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Sampo & Erhardt

Sci-Fi Archives

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: 107- Robot Monster (with shorts: Radar Men from the Moon, Chapter 4: ‘Flight to Destruction’ and Chapter 5: ‘Murder Car’)

Short 1: (1951) The thugs kidnap Joan and take off with her in a small plane but Cody is in hot pursuit.
Short 2: (1951) Cody saves Joan but is shot down. The thugs blow another heist and are on the run again.
Movie: (1953) After invaders from space wipe out most of humanity, a surviving family confronts their robot nemesis.

First shown: 12/23/89 (unconfirmed)
Opening: Joel explains the premise
Invention exchange: The Mads demonstrate their methane whoopee cushion; Joel has the cumber-bubble-bund
Host segment 1: Reality vs. Commando Cody
Host segment 2: Crow and Tom play Robot Monster, but Joel misunderstands
Host segment 3: Crow and Tom trying to understand surrealism
End: J&tB’s “tribute to Ro-Man” pageant baffles the Mads
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (160 votes, average: 4.19 out of 5)


• It is with this episode, about halfway through the season, that the show really hits its early stride. You can feel them get more comfortable and begin to explore the premise they’ve created. This show has some very funny riffing, decent host segments and, of course, an iconic bad movie (and I don’t like using that word much, but I think it applies here). It’s one of the better episodes of the first season.
• It’s my theory that, by riffing this movie, the Brains opened themselves up to the endless “When are you going to riff ‘Plan 9’? questions. Somehow, in some people’s minds, those two movies are intertwined (a little like how some people saw riffing “This Island Earth” as an affront to “The Day the Earth Stood Still”).
• Joel is again wearing a robe in the opening segment. Some commenters have suggested that it’s reflecting the show’s time slot, which was being played on Saturday mornings.
• Joel once again explains the premise in the opening segment. I get the feeling that Comedy Channel wanted them to do this for the benefit of new viewers.
• The Bots are present during the invention exchange for the first time.
• Gypsy’s light is still off.
• You know, it’s a little embarrassing to hear Josh say that this movie stars “no one.” Not really true. Maybe George Nader never got from B-list to A-list (due to personal reasons) but he was pretty well known. We’ve already encountered him in episode K18-THE MILLION EYES OF SU-MURU and we’ll meet him again in episode 420-THE HUMAN DUPLICATORS.
• The theater seats are again green.
• Josh sneezes in the theater during the first short. They just keep going. Joel expresses some surprise at this, but Josh covers well. Trace just says “‘zunt!” (Short for “gesundheit,” I guess.)
• When something that looks like a dartboard appears during the short, Joel’s produces a giant dart. Tom Servo, perhaps fearful of what will happen to the screen, pleads with him not to use it.
• Elmer Bernstein, whose name Tom Servo seems to find amusing during the credits, went on to do some great scores (including “The Magnificent Seven” and “The Great Escape” ). This one really isn’t that bad, in fact.
• Yet more jokes at the expense of Isaac Asimov. I’d never noticed how often they do that in this first season.
• Servo’s head explodes for the second time in the national series, during the first host segment, while thinking about bumblebees–followed by Crow and Cambot for the first and only time (I think).
• Segment 3 is a rethink of a segment in episode K11- HUMANOID WOMAN.
• This episode features the first of several references to a supposed movie called “Yards of Leather.” At the second convention, I asked The Brains if that movie actually existed or what? They all looked at me like I was crazy. Google is silent on the title.
• Thanks to the Urban Dictionary, I finally know what “the zacklies” are. Gross.
• Highlight: Joel’s riotous narration of the love scene.
• The cave scenes were filmed on location in California’s Bronson Canyon. That location was also used also in the filming of episodes 210-KING DINOSAUR, 311-IT CONQUERED THE WORLD, 315-TEENAGE CAVEMAN, 317-VIKING WOMEN, 319-WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST, 404-TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE and 701-NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST.
• The house foundation scenes were done at a demolition site near Dodger Stadium.
• The dinosaur scenes are from “One Million B.C.,” and rocket scenes from “Flight to Mars.”
• Producer/director Phil Tucker tried to commit suicide after the film received awful reviews.
• Um, why are J&tB wearing trash bags in the closing segment?
• Stinger suggestion: “I cannot! But I must!”
• Cast and crew roundup: Producer Al Zimbalist also worked on “King Dinosaur.” Cinematographer Jack Greenhalgh also worked on “The Mad Monster” and “Lost Continent.” Editor Bruce Shoengarth was the sound effects editor for “Earth Vs. the Spider.” Special effects guy Jack Rabin also worked on “Rocketship X-M,” “Viking Women and the Sea Serpent” and “Invasion USA.” Special effects guy Roy Seawright also worked on “Teenage Caveman.” Stereo sound director Gordon Avil was the cinematographer for “King Dinosaur.” Sound director Lyle Willey also worked on “Bride of the Monster.” In front of the camera, as already noted, George Nader appeared in “The Million Eyes Of Su-Muru” and “The Human Duplicators.”
• CreditsWatch: Jim Erickson was again the “additional production staff,” and post production audio was again done by Rich Cook of TeleEdit in Minneapolis.
• Fave riff from short 1: “What are the physics of a broken jaw, college boy?”
• Fave riff from short 2: “I think we’ve all reported to the moon at one time or another.” Honorable mention: “I’m surrounded by idiots–of my own design!”
• Fave movie riff: “Okay, now tilt the camera down a little.” Honorable mention: “Mother, keep digging graves. Better do two. This isn’t going well.”

