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Sampo & Erhardt

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Episode guide: K00- The Green Slime (the unaired pilot)

Hello, people of Earth.
This half-hour “proof of concept” video, a very rough pilot created by Joel, Trace and Josh, with Jim (and presumably Kevin) behind the camera. The video shown below is most likely an edited version which focuses on the host segments and removes most of the theater sequences.

Segment 1: Joel tries to make contact with anyone, then introduces the movie.
Segment 2: Joel is joined by Crow and Beeper; he demonstrates the Chiro-Gyro.
Segment 3: Joel introduces Gypsy and reveals that he has taught the bots to laugh at his jokes.
Segment 4: Joel discovers that his vacu-flowers are sick, and the illness spreads to Gypsy.
Segment 5: As Joel works on Gypsy, he discovers that the illness has spread to Beeper and…himself!
Segment 6: Everybody has recovered from the foam sickness, but Crow has a parting shot.

Some observations:
• The purpose of this video was to convince KTMA’s station manager, a guy named Don O’Connor, that this idea of Joel’s was going to work. I gotta say, as interesting as this is to look at more than a quarter of a century later, I am AMAZED that it accomplished that purpose. Maybe ol’ Don had an eye for talent (though from the stories I’ve heard, that doesn’t sound likely) or maybe Jim just talked him into it.
• You can definitely see Joel’s “Silent Running meets Omega Man” concept at work, but as he says, it’s a little dour.
• The primitive door sequence always gets a laugh from fans the first time they see it.
• It’s interesting that the pilot doesn’t really show Joel riffing. That doesn’t really seem to have been a big part of the concept at this point. It seems like Joel is just sort of watching along with us. It’s much more like a standard “Svengoolie” style movie show in that sense.
• Note somebody fumbling around behind the theater seats as Joel leaves the first time. Not sure what’s going on there. (Some commenters say that’s audience members at the screening.
• The second segment is one you’ve seen if you’ve seen “The MST3K Scrapbook” video tape.
• The “chiropractic helmet,” later known as the “Chiro-Gyro,” would make a return appearance in episode 105- THE CORPSE VANISHES.
• Gypsy is male in this.
• Joel also says there are “25 other robots doing various complicated operations around the ship.” That’s very “Silent Running.”
• I notice that the ubiquitous background nooise — that non-stop engine hum and occasional “plink!” is present even in this. Where did they get it from?
• For the record, Joel comes into the theater by himself the first time, Crow joins him the second time, the third time it’s Joel, Crow and Beeper (who seems to be sitting on Joel’s lap), then Joel, Crow and Gypsy the next time and finally Joel by himself again.
• Joel mentions the “spiral-on-down” which he would mention once or twice more in the regular series.
• Fave riff: “…Speaking of the number 2 position…” At the screening, Joel declares it “The Birth of Movie Riffing!”

137 Replies to “Episode guide: K00- The Green Slime (the unaired pilot)”

  1. eegah says:

    Tarantulas I would argue that several KTMA episodes are better than Season 1 episodes…. and there’s a ton of Season 1 episodes on DVD.

    I wholeheartedly agree. The worst period of MST3K was the first half of season one, which has entirely been released on DVD. Most KTMA episodes are better, or at least more fun, than those episodes.

    However, the second half of season one is pretty good. But, for some reason, none of those have been released on DVD (unless you count 104-Women of the Prehistoric Planet, which was actually filmed late in the season).

       1 likes

  2. Creepygirl says:

    I agree with #50. I find many of the KTMAs a little more entertaining than some Season 1 episodes. I kind of find both of these seasons as two parts of one…Like the White Album. :grin:

       1 likes

  3. The the Eye Creatures says:

    You can see the beginnings of greatness here. I really have to break down and get a set of KTMA’s. It’s the only season I haven’t seen :sad:

       0 likes

  4. Alex says:

    Another reason we may never see those episodes is because… well… Best Brains most likely just doesn’t give a **** about the fans (at least from my point of view; correct me if I’m wrong). :roll:

       0 likes

  5. Alex says:

    And I must agree, the first half of Season 1 was pretty terrible, especially “The Robot VS the Aztec Mummy”… and yet pretty much all of them are now on DVD.

