Movie: (1963) An astronaut’s capsule crashes in the ocean and his severed hand (controlled by an unknown alien force) washes up on a beach, where it is found by a moody teen. Soon both are on respective rampages.
First shown: 12/16/89 (unconfirmed)
Opening: Joel explains the premise
Invention exchange: Joel demonstrates his scary safety saw; the Mads demonstrate the limb lengthener
Host segment 1: J&TB bowl, then Crow and Tom don’t want to play any more games with Joel
Host segment 2: J&TB do Shatner with the crawling hand
Host segment 3: The bots: Why is a dismembered hand scary?
End: Good thing/bad thing, letter, Larry’s limbs are still lengthy.
• Not too much to say about this one: bad print of a talky black and white teen scifi thriller (with a notable cast-see below); riffing is adequate but not outstanding; host segments are relatively weak, particularly segment three, where the arrival of Gypsy in a giant hand costume is a “WTF” ending to a labored bit.
• THIS episode, not episode 104, is the REAL first time for the opening segment. It’s also the first episode where we can see buttons on the table. Joel explains the show’s premise slowly, like he’s talking to kindergarteners. He makes a point of gesturing to the buttons when Deep 13 calls. However, there are still no Bots are on the set during the invention exchange.
• This show is the first time we see Joel pop a grape into his mouth after tapping the buttons. Joel would later explain that the point of the bit was that the Mads were doing a behavior modification thing by rewarding him with a treat for pushing the button.
• Joel starts to mention the “vacuflowers” during the invention exchange. Vacuflowers were mentioned, I am told, in the first few KTMA eps, unfortunately fan copies of those episode don’t exist.
• Segment 1 is a re-do from episode K14 – MIGHTY JACK.
• The theater seats are, again, green.
• Of course, this episode is our first encounter with Alan Hale Jr., best known as the Skipper on TV’s “Gilligan’s Island.” He also appears in episodes 810-THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION and 622-ANGELS REVENGE.
• Another actor we’d see again is Allison Hayes. In 1949, when she was still Mary Jane Hayes, she represented the state of Washington in the Miss America pageant. By 1954, she had signed a contract with Universal. We’ll meet her again as Grace Thomas in 320-THE UNEARTHLY; scheming bar owner Erica Page in 511-GUNSLINGER; and the witch Livia in 806-THE UNDEAD.
• And, of course, that’s Peter Breck of TV’s “The Big Valley,” who we’ll meet again as “Moon” in episode 415- THE BEATNIKS.
• The role of moody teen Paul Lawrence is played by moderately successful teen idol Rod Lauren. His real name was Roger Lawrence Strunk, and in later life he became known as “the O. J. Simpson of the Philippines.”
In 1964, Lauren went to the Philippines to make a movie, and met Nida Blanca, a then-rising Filipino film star. The two became a couple and he married her in 1979 and moved permanently to Manila. Blanca eventually became a huge star in her native land. She would appear in more than 100 comedy, drama, horror and action films and in more than a dozen television shows, and was a beloved show business personality.
On Nov. 6, 2001, Blanca’s body was found in a parking garage, stabbed to death. The crime stunned the nation, and sparked a media frenzy. Suspicion immediately fell on Strunk: Authorities believed he hired an assassin to kill his wife because she had threatened to divorce and disinherit him. Filipino justice dragged on for a year or two (the alleged assassin and his cohort at first admitted the crime, then recanted claiming the confessions had been extracted by force) and Strunk was about to be charged at last when word came that Strunk’s mother in California was terminally ill. In a move that stunned many, authorities allowed him to return to the U.S. to be with her. She died not long after he returned home, and, to nobody’s surprise, he announced he would not return to the Philippines to be tried. Filipino officials mounted an extradition effort, but their presentation to a U.S. magistrate was a contradictory mess, and the judge denied it. He lived a low-profile life after that, but died July 11, 2007, from a fall from second-floor motel balcony (which many observers assumed was a suicide). He was 67.
• What’s “murder ball” in the context of bowling? Or did Joel want to play a completely different game?
• Crow’s apparently still sensitive about the whole “foreshortening” lecture Joel gave him several weeks ago, because he’s still harping on it.
• This episode also has the first appearance of a “I thought you were Dale!” joke, which would become a staple of season eight.
• Then-current reference: “The Book of Lists.” It was a big seller at the time. Also: Roland Gift of the Fine Young Cannibals.
• This episode also gives us the deathless line: “Dames like her always have beer around.”
• Fave riff: “Wow! Look! She really IS smart!” Honorable mention: “And then the tape ran out.”