Movie: (1965) In the first of a long-running Japanese movie series, a giant mutated turtle with super powers is accidentally revived from eons of hibernation and, of course, attacks Japan. Authorities, there and in the U.S., work to stop it. Meanwhile, young Kenny is fascinated by the beast.
First shown: 12/11/88.
Opening: It’s Christmas time, and Crow has “volunteered” to be the SOL’s Christmas tree.
Host segment 1: Servo is thankful he wasn’t frozen. A caller wants to know who does Joel’s hair.
Host segment 2: Inspired by a caller, Gypsy does her Godzilla impression. Viewers are invited to take a Ted Turner quiz.
Host segment 3: Callers offer opposing views on Godzilla, so Joel and Servo go to the video tape.
End: Joel explains some Christmas traditions, then its time for carols.
Joe’s notes: Joel watches the film by himself; as such, this episode contains what may be the poorest riffing in MST3K’s rich history. It’s not uncommon for poor Joel to go more than two minutes without making a single joke. Although Servo appears in the host segments, he does not join Joel in the theater. This is never explained. Trace was reportedly out of town during the shooting of this episode, hence the Christmas tree gag.
• This episode illustrates what seems to have been an incredibly casual situation with the show. Trace just couldn’t make it, so they wrote him out of the sketches, end of problem. You can hardly blame Trace. I think he was getting something like $35 an episode. Nothing to sneeze at, but not worth changing your holiday travel plans either.
• Joel says “Gameron” in the host segment, “Gamera” in the theater. WHICH IS IT?
• That does not sound like Trace in the bit where he is frozen. It sounds like Josh. Which makes sense, since Trace wasn’t there.
• There’s a little teaser of Gamera mahem at the beginning of the movie. They edited that out of the season 3 version.
• Without the support of Josh and Trace, Joel resorts to what he enjoys most, interacting with the screen. He does it a lot in this episode.
• I meant to mention it last week, but it’s just as true for this episode: many of the riffs in these episodes are what Mary Jo later called “state park” jokes (i.e.: “That looks like a state park.” Not so much a joke as a simple observation.)
• Questions for the movie: 1) So, the old eskimo is the latest in a long line of keepers of the ancient Gamera stone that’s been handed down in his tribe for thousands of years, and then these complete strangers show up in his village and he happily hands it over to them? (2) What’s with the scientist pretty much lying through his teeth when he vouches for the reporter? Is he just doing him and the lady researcher a favor so they can continue their tepid romance? He says the reporter guy has extensive knowledge of Gamera. What does he know that scientist guy and lady researcher don’t know? He never demonstrates any real knowledge of the situation, that I noticed. (3) Is there any solid proof that Kenny has any sort of actual psychic connection with Gamera? I didn’t see any. Yes, Gamera doesn’t kill Kenny when he has the chance, but that could be a coincidence.
• There’s a fun moment when Joel laughs heartily at the movie, when a scientist suggests that Gamera has “special organs that operate like a hydro-electric plant.”
• Am I belaboring the obvious in speculating that, in segment 3, the second call is a phony? Did anybody else suspect this? It actually sounds a bit like Jim…
• Fave riff: “That could take years!”