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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: 905- The Deadly Bees

Movie: (1967) A burned-out British pop star is sent to remote Seagull Island to rest her nerves, unaware that two rival bee keepers live there.

First shown: 5/9/98
Opening: Previously on the Satellite of Love…
Intro: The Observers are back…and they’re pissed
Host segment 1: Crow offers a sonnet to the cigarette hag in the movie
Host segment 2: Pearl, Bobo and Observer perform the “Please Stay” operetta
Host segment 3: Mike communicates like a bee
End: The Observers have it out and Brain Guy is victorious
Stinger: “The dog’s meat! Have you seen it?”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (201 votes, average: 4.09 out of 5)


• Well, SOMEthing had to follow the brilliance of last week, and it was going to pale by comparison, but I think this episode holds its own pretty well. The British movies are not always my favorites, but this one is just silly enough to hold my attention. The riffing is very good and there’s a nice little running story in the host segments. All in all, lots of fun.
• Paul’s observations about this episode are here.
• This episode is not yet available on DVD.
• This week’s door sequence sponsor: Head & Shoulders.
• I forget where, now, (maybe somebody can remind me) but I recall that Mike, in some public setting, named the “Previously…” sketch in the opening as a personal favorite. I like it lot too, particularly Crow’s use of the word “skel,” which I only ever heard on “NYPD Blue.”
• This ep marks the first time we have heard Magic Voice since episode 809- I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF. (It’s Beez, natch.)
• And in this episode we get the return of the Observers (Mike and Paul), who are none too pleased to see what’s become of Brain Guy. Mary Jo is particularly funny in the intro sketch.
• Naughty riff: “Catherine? Oh, it’s you…”
• The VW logo is in the corner of the spaghetti ball bumper, the first time I recall Sci-Fi doing that. Later we get a second door sequence sponsor: also VW. I believe this is the first episode that had two in one show.
• Segment 1, featuring the sonnet to the cigarette hag, is a marvel. Quick, funny, well-written, everything works.
• I like the “Please Stay” operetta (which was written by Mike, by the way). My only problem is that piano is a little loud. I can’t quite make out some of the lyrics.
• This week’s annoying commercial: many many ads for Propecia, which make very non-specific promises to grow your hair back, and then makes some very specific and scary warnings about side-effects.
• (And by the way, between ads for Head & Shoulders and Propecia, what the heck is going on with MSTies’ hair?)
• Segment 3 is one of those “long walk to a kind of cute idea” segments, but it’s harmless.
• Of course that’s Jim as the bowler-hatted man, the first time he’s been on camera since he was an ape in Deep Ape early in season 8.
• And I’m not quite sure why the bowler-hatted man’s appearance in the movie puzzles M&tB so much. It’s only baffling if you haven’t been paying attention. He’s that guy from the beginning of the movie who was dispatched to look into whoever was sending threatening letters to the government. I assume his appearance at the end is a little jab at British bureaucracy: The whole thing is over and dealt with, and he finally arrives to look into things. Not hilarious, but not really baffling either.
• Behind the scenes: It was April 30, 1998, just before this episode debuted, that it was announced that Sci-Fi Channel was not picking up the “back nine,” (that’s TV industry lingo for the nine episodes the channel had an option to order or not order in addition to the 13 episodes it had already ordered for season nine). Fans reacted glumly.
• Cast and Crew roundup: Producer Max J. Rosenberg also worked on “The Incredible Melting Man.” In front of the camera, Michael Ripper was also in “Moon Zero Two.”
• CreditsWatch: Directed by Mike. Formerly an intern, Dan Breyer, becomes a grip and continues as one for the rest of the series. Intern Brian Bull worked this episode and then departed.
• Fave riff: “Objection! Stupid hat!” Honorable mention: “Frankly, to me, any bra is a Wonder Bra.”

131 Replies to “Episode guide: 905- The Deadly Bees”

  1. pearliemae says:

    Albert Finney?


  2. mikek says:

    #100: “As far as Fawlty Towers goes, M&TB pick up Lord Melbury immediately but there is a second Fawlty actor on screen; James Cossins ‘the British Commish’ in the film was one of the guests thought to be a hotel inspector by Basil in that episode.”

    Really? I had not noticed that. Had he been wearing a mustache, as he did in that Fawlty Towers episode, it would have been more noticeable.


