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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: 903- The Pumaman

Movie: (1980) After discovering that he has inherited super powers, a mild-mannered young professor must do battle with a villain using a mind-control device.

First shown: 4/4/98
Opening: Tom has Short Man’s disease
Intro: Tom is better; Pearl’s ball is somewhat under-attended, while Observer has Ortega and some buddies over
Host segment 1: Mike offends Shelli the Nanite, so his dry look does not come out well
Host segment 2: Mike has been chosen to be Coatimundi Man
Host segment 3: Crow and Tom capture the mind of Roger Whitaker
End: Crow resigns briefly; while a guest finally arrives at Pearl’s party
Stinger: Puma Man is defenestrated
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (333 votes, average: 4.70 out of 5)

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• This is a beloved episode, so beloved that the last time we did a poll of fans to find out which episode they wanted to see released on DVD, this one was at the top of the list. Me, I’d call this one good, not great. The movie is incredibly stupid and reasonably watchable and the riffing is top-notch, but the host segments range from only mildly funny to not.
• Paul’s take is here.
References.
• A lot of people assumed this movie was somehow a ripoff of the TV show “Greatest American Hero.” After all, the story line is remarkably similar and the flying sequences are practically identical. But the TV show hit the air waves a year after this movie came out. Call it parallel development.
• Watch Pearl’s beauty mark. It moves around quite a bit.
• The intro segment marks the first instance of segments that mention how Observer has begun to develop a, um, personal life outside Pearl’s orbit. In this case, instead of buying into the whole “ball” thing Pearl has going on, he simply begs off because a gang of pals is over to watch “Sliders” (remember “Sliders”?). That’s Beez and Patrick as the pals, and of course Paul as Ortega.
• When Servo hits the theater for the first time, he still has his wig on.
• Of course that’s once again Mary Jo as Shelli the spiteful hairdessing nanite in segment 1.
• Following segment 2, Mike still has coatimundi hat on, prompting Servo to make a little host segment callback: He quietly says “Bold, Mike” (a reference to the famous barbecue sauce sketch in which he wore the same hat, or one very like it).
• Cast and crew roundup: Scriptwriter Massimo De Rita was assistant executive director on “Hercules.”
In front of the camera, Donald Pleasence was also in “Warrior of the Lost World,” Miguel Angel Fuentes was also in “Deathstalker III,” Benito Stefanelli was also in “Secret Agent Super Dragon” and Guido Lollobrigida was also “Operation Double 007.”
• CreditsWatch: Directed by Mike. Intern Scott Bowman begins a six-episode stint.
• Fave riff: “It’s S&M day at the Field Museum.” Honorable mention: “Donald’s only use of the word ‘comb’.”

181 Replies to “Episode guide: 903- The Pumaman”

  1. Yipe Striper says:

    I gotta get outta this forum… Vadinho has figured out its me that’s been writing anti-aztec stuff on the bathroom walls.

       3 likes

  2. Creeping-Death says:

    A great episode, 5/5. @ 149, in the unMST’d version, Vadinho lifts up the back end of Tony’s car to prevent him from escaping, tears a door lock off to break into Tony’s car and then rips the steering column off and bends the gearshift to escape Tony’s car! In another scene cut from MST3K, he uses a ritual to heal his wounds that he got Kobras’ men when he was briefly captured. And in the MST3K version, Pumaman attacks Kobras’ mansion, fails miserably, loses his powers and nearly kills himself. Vadinho attacks the mansion and manages to blow up Kobras’ HQ, freeing Jane, who then frees Tony from Kobras. Vadinho then proceeds to beat up wave after wave of goons while Pumaman hops around in the background, and helps out with a guy or two. Clearly Vadinho should have been the hero.

    Favorite lines:

    Crow: So, basically, the hero is this guy. I think it’s time we all face that fact!

    Crow: I’ll go mess up, and you save me!

    Mike: Help! I’m falling at a sixty degree angle breaking all the laws of physics!
    Servo: My mustache makes me fall sideways!

    The jokes about the Pumaman theme:
    Crow: Puma Man, he flies like a moron…
    Crow: Puma Man, when will he find love…
    Mike: Dick’s Red Owl, selection and service…
    Tom: Snyder Drug, we’re busting up prices…
    Crow: When, you want, the flavor of bacon in a dip…
    Tom: The fat-free yogurt that’s not short on flavor…
    Crow: Burn an old man, singe all his flesh off…
    Crow: Now they’re going to boff in the air…

    Mike: And we hear the dim cry of an anal probe.

       5 likes

  3. snowdog says:

    Love it. Goofy, fun movie. Good riffing. Normally, I love the nanite sketches, but the “dry look” gag is a bit heavy handed. Shelley is cool, though. Do you like her, or… ?

