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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 (273 votes, average: 4.25 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?”

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

  1. swh1939 says:

    My biggest memory of this episode relates to the previous episode — my major sigh of relief that the theatre segments had correctly-mixed audio. Whew!!


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

    Servo’s hands MUST work intermittently, or how could he pick up things that we occasionally see in his hands? Presumably they just “lock up” now and then.

    Welch Everman’s “Cult Science Fiction Films” (I’m pretty sure that’s the book, anyway) points out a throwaway oddity; Sesom says that Chapman is “wise” and will one day be one of Rehton’s leaders. Why? He just got there a few days ago. It’s an example of supposed “squarejawed white guy superiority” that is glaring by its very casualness. Or something like that.

    So if Chapman stayed on Rehton (which btw is “another” spelled backward, minus the N), he could be a, I don’t know, co-ruler or something with the woman he loves. Instead he goes back to Earth. That Cold War patriotism thing could really pinch sometimes, I guess.


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

    That should’ve been “spelled backward, minus the A”…


  4. Finnias Jones says:

    “You know, Captain…”

    Featuring a number of veterans from Season 5’s “12 to the Moon”, this earnest 1961 sci-fi minor-piece gets a pass if only for the casting of the Leech Woman herself and the anoxeric ballerina from Human Duplicators as the Betty & Veronica to Dean Fredericks’ Archie. He portrays a convincing hero, even if his circumstances are not always so. The Sosem = Moses thing always went over my head, beyond him being the leader of a nomadic/exiled tribe. And as someone said in a recent thread, “God Bless Richard Kiel.” Even as a dog-faced alien, he’s still sympathetic (also a Human Dupe vet).

    I’m mostly fond of the eerie romantic score, mainly the same 2 or 3 music cues played repeatedly (Mike sings along at one point, “Some guys in space…”), which sounds boring but becomes hypnotic, resulting in the whole experience on Rheton seeming like a dream. This is the inspiration for the water glass music sketch in which Mike plays Debussy’s “Arabesque #1”. Lovely moment.The film credits Gordon Zahler as music supervisor but IMDB credits Leith Stevens as the actual composer. I’d wager I’ve heard this music in other films from the same era.

    IMDB also quotes some dialogue that I assume was cut by the Brains for time:
    Sessom: It’s true that our technology may be further advanced than yours, but then strange things happened.
    Capt. Frank Chapman: What was that?
    Sessom: We let our machines do all our work. People on Rheton became completely free of all labor, practically of all responsibility. Our people became soft and lazy. They did not know how to cope with their free time. They started to fight among themselves.
    Capt. Frank Chapman: That’s very interesting. Many people on Earth are beginning to face the same problem: too much free time, too little work.
    Capt. Frank Chapman: A problem not at all unique in the history of the universe.

    This is similar to the theme of Wall-E. Another poster at IMDB observed a Star Wars connection which I also noted: “…when the Solarites turn up, the scream sound effect of their ships sounds very Tie Fighterish.”

    TPP is filled with that cool-sounding pseudo-science so common in 50’s-era space flicks, making it ripe for ripping apart by Mike & the ‘Bots (“So people are just balloons?”). The theater segments are all good, but the host segments are all over the place. Pearl is particularly annoying here, a trend that would continue till the end of the series.

    Some riffs that stood out to me on this viewing:
    “I don’t trust soups on the whole, no more than I trust stews.”
    “Space Batch!”
    “Is someone rubbing a cat against a zither?”
    “Hey girls, wanna make a ‘me’ sandwich?”
    “Yes, I don’t. No, I do. What?”


  5. klisch says:

    I also enjoy the old black and white science fiction films they mock and was pleasantly surprised when this aired. The lack of special effects and the obsurd story line is easy pickings for riffing. Only thing I can think that is a negative is the long winded speeches that seem to go on and on.


  6. Colossus Prime says:

    This episode used to bore the heck out of me. Then when it came out on DVD I rewatched it and fell in love. Great, great episode.