  3. Mr. B(ob) says:

    I always thought Mike was at his funniest in front of the camera when he was doing characters on the show, both before and after he took over as host. For example, Mike as Valeria, Mike as the Amazing Colossal Man, Mike as Captain Janeway and in this episode, Mike communicating as a bee was highly amusing.


  4. losingmydignity says:

    Yeah, Albert Finney?


  5. Manny Sanguillen says:

    The audio on this episode was awful. Movie too loud and riffing too quiet. Must have been someone new handling the mixing that week.

    This isn’t one of the better episodes of the season, but it wasnt totally a waste. I have a hard time watching it because of the sound problems though.

    As for british episodes, The Projected Man is in a class by itself for me and cant be compared to this one. TPJ is one of my all time faves and I feel they did their best british riffing in that one. Anything else is second best to The Projected Man as far as I’m concerned.

    The riffing in this one wasn’t consistently great, but it had some funny moments.
    The movie was pretty dumb & boring though.
    But whenever I think of this one, the first thought is always “bad sound”.

    I do rate that opening host segment, however, as one of the best ever. And you can never go wrong with the chicken puppet, I always say.


  6. Cornjob says:

    I’m a bit phobic about flying stinging insects, so killer bee and wasp films, even stupid ones (which is all of them I think) affect me on a gut level more than most people. I find that the old style superimposed insect swarms, as fake as they looked, were more convincing than the CGI swarms in more recent films. Just an obsrvation.


  7. DamonD says:

    I’ve always been a bit fond of this one. It’s not an A-lister but it is one that I enjoy coming back to every now and then.

    Part of it are the host segments, some of the funniest stuff in the Mike era. Mike is dazzling as a bee, while I enjoy Crow’s song and the opening ‘Previously’ montage is a classic.

    The film itself is grim and depressing but the riff it well and it has one of my favourite ever reaction riffs:

    Servo – “Four. FIIIIIIIVE! Ahh!”


  8. DamonD says:

    Oh, one thing I’ve always wondering about – is Tom’s little jaunty ‘Bucket o’ filth’ song a parody of anything? It’s fun, but I don’t know if it’s meant to be a reference of anything.


  9. HowToBeTopp says:

    Let’s talk Freddie Francis some more.
    “Legend” doesn’t come CLOSE. If you don’t know the name, imdb this guy as Cinematographer. Any big-budget movie that absolutely fried your brain can be assumed to be shot by Freddie Francis until someone proves otherwise. Lunch hauled him out of retirement at age EIGHTY-ONE to shoot “Straight Story,” for godsake.

    That’s as cinematographer.

    Now look at what he directed. Almost all are available on VHS, far fewer on DVD, and are almost uniformly whack. “Craze” and “Girly” are typical-what IS this? “Paranoiac” (Jimmy Sangster script, a very young Oliver Reed! stars) is available on DVD, and it may be your next best friend, if you give it a chance.

    Who cares?

    Well, watch Deadly Bees again. Look for Francis’ signature shot–he loves to shoot through a room, into the next room, the next, the hall, the W.C., down the block, around the corner, AND IT’S ALL IN SHARP FOCUS. Silly movie, awesome cinematography.


  10. Pattie Blohm says:

    Ordering guitar hero was one of several most effective things I’ve done, really would like the children will let me play!


  11. The Toblerone Effect says:

    This ep disappointed me, because M&tB have alot to work with here in terms of the movie’s content, but I think they left some riffs “on the table”, so to speak. As far as I’m concerned, you could make fun of British people & culture until the cows come home, and I’d think it was funny every minute. Several of these characters are ripe for riffing, but I think the boys held back this time. It falls short of other Brit movies they riffed like Devil Doll and The Projected Man.

    Being a big ‘Stones fan, I almost fell off of my chair when I saw a young Ron Wood rocking with The Birds. I was shocked that none of them in the theater picked up on who he was. It’s a shame that there isn’t a studio version of “Eight Miles Wrong”, it has a Kinks-like edge to it.


  12. Jimmy Rollins has postponed the attempt to break the world record for striking the baseball the farthest due to calf pain.At this time the Main Issue presently is Will He confident enough to pull off this?Evening Wear Dress


  13. Sitting Duck says:

    @ #84: IIRC Witchsmeller Pursuivant was from the fourth episode of the first series, which could be described as if the Gawdawful Arthur Miller play The Crucible was funny.


