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Sampo & Erhardt

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Visit our archives of the MST3K pages previously hosted by the Sci-Fi Channel's SCIFI.COM.

Goodbye Sci-Fi

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

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Episode guide: K21- The ‘Legend of Dinosaurs’

Movie: (1977) A plesiosaur is discovered living in a lake near Mount Fuji, then volcanic activity awakens still more prehistoric creatures.

First shown: 5/28/89
Opening: The Mads come up with clues to support the “Joel is Dead” rumor they want to start. Joel is dubious
Host segment 1: Joel demonstrates the way special effects can be used to make a person look really small
Host segment 2: J&TB put on a sitcom, complete with laugh track, canned applause and pointless catchphrases
Host segment 3: Joel uses his model lizard, which breathes real fire, to demonstrate monster special effects
End: What are you going to do on hiatus?
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (87 votes, average: 4.13 out of 5)


• This was the final KTMA episode, though the last host segment makes it clear that the Brains expected to return to KTMA after a summer break. Fortunately for them (and us), they had a larger destiny in store for them.
• Host segments 1 and 3 were apparently aired in the wrong order: in host segment 1, Joel refers to their “earlier” segment … it’s pretty obvious he’s referring to host segment 3. Oops.
• The model in segment 3 would be re-used as an invention exchange in episode 103- MAD MONSTER.
• Segment 2 appears on the MST3K Scrapbook tape.
• It has been fascinating to watch these and to watch the concept of MST3K grow and coalese. But, as many of you have said, I doubt that I will come back to watch any of these episodes for pleasure.
• That said, as several folks said in the comments, the riffing in this one is pretty solid and pretty much as good as anything we’re about to get in season one coming up.
• For one thing, by this time they were routinely previewing the movie and pre-writing jokes, even though they weren’t willing to admit it yet. Example: At one point in this episode, Joel repeats a line of dialog along with a character in the movie. Tom (Josh apparently tweaking Joel for doing so) asks: “Have you seen this before, Joel?” Joel replies: “It’s something I learned in camp.”
• Callback: “The Two Eyes of Su-Maru.”
• It’s both depressing and somehow fitting that the final movie is yet another confusing Sandy Frank outing (and maybe the most disjointed one yet). It makes you wonder why they came back and did a lot of these movies again. That’s a lot of pain to take.
• This is one of the rougher tapes from the KTMA era, making the viewing experience even more exasperating.
• I want to note again, as I did earlier: Not once, not a SINGLE TIME in any of these episodes, did anybody EVER use the word “Gizmonic.” Joel once told me that, in the KTMA episodes, The Mads are transmitting from their lab in Gizmonic Institute. And that makes sense. After all, in the next episode, (the first of season one) we learn that The Mads have fled Gizmonic Institute to Deep 13. But now it’s pretty clear that’s a notion that came after the fact.
• All this time, we have listed this movie as “Legend of the Dinosaur,” when the title card actually reads “The ‘Legend of Dinosaurs’” (including those quotation marks). My DVD also calls it by the wrong name. The IMDB, on the other hand, gives its full title in English as “The Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds” (“Kyôryuu: Kaichô no densetsu” in Japanese).
• I wonder where that retouched “Abbey Road” album cover is. That would be a great collector’s item.
• The kid in segment 1 is listed in the credits as Ralph Smith. Wonder where he is now.
• The giant hand in that segment would be used again.
• One thing that was particular to the KTMA shows, I think, was that when something truly horrific happened on screen, Tom Servo would deliver his trademark phrase: “Oh, golly!”
• In segment 3, Joel handles a tiny replica of a Kentury Fried Chicken store. That little model would later be incorporated into the “Big G Burger” scene seen during commercial bumpers for several seasons.
• It was a cool evening in the Twin Cities on Memorial Day weekend: 74 degrees, 73 an hour later.
• At one point somebody says: “Watch out for overly sensitive producers!” Huh?
• There’s a very strange moment in the riffing, when Joel says, “Finish the job, man! Open the tank!” Then he seems to realize that he’s said something wrong. He tries to correct it. He gets as far as “I meant to say ‘Open the…’ ” before all three riffers collapse into laughter. Servo declares that Joel has “snapped a twig,” but I have no idea why.
• In this episode we get our first set of renaissance fair jokes, including a “huzzah!” They would return in season three’s “Pod People” and then become a running gag throughout the series.
• Cast and Crew Roundup: Other than Sandy Frank, nobody involved in this movie was involved in any other MSTed movie.
• CreditsWatch: Special Guests: Ralph Smith & Ralph’s Mom.
• Fave riff: Servo: “YBS?” Joel: “People seem to accept it!” Honorable mention: “We haven’t heard from her.”
Next week we will begin season one, and before anybody asks, we will, as always, being doing them in episode number order, meaning that episode 104 will be the fourth one we do, even though it was the last one produced that season. We’ll hash that out when we get there.