    I would honestly just love it if all the episodes will someday be released by Shout, because I could use a mini poster for all the episodes. :cool:

       0 likes

  6. Tarantulas says:

    By the way…

    I’m “this guy” who filmed this originally at Archon (at St. Louis area scifi con). I had originally posted an SD version online for people to view, and that’s been the best source for quite a while.

    Here’s the first half (stupid 10 minute YouTube limit!) in HD!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5f-yqtl7l4&fmt=22

    I’ll get the rest of it uploaded as soon as I can.

    – Tarantulas

       3 likes

  7. Sampo says:

    A small clarification about the movie library, etc.:
    Today, most local TV stations are network affiliates, and because of that the network provides a huge chunk of their programming. Other than local news and maybe the occasional interview-style community service program, local stations just push the button and run whatever the network is showing, and they’re not really responsible for filling that much air time with their own programming.
    Back in the day, it was different, especially for a channel that wasn’t a network affiliate (and KTMA wasn’t). These stations had to come up with a LOT of ways to fill air time between commercials. One way to do that was by showing movies. And over time a lot of these local stations developed libraries of movies that had been legally cleared for the channel to show (although very probably they had to pay a small performance fee every time they showed it). KTMA had such a library, and it was from that library that Joel and Jim pulled the movies they riffed.
    However, as “Iggy Pop’s Brother Steve Pop” noted, in doing an MST3K version of the movie, they created a “derivative work,” and that was not covered under the legal agreement that allowed the station to just show the movie.
    It would be interesting to ask Jim or Joel or Kevin if they knew at the time that what they were doing wasn’t a permitted use, or whether they were just oblivious to the whole issue.

    Anyway, I’ve never quite understood the “shh, we never got the rights” answer to the KTMA question. Okay, maybe back in the ’90s they might still somehow have been liable for some sort of legal action if the rights holders of the movies found out about what they did. But surely (and don’t call me Shirley) whatever statute of limitations exists has run out at this point (and in any case, if the current station claims to own the rights to those shows, wouldn’t they also have to assume the liability?).

    So at this point it would seem to me that, if Jim wanted to release the KTMA episodes on DVD, it would simply be a matter of obtaining the rights to the movies in the exact same way that it is being done for episodes from other seasons (and, as somebody else noted, perhaps negotiating another fee to the TV station). Now, granted, many of these movies are moderate- to big-budget affairs, and it possible that the costs would be prohibitive. It’s also possible that the quality of whatever masters Jim has may not really be acceptable any more (look at the flaws on the “Lost Continent” DVD, which came from a master that is three years younger). There could be a lot of good reasons that KTMA episodes will never get a proper DVD release, but at this point I think the “we never got the rights when we originally did it” answer no longer really flies.

    To Alex: You mention “a vault at Best Brains with those tapes.” No such thing ever existed, to my knowledge. I assume Jim’s tapes are in storage somewhere. Let’s hope they are someplace that’s dry and a constant temperature.

       3 likes

  8. Tarantulas says:

    Joel claims Jim has copies… which is true given all the host segments from these episodes that Jim has posted on the offical MST3K website.

       0 likes

  9. dsman71 says:

    I like the Season 1 episodes..they arent that bad, not as good as later ones but I enjoy them ..if it wasnt for Season 1, there wouldnt even be a Season 2,3
    I am 100% thrilled to have The Crawling Eye after many years of waiting..
    The KTMA stuff is okay too …its cool to watch them from a historical perspective..especially the Gamera /Sandy Frank titles where all the movies werent cut for time and see how they improved from KTMA to Season # 3
    Its also fun watching Joel’s hair get shorter as the season progressed..

       2 likes

  10. JCC says:

    Keeping in mind that I’d love to see the KTMA episodes on official DVD, the thinking might be that these may alienate the casual fans and be more of a niche (even for MST3k) product. If these ARE ever officially released, I hope they keep the local weather info because it’s fun to gasp at the very low temperatures.

       0 likes

  11. Creeping Terror says:

    Concerning rights,

    Broadcast rights and creating a derivative work have already been touched upon. But I don’t think anyone has mentioned that DVD/video distribution rights are completely separate from those. There may be problems if a distribution company has exclusive rights to a movie and Shout! also wants to distribute a MST3K version of the film (although this applies to any non-public domain MST3K episode).