  14. trickymutha says:

    Happy Turkey Day everyone! Deadly Bees is a classic that I have not seen in some time, as, we generally watch commercially issued DVD’s now in my house. That said, have a decent DVD-R copy from original broadcast- so perhaps I will bust out sometime. This episode has, I believe, Lord Melbry from Faulty Towers.


  15. Dan in WI says:

    That previously sketch is really one to enjoy. They hit on all the major clichés. I always knew Mike and Gypsy would end up together.

    It was nice seeing the other observers. Is it just me or does Bill’s Observer look extra fat and lazy in this episode. He kind of has those Captain Joe cheeks going.

    This is probably one of the better films they ever did. I do have to admit to following the story at least as closely as the riffing. Don’t get me wrong I’m still glad for the riffing but I think this is a movie I could watch alone. (Not that I’ve tried.)

    Favorite Riffs:
    Bees are shaken off the furnace filter hive. Mike “No. Please. According to physicists we can’t fly.”

    Tom about the Birds performance “Guys just skip the music and go right to the heroin.”

    Due to the framing we only see half of a horse in a barn. Tom “That horse also plays Wilson on Home Improvement.”

    Crow “This is a movie that has everything… all wrong.”

    Manfred “But in the meantime you are perfectly safe here.” Crow “For your imminent murder.”


  16. mstgator says:

    • (And by the way, between ads for Head & Shoulders and Propecia, what the heck is going on with MSTies’ hair?)

    Perhaps they were getting us ready for the 5,000 bald jokes that appear in the very next episode…


  17. MSTie says:

    I’m probably one of the few people who can remember seeing this on television a year or two after its release. I remember two things about it. One, it added to my wimpy childhood fear of insects, and two, it introduced me to the concept of lip-synching which I never knew existed before and which was one of those “innocence-ruining” realizations. Huh. For what that’s worth.

    I love the MST3K treatment of TDB. It’s so ’60s and so British that I spend half the time now just marveling at Vicki’s hair, makeup, and clothing. (“Objection! Stupid hat!!) Frank Finlay, Dr. Manfred (“Have you heard of my Earth Band?”) was/is a great actor who seems baffled by the horrible mess that he got himself into by agreeing to do this film. One thing I can’t get over is WHY Vicki’s agent thought this would be a good place for her to recover. Guess it could have been restful, without all the bees. And the marital hatred. And the crazy guy.

    Favorite riffs:
    Fly away, Raisinets, fly away!
    Ah, yes, the pub. Plenty of warm beer, boiled meat, and old guys.


  18. pondoscp says:

    Now this is what I’m talking about! After the awkward start to season 9, we’re finally into the good stuff. Nearly everyone raves about 903 and 904, but for my money it’s all about 905 and 906, two overlooked gems. The Deadly Bees is a great return to form, reminding me of the pleasant early days of the show. The more I watch this one, the more I like it. The bowler-hatted man is great! Lots of fun to be had here.


  19. First things first: Happy Turkey Day everyone! Right now I’m watching football on TV with the sound off and listening to the Live Turkey Day Marathon over at Shout!Factory’s YouTube page (man I hope they do this again next year!). Gonna start dinner here in a couple hours. Hanging out with my beautiful fiancé. The sun is shining. Could I be more thankful?

    Now, on to this week’s episode: The Deadly Bees!

    As I said up at #65, this is a good-not-great episode, definitely in the bottom three of Season 9. Still, there are some things I like about it. The “previously on” opening is the best bit in the whole episode (“Don’t make me shoot you. . . . Croooooooow!”). Also, the dog’s meat. Other than that, this one doesn’t deliver that much. This is one of those episodes that is really easy for me to tune out, which I usually do somewhere after Host Segment #1.

    The Host Segments aren’t really that good, Crow’s poem in HS#1 doesn’t do it for me and neither does Observer’s song in HS#2. The best is probably HS#3 with Mike dressed as the bee and Crow looking for his “Just for Men” hair coloring. The return of the Observers (Mike & Paul) isn’t really that great (but the Observer episodes of S8 were never some of my faves), but turning them into raging Packer fans is nice (incidentally, the Pack are losing to the Lions right now, 26-10 at the end of the 3rd quarter).

    Ron Wood looks SOOOOO young in his brief appearance. Count me down as someone who kinda digs that song. Way up at post #7, it’s mentioned that after The Birds, Wood and friends started the band Creation, who had a (great) song called “Making Time.” That song is featured in the opening credits of Wes Anderson’s Rushmore and it’s excellent.