70 Replies to “Episode guide: K21- The ‘Legend of Dinosaurs’”

  1. M "Open The Tank" Sipher says:

    I’m gonna agree on not going over the FC, RT and CT releases. Frankly, I’m all for completely cycling through the entire run of MST all the way to the end, back around through the KTMAs… it’s a fun review, not everyone will be around for the first go-through, and just because there’s an episode guide thing here doesn’t mean there’s not more to say.

    Moving forward… I’ve enjoyed this look back a lot, and seen flashes of brilliance throughout the KTMAs… and am really looking forward to going through season one, which is where I came into it. I got very accustomed very quickly to the show’s style then, and I’m not just talking its number of riffs. (And would like to note that quantity don’t always equal quality.) So it’ll be fun to go over things, particularly the First Episode I Saw, and see what we find out together.

    Or something.


  2. finniasjones says:

    Before diving into Season One, I wanted to review my ratings for “Season Zero,” mainly for my own records, but also for anyone curious about the KTMA’s and wanting to dip their toes in. My ratings are always based on a combination of enjoyment of the source film and the riffing job on top of it. Of course this is subjective, and some may enjoy these more or less than I did. Overall the KTMA’s are a worthwhile watch for hardcore MSTies, but I would never start a noobie off with these.

    Season Zero
    KTMA star ratings (graded on a curve compared to later seasons of the show; i.e. a 3 star KTMA is roughly equivalent to a 1 or 2 star cable episode)
    ?1 K05- GAMERA?
    3 K06- GAMERA VS. GAOS?
    2 K07- GAMERA VS. ZIGRA?
    3 K09- PHASE IV
    ?2 K14- MIGHTY JACK?
    3 K15- SUPERDOME?
    3 K16- CITY ON FIRE?
    3 K17- TIME OF THE APES?
    ?3 K19- HANGAR 18
    ?4 K20- THE LAST CHASE


  3. finniasjones says:

    Where did all those question marks come from? They weren’t in my “Preview.” Poopie… mysterious artifacts of a cut and paste job I guess.


  4. PondosCP says:

    “But, as many of you have said, I doubt that I will come back to watch any of these episodes again any time soon.”

    But let us never forget, episodes improve with multiple viewings. For example, I loathed “Red Zone Cuba” so much the first time I watched it, I swore I wouldn’t watch it again. For some reason, I put it on again, and was astounded at how much I ended up loving the episode. Now it’s among my favorites. I enjoy about half of the K’s. Episodes like “SST: Death Flight,” “Superdome,” “Hangar 18,” “Last Chase,” and “Dinosaurs” have now found their into my regular rotation.

    And I enjoy reading this column every week. Bring on the Ones!


  5. Regarding the “finish the job” gag, I’m with finniasjones on this, and also this chap, who also went through all of the KTMA episodes:

    One moment in the theater gave me a bigger laugh than anything in the previous 17 episodes. A man attempts to empty an O2 tank and then slaps his girlfriend. Joel quips, “Finish the job, man.” He was referring to the tank, but it came across like he was cheering for more domestic abuse. “Oh man, I’m sorry,” he says, as everyone cracks up and Joel puts his head in his hands. Servo replies, “After 20 weeks, Joel Hodgson snapped a twig.” Ah, a great, unscripted moment. I was chuckling for minutes afterwards. This type of thing will be missed.

    You know, the index number for comment #39 is a link; spooky.


  6. jaybird3rd says:

    This is one of my favorite KTMA shows. I can see why they might have passed on “The ‘Legend of Dinosaurs'” when they were digging up the Sandy Frank films again for use in Season 3: it’s dark and bleak and violent, and has the strangest and most inappropriate soundtrack I’ve ever heard in a monster movie. But they do great work with it in K21, and the host segments are fun, too. The “sitcom simulator” sketch was redone later (with modifications), but like so many of the reused KTMA material, I actually like the original version better. I still find myself wishing that they had revisited more of the KTMA films, though: during the first half of Season 8, when they were settling in at a new network and were working through an interminable glut of black-and-white sci-fi movies, a reprise of one of the KTMA films would have been a welcome break as well as a nice callback to the past.

    My favorite moment in the theater, of course, is when Joel “snaps a twig”. I agree with the speculation offered by some earlier commenters: after seeing the “hero” emptying his girlfriend’s air tanks and then slapping her after she confronts him about it, Joel says “Finish the job, man …”, realizing only afterward that it sounds as if he’s calling for more domestic abuse. He tries to bail himself out by adding “… open the tank …”, but by then it’s too late and everybody starts laughing. A great spontaneous moment, the kind that we don’t see again in the later scripted seasons.

    I found some YouTube links to the original soundtrack for the movie. I’ll see if I can dig them up and post them.