91 Replies to “Episode guide: 107- Robot Monster (with shorts: Radar Men from the Moon, Chapter 4: ‘Flight to Destruction’ and Chapter 5: ‘Murder Car’)”

  1. Dan in WI says:

    In watching the Josh interview I just have one question. What is that huge pack animal that walks behind him at one point? I guess some people like big dogs.

    The guy where Joel chases down the fleeing bots was fun.

    That was a really good Commando Cody doll that made up for the first host segment.

    Boy these guys were open flame pyromaniacs in that first season. That’s twice in this episode alone.

    All in all this was a very blah experiment. It wasn’t bad but little about it was good either.

    Favorite Riffs:
    Crow: I’d give my right arm to be ambidextrous.

    Bad guy tosses away planes control yoke. Tom: Steering’s out.


  2. Erik says:

    Does anyone else find this movie to be depressing and/or morbid? Granted nothing really “happens” because of how the ending is, but it seems to be a fairly dark movie.

    That being said, this was a decent episode. The deja vu part near the end was funny.


  3. Dan in WI says:

    Sampo> Just a guess but I see the BROWN trash bags they are wearing as an extremely cheap way of dressing in gorilla… er, um, I mean robot monster costumes as they present their pagaent.

    Erik> Agree completely this was terribly morbid. Larry Blamire seems to agree as well in his extra on the Shout! DVD.


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

    >>>Joel is wearing a robe in the opening segment, for some reason.

    Well, he DOES live there. Maybe it was really early in his morning.

    Supposedly the magazines behind the title were fake, so I guess they were just covers with nothing in them? ‘d be suitable for framing, anyway. Wonder how much those’d go for on Ebay.


  5. robot rump! says:

    when i first caught this on You Tube i couldn’t stop laughing at Ro-Man giving little Billy a good fist shaking as he ran away. at the time i was working at a dismally depressing call center, so to shake things up whenever the manager appeared from her to cave to pronounce doom on all of us i would give her a stout fist shake as she scurried away. eventually i had our whole section doing it much to her confusion. today, i enjoy this masterpiece on DVD and work at a slightly depressing call center. i don’t really find it all that depressing, except for the thought of sally ‘borrowing’ dolls from dead people. and of course poor Ro-Man, put to death for being a hardworking ape who cared..too..much!


  6. Aldo Farnese is Mr. Krasker says:

    For being from an advanced planet that has developed a nifty super science way to kill almost every person on Earth, you would think Ro-Man could you a gun or a laser to kill the survivors. Also, if you knew that Ro-Man lived in Bronson Canyon and could travel two and a half miles per (if there are no hills involved) wouldn’t you live somewhere else. And since everyone is dead; there is a lot of prime houses that aren’t even a steal, since dead people can’t own stuff. Plus, for being the last few people on Earth, couldn’t the young sciencetist dude have found another shirt, or do these people just wear the same smelly dirty clothes everyday. Which I think they do, since it shows them sleeping in their “day” clothes. Finally, the space platform is priceless and I doubt the guys on it would be of any help with their constant puking and motion sickness.


