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Sampo & Erhardt

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Episode Guide: 422- The Day the Earth Froze (with short: ‘Here Comes the Circus’)

Short: (1946) A look at the Clyde Beatty circus, featuring legendary clown Emmett Kelly.
Movie: (1959) Nordic fantasy tale, based loosely on the Kalevala, about a wicked witch’s schemes to get, and later regain, a magic mill.

First shown: 1/16/93
Opening: J&tB try to pose for a family photo
Invention exchange: J&tB have invented Snack-tion; The Mads show off their “unhappy meals”
Host segment 1: The bots have some ideas for clown acts but Joel is no help
Host segment 2: So, what’s a sampo?
Host segment 3: Gypsy’s presents her one-woman show: “Gypsy Rose…Me!”
End: The bots are imprisoned wind, Joel reads a letter, Frank is also wind and still mad
Stinger: “What’s going to happen to us now?!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (229 votes, average: 4.53 out of 5)


• I just love this episode. Fun, goofy, watchable movie, great riffing, great host segments, one of this series’ crowning achievements and the beginning of what became known as the “Russo-Finnish trilogy,” a memorable trio of terrific episodes.
• This episode was included in Shout’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: The 25th Anniversary Edition” aka Vol. XXVIII.”
• As you might have guessed, this episode had a big effect on me. For a long time it was my all-time favorite. Up until this point, on the Prodigy MST3K boards I had just been “Chris in Phila.” The night this was shown (or maybe the next day, I forget), I officially announced that I was taking the handle Sampo, and I’ve had it ever since.
• How do robots spit? I know, I know…
• The unhappy meals are truly an evil invention. I love Dr. F’s Charles Nelson Reilly laugh as he describes them.
• The announcer says “pamalino horses.” The hell?
• The circus in the short is never named, but it’s the Clyde Beatty Circus.
• The acrobat is both Dag Hammarskjöld and Albert Speer. Both references are pretty out of the blue…
• In the short, during the part toward the end when the lady is dancing with the elephants, you can easily see that one of the elephants has rolled in some poop. Gross.
• This movie (originally titled “Sampo” but cheesily renamed to trick American audiences into think it was sci-fi) was based on the Kalevala, the national epic of Finland. (As an aside, J.R.R. Tolkien was heavily influenced by the Kalevala, and his “Silmarillion” was originally begun as an attempt to create a sort of British Kalevala.)
• Increasingly obscure reference: “Hey, it’s Skylab!”
• The “Scandinavian sketch” is obviously drawn from their personal experiences. What I find amusing is how much those Minnesota accents sound like the accents of folks in the Northeastern corner of Pennsylvania, where I now live. There’s probably a linguistic explanation.
• As I noted in 1993 when I introduced this episode on national TV during Turkey Day, the movie DOES explain what a sampo is. J&tB are just in mid-riff when the explanation comes. I wonder if they did that on purpose, just so they can do the “what’s a sampo?” sketch?
• Local riff: “Mini golf at Crosslake.” It’s still around.
• I was very amused by Servo’s grumbling about “Half & Half.” This sounds like a disgruntled husband speaking from a real-life experience.
• Another obscure reference: Crow’s silly voiced: “I thought it was a costume ball!” is a reference to a movie called “Start the Revolution Without Me.”
• In the ’94 Turkey Day, in his introduction, Adam West mistakenly says that this is episode number 424.
• Callback: “I sing whenever I sing…” (Giant Gila Monster)
• Naughty riff: “HE’s got delusions of grandeur.
• There are not one but two Ross Perot references in this episode. I guess it counts as “then-topical” but I would hope most people would remember who he is.
• Of course, one highlight is the classic “failure” song. Joel even gets up to dance!
• Jim gives a real tour de force in “Gypsy Rose ME!”
• Tom gently joshes fellow Minnesota entertainer Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion” during the long, tedious harp attack.
• Cast and crew wrapup: Russian director Alexsandr Ptushko also directed “The Magic Voyage of Sinbad” (originally “Sadko”) and “The Sword and the Dragon” (originally “Ilya Muromets”).
Georgiy Millyar was in “Jack Frost,” Mark Troyanovski was in “Magic Voyage of Sinbad,” the narrator, Marvin Miller, was also the narrator of “King Dinosaur” and “Phantom Planet” and Valentin Bryleyev was also in “Jack Frost.
• Creditwatch: Host segments directed by Trace Beaulieu. “Gypsy Rose Me” was written and arranged by Mike, with lyrics by Mary Jo.
• Fave riff from the short: “You know, don’t laugh, but, in a way, this is this town’s Passion Play.” Honorable mention: “A rogue elephant snaps its tether and kills a coolie.”
• Fave riff from the movie: “Great wedding. You get half a buzz on and you’re sent home with a torch.” Honorable mention: “I’m relative humidity. It’s not so much the heat as it is me.”

