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Episode Guide: 415- The Beatniks (with short: ‘General Hospital’–Segment 2)

Short: (1963) A scene from the soap opera “General Hospital.” Nurse Jesse throws the most tense and awkward party ever.
Movie: (1960) Hoodlum and wannabe singer Tony gets his big break, but can’t shake his psycho pseudo-beatnik buddies.

First shown: 11/25/92
Opening: A uncharacteristically mean Joel dominates the bots in a game of rock-paper-scissors
Invention exchange: The Mads have donned troll doll costumes, Joel demonstrates pocket pool
Host segment 1: Joel, Crow and Tom present: Either you are or aren’t a beatnik
Host segment 2: The bots’ slumber party gets a call from Tony Travis!
Host segment 3: Tom Servo stars in a dramatization of the life of a ’50s rock star
End: Crow is in Moon mode, Joel reads a letter, while the Mads are a hot property
Stinger: Moon gets hysterical
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (199 votes, average: 4.33 out of 5)

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• There’s so much to love about this episode. The movie is both watchable and eminently stupid, a perfect combination for MST3K. The riffing is solid, and you would expect no less at this stage of season 4. Even the segments are uniformly good. A great episode for newbies and just all-around fun.
References.
• This episode was included in Shout’s “The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. XVII.”
• This episode debuted on the Turkey Day 1992 marathon, and was the first new episode to air in two months.
• As noted, Joel is uncharacteristically mean in the opening! Anybody who says Joel was always a father figure to the bots should watch this sketch. (Although he reminds me a bit of MY father a little.) Thankfully, GYPSY CRUSHES JOEL! and we have a happy ending.
• That’s Mary Jo as Magic Voice, for the first time.
• Naughty line: “You got a snooker down there!”
• During the short, J&tB do probably their best “commercial” for the Booze Council, featuring the classic line: “Booze takes a dull party and makes it better!”
• Callback: “Rock candy baby you’re mine, yeah!” (Daddy-O). “Brought to you by Ken-L Ration” and “I have a hiatus hernia” (General Hospital).
• You can hear director/scriptwriter Paul Frees (the voice of Boris Badenov) introducing Eddie when he makes his first TV appearance and also as the voice of the police detective in the hospital. Frees also did voices for Inspector Fenwick on “The Dudley Do-Right Show” and the magpies on “The Heckle and Jeckle Show” among many many voice jobs.
• One great thing about this episode is that all Eddie’s songs have these giant gaps after each line of lyrics, allowing J&tB to insert a riff after practically every one.
• Odd moment in the movie: Does Harry really have to ask permission to use the pay phone in Iris’ mom’s diner?
• “I killed that fat barkeep!!” became an immediate MSTie catchphrase.
• Firesign Theatre reference: As segment 2 begins, Tom is singing the “Porgie Tirebiter” theme song.
• That’s Mike, of course, as the voice of Tony Travis. “If you’re a bill collector or if you’re with the military…”
• In segment 3, Crow’s wig falls off. They keep going.
• One of the weirdest things about this movie is the casting of the hatchet-faced Joyce Terry (aka “Donald Sutherland in drag”) as Helen. Her beauty is supposed to tempt Eddie away from the dim-witted, co-dependent Iris, but it’s hard to understand what Eddie could possibly see in her.
• The letter they read at the end is from a kid who got in trouble for calling his mom a “dickweed.” J&tB state that it is NOT a swear word and they’re right … but I think you still shouldn’t call your mom a dickweed (even if she’s being one).
• Cast and crew round up: Editor Harold White also worked on “Daddy-O.” Musical director Stanley Wilson also did the score for “Radar Men from the Moon.” In front of the camera, Karen Kadler was also in “It Conquered the World.” Peter Breck was also in “The Crawling Hand.” Frank Worth, who had a bit part here, wrote the score for “Bride of the Monster.” As for Paul Frees, besides doing the grunts and groans for Glenn Manning in ”War of the Colossal Beast,” he’s the voice of Kalin in “The Sword and the Dragon” and the narrator in “The Deadly Mantis.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Joel Hodgson (the first of four eps this season). But the big news is the departure of Alex Carr, causing everybody to move up a rung: Jann Johnson becomes production manager (Alex’s old title) and Ellen (Ellie) McDonough becomes production coordinator (Jann’s old title). Alex’s name comes off and Ellen’s name is added to the “post production coordination” credit along with Jann. Ellie comes off the list under “production assistant.” Clayton James did hair and makeup for all the rest of the episodes this season. “Ammendment” is still spelled wrong.
• Fave riff from short: “This is Pete from props. Don’t eat the cake!” Honorable mention: “There’s a layer of squirrel in here!”
• Fave riff from the movie: “Dish of ice cream! Don’t tempt me!” Honorable mention: o/` “…a tight leather mask…” o/`, “Accessory After The Fact Theater will return after this.”