    The movie is awesomely corny with great made up physics. I also love that the Phantom Planet seems to have no problem plowing through whatever space ship gets in their way but randomly decides to save Chapman’s. I wonder if the dialogue from the trial scene inspired David Mamet’s signature rephrase-every-sentence-as-a-question writing. :)

    Also from the trial scene, the following exchange is just priceless:

    Space Guy: I find you guilty as charged. The jury is dismissed. That is all. You are now a free subject of Rehton.
    Chapman: That is not all. Listen, I don’t know what kind of place this is but you must have some kind of law here.

    Dude, you were just on trial. That’s part of a law system, ya goob.

    The riffs are absolutely solid on this one. The fake conversations they give Frank to flash back on (“I’m afraid you’re not Seven Eleven timber, Frank”) are priceless. Plus the logic break down of the Solarite is fantastic (“Ok, her hair controls the light switch”).

    “Get the pipe wrench and then murder Bobo, won’t you?” is delivered so perfectly.

    Funny note about the first host segment in that the two primary women they pick (Anna Nicole Smith and Tawny Kateng) were attractive for all of maybe a couple of years.

    Above all this episode has one of my all time favorite host segments: Crow’s self realization of insanity when he realizes he has no memory of dressing up as a Solarite.


  7. Shinola says:

    This is one of my favorites, and a definite highlight of season nine. With the exception of Puma Man, this marks the beginning of a great run for the Brains, all the way to Hobgoblins.

    I’m a fan of the rocket movies, too. The 1950s notion of routine space travel in wildly implausible tin-can spacecraft amuses me, though I’m sure someone will say the same about our views on space travel six decades hence.

    But hey, a great outing all around. I like M&TB’s riffs on the physics of a human shrinking or growing into a contained space (“Wait, wait! My thumb’s bent backwards!”).

    But I believe the best riff sequence was the “flashback” as Chapman lapsed into unconciousness shortly after the crash landing:

    CROW: Frank, you’ll have to take third grade again… gain… gain…
    MIKE: Mr. Chapman, this is Western Financial Collections. Do you value your credit rating… rating… rating…
    CROW: I’m afraid you’re just not 7-11 timber, Frank… Frank… Frank…
    TOM: You’re the worst party clown we’ve ever had… had… had…


  8. Joseph Nebus says:

    I loved the villagers `storming’ Castle Forrester and what happened to them. It’s so Minnesota Nice Addams Family, you know?

    The un-MiSTed version of this episode can be found on every public-domain-movie DVD set ever.

    For all the goofiness of Rehton’s setup there is something about the dreamy way that Pasty White Guy gets there, has his experiences, and comes out with precious little evidence of what happens that feels faintly classical. Of course, that’s because much better stories like The Wizard Of Oz or certain Twilight Zone episodes used the same gimmick, but it’s also in line with tales of utopias that can be reached only in dreams. Was there any other need to have people be balloons other than to give a reason that Pasty Guy couldn’t easily show the Rehtonians off when rescue arrived?


  9. badger1970 says:

    This was like a sword and sandal movie on the moon with very boring characters, boring, who-cares plot, funny monsters and long monologues (w/o the pomposity of Plan 9). Perfect pickings for MST3k.


  10. Fart Bargo says:

    Great movie to riff! I also enjoy 50s space movies. I found the funniest riff to be M&TB snikering to the doomed Lt. Makonnen recitation of the Lord’s Prayer as he helplessly paws for his just out of reach air compression gun. “Our Father who art in heaven…” hehehe, guffaw, hahahahahah! I love the irreverent I guess.


  11. ck says:

    Richard Kiel’s monstrous performance in this movie doesn’t quite
    equal his thespianism in Eegah. Amazing how much he improved
    in one year. ;-)


  12. Gummo says:

    Love this one. “The good and the beautiful” is still a catchphrase around the Gummo household.

    Why DO those 1960s spaceships have 3 foot high doors anyway??


  13. Gummo says:

    Also, this is a fun one to watch un-MST’d in a Kilgore Trout kinda way — some good ideas, but across-the-board awful execution.

    And that simpering look his co-pilot gives Chapman never fails to squick me out.


  14. #6: Great point about the trial. You can also add this:

    “Is the prisoner from another world ready to hear the charges against him?”
    “Charges? What charges?”

    I’ll take that as a “yes”.