136 Replies to “Episode Guide: 422- The Day the Earth Froze (with short: ‘Here Comes the Circus’)”

  1. Sitting Duck says:

    For anyone who cares, Gypsy Rose Me is likely a nod to Gypsy Rose Lee.


  2. Sharktopus says:



  3. Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    This is another classic episode, an example of MST firing on all cylinders, and another reason I love Season 4. I used to like to fall asleep watching TV (I don’t anymore) and this was one of my favorite MSTs to watch; usually I’d be out way before ‘Gypsy Rose Me.’ The short, Here Comes the Circus, is without question one of their Top 5 shorts, the Invention Exchange gets a big laugh from me (I love Snaction!), and both Host Segments #1 and #2 are great, great stuff. Which leaves Gypsy Rose Me in HS#3… while I don’t consider Gypsy to be a great character, I have enjoyed her more recently, and you can’t deny that this is one of her crowning moments on the show. I am really impressed by her quick change outfits.

    You know, my least favorite part about this episode is the movie itself. It’s always kind of bored and confused me. (Note above how I used to fall asleep to it) Even upon this most recent viewing, while I found myself the most engaged I can recall ever being with this movie, I still drifted off in the middle. There’s something about this one that makes me….zone out..

    -On the subject of Duck tours: I would have no idea what you guys are talking about, but last weekend I went to Seattle for a vacation (saw Radiohead; it was awesome) and I kept seeing these truck tour boats driving around with “Ride the Ducks” emblazoned on the side. So yeah, they’re everywhere. . .


    In the opening family portrait skit, Joel is setting the f-stop, adjusting the focus and lighting utilizing a tape measure….man…taking pictures used to be tough..

    short, Here Come the Circus-

    Crow: “Here comes the Devil!”
    Servo: “It’s Beelzebub the Clown.”
    Joel: “Guys could we be a little less dark with this short?”

    All 3: “CHUG IT!”

    Crow: “Now make way for the Klu Klux Klowns!”

    Servo: “Yes, children of all ages are confronted with forces they can’t begin to understand.”

    Crow: “It’s Eziekel, the Amish Clown. *whistle* No buttons!”

    Servo: “No no, they’re doing it clown style!”
    Crow: “More, more! I’m a bad clown!”

    Servo: “Yes children’s windows of perception are only open for a moment,only to take in the horror that is, THE CIRCUS.”

    lion stands up,
    Servo: “Stellaaa!”

    movie, Day the Earth Froze-

    Crow: “Has anyone seen Timmy?” (tree falls) “OH NOOO!”

    Joel: “Hey check it out, it’s Sting, David Lee Roth, Peter Noonan, Sammy Hager, David Carradine, and. . . .Santa?”

    Servo: “He’s. . . . . . . safe!”

    Crow (as horse): “Can you rub some Solarcane on me, please?”

    Joel: “Hey you wrecked out boat, you freaked-out maniac!”

    Joel: “Kids come running for the rich taste of Sampo!”

    Crow: “We come bearing honey baked ham.”

    and of course,
    the Bullwinkle voice by Crow: “Could someone please put me out? I seem to be on fire!”

