Support Us

Satellite News is not financially supported by Best Brains or any other entity. It is a labor of love, paid for out of our own pockets. If you value this site, we would be delighted if you showed it by making an occasional donation of any amount. Thanks.

Sampo & Erhardt

Discuss the show!

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.

Social Media

Visit these!

Visit, the official site of Best Brains, Inc. and Mystery Science Theater 3000.

And be sure to visit Cinematic Titanic by Joel Hodgson and other original MST3K cast members.

And don't forget about, the place to download DVD commentaries by Michael J. Nelson.

And check out the official web site of Joel Hodgson.

Get Darkstar Today!

Episode Guide: 419- The Rebel Set (with short: “Johnny at the Fair”)

Short: (1947) Young Johnny wanders around the 1947 Canadian National Exhibition after his negligent parents lose track of him.
Movie: (1959) A coffeehouse owner wants to knock off an armored car, and gets three losers to help him.

First shown: 12/12/92
Opening: Joel has something really scary to read to the bots at bedtime
Invention exchange: The Mads demonstrate their “quick primp kit,” while J&tB present their paint-by-number Mark Rothko
Host segment 1: Crow tries record album acting lessons with Scott Baio
Host segment 2: J&tB discuss what to do during a four-hour layover in Chicago
Host segment 3: J&tB have a writing workshop, with Merritt Stone in mind
End: Tom “Hercule” Servo tries to ferret out the mystery of Merritt Stone (and his head explodes. In Deep 13, Frank is equally confused
Stinger: “I am bugged!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (161 votes, average: 4.25 out of 5)


• This is the beginning of a stretch of good to really excellent episodes, with everybody on the staff firing on all cylinders. The riffing of the short is classic, and it carries over into the movie. The movie itself is pretty static and dull in the first half, but finally gets going once the robbery starts, giving them plenty to riff on. The segments aren’t all classics, but there are no real clunkers either.
• Clearly the Brains’ don’t like “Life’s Little Instruction Book,” (which I had never heard of when I initially saw this show). Two decades later, it is still available.
• The quick primp kit is a favorite invention exchange of mine, especially Frank’s Fonzie-esque “ayyyy!”
• What a great short and despite Joel’s admonition, they get plenty dark … you know, the way we like it.
• I’ve exchanged emails Charles Pachter, who at the age of 4 played little Johnny (he has only vague memories of the whole thing) and who now is a fairly prominent Toronto artist. Find out more about him at his web site. Those were his real parents playing his parents, by the way.
• I love the little record player they use in segment 1; and that’s Mike’s voice, of course, as Scott Baio.
• What would YOU do with a four-hour layover in Chicago? (Although if it’s a plane layover, it would take you two hours to get into town from O’Hare and two to get back, so…) Me, I think I’d take the architecture boat tour of the Chicago River and note how the structures of so many of the buildings tend to draw my eyes upward… oh, okay, I’d go Navy Pier and get hammered. By the way, I believe what Tom refers to as the Continental Bank building is now the Bank of America building.
• I was glad to see they kept the “Get Smart” jokes to a minimum, though that’s fairly typical. They don’t like to beat one reference to death…usually.
• Obscure reference: “Bizarre” with John Byner.
• Alright, let’s settle this once and for all. Tom’s right, he’s not Merritt Stone. He’s Gene Roth. Although they do whole Merritt Stone thing in this episode, Stone is NOT in this movie. As Daddy-O informs us: Dark, slender and gaunt Merritt Stone played the spider-eaten dad Pete Flynn at the very beginning of 313- EARTH VS. THE SPIDER; a clergyman in 414- TORMENTED; had an uncredited part as a consoling cop near the end of 319- WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST and the King Grady in 411- THE MAGIC SWORD. Looking like Nick Nolte’s father [or, increasingly, like Nick himself], portly, baggy-eyed Gene Roth played the sheriff in both 313- EARTH VS. THE SPIDER and 406- ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES and the lunch cart guy in 414- TORMENTED, as well as a railroad conductor in this movie. Handsome, avuncular Jack Kosslyn portrayed a lieutenant in 309- THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN; the KTLA newscaster in 319- WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST; Fraser in 313- EARTH VS. THE SPIDER; and, under a lot of makeup, the ogre in 411-THE MAGIC SWORD. There, that’s settled.
• Can anybody tell me what that’s a picture of on the Rhino DVD face? It looks like a pizza to me … how that relates to the movie I have no idea.
• Cast and crew roundup: director Gene Fowler Jr. also directed “I Was A Teenage Werewolf.” Cinematographer Karl Struss also worked on “Rocketship X-M” (and later in his career won an Oscar). Special effects guy Augie Lohman also worked on “Lost Continent.” Art director David Milton also worked on “The Corpse Vanishes.” Set builder Joseph Kish also worked on “Phantom Planet.” Score composer Paul Dunlap also worked on “Lost Continent” and “I Was a Teenage Werewolf.”
In front of the camera, In addition to Gene Roth, Don Sullivan, as Tom notes during the episode, was in “The Giant Gila Monster.” Robert Shayne was in “Teenage Caveman” and “The Indestructible Man.” I. Stanford Jolley is also in “The Violent Years.” Byron Foulger is also in “High School Big Shot.” Gloria Moreland was also in “Phantom Planet.” Smoki Whitfield was also in “Jungle Goddess.” Carey Loftin was also in “Radar Men from the Moon.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Trace Beaulieu.
• Fave riff from the short: “Jiminy, thinks Johnny, if only could get a ride in one of those.”
• Fave riff from the movie: “And be sure you have your tickets ready. They’re really strict about that.”

92 comments to Episode Guide: 419- The Rebel Set (with short: “Johnny at the Fair”)

  • 1

    Actually, with this, and especially with “Here Comes the Circus” later this season, I find Joel’s constant yammering about “Stop being so dark!” very irritating. I just want to reach in and slap him, saying “Shut up and let them talk!”


  • 2
    -RCFagnan says:

    Host segment 2 is a riot! One of my favorites.
    I didn’t think all that much of the movie though…the riffing was all right but it’s not one of my favorites. Although I DO like the bit where they’re trying to decide what goes in the hole: “Garage sale, hole, church bazaar,…”


  • 3
    underwoc says:

    The DVD picture is a top-down view of a bongo drum.

    And that’s my favortie riff, too.