124 comments to Episode Guide: 415- The Beatniks (with short: ‘General Hospital’–Segment 2)

  • 101
    Smoothie of Great Power says:

    Only seen this one a few times but I honestly do like Tony Travis’s voice.

    My favorite part is also at the beginning of the movie when the clerks have their hands up before they actually start getting robbed. As Joel says, “We’ve been expecting you!”

       0 likes

  • 102
    Basil says:

    One of the weirdest things about this movie is the casting of the hatchet-faced Joyce Terry (aka “Donald Sutherland in drag”) as Helen. Her beauty is supposed to tempt Eddie away from the dim-witted, co-dependent Iris, but it’s hard to understand what Eddie could possibly see in her.

    She was married to writer-director Paul Frees. That should answer any questions about how she was cast.

    She, like Frees, was also a voice actor, though not nearly as prolific. Frees was The Man. You know how Coily one time showed how the world would fall apart without springs? Well, our entire cartoon childhood would fall apart without Paul Frees.

       3 likes

  • 103
    Johnny's nonchalance says:

    Fourth Street!

    Shut up, Iris

       4 likes

  • 104
    Johnny's nonchalance says:

    Basil: She was married to writer-director Paul Frees. That should answer any questions about how she was cast.

    She, like Frees, was also a voice actor, though not nearly as prolific. Frees was The Man. You know how Coily one time showed how the world would fall apart without springs? Well, our entire cartoon childhood would fall apart without Paul Frees.

    Also, I don’t think it was her beauty, necessarily, as much as her (relative) sophistication that got Eddie’s motor running. It’s that classic tale of good girl tempted by bad boy and vice versa. She wasn’t necessarily gorgeous, she was just not trashy and ignorant like Iris.

    People, guys especially, are frequently enticed by the unfamiliar. If her hair is normally straight, we take extra notice when it’s curled. If it’s normally curly, we take extra notice when it’s straight.

       4 likes

  • 105
    Sean says:

    Correction – this is actually on Volume XVII

       0 likes

  • 106
    Sampo says:

    Sean:
    Correction – this is actually on Volume XVII

    Sheesh, dumb mistake. Thanks.

       0 likes

  • 107
    Sitting Duck says:

    The Beatniks passes the Bechdel Test. Iris and her mom talk about where the former has been.

    You can sort of understand when Hollywood screenwriters get other professions wrong. But you’d think they’d have more of a clue about show business, seeing as how it’s their own profession.

    On the subject of Paul Frees and beatniks, there was a Mr. Know-It-All segment on Rocky and Bullwinkle called How to Be a Beatnik.

    No Dukes of Hazzard riff when Moon climbed into the car through the window? Shame!

    So who is this Zach Norman guy mentioned in the Variety mock-ups from HS #3?

    There’s a callback to Gamera in HS #4 when Servo asks Joel to take care of his turtle.