    A classic episode,
    Sampo for all !!


  4. pondoscp says:

    Promo for this episode:

    There’s another great promo for this episode included on Vol. 23


  5. J says:

    Can’t believe y’all didn’t like Gypsy’s host segment here. It’s a highlight of the episode for me.


  6. Creepygirl says:

    What can I say that hasn’t been said above? Great short, great movie, great riffing and host segments.

    5/5 stars.


  7. Bombastic Biscuit Boy says:

    “The Box, Frank!!!”


  8. Cornjob says:

    I’ve had fun pondering just what “The Box” is. My first thought was it was a box Frank would be locked in, but it could just as easily be a box with “something” in it. Or both. Since there is no answer all possibilities are valid. Good storytelling. Like the storytellers of old, when it was really cold and monotonous, and…


  9. PrivateIron says:

    The log ride scene may be my iconic memory of MST3K, the essence of the show for me. So yeah, I think I liked it.


  10. Mandy Rolens says:

    I’m totally watching this episode tonight. All.time.favorite. Still funny.


  11. Kenneth Morgan says:

    I still have family, including my Mom, that live in northeastern PA, and I’ve never noticed that their speech sounds like a Minnesota accent. Then again, maybe I’m just not paying attention. The only difference I’ve noticed between their accent and the one here in central NJ is my Mom pronouncing “Narrowsburg” as “Narrisburg”.

    Interesting thought, though…


  12. Bruce Boxliker says:

    No, It’s FUSION!

    Another of my favorites! I love all the Russo-Finish movies, though. Every time I watch any of them I’m just absolutely amazed at what they accomplished with a minimal budget & resources. Sometimes the special effects in these look better than today’s over-abused CG effects.

    The only downside of this episode is Gypsy Rose. I like Gypsy, but I just don’t find this segment entertaining in the least. I guess I just don’t get it.

    Oh, and Frankly(!), every meal at McDonalds is an Unhappy Meal.


  13. Sitting Duck says:

    The Day the Earth Froze fails the Bechdel Test. The only conversation between two females comes when Leminkeinin’s mom is told that her son has perished.

    Can anyone make out the title of the book Servo is holding in the Prologue?

    There have frequently been remarks on how white the shorts are. However, in the circus short you can a black kid walking by in the shot of the kid chugging a cola. Just saying.

    @ #75: So what circumstances lead you to you and your kids running into dead, floating fish?

    @ #108: So basically kind of like the gom jabbar.

    Favorite riffs

    Make way for the Ku Klux Klowns!

    Yes, this act embodies the sadness that is Circus.

    Levi’s Loose Fitting Clown Jeans.

    It’s Blackened Beauty the Cajun Horse.

    Don’t talk about our clown, Martha.

    Why don’t you use an axe on your hair, you hippie?

    My other log’s a redwood.

    “My sister was stolen.”
    Was she insured?

    “Oh Mistress.”
    Don’t call me that in public.

    Oh great, we can plant more snakes now.

    “You’ll never see the pretty face of your sister again.”
    Can we see the other parts?

    “With this wool will I clothe you.”
    With these teeth will you bite me.

    This is why I don’t make Sampo except on holidays.

    The Sampo stopped working, and we didn’t get the service contract.

    “Where is the many-colored dome of the Sampo?”
    Ma’am, the dome is an option that you did not order.

    Oh dead, bloated carp, floating in the shallows.

    An ashtray? Give me my sister back.

    Let us be gay, for he is a dickweed.

    Marty Feldman, in a role that won’t surprise you.

    Are you with the bride or the failure?

    We thought the cloak might try something like this. We were prepared.


  14. goalieboy82 says:

    here comes the devil!
    a rogue elephant snaps its tether and kills a coolie.


  15. goalieboy82 says:

    sad note on Emmett Kelly.
    here was at this:


  16. goalieboy82 says:

    also i had a friend of mine this a few years ago watch the short. she took her son to the circus and she thought of a lot of jokes from this.