    Likely, the Brains have looked at it economically and have decided that it’s not financially smart to try to obtain the rights and release those episodes. When you add in the artistic side of Joel & Co. not wanting us to see the “rough drafts,” then you have some strong arguments about why the KTMA episodes might not ever be released.

       0 likes

  12. trickymutha says:

    @JCC- LOL. I live in Michigan, and it’s like Phoenix or Miami Beach here compared to the Twin Cities. I went there once in April and froze my butt off. Think it was about 15 in the day.

       0 likes

  13. trickymutha says:

    I just wish somehow fan copies could slip out of K-01 through K-03 so we could all complete our collections. Come on Jim, we’ll all look the other way.

       2 likes

  14. Tarantulas says:

    Sorry for the delay…

    Here’s part 2.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrG6j8pnXhA&fmt=22

    – Tarantulas

       2 likes

  15. Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    Looking at these clips it’s almost hard to imagine a tv station manager saying, “yeah. Okay. Great. Sign here on the line.”. Very primative. But still, I had never seen this before, so I feel a bit of MSTory (history+MST= MSTory. Get it?) has been filled on for me. Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait for the KTMA threads to start, I acquired the eps off of DAP Central last year and I really haven’t watched them yet. This is as good an excuse as any. Also, I’ve enjoyed the discussion on the rights issues. Y’all is smart, don’t let anyone tell you diffrent.

    And I semi-recall hearing/reading that Kevin Murphy has copies of those first three KTMA eps., but vows never to release them, based on quality control. So if he and Jim Mallon both have copies, you’d expect eventually that something would have to give, right?

    Right??

       1 likes

  16. Manny Sanguillen says:

    These old ktma shows are good for informative purposes and such, but I can’t sit through them very long because I’m all about the riffing, and face it, these aint the greatest.

    It’s neat though from a fan’s standpoint to watch it for the origins and seeing it all slowly coming together.

    I just never have enough time to do the things I’d like to do, so when I actually have the chance to sit and watch stuff, I will normally pick things that I know will highly entertain me. Thus I have a tough time popping in anything from ktma or season one, even though I have all of season one and about 7 or 8 ktma’s.
    The only ktma I actually ever sat all the way through was SST Deathflight, and several times to boot.

       1 likes

  17. C. says:

    On this site, there was an interview with someone from Shout Factory who stated that SF isn’t trying to get the KTMA episodes released due to the fact that they were never nationally broadcast and SF is all about nostalgia value derived from old TV programs. Since the only people who would have that is our community and people who lived in Minneapolis in the 80s, there isn’t enough value there.

       1 likes

  18. Finnias 'Critter' Jones says:

    Speaking of the number 2 position…

    Thanks Tarantulas for posting these HD clips (@ #56 & 64). Hopefully Sampo will replace the links in the original post.

    I wish the existing KTMA copies looked as good as these. Just re-watched K04 (G v. B) and it is rough. We may be better off not having the complete early episodes as the riffing is so slight as to be barely worth the effort. But I enjoy this one for its early look at the concept behind the SOL.

    Funny how Joel is so insistent on this environment being “of his own design,” him being a “freak,” and how “you can see how even I get kinda bored with this after a while.” Though him leaving the show years later was not from “boredom” it’s oddly prophetic, in that he decided to move on to what he thought would be greener pastures in Hollywood, which never panned out the way he imagined. It’s meta-cool that he unveiled this video at a Cinematic Titanic panel, his triumphant return to the form he invented.

       1 likes

  19. Smog Monster says:

    @ 15 – It’s a good thing that K00 The Green Slime didn’t make it as an episode or an extended DVD bonus… If KTMA ever makes it onto an official Shout! Factory DVD, it should be a good KTMA episode, many of which there are.

    As for this episode, I’m sure there’s more riffing on the forgotten edits of The Green Slime. Of course, seeing these dry excerpts makes me wonder how Joel made it on television even for KTMA… These are REALLY dry clips…

       0 likes

  20. Smog Monster says:

    @ 65 – Ohhh, the pain … :shock: :shock: :shock:

       1 likes

  21. Alex says:

    Yeah, but honestly, if the KTMA episodes ever are allowed to be released, I, again, wouldn’t see this episode getting out of its never-endless tunnel, because, again, keep in mind, The Green Slime is an MGM movie, and I doubt MGM will license their material to Shout. But… if they do license it, I hope Shout will put it as a seperate episode and not as a bonus feature like “The original pilot” in the menu section. I’m mostly saying this because I’d *love* to have a mini poster of the green slime attacking Crow and Servo. :mrgreen:

       0 likes

  22. mikek says:

    :!: I’ve noticed that The Green Slime is playing on Turner Classic Movies tomorrow afternoon. 11am central/12pm eastern.

