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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: 906- The Space Children (with short: ‘Century 21 Calling’)

0906s

Short: (1962) A couple of clean-cut kids tour the phone company exhibit at the Seattle’s World’s Fair.
Movie: (1958) The children of rocket technicians come under the control of a mind-controlling blob.

First shown: 6/13/98
Opening: Tom has a kissing booth
Intro: Pearl attempts to take over the worked through officing
Host segment 1: Mike’s the kid from the short! Bonk!
Host segment 2: M&tB have a model rocket; but Pearl has a space program
Host segment 3: Crow lashes out with Jackie Coogan fashions
End: The peace loving blob visits; Pearl’s space program has a problem
Stinger: Dead Professor
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (199 votes, average: 3.97 out of 5)

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• There’s much more good news than bad with this one — a short, some funny segments, great riffing, TV sitcom stars galore — that I can forgive the drab little movie at the center of it all, and a foulup by the Brains.
• Paul’s observations are here.
• The opening is light and fun. Mike’s delivery of the line “A kissing booth? WHAT FOR?” is hilarious.
• That’s Patrick as “Lacks” the phone guy.
• The officing sketch goes on a little long, but you can tell Mary Jo is into it. She’s written about “officing” experiences in some of her short stories, so she knows whereof she parodies.
• This was the first short of the Sci-Fi era. There was much rejoicing among fans.
• Short producer Jerry Fairbanks made other shorts for Ma Bell, including ‘Once Upon a Honeymoon.’ Fairbanks was nominated for two Oscars and won one.
• Sharon Lawrence was born in 1961, so that is definitely not her in the short. But wow, it sure looks just like her.
• Naughty riff: Singer: “You’re seeing it all…” Crow: “…at the Annie Sprinkle show…”
• I like how Tom leans over to tell us one more thing as Mike carries him out at the end of the short.
• Segment 1 is one of those “here’s a bit that’s not funny” bits. Again, a little wry for my tastes, but any segment where somebody gets hit by that big clown hammer is okay by me.
• It may not be quite as bad as not recognizing the Battlestar Galactica spaceships in “Space Mutiny,” but a lot of fans were stunned that the Brains failed to recognize Raymond Bailey, who played Milburn Drysdale on TV’s “Beverly Hillbillies.” Were they too busy coming up with bald jokes (there had to have been dozens) to notice?
• Segment 2 is just really, really funny. Mary Jo really channels Trace in this one and it works brilliantly.
• Nerdy reference that was obscure then and is about to enter the general public’s consciousness: Smaug.
• Second reference this season to St. Blaise, patron saint of ailments of the throat.
• Segment 3 is very reminiscent of seasons 2 or 3, and actually it works pretty well.
• Then current reference: Let’s get in line for Beanie Babies.
• Behind the scenes: Fans, glum after the announcement a few weeks ago that “the back nine” would not be picked up, were cheered up slightly on June 4, about a week before this episode debuted, when it was announced that Sci-Fi Channel had renewed the channel for season 10 (though privately cast and crew members were all saying that it looked like the last one).
• Cast and crew roundup: Producer William Alland also did “Revenge of the Creature,” “The Mole People,” “The Deadly Mantis” and “This Island Earth.” Director Jack Arnold also did “Revenge of the Creature” and “This Island Earth.” Scriptwriter Bernard C. Schoenfeld also worked on “The Magic Sword.” Cinematographer Ernest Laszlo also worked on “Tormented.” Process photography guy Farciot Edouart also did “Village of the Giants,” as did makeup guy Wally Westmore and sound recorder Charles Grenzbach.
In front of the camera, Peggy Webber was also in “The Screaming Skull,” Johnny Crawford was also in “Village of the Giants.” Russell Johnson was also in “This Island Earth. Vera Marshe was also in “Tormented.” Eilene Janssen was also in “Beginning of the End.”
• CreditsWatch: Directed by Kevin. Dan Breyer begins a three-episode stint as both intern and grip (they must have really liked him). Additional music written and performed by Michael J. Nelson.
• Fave riff from the short: “How do animals learn? Well, as long as they learn to taste good…”
• Fave riff from feature: “Hang on. Niels Bohr’s using the toaster.” Honorable mention: “Go find out what he put on his job application under ‘Do you drink a lot?'”

