 3rd grade again-gain-ain-in-n.”

    Mike: “This guy’s shaped like Dr. Beverly Crusher.”

    Crow: “So people are just balloons?”

    Mike: “Space Batch!”

    Chapman pats Herron’s back,
    Mike: “There. There.”

    Mike: “Release the hushpuppies!”

    Crow: “Tight turning radius on that chicken thing there.”

    Mike: “It’s no good, their defense is too crispy.”

    Crow: “You can’t flashback to something that happened 10 minutes ago!”

    That scene with the co-pilot getting lost in space was strangely reminiscent of this summer’s big sci-fi hit, Gravity. Not in anyway in regards to execution (obviously) but more in just the abstract terror of drifting in space. For a split second, The Phantom Planet was kind of a bummer, but then Chapman lands on that chicken strip and everything gets goofy and fun again. YAY!

    I give this one
    4 out of 5 for the good and the beautiful. . .


  10. robot rump!

    like some other posters i am MST-ied eyed at the state of our space travel capabilities. watching some of the old movies where you have the Chunk Squarejaws of the world flying to the thirteenth moon of Jupiter, cruising the outer limits looking for space pirates or better yet, you’re prepping for a mission to the Moon when someone gets the idea to shoot you out to Venus just because. maybe they SHOULD have told us about those monkeys that they launched into space and came back super intelligent.


  11. Ian L.

    Something about the movie itself is really unsettling to me, despite the dated special effects. Maybe it’s the haunting soundtrack, maybe it’s the shrinking aspect to the plot, maybe it’s Chapman being stuck somewhere he doesn’t want to be, maybe it’s the designs of the Solarites, maybe it’s Makonnen floating forever in deep space…

    I don’t recall the riffs being all that spectacular. It also has the unfortunate handicap of being sandwiched in-between two of the better season 9 episodes, “The Projected Man” and “The Pumaman” (followed closely by WURWILF!)


  12. Creeping-Death

    Always enjoyed this episode. 4 stars.

    Favorite lines:

    Servo: Rayton Chong

    Makonnen: You know, Captain, every year of my life, I grow more and more convinced that the wisest and best is to fix our attention on the good and the beautiful…
    Crow [as Chapman]: Don’t hit him…
    Makonnen: …if you just take the time to look at it.
    Chapman: You’re some guy, Makonnen.

    Mike[as Makonnen]: You know, Captain, every day I think we should be the wisest and bestest we could be.
    Crow[as Chapman]: Yeah, whatever, Ray.

    Crow[as Makonnen] You know, Captain, I’M SCARED!!

    Mike [as Makonnen]: You know, Captain…
    Crow [as Chapman]: Shut up, Ray!

    Mike[as Chapman]: You know, it turns out its not funny at all when you fart in a spacesuit.

    Chapman: Now they’ll never believe me…
    Mike [as Chapman]: [Unemotionally] I’ll have to kill them all.

    Servo: We find him GUILTY! GUILTY!
    G-U-I-L … T-Y!
    Guilty! Guilty!
    G-U-I-L … T-Y!
    Whoo! Yaaaay!


  13. touches no one's life, then leaves

    For any interested individuals:


  14. schippers

    #113 –




    So, does that mean the whole comic/movie really WAS just all in Frank’s head? And, like, when he was knocked out, he, like, made that little whatever it was that Zetha made for him on the asteroid?

    I’m confused.


  15. HeyCabot!

    You know Captain, this is a good and beautiful episode. It has chicken nugget asteroids (“It’s no good, their defenses are too crispy”), dog-faced aliens (“Excuse me ma’am, I really need to go walkies”), a weird-looking blonde guy (“I claim this planet for strange-looking blonde men everywhere”) and the two women he doesn’t deserve. (“Take her.” “No, take her.”) It also has some of the hokiest philosophy (“You know Captain…”) and fluffiest science fiction (“So humans are just balloons?!”) this side of Puma Man.

    I want to make a special mention of all the goofy spaceship sequences, with screeching tire sound effects for the turns and the dramatic music for a feeble takeoff. “Does this tepid little scene really merit the DA DADADA!?”

    These black and white spaceship movies usually bore me to tears, but this one is pure gold.


  16. Cornjob

    I’m among the ones who find the co-pilot drifting off into the infinite nothingness of deep space to be disturbing. But that’s just me.


