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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: 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 (204 votes, average: 4.34 out of 5)


• 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.
• 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 Replies to “Episode Guide: 415- The Beatniks (with short: ‘General Hospital’–Segment 2)”

  1. Sitting Duck says:

    I never would have guessed that Tom subscribed to National Review.


  2. Thomas K. Dye says:

    #50: Eddie’s meteoric rise is so contrived you can’t help but laugh

    Bayliss: Eddie, you’re an overnight sensation!
    Joel: And it hasn’t even been overnight!

    This movie IS hilarious, with Breck’s overacting, Sam “I was old before I was young” Edwards trying to pass himself off as a teenage “geeknik” and the horrible simulacrum of JD kitchen sink drama that permeates every frame (Eddie: Wherever I go, they go, Joel: Now where’s the bathroom?).

    At the same time, I always get that Tony Travis was TRYING to be sincere in his performance, and for that reason, I find myself oddly becoming affected at the final clash between Eddie and Moon at the end of the film. (You almost suspect the Brains were, too… Tom interrupts Joel to tell him that this is “So intense!”) It is a shame it ends as it does; I always kind of hope that Eddie is freed in a few months because Bayliss pulled some strings, and thus Eddie was free to sing his inexplicably popular forties-style ballads in pegboard-lined studios for at least a few more years, until the Beatles came over, anyway.

    And yeah, those songs… “With a Look” probably lasts like a minute and a half, but it feels like a century, and J&tB’s riffs just make it hilarious. The last one, which I suspect is called “Love Wears a Mask (A Tight Leather Mask)” is so schmaltzy that Vegas crooners probably would have rejected it ten years before. However… “Anything Your Heart Desires” is peculiarly catchy. There, I admitted it.


  3. Skiptastic says:

    With the transition of Magic Voice to MJP in this episode, it made me think: was there ever a list of who played Magic Voice on an episode by episode basis?


  4. schippers says:

    More random thoughts about the experiment:

    Casual Friday zombie does do a good impression of the hotel manager.

    I like Joel’s use of the cigar prop in the host segment.

    Sideburns don’t need your sympathy. Okay.


  5. Jbagels` says:

    @ Sitting Duck: Servo did a pretty decent William F. Buckley impression, so not too surprising.


  6. Kenotic says:

    For some reason, by favorite moment is when Eddie finishes up his non-Beatnik song about sideburns. He’s been pretty lifeless for the past few minutes, the song finishes up and he gives a half-hearted “Jazz Hands” before rolling his eyes and taking off with Iris. Even the actor couldn’t stand the middlin’ Pat Boone reject song.

    This movie has some of my favorite MST tropes: “Young” people who look about 30, awful music posing as the hip rock&roll kids like these days, love interests that are as interesting as dishwater, and attempted stabs at lingo (“I’m going Moon You!”).


  7. Stressfactor says:

    I forgot as well, I loved Joel’s little “Yeah, right, a cab in L.A.” — perhaps a little lingering stab from his time in Hollywood?


  8. Mrs. Dick Courier says:

    One of my faves!

    Dick Curier is editorial supervisor (my husband, poor guy, he was a horrible editor). Dick is also in Night of the Bloodbeast. Is this the same Dick? Can’t find him online.

    Same fave moments:

    Love the slumber party, brings back some good memories
    Joel really getting into the music “Ugghh!”
    “Gypsy crushes Joel!”
    “Dish of Ice Cream, don’t tempt me!”
    “Oscar Wilde!”
    love wears a mask “a tight leather mask”
    Anything…”is better than this crap”
    “meet George Jetson, Jane his skirt”


  9. Dark Grandma of Death says:

    Favorite riff from this episode: “I’m shooting the dishes!”


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

    #25: Someone musta left it out in the rain…


  11. snowdog says:

    The Shout DVD has the Crow Vs Crow special as en extra. It’s enjoyable to hear Trace talk about the early days and construction of Crow, both as a character and a robot. But what’s the inflatable globe obscuring Bill’s face much of the time? Did he have a zit on his chin or…?


  12. Jbagels` says:

    Mary Jo’s Magic Voice is ok, but love the original magic voice. Saaaaay…


  13. Sharktopus says:

    @ snowdog: I think Shout’s decision to record Crow Vs Crow as a special feature was somewhat last-minute, possibly spurred by all of us who couldn’t attend Dragon Con begging to see it. Their recording of the next year’s Servo Vs Servo panel was a little clearer. I’m still hoping to see them finagle a Joel Vs Mike some year. I’m sure we’d all be fascinated to see that.

