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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 (230 votes, average: 4.17 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 on DVD, and, according to Shout, may never be. And because of that, I’m going to leave in all the little Sci-Fi Channel details that were in my taped copy (which I have been removing for episodes officially released on DVD and not containing all that stuff). For example…
• 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 {deadly} 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. Many saw the writing on the wall.
• 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.”

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

  1. JCC says:

    Here’s another episode that I pretty much avoided for the most part until about a year or so ago. Something just clicked during a viewing and now it’s one of my favorites that I pull out often. Favorite riff (that I can remember at the moment) is when Servo revisits the pop song Vicki sings with “My boyfriend sent me over to Mr Hargrove’s to rifle through his drawers last night…” Just plain awesome. The TV show host looks like Craig Ferguson.


  2. schippers says:

    I don’t know if it’s been mentioned, but this movie has one of the absolute worst instances of perspective error with a fake backdrop – it’s been awhile since I’ve seen it, but I believe it’s when the old hag (which one? don’t know, they all seemed old and unpleasant to me, even the heroine) is creeping around outside her barn/outhouse/deal and there we have it, a long, unhindered look at the fakey backdrop. TOTALLY reinforces that it is a tiny set in a tiny studio. I haven’t had that reaction to a film since the snow maiden segment in Kwaidan.


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

    Oh, okay. In context I might have gotten it, but I didn’t remember it went with the horse. Thanks.

    “I didn’t narrate this part of my flashback, I think it stands on its own.”


  4. Steve K says:

    @I’m not a medium, I’m a petite (#6)
    “Keep in mind that BowlerHat did not spend the entire movie travelling out to Seagull Island. It was well into the second half ( maybe even 4th Quarter ) when BowlerHat’s superior gets the call that there may BEE something going on at Seagull Island and sends him off to investigate.”

    True, but BowlerHat hears about the killer bees (from Manfred himself) at the BEGINNING of the movie and along with his buddy dismisses it as a waste of time. I also don’t think the person on the other end of the line is actually identified, which raises (for me, anyway) the possibility that it was someone “important” (read: connected) — this leads to a possible message — that British bureaucracy is such that nothing gets done unless someone influential wants it done.

    Favorite riffs (one right after the other!)
    “You told me you were off the junk, Nellie”

    “If I don’t miss my guess, this is a horse of some kind…”


  5. Emily says:

    #24, I also saw a copy at Best Buy, not two months ago! Why they’re carrying that movie un-MSTied, I couldn’t say.


  6. Spector says:

    For me this was another episode where the host segments overshadowed the movie. Just couldn’t get into this dreary dreck of a British film. Actually, it’s probably just me, but I’ve found the bad British flicks they’e done (Deadly Bees, Projected Man, Gorgo, Devil Doll)to be rather dreary affair. Not the episodes as a whole weren’t bad, I just found the style of the films so drab that even the Brains best efforts couldn’t lift them into the realm of the very good to excellent categories as the really cheesy American or Canadian films they’ve done. Three out of five.


  7. gorto says:

    I would like to see Deadly Bees Vs. Killer Shrews


  8. fathermushroom says:

    Star Fleet Commander Pub Owner Constable Man is also in “Moon Zero Two” as one of the murdered brother’s miner buddies.


  9. Pixiesnix says:

    To me, this whole movie has the feel of an unremarkable episode of the old “Doctor Who” series. Not surprising, if Amicus went on to do a coupla Dalek movies. I keep expecting John Pertwee to show up.

    I will say that Vicki’s first song wasn’t that bad. The second one, however, (playing on the radio) just showcases the limitations of Ms. Leigh’s vocal range. Some of the lyrics were just plain off-key.

    And of course, the “Previously” segment was genius, and later was ripped off by “Family Guy.”


  10. M "You Ever Have A Deju Vu, Joel?" Sipher says:

    #58 – Hey, what HASN’T been ripped off by Family Guy?


  11. Cornjob says:

    “They xeroxed her expression and taped it to her face” reminds me of Laura Bush.

    “Oh, and put out the house fire if you can get to it.”

    “Well, Vicky’s obviously here” (upon seeing another house on fire).

    Not quite an A grade episode, but darn good.

    I too was baffled by the bowler guy at the end. I didn’t connect that he was a government agent. It looked like he wandered off of a Magritte painting and onto the set at the end of the film when the camera wasn’t even supposed to be rolling.


  12. Brandon says:

    “Will there be a credit that says Guy At the End?”


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

    “Will there be a credit that says Guy At the End?”

    There is: Harcourt….Tim Barrett

    Maybe he’s a relative of Sid, and that’s how he got an audition for the Pink Floyd video.