  17. EricJ says:

    Bruce Boxliker:
    The only downside of this episode is Gypsy Rose. I like Gypsy, but I just don’t find this segment entertaining in the least. I guess I just don’t get it.

    It’s got a strong Mary Jo feel to it, as it’s parodying the 70’s taste for overly “empowered” one-woman entertainer nightclub/standup shows from an entertainer who’d just gotten out of a bad contract, and now rubs their newfound self-image and solo industry bitterness in the the audience’s face. (Although I haven’t actually seen any theatrical Margaret Cho or Sandra Bernhard concerts, so I wouldn’t know firsthand.)

    In an emptier S6 episode, with less bizarre movie to make host-seg fun of, it would be funny, but here it feels stuck out, ie. “Were you even WATCHING the movie??”


  18. Keith in WI says:

    Just watched this again recently and it still is at the top of my list. So many great riffs. This is my favorite string of episodes and they really hit their stride at this point in the run of the show.

    We were talking about how a certain candidate was claiming that we are going to get so tired of winning when he is in office and I could help but think of the scene with the Sampo pouring out gold and the phrase “this is what it would have been like if Perot had won.” How prophetic, just change a name and we are right back in 1993.

    @ #75: So what circumstances lead you to you and your kids running into dead, floating fish?

    If you ever take a walk down along the shores of Green Bay or Lake Michigan, which we often do in the summer, seeing a dead fish is not all that uncommon. They are usually not floating in the shallows, but just sitting along the rocks, but the phrase leaps into my mind nevertheless.


  19. thequietman says:

    CLANG!-“Mark VII!” CLANG!-“Mark VII!!” CLANG!-“Mark VII dammit!!”

    While this isn’t my favorite of the Russo-Finnish Troika (that would be ‘Jack Frost’) I’m with everyone else that this was a very good episode start to finish. I’m surprised Trace didn’t break out the Bullwinkle impression more often, since he’s ridiculously good at it. But there’s one other line that got me just as much as that one that I’m surprised no one’s mentioned yet:

    (during the general frolicking at the failure’s wedding)
    Joel: This is music that ‘Up With People’ [i]rejected[/i].


  20. goalieboy82 says:

    did any notice during Snack-tion when Crow knocks off Toms head (and hits Joel at the same time) and Trace says, i broke him. i think i was not part of what they wrote but went with it.


  21. EricJ says:

    • This movie (originally titled “Sampo” but cheesily renamed to trick American audiences into think it was sci-fi)

    Not just renamed, either:
    (Apparently, Lem & Ani dress up as Flash Gordon and Dale Arden in their spare time…)


  22. Be Right There says:

    I love this episode. The episode as a whole is in competiion with Santa Claus as my all time favorite MST3k, and Circus is probably my favorite Joel era short. (Possibly tied with Johnny at the Fair.
    Some stray observations:

    -The “fairy tale fantasy” subgenre is a rich one indeed for MST, and even extending to Rifftrax with “Jack the Giant Killer”. I think it helps that the movies themselves, goofy as they are, are still watchable, and the strangeness makes for great riffing opportunities.
    -Speaking of watchable movies, The Day the Earth Froze is a nice buffer between Monster a Go-Go and the double whammy of Bride of the Monster and Manos

    -The Kalevala legend was also used as the basis for a Scrooge McDuck story (“The Quest for Kalevala”) by writer/artist Don Rosa. Rosa wrote the tale specifically as a tribute to the Finnish fans of Donald Duck comics, of which there are many. I read the Scrooge story without realizing what it was based on, and was somewhat surprised when the Sampo came up.

    -While we’re on the subject of Disney, a shot of two chimpmunks in a tree leads the ‘bots to launch into a “After you! No after you, I insist” routine. This seems to be confusing Disney’s Chip and Dale with the Warner Bros. Goofy Gophers, who were the ones who actually did the overly polite routine. If this seems like a petty nitpick, it’s because it is, and I apologize sincerely.