  • 4
    underwoc says:

    I have a Merritt Stone-ish question though. Your site occasionaly mentions that Lorne Greene may have been the narrator for the short. Where does that info come from? It doesn’t really sound like him.


  • 5
    Bob says:

    I gave this one 5 stars for the short. Johnny At The Fair is to me one of the funniest bits they ever did making fun of a short subject. Some of their best work ever from beginning to end. Too many funny lines to quote, but the naughty one about getting “a ride in one of those” is definitely on the list. The movie itself is a average episode for me, very watchable, but not amongst my favorites.


  • 6
    swh1939 says:

    I always liked when Joel warned the bots to not get too dark. I took that as their way of warning us that it was, in fact, going to be dark. Hilarious results ensue!!


  • 7
    M "Oops, Sorry, Dad" Sipher says:

    The short? Some of MST’s best ever. The movie? … Not so much. I dunno. I just… really couldn’t get into it. Maybe it’s the sheer boringness and tortoise-on-quaaludes pace of the movie. I mean, there’s not even that wonderful air of complete and hilarious incompetence that you get from, say, an Ed Wood “crime thriller”. This is just gray people doing gray things in a gray way and taking their gray time doing it.


  • 8
    Andrew says:

    “In nomine Patri!”

    Some of my favorite riffs and scenes in all of MST3K are in this episode, from the great host segments, to the short (“Besides, the Mariners are playing so who cares?”) to the guy-chasing-a-priest scene at the end of the movie. I agree with you that the team was really working well together at this point.

    I was listening to a Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band best-of CD for the first time a few months ago, and realized “Adolf Hitler, looking relaxed on vibes” is a reference to the Bonzos’ piece “The Intro and The Outro.” The more you know, the funnier MST becomes.


  • 9
    Skenderberg says:

    I’ve always thought it was amusing that Episode 415 The Beatniks is about rebels and Episode 419 The Rebel Set is about beatniks. Then again, I’m easily amused.


  • 10

    My reflection on this episode boils down to two words: Merritt Stone. (Who is NOT in “The Rebel Set” but in several other MSTed movies).

    In my estimation, the whole Merritt Stone / Gene Roth / Jack Kosslyn thing may be a reference to some (if vague) resemblance among the three actors.


  • 11
    Diamond Joe says:

    I can’t remember who suggests going to Gurnee in the “four-hour layover” sketch, but as a Chicago-area native, let me just say there’s no damn way you’re going to have time to do much in Gurnee and still come back to Union Station in time to make your train. (If it’s O’Hare and a plane, you have absolutely no hope.)


  • 12
    outer space says:

    I love all of the ‘death’ jokes they make and this one is full of them. One that sticks out in my head is “Forgive me father for I have murdered” Clasic


  • 13
    Diamond Joe says:

    To be positive, though, let me add that the Art Institute would be a terrific idea, because it’s easy walking distance from Union Station.

    Also, I’m surprised no one mentioned that probably the most dated thing in the episode is the Merritt Stone sketch itself. Today, they’d just look him up on IMDb. No fuss, no muss, no heads exploding.


  • 14
    Mark says:

    Regarding the dated Merritt Stone sketch…when I watched this one for the first time in a few years when the DVD set came out, I actually had the same reaction. Like “how could they not know, just look it up”. Took me a minute or two to remember that back then there was no place to look things like that up. How did we ever live through those days… Shock

    What an amazing set of host segments in this one. Overall just a very smartly written episode. A classic example of season 4 style MST3K.


  • 15
    Kenneth Morgan says:

    This one has some of my favorite riffs, especially during the final chase scene (“Gangs of chain-wielding priests, on the next ‘Geraldo’.”). Although, now I’m going to have to get the upcoming “Mannix” DVD set to look for a scene of him in a cassock. (“Da-da-da-Dum! Amen!”)


  • 16
    adoptadog says:

    Wonderful wonderful short, movie definitely so-so (though I never get tired of the film’s idea of beatniks, performing odd dances to absurd music, and the one-eyed beat poet and his recitation). Overall, I think M “Oops, Sorry Dad” Sipher has the best description I’ve seen; “tortoise-on-Quaaludes pace of the movie” is spot-on. Still fun to watch.


  • 17
    Smoggy says:

    My primary beef with Rebel Set is it just blended in with one of the two major categories of MST3K: Horror and gangster movies, which always leave me disappointed in why the selection couldn’t have been more diverse… less repeated themes, but oh well.


  • 18
    fireballil says:

    I voted five stars for this one, this is my all time favorite episode. I agree with Sampo on two points: The restraint on Get Smart riffs(I mentioned this in my review on as well as the fact that the riffing is great. I have always thought that the fourth season was the best of the Joel era seasons. Joel, Trace and Kevin really settled into a rhythm that built up throughout the season and began to peak with this episode and ended with Manos. I often wonder if Joel decided not to leave, would it have continued, or would it not be the show it became with Mike?

    A few other rememberances:

    Fave riff: When Tucker is seen on the train as a priest, Crow says, ‘Platt Point!’

    I remember reading somewhere (maybe it was here) that the ideal movie for riffing was one with a lot of non-talky scenes for Joel and the ‘bots to fill, and this one had several, most notably the one where Tucker and his crew buried all the evidence of the crime in the hole. All the ‘hole’ jokes were great.

    If you ever wondered what any of the ‘bots looked like asleep, watch Gypsy during Crow’s speech on what he would do in Chicago; her ‘eye’ closes, meaning her light went out and Joel nudges her ‘awake,’

    My dated reference: When Karen misspells ‘heel,’ Crow says, ‘She’s Danielle Quayle,’ which also means Dan Quayle. I feel sorry for the poor guy who has to put up with all the ‘potato-e’ jokes.

    Something else that happens quite often, Crow’s voice is heard when his beak isn’t moving. During the dance in Ray’s apartment, you can hear Crow saying, ‘The forbidden dance of Laura Petrie,’ but his beak doesn’t move. I learned that these lines are added later in post-production, even though it seems like a goof. I think it adds to the charm of the show.

    This episode had a lot of ‘over-your-head’ references, like Mark Rothko and Charles Mingus(I appreciate the show for expanding my overall knowledge), but also a lot of ones that everyone knows, like Red Goose Shoes or the Mickey Mouse Club song. This is a good balance; one that I think they tried to accomplish and did more often than not.