    Honestly, the General Hospital installment and Crow Vs Crow are the big reasons I pull out this DVD. The Beatniks is clearly a strong, memorable episode with some great sketches, but something about it leaves me flat. I think the movie’s just too bland. A giant mutant critter really would’ve spiced things up for me. Paul Frees was just a little too competent.

    Bee double-Oh Zee Ee, booze!


  14. 24HourWideAwakeNightmare says:

    Is comment #9 suggesting that Peter Breck played an “Evil Gilligan”? Must have missed that ep, did it involve coconuts in some manner?

    Oh, probably it’s just a quick assessment of Breck’s general style. Still, fun to ruminate the idea of Little Buddy gone bad.


  15. Ralph C. says:

    Five stars. Stop. Really funny episode. Stop. In the name of love. Stop. Well, looks like I a running out of room. Stop. I have to go. Stop. It’s snowing backstage. Stop.

    Best Wishes,



  16. JLH says:

    The BKTV “I LOVE this place” got referenced by Crow in show 513 when the freaky guy is having a manic fit. Damn you, Dan Cortese!


  17. eegah says:

    Paul Frees was also the voice of the helicopter pilot in “Beginning of the End”


  18. Creeping Terror says:

    Sampo’s theorem is in full force. I’m surprised that anyone thinks this is a memorable episode. The movie is “meh” and the riffing is subpar. On the other hand, the three main host segments are pretty good.

    Although the movie is mediocre, I think that it’s not all bad. Tony Travis seems like a decent actor who never caught a break in Hollywood. According to IMDb, his career lasted 5 years and he left Hollywood roughly a year after “The Beatniks” came out. I don’t know if he was ever star material, but I think he could have been a dependable guest star/supporting actor in Hollywood. I wonder what happened to him…

    On to “Fire Maidens of Outer Space,” one of the worst MST3K movies ever!


  19. Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    Does anyone else get claustrophobic watching these General Hospital shorts? They kind of oog me out, maybe because they look like the old Twilight Zone episodes. Fave short riff: “I gotta go toss a cake!”


  20. dsman71 says:

    Great episode. All I can think of is Leather Coat and that great Servo segment with Joel making funny noises with the newspaper headlines spinning
    LE THER – COAT ! Bum ba dow
    Jo Els Hair
    Jo Eils – Knees
    Ther – apy
    Bum buh dow !


  21. Keith in WI says:

    I love this episode, one of my favorites. One of the few that I remember the host segments from the first time I saw it on CC back in the 90s. I think the overacting by Breck is perfect material for the show and the very un-beatnik look to the the beatniks makes the movie hilarious on its own and the Brains just add to the mess to make it a great episode.

    Fave riff from the short – The entire Booze council ad. Classic

    Favorite host segment riff – “I read in Dynamite that he likes GUM!” (Anyone else remember Dynamite magazine??)

    Favorite movie riff – too many to count but the “tight leather mask” and “There are a million stupid stories in the naked city, this is the stupidest one…” are a couple of best.


  22. 1 adam 12 says:

    Gotta disagree, Sampo: “dickweed” is definitely a curse word. It’s just an outgrowth of “dick”.


  23. stef says:

    RIP Peter Breck.

    This is really a hysterical episode. BTW, I hope I’m not the only one who thought this, but I think Mooney was in love with Eddie. The scene where Eddie says he’s going to be on the tv show and the way Mooney stares at him, and how Mooney kept saying “I did it for you, Eddie!”, I think there was something going on.

    Also, does anyone out there know the title and issue number of the Superman comic Servo was reading during the skit where everything he touched he destroyed? It’s been driving my geek mind CRAZY!!


  24. Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    This is another solid episode, the riffing is lively and entertaining throughout, Joel and the Bots are very engaged by the movie, a very funny Invention Exchange (those troll costumes are kinda freaky!), and the Host Segments are great (well, except the Bots slumber party in HS#2; that skit leaves me “meh”). The movie itself, the decidedly Beatnik-free THE BEATNIKS is great MST fodder, full of weird actors and music that is resoundingly terrible, but man, not as bad as the editing. They should’ve hired a continuity person… My only complaint about this episode is the GENERAL HOSPITAL short; I’ve never really cared for those.

    “Leather coat.. . du-dung-dung-da-dung.. . ducktail hair!”


    Even though I didn’t like the short, this is the best part from it:

    Crow: “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.”
    Joel: “Booze takes an adult party and makes it better!”
    Servo: “Booze makes you popular and heals all wounds!”
    J&tB: “B-double O-Z-E, BOOOOOZE!”

    from the film:

    Servo: “Let’s do some crimes!”

    Crow: “This scene was shot by a bank camera.”

    song in movie: “Anyyyything. . . ”
    Joel: “Is better than this!”

