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Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Episode guide: K05- Gamera

Movie: (1965) In the first of a long-running Japanese movie series, a giant mutated turtle with super powers is accidentally revived from hibernation and, of course, attacks Japan. 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 a Gamera fight, so Joel and Servo go to the video tape
End: Joel explains some Christmas traditions, then its time for carols.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (151 votes, average: 3.73 out of 5)

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• Joel watches the film by himself; as such, this episode contains what is surely the sparsest riffing in MST3K’s history. It’s not uncommon for Joel to go more than two minutes without making a single riff. Servo appears in the host segments, but there’s no explanation for why he does not join Joel in the theater. Trace was reportedly out of town during the shooting of this episode (and in the Q&A Josh suspected he had a standup gig at the time the theater scenes were being shot.
References.
• 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.
• 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 mayhem 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.
• Some may not remember, and kids may not be aware of, the whole kerfuffle in the late ’80s about Ted Turner colorizing classic black-and-white movies. Many movie buffs – Joel seems to have been one of them – were horrified at the project and he came in for much derision. He quietly backed off it after a while.
• Joel resorts to talking to himself. At one point Joel asks, to nobody in particular, “Would you consider that a plot device?”
• In these early episodes, many of the riffs 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) Kenny thinks he has some sort of psychic connection with Gamera. But the movie never presents any evidence that this is the case. Yes, Gamera doesn’t kill Kenny when he has the chance, but that could just be luck.
• 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.”
• It’s pretty clear the two calls in segment 3 where made by the same person.
• Fave riff: “That could take years!”

74 Replies to “Episode guide: K05- Gamera”

  1. Graboidz says:

    This is the toughest of the “Season 0” episodes for me…and I love the Gamera films…with the exception of the first film. It’s a pretty boring movie overall, and Joel doesn’t have anyone to play off of in the theater which is kind of a drag as well. I’m glad they got to re-tackle this flick during the national run.

       1 likes

  2. bad wolf says:

    I don’t feel like i’m missing anything here.

       1 likes

  3. Two Bricks Shy of a Load says:

    Probably one of the strangest episodes in the theater….Joel is alone. Tom and Crow is just not there. Does anyone know what happened to Kevin and Trace? It’s as if everyone else took off for the week.

       0 likes

  4. Dan in WI says:

    Okay, let me start by getting the obligatory out of the way. It’s well documented and for a good reason that yes this is the solo Joel episode and yes the silence between riffs is incredibly long. Again, not only are these the formative episodes of the show, but given that I’m guessing here) any budget they had went into production I’d have to wonder if anything at all ended up in their pockets. It’s very excusable that if Trace and Josh had other pressing matters to attend to that they did so.

    Now speaking of the production budget, just what did the freezing Crow effect cost them that we see it two times in this episode alone and
    another handful of times in the future before he was thawed out? It sure feels like someone felt the need to get full value out of whatever they spent on it. Not that it looks like all that involved of an effect in the first place.

    Sampo: I noticed the Gameron on bridge vs. Gamera in the theater thing too. There has to be an inside joke here.

    At many points when the movie is dark, Joel and the theater seats are near invisible.

    Just what war is that in 1965 that has come to that Eskimo village? I don’t remember studying that one in school.

    During the 45 seconds between Joel leaves the theater the first time and the beginning of the door sequence, I noticed the theater seats
    disappear for the final 5ish seconds.

    While Joel had us watching credit to answer the burning questions: who does his hair?, I noticed the credit for the MST *300* Theme Music. I wonder how many weeks that was wrong. Yet in the real end credits later on it was 3000 as it should have been.

    Favorite Riffs:
    Who’s got a head the size of a Harvestore silo?
    It’s a love triangle with Gamera

       1 likes

  5. WhereTheFishLives says:

    The pain… this episode feels like a chore to sit through for me. I am thankful they revisited this movie later on. The show had to start somewhere and I still enjoy certain parts of this episode but I will certainly not be revisiting this one any time soon.

       1 likes

  6. Son of Bobo says:

    During the one call, as they posted the dialog, I am pretty sure the caller didn’t say ship.

       26 likes

  7. Alex says:

    I agree, the riffing was pretty poor in this episode, and because they didn’t do a white-screen effect back in the KTMA days, the black and white makes the sillohettes constantly dissapear, so it’s almost as if you’re watching the movie on its own.

    Speaking of the theater seats, did anyone catch how at the end of the second theater segment, after Joel leaves, the seats just suddenly dissapear?