    I can’t believe there was time when the Pumaman’s flying casio demo theme music was considered cool enough to use in a motion picture. Over and over again. Those were the days.

       1 likes

  4. Droppo says:

    The movie and riffing are great.

    The host segments are rough. Pearl’s ball is definitively my least favorite series of host segments ever. The beauty mark, the mugging….wow.

    Overall, I’d give it a 4. If the host segments were strong, it could have been a 5.

       3 likes

  5. KidFlash25 says:

    Love it.

    I’d pre-order the DVD set with this episode RIGHT NOW if anyone could ever figure out who the hell has the rights.

       4 likes

  6. E - Just E says:

    One of my faves. This episode is my 10 year old daughters favorite. She told me last weekend she wants to have her friends over for a Puma Man sleepover. The next generation of Msties is growing!

       7 likes

  7. Trilaan says:

    I love the “dry look” segment, one of my favorites from this season, right up there with the time Mike comes down with “grizzled old prospector’s syndrome” from The Final Sacrifice.

    Crow: “If we could just re-direct a river onto your head I think we can salvage it.”

    Sliders was indeed great. Or, it was before The Sci-Fi Channel “rescued it” from Cancellation Hell(more like pulled it kicking and screaming from Cancelled Before It’s Time Heaven to be resurrected on a disease-ridded post-apocalyptic Earth just so that it could accomplish nothing and die gradually along with everyone else on Earth.)

       2 likes

  8. schippers says:

    #134 – Oh man, The Tommyknockers. That was Steve King when the dude was COKED UP, son. He was probably snorting about as much coke as the dudes who made Pumaman, come to think of it.

       0 likes

  9. pondoscp says:

    Here’s another one that I just don’t get. I guess ’cause this episode is the wind, baby.
    This episode is just kind of there, doesn’t really do it for me. But it is far superior to next weeks, though….

       1 likes

  10. jjk says:

    I agree with #159. It has a bad made for TV look that not even the great Donald Pleasance can save. The episode itself is bland, the show was starting to show signs of running out of gas at this point.

       1 likes

  11. Wow, usually by the time I’m able to comment, everything had been said, but today I see no mention of my favorite riff from this one: “I’m in the fire truck for USA Up All Night!” The 90s showcase of bad movies for those of its who didn’t get Comedy Central (and didn’t live close enough to Chicago for Svengoolie) (and for whatever reason also never got Elvira) was USA Up All Night, in which dippy movies would feature, with bumpers starring either Gilbert Gottfried or Rhonda Shear. Gilbert especially would often comment on the movie while doing some absurd, unrelated thing, such as driving a fire truck.

    The reference (and the “clearly they’re hoping to make a series out of this” non sequitur of the scene in its entirety) gave this movie and episode a nice flavor redolent of the good parts of my adolescence.

    Also, I loved the sketches, especially Mike’s vaudeville delivery of the dry look sketch’s punchline.

       4 likes

  12. Depressing Aunt says:

    Here’s a video of coatimundis:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcEsE4brHxM

       0 likes

  13. Depressing Aunt says:

    I’m glad that link works. (Whoever filmed that, I’m grateful.)

    #152 Wow, this movie is stranger than I thought!

    An unmentioned line, the moment of Tony’s first flight:

    Tom: The first thing he does is poop on MY car.

    Because of Kevin’s impression, I bought a couple of Roger Whitaker songs for my iPod. I’ve bought so many songs that I’ve discovered through MST3K–Joel was especially good with that, with his “Sessions presents!” easy listening songs–let’s just say, I could make a pretty good playlist.

    Pumaman! Enough said.

       2 likes

  14. Hey Cabot! says:

    This is one of those movies that is made for mockery. The backdrop flying sequences with the awkward harness dangling, the disco soundtrack, the goofy costume, the less-than capable hero with his competent mentor, the clumsy fight sequences, the obvious attempt at multiculturalism; it’s all here. This movie also has a hidden element that makes it so good for mockery; the sincerity of a director who clearly wanted to make a good superhero movie. It all adds up to the perfect movie for MST3K. The jokes kick off early and never let up, not even in the movie’s slower moments. When the movie gets really silly, look out! You might die laughing.

    “Help, I’m falling at a 60 degree angle defying the laws of physics!”

       0 likes

  15. JeremyR says:

    This is one of those episodes where they edited the movie too much.

    They seemed to be under the illusion that people tuned in to watch the show for their dumb skits, not the riffing. But the skits, at least in the Sci-Fi era, are so painfully unfunny.