  17. trickymutha

    For the first time in awhile, I watched the weekly discussion film late last night. I found this movie would have fit in good in season 2 or 3 for Joel. That said, I enjoyed the white bread cheeseness, and, reinvested in my contempt for the Leech woman. The riffing was good and beautiful- and, while not a laugh out loud episode, provided needed comfort food as the second part of a Friday double header (episode one last night was Star force two). “Plastics Benjamin, Plastics.”


  18. Savvy

    In honor of this episode, I have created a list of all the riffs on the Chicken Nugget Meteor Things. Enjoy!

    1. “From this pivotal point, astronauts at the risk of their lives set out to conquer nature’s mysterious forces.” Tom: “Like this granola.”
    2. “Something’s approaching fast!” Mike: “It looks crunchy!”
    3. Crow: “Those nooks and crannies really hold the butter!”
    4. Mike: “Damn, it’s deep-fried!”
    5. Tom: “Honey Bunches…of DEATH!”
    6. Mike: “Oh, it was nice of the credits to let those things through.”
    7. Crow: “Attack…of the killer PEANUT BRITTLE!”
    8. “Here they come!” Tom: “Prepare the milk!”
    9. Tom: “There’s a French burned peanut off the port bough!
    10. Crow: “It’s extra crispy! No no no, wait! It’s original recipy!”
    11. Mike: “Oh, no. It comes with slaw!”
    12. Crow: “This came out of Lyndon Johnson’s gall bladder!”
    13. “Incredible!” Mike: “Edible!”
    14. Mike: “We thought the audience would enjoy looking at a LUMP!”
    15. Crow: “Well, maybe if they didn’t disguise the planet as a Chicken McNugget the dogs wouldn’t ATTACK IT!”
    16. Mike: “Shake ‘n’ Bake, and I: DEATH!”
    17. Crow: “Wow. Tight turning radius on that chicken thing, there.”
    18. Mike: “It’s no good. Their defense is too crispy!”
    19. Crow: “Heh. Their bed technology is light-years behind their space-going chicken technology.”
    20. Tom: “Farewell, chunked and formed light and dark meat!”
    21. Tom: “So long, no less than ninety-five percent meat and meat by-product!”
    Mike: “They did chicken right.”
    Tom: “Yes!”

    A few things…
    -Pearl, for being incredibly evil, puts up a good fight to make sure Bobo doesn’t harm any “Liver Ats”.
    -I really like the score for this movie. There’s just something about it. It has some neat rhythms, harmonies, and melodies.
    -I love how Crow briefly sings the Olympics Theme as the tympanies play when Frank Chapman walks out for his hearing.
    -Pearl and Brain Guy share a particularly awkward moment during “Bobo Unchained”.
    -Mike does a surprisingly impressive evil female laugh. “Trust me completely.”
    -The dog riffs on the solarites are hilarious. Tom nails it: “He’s just a Shar-Pei with a parted afro wearing a pizza slicer!”
    -When will Chapman button up his shirt, already?!
    -One of my favorite riffs is Mike’s Northwest Airlines slam: “Just want to remind you this is a Northwest flight, so we’ll be sitting in the tarmac for an hour with no beverages and the air conditioning, and flight attendants are overworked and abusive, and if you complain, we’ll throw you off the flight.” Genius.
    -And, of course, the stinger is a perfect balance of good and beautiful.


  19. Creeping-Death

    Is this their longest stinger? It lasts a whopping 17 seconds.


  20. insidemyhead

    The Peter Graves “…learned too late that man is a feeling creature…” stinger was longer, right?


  21. touches no one's life, then leaves


    (so it’s an old comment, so what?)

    Presumably, the captive Solarite is about the size of the Rehtons because he/she/it is, like Chapman, breathing Rehton’s atmosphere. Solarites outside of Rehton’s atmosphere might be as large as HUMANS are outside of Rehton’s atmosphere, so, yes, they could conceivably pose a threat to Earth.

    Of course, if the Solarite ships are “regular-sized” spaceships, Rehton technology is obviously quite advanced to be able to destroy such (to them) gigantic vessels. After all, they pulled 100% regular-sized Earth spaceships right out of space fairly easily.


  22. IR5

    Currently, this episode appears about every two weeks Sunday nights on Comet. Me- I watch. Me- I laugh. Wife- she laughs. It’s funny comfort food in a hectic world. Love the old guy. And, Frank Chapman as Henry Fonda as Space Beef.


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