    I just love this one, too… the fake science, the ambitiousness and yet cheesiness of the execution, the constant scenes of people walking around a dinky papier mache set in robes.

    What’s funny is, for all their ambition, there’s no attempt to give Captain Fredericks any real humanity. If they were going to do flashbacks (“this planet is great for my sinuses”), couldn’t they have made up some basic Ed Wood scenes of a wife and kids or something? No, because it was a cheesy and transparent way to reuse footage. I love Mike and the bots’ riffs on that, though (“Wake up, Frank, you wet the bed -ed -ed,” “Frank, you’ll have to take the third grade again -ain, -ain”).

    Still, Coleen Gray is better than the film she’s in. And what was all that about her saying “Maybe I can help you”? She never does anything after that! Chapman’s escape is all Anthony “Fire Maidens of Outer Space” Dexter’s doing.

    One thing I always get a laugh out of is how Richard Kiel obviously can not see or move in that costume. “He’s an elderly Solarite, he has trouble with stairs.”

    As for the host segments, I agree they’re kind of dull. The riff on the “good and the beautiful” is kind of clunky, and the water glass rim music is mildly amusing but nothing special. Though what is that piece that Mike is playing? I used to think it was “Clair de Lune”, but it isn’t.

    “Andy Rooney-offs are funny…”


  15. Kenneth Morgan says:

    Shows how much I know; for a long time, I only knew the waterglass music as the theme to “Star Hustler”.

    Still, very funny episode and a very goofy movie.


  16. Shinola says:

    @Kenneth Morgan: Yes! I remember that show from when I was a kid. Our local PBS station used to run it right before the nightly sign-off. To this day, among the co-workers my age in the office, “Greetings, stargazers!” (preferably spoken in Horkheimer’s over-the-top manner) gets big laughs.


  17. Roman Martel says:

    What gets me about this movie is how terribly useless everyone turns out to be. Chapman is supposed to be our hero, but he doesn’t really do anything but wander around and hit on the ladies.

    Liara makes threats after Chapman snubs her, but nothing comes of it (unless it was cut from the MST3K version of the film). Then you have the Solarites, who fly around a bit in thier flaming ships but don’t do much damage to anyone. Even the free range one just grabs Zetha… for what reason, we never know. But it is quickly dispatched, so Chapman can have his Cal “Thank God I saved you” moment.

    Only Sesom and Herron seem to be capable of any action, as dumb as it is. Just a strangely written movie. :shock:

    I have to say that while the episode is entertaining, it’s more of an average one for me. Average riffing and average host segments. I don’t watch this one often, but I usualy enjoy it when I do. 3 stars.


  18. M "So Radioactive IMMEDIATELY Equals Bad, Huh?" Sipher says:

    Pearl’s all over the map in her appearances here, and frankly, I find it hilarious. Going from full-on mad conqueror to Jewish mother, her casual indifference to Bobo’s plight (why does she have a box of live rats anyway?), self-deprecatingly irked to scared out of her wits to salvaging her pitious scraps of dignity, then from petulant child back to full-on conqueror… right back into loser mode. It’s an unpredictability that’s really great for a comedic villain.

    And the “Solarite” bit is a nice little pseudo-meta look at Crow’s costume fetish over the last season. “The weird part is, I don’t even remember DOING this! And it’s a very good costume!” Bill knows how to sell that kind of nuts.

    The movie. Movie, movie, movie. Oh, White Male Reality. There’s something refreshingly innocent and stupid about the big white chunk hero archetype who just plows his way unthinkingly through anything, barking out indignantly whenever something unusual comes along. the “some kind of law” bit mentioned above is about as prime an example as any. He’s like an even less effective Cal Meecham; he’s supposedly really smart, but about all he really accomplishes is punching stuff while everyone else solves the big problems.

    I love, LOVE Bill’s hollow wheezing for air in the “mistakenly depressurized the cabin” gag. Mixed with Mike’s jovial “my bad” delivery, it’s a wonderful scene.


  19. Brandon says:

    Sampo: ““I should really just relax” item of the week: Hey, suddenly Tom’s hands work in segment 3!”