       0 likes

  23. Alex says:

    Speaking of DVDS, by the way, when is the next Dracocon coming up? I’ve heard Volume 19 gets announced during then. :D

       0 likes

  24. cambot j. nelson says:

    it’s so funny to think how that early MST creation of Joel’s was the necessary beginning of what would eventually evolve into that which I now so greatly enjoy as Rifftrax. It’s so raw and beautiful in it’s primitiveness. Godbless Hodgson, and his fellow firestarters.

       0 likes

  25. trickymutha says:

    1- Will TCM ever have Frank be a host? 2- If any station would show MST reruns, it would be TCM- like at 2 AM- that would be awesome!

       1 likes

  26. Mr. B(ob) says:

    @ “The worst period of MST3K was the first half of season one”
    Everyone’s got an opinion, but it’s not the only one. Can’t agree, I love the first half of Season One and am grateful to have it on DVD. The raw energy and creativity is great and it’s fun seeing them experiment with what works well and what doesn’t. I find it highly entertaining and for the most part quite funny. Lots of good jokes in there right from the start for me.

       1 likes

  27. Alex says:

    @ 76

    Yeah, I admit, Crawling Eye and Mad Monster are ok. A little bit of Corpse Vanishes too. As for Robot VS the Aztec Mummy… I’ve only seen it once, but I might have to watch it again to see my opinion on the riffing. The host segments are kind of strange, though, with it being all about demon dogs.

       0 likes

  28. dsman71 says:

    Those classic cheesy B movies are fun in my opinion ..I highly anticipate Robot Monster in an upcoming set..
    Volume 19 will be announced at the San Diego Comic Con I believe this Thursday
    My pics were Robot Monster, Rocketship XM, Samson vs the Vampire Women and Horror of Party Beach
    I have to admit owning a pristine copy of a KTMA episode sounds awfully yummy , but these lay in the hands of Jim Mallon and the rights owners to the films

       1 likes

  29. mike says:

    Yeah, the word on the street is Volume 19 will be announced on Thursday, July 22nd.

       0 likes

  30. Alex says:

    July 22? Sweet. :cool:

       1 likes

  31. Iggy Pop's Brother Steve Pop says:

    I wonder if the “we don’t want to release rough drafts” feeling about the KTMA episodes applies just to the riffing, or to the sketches as well. If it’s just the former, here’s a sort of amusing idea (provided they could get get rights to the movies, of course): replace the original audio track for the movie segments with new riffs written by the Titans and performed by Joel, Trace, and Josh. They could possibly keep the original audio track as an alternative for “historical interest.” They didn’t interact with the screen much in those days, and the shadowramma is small, so it wouldn’t be all that obvious that J&TB’s new voices are speaking at different times (and more often) than their images from 1988/89 are.

       0 likes

  32. Alex says:

    @ 81

    Yeah, but the thing is, Misties (like myself) don’t like the show to be unaltered in any way… at least from what I’ve heard. So doing that to the KTMAs would probably anger them so much that they’ll want replacement discs. For my understanding, I think it’s pretty much they simply just don’t want the entire episode released at all. They really don’t give a damn about the fans, do they?

       0 likes

  33. bad wolf says:

    I think they’ve done more than enough for the ‘fans’ to not have to listen to such negative comments.

       1 likes

  34. mikek says:

    I want to destroy Beeper, is that wrong. :mrgreen: I’m so glad that they gave him a voice and named him Tom Servo.

       0 likes

  35. Ryan McSwain says:

    Does anyone else feel like the missing episodes fill an important role in the MST3K mythos? They’re so much more interesting missing as they would be available on a Season Zero box set.

       1 likes

  36. Tarantulas says:

    The only reason people want to see them is because we can’t.

       2 likes

  37. Danny says:

    There are decent enough fan copies of most of the KTMA’s. I really want to see K01/K02 though (the “lost” ones).

