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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: 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 (188 votes, average: 4.27 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.
• This was included in Rhino’s “The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 12.”
• 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, unless it’s been sold again.
• 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.
• The “chasing Ed Platt dressed as a priest” scene features every hymn and church song the guys could think of, as well as plenty of religious patter, i.e.: “I. am. in. a. state. of. GRACE!”
• Alright, let’s settle this once and for all. Tom’s right, he’s not Merritt Stone. In fact, Merritt Stone is not IN this movie. He’s Gene Roth. Merritt Stone played the spider-eaten dad at the very beginning of “Earth Vs. The Spider,” the clergyman in “Tormented,” and the King Grady in “The Magic Sword.”
• 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.” Honorable mention: “Johnny feels dark hands pressing him onward. The voices in his head start to get meaner.”
• Fave riff from the movie: “And be sure you have your tickets ready. They’re really strict about that.” Honorable mention: “It’s Officer Not Appearing In This Film!”

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

  1. Mr. Krasker says:

    Here I thought the sniper shot one of the truck’s tires out when it got to the milk puddle.

    So, what did the stop-watch prove?


  2. DirtyTerry says:

    Johnny’s nonchalance:
    Hey, Joanie

    Hey MSTies! I have the Scott Baio set! I know it’s not Dr. F’s lab coat or Joey the lemur, but it’s still pretty cool. We should let each other know when we have props from an episode. It would be nice to hear it’s in good hands.


  3. Brock Lee Rubberband says:

    I love Crow’s “Heyyy Chachi”. Such fine acting. Did he go to the Ricardo Montalbon School of Acting?

    In the hole! Everything goes in the hole.


  4. crowschmo says:

    Ah, another list of faves. So original, I know. But I don’t know what else to write on these things. I don’t know why I bother, MY reply will be gone next year, and no one else’s apparently. *sniff* I don’t know why all my comments disappear. ?:-) (I’m sure nothing I wrote was all that great, anyway, heh – probably the same thing I’m going to write now). {That’s not writing – that’s typing}.


    And Johnny, the Wonder-Something-or-Other. – Joel
    Prozac: at work in today’s society. – Crow
    Simulated culture, like Disney World. – Joel
    Then Johnny transmogrifies; he’s a shape-shifter and he breaks the Fourth Seal. – Servo
    (Johnny can’t read the word Chemical Wonderland). Oh, we’ve all been THERE. – Joel
    A whiskery man hands him a small package – the first one’s free, he says. – Crow
    Let this be a lesson – to YOU. – Crow


    Oh, you know, I got the nicest Rebel Set for my wedding. – Joel
    Oh, wait a minute, it’s a little late for acting lessons, they started filming already. – Joel
    Ow, your implant inflated again. – Crow
    Hey – you know who that is? I’ll give you a hint: Sing whenever I sing whenever… – Servo
    Hey – what’s HIS deal? Oh, it’s a woman. – Joel
    Get your paws off me, you damn, dirty BEAT. – Crow
    She just put her brain in. – Crow
    Honey – Kazan wants me for “On the Waterfront II, Electric Boogaloo”. – Crow
    Wh -Are you in another movie, dear? – Joel
    Do you mind if we dance with your dates? – Joel
    My husband is very hip at home. – Crow
    Yep-first thing to do to an injured person: move him. – Servo
    Oh, yeah – it’s easy to find car appliques. – Crow
    Bill never uses the closets in our house. – Joel (Was it Bill or Phil?)
    Bill never carries stage money at home. – Crow
    (when the guy said he wanted to give his wife everything) Well, not EVERYTHING – we don’t have the closet space – but, you know what I mean. – Crow
    Merry CHRISTMAS, have some TINSEL! – Crow
    We’ve secretly taken her live son and replaced him with this dead one – let’s watch. – Crow
    See what coffee houses can do? – Joel
    So – all this happened because Johnny got lost at the FAIR? – Servo

    Whew. Sorry. That was long. I guess I liked this episode.