    As mentioned, this film was co-written by Robert Bloch, who you should know wrote the novel that Hitchcock would turn into Psycho. The Deadly Bees is not as good as that is.

    Director Freddie Francis also helmed the Tales from the Crypt anthology film (also from Amicus) and the Hammer Films Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Paranoiac, and Nightmare (those last two I def recommend), amongst others that are best left unmentioned (. . . .Trog. . .), but Francis is maybe better known as an excellent cinematographer, having lensed The Innocents (one of the best ghost stories ever), Scorsese’s Cape Fear, Oscar-winner-and-teacher-favorite-to-show-in-classrooms Glory, and David Lynch’s The Elephant Man, Dune, and Straight Story. Long story short, Freddie Francis has done better work than The Deadly Bees; don’t judge him too harshly.


    Crow: “Christopher Robin decided on a diabolical plan to kill Pooh.”

    Crow: “Don’t let your mom dress the band.”

    movie: “The dog’s meat. Have you seen it?”
    Servo: “Wow!”

    Crow: “We go now LIVE to the heat lamp at Rax.” —-Semi-obscure midwestern fast food restaurant. There was one in my Illinois hometown back in the day; closed a long, long time ago…

    Servo: “I wanna get stoned before you kill me.”

    Mike: “This Tommy Chong-in-a-can will take care of it.”

    The Deadly Bees.
    If you’ve seen the dog’s meat,
    please let us know.



  20. littleaimishboy says:

    One of the best episodes ever. “Previously …” is in the HS Hall of Fame, and “Mike as a bee” is the kind of wonderful goofiness that got me hooked on this great show in the first place.

    If the movie on its own is “boring”, I honestly never noticed due to the riffing — and besides,

    “I don’t caaare.”


  21. fireballil says:

    I do have a couple of fave riffs, they’re from the inquest into the death of Cigarette Hag:

    When the head of the inquest is seen, Crow calls him ‘the British Commish.’

    Then when he says that CH’s death was by ‘misadventure,’ Tom quietly goes ‘Whoo!’ It was subtle, but funny.


  22. Sitting Duck says:

    Of course that’s Jim as the bowler-hatted man, the first time he’s been on camera since he was an ape in Deep Ape early in season 8

    If you count puppeteering as being on camera, then it’s his first since Jack Frost.

    Another Robert Bloch writing credit of interest is the Star Trek episode What Are Little Girls Made Of?, which could be described as a reimagining of Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness.


  23. Cornjob says:

    A relatively low key episode, especially compared to the two before it. But the riffing is quite solid. The bit about her expression being xeroxed and stapled to her face is pretty much how Laura Bush (Wife of the last President of the USA) struck me. The poster of Westworld where Yul Brenner’s faceplate is falling off also made me think of Mrs. Bush

    “I’ve been making…this movie really hard to watch”

    “Maybe you’ve heard of my Earth band.”

    “Well, Vickie’s obviously here.”

    “Oh and do something about the house fire if you get around to it.”

    Has anyone ever been so uninterested in their house being on fire? That has to be my favorite part of the film.


  24. thequietman says:

    I’ve always enjoyed this episode, for reasons that several people have already mentioned (the intro, operetta, blood from a turnip, etc.).

    But here are my favorite riffs:
    [Upon seeing the rather dingy farm set]: On a dare he built his farm blindfolded!
    [During the listless car chase]: Ah, I love this time of year in England …. what time of year is it again?

    When I finally had the opportunity to live in the UK for a period recently, I would sometimes say the latter to myself as I walked around London or whatever English town I happened to be in, regardless of the weather.


  25. Depressing Aunt says:

    Toting her beloved colorful security-dog, our blonde-bobbed pop singer bubbles her way into my heart with her Nancy Drew slueth skills. AND she’s doing it on her vacation, man.

    Like I wrote before, I appreciate the British episodes. My dream is to go to some place in England that’s really remote, with a homey pub where I would fight off the awkward advances of amorous middle-aged dudes hiding from their bitter wives. Perchance I shall somehow find and journey to the area where the holiday portion of “Withnail and I” was filmed. It looked to have many animals, but no bees to speak of.

    (thequietman, I’ve been in London, too! A brief youthful holiday. But I was too depressed at the time to really appreciate it.)