       2 likes

  16. goalieboy82 says:

    is there a reason why there is no dvd of this. if they cant find the right holders, could shout try to declear it an orphan film and put it on dvd.

       0 likes

  17. littleaimishboy says:

    Donald Pleasence had guts.

    He had guts, and, if you hired him he’d give you your money’s worth. Probably more.

       4 likes

  18. GornCaptain says:

    I got a European lobby card from the movie recently, a shot of Pumaman assuming his flying position. The nice lady at the custom framing shop burst into laughter just seeing it.

    Wouldn’t somebody at the SciFi channel have known where they got it from?

       3 likes

  19. mnenoch says:

    I’m kind of surprised by some of the recent comments. “Running out of gas” – “stupid skits”. Really? MST3K never ran out of gas. In fact I’d say the 9th season is probably the most solid of all the seasons.

    As far as the skits go. For season 8 a big part of the skits was SciFi insisting on some sort of story line. Now for like this episode it’s pretty typical of MST3K as far as skits go. I know tuned into MST3K to watch the whole show. The riffing and the skits. It’s kind of what made it special show in my opinion.

    Anyway – as far as this episodes goes. It’s one of my favorite. Just a crazy crazy movie. Plus I don’t understand why people complain about MST3K editing the movies. They only had a little over 90 minutes for the movie plus the 5 skits and ending. Plus even in this movie it doesn’t matter any way. It’s not like this movie gets any better with more of it.

    Favorite riff:
    “Pumaman He flies like a moron.”

       12 likes

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

    #134: They don’t think like us. They don’t act like us. They don’t REact like us. That’s one of the reasons we call them ALIENS. ;-)

    ===

    Like Cameron Mitchell (who played the villain in the similar “Supersonic Man”), John Carradine, and a select handful of others, Donald Pleasence could always be depended on for an at least reasonably good performance, no matter what sort of drek the movie itself might or might not be.

    That’s why he died with over 200 films to his name; people knew they could count on him. I’m not sure how many villains he played, but it was quite a few (and, as seen in “Pumaman,” he could be quiet and menacing as well as a classic scenery-chewer), because what director wouldn’t want Ernst Stavro Blofeld as their villain? Same as with Adolfo Celi (from MST3K’s own “Danger: Diabolik” and others), another Bond alumnus who made a career of film villainy.

    As John Carradine (over *300* films) once said, “I’ve made some of the greatest films ever made – and a lot of crap, too.” If you’re in ENOUGH movies, you’re bound to be in a FEW good ones…but of course, MST3K doesn’t concern itself with GOOD movies. :-)

       3 likes

  21. SOLDaria says:

    Don’t know if it was mentioned above, but according to IMDB Miguel Ángel Fuentes (Vadinho) is a bodyguard in Deathstalker & the Warriors From Hell.

    @147 I’d go with Michael Cera as Tony, Danny Trejo a Vadinho, and Christopher Eccelston as Kobras.

    @161 Thankfully I moved to a town that had Comedy Central by 1992, but I started with Up All Night and watched it semi-regularly up to 1997. I only first saw Elvira when I was a kid and didn’t care for her till after I got into MST & bad cinema. Svengoolie is syndicated sporadically and I got into him over the last year. Also don’t forget Joe Bob Briggs on TNT – I only stopped watching that and the Saturday Up All Night because they were on at the same time as PBS reruns of Doctor Who.

    @169 Exactly. Hell, I think it was starting a second golden age, or at least a silver one, when the plug was pulled.

       3 likes

  22. Alex says:

    Speaking of Donald Pleasence, I was watching the MST3k Warrior of the Lost World and ofcourse the Halloween movies were playing all last month. I can see why people hired him.

    The quote I remember most from this episode was something like ‘If Pumaman is the true religion, I’m going to the darkside so fast.’

       0 likes

  23. trickymutha says:

    Lazy of me, but, did anyone mention the star of this film is now a big time lawyer in New York and once appeared on “The Daily Show?”
    Also, for those of us paying attention, this film may have the most beautiful lead actress in it. Wow- my mid-western loins lust for Jane Dobson. She has a bit of an overbite, but, the girl from OHIO has it going on. I welcome S&M day at the field museum with her. All aboard!

       1 likes

  24. Depressing Aunt says:

    I like Jane’s Snoopy/Amelia Earhart driving cap. But why wasn’t she wearing goggles?

       2 likes

  25. Heckubuss says:

    My absolute favorite riff:

    Mike: Help, I’m falling at a sixty-degree angle, breaking all the laws of physics!

    I laugh out loud every damn time I hear that.

       0 likes

  26. Little late to comments here. . .been busy this week, quit one job, started another new job, etc.. not that you need to know the details of my life…. Anyway…let’s talk PUMAMAN!