  • 19
    Mark says:

    Which category does “The Rebel Set” fit in? I don’t remember them EVER doing a gangster movie. Confused

    And there were quite a few non-horror/monster movies in this season – 401, 403, 404, 408, 410, 412, 413, 415, 416, 417, 419, 420, 422. That’s over half the season where they hit other genre’s.

    And other seasons were much more diverse. In season 6, you’ve only got maybe 6 or 7 movies that would fall into that category. Same with season 5, at most you could put only 5 or 6 of those movies loosely into the horror genre.


  • 20
    SIRHAMHAT says:

    This episode definitely has a great short, which is very memorable, but the movie has apparently created a black void in my mind. When I’m searching through my complete collection of MST3k episodes to watch and I run across this one, I always stop and think, “Hmm? Now which movie is this one, and what the heck happens in it?” And when I actually watch it, I realize it is a pretty good episode, but the movie… that darn movie… I guess if I can learn to associate it with “Johnny at the Fair” then this episode will get more viewings from me.

    …oh… and I never got Gene Roth mixed up with Merritt Stone, because Gene Roth was in several of the later Three Stooges shorts and I’m a huge fan of The Three Stooges.

    Oh… one good thing about this movie is that it is a movie about Beatniks (an episode I DO fondly remember) and actually has beatniks in it, like Skenderberg cleverly observed.


  • 21
    nightcrawler666 says:

    “Visions of the Mekong Delta flash through Johnny’s head”.

    “C’mon kid it’s funny”.

    “Hey Johnny can you loan the champ some money” (para.)


  • 22
    fishbulb says:

    I have mixed feelings about this episode. Like some of the previous posters, I loved the short and the host segments, but the movie’s really hard to get through. I can make it through the scene where they rob the armored car, but the rest of the movie’s a blur to me.
    The “layover in Chicago” segment is a classic.
    And the “Jiminy” riff from the short might just be the funniest riff they ever did.


  • 23
    xmattxyzx says:

    I just wish Servo had said “little gray cells” instead of “little gray matter” during the Poirot segment. That one always bugs me.


  • 24
    Sean74 says:

    I agree with Mark 100%, this is a great episode full of sharp one-liners in the theater and hysterical segments outside of it. I’m definitely in the minority when I say this, but I thought, as MSTied movies go, the plot wasn’t half-bad. Granted, the last ten minutes where “our hero” gets his ass kicked by the robbery ringleader i.e. elderly priest is silly, but the story leading up to and during the heist is actually watchable.

    The short is a sure-fire Top 5 of the series. Joel’s warning of being “too dark” is just him playing the parent. The ‘bots (and even Joel on occasion) still make some brutal remarks with very comical results. Other shorts, like “Here Comes the Circus” and “Last Clear Chance” were just as dark but funny as well.

    Tucker, disguised as the priest, mentions that he’s from Pembroke, New Hampshire. Being a Granite Stater, I always wondered if whoever wrote the movie had any ties to my state, or if they just threw a dart on a map and it landed somewhere in central NH.

    Oh, the stupid things I ponder!…. Neutral


  • 25
    erasmus hall says:

    I have seen the
    best mimes of my generation at beatnik bars
    owned and operated by criminal parsons
    employing goofy underlings
    What’s not to like?


  • 26
    Alex R. says:

    ‘Johnny at the Fair? I know it’s another band from Seattle.’ Yeah, another grunge era comment from when Seattle exploded. I was in Sea Town yesterday and not a plaid shirt to be seen.

    ‘…Johnny transmogrifies, he’s a shapeshifter, and he breaks the seventh seal.


  • 27
    Jason says:

    This episode holds a very special place to me. It was the very first episode I ever saw all the way through. I was aware of MST3K for some time before by I was always more into the Higgins Boys & Grueber or (especially) Night After Night. After they ended I was looking for something to get into I guess and I came across this episode around Christmas of ’92 (sounds right).

    A friend of mine committed suicide 2 days after New Years ’93 and my tape of this episode kept me halfway sane the entire winter. I may have only been 16 at the time but my emotions were frazzled and (luckily) I had a pretty good sense of popular culture so when I began watching this episode I couldn’t stop. It was fast and furious and I was completely hooked on MST3K (for life) after watching 419.

    Absolutely Top 10 of all time, IMO. Alien

    Favorite Riff: “It’s John Candy!–Hey that was John Candy”. Gets me everytime.


  • 28
    ThorneSherman says:

    i like this episode, the overly complicated scheme and doublecross of the plot. The “priset be nimble, priest be quick” line always cracks me up. the short is, of course, one of the greats.


  • 29
    MDH1980 says:

    For a long time I would watch “Johnny at the Fair” and wonder why, when Johnny is taken to the “Lost Children” playground, they didn’t make a joke about “The City of Lost Children”.

    For some reason, it actually took me a while to snap to the fact that this episode was made several years before that movie.
    Has that kind of thing happened to anyone else when watching these shows so long after they aired?


  • 30
    Spector says:

    Another example of a strong short but a so-so film. Lots of great material in the short for Joel and the ‘Bots but the Rebel Set just didn’t really measure up as one of their better efforts, especially during a season in which they hit their stride and had so many memorable episodes. It’s not bad but not one I go back to watch repeatedly.

    “Jiminy, thinks Johnny,if only I could get a ride in one of those…” Priceless!


  • 31

    Every time I see these shorts, I can’t help but wonder, “Were kids really supposed to be inspired and educated by these? They’re so weird!”


  • 32
    bobhoncho says:

    #1, I agree with you wholeheartedly. They were always funnier when they went dark during the shorts, especially in “Circus On Ice.” As for this ep, my favorite riff has to be “Chief, that’s sick!” Everytime I watch this ep, and that riff comes, I always blurt out Ed Platt’s classic line,”Don’t call me Chief!”


  • 33
    bobhoncho says:

    Hey guys, I just found out that the little ice skating rink on Gerrard St. in Toronto (right across the street from the Delta Chelsea, the hotel I always stay at when I go to Toronto) is named after that charming young lady in the short whom Joel calls “the Cher of her time,” the lovely Ms. Barbara Ann Scott! So, next time you go to Toronto, have a little skate at the Barbara Ann Scott Skating Park!