    @ #36: Yep, it’s pretty much a take on his, “You Might Be a Redneck,” shtick.

    Favorite riffs

    Bill never eats my plaster cake at home.

    This is Pete in Props. Don’t eat the cake.

    I’m going to go over to the morgue and cheer up.

    Another alcohol-free party ends in shame. This little playlet has been brought to you by the Booze Council, reminding you to always stock up on alcoholic beverages for all your social occasions. Because booze really satisfies.

    You’ve got underarm odor, but you’re being held up. What do you do?

    “Get in touch with Morrisey and…”
    Tell him to stop crying.

    Meanwhile, at the same time at the Gotham City Bank.

    Hi, I’m here for my prostate exam, and I’ve brought some of my friends with me.

    “My friends go where I go.”
    Now where’s the bathroom?

    Alright, you’re going to go into that A&P and you’re going to tell the lady what you took.

    Would you like heavy smoking or moderate smoking?

    Wait a minute. That’s the guy who robbed my store.

    “Looks like you were an overnight sensation.”
    And it hasn’t even been overnight.

    Hey, my first record’s out already.

    There are a million stupid stories in the naked city, and this is the stupidest one.

    “She ain’t our kind.”
    She’s smart and pretty.

    Gee, if Mr. Bayliss says I can kick you in the groin, can I?

    I guess killing’s okay when it’s sanctioned by an agent.

    “We’ll hear this in the booth.”
    I’ll hear this in my nightmares.

       2 likes

  • 108
    Sampo says:

    Sitting Duck:
    So who is this Zach Norman guy mentioned in the Variety mock-ups from HS #3?

    Briefly, Zack Norman was a sometime actor and relentless self-promoter. He bought a small ad in Variety every week for YEARS in which he touted some performance he had been in. Some called him crazy but the ads got him work. Most famously, he ran one that read: “Zack Norman is Sammy in ‘Chief Zabu'” which was a role he played in a 1988 movie. Norman’s ads ceased when Variety phased out its little display ads. But by then they had brought him a certain notoriety in Hollywood. (He later became a producer, using the name Howard Zucker.)

       4 likes

  • 109
    Lisa H. says:

    I’m not sure if this is the one where they sing the jingle like this, but: B-double-oh-zee-ee, BOOZE!

       0 likes

  • 110
    dropo221 says:

    According to IMDB: (so it MUST be TRUE) Paul Frees DID NOT narrate “The Deadly Mantis.” It was Marvin Miller who starred in TV’s “The Millionaire,” which also featured the off-screen voice of Paul Frees.

       0 likes

  • 111
    Prime Minister Jm J. Bullock says:

    Shut up, Iris

       2 likes

  • 112
    Ian L. says:

    One of the best episodes of season 4, along with “Tormented” and “Teenagers From Outer Space”. And “Manos”, I guess. [/obligatory inclusion]

    The movie itself is watchable, and Mooney is entertainingly hammy, but it’s no “Rebel Without a Cause”.

       1 likes

  • 113
    Bruce Boxliker says:

    Sorry, this is yet another episode I just can’t get into. The General Hospital short is pretty good, but the rest of the episode (host segments & movie included) just doesn’t do anything for me.

       0 likes

  • 114
    EricJ says:

    Sampo: Briefly, Zack Norman was a sometime actor and relentless self-promoter. He bought a small ad in Variety every week for YEARS in which he touted some performance he had been in. Some called him crazy but the ads got him work. Most famously, he ran one that read: “Zack Norman is Sammy in ‘Chief Zabu’” which was a role he played in a 1988 movie. Norman’s ads ceased when Variety phased out its little display ads. But by then they had brought him a certain notoriety in Hollywood. (He later became a producer, using the name Howard Zucker.)

    The little tiny corner ad being in the middle pages EVERY ISSUE, without any context of who or what Chief Zabu was, became a staple to Variety readers for seven years.
    Later on, when we only remembered him as Danny DeVito’s partner in “Romancing the Stone”, he later added a line to the ad that he was also Ira–“Just look at those snappers!”