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

    yes, it IS “Eight miles WRONG”

    And the action within the movie takes place over no more than 6 days, based on the calender in the inspectors’ office.


  15. Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    You know. . . .I’d expect a better movie from the guy who wrote Psycho(novel).

    Also, the director, Freddie Francis, did some good work for Hammer Films just a few years before this 1967 tepid bee-fest, so don’t judge him too harshly. I wholeheartedly recommend Paranoiac (1963, with the always awesome Oliver Reed) and Nightmare (1964), both films are creepy and atmospheric.

    This episode is a ‘pretty good, not great one’ for me, but I like it better than The Projected Man.


  16. losingmydignity says:

    I love this one do you hear? I love love love it…

    Wasn’t always so…in fact, this is one of the rare one that really has grown on me with each viewing and now become a favorite.

    This is bascially a stage play (Robert, did you have, er, writer’s Bloch when you wrote this?) with little or no action (bees and bowlers besides) and so the Brains do the smart thing and make their riffs more character-based. So, what we get is howlingly good (woof, woof, here’s your meat)…the cigarette jokes kill me in particular, as do the ones about Vicki being on vacation. It still kills me that SHE IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE GONE to the farm for REST. WTF? Lots of sex jokes too…me likey.

    Everyone has already mentioned the Birds. Let me just add that I have some of their songs on compilations and they are all pretty good.

    When I first saw The Deadly Bees I assumed that the man in the bowler hat was a detective come too late to the party. Turns out I was correct. Thanks for solving the mystery, Sampo, although it in no way mitigates the Brains making fun of it. It’s a lot to expect the audience to remember or care, and a weak joke as it is…

    The man in the bowler hat appearing on the SOL sends me into laughter-spasms everytime.

    Most of the host segs are really good…

    This movie is atrocious…I can’t believe some say this film isnt’ so bad. I mean Freddie Francis (I don’t think this has been mentioned before), the director, one OSCARS as a cinematographer. None of the Hammer films he directed are particularly good (I always kind of liked the Skull and Creeping Flesh) but none are this bad and he did the cinematography for Cape Fear (Scorsese remake) and the Elephant Man for God’s sake. Sometimes it’s right to change your profession.

    My favorite riff is when the Dr. discovers his wife dead, stung by bees. Can’t remember it but that means I’ll enjoy that much more next time.



  17. losingmydignity says:

    Hmmm…it just occurred to me might be fun to have a discussion over the funniest “death scene” sometime. Nearly all films MSTed feature a death scene or many at some point and the Brains can make them pretty funny. Dr. Ted Nelson anyone?


  18. Thanos6 says:

    I actually have the book this movie is based on, A TASTE FOR HONEY. Vickie is nowhere to be seen, Hargrove really is the villain, the role filled by Manfred in the movie is named “Mycroft” and he helps the hero of the book catch Hargrove, and it’s implied he’s really Sherlock Holmes.


  19. #66: “One day I’ll come home and she’ll be dead and… HEY!!!”

    I agree. That bit cracks me up.


  20. WhereTheFishLives says:

    This episode has some real home runs spruced into it. Anything involving the cigarette hag wife is hilarious. “It’s our love making night!” and “Has the hate gone out of our marriage?” always floor me.


  21. MonkeyPatrol:InColor says:

    Watched this one for the first time a couple of months ago and thought it was pretty consistently funny. The riffing is slow at times, but the movie is weird and campy enough to keep you engaged. Late 60s english countryside, deadly bees, mad scientists, relatively hot lead–what’s not to love?


  22. OnenuttyTanuki says:

    It became a running gag with some of my friends in high school that we would greet each other in the halls and the classroom by acting like the bowler hat guy or try to whistle his end theme.


  23. Colossus Prime says:

    #68 – I was just about to ask if anyone has read the book and how different they are.

    A very interesting description there. As for the implication the Mycroft is actually Sherlock Holmes, Mycroft is actually the name of Sherlock’s older brother. He’s described as having deductive skills that are drastically more impressive than Sherlocks. But unlike Sherlock he’s lazy and has no desire to actually do anything with his abilities other than let the government pay him to review things for them.


  24. crowtdan says:

    In comedy there are no “rip-offs” just homages. If you ever get a chance check out J-Men Forever and Whats Up Tiger Lily. You will change your tune.


  25. losingmydignity says:

    That’s the one #69


  26. Smoothie of Great Power says:

    Oh man… to me this episode is the most painful in the Sci-Fi era, especially since it’s such a letdown. It starts off so strongly, then there’s a complete and audible “THUD!” as the movie stops not only the momentum of the intro and first host segment, but all of the good parts of season 9 up to this point. That’s why I hate this episode more than “The Projected Man,” because the momentum doesn’t fully recover until “The Final Sacrifice.”