118 Replies to “Episode guide: 906- The Space Children (with short: ‘Century 21 Calling’)”

  1. snowdog says:

    Strange bit of irony: when the Professor is found dead in his chair, the neighbor lady says something to the effect that it was bound to happen because of his lifestyle. One of the bots quips, “Yeah, his sitting was getting way out of control!” Now, of course, we know that too much sitting can, indeed, kill you.

       1 likes

  2. thequietman says:

    This is one that didn’t get much attention from me at the time it was in the Sci Fi rotation (other than the fantastic short), but it’s one I’d love to see again on DVD.

    There’s one riff that hasn’t been mentioned yet, though, that is the one that sticks in my head from this episode.

    [During the opening scene as mother tells here precocious kids to be quiet]
    Crow: Kids, quit trying to form a bond with us! We HAD you! Isn’t that enough?

    It seems to sum up the whole movie and perhaps the entire late 1950s with all it’s angst and ennui. Think about it, won’t we?

       5 likes

  3. fireballil says:

    I have a couple of theories as to why there were no BH riffs. One is that they were too caught up in writing riffs(not necessarily bald ones) to notice who was on the screen. Another is that they wanted to avoid the more obvious ones like the Battlestar Galactica ones in Space Mutiny. Of course, there is another one, that they didn’t want Servo to yell ‘JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED!!!!!!!!!!!‘ every 10 minutes. :smirk:

       2 likes

  4. Depressing Aunt says:

    The short is terrific. Love when the spokeswoman is saying (paraphrase) “Have you ever been worried about missing a call when you’re at a friend’s house?” and Tom quietly mutters “No” twice. And that’s only one of what seems like tons of great quips.

    As for the movie. “Is there no man on this earth who has the wisdom and innocence of a child?” BARF to that line, I say! Also, the kids in this movie make Kenny look sweet natured and well-adjusted. It’s just a sleepy little movie for me, not unlike “Phantom Planet.” At least we have this:

    Crow: Let’s talk lingerie. Coogan gets coquettish in this gauzy baby doll with frilly peek-a-boo panty.

    Crow: Here’s the ultra-dignified Mr. Coogan getting a teensy bit *naughty* in this French-cut thong singlet.

       0 likes

  5. codename zirconium head says:

    “der fuhrer will like that!”

       0 likes

  6. pondoscp says:

    Like I mentioned before, for me 905 and 906 are highlights of Season 9. This is another fun, light, riff of an episode, and I enjoy it more each time I watch it. This was also the very last episode I saw, after having seen all the others, KTMA included.

       1 likes

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

    I think the filmmakers intended the alien to come across not a mere blob but as a Giant Disembodied Brain. So we’ve got a whole “intellect may destroy humanity unless intellect can rescue it instead” subtext. Or not.

    Of course, of the guys had seen the alien as a brain, the show might have been overloaded with jokes about brains throughout SF history, which is a pretty wide field.

    “They’re Fester and the Brain
    Fester and the Brain
    One is a genius…”

    Which reminds me, they didn’t try very hard with the Uncle Fester jokes, did they? Not even one “I’ll shoot ’em in the back!” ?

       1 likes

  8. MWH1980 says:

    Kevin Murphy going all “Cat Stevens” still cracks me up.

       0 likes

  9. Sansabark says:

    Off topic, but what do you think of vol. 29? Coming March 25.

    Untamed Youth
    Hercules And The Captive Women
    The Thing That Couldn’t Die
    The Pumaman

       0 likes

  10. JeremyR says:

    I remember seeing that short, but I have absolutely no memory of ever seeing the movie of this episode.