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

    I wonder why the Mads felt the need to relocate to Deep 13 in Season One. It’s not as if their activities changed much, so it doesn’t seem like they had any obvious reason to hide from their superiors at Gizmonic. Oh well, “just a show” and all.


  8. Sitting Duck says:

    MiqelDotCom: Unusually gory for a Japanese giant monster flick.

    It must have been an absolute gorefest.


  9. 1375 says:

    Am I the only one that watches some of the KTMA eps for fun? STT DEATH FLIGHT/MIGHTY JACK/LAST CHASE and LEGEND are ones that I really enjoy. Not for a newbie but a solid effort all around


  10. Bruce Boxliker says:

    I sat down to watch this last night (for the first time in I don’t know how many years). About 30 minutes in, I realized I had watched it un-riffed through Netflix a few months ago. I knew there was something familiar about it when I was watching it un-riffed!
    Decent riffing, putting it as one of the better KTMAs, though I’d still say Sumuru as my favorite (even with Josh’s partial absence).

    @58 – Most GIANT Japanese monster movies tend to be fairly bloodless (except monster blood), especially since they’re primarily made for children. Japanese horror, action, and ‘normal’ size monster movies can be gorier & bloodier than every Friday the 13th movie put together.


  11. pondoscp says:

    @54 How time changes things. Back when, I said that the K’s improve with each viewing. Now, after an intensive reviewing of the entire K season, I’m completely done with them! It was a great history lesson, and I appreciate season 1 and 2 a lot more now. But as far as revisiting any of the Ks, well I won’t say it can’t happen, but more than likely I’m back to my Season 1-7 routine. Guys, I get it. I totally understand why they don’t want people to watch these episodes. I’m finally right there with them. Yes, they have their moments, but overall, pretty rough to watch.
    I’ve already jumped ahead to 101, which I would advise to fellow MSTies to watch immediately after K21. It’s like watching the butterfly start to emerge from the cocoon.
    An speaking of Cocoon, we’ll never get old, we’ll never die, and we’ll always eat oatmeal.


  12. GornCaptain says:

    @61 We’ll remember that when you change your mind again in 2018. :-P


  13. bad wolf says:

    Strangely for me the original dates don’t really mean as much anymore, and i mostly refer to the ‘age’ of an episode as the time it’s been released on DVD. So Cave Dwellers and Girl in Gold Boots seem ‘old’ to me, while Jack Frost and Moon Zero Two seem ‘new’.

    I see i haven’t changed much since my comment at #40. At least this time i went and spent the summer reviewing Film Crew/Cinematic Titanic/Rifftrax productions like i had suggested, and while it never got the interest that these posts had (as many as five comments a week!), i enjoyed it. Also it is harder to discuss when they give up on things like characters and premises. Running even a super-simple blog is work, and I’ll enjoy going back to Season 1 now.


  14. Cornjob says:

    Wow, what an incoherent film. It makes Mighty Jack look linear.

    I’ve had a great time going through Season K again. I liked every episode better than the last time I watched. Even Su Maru which I couldn’t finish last time I tried to watch it.


  15. FordPrefect says:

    touches no one’s life, then leaves:
    I wonder why the Mads felt the need to relocate to Deep 13 in Season One. It’s not as if their activities changed much, so it doesn’t seem like they had any obvious reason to hide from their superiors at Gizmonic. Oh well, “just a show” and all.

    They rebooted the show’s loose continuity when they left KTMA to do a new version of the show at BBI for The Comedy Channel. In the KTMA series, Gizmonic Institute is never mentioned. We just assume The Mads are there because it was part of the status quo in the cable series and because Joel claimed it was in an interview several years after the fact. If you ignore the cable series, it’s just as easy to assume that the satellite loading bay Joel works at happens to be near KTMA and that The Mads are broadcasting from a Master Control Operator room at the station. There was never any indication that the people who ran the place The Mads were broadcasting from had any problems with what they were doing.

    That changed at the very beginning of 101 – The Crawling Eye. This was the first time that Gizmonic Institute was openly discussed. Joel says that The Mads probably got into trouble for shooting him into space. The Mads claim they’ve simply moved to the sub-basement because they like it there. However when Dr. Forrester is talking to Larry and thinks Joel can’t hear him, Dr. F asks Larry if he used his disguise and states that “no one must know we’re down here doing this”. That dialogue confirmed the show’s new backstory as being a rogue experiment. A backstory it didn’t have during the KTMA series.


  16. jaybird3rd says:

    Here is the YouTube collection of the original soundtrack from “The ‘Legend of Dinosaurs'” that I mentioned earlier:

    Again, one of the most incongruous monster movie soundtracks ever. Track 9 is heard several times during the monster attacks, even though it almost sounds like the “Family Feud” theme in a few places. Track 3 is the opening theme.