  23. Cameron Bane says:

    When I was a kid this movie came to the drive-in, and I just had to see it. I showed my parents the ad in the paper (which featured what I later found out was some old Flash Gordon art), and that sealed the deal. When we went, though, we three Kentucky hillbillies were thoroughly baffled by all this brightly-lit, badly-dubbed craziness. Twenty minutes in, my dad leaned over to my mom and muttered, “Louise, what the hell IS this thing?”

    I’m sixty-four now, and I’m still wondering.


  24. Juice says:

    Tom’s riff at the high wire act – “It’s Albert Speer nude dining at…..” I don’t catch what he says then. I know who Albert Speer was, but don’t get the rest of the reference. If this has already been answered earlier, my apologies. And yes, I know I should just relax.


  25. Ray Dunakin says:

    Tom’s riff at the high wire act – “It’s Albert Speer nude dining at…..”I don’t catch what he says then.I know who Albert Speer was, but don’t get the rest of the reference.If this has already been answered earlier, my apologies. And yes, I know I should just relax.

    I’ve never been entirely sure I’m hearing it right, but I always thought they said, “nude, and donning a dance belt.”


  26. Ray Dunakin says:

    For a long time this was my favorite episode, and it’s still in the top five at least. The short provides lots of fodder for a constant stream of great riffs. The movie is much more watchable than most. It’s fairly well shot, had a budget many times bigger than the typical MST3K fair, and by virtue of being a foreign fairy tale, it has a high degree of riffable goofiness. The riffs are non-stop hilarity.

    A few of the riffs that haven’t been mentioned already:

    “She’s washing her Christo!”

    When Tom’s doing his Garrison Keillor and is listing the various acts: “…followed by another episode of watching paint dry.”

    “Message coming in on the urine scope, sir!” “Oh yuck, you got some on my robe!”

    Lemminkainen: “That’s what I hate most about this cursed darkness. I can’t even remember the color of your eyes.”
    Tom: “Look, she’s Swedish; I’m guessing they’re blue!”

    The invention exchange is one of my favorites, and the host segments are mostly topnotch. Although I get the joke of the “Gypsy Rose Me” bit, and enjoyed it the first time around, it’s one that I now fast-forward through.


  27. Juice says:

    #125 Ray Dunakin — thank you!!! That makes so much more sense!


  28. Sitting Duck says:

    Misheard riffs and dialogue would make an interesting Weekend Discussion (at least I don’t think we’ve done it before). For me, such an instance occurred in the Star Baby host segment from Laserblast. The first time I watched it, I misheard when Mike stated that one of the star babies had the ship. Let’s just say that the diaper changing aspect helped reinforce my misperception.


  29. goalieboy82 says:

    that is what i heard too.


  30. Juice says:

    Sitting Duck:
    Misheard riffs and dialogue would make an interesting Weekend Discussion (at least I don’t think we’ve done it before). F

    Great idea! There have been so many.


  31. Prime Minister Jm J. Bullock says:

    I’m Dick Butkis!


  32. Cornjob says:

    I know!!


  33. Ray Dunakin says:

    BTW, during the end credits of the movie, J&TBs are “surprised” that the evil witch was played by a woman. In fact, the witch was played by Georgiy Millyar, a man. He also played Baba Yaga, aka the “hunchback fairy” in “Jack Frost”.

    For some reason when the movie was dubbed for release here, the replaced the Russian actors names with Scandinavian sounding names. Probably because this was during the height of the Cold War.


  34. Ray Dunakin says:

    Oops, my mistake. He played one of the witch’s sorcerers in “Day the Earth Froze”.


  35. Cornjob says:

    #123 Nice portrait of a rural American family at the Drive-In being confronted with this Scandinavian weirdness. “Louise, what the Hell Is this thing?”

    This film is a good example of the weirdness you get when trying to translate fairy tales into film.


  36. Applemask says:

    We’ll be right back, I’m Don Ameche


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