  7. One of the better Season One episodes, but brought down a notch by a lame invention exchange and two tedious shorts.

    Now available in Volume XIX, it features another fun DVD menu. I like how Shout! is using sound clips from throughout the episode to create a whole new skit.

    Larry Blamire’s analysis of the movie is a great new extra. I always forget that this was a 3-D movie. And that it’s all a dream. I also always forget how much kinky eroticism it contains. Soldering irons never seemed so hot…

    Roy: Don’t you have to lube it?
    Alice: Roy, will you not argue, please.
    Mostly good host segments. Including some chair-breaking and the Bots short-circuiting.

    Crow: Why have not you killed the hu-man?
    Servo: Because he gives me crunchy treats. And he empties my load pan.
    Other notable bits:
    • Up front, Joel eats a grape again after pressing the button.
    • Dr. F taunts Joel with, “Joelita, my little vacuum flower,” sounding a little like James Mason.
    • Sampo stole my thunder but Crow’s riff is: Gregory Moffett, who went on to star in “Yards of Leather.” (Not a real movie, as far as anyone knows. This is the first of a few mentions it will receive this season.)
    3 stars, mostly for the twisted, goofy charm of the movie. I am already tired of Commando Cody and can’t wait for that serial to end.
    Roy (to Alice): I’m bossy? You’re so bossy you ought to be milked before you come home at night.
    Servo: Dibs!
    Joel: I’ll – we’ll do it.
    Crow: I’ll get a stool and a pail.?
    I made a blog post of some images from this film along with links to a few positive online reviews of the film. Link is in my name above.


  8. Kenotic says:

    I remember getting this episode in a trade, and it was my first 1st season ep. While the show got better, I actually had a lot of fun with this one. The host segments were silly fun, the movie was bad but watchable, and most of the jokes clicked by this point.

    I also remember setting my TV to B&W during the movie segments because the green silhouettes were so annoying. I also remember a kind of sharp “Stop It!” coming from Joel aimed at Servo after a few bad puns came out of nowhere. I kinda wonder if that was a bit off script as well.

    Favorite Riffs: Anytime Lawrence Welk jokes were made during while the Bubble Machine was running.


  9. Joseph Nebus says:

    I had thought Joel wore a robe in opening segments a couple of times and rationalized it as, the premise is this is a Saturday morning kids’ movie show (as see the letters mostly from kids to end the proceedings), so of course Joel is in a robe; it’s early on Saturday morning and he needs time to warm up. I’m usually up and about Saturday morning by early in the afternoon Sunday, myself, but haven’t got a robe.


  10. ck says:

    Erik: “Does anyone else find this movie to be depressing and/or morbid? Granted nothing really “happens” because of how the ending is, but it seems to be a fairly dark movie.”

    Yes. Atmospherically it rather reminds you of depressing films on the aftermath of
    nuclear attacks (like the film “The Day After”). Although I believe they don’t feature a
    lawrence Welklike bubble machine.


  11. ck says:

    Ugh! No idea why a smiley face appeared in that comment! :(

    I’ll try reposting.

    Erik: “Does anyone else find this movie to be depressing and/or morbid? Granted nothing really “happens” because of how the ending is, but it seems to be a fairly dark movie.”

    Yes. Atmospherically it rather reminds you of depressing films on the aftermath of
    nuclear attacks, like the film “The Day After”. Although I believe they don’t feature a
    Lawrence Welklike bubble machine.


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


    It’s a small child’s dream. It’s not SUPPOSED to make sense…


  13. klisch says:

    This is the first originally aired episode that I saw and to this day is the reason why I’m a fan. Top ten in my book. Classic monster, terrible acting, ridiculous script, horrible special effects, and comical lines. Perfect movie for MST3K. I just wish they would have done this again with Mike later on. I think the reason for the ‘bubble machine’ is for the 3-D effects which this film was made in. This aired in 89? Wow, I was 19 years old when this came out. How time flies.


  14. Kouban says:

    I remember my first time watching this movie, it blended with the double shorts and made for one gigantic mess of nonsense that didn’t go anywhere and jumped around randomly. I think I fared slightly better on my second viewing, but it was still confusing.