    I like when Joel and the ‘Bots have little family moments (like when he’s reading to them). It’s cute, I enjoy that aspect of the show.

    Oh, and I too can change shirts and have people not know it’s me.


  5. goalieboy82 says:

    i have friend at work that will see johnny at the fair (his name is johnny). i always say to him, this is a story of johnny and he says, a said one.


  6. Sampo says:

    Sitting Duck:
    On a loosely related note, I can’t ever recall seeing This Day in MSTory mention when the New York Times ran a front page obituary for Hercule Poirot (8/6/1975), nor the birth date (9/15/1890) or death date (1/12/1976) of Agatha Christie.

    I had never heard about the Poirot obit before. Astonishing story. I will add that. But was Agatha Christie ever mentioned by name in a host segment? Can’t think of an example offhand…


  7. thequietman says:

    “Do you think Thomas the Tank Engine is going to come out and save the day?”

    I mainly remember this episode for the fact that my dad always claimed “Johnny at the Fair” as his favorite short, but for me it’s no “A Date With Your Family” or “The Home Economics Story”. It’s still hilarious though, don’t get me wrong.

    Fave riff: Boy, the horse in Equus had it better than this! (Now THAT is a dark riff!)

    As for the movie, I think the idea of the sniper rifle was to shoot out one of the armored truck’s tires. When they return from the commercial break after showing the preparations for the heist, we see the truck has a flat tire. Then the car comes out for the ‘wreck’. Perhaps it was to be a double whammy to ensure the truck was stopped.

    Fave movie riff: (as our ‘hero’ practices Shakespeare) It’s too late for acting lessons, they’ve already started filming!


  8. Bob Boxbody says:

    The Rhino DVD face is the head of a bongo drum.

    Like really way gone dad.


  9. Ray Dunakin says:

    Great short, and although the movie lags in places, some parts have a lot of hilarious riffs. I especially get a kick out of all the “priest” jokes.

    One funny riff no one else has mentioned: When one of the crooks is passing the old ladies in the dining car, one of them cranes her neck to watch him go by. “Oh, he has a nice round one!”


  10. Bruce Probst says:

    @108: Yes, as was pointed out way back at post #3. Not sure why Sampo is still asking the question ….


  11. Sitting Duck says:

    Sampo: I had never heard about the Poirot obit before. Astonishing story. I will add that. But was Agatha Christie ever mentioned by name in a host segment? Can’t think of an example offhand…

    It was the first (and so far only) time they had an obituary for a fictional character.

    I mentioned Christie due to the fact that she was the creator of Hercule Poirot.


  12. Richard the Lion-Footed says:

    This is one of those episodes I only remember from the short. I forgot that Ed Platt was even in an MST3K movie. I have to go back and watch this again, but I remember everything about the short.

    Go figure.

    And Hey, watch it with that “Obscure reference: “Bizarre” with John Byner.” MST3K is Loaded with “obscure” references older than the early 1980s (less than 10 years before this episode). It was one of the first “original” shows a pay channel started to show (Showtime) and marked a departure from “just movies” format. For a lot of us it was the first “blue” comedy we saw on TV. :-D :-D


  13. Cornjob says:

    There was another reference to “Grit”. I remember ads in my comic books in the 70’s telling me about all the cool things I could get for selling x___ amount of “Grit”. I also remember thinking that it would be cheaper and easier to just buy my own telescope than selling 862 copies of “Grit”. Becoming a wholesale distributor of a crappy magazine with self esteem problems at the age of 7 wasn’t an ambition of mine.


  14. [the Original] Stan McSerr, Destroyer of Worlds says:

    I have one question, What happened to Johnny’s shirt after he met Barbara Ann Scott? He was going on a sea plane to see the speed boats, not going in the boats. Did he need to take off his shirt, or was he showing his muscles to the hotty and forgot his shirt?


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