    #48 makes the observation on a thing that has always amazed me about Manfred and Hargrove. Hargrove should have some knowledge of Manfred’s book, right? Even if it is an obscure book, they are both beekeepers in the same villiage! Blimey!

    I give this episode a “Bee” plus. (*groan*!)


  26. jjb3k says:

    I’m a fan of a lot of the underrated episodes, the ones people don’t talk about much, so this one’s high on my list. Despite my crippling fear of bees, even. (I always have to turn away during those icky close-ups of the bees stinging Mrs. Hargrove to death – “Careful, men! Her skin is leathery, you may lose your butt!”)

    The “Previously on…” bit kicks Family Guy’s ass six ways to Sunday. “It isn’t broccoli I want…it’s you!” Great return of the chicken puppet, too.

    I dig the opening scenes with that swingin’ ’60s variety show. Say what you will about the Birds (not the B-Y-R Byrds, but still, the Birds), but I like that song they play here. Great riffing during Vicki’s lip-synched performance. “A rival show invades!”

    “Hey, they’re growing Bill the Cat!” Speaking as a huge Berke Breathed fan, that got a humongous laugh out of me.

    “On a dare, this guy built his farm blindfolded.” You’d think a movie set almost entirely on a drab brown dirt farm wouldn’t have a lot of opportunity for riffing, but man, do Mike and the bots knock this one out of the park. The needlessly nasty Hargroves are all the fodder they need. “Sure, they argue, but the sex is great!”

    And as if that weren’t enough, we also get Manfred (“You’ve heard of my Earth Band?”), perhaps the most fey villain ever in a MSTed movie, and also one of the most obvious. Love his stuttery talk about bees and how he captured “one or two of them. Three.” “No, four! FIVE!” Plus, on top of that, we have sweet dumb Vicki and her permanently Xeroxed shocked expression that makes her look like someone just hit her with a salmon. There’s a lot of goofy characters in this movie to help offset the drab setting.

    Also, really cheesy front projection effects. “Killer cookie crumbs!”

    Such great riffing during the fiery climax, from the flashbacks (“Come on, this was three minutes ago!”) to Manfred’s less-than-dignified death by staircase. “Now, you really can’t blame that on the bees.”

    I don’t care if there is an explanation for Bowler Hat Guy. I still laugh up a lung when Servo says “Is there going to be a credit that says ‘Guy At The End’?” :D


  27. Cornjob says:

    As I mentioned in my old post #106 I’m a bit phobic of flying stinging insects, so I’m with you jjb3k. Wasps and hornets creep me out even more. And hopefully you’ve never gotten too close to a Tarantula Hawk.

    The Bill the Cat reference was well done, as was the “I’ll just drop in, get a bit of hose and stick it in the tail pipe. That’l take care of my little problem.” That might be my favorite MST suicide joke. I love suicide jokes. Maybe favorite suicide/depression/mental illness jokes could be a weekend discussion topic.


  28. Depressing Aunt says:

    #127. Dark–! But as you can tell by my handle, I’m for it. I dig gallows humor. I like the joke from “A Date with Your Family” with Brother looking into the oven.



  29. Cornjob says:

    Just to be clear, when I’m laughing at depression and suicide, I’m laughing at myself before all others.


  30. Strummergas says:

    Sorry for being such a stickler, but I feel compelled to make some minor corrections to post #7 in regard to The Birds. Ron Wood and Kim Gardner did not form The Creation. The Creation was already in existence when they were still in The Birds. After singer Kenny Pickett left Creation, bassist Ron Gardner (no relation to Kim) took over lead vocals and Kim Gardner was brought in on bass. Ron Wood joined the band during their final days after guitarist Eddie Phillips and Bob Gardner quit and Kenny Pickett returned to the fold. This line-up managed just one single before the band was dissolved.

    However, both bands are awesome and both are featured on the Nuggets II box set. Highly recommended for those who like mid-60s British rock. (a la The Who, The Kinks, The Stones).


  31. Turquois Plastic Pith Helmet says:

    The first time I watched this episode, the riff “Release the Komodo Dragons!” near the start of the film (after the bee keeper is informed he’s having a guest) didn’t make much sense to me. After watching the movie once, the second time I watched it that same riff had me rolling on the floor, knowing what was to come. I think that’s the only time they’ve used a riff that was much funnier after you’d seen the movie once.


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