Movie: (1995) A grandfather tells his grandson several 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, though Bobo taints the control group
Host segment 1: “Niche reviewers” Crow and Servo review each other; both get panned
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, which are decidedly dark
End: Pearl sends Bobo to the SOL disguised as an evil toy monkey, but M&TB send him back; Pearl sums up her progress, while Brain Guy tries the vacuum-bump bit on Bobo
Stinger: Little kid sings: “Rock ‘n’ roll martian…”
• 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.
• 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.”
• I’m tend to agree that a host segment should probably not last longer than your typical top 40 pop song. Brevity is good. But the intro bit here feels rushed and that drains some of the humor.
• Lots of then-current references in this one, including then-household names like Madaleine Albright, Larry “Bud” Melman and Kenneth Starr, Intellivision.
• In contrast to the intro, 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.
• Fave riff: “Remember to believe in magic, or I’ll kill you.” Honorable mention: “Tonight on ‘Old Lady Gets Killed.’ “