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Episode guide: 1003- Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders

Movie: (1995) A grandfather tells his grandson a pair of stories featuring the legendary wizard Merlin.

First shown: September 12, 1999
Opening: M&tB are into 1920s-era college pranks
Intro: Pearl’s latest IMS assignment makes Servo a despotic ruler, briefly
Host segment 1: “Niche reviewers” Crow and Servo review each other
Host segment 2: Servo acquires a magical spell book, which turns Mike into an infant. Waah
Host segment 3: Mike shows off his collection of Ernest Borgnine childrens’ books
End: Bobo is disguised as an evil toy monkey
Stinger: Little kid sings: “Rock ‘n’ roll martian…”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (252 votes, average: 4.48 out of 5)


• I’m doing these in episode number order, but in fact this was the last new episode of MST3K ever shown. A rights problem developed with the movie, and the episode was put on the shelf for many months, and it was still on the shelf when the series finale aired in August of ’99. Finally, a few weeks later, it was finally cleared and shown. It WAS nice to get one more episode, but watching it was a little weird.
• But taken on its own, and leaving out the context, this one is pretty much in line with the “very good not outstanding” level of work we’d already gotten in the previous two episodes. The riffing is great, most of the segments are at least mildly amusing and this movie is very watchable.
• Mary Jo’s thoughts are here.
• This episode was included in Rhino’s The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 5
• It’s certainly not the first time we got a movie that was in fact two shorter films slammed together (see “Monster A Go Go” or any number of combo TV episodes) but it’s happening here too. The second half, the one involving poor bedeviled David and the evil monkey, was originally a short film called “The Devil’s Gift.” More about it here. The movie the kid is watching is clips from “The Devils’ Gift.”
• Lots of then-current references in this one, including then-household names like Madaleine Albright, Larry “Bud” Melman, Kenneth Starr and Intellivision.
• Segment 1 is great fun. Very well written.
• Obscure reference: “Mona!” It’s a reference to this commercial.
• I’d forgotten about all the many John McEnroe jokes. The guy does look like him. “Grow some hair, son.”
• Segments two and three are low-key and fun but not hugely memorable.
• In joke: “They just got ‘Barb Wire’ at Blockbuster!” The Pam Anderson movie “Barb Wire” came out, produced by the same movie company, as MST3K: The Movie. The cast managed to find out that a shortage of funds meant that only one of the two movies was going to get a wide release and plenty of promotion. “Barb Wire” was the horse they backed.
• LOTR reference: Shadowfax
• It’s not like this movie has any shortage of stupid dialog, but the line “You look like a man who likes his trinkets” takes the prize.
• I wonder who’s running Servo in last bit. Probably Patrick.
• The end segment, with Pearl addressing the camera while Bill and Kevin upstage her with a parody of the vacuuming bit from the movie, is very funny.
• Cast and crew roundup: No crew and only one member of the cast: George Milan was also in “War of the Colossal Beast.”
• CreditsWatch: Directed by Mike.
• Fave riff: “Remember to believe in magic, or I’ll kill you.” Honorable mention: “Tonight on ‘Old Lady Gets Killed.’ “

162 comments to Episode guide: 1003- Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders

  • 151
    Rose from NJ says:

    #150 – for the longest time, I thought Crow was saying “Bat Guano”!


  • 152
    Depressing Aunt says:

    #151 That’s funny, I used to hear it that way, too. I also used to think Crow and Tom were doing “mixed” reviews–because they had mixed feelings for each other–instead of niche reviews.

    This is another comfort episode for me; I’ve watched it too many times. (Last night, in fact–when I finally realized the kid’s dead fish was at the bottom of the bowl, not floating. That monkey really WAS evil!) The “movie” is engaging and bizarre, Ernest Borgnine gave a better performance than thing deserved. The host segments are fun, and I love Pearl’s big lipstick pout at the end while her minions are inexplicably reenacting the vacuum scene.

    I’m almost certain the plot was stolen from King’s story by the way. And someone really ought to make a movie about a Rock and Roll Martian.