    The host segments were okay for my opinion. I liked the Gamera VS Barugon fighting clip host segment. I’m guessing Servo wasn’t in the theater because they just assumed if one of the riffing bots were written out of the episode, that means any other riffing bot cannot come in, weather available in the host segments or not.

       0 likes

  8. Alex says:

    But if the Daiei-Mst3k/J&J-KTMA feud ever ends, then this episode would make a nice little bonus on an upcoming Mst3k release. Have 302 as the main episode, with this one as a bonus. Sort of like what they did with Night of the Blood Beast. :P

       0 likes

  9. JimmyBruce says:

    *yawn*

    Let me know when we start discussing season 1.

       3 likes

  10. MiqelDotCom says:

    I have to agree with the people last week who said it’s very strange to see the SOL in pre dog-bone form, it looks like a bunch of kitchenware glued together.

    Joel is still saying GamerON and reapeats essentially the same Superman reference as last week.
    This is truly the most boring episode of MST3K, Joel is alone, riffing is still being invented and it’s a B/W Sandy Frank film – yikes!
    Joel gives it a good try, but the comedic chemistry between trace, joel and josh was the main fuel for the improvised riffing. With nobody else in the theater he goes for looong stretches with no commentary and many of the riffs are just bland observational remarks.

    Cool Things:
    Joel uses a Punky Berwster background when displaying the text of a phone call!
    Joel sneaks a forbidden word onto the airwaves during a viewer call who clearly says “they breathe fire and s**t” but on the sceen it reads as “they breathe fire and ship”

    Obscure Reference:
    During the dance-party scene Joel starts singing “Save the Earth, save the earth”. This is the song sung during the dance-club scene in Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster

    Best Riffs:
    ????

    Open Question:
    What was the deal with all of the rocks Kenny was collecting?

    Most missed part of CC re-riff:
    Tom Servo’s love song about Kenny and the turtle!

       2 likes

  11. Finnias 'Critter' Jones says:

    “Enough for you, you’re hammered.”

    If I could, I’d award this negative points for Joel being so non-funny and actually annoying in his few comments. I hesitate to call them “riffs” as most aren’t even jokes, but merely cranky comments, lesser than even you and your buddies might make if watching this movie. They really shouldn’t have aired this, as the absence of riffing partners in the theater proves fatal to the comedy. I’m about even on the Joel v. Mike debate, but if you happened to be anti-Joel, this one provides some fine ammunition for your argument against the “sleepy-eyed” guy. The simple fact is that Mike never made a MST episode this humor-free, and even though his initial solo Rifftrax efforts were sometimes stiff or monotonous, they were at least scripted and more riff-dense. But of course that was after years of honing his craft, so that’s not really a fair comparison. Still, Joel comes off here as if he “just didn’t care.”

    At least this time, I finally watched the whole thing. Luckily, the movie itself is well-made and so odd and funny on it’s own. Despite its quality production, it is my least favorite of the Gamera flicks. The Kenny character means to show us that Gamera is a misunderstood outsider, but the kid is portrayed as an insane goofball so he’s impossible to sympathize with – like G., he is always being disobedient and doing bad things. After the lighthouse incident, G. shows no further interest in saving human lives or Kenny himself. Kenny’s constant assurances that G. is a friend to children and is a good turtle is all part of his own delusion. All G. really wants is to do is eat fire, but K. champions this homicidal monster, more concerned for the mutant beast than his family and fellow humans. His advocacy does seem to influence the scientists/military to seek to banish the creature from Earth, rather than to to waste more resources in pursuit of destroying it. Perhaps in the original language Kenny comes off better, but here he’s unbearable.

    It seems fitting that MST tackled the Gamera series at length rather than Godzilla. It’s a more underdog/indie move on the Brains’ part. BTW, Joel’s “Gameron” seems to be an intentional joke.

    Maybe the lesson here is than solo Gamera + solo Joel is no good. Like the giant turtle, MST needs at least one partner to shine.

    1 Star, though really a Zero. Lowest point of the series for me…it only gets better from here.

    Note: just watched Lazlo The MST Guy’s video reviews of this and last weeks show. Great work, keep it up.

       4 likes

  12. Graboidz says:

    @9 -JimmyBruce

    Oh…in about 16 more weeks you ginormous load. :roll:

       4 likes

  13. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    >>>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?

    Well, it’s not as if he ASKED for the job, is it? He was probably glad to get rid of it. Who needs the pressure of a thing like that?