  17. jaybird3rd says:

    Ugh, I need to remember to re-read the earlier comments before posting my own. I didn’t realize that finniasjones had already posted a link to the OST four years earlier! And here I thought I was sharing something new by posting the YouTube links … :silly:

    @#59: You are most certainly not the only one who watches the KTMA shows for fun. This is actually the conclusion of my second run through the KTMA shows: I watched all of them (the ones that are available, anyway) on their respective 25th anniversary dates starting last November, and shortly afterward, Satellite News cycled back through the KTMA season and I got to see them all again. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed the whole process, and several of the KTMA shows have even joined my regular episode rotation.

    As I said in my comments for K00, it’s been fascinating to see the creative process at work all throughout the KTMA run: the development of the characters, the fine-tuning of the formula, the introduction of the Mads and the creation of a backstory for the show, and of course, the growth of the Brains’ riffing skills in the theater segments. Other TV shows may go through a similar development process, but it’s rare to see so much of it played out in the actual episodes. It’s also hard to see how else MST3K could have grown into the show it later became, and it makes me appreciate all the more how unique and how essential the whole creative environment at KTMA was. Whatever one’s opinion of Jim Mallon, it’s hard to dismiss his contributions to the show’s success: not only did he have access to all the necessary production gear, but he and Kevin Murphy had already set up their own creative skunkworks operation inside KTMA … which also happened to have a whole library of bad movies on hand. Without all of those elements, MST3K wouldn’t have had the venue or the resources that it needed, and it probably would never have progressed beyond the sketches in Joel’s notebook.

    But however important the KTMA episodes were to the development of the show, whether or not they’re actually fun to watch is a different question. Others may disagree, but I thought that many of them were indeed fun to watch, particularly during the second half of the season after they’d already worked out the characters and other important elements. The Brains are marvelously funny and creative people, and even when they were winging it, I thought their stuff was still better than most of what passed for entertainment on late-80s TV, and is definitely better than the flash-in-the-pan YouTube “sensations” that people are somehow amusing themselves with today. There were plenty of rough spots along the way, but I was never tempted to turn off or fast forward through an episode, and unlike the later seasons, the KTMA shows introduced me to a few genuinely enjoyable movies that I wouldn’t mind seeing on their own and probably wouldn’t have found otherwise, such as “Phase IV” and “Hangar 18”.

    In an earlier comment, #11 expressed frustration with the “I’m in it for the riffing” category of MST3K fans, to whom nothing matters except the average number of riffs per minute and whether or not the timing and delivery of every riff is as perfect as can be. I can appreciate those things, of course, but I also enjoy the more intimate “watching a movie with friends” experience that the KTMA shows provide. The fact that some of the jokes came a beat too late, and that not all of them landed successfully, and that some of the lines were flubbed, and that some of the little spontaneous snatches of song were sung off-key, only adds to that experience. The later seasons may have achieved a greater level of technical perfection, but I think the show also lost some of its warmth along the way. For those who can enjoy both aspects, the best of the KTMA episodes still hold up alongside their more tightly scripted successors. I can understand and respect why the Brains would think differently today, however, so even though an “anonymous leak” of K01-K03 would be most welcome (hint hint!), I won’t hold my breath waiting for any of them to come out on DVD.


  18. goalieboy82 says:

    speaking of sandy frank
    here is japanese for he tried to kill me with a forklift
    wish the whole show was dub into english (along with time of the apes and mighty jack). would love to see rifftrax rift it.


  19. Mnenoch says:

    Finally at the end of KTMA. It’s a pretty good run. Yeah the episodes are rough but by the end they are really starting to come around. This episode is both decent in amount of riffs and skits.

    As for the film it certainly is a strange one. I don’t find the plot hard to follow but it is kind of all over the place. I wonder if it that is in the original film or just apart of the adaptation by Sandy Frank? I disagree that this is two dark of a movie to watch later on in the series. They watched several movies that are much more darker than this film is.

    Overall a pretty good way to end KTMA. Onwards and upwards to season 1!


  20. Graboidz says:

    I have to say that I really enjoyed these KTMA eps. I had never really given them a fair chance before, but at least half of these shows are as good as anything you’ll find in Season in one.

    I never realized what a large role Sandy Frank have here in Season 0, and I really do wonder why they would want to re-visit things like “Mighty Jack” and “Gamera vs. Zigra” instead of taking a second shot at more coherent films like “The Last Chase” or “Phase IV”, I guess it was a rights thing even back then?

    As far as this film goes, the soundtrack is amazing, such a bizarre mix of musical styles: funk, rock, jazz, easy listening and even a country song!!! How in the world did Josh get away with the “….a guy can’t live on head alone.” riff!! Wow! That may be the filthiest riff of the whole series. :-D


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