  • 34
    LovelyPantSuit says:

    @#1 (over a year later):

    You do understand that Joel is not actually stopping them from being dark, right? The writers are playing off Joel’s character’s role as father figure to the bots. He’s playing straight-man, and he does it to excellent effect.

    They also could be using Joel’s warnings to the bots as a veiled apology to the audience–MST3K was always dark, especially in the Joel/Trace/Frank years, and the circus shorts brought out extra-darkness. They were aware that children watched the show with their parents.


  • 35
    swh1939 says:

    Totally agreed. Still an all-time favorite.

    Sampo, why no screen grab from the short?


  • 36
    Dan in WI says:

    Wow. Life’s Little Instruction Manual really is some sickening tripe. I’m a cynic and as such those types of books/motivationals/etc… just rub me in all the wrong ways. So this is another data point showing Joel could occasionally be quite mean. He isn’t quite always the loving father to the bots.

    I’ve got agree with other posters who say that doesn’t sound anything like Lorne Greene narrating the short.

    Kind of ironic we get this Scott Baio sketch before his more famous high school classmate Bill Corbet joins Best Brains.

    What would I do with a four-hour layover in Chicago? I’d hit the nearest White Castle. I don’t have one where I live. But I have to admit I like Tom’s idea too. “Then I’d start tossing out bodies at seven minute intervals. Oops. Better get back to the train.”

    Favorite Riffs:
    The baby horse licks the bigger one. Crow “Oops. Sorry dad.”

    Narrator “He’s about so high.” Joel “Yes there was a Mr. Barty here.”

    The fat heckler acts up at the Beat club and two “bouncers” carry him away. Joel “Do you mind if we dance with your dates?” [We don’t get too many Animal House references but that was a good one.]

    George smiles at the old lady. Tom “Don’t wait up for me Irma.”

    Crow “Ah the Blue Ridge Mountains of Chicago.”

    Stuff is being buried in the hole. Crow “The movies not over yet and they’re striking the set.”

    At the close of the movie: Tom “So all this happened because Johnny got lost at the fair?”


  • 37
    robot rump! says:

    i find alot of the shorts interesting due to the fact that at some time, some place somebody had to watch it for purely educational purposes. Maybe the missing ingredient in our schools these days is a good dose of ‘Posture Pals’ or ‘Johnny at the Fair.’ some good, grainy, old fashioned wisdom to help stimultate young minds and inspire teens to pull their pants up over their hinders. there, i yield the soap box to the distinguished gentleman from Altoona. The movie itself is one of those that isn’t really that bad. and we get ‘nudeman’ making a cameo so huzzah’s all around.


  • 38
    Sitting Duck says:

    Joel’s admonishing the Bots over getting too dark may be a carryover from the writing room. In the interviews featured on the Gamera DVD, Frank remarked about how they would get especially dark with riffs concerning Kenny to the point where Joel asked them to tone it down some.

    @ #19: While MST3K may not have featured any gangster movies per se, many of them did prominently feature gangsters. I Accuse My Parents and Racket Girls come readily to mind, and I’m sure there are other titles folks could mention.


  • 39
    Bombastic Biscuit Boy says:

    I love this episode…probably watched it a gazillion times, too. It’s actually about 10% beatnik and 90% heist movie (should be the other way around)…

    I think Frank’s “Quick Primp Kit” is great, as well as all the beatnik references and the appearance of the heroic Gene Kelly (“Gotta Dance!!”) in the final fight scene. And of course Tom as Inspector Piorot!

    Favorite Riffs:
    [beatnik party] JOEL: “Hi honey, I’m…oh my God…”
    [during an extended xylophone riff] CROW: “Turn Zappa down!”
    Movie Star Mom: “I’ve decided to come home and be a real mother to him…” [attendants pull out casket] CROW: “Scratch that!”

    and my personal motto: “He’s very hip at home!”


  • 40
    Blast Hardcheese says:

    I suspect that the short is really just one big infomercial for the CNE. “Come to Toronto, lose your kid, and he’ll meet a bunch of celebrities, including the Prime Minister!” (well, meeting Mackenzie King would have been worthwhile–Stephen Harper, not so much). It’s still one of my favourites, especially after Johnny’s trip to Chemical World (“A whiskery man gives Johnny a package–‘The first one’s free.'”). How come the bots don’t call Joel on his own dark riffing near the end?

    The movie is definitely a lesser event for me. It’s definitely watchable, but not inspired. The three “rebels” are just such chumps that they deserve what they get, and Edward Platt’s tiresome verbosity makes him one of the most annoying of MST villains. The riffing is kinda slow until the second half–although I do like all of the priest/church riffs during the chase scene (“The heist is ended. Go in peace” is absolutely brilliant). At the risk of being tiresome myself, can I point out a Latin mistake that Kevin should have caught–it should be “In nomine patris.” I guess you can ignore proper grammar when you’re whacking someone with a seat-stick.


  • 41
    Droppo says:

    4 stars from Droppo.

    Love the short. One of their best.

    I enjoy the movie and there are stretches that are hilarious.

    Not a classic, but, an excellent episode and the Merritt Stone bit is one of my favorites.


  • 42
    Stressfactor says:

    I really enjoyed this one. Lots of laughs for me — although I find the host segments here a little ‘hit and miss’ for my taste.

    The odd thing is that I watched this one on Hulu about a year or so back when I was first trying to get into the show and kinda-sorta “got it” but felt like something was missing. Now, having reached this point watching all the episodes in order I found that I enjoyed it much more and got a lot more of the jokes, spirit, and general humor.

    Anyone else think it’s funny that “The Beatniks” contained NO Beatniks but “The Rebel Set” contains at least some attempts at “Beat” culture? It’s almost like the two movies were ‘switched at birth’.

    And “Johnny at the Fair” seemed more like an advertisement type of a thing than an educational film. Still, wickedly, wickedly funny riffing there.


  • 43
    Creeping-Death says:

    I gave this one 4 stars. Loved the short. The movie had its good points, but was a thoroughly average episode.

    I echo Sampo and everyone’s “Jiminy, thinks Johnny, if only could get a ride in one of those.” being the best riff from the short. The jokes when the hero guy is chasing Mr. T when he was dressed as a priest were funny, especially the “In Nomine Patris!” as Tucker strikes the hero.