    I’ll admit I love the riff near the beginning where Crow says, “It was at this time that Christopher Robin decided on a diabolical plan to kill Pooh.” But I agree whole-heartedly with Mike near the end when he comments that the summary of the events prior to the “climax” (and I use that term loosely) is how long the whole movie should have been. I don’t know what it is about British films, but this one just drains more and more my soul every time I see it. And the only reason I ever watch this one is for the host segments.

    Favorite host segment line: “Don’t make me shoot you!”

    * Killer bees make a lousy murder weapon.
    * Not liking somebody is a perfectly legitimate excuse for committing first-degree murder.
    * A guy in a bowler hat can walk by at any time, completely unexpected.
    * There’s more than one way to see the dog’s meat.


  27. pearliemae says:

    And didn’t Sherlock Holmes retire and become a beekeeper?


  28. mikek says:

    4 Stars. The reason it’s not 5 stars? Mike’s bee dance and the tiring story of Brain Guy and the other Brain Guys.

    I do really enjoy Crow’s sonnet to Mrs. Hargrove. “While satisfying flavor fills the air.”

    The show’s opening is well done. I find it particularly amusing because, years later, that was the pre-credit sequence of nearly every episode the Sci-Fi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica series. “Previously on Battlestar Galactica . . . .”

    I like The Deadly Bees. It was good riffing fodder and, amongst the season 9 Brit-sci-fi, I think it worked better than The Projected Man or the forthcoming Gorgo.


  29. GonzoRedux says:

    I really liked this one. I wish they had been able to keep the Observers around longer–they were my favorite addition in season 8. At this point I was waiting for the episode where Pearl and the gang would leave the castle and go back on the endless chase, but oh well.
    I also like the combination we get with The Deadly Bees–a mediocre (certainy not terrible) movie with some good music. I don’t know if you’ve done a best/worst music discussion, but this one might top it for me.


  30. Miss Mary says:

    didn’t Freddie Francis direct “Trog”, the last (and terrible) movie of Joan Crawford?


  31. Pixiesnix says:

    #74 I’ve already seen them. Yet my tune remains unchanged.


  32. This Guy says:

    BSG and pretty much every other serialized drama ever.


  33. Slartibartfast, maker of Fjords says:

    You’ve gotta stop bumming smokes off me, man!

    4 stars. Liked Cigarette Hag song: felt Mike’s bee dance was not amusing. But, for some unknown reason this has made me a raving Packers fan… Goooo Packers!


  34. I'm Evil says:

    The riff that absolutely gets me in this: Do I look like Lee Marvin?
    She really does in that shot!

    Also, during the flashback at the end when Servo kind of erupts: This just happened three minutes ago! You don’t need to flash back.

    In the same vein as Lord Melbury, Manfred was played by Frank Finlay who also played the Witchsmeller Pursuivant in the first episode of Blackadder series two. He does creepy pretty well.

    I’m hot and cold on the host segments: Last time… and the sonnet are excellent. I could take or leave most of the others.

    #27: Glad someone mentioned Deadly Beez from the credits.

    The fact that this was based on a novel kind of got me thinking–how many other episodes were based on a novel or short story? Overdrawn at the Memory Bank leaps to mind….and maybe The Space Travelers. I guess plenty of the sword and sandal movies were based on mythology or epic poetry as well.


  35. losingmydignity says:

    Yes, Ms. Mary, Freddie did direct Trog, one I’ve always wanted to see riffed…hopefully maybe by CT or RT.

    Other movies adapted from books: First Spaceship to Venus is from a Lem book. (poor Lem)

    Fu Manchu from Sax Rohmer

    Outlaw from those books about Gor by what’s his name.

    There are those two nutty movies very loosely based on HG Well’s idea…very loosely.

    I believe Hamlet does have some basis in an acrostic created by Chris Marlowe.

    Diabolik is a comic book.

    Red Zone Cuba is based on a now lost book, a collaboration between James Joyce and Braque called The Crimson Cubist.

    There are elements of both Raymond Carver and Hemingway in Starfighters but both denied the rumors not wanting to get too stuck with the minimalist tag…


  36. Joe Raygor says:

    I have to admit, I rather enjoyed the Barnes/Ewing level rivalry/hatred Hargrove and Manfred had for each other.


  37. Genericboardname says:

    This is quite an underrated episode to me. I love it. Is it as good as Werewolf? No, but it still holds its own.


  38. Akcoll99 says:

    #85- “Outlaw from those books about Gor by what’s his name.”