    Crow: “Whoa, bad touch.” —Crow says this when the quiet guy in the group crawls over Mooney to sit at the booth, and Mooney grabs his butt. Maybe stef (#73) is on to something in regards to Mooney’s sexuality……?

    drug reference,
    Crow: “It’s snowing backstage, Eddie. Heh-heh.”

    Crow: “I’m a pixie!”

    Eddie leans in to hug hatchet-face, his cigarette still in hand,
    Servo: “sssssssss”
    Joel: “OOOO, my shoulder!”
    Crow: “Let’s create that scene from VIDEODROME.” ——Love that movie, one of my fave Cronenbergs!

    Overall, a great Episode, despite the lack of actual beatniks,
    but in honor of all fat barkeeps everywhere, I give this a . .



  25. Cornjob says:

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

    Eddie’s expression is perfect during this riff.

    I concur that Mooney was acting like a jilted lover.



  26. Sitting Duck says:

    @61: The reason for the inflatable globe becomes more clear when you notice that there’s a can next to it labeled Soup.

    @64: IIRC one of the riffs in The Beatniks remarked that Moon looked like an evil Gilligan. And didn’t Bob Denver portrayed some sort of hippie-type character before he did Gilligan’s Island?


  27. Dr. Ted "Hotcha!" Nelson says:

    Bob Denver played Maynard Krebs, a beatnik in “Dobie Gillis.”


  28. Lisa says:

    In my view, a pretty good episode, but not a favorite. I tend not to like the teen thug episodes (eg Teenage Crime Wave) so much.

    Host segments are really good, especially the one with the spinning newspaper. :laugh:

    And I like Helen, though she’s a little overly made up.


  29. Cubby says:

    Stef @73,

    That is Superman #53, from 1991.

    You’re welcome.


  30. Matthew Shine says:

    I never knew that “Beatnik” music consisted of 40’s style crooning…

    This is the beginning of a home stretch that, for me, continues all the way to Manos. My only gripe with this episode is the General Hospital short. I kinda wish they could have done more 50’s education shorts, those always were the funniest for me.
    My favorite host segment is Tom Servo’s Rise To Stardom. “Want some?” “I WANT AN ANSWER!” *SLAP*


  31. Jbagels` says:

    I would definitely have gotten in trouble for saying dickweed when I was a kid. Is that a midwestern thing though? I’ve never heard anyone outside of MST3k say it.


  32. Brandon says:

    Paul Frees’ son Fred was on the radio last year, and I got to call in and ask him what he thought about the MST’ed version of The Beatniks. He mentions that he was “totally amused by it”.


  33. Neptune Man says:

    Great episode, but somebody answer this to me, please: what this movie has to do with the beatniks?


  34. Cubby says:

    If memory serves, this not only debuted on the Turkey Day Marathon, it kicked it off that year (I set an 8-hour tape on the VCR in the apartment, and this was the first one on the tape. It could just be when Comedy Central switched over on our cable system – it had a 12-hour time share with VH-1 back then). While I liked the General Hospital short, the movie just sat on my head. Peter Breck was too hammy, Tony Travis was too wooden (several years ago, I saw him on a Surfside 6 episode – “The Wedding Guest” – and he was *exactly* the same. Maybe I just didn’t get it. I never “got” Troy Donahue either – well, except for his bit as Merle in Godfather II. He had found his instrument and it’s a great bit).

    The episode has grown on me over the years, I’ve never rated it a favorite, but it’s got good segments, the riffing is solid, and now I consider it quite funny. Call it the power of persistence. I love the lack of continuity in cuts when Moon is in the hotel room. Those crack me up. I love how they make a big deal out of how whatsisname finally gets a line. Joel, “Hey, he got a line!” Crow, “Wow!”

    “Gas water, laugh juice” registered with someone in the writing room – it’ll be called back at least once, in Radar Secret Service albeit scrambled as “gas juice, laugh water.”

    I love how ridiculously huge the cake is in the short. They cut about an eighth of the cake for their party. (Check how much is left in 417, two-thirds? Three-quarters?)


  35. EricJ says:

    “Lea-ther coat..”
    “Dish-of Ice cream…”

    (If there was one episode devoted to all their great “Sing-along” riffs, it’s worth it.) :)


  36. Jbagels` says:

    @84, Cubby: It sure did kick off the Turkey day marathon, and Fire Maidens Of Outer Space ended it. It was awesome to get two new episodes in the span of 30 hours. I miss Turkey Day. Sure beats It’s a Wonderful Life and watching the Cowboys.


  37. stef says:

    Cubby@79 THANK YOU!!!!!!! I was going nuts, but now I’m able to move on!