       4 likes

  14. Alex says:

    And speaking about this episode being on DVD, if it does ever pop up, I think an intro for this version would be pretty neat. Maybe have one from trace explaining why he was out of town, then Josh explaining why Servo was not available. Just a thought. ;-)

       0 likes

  15. J Master says:

    #4,
    Eskimos involved in a war in 1965?

    Why, that was the Cold War!

    Thank you, I’ll be here all thread! Try the links!

       10 likes

  16. Alex says:

    Infact, even though I really don’t care for this episode too much, I could use a HQ copy of it, since the currenty post on YouTube is in very poor quallity (no offence, though).

    I’d imagine the KTMAs would be hard to cleanup once they can start popping up on DVD. That is, if Jim really did toss away his master tapes into his attic or something.

       0 likes

  17. mataglap says:

    This wasn’t as bad the second time as I remembered. While it’s true that many of Joel’s riffs aren’t really riffs, I think a fair number of them are funny, and the frequency of comments seems greater than the previous episode. It also seems like he had done some homework because early on there’s a shot of a city and he says “this could be anywhere” right before it cuts to a sign saying its New York, so I wouldn’t say he was phoning it in. In a way it was probably an experiment on his part to see what the result would be with only one person in the theater, it doesn’t seem to me there was any chemistry yet with the robots in the previous episode, so it was worth a shot.

    What makes this movie painful to watch is that Kenny is so over the top. Whoever did the English direction and translation must have looked at the pained expression on the kids face and decided to play him as borderline psychotic, I would hope the Japanese version was a little more “nuanced”? If the original producers were planning for a series of Gamera movies, it makes sense to try to make Gamera somewhat sympathetic, and to give him some motivation for saving humanity’s bacon from various other radioactivity-induced monsters, but Kenny’s general demeanor should really just make Gamera want to destroy all humans in case there are more like him. Or maybe I’m reading too much into this…

    The “breathe fire and ship” text on the screen is hilarious, much easier than trying to bleep it out. I think Sampo is correct that the second Godzilla caller is staged.

       1 likes

  18. Sampo says:

    Oops! Forgot the ratings thingy! It’s there now.

       1 likes

  19. monoceros4 says:

    (3) Is there any solid proof that Kenny has any sort of actual psychic connection with Gamera? I didn’t see any.

    I don’t see it myself. That’s not necessarily what the filmmakers were after, I suppose; they may have thought that having a cute kid in the movie to be on the monster’s side (for whatever reason, not necessarily “psychic”) would automatically add some tension. (Basically they were ripping off Gorgo, made four years earlier.) If that’s what they wanted, they miscalculated horribly by making the kid into a total freak.

       0 likes

  20. Brandon says:

    What does the second caller say exactly that sounds staged (other than it sounding like Jim).

    Josh confirmed once that he did voice Crow for the episode where Trace was absent. I think he said he voiced Crow in another episode, but I’m not sure which.

       0 likes

  21. Larry says:

    You can’t ever go into a KTMA expecting to laugh out loud very often (or at all), but even so, this one’s a bit much. Probably the only KTMA I won’t watch again. I’ve never especially liked the first Gamera, so the movie doesn’t stand on it’s own for me, and the “riffing” (such as it is) is just way too weak to make any real difference. The only thing worth sitting through this ep is the host segments (I’ve always liked the Ted Turner quiz), but even they don’t save this one.

    I find the KTMAs interesting as historical MST3K eps, and yes, I even find them entertaining (not always funny, but entertaining), but this is easily the weakest of “Season Zero”, and probably the toughest ep of the whole series to get through (for me, at least).

       3 likes

  22. Sampo says:

    Brandon: I will allow for the possibility that somebody was witty enough to call claiming to be “a member of the coalition for giant mutant turtles,” but I seriously doubt that, entirely independently, a second guy called claiming to be one of the “friends of the coalition for giant slimey lizards with long nasty tongues.” It seemed to me like they staged that one to set up the bit, playing off the first caller. On the other hand, a commenter on YouTube suggests it is the same guy calling both times. The voices aren’t that different. So maybe they just had a funny two-time caller and they took it from there.

       2 likes

  23. Sampo says:

    Oh, and something else I forgot to mention about segment 3: At one point Josh adlibs something and totally throws Joel’s rhythm off.