       0 likes

  38. PondosCP says:

    At some point when the well starts to run dry, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a KTMA episode come out. Say, around Vol. 40? Also: http://www.loftcinema.com/node/1798

       0 likes

  39. PondosCP says:

    Oh, and do you plan to review the clips from K 1-3 on mst3k.com?

       0 likes

  40. Sampo says:

    PondosCP: Sorry, no.

       1 likes

  41. Sampo says:

    Also: I’ve replaced the YouTube links with links to the HD version kindly supplied by Tarantulas. Thanks!

       1 likes

  42. Tarantulas says:

    Yeah! I’m helping (for once)!

       1 likes

  43. kismetgirl88 says:

    So glad Don O’Connor gave Joel a chance. Though I think He was filling Dead air time that didn’t have fill with static or test signal.

       0 likes

  44. Alex says:

    Personally, I think it’d just be better to wait till the complete episodes of K01-K03 ever surface in their entirety… if they ever do (which is unlikely :roll:). But I guess it is still possible those KTMAs may possibly surface once the Sci-Fi and Comedy Central episodes that are easy to not get your hand slapped when touching by the films’ rights owners eventually run out… or… the episodes may just remain “lost” anyhow, who knows.

       0 likes

  45. Richard the Lion Hearted says:

    “I am AMAZED that this it worked”

    I agree with you Sampo.
    The only thing on Joel’s side was that this was in the twilight years of independent stations. Stations owned by people, or local companies, or families who did this for love & profit.

    Today Joel would not have stood a chance. At least on the west coast, all the independent stations are bought up by chains and it is all corp. cr##.

    This may be the last “creative” show we see for a long time, and I, like you, am surprised it got on at all based on this promo tape.

    I am also surprised that it survived until year 2 when it hit its stride.

       1 likes

  46. Iggy Pop's Brother Steve Pop says:

    It’s certainly not much in comparison with what it became. (If I were the studio head, looking at this riffless pilot, I’d probably have asked, “So what’s the point of the shadows, blocking part of the movie?”) But compare it to most other locally-produced movie shows, with hosts trading in hackneyed puns and wearing dime-store Dracula makeup, and it starts looking quite promising.

    (Chicago folks, I know that just sounded like I was describing Svengoolie. I’m really talking about hosts lower on that particular food chain. Svengoolie is the gold standard of hosts trading in hackneyed puns and wearing dime-store Dracula makeup.)

       0 likes

  47. starman15317 says:

    @47: Did u make the Kitmah Predicts one? I bought it but haven’t watched it yet

       0 likes

  48. Dan in WI says:

    I find the discussion of what did Dan O’Conner see in the pilot that made him pick up the show fascinating. Here’s my guess. He saw they would be able to deliver a way to fill two hours. This wasn’t that radical an idea to put this on the air. After all we are talking the waning days of when every major television market had a hosted creature feature show. At its core MST is nothing more of an evolution of that concept. So Mr. O’Conner probably looked at this and thought to himself “I might as well have an Elvira/Svengoolie/Ned the Dead/etc… too.” When you watch this thing and see there really are no riffs to be had in the theater this seems even more plausible.

    With Beeper being unable to speak it sure gives it a kind of R2-D2 and C-3PO vibe.

    Man, I wish Joel or somebody would explain who designed the robots.

    Trace did more puppetry work with Crow’s arms in this pilot than he did in the next several years of the show. I wonder why the arms weren’t utilized more often when it is proven here right in the beginning it can be done.

    I have to say these host segments stand up pretty well with just about anything from the Joel years. It has his wit and humor and I enjoyed this piece of history.

       4 likes

  49. snowdog says:

    Watching this always makes me smile. Joel is obviously improvising through most of dialogue, which is “of his own design”. The robots are extremely primitive, but recognizable. Beeper even has a transparent head like Tom Servo ultimately would. I wonder if Joel already intended to start riffing the movies and just didn’t want the station manager to know, or if he truly hadn’t thought of it yet.

       1 likes

  50. dsman71 says:

    Joel had A LOT of hair back then…
    I wish they could find those unreleased KTMA episodes 1,2 and 3… they have to be in some storage place somewhere.. never-mind the fan copy, find the original master (he would approve)

       2 likes

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