  • 44
    Tom Carberry says:

    The Rebel set features, if you can call it that, Gregg Palmer. Norwegian by heritage and a San Franciscan by birth, brown-haired, brown-eyed Gregg Palmer (born Palmer Lee on January 25, 1927) broke into show biz as a radio announcer. After an early ’50s stint as a contract player at Universal, he turned to freelancing, closing out the decade by starring and co-starring in a number of detective, Western and sci-fi adventures. In the ’60s, Palmer drifted into supporting roles and much TV work, and reinforced his growing rep with Western fans by becoming a regular member of John Wayne’s latter-day stock company. He is in one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies of all time—From Hell It Came. He played Kimo and is the one that is betrayed by his wife, killed, buried and returns to seek vengeance as the Tabanga–tree monster. In The Rebel Set he plays John Mapes.

    Favorite lines (Johnny at the Fair):

    Johnny’s car rolled and burned.
    Half the pain of having feet is Red Goose shoes.
    [Horse nursing] Oops, sorry Dad.
    Johnny’s hydroplane disintegrates on impact.
    “…perhaps Olsen and Johnson, the Hellzapoppin’ boys can cheer Johnny up.” But if you’ve seen their act you’ll know that’s not likely.

    Favorite lines (The Rebel Set):

    You know, this is the hippest Red Lobster I’ve been to.
    Murray, use a coaster.
    Ernest does a nickel up at Attica.
    Get your paws off me you damn dirty beat.
    Do you mind if we dance with your date?
    Just burped up a little egg salad.
    Traveling with Gertrude and Alice
    Gary Busey after the accident
    Priest on a hot tin roof.

    Final Thought: This one should have been called the Beatniks—at least it had some. I give this one 3 out of 5 stars.


  • 45
    Ang says:

    I love it when they reference things from way back in our pop culture and during this one Joel starts singing, “It’s a hap-hap-happy day” and that is from a song from the 1920s. Awesome!!!


  • 46
    Jbagels says:

    Agreed, they should’ve switched the titles of this one and The Beatniks.

    @Stressfactor: wait a minute, you started getting into MST about a year ago and have since watched the entire series and comment on a fan site all the time? That’s dedication. I would’ve taken you for a long time fan.


  • 47
    Fred Burroughs says:

    This has one of my favorite moments in MST when Gregg Palmer is chasing the ‘priest’ Edward Platt. Here are the songs the priest sings during his getaway: (in order)

    A Mighty Fortress is Our God
    Sons of God (Hear His Holy Word)
    It Only Takes a Spark
    So Low, So High, So Wide
    Rock-a My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham
    How Great Thou Art

    Classic Ep, if for nothing else than the Merritt Stone controversy seminar. This movie had a lot of cheese but actually had a real plot, characters and redemption, unlike most MST fodder. BTW Sampo, I did the architecture boat tour of Chicago during my visit recently; but I’d love to do Crow’s sensible walking tour, maybe plus a visit to Pacific Garden Mission, to attend a live recording of the “Unshackled” Radio drama.


  • 48
    24HourWideAwakeNightmare says:

    The paint-by-number Mark Rothko is a classic invention.

    What is it with these B&W dramas where you just can’t remember detail 1 about them? All I recall about this is a train, Ed Platt’s laughably lame “disguise,” him sitting on his fold-out-walking cane, the reaction to same – “Chief, that’s sick!” – the Chief beating the crap out of the hero at the end. I’ve watched it more than a few times over the years, too. Still enjoy the riffs! But there’s just nothing memorable about some of these films, and this is a good example.

    Now, coming up next week we get one of my all time faves – ehT namuH srotaclipuD! This flick stuck in my mind in a big way.


  • 49
    Stressfactor says:

    @ J Bagles,

    Actually, I haven’t watched EVERY episode… yet. I was chugging along at clearing a couple of episodes a week but I’ve since slowed down and am now running about the same pace as the site here — one episode a week. So as the site is going back through the episodes I’m pretty much tagging along here.

    And thinking back on it — I actually probably started getting into the show about a year and a half ago. I kind of went in ‘fits and starts’ as the old saying goes. Everyone always said you could just “jump in anywhere” so I tried jumping in on the stuff on Hulu and just couldn’t quite “get it” so I quit for a while then I did a little research on the show’s history and decided to try starting from the start and working my way up. For me, personally, that worked. I “got” stuff a lot more when I could see how everything built.

    And on top of all of that…. I have no life so that helps. : >


  • 50
    Cheapskate Crow says:

    Great episode, the season 4 hits just keep coming. I found host segment 1 absolutely hilarious as I had the misfortune of viewing/airing all of the shows mentioned as a television master control operator. Crow’s “No! No! Take it from the top” has me ROFLing every time. I am admittedly partial to these type of ’50s movies. Other favorite lines/parts:

    Frank’s performance in the invention exchange when Dr. F suggests they are supposed to be in line for Out on A Limb is where He says they would be seated already and silently says “There’s no way.”

    Missed riff: No Supertrain reference when they were making all the train show/movie references.

    Dated riff: Even mentioning Out on a Limb. To me a dated riff is one that you would have zero chance of getting if you had not been around in 1992 (or whatever year the episode came out). As I recall, Out on a Limb was a movie that bombed and was quickly forgotten starring Goldie Hawn and Mel Gibson.


  • 51
    Blast Hardcheese says:

    @Nightmare (#48):

    The details you describe are all pretty much the highlights of the second half of the film, although I’m surprised you forgot all the godawful “beatnik” stuff at the beginning–the bad poetry, the even worse interpretive dance, and the blowhard square who’s been dragged to the cafe by his wife for some inexplicable reason. It’s the Hollywood vision of cafe culture, and I hope Allen Ginsberg never saw this picture (except maybe the MST version).

    On the other hand, it’s easy to confuse these movies. When I went to watch this episode again prior to this week’s discussion, I hunted around for my DVD copy, only to realise that I actually don’t have a DVD copy–I’ve got Beatniks and Violent Years, but I had to scroll through the DVD lists on this site to be convinced that Shout! hasn’t released this one (yet), and therefore I don’t own it (I don’t own any Rhinos, and they’re all O/P). How’s that for forgettable?