  15. monoceros4 says:

    “And since everyone is dead; there is a lot of prime houses that aren’t even a steal, since dead people can’t own stuff.”

    To live in a house is to be like the Hu-Man!

    Definitely this is the high point of the first season. It isn’t just the movie that’s a bit dark, it’s the riffing as well. The one that sticks in my mind is when Ro-Man is preparing to murder the little girl and Tom Servo says, “Lovely! Lovely!”, a startling reference to the rape scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy.

    The infamous bubble machine is credited to Perkin-Elmer, for decades one of the world’s premier manufacturers of laboratory instruments. They made a bubble machine? I find that hard to believe.

    Dare I suggest that Ro-Man’s labored soliloquy on love (“I must, yet I cannot!” ) was the inspiration both for all those wretched Next Generation Star Trek plots where Data wrestles with contradictory ideas and, specifically, for that silly gimmick whereby he never uses contractions such as “can’t”.


  16. Johnny Ryde says:

    For me, the movie is so strange and bizarre that it almost overwhelms the riffing. This is one of the few episodes that when I think of it, I think of movie dialog before I think of any particular riff. “To be like the hu-man! To feel like the hu-man!”


  17. Brandon says:

    Sampo, perhaps “Yards of Leather” was a Josh thing. Or maybe the Brains were too embarrassed to admit what it was. ANyway here is my review from the MST3K Board.

    Ep. 107- Robot Monster
    With short: Commando Cody Part 5

    Plot: A robot/gorrilla or something named Ro-Man comes to Earth and threatens a family… and… um…I haven’t figured out the plot actually.

    Host Segments:
    Opening: Joel explains the premise in case viewers have never seen the show before.
    Invention Exchange: Dr. F’s mechanical whoopie cusion filled with real methan gas. Joel’s Cumber-Bubble-Bund.
    Segment 2: Joel and the Bots question Cody’s flying skills.
    Segment 3: Crow and Tom mock a scene from the movie. Crow orders Servo to kill Joel. Servo threatens Joel, and Joel pummels him with a chair…. TWICE!
    Segment 4: Joel and the Bots discuss surrealism.
    Closing: J&TB discuss the paradoxes in the film.

    Memorable Riffs from short:
    Servo: “Oh, who’s going to report me? You Mr. Moon Man?”

    (guy gets shot)
    Joel: “Oh, what a time to get a kink in the back!”

    Crow: “Hi, Honey! Come die with me!”

    (during the repetitive opening credits)
    Crow: “I think I’ll go slice an apple in two and watch it brown.”

    (bad guy shoots Cody out of the sky)
    Joel: “Hey, what’s the limit on Codys this year?”

    Crow: “You’re watching the All Car Chase Network.”

    From Movie:
    Joel: “Selena Royale? What a great movie, wasn’t Woody Allen in that?”

    Servo: “They must be pretty advanced if they have an Atari.”

    Woman in movie: “Does anybody know what time it is?”
    Crow: “It’s Miller time!”

    Servo: “What’s so scary about an alien that looks like a mascot for a college football team?”

    Servo: “Here comes romp and rowdy Ro-Man!”

    (after the couple returns home after supposedly having sex)
    Child: “Have you two been playing house?”
    Crow: “In a way..”

    (married couple start making out again)
    Servo: “Oh, we’re gonna have to hose those two like the dogs in the yard!”

    (Ro-Man captures woman)
    Servo: “I got the girl, I got the girl! Oh, happy day. I will hug her and pet her and love her and squeeze her and call her Georgette.”

    (Ro-Man carries woman back to his cave)
    Ro-Man: “I must do it with my hands.”
    Servo: “HUH?!”

    Crow: “Cue the deux ex machina!”

    (footage of Ro-Man walking towards the camera is looped over and over)
    Servo: “Do you ever get a feeling of deja vu?”
    Joel: “Huh? What?”
    Servo: “Do you ever get a feeling of deja vu?”
    Joel: “Huh? What?”
    Servo: “Do you ever get a feeling of deja vu?”
    Joel: “Huh? What?”

    Stuff I noticed:
    -Joel pops another grape in his mouth in the opening segment.

    -Yet another episode where we see an open flame on the set.

    -You can tell from the opening riffs, that by this time the MST3K cast were sick and tired of the Commando Cody shorts. Or at least sick of seeing the same opening credits over and over.