    John Norman


  39. Fart Bargo says:

    This was a ‘meh’ episode for me, especially since the prior shows were so good. Some of the Brit films can grind so slowly at times and just as I am about to nod out, a Brit phone starts to clang! What is with the phones there!? They are extremely loud and jarring as emergency sirens.

    Although the riffing was good this dreary film starring the Lockhorns just overwhelmed M&TB. Speaking of the Brit Lockhorns, what a miserable pair they were! Between these two and the blaring phones the killer bees were a god send.


  40. Lucas D. says:

    # 74: And if you check out Family Guy, you’ll know that, yes, rip-offs do exist in what passes for comedy on that show. The difference is very noticeable between loving homage and FG’s rip-offs: one is done out of great respect for a writer’s comedic forerunners, and the other is done because the writer is a talentless hack who couldn’t come up with anything funny on his own if his life and/or wedding tackle depended on it.


  41. fathermushroom says:

    #84: I’m Evil says:

    “In the same vein as Lord Melbury, Manfred was played by Frank Finlay who also played the Witchsmeller Pursuivant in the first episode of Blackadder series two. He does creepy pretty well.”

    Awesome catch, Evil! For YEARS I’ve wondered where I saw Frank Finlay’s name before, when I watch that episode of Blackadder.

    Ain’t that a man!


  42. Raptorial Talon says:

    “one is done out of great respect for a writer’s comedic forerunners, and the other is done because the writer is a talentless hack who couldn’t come up with anything funny on his own if his life and/or wedding tackle depended on it.”

    . . . Or because a brilliant comic mind ran out of good ideas after maybe the 3rd or 4th season. IMHO. Same eventual result either way.


  43. Finnias Jones says:

    Another bit of MST-synchronicity this week:
    A movie in which the protagonist finds themselves stuck on an island trying to solve a mystery among people who are not what they seem. Scorcese’s new “Shutter Island” is getting some very mixed reviews, not unlike last week’s Wolfman. Film-nerd websites are praising it’s technique and atmosphere, but mainstream critics are giving it failing grades.


  44. Clint says:

    I like this episode. I love the way they play up the humdrum life Hargrove and his cigarette hag wife seem to lead.

    Fave riff: “This movie objectifies bras!”


  45. Evan K says:

    Manfred: “Some bees survived, two, uh, three … ”
    Kevin/Tom: “No four, FIVE! I CHANGE MY ANSWER!”


  46. losingmydignity says:


    So Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is on Shutter Island for a restful vacation?


  47. Lucas D. says:

    #92: I’ll give you that. Seasons 1-3 were okay, throwing in lots of references, but usually at least building a joke around them. Now the show unpleasantly reminds of an animated Seltzer/Friedberg movie, just tossing them in for the hell of it and hoping the audience will confuse simple recognition with actual humor. MacFarlane isn’t brilliant, by any means, he just had the sense to hire decent writers at first, and he couldn’t get them back after the show was canceled.

    Anyway, back on point: I’ve always liked this one. It’s a dull movie, but it gives Mike and the Bots plenty of opportunity to take the piss out of it (a little British colloquialism for ya there). Contrast most dull movies they did, whose dull-ness normally meant pasty guys in lab coats talking pseudo-scientific jargon; something the Brains understandably hated writing for.

    Favorite line for me: “My agent is nicotine!”


  48. mikek says:

    losingmydignity says:
    February 21, 2010 at 2:06 pm


    So Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is on Shutter Island for a restful vacation?

    It probably falls into the Coleman Francis film type, where a movie takes itself too seriously, but is actually quite absurd.


  49. incrediblehorriblemrlimpet says:

    Favorite parts:

    The scene that starts with Miss Robbins’ insanely loud, annoying toothbrush, prompting Servo to think she’s grinding her teeth down.

    In the same scene, Doris asks Vicki if she slept well. Before Vicki finishes answering, Doris simply walks away from her. Mike as Doris flippantly declares, “I don’t caaare”.

    At the end, when Manfred’s house is burning up with Vicki in it, Mike’s hilarious take on her supposedly being right in the way of Hargrove’s axe as he hacks at the front door, “OW!”, then continuing with her bad timing by running around to the window right when Dave is trying to break it with a chunk of wood, “OW!”.

    With the house going up in flames so fast, Crow thinks it’s made of typing paper and oily rags.


  50. Atomic Womble says:

    I love this episode, by far the best of the British ones.

    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.

    #91, Albert Finney is probably best known for playing Hercule Poirot in the 1970s film Murder on the Orient Express. This was not his finest moment;

    Albert – ‘I made this……’
    Crow ‘….movie difficult to watch.’


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