    Basil
    Frees was The Man. You know how Coily one time showed how the world would fall apart without springs? Well, our entire cartoon childhood would fall apart without Paul Frees.

    For decades, the Voiceover/Dub world consisted of Marvin Miller and Paul Frees (and June Foray for the girls)–
    Boris Badenov jokes surface during the Mongol scenes in “Sword and the Dragon” (with Miller dubbing Ilya Murometz), but not here, for some reason.

       0 likes

  • 115
    Ro-man says:

    Smoothie of Great Power:
    My favorite part is also at the beginning of the movie when the clerks have their hands up before they actually start getting robbed. As Joel says, “We’ve been expecting you!”

    Actually this kinda made sense, given that apparently the Beatniks robbed them every two weeks. Grin

    Love this ep; favs from the movie:

    Call me wild. . “OSCAR WILDE”

    Don’t cry for me… “Argentina”

    Look, get in touch with Morrissey… “And tell him to stop crying”

    If you got what I think you have… “Scabies?”

    I’m an agent, I handle singers and performers for television… “Can I have 10% of your sandwich?”

    From the short, the Booze Council bit got me.

       1 likes

  • 116
    Dan in WI says:

    Ian L.:
    The movie itself is watchable, and Mooney is entertainingly hammy, but it’s no “Rebel Without a Cause”.

    It wanted to be but obviously fell way short.

       1 likes

  • 117
    thequietman says:

    I hadn’t watched this one since it first came out on DVD and boy have I missed it! The second “General Hospital” short is even more fall-down hilarious than the first and the good riffs during the movie are pretty much non-stop.

    Everyone’s caught Paul Frees’ inserting his voiceover at the TV studio and the detective, but I’d swear that was him dubbing over the guy in the car outside “Charlie’s” who asks if there’s any ‘action’ (y’know, chicks! Broads!) while Mooney is busy killin’ that fat barkeep.

    After this much fun, all I can say is thanks for the milk, beer, wine and ice cream!

       2 likes

  • 118
    Truck Farmer says:

    One of the weirdest things about this movie is the casting of the hatchet-faced Joyce Terry (aka “Donald Sutherland in drag”) as Helen.

    I always thought she looked more like Jack Elam in drag.

       0 likes

  • 119
    Cornjob says:

    “Geez I’m stupid. Sometimes I forget how stupid I am.”

    I love the contemplative look on Tony’s face during this riff.

       0 likes

  • 120
    Johnny's nonchalance says:

    Truck Farmer:
    One of the weirdest things about this movie is the casting of the hatchet-faced Joyce Terry (aka “Donald Sutherland in drag”) as Helen.

    I always thought she looked more like Jack Elam in drag.

    She did have a mannish vibe, but I still kind of dug her. But I’m an enlightened 23rd century kind of guy.

       2 likes

  • 121
    Sitting Duck says:

    EricJ: Boris Badenov jokes surface during the Mongol scenes in “Sword and the Dragon” (with Miller dubbing Ilya Murometz), but not here, for some reason.

    Probably because he used his Boris Badenov voice in Sword and the Dragon, but was using his default voice in The Beatniks.

       1 likes

  • 122
    Cornjob says:

    I always confuse the name of this movie with The Rebel Set. I think we had a discussion about how the two movies should switch titles like Stranded in Space and Space Travelers should.

       3 likes

  • 123
    schippers says:

    I love how fast everything happens in this movie. Our hero’s rise to fame happens like {snaps} that. If only life worked like that for the rest of us. We could rise to fame, make a million bucks, and retire in, like, two weeks. Would save a lot of time and effort.

       0 likes

  • 124
    1 adam 12 says:

    Have to disagree about Joyce Terry as Helen. I think she’s VERY attractive, certainly better looking than sleazy Iris.

       1 likes