    In ep. 206, it’s said that the robots have two set sof arms. Ones that work, and ones that don’t.

    “Was this ship designed for Danny Devito?”


  20. Gummo says:

    “Funny note about the first host segment in that the two primary women they pick (Anna Nicole Smith and Tawny Kateng) were attractive for all of maybe a couple of years.”

    Well, I think the tackiness of Crow’s good-and-beautiful choices was part of the point.

    And that’s “Chapmanfrankchapman” to you.


  21. Johnny Ryde says:

    This one rarely comes up on my MST3k viewing rotation just because I find the film itself so boring and plodding. Still, rewatching this one in anticipation of the episode guide did reveal some fun moments (most of which have been mentioned). I really like the snickering when the old guy — after mercilessly blowing up the doggie invasion fleet — sighs and says something along the lines of: “Oh, but I am filled with regret at having to resort to violence…”

    Oh, and you’re some guy, Makonnen.


  22. M "You Still have Sloppy Bread" Sipher says:

    Also? Gypsy’s response to the Andy-Rooney-off is classic. Beautiful.


  23. Rex Dart says:

    A marvelous but low-key episode. This is one of those great episodes, that (for some reason) probably won’t appear on anyone’s favorite list. But that’s just fine with me.

    Good host segments. Beautiful riffing. The good and the beautiful has been sufficiently covered by this episode.


  24. Yipe Striper says:

    i love the bold voiceover at the beginning of the movie… reminds me of Terror from year 5000.

    i also love Liara’s laugh when she says that “Chapstick” Chapman will never see his world again (its mike laughing… but he laughes like Liara would). Evil.


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

    >>>why does she have a box of live rats anyway?

    Where would mad science be without lab rats?

    “Look, my mouse melted!” (from “The She-Creature”)


  26. Yipe Striper says:

    This episode is on my iPod Nano. That’s pretty high praise from me, Rex… i know how you feel.


  27. pablum says:

    Just another average episode for me. I hardly remember anything from it other than the Andy Rooney competition, and that was more “cute” than funny to me.

    This episode looks and feels like early season 8, and as such has been completely wiped from my memory for being so bland and similar.


  28. DON3k says:

    Mind the deadly gravity-well-plates in our main chamber, won’t you?


  29. Ator In Flight says:

    Good episode,a bit of a rebound after the last one.

    I like how they show Mike clipping Tom’s fingernails. A peek into the daily life on the S.O.L.


  30. H says:

    I like this one a good deal. The movie is good, right up their alley. The host segments are good too. I especially like the Andy Rooney-off and Crow’s meta moment at the end.


  31. Colossus Prime says:

    Just a random riff to throw into the conversation:

    TOM – “You want to see it. Ok just let me lift up my dress. There it is. Taadaa.”


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

    I Love Three Eyed Crow.

    I’ve watched this one a lot, and I’ve watched 3 times over the last few days. I go 5, but I am not sure I would give 5 to any of the individual components. The subject movie is watchable enough, the riffing is thorough and strong but not exceptionable, same for the host segments. It is a very balanced episode, and makes for good viewing, and that balance pushes it over to a 5 for me. Or something.

    The film has ( and let me apologize in advance ) a certain quiet dignity, and it is by no means the worst science we’ve seen. And it does seem to have some ambition, or maybe pretension, to some level of low-budget quality.

    The bot comment about White Guys in Jumpsuits does evoke a thought. It would have been interesting to see what a dose of, um, color might have done to the riffing & writing over the years. ( And please, I’m not playing any kind of card )

    Good & Beautiful SOL Style : Great Stuff, one of my favorites, because it is so naturalistically played, very conversational.. But Sampo, Anna Nichol Smith hardly counts as a ‘then current reference’. You might vaguely remember her being in the news a few years ago. But to Gummo’s point ( @20 ), her ample beauty would count as ‘then current’.

    I’ll say it again. MJP’s work as Pearl is great.

    I haven’t chimed in on this before, but I like the Castle Forrester setting.

    The Rooney-off was pretty funny, if a little clichéd, even back then.

    I have to say I was not in love with the water glass music bit. If I was the kind of person that FF’d stuff, I might FF though that.