       5 likes

  24. Alex says:

    @ 20

    You’re probably thinking of Invaders from the Deep, since you can tell Josh (strangely) does Crow’s voice in that episode from seeing the clips in the Genises section.

    Still makes me wonder if Trace did Beeper’s voice in that episode of Josh was doing Crow…

       0 likes

  25. OnenuttyTanuki says:

    To answer the open question in post #10:

    In the original, Japanese version og Gamera. Kenny (yes, I know his name is something else in the original Japanese) seems to belive the Tibby has turned into Gamera or they have become one being.

       0 likes

  26. Alex says:

    What’s funny is in the original Japanese version, Tibby is named “Pee-wee”. XD

       1 likes

  27. dad1153 says:

    I was expecting the worst (K05’s reputation precedes it!) but wasn’t as put-off as most purists here. KTMA episodes are curiosity pieces for fans of the show or those that actually want to watch the bad movie they’re showing (you know who you are!). Measured on that curve the only “MST3K” episode with a single person riffin ranks as must-see stuff, at least to experience how needed the bots are for the human host (Joel or Mike) to bounce off from. That hearty laugh from Joel when the scientist mentions Gamera’s “special organs that operate like a hydro-electric plant” actually matched my own laughter from hearing the same dopey line; it was weird to synch with Joel even though I’d never seen this episode (or the Season 3 redux version). My favorite riff/’observation’ from Joel: there’s nothing sadder than a warring Eskimo village’ (I laughed and then it made me think, then I got sad but ended up smiling in the end! :oops: :cry: :roll: :mrgreen: ). Ted Turner gets slammed pretty hard in the host segments for his then-crusade to colorize old movies (how ironic that now one of the best channels programming classic B&W movies bears his name, Turner Classic Movies) and it was neat to see how Gamera’s flying turtle effect was done by simple hand-drawn animation instead of the ‘elaborate’ effect used in latter ‘Gamera’ movies. This was my introduction to Kenny (again, haven’t seen the Season 3 remake of this) and holy crap, either the translation brought out the worst in the original Japanese script or this was putrid all along and it only got worst (lost?) in translation. Even kind and gentle Joel begins to tire of Kenny’s turtle-loving antics and starts taking swipes at him as the movie unfolds; I can only imagine the abuse The Brains unleashed on this flick (and Kenny) when they got a second chance to do it right.

    I rate this a rather-generous TWO-AND-A-HALF STARS. The novelty of watching KTMA “MST3K” hasn’t worn off (though I agree there’s very little incentive to rewatch them afterwards) and, in its own goofy way, Joel sitting alone in the theater making “observations” complemented well the already-ridiculous parts of the flick itself.

       3 likes

  28. Drunken Fist says:

    Yep, this one was a bit of an ordeal. Pretty good host segments, though. The “breathe fire and ship” text provided the biggest laugh for me. :lol:

       0 likes

  29. Going to repost a link to my KTMA episode guide (which also fully covers K01 – K03, K00 is at the bottom of the page) for those who aren’t going to revisit last episode’s thread (since I joined late):

    http://www.thelogbook.com/logbook/mst3k/

    This one (as with many of the first half-dozen) is hard to get through because they haven’t found the pace of the show yet. Once they hammered that out (certainly by mid-season), it all flows so much better.

    As always with the KTMAs, though, there is plenty still to enjoy, you just need to stick it out to see those bits.

       1 likes

  30. Oh, and unless someone objects, I’ll provide links to my entries on upcoming episodes. Here’s K05 – Gamera:

    http://www.thelogbook.com/logbook/mystery-science-theater-3000/gamera/

       1 likes

  31. Spalanzani says:

    I’ve got a general Gamera/MST3K question: in later episodes when the crew references Gamera, they’ll often say “the turtle called Gamera is approaching the city”, or start off some different sentence with “the turtle called Gamera…” Is this a reference to some specific line from one of these movies that I don’t remember, or is it just a general imitation of the awkward way people talk in these dubs?

       1 likes

  32. trickymutha says:

    Did anyone else see the number 3000 on the freight car when they’re rescuing stupid Kenny? Thought Joel might riff on it, but he didn’t.

    I have started watching the KTMA offerings again for the first time since 2006. K05 is an anomaly, for sure, yet- I enjoyed it. Comfort food. 2.5 stars.

       0 likes

  33. Alex says:

    For me, I’d give the movie 2/5 stars since the host segments were ok.

       1 likes

  34. pablum says:

    Nothing to talk about regarding the host segments or riffing here, so I’ll simply discuss the movie.