  • 52
    Blast Hardcheese says:


    Just curious: did you start with the KTMAs? I tried doing that, but couldn’t get very far. I think it might be that the KTMAs that I have are in such bad shape that they were hard to watch even as movies. I’ll get to them all, eventually. But I know exactly what you mean about needing to watch them in order–I did the same thing after I’d had about a dozen or so random episodes under my belt (from Season One onward at least), and noticed that understanding the callbacks and standard catchphrases added an important dimension to my overall enjoyment.


  • 53
    Lisa says:

    Fantastic episode! Classic short (though now that I have an almost 3 year old little boy, it kind of freaks me out), great riffing, good host segments. Love the opening, especially when Tom and Crow are in the same bed. Laugh

    This is the classic “disguise” episode. Who knew a priest collar and a shave could be so effective?

    Love Don Sullivan and most of the cast, except for the writer. He is a drag. I wanted to throw him off the train too.

    I like how the coffeehouse’s bouncers wear cardigans.

    Favorite lines, so many good ones…
    She just put her brain in
    Garage sale, hole, hole, garage sale, hole
    A coxcomb, a coxcomb…
    Kazan wants me for On the Waterfront II: Electric Bugaloo
    Saul Houston…big Jew from Texas
    It’s the SAT caper!
    She’s Danielle Quayle
    N’est-ce pas? Who’s that? Another creep
    …Butt Biters and Newsweek
    Chief, that’s sick!
    I am in a state of grace. Leave me alone!


  • 54
    Stressfactor says:

    @ #50 — No, the Goldie Hawn/Mel Gibson movie’s you’re thinking of is “Bird on a Wire”. “Out on a Limb” was Shirley MacLaine’s autobiography. It was, IIRC, later filmed as a TV miniseries. The book became notorious joke fodder for MacLaine’s claims that she experienced a number of ‘paranormal’ or ‘supernatural’ events — like learning she had been reincarnated and seeing some of her past lives, and seeing UFO’s and the like.

    And something about this episode I had forgotten to mention… I love it when the ‘sharpshooter’ character appears on sceen and Servo asks if he seems familiar and when Joel and Crow say “no” Servo says “I’ll give you a little hint: ‘I sing whenever I sing, whenever I sing…'”

    And that reminds me, unless they cut something from the movie for time the guy they hire to be their rifleman for the heist does absolutely *nothing*!


  • 55
    Stressfactor says:

    @ Blast Hardcheese:

    Yeah, I did start with the KTMA’s — and I rather liked them despite the low riff rate. In fact, for me I think they actually *helped* me contextualize the show.

    Thanks to someone I know I’d gotten into some internet-based reviewers/critics — notably guys like Linkara of “Atop the Fourth Wall”, Noah Antwiler of “The Spoony Experiment” and Doug Walker “The Nostalgia Critic”. Those guys were always making tips of the hat to MST3K — which had inspired them and that reminded me that I’d always meant to check the show out.

    So when I started watching the KTMA’s I could see that same spirit of internet reviewers today — it was rough and tumble and learn-as-you-go and basically Joel and the gang were doing what modern people are doing now it’s just that Joel and them had a lot less technology to work with and were lucky enough to have access to a UHF station in the days before YouTube.

    So that’s why I actually have kind of a fondness for the KTMA stuff — it’s like the late teens and early twenty-something young people of today who are bashing out videos in their rooms with digital video cameras and basic green screen work. I applaud them for having the guts to put themselves out there like that. Same way, I applaud Joel and the gang for trying something new, having the guts to throw this out there and use the KTMA era as a kind of ‘comedy lab’ in which to learn and grow and shape this thing they had created.


  • 56
    Dan in WI says:

    Stressfactor #55> Extremely well said! I too am a fan of the KTMA years. Not because they are comedy gold (they’re not) but because the allow us to watch the birth and early evolution of the show.


  • 57
    noordledoordle says:

    #37 Oh, absolutely not. I, for one, am glad to be well past the era where kids have to watch some guy’s idea of the perfect white society dressed up as an “educational” film. Probably why I love seeing them ripped apart on MST so much. For anyone looking down on “kids these days,” just remember, we’re the ones who either brought ’em into this world and/or shaped the society they live in.

    Without cynicism, shows like MST wouldn’t exist, so let the kids be cynical!


  • 58
    Blast Hardcheese says:

    Re: Out on a Limb:

    It’s neither a Mel Gibson vehicle nor Shirley Maclaine’s goofy book: but it is a forgotten 1992 comedy with Matthew Broderick and Jeffrey Jones (both from “Ferris Bueller,” which was probably why it got made). See the IMDb page:

    I hadn’t heard of it, either, and I suspect almost no one saw it in 1992–which is why Dr F. and Frank wouldn’t have to worry about a line-up to see it.


  • 59
    robot rump! says:

    #57 oh, don’t get me wrong, you’re absolutly correct. cynical kids who run around commiting random acts of violence and vandalism are definitly more desirable than kids who are respectful, considerate and have some sense of community and self esteem. (insert sarcasm here.)


  • 60
    sol-survivor says:

    It was good to see that Chicago was completely recovered two years after the locust invasion.

    I have to admit it, almost every time I watch the short I get a little teary-eyed when Johnny is reunited with his parents. Can’t really explain it, but I’m the type to get emotional at sappy commercials, too.


  • 61
    Mitchell "Rowsdower" Beardsley says:

    This is hardly “the beginning of a stretch of good to really excellent episodes”. It’s kinda the end. Episodes 411-418 were really a great stretch where everything seemed to just flow beautifully. This is really the first semi-clunker of the 4th season to me. The short is great, but the movie is very dreary and dull, and the Get Smart guy is so condescending it just makes the movie irritating. Still, overall a decent ep, but not one I watch very often.

    Also, you can usually get from O’Hare to downtown Chicago in about an hour.

    I’m nitpicky today.


  • 62
    Sampo says:

    Holy crap, swh1939! Thanks for noticing! I didn’t have any shorts screen grabs for the entire season!! Now fixed and I will be adding the remaining ones as we update.


  • 63
    Cheapskate Crow says:

    @54 and @58: Thanks for the info, apparently senility is starting to set in on me. At least my mixed up brain allowed me to enjoy the joke in its original spirit.