  38. Cubby says:

    Jbagels @86, Alas, I was in fire-and-forget mode. All of us were going to our family homes for the weekend, so the first eight were all I got. I didn’t see Fire Maidens until much later.

    Plus, I wasn’t online back then, so I only had the vaguest knowledge of what episode was in what season – other than the obvious Season 1 sets and the ones with the “Comedy Channel” tag at the end. Add that to a work schedule overlap and only occasional access to the VCR, and everything I hadn’t seen yet was a “new” episode.

    Ah, to be young and foolish again.

    stef @87, has a gallery option in their search. If you can make out what the title looks like, you can surf the gallery until you find what you’re looking for. It can be a fun tool.


  39. Jbagels` says:

    My father was a bit obsessive about recording the episodes. This was back in the days before DVR so he actually had our neighbor (who isn’t at all a MSTie) recording the full 30 hours when we went away one Thanksgiving. Poor bastard had to put in a new vhs tape every 6 hours.

    I wasn’t online then either but i remember getting an episode list with the newsletter way back when. I can’t remember the periodic tables, and my knowledge of American presidents is pretty lousy but I can still recite the first 4 seasons in order.


  40. trickymutha says:

    @#89- I’m right there with you bro.


  41. Skiptastic says:

    Listening to the video on YouTube linked in #82, I think we figured out why “hatchet face” was supposed to be the woman who tames the ‘hero’…she was the director’s wife!


  42. Cornjob says:

    If the cast of this film assaulted Nickelous Cage with baseball bats, would the headline be, “Beatniks beat Nick”?

    Anyway, this movie was to beatniks what Troll 2 was to trolls, and Monster A Go-Go was to monsters.


  43. Sitting Duck says:

    @81: The word dickweed gets used in the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.


  44. jjb3k says:

    Even after Shout! released this episode, I still kept my fan-copy, because it came from the Turkey Day 1992 premiere, complete with intact commercials. I bust it out every Thanksgiving and go back in time for two hours. After years and years of watching MST3K exclusively on DVD, it’s quite a trip to see it accompanied by commercials for Extra bubble gum, Burger King, and Aladdin – not to mention all those old Penn Jillette Comedy Central bumpers.

    To me, this was the watershed episode – the point where MST3K hit its golden age, and started off on a string of brilliantly funny episodes that didn’t stop until the end of the Comedy Central era. From here on, the riffing is at its peak, the characters are all fully realized, the actors are much more professional, and everything is just as it should be.


  45. Jbagels says:

    Oh yeah? I haven’t seen either Bill and Ted movie in years, must’ve forgot about them dropping a “dickweed”.


  46. Cabbage Patch Elvis says:

    I was just watching this episode, and got a chuckle about how much Frank in his troll get-up looks like King Buzzo from the Melvins. Rock on Frank!


  47. Bombastic Biscuit Boy says:

    Not much to add here, I love how “Beatnik Troll” Frank totally misquotes Howl at the beginning…

    “I’ve seen the best minds of my emanation ruined…
    [snap snap]

    Onto to next week! Into the theater, Ferlinghetti!!


  48. dad1153 says:

    The lost youth/delinquent low-budget flicks with a skewed negative view of young people as troublemakers (always played by way-past-their-pretend-age non-actors) always make for hilarious riffing fodder. Along with its spiritual cousin “Daddy-O,” “The Beatniks” is somewhere in the middle between “MST3K” highs like “I Accuse My Parents” (along with some of the better shorts) and forgettable dreck like “Untamed Youth” (Season 1). Peter Breck is hilariously OTT as Mooney but the rest of the pretend Scooby Gang are either too wooden (leading man Tony Travis) or too broad (Sam Davis pretending to be Mickey Rooney), with the ‘adults’ coming across relatively normal. Riffing is unmemorable and dragged even lower by the “General Hospital” short that’s below par compared with the one before (yikes!) but the in-between skits (especially the ‘rotating newspaper’ story of Tom Servo’s career) are pretty strong along with a decent invention exchange (‘Pocket Billiards’).

    So, TWO-AND-A-HALF STARS (out of five) for “The Beatniks,” an average “MST3K” experiment all-around. Favorite riffs: the constant ‘Meet George Jetson…’ tune, jazzy style; Runner-up: ‘She looks like Donald Sutherland.’ :rotfl:


  49. pondoscp says:

    I just realized that Dr. Phil Brewer, from the General Hospital short, is none other than Code Name: Diamond Head himself, Roy Thinnes!


  50. The Might Untrained FOOZLE says:

    I always thought the Pocket Pool bit was delightfully naughty and surreal, especially considering what I grew up understanding “pocket pool” to be…


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