    Kenny is the worst example of a Japanese monster child I can remember. All the death, destruction, and chaos Gamera causes and yet Kenny sticks by the turtle through it all. The boy is mentally deranged. Stockholm Syndrome or something is all I can discern as to why Kenny would stick up for the death-dealing turtle other than perhaps the kid is just a sadistic little twerp. The season 3 riffs on Kenny were spot-on.

       3 likes

  35. Fart Bargo says:

    Oddball episode for sure. If you listen carefully during the last half of the movie I can swear that Joel was munching on tater chips on the sneak. Always get a giggle out of Joel’s smart-allecky “He’s hammered!” comments. Joel seems a bit more ‘sleepy-eyed’ than usual during the movie.

    Some information please. Were all the KTMA’s totally ad libbed or it just seems that way? Thanks.

       0 likes

  36. trickymutha says:

    @35 FB- I too could hear Joel snacking. Made me hungry. I believe the KTMA episodes were totally ad libbed- that is why Josh left after season 1- he liked the off the cuff stuff. Joel, I believe, was smoking the wacky stuff then, if not, I’ll have what he was having.

       0 likes

  37. mstgator says:

    Not sure if the phone call was fake, but I do love the censoring job they did with the on-screen graphic (but not the call itself).

    Fortunately I found the movie itself to be pretty watchable (not good, but watchable) without riffing, so silent Joel wasn’t unbearable.

    I hate Kenny.

       1 likes

  38. Fart Bargo says:

    TM, thanks for the response. Yeah, that’s what I liked about Josh was that he could do ad-libs but realize that ultimately, the shows would need scripts. On Joel; when I realized that he was snitching chips, LMAO when I realized why he was so quiet and ‘into’ Gameron.

       0 likes

  39. mst3ktemple says:

    I think the funniest thing is that the high tech freezing effect, that looks suspiciously like a fire extinguisher, removes the paint from Crow, which can be seen in later episodes.

    @22 – from my first viewing of this episode I’ve thought that the two calls were from the same guy and therefore the second call was just part of the joke he was making.

       1 likes

  40. LazlowTheMSTGuy says:

    I have a video recap/review of the episode here:
    http://blip.tv/file/3826762
    It has the full host segments so you can check out the if it really was Jim calling in.

       1 likes

  41. H says:

    Yeah, this one’s rough. I wonder what Josh was up to that he couldn’t do the movie segments but could do the host segments. Must have been some baking some of those muffins like he would later in Su-Maru.

    The host segments are ok, and I like the freezing Crow idea. They explained away absences well in this season (except for the Servo in this episode obviously). But the movie, that’s just a Bataan death march. Oh well, next week is MIGHTY VOICE time so that’ll be nice.

       0 likes

  42. Fart Bargo says:

    @31 cugino, I think it’s an awkward translation more times than not, but the way many of these scripts are written (???????), you are probably correct in both your observations.

       0 likes

  43. Cornjob says:

    A hard slog. Joel cracking up and the host segments were the best part. Every time I see this movie Kenny annoys me a little more. I’m usually sympathetic to outsiders and the put upon, but I wanted to slap this kid myself. Only 3 more Gamera movies to go before Phase 4, one my favorite all time episodes of any season.

       0 likes

  44. Cornjob says:

    Freezing crow would be done again later in Eegah (I think).

       1 likes

  45. JLH says:

    I concur with Sampo on the fake caller sounding like Jim. Unless Jim called them up from another phone and they honestly didn’t know it was him. Perhaps it was really Pat Brantseg…

       0 likes

  46. Brandon says:

    @44 Crow gets frozen, AND breaks apart, which I believe happened in another Trace-less episode. I wonder if that was an in-joke of some kind.

       0 likes

  47. Larry says:

    Well, Crow will still be frozen in the next ep, and in K12 (Fugitive Alien), Servo and Gypsy take him apart. Trace missed 3 episodes during the KTMA season.

       0 likes

  48. JCC says:

    Don’t operate heavy machinery after watching this episode.

       0 likes

  49. Kouban says:

    I didn’t notice before this viewing that Joel does the same self-referential riff at the film’s climax in this version as the bots do in the season 3 version. That would definitely go on my “best riffs of the KTMA era” list.

       0 likes

  50. ern2150 says:

    Hey so I think that call is faked the same way the “more more more more MORE!” call is, which sounds suspiciously like Josh.

       0 likes

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