       0 likes

  11. SOLDaria says:

    I don’t get the complaints about not spotting Mr. Drysdale. I grew up with repeats of Beverly Hillbillies and I didn’t recognize it was him, and I’m pretty good about that stuff.

       2 likes

  12. jjb3k says:

    This is another underrated classic in my book. I put it on a lot, and it always makes me laugh like crazy. Big dumb sci-fi movies from the ’50s have always been MST3K’s bread and butter, and this one is so earnest in its dumbness.

    Someone above asked if this was the first time the opening sketch was directly related to the experiment itself. Not quite – “Attack of the Giant Leeches” and “Zombie Nightmare” both do something similar. This one’s got nothing on the intercom sketch from “Racket Girls”, but it’s still a fun little bit. Patrick does a great walk-on as Lacks.

    “Oh, these monorail designers, they have a one-track mind!”
    “…Why do you lash out like that?”
    I like all the creative ways the Brains reacted to their own bad puns over the years. :D

    “Here, you’re a geek, why don’t you bite the head off this bird?” Mike and the bots are ruthless with this short. I haven’t heard riffing this dark since “Uncle Jim’s Dairy Farm”. “Hi, Grandma!” “Where’s my money?” always makes me bust up laughing. Great host segment, too.

    The movie gets off to a great start, with some of the best-riffed opening credits ever. I always, always lose it at “All And, all the time.”

    Yay, Peggy Webber! If Malcolm Atterbury was Depressing Dad, then she’s Depressing Wife, no question about it. We’ll see her again in “The Screaming Skull”, and she’s just as mopey and ineffectual there. Mike and the bots get miles of riffs out of her passive-aggressive hatred of things like science and sand. (“Let’s see, what else can I hate?”)

    “Quit trying to form a bond with us! We had you, isn’t that enough?” This riff tends to pop into my head a lot whenever I see apathetic parents at my local Walmart.

    One of the kids is Johnny Crawford, a.k.a. Mark McCain from “The Rifleman” (and also Horsey from “Village of the Giants” – remember, the dope who gets a free breast ride from Joy Harmon?) They don’t do a lot of Rifleman riffs aside from the occasional “Paw!”, but that’s only because there’s so many other kids to make fun of in this bunch, from the all-knowing and inexplicably Welsh-accented Bud to the tall lanky one who’s “too old for this group.” Crow sums it up best: “Remind me to never be a child.”

    “…Oh, don’t turn it on!” is one of my favorite closing lines to a host segment ever. And the way charred smoldering Mike just pitches backwards without a word :D

    “I can’t stop! There’s no brakes!”
    “Next time, get a truck with brakes!”

    The riffing in this one keeps delivering one sucker-punch to my funnybone after another. “Sir! Ha ha ha ha ha, sir!”, “I can…peaches, preserves, what?”, “Johnson…” “Caught in zipper.” It never lets up!

    Lighten up, Mike. Servo does a great Cat Stevens. :)

    Castle Forrester blowing up is kind of a dumb note to end on, but what the hell, it doesn’t subtract from the great riffing on display here. A fine episode indeed.

       2 likes

  13. An average episode. As I said up at #80 three (almost 4) years ago, this one has a good short (hey, a short! It’s been awhile..) and the well-dressed Mr. Coogan. Other than that. . . .eh. The Host Segments aren’t very good; the segs with the Mads are perfect examples of the Sci-Fi years not living up to the CC years (as far as Host Segments go). The Coogan fashion show in HS#3 is the best bit, if just for introducing the phrase “crocheted banana warmer” to my ears.

    RIFFS:

    short:

    Servo: “C’mon, lets go grope that Eskimo.”

    Crow: “Did Leni Riefenstahl direct this?”

    movie: “Hello Grandma.”
    Crow: “Where’s my money?”


    movie:

    Servo: “Music by Rick Wakeman here.”

    movie: “Mom, listen.” “Listen to what?”
    Servo: “It’s Brian Eno, mom.”