  • 64
    Bobby 23-Skidoo says:

    Canada still loves Barbara Ann Scott. In fact, during the Olympic torch relay for the Vancouver games, she was the one who carried the flame into Parliament in Ottawa.–olympic-torch-comes-to-parliament-hill


  • 65
    ck says:

    Many of the actors in the movie were good (although why the
    planner in chief didn’t have a gun to get Rock Hudson’s
    standin (sorry about that, Chief), but Merritt Stone
    just stole every scene he was in. What an actor! Why couldn’t
    there have been more train action (ala Silver Streak)!


  • 66
    JCC says:


    “The pantingly hot Barbara Ann Scott”, truer words have never been written.


  • 67
    Keith Palmer says:

    “Johnny at the Fair” is one of my favourite shorts, even if a part of that comes from having visited the Canadian National Exhibition myself (if four decades after “Johnny”) well before I knew about Mystery Science Theater. The information about Charles Pachter was interesting, too; I have heard he appeared in a film called “Charlie at the Fair” just a few years ago, but haven’t seen it myself. I suppose the train travel in “The Rebel Set” makes for a double dose of nostalgia.


  • 68
    Bombastic Biscuit Boy says:

    Actually, I have a question:

    What the heck was the spilled milk for? What did it have to do with the sharpshooter?


  • 69
    Mrs. Dick Courrier says:

    One of the middle of the road episodes for me. I love Don Sullivan in it, have quite a crush on him.


  • 70
    JohnnyRyde says:

    I love the image of a pre-IMDB TV’s Frank sitting by himself, leafing through several film guides at once trying to figure out who Merritt Stone and Gene Roth are. One of my favorite images of the series.

    I like this episode, although I rarely find myself watching it. I find the feature itself to be a somewhat passable B-movie. Yeah, a lot of the plot points don’t make sense. But I like B-movie films like that that have decent pacing and some excitement.

    The first time I heard the “I’d like to get a ride in one of those” joke, I think I nearly choked to death laughing…


  • 71
    rocketnumbernine says:

    [M&TB riff]: “Chief, that’s sick!” [#32 replies]: “Don’t call me Chief!” [I reply to #32]: “Sorry about that, Chief.” Wink Mwahaha.


  • 72
    pondoscp says:

    This is a really good episode. I love the Scott Baio skit. Any reference to Zapped, my favorite guilty pleasure, is always appreciated. And when I think of this episode, I always hear that record skipping! And “Guess who that is? I sing whenever I sing! No!”


  • 73
    Alex says:

    I haven’t seen this one in awhile. But I gotta say, Johnny at the fair is one of the best shorts made.


  • 74
    Stressfactor says:

    @ #68 — I thought the “spilled milk” (or was it supposed to be white paint?) was to mark where the spot the armored car was supposed to be at when the other guy would then speed out to hit it.

    Kind of like the other guy was to wait until the armored car got to the ‘spilled milk’ spot before he gunned it.

    The sharpshooter though? Not a clue. Unless the Best Brains cut a scene the rifleman did *nothing*. I suppose he might have been ‘backup’ — you know if the whole thing had started to go south he was supposed to then shoot the armored car guards.


  • 75
    Manny Sanguillen says:

    Funny that the people who don’t like it, don’t care for the movie because “they can’t get into it”.
    The people who like it are into it because they love the riffing and humor.

    Proves there are two types of people watching mst – those in it for the kicks (the riffing and comedy writing), the type that I am, and the those in it to have a movie to get into.

    For me, if I do actually get into any of the movies, I consider that to be a huge unexpected bonus.

    I like this episode a lot because it made me laugh, with all the bits they did and the good riffing. The movie sucks though.


  • 76
    Fred Burroughs says:

    Dagnabbit! now I’m going to have to watch it again. I thought the Don Sullivan character was supposed to shoot the white stuff, which was flammable (or inflammable), and cause the truck to swerve or at least simulate a crash with smoke and flame so the guards believe the car was really wrecked. And, he was the lookout as the heist really depended most on the timing of when car (A) drifted into the road to hit truck (B).

    For a heist movie, the heist itself didn’t make a lot of sense; although the Chief did a good job hoodwinking the hirelings, what with his ‘disguise’ and all. I did have to watch the movie a few times and read the ACEG before I realized he was supposed to be in disguise at all.


  • 77
    dsman71 says:

    This film uncut is super dull that I couldnt get past it, the scenes at the night club just went on and on and on.
    Edward Platt was in North by Northwest which is a favorite film of mine.
    Johnny at the fair is highly entertaining as was this episode. I loved the master plan, the plot twist, the priest disguise. It actually had something going for it in the later half, but the first half is snoozeville.
    “Hes not Merrit Stone !!” Hes Gene Roth from Tormented, Giant Leeches, Earth vs the Spider
    Not much to add that hasnt already been covered. Hard to believe Don Sullivan was in just as many episodes that John Carradine was in, even though Carradine was in by far more movies, (both good and schlock)
    And with that
    Joels Hair
    Joels Knees
    “Hes NOT Merrit Stone”
    Scott Baio wasnt such a bad Chaci ..ayyyyyyyy
    Time for some Rebel Therapy !!


  • 78
    Creeping Terror says:

    I think that the Merritt Stone thing likely came out of a discussion in the writer’s room. It sounds like the sort of argument they would have had. And in pre-IMDb days, they would have probably consulted Leonard Maltin’s book and found conflicting information. Maybe I’m wrong, but the segment just sounds like a transcription of a discussion among the Brains (with the added Belgian accent).

    “Life’s Little Instruction Book.” Gosh, there were at least 3 volumes. They were full of little tidbits, usually 1-2 sentences each (with 1-3 tidbits per page) giving you tips in life. Each little book had HUNDREDS. If you were to adopt all of them in your life, you would become the most annoying person on earth and lose your friends. You would also probably spend your entire time writing thank you notes, baking cookies for the neighbors, etc. The whole premise is a little cheesy, and I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to read the books more than once.

    I’m glad that Joel warns the bots against getting too dark in this short and “Here Comes the Circus.” I probably never would have noticed the darkness of the riffs otherwise. His comment clues me in.


  • 79

    @45 Ang

    Yeah, but “It’s a hap-hap-happy day” was a lot more familiar at the time the show aired. I remember it being used in commercials sometime between the ’70s and ’90s, maybe for a mattress company.
    Really specific, huh?