    Loved the “some guys in space” call back.

    The Chapman flashbacks ( 7-11, Credit rating ) were priceless.

    Maybe 1950’s spaceship doors were small in imitation of submarines.

    Finally a Size 8, oops 6 oops


  33. Iggy Pop's Brother Steve Pop says:

    This was an absolutely ideal movie for MST3K. It’s super-serious in tone, but is really goofy. Also, it moves along reasonably well, so the Brains aren’t struggling with filling up dead time.

    The riff that really nailed it was when the narrator gives his portentous opening speech, and Mike quips, “That said, enjoy your crappy sci-fi movie.” This works better on repeat viewings, when you know the silliness that is to come.

    This episode has one of my most-used riffs. When Chapman gives the date as 1980 in his log, Crow says, “Oh, our OLD future.”

    Obvious riff the Brains didn’t do, when Chapman is crouching to go through one of those little doors: “Why doesn’t he just go around the wall like the camera does?” That was an odd, odd bit of direction.


  34. Finnias Jones says:

    Its “Kitaen”. You guys obviously have never seen “The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik-Yak.” Or were never Whitesnake fans.

    As the bit ends, Servo suggests the tasty combo of Tiffani-Amber Thiessen and eggs florentine. She’s since lost the “Amber,” but kept her looks, and still has a career.

    And Sampo, the stinger on my Rhino DVD of this ends just fine with, “You’re some guy, Makonnen.”


  35. Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    “I like you.””…and you can’t say you don’t like me.”


  36. Spector says:

    I think they should’ve started the season with this movie rather than the flat “Projected Man”. Another really goofy outer-space sci-fi flick from the 50s which given what we know about space today just makes it even funnier even without the riffing of Mike and the ‘Bots, who were in good form throughout. I’d rank this amongst the “very good” list of MST3K episodes, and especially loved the “Andy Rooney-off” competition at the start of the show. Overall a solid effort leading up to some of the best of Season Nine.


  37. AlbuquerqueTurkey says:

    The “good and beautiful” bit, and the definition of what is a soup or a stew, often get used around our house, usually to humorous effect.

    The Solarites were just too cute to be menacing. Doggy-faces, submissive postures, Carol Channing’s wardrobe – what’s not to like? They were really cute dog-like creatures. (A possible future discussion thread might be: what is the “cutest” animal or animal-like creature in a MSTed movie? Offhand, I’d nominate the baby bears from Jack Frost. Trumpy was kind of cute too, in his own bizarre little way. Not that I’m an expert on cute – my wife or daughter would probably overrule me.)


  38. JCC says:

    Not one of the episodes I revisit often, but of course, pretty funny.

    Dolores Faith may be extremely thin, but not where it counts. AWOOGA!

    I wonder if her and Kiel reminisced about this film while making The Human Duplicators?

    The main guy’s rival, Anthony Dexter, was also in Fire Maidens from Outer Space. He experienced enough Fiddle Faddle asteroids to last him a lifetime.


  39. clonus says:

    @36 I agree this would have been a better opener for the season. What’s weird is that it seems that the only reason 901 aired first (with bad audio) was to set up that Castle Forrester storyline that SciFi was so obsessed with. They could have just held 901 back until it was fixed in the old days.


  40. norgavue says:

    This is a hard one to watch for me. The riffing is great, host segments entertaining enough, but these kinda of movies put me to sleep for some reason. Must be the whole space thing.


  41. RPG says:

    I’m quite sure that the ‘rubbing a cat against a zither’ music in this movie is the same from the ‘monsters metal machine music’ in Horror of Party Beach.


  42. Droppo says:

    This one gets an “okay” rating for me. The “good and the beautiful” speech is terrific. And I do like the Andy Rooney-off. But, nothing else really jumps out at me.

    I’m baffled by the praise for Pearl. I so desperately WANT to enjoy her. I just…don’t. At all. And the Mad Scientist angle seemed forced (which I believe it was by Sci Fi). I just never bought into it.