    -Note Servo/Josh sneezing in the theater. Joel tells him, “You’re not supposed to do that!”

    -The gag during the opening credits where the robots bolt from the theater and Joel chases after them is re-used again in season 9’s “Hobgoblins”, where the robots run out of the theater and Mike hauls them back in.

    -Oh, s***! Throughout Segment 3, you can see Josh’s head stick up from the desk behind Servo. His head remains visible for AT LEAST 10 seconds before the camera pans away.

    -There’s a dialogue exchange in the movie that just cracks me up. It’s at the part where the boy confronts Ro-Man and says, “I think you’re just a big bully, picking on people smaller than you are!” Ro-Man pauses, and then finally says, “Now, I will kill you.” I’m not sure WHY, but that moment makes me laugh out loud.

    -Oh, and by the way Segment 4, should not be viewed while you’re drunk or stoned, or just ate and get sick easily.

    Fav. Riff from short: Servo: “Jack O’Lantern! Private eye!”

    Fav. riff from the movie: Servo: “Do not violate Ape Law!”

    Best segment: Segment 2 is kinda funny. But not that funny.
    Worst segment: The closing segment is pretty pointless. Like they just couldn’t think of a clever way to end the show.

    Overall: Another pretty good episode. They are certainly getting better. Another 3 stars (***).


  18. Brandon says:

    An additional note. Something I didn’t realize until recently.

    Anyone who’s seen Looney Tunes Back in Action, knows that Ro-Man appears during the Area 52 sequence.

    However, I was re-watching the deleted scenes, and Ro-Man’s presence is larger during that sequence. At one point he grabs Jenna Elfman’s character and starts going, “I will hug her and pet her…”, and I immediately thought of Servo’s riff, and wondering if the filmmakers (Joe Dante?) had seen the MST’ed version of Robot Monster, or if it was just a coincidence.


  19. Graboidz says:

    You would think that since the Bubble Machine is featured prominently in the opening credits it might’ve worked a little better.

    I still love this movie, riffed or not. I still own my “Elvira Presents” copy on VHS that Rhino put out in the late 80’s. Headache inducing blue/red 3D glasses included.


  20. schippers says:

    What is amazing about Robot Monster is how similar it is in broad plot strokes to the classic Invaders from Mars (it’s all really a kid’s dream, except maybe it’s not; duh, invaders, threat to the whole world). Of course, Invaders (and please, not the terrible 1980s Tobe Hooper remake) is a wonderfully artistic sci-fi gem, and Robot Monster is not.

    For me, the absolute weirdest part of the movie is the pantomime scene between George Nader and bride. Weird, weird, weird. Even weirder when you take into account that the characters’ affection for one another has already been established, and the almost total destruction of the human race makes the necessity to establish a grounds for marriage moot.


  21. Cronkite Moonshot says:

    This is little off topic on this episode, but a few weeks ago I began my winter fun-time project of watching all of MST3000 from the beginning (sans KTMA 1-3 of course), and I just made it out of the KTMA episodes into season 1 the day before yesterday. So last night I was watching ep 101 and 102, and I noticed something that isn’t mentioned in either of their episode guide entries. I’m pretty sure it was in ep. 102 (I may be mistaken and it was in ep. 101, but I don’t think so) but there is a part in the theater where Joel turns and is looking down, and you can clearly see his mouth moving as if he’s talking to Josh. Of course we don’t hear anything. Then he starts reaching down as if there was a problem and he was helping Josh fix something. I’m wondering if anyone else noticed this part. I was expecting to read about it in the episode guide here, and surprised to see no mention of it.

    Also I must say that even though I regularly watch random episodes of the show from all it’s seasons after a couple of weeks of only KTMA episodes (which incidentally I now have a MUCH greater appreciation for) the change in silhouette size from the tiny, lower on the screen KTMA version to the larger standard ones from the regular series was initially quite jarring. It even made me briefly think that the season 1 silhouettes were actually larger than in later seasons, until I threw in “Mitchell” and “Prince of Space” just to check and make sure. Seems like it was pretty standard all the way from season 1 on.


  22. Brandon says:

    @21 Sampo mentioned in one KTMA entry that it appeared Joel was telling Josh something while they were in the theater. The episode where Josh kept interrupting him.