    This is a great episode, maybe not quite a “classic,” but it’s still really funny and one of the better episodes of Season 9. I still agree with myself up at #115; the Sci-Fi years have mild-to-crappy Host Segments, but I will amend that statement by saying that these three seasons DO occasionally have some pretty good moments in the HSegments. This episode however. . .does not.

    The opening with Tom’s short man’s disease is pretty good and I like the randomness of Roger Whitaker in HS#3 and the closing bit. Oh, and nice to see Ortega again. Other than that. . . .HS#1 and #2 aren’t very good. I especially dislike #1 with Shelly the Nanite. Seriously, I don’t like the Nanites at all.

    As for the movie: what a campy piece of crap. Who was this intended for? Children? Adults without eyes or ears? Seriously, this movie is just a big goofy stupid thing. Donald Pleasence is in “cashing a paycheck” mode and Vadinho the Indian sidekick is the real hero of the movie. The music sounds like somebody messing around on a Casio keyboard and going, “uhhh, yeah. That sounds fine. Let’s go with that..”

    In case you missed the link up at #94, here’s Walter G. Alton, Jr. (now a lawyer) on The Daily Show back in 2005: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-march-1-2005/bee—gag-order


    RIFFS:

    When mingling during Pearl’s party in the opening segment, I like how Crow is hitting on Gypsy and after she leaves he says, “Baby, why you gots to go?”

    Servo: “A bunch of hairy guys in thongs sat down and wrote a screenplay.”

    Mike (in Donald Pleasence voice): “Get me a soda pop and a Caramellow.”

    Mike: “He’s basically an old baby.”

    Crow: “Who am i kidding, I can’t build a cat.”

    movie: “My name is Vadinho..”
    Crow: “I’m an onion.”

    Mike: “I hate your crotch!”

    Crow: “Hahahahaha, no I mean you look great.”

    Crow: “He’s Puma Man, he flies like a moron.”

    Mike: “Ahhh, I’m falling at a 60 degree angle defying all the laws of physics!!”

    Servo: “High Plains Weenie.”

    movie: “How’d you get here?” Nevermind, drive..”
    Servo: “..He, Said.” —————this is a reference to “Drive, He Said” which is Jack Nicholson’s directorial debut back in 1971; the film is rare-ish and kind of unknown but it is available from the Criterion Collection as of a couple years ago… but back in 1998 (when this episode aired), that movie was positvely and utterly obscure, rare, and hard to find. Kind of amazing Kevin makes a reference to it..

    Servo: “Excuse me, do you have a cup of BALD?!”

    Crow: “This is music to praise the Gods, that’s for sure.”


    Yes, praise thee Gods!
    For they bring us,
    PUMAMAN!

    I thought I would give this one a 5, but in reality and truthfulness, I can only give it

    4 out of 5 paper mâché heads.
    :cat2: :cat2: :cat2: :cat2:

       3 likes

  27. Guess their mid-air flying sex to make “Little Puma Men” worked, because there’s a Puma Boy doll from the Monster High line: http://www.amazon.com/Monster-Create-Monster-Add-On-Accessory/dp/B0089KVYLW

    Doesn’t come with a poncho or khakis, though. Shame really.

       1 likes

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

    Considering that Kobras would’ve been in his late fifties / early sixties, one can’t help but wonder, just a bit, what kind of life he’d had that led him to this point.

    “Every morning I look down and I’m wearing boots with lightning bolts on them and I think…where did I make the wrong turn?” — Ms. Indestructible, “The Specials”

    ===

    #174: It was the seventies (at the time of filming, anyway, I’d presume). In ENGLAND. Why did ANYBODY dress the way they did?

    Not that the USA would’ve been in any position to talk, of course. ;-)

       2 likes

  29. Tony Farms says:

    He raises soybeans.

    Anyone else think one of the papier mache heads looked exactly like Al Gore? He was still VP when this aired, so I was always surprised they didn’t comment on it.

       0 likes

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

    It just occurred to me that Vadhino’s status as seemingly immortal guy who waits around to teach each generation of a heroic identity is the same setup as in the original film version of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (the Watchers Council scenario wasn’t introduced until the TV series). Which means nothing, it’s just that it just occurred to me, is all.

       2 likes

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

    addendum to #148:

    Looking at the Agony Booth recap (cited earlier), Vadhino “only” threw Tony down three stories. Even without Puma-power, that would’ve resulted in no worse than bruises and perhaps a broken bone or two (which, compared to *death*, not so big a deal). In a deleted scene, Martin (firetruck guy) makes it sound like the other victims had been thrown down THIRTY stories or so. A very big difference.

       1 likes

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