  • 153
    Alex says:

    Speaking of Barb Wire. I always found it strange Dark Horse comics (which is a smaller company than DC or Marvel) had about seven movies out in the 90s (The Mask, Timecop, Barb Wire, Virus, etc) based on their books and Marvel comics only had Blade. Weird. I guess it was because Dark Horse had a close relationship to the movie people because of all the adaptions they did.

    Dr. Giggles was an adaption, too. I remember it being mentioned on the Manos episode at the end of the ‘Hired!’ part.

    I love the part where they have the kid arguing about how the guy obviously died getting rid of the doll and Ernest Borgnine had to explain why he wasn’t dead.


  • 154
    Sitting Duck says:

    @ #146 and #147: For that matter, Demonbane once had the anime version of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth told as a Beach Episode. Let that sink in.


  • 155
    JC says:

    Dum dee dum dee dum, just taking my monkeyless garbage out to the curb… dum dee dum, I can’t wait to get back inside to my monkey…


  • 156
    Jimmy Doorlocks says:

    Merlin’s “you’re welcome” has seen a lot of use between me and my girlfriend. It still cracks her up every time.


  • 157
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  • 158
    Cornjob says:

    Weekend topic: World leaders, current or past, that could use Fire Ants in their underwear. I nominate we start with Pinochet. Nobody wants to sit next to him anyway.


  • 159
    seventies run on car says:

    “excuse my juicy belches” and “Is there any vodka cheaper than Popov’s” make for good interjections at family gatherings or job interviews.


  • 160
    Pointrel says:

    I love this episode, and it’s a shame that the Rhino DVD was so badly botched. The dark transfer is clearly a massive technical mistake. I transferred my original S-VHS recording to DVD-R and am much happier watching that. It would be great if Shout revisited this episode in a future set.


  • 161

    Not only did Rhino botch the transfer of Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders for their DVD release (part of Vol. 5), but they also messed up the info for the movie on the back cover. Instead of info for Merlin, there is instead a re-print of the info (episode number, cast list, B/W) for Hamlet (from the previous set, Vol. 4). Rolls Eyes

    Rhino seemed to have a lot of production problems with the MST dvds. Doesn’t keep me from wanting the ones I don’t have, though. Big Smile


  • 162
    Savvy says:

    I’ve seen this movie twice now, and it’s a real creep-fest! It’s hard to see what they were going for, but it looks like a creepy, disturbing version of “Hocus Pocus”.

    – The goldfish Mike eats looks like a Swedish Fish candy to me. The whole “college prank” segment was an interestingly strange idea, but it’s funny how Crow takes forever to fall. It was probably extremely effective when it was shown on the SciFi Channel with half a dozen commercials in-between.
    – Besides this movie and “The Poseidon Adventure”, what else was Ernest Borgnine in?
    – Crow: “Um, I just came in to buy some shampoo.”
    – Tom: “You’re welcome!”
    – Typically in Latin.”
    Crow: “Dumb-a$$ language!”
    – Mike: “I utterly loathe you. Do you want to have a baby?”
    – Mike: “You know, I don’t like the way they’re portraying the devil. It’s so biased.”
    – “Now Chicken in a Biskit would be perfect with this!” Boy, what I wouldn’t do for a box of Chicken in a Biskit right now!
    – Mike and Tom trying to levitate an egg reminds me of the “Crow is Jack Elam” segment from “The Girl in Lovers’ Lane” where Joel and Tom try to create a vacuum with a bottle and an egg.
    – According to my dad, the mom’s hairstyle was popular in 1977. Unfortunately, this movie is NOT from the ’70’s.
    – I hope these parents rot in Hell. The dog died, dang it! The mother doesn’t smell the smoke and is out of it, and the dad is an idiot.
    – Crow: “I really should get my own pictures for these frames.”
    – Mike: “I think they’d better mow their gravel.”
    – Mike is right. This movie has the devil written all over it.
    – You know, you’d think Merlin would just be able to summon the monkey back.
    – So, what happened to the mom?
    – Brain Guy tries to knock Bobo off the table into a bag with a vacuum cleaner. “I love bags!”