  • 80
    Keith in WI says:

    Loved the short, the movie feature, not as much. I had never seen this episode until about a week ago and while I thought it had some hilarious riffs, overall, it did not stand out as a great episode. The short, saves it, as it is one the better ones they have done. I love the reference to “another band from Seattle.” It does sound like a grunge band name. “I’m gonna get Joe Lewis,” gets me laughing every time as well. “Adolf Hitler, looking relaxed on vibes,” had me double over in laughter, it just struck a chord with me as so funny, and I never got the actual reference, but Trace’s delivery was spot on. The hole scene was a gem as well.

    Next week, duplicators.


  • 81
    swh1939 says:

    @62 Sampo – Always glad to help out a fellow Pennsylvanian.


  • 82
    Opus says:

    It’s a small shame that the Internet has rendered the Merritt Stone segment obsolete.


  • 83
    Sitting Duck says:

    Technically this episode is not pre-IMDB, as IMDB has existed since 1990. Of course back then it was a far cry from the resource it is today and internet access wasn’t so readily available.


  • 84
    Blast Hardcheese says:

    Sitting Duck:

    And now you’ve just raised the question: would Deep 13 ever have had Internet access? And even if it did, would Frank have been allowed access to it? (My answers: Probably, and probably not).


  • 85
    stef says:

    This is one of my favorite Joel episodes!

    I knew it was Gene Roth the whole time. When you’ve watched as many 3 Stooges as I have, there’s no mistaking Gene Roth.


  • 86
    Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    While I don’t like this one as much as THE BEATNIKS, this is another solid Season 4 episode, with lots to like and laugh at. Most notably, the short, JOHNNY AT THE FAIR, is great stuff, not one of my all time faves, but one I can always watch and laugh at. Joel’s remark “I don’t want us getting too dark,” is foreshadowing the upcoming HERE COMES THE CIRCUS, where things get totally dark, and Joel has to get on their case about it. Watching the series in order for the first time, it’s fun noticing the running jokes and their origins.

    During the Mads’ Invention Exchange, Dr F. says “Clive Barker has seen the future of horror. . .,” which is funny because it’s a variation on the Stephen King quote “I have seen the future of horror and his name is Clive Barker.” Also, Frank gives a spirited “DO WHAT I DO,” before presenting their quick primp kit (which kinda sucks, in my opinion). I really like Joel’s invention; the paint by numbers Rothko is clever humor to me; also there is a Rothko exhibition here at the Portland Art Museum (he’s Portland’s native son, don’tyouknow?) that I’m going to go see, so it hits extra close to home at this time.

    I like all the Host Segments, especially the WHO IS MERRIT STONE? skit, but I particularly like the what to do in Chicago skit in HS#2, as I’m originally from Southern Illinois and spent a lot of time in Chi-town; regional name dropping is fun. . . The final image of the episode, of Frank sifting through VideoWatchdogs and Leonard Maltin film guides looking for Merrit Stone and Gene Roth credits is one of my favorite images of Frank, both the character and the man. Classic and very “of it’s time.”

    My least favorite thing about this one is the movie. It stinks. Someone above said that it picks up after the heist, and I agree. Things are must more interesting when Action Priest is around.. The riffing is solid, they keep up a good pace, and make the most out of this drab, dull turkey.



    (little horse tries to feed off a bigger one)
    Crow: “Oops. Sorry Dad.”

    Crow: “A whispery man hands him a small package. “First one’s free,” he says.”

    Joel: “Johnny must have everything for himself.”


    Servo: “Hey, there’s a Mingus among us.”

    Crow: “Oh great, another oily unlikeable character.”

    Joel: “What’s his deal? Oh…it’s a woman.”

    Joel: “Traveling along, footloose and fancy free..” ——a misquote from the MUPPET MOVIE song “Movin’ Right Along.”

    Joel: “Umph. Just burped up a little egg salad.”

    Joel: “Tonight’s episode: MILK: IT DOES A BODY DEAD.”

    Servo: “Ooops. I accidentally tied up one of our gang.”

    Crow: “This is just like Treasure of the Sierra Madre, but not good.”

    Servo: “He’s a mess. A chocolate mess.”

    Crow: “I am in a state of GRACE, leave me alone!”

    also, my copy ends with Penn talks over the credits (HEATHERS! NEXT. …….ON COMEDY CENTRAL!!) which is the first one of my DAP copies to have such a thing. My God…how annoying…….I had forgotten how grating that was. Who’s idea was it to have him do voice work intros for the network? BAD IDEA!

    Well, despite not figuring out who Merrit Stone is, i gotta give this one a 4/5.

    Next week is episode #420.

    I’ll get the rolled up towel, you get the bong!


  • 87
    Creepygirl says:

    I have just finished watching this weeks experiment THE REBEL SET. I will begin by saying when this ep debuted I just did not like it. The short is great but I thought the movie was too plodding, slow, and pretty darn dumb. I avoided reruns, just turned it off after the short. I’ve had JOHNNY AT THE FAIR on one of the RHINO Shorts tapes for years so when I bought Vol. 12 back in 2007 I just never pulled out and watched this disc.

    So I watched the RHINO disc for the first time today and did I ever have a good time. The movie and the riffing hit this nail right on the head. Everything in this episode works great and what a difference 20 years makes in one’s critical opinions.

    I’m giving this 4 1/2 stars!


  • 88
    RGA Dave says:

    Tom’s plan for a four hour stop in Chicago really made me laugh, totally unexplainable why he’d take hostages & then start shooting them; and then , oops, time to get back to the train station!


  • 89
    1 adam 12 says:

    I really like this episode, although my least favorite part is the “What i would do in Chicago during a four-hour layover” segment, which most people seems to love. Takes all kinds, I guess.


  • 90
    Cornjob says:

    I think the police in this movie should get an award for “most homicidal law enforcement outside of a Coleman Francis film”.

    A favorite movie that I got confused with The Beatniks. It brings me back to the early 90’s in my first apartment with my former best friend before he went off his nut. Good days.


  • 91
    bobhoncho says:

    #65 ck, He’s not Merritt Stone.

    #71 Rocketnumbernine, thanks for responding to my ancient post (hardly anyone ever comments on what I write), however I would like to make a correction. In comment #32, I was referencing the wrong show. That was from the 50s Superman TV show.

    Sorry for the confusion folks, now back to the rest of your posts.


  • 92
    Alex says:

    ‘Johnny At The Fair’

    “I know, it’s another band from Seattle.”

    It was a great time to be around in my opinion.