    On the plus side…in Season 9, you can sense an even greater chemistry between Bill, Kevin and Mike. They really work so well together and it no longer felt like the “new Crow” was trying to assimilate. It was a new dynamic and although I am a huge Trace fan and consider his Crow to be the definitive one…I really love Bill’s performance. And I give everyone a ton of credit for creating a different dynamic with the same character. Bill’s surly take is hilarious. And I do like the running gag of Crow losing his mind and dressing like characters from the movie.


  43. rcfagnan says:

    A good episode, one I seem to like more each time I watch it. One of my favorite riffs, which hasn’t been mentioned here, is on the sound F/X as Frank and Makonnan try to fix the ship: “Is Yosemite Sam shooting at them?” and “Come out here varmint!” or something like that. I love Yosemite Sam references. And having recently watched with my mother (when the episode was first broadcast, not now) Andy Rooney whining about how libraries should only contain reference material, I found the Rooney-Off especially delicious. What a maroon.


  44. pearliemae says:

    Yes, plodding movie. But it has it’s moments. I always crack up during the scene of the “huge battle” with the Solarites. It ends quickly. Someone asks where mute girl is. “Oh, she went to bed.” Yeah, nothing going on around here, may as well get some shut-eye. And, the title is quilted for softness.


  45. NormalView82 says:

    Chapman and Meecham were separated at birth! I would have loved to have seen a crossover film starring both those meatheads, “This Phantom Island” maybe?

    I was lukewarm on this episode the first time I saw it, but after repeated viewings it has grown on me. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for “First Spaceship To Venus”. No matter how many times I try to watch it I just can’t make it all the way through. I think what has endeared me to “The Phantom Planet” are the repeated fried chicken/KFC descriptions of the planet itself. That and the short tunic outfits for the ladies-YOWSA!


  46. The Bolem says:

    Heee’s a he-ro,
    Gon-na’ taaake pol-lution,

    -Oh! Sorry, wrong guy…

    While an improvement over the season premiere, this one still left me feeling like Season 9 was going to be more low-key and not reach the epic hilarity of Season 8. Yet in hindsight, the fact that the movie somehow feels like a best-of summary of the the last season’s first 9 B&W (Leech Woman’s there, Mole-People-esque civilization), and Crow analyzing that habit he developed back then makes me feel like they were somehow putting S8 behind them before PUMAMAN really kicked S9 into high gear. Looking at it that way, there’s actually a strong parallel between the two, since Crow acknowledging his problem here is a LOT like when he acknowledged he had indeed changed and did in fact remember Mike in #803, and many of us feel Season 8 kinda’ dragged a bit until Giant Spider Invasion 10 shows in, whereas here it got much more memorable by the 3rd ep. (I know not everyone likes #903 that much better, but it was far more unique than the two preceding it)

    I watched this one last summer, so I’m likely misquoting it, but my favorite riff is during a close-up on a Solarite fighter pilot, where all you can see is him in the cockpit bubble completely surrounded by flames, and, “Aww crap, my engine light’s on again”, is delivered with such casual annoyance.

    And when his co-pilot gets shot off the rocket by “Black Bart and his gang”, was that supposed to be a barrage of tiny asteroids, or Solarite weapons’ fire? I thought once we saw how similar the Solarite fighters’ shots were, we were supposed to realize in hindsight that they’d killed Ensign Good’n’Beautiful, but no one else who’s seen this agrees with me. Any official word on this?

    And does anyone else think the “The Good and the Beautiful” skit was inspired by the SNL gameshow skit, “Food, Sex, and Cars?” Stating the assumption that those 3 things are all men really care about, the show made 3 male contestants choose between a particular type of food, a female celebrity, and a model of car as to which was most desirable; guess wrong, and you’re eliminated. In the lightning round, the finalist had to choose between Bea Arthur, a 5-gallon can of lard, and a ’68 Gremlin. I haven’t seen it in over a decade, so it might’ve been a Pinto instead, I dunno’. The seriousness with which Crow ponders the plates of food and pics of women just brings that skit back into perfect focus every time I watch #902, even though I can’t remember who hosted or what other skits were adjacent to it. I just know it was mid-90’s, shortly before Saturday Night Live really started going downhill.