    Mike: “We’re the Children of the Damned you’ve been hearing about.”

    Crow: “Puked on the BlueBook.”

    Crow: “Hey guys we got a new third base.”

    Servo: “Don’t make me leave my bike in the driveway.”

    Mike: “Phone the devil?”
    Crow: “That’s what I heard.”

    Crow: “Hello, Devil’s office.”

    Crow: “If your area’s not clear, see your doctor.”

    Crow: “Earth vs. nougat.”


    The Space Children reminds me of those early Season 8 episodes,
    but it’s better than most of those.

    3/5

       1 likes

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

    #72 (so it’s an old post, so what)
    “the blob does have to resort to killing people, so you get the feeling these aliens aren’t divine”

    Without being a TOTAL jerk about it, I’d have to say that really isn’t at all conclusive, sorry. Compared to Egypt 13th Century BCE, Project: Thunderer got off easy.

    ===

    #112

    The “Village” guy who got a “ride” was [nick]named “Horsey”? By Bert I. Gordon standards, that’s positively brilliant. ;-)

    ===

    I came across the info that Fester/Hank’s daughter Eadie also played the little Ellinson girl in “Them,” where she set the tone of the film with her classic monologue:

    “*T*H*E*M*!”

    Seems to me like that would’ve been worth at least one or two riffs. Oh well.

    That little girl went on to be, among other things, Robbie Douglas’s love interest in an episode of “My Three Sons.” Blows your mind, don’t it.

    Y’know, when you think about it (“So Don’t Think About It.”), what kind of traumatized reaction to the sight of your parents being torn apart by giant ants is THAT, anyway? You don’t react to inconceivable aberrations beyond your comprehension shattering your life by shouting “[It’s] Them!” That implies a pre-existing familiarity with the aberrations. Oh, again, well.

    Random trivia point, what kind of broken-headed doll was that she was carrying, anyway? Anybody know? Thanks.

       1 likes

  15. Cornjob says:

    I always figured that since the little girl didn’t have a word for “giant ant” her mind substituted “Them” instead of “those things” or “the monsters”. She was in shock too. Maybe that put her off her grammar. Great movie. Possibly the best giant bug movie of its’ time.

       1 likes

  16. Cornjob says:

    There were two little known sequels to Them! called These! and Those! Plus a rustic remake called Them Thar!

    The Space Children has an almost Annikan Skywalkeresque dislike of sand in it. The “Call the Devil” bit always cracks me up. Is that protocol? How is calling the Devil going to help? Doesn’t that usually make things worse?

    I kinda like the shades of The Day the Earth Stood Still in this movie. Even though the misdirect of making it look like the holy blob was evil until it was revealed to be a peacemaker at the very end comes across as a bit awkward and contrived. Not a terrible movie. Not great, but the good monster is a nice take on the invader from space genre, and compared to Manos, or Monster-a-Go-Go Space Children is almost Shakespearean. The little girl from Them is a plus. Was she ever in a Twilight Zone? She should’ve been.

       2 likes

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

    According to the IMDB, she appeared in episodes of 25 different TV series, starting at age 7, but not Twilight Zone, no.

    Per Wikipedia, she’s still alive at age 68, so even if the Kid Actor Syndrome (I don’t know if that’s the “formal” term for the downward spiral so many child/teen actors seem to end up on, but I’m sure everyone knows what I mean) was prevalent in the 1950s and 1960s, she evidently dodged it.

       2 likes

  18. pearliemae says:
    February 25, 2010 at 8:42 am

    …The kids in this one who keep showing up in restricted areas – hey, they’re just acting like Japanese children.

    I think it’s important to remember one big difference, here: the kids in Space Children had super powers — given to them by the glowing alien rock — which enabled them to zombify any adults when the need arose, so they could just waltz in and out of the installation… as opposed to the gaggle of kids in Invasion Of The Neptune Men who accomplished the same thing with nothing but sheer naked chutzpah.

       2 likes

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