    And speaking of other TV tie-ins, all my MSTie friends in college immediately recognized Mike’s piece as “the Star Hustler theme” (and once, I just happened to be in my lobby as someone started playing it on our dorm’s piano!), but since I graduated, no one I mention it to seems to know what I’m talking about. That guy also had host segments in Cartoon Network’s Friday night lineup for a year, after which those too went downhill. They didn’t hit rock-bottom until they cancelled Toonami though. Since then, the only bright spot outside of Adult Swim was when the professional thumb-wrestlers hosted Saturday morning, but even that has now passed.

    But perhaps nothing touched on in this ep has gone further downhill than Andy Rooney. He used to be the reason you bothered watching 60 Minutes since he seemed like an intelligent old curmudgeon telling it like it was, even if it was some side to the repercussions of the O.J. Simpson trial that most people didn’t want to hear. But after he said something that a few Christian organizations took the wrong way (I don’t remember what, but it was around 9-11), CBS apparently cracked down and neutered him, and now he just sounds like a senile old fart, rambling on about how he loses his keys in the clutter of his workspace, never uttering a meaningful sentence about anything relevant. Meanwhile, Pat Robertson is allowed to come right out and say that a few hundred thousand Haitians actually deserved to die in that earthquake. Aren’t double-standards fun?

    Er, sorry I’m going off-topic, but SciFi era discussions always get my nostalgia firing on all cylinders.

    The jokes about him reinflating into his suit likely inspired a joke my friends and I now always blurt out during Transformers: The Movie. When Daniel finally makes his exo-suit transform into car mode: “‘Hey wait, my leg’s in the wrong spot–Agh!–AAAAAEEEEEE!!!’, and then we see the canopy fill up with blood as he rolls away”.

    My freshman college roommate’s favorite riff as our hero’s being hauled out just after the deflation scene. Servo: “He IS an alien! He only has one!”

    The movie’s slow in spots, even with the riffing, but dreamlike quality culminating in the well-executed ‘Or WAS it a dream?’ ending raises it a few notches, making it feel like a cross between Mole People and The Undead that’s fun on its own or with ‘bots. But like I said, no matter how good this ep is, to me it was just the stronger part of the wind-up that made PUMAMAN one of the greatest home runs in the show’s history.


  47. schippers says:

    This story…is only the beginning!


  48. MiqelDotCom says:

    I’d like to like this episode but it just doesn’t make me laugh out loud. The host segments are sorta weak and the riffing is not too memorable. 3 stars.

    The “science” in the movie is hilarious though!
    – The “phantom planet” isn’t even really a planet, more like a small asteroid.

    … ok, nothing grows on their ‘planet’, no plants or other animals … how did this race evolve? Where did they come from?

    – Are the “Solarites” also a race of tiny people? Why haven’t the Solarites ever attacked Earth if they are in the neighborhood?

    – Crow “it used to be great when you could fix those rockets yourself with just a crescent wrench”

    – What’s with the “good and the beautiful” thing, was that supposed to tie in with the theme of the film somewhere?

    While the crew walks on the wing of the rocket – “Good thing there’s so much gravity out in space”

    Nonsense: “The sudden bursts of concentrated heat directed on Raton might suddenly speed up the process of time”


  49. MiqelDotCom says:

    Oh and one obscure riff … when there’s a long high-pitched tone Crow says “it must be Kenny G again”

    I’m pretty sure this was around the time that Kenny G got in the Guinness Book of World Records for playing a single note for the longest duration. It was an hour or more (circular breathing)
    (btw, he stole the record from Rahsaan Roland Kirk who played for 3 hours in the 1970s but for some reason it wasn’t certified)


  50. mikek says:

    3 stars. I rarely watch this episode. The movie is dull, although it is filled with delicious looking asteroids. The host segments are okay, except for the first one. The Andy Rooney Off is awful, cringe-worthy and not funny at all. Mike and the ‘Bots manage to be even more annoying than the real Andy Rooney, causing me to be more sympathetic towards him.

    Favorite Riffs:

    “Somehow the answer to all this is big white guys in jumpsuits.” To which Mike says, “Hey!”

    “Hey, it’s an ‘adult’ rocket ship.”

    “He’s got a shape like Dr. Beverly Crusher.”


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