    Speaking of which, when will we see Part 2 of the KTMA Memories article?


  23. H says:

    Good but not great. The movie’s a classic, hard to mess that up, the host segments are pretty good as well and of course, I love the shorts. Nothing really stands out for me though.


  24. Hmm… last line of my post #7 shouldn’t have a question mark at the end. Keeps happening when I grab text from other websites. Anyway, it should read:

    Crow: I’ll get a stool and a pail.


  25. crowschmo says:

    I really hate the Commando Cody shorts. There, I’ve said it, it’s out.
    Nothing too memorable about those.

    There was one line I liked in one of them, though: “You know, uh, Jerry Van Dyke has a bumper sticker that says, ‘My other car is my mother’.” – Joel

    Host segs, okay, but still not quite there yet. Though, I like the running gag of Joel pointing out the Mads’ evilness and them thinking it’s complimentary with a simultaneous, “THANK you.”

    The movie. Yeah. Um…that kid needs some serious therapy, dontcha think? He dreams of his younger sister being murdered, and his older sister making out in a field with some guy, and then getting nearly ravished by an ape with a water cooler on his head. And apparently he has a thing for shorts. He’s wearing long pants, then in his dream he’s wearing shorts. (Think he beleives he’s a kid in a Japanese movie?)
    Lock that kid up – he has issues.

    And what the Sam Scratch did those giant dino-lizards have to do with ANYTHING?!!!

    I think the writer(s) was/were sniffing glue or something.

    Some lines of note:

    “I was gonna sell it, but everybody else is dead.” – Crow

    “That, ladies and gentlemen, is the destroyer of the universe – I rest my case.” – Joel

    “Now cut that out, I don’t like you alien-types touchin’ our womenfolk.” – Joel

    “Did she tie HERSELF up?” – Crow

    “Could we have sent a stranger person into space? What in the name of Jules Bergman was THAT?” – Dr. F

    Oh, yeah – if anyone out there has 3D glasses, it kinda sorta works. The bubbles! The bubbles!


  26. Sharktopus says:

    I just watched this one for the first time and my head is still swimming. Wowie wow wow is this movie dark. And hysterically cheap and ten kinds of wacky. I’ll try to get my thoughts in order…

    First, half an hour of Commando Cody softened my brain up like a week-old banana. I see now why the brains gave up on the serial – week after week of writing for essentially the same stupid short over and over? Yikes. Crow’s suggestion of slicing an apple in half and watching it brown sounds much preferable. I could watch a half hour of Joel smashing Tom over the head with a chair though. :D

    So, if the movie was SPOILER ALERT all a dream of Johnny’s, that raises some very interesting questions if one is of the Freudian persuasion. Ignoring why Johnny has his mother (and grandmother) wearing identival saucy halter dresses with sheer skirts and heels… He fantasizes about mom flirtatiously bickering with the alpha male scientist he met five minutes ago, mom getting tied up by possible new daddy, mom marrying new daddy in a post-apocalyptic ceremony presided over by grampa, sister and new dad getting murdered by a genocidal robot gorilla, and mom getting tied up (again) and molested by the robot gorilla. Frederic Wertham was right! Johnny needs serious therapy and should probably be in a rubber room. Odd that with all that depravity, his idea of what a young newlywed couple does alone in the woods was so tame. And pantomimed. (?) I don’t see many healthy relationships in Johnny’s future. Their neighbors would be wise to keep him away from their pets.


  27. JimmyBruce says:

    This movie is so off the wall, perfect for riffing. I wonder if Rifftrax or Cinematic Titanic would consider doing this again. The premise and dialog is complete nonsense. I’ll also say this is one of my favorites.


  28. Lee S. says:

    This was the first Joel episode I ever saw. Of course, it was a poor introduction. The entry in “The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide” makes this sound like the funniest movie they ever riffed. When I finally got to see it last year, I was very disappointed. Not only is the movie not nearly as nonsensical as it looks in print, the riffing is sparse, and many of the riffs have little or nothing to do with what’s happening on screen.

    Favorite riff: “These endings are rigged.”

    Favorite line: “Could we have sent a stranger man into space?”


  29. Sharktopus says:

    Where on the graph do “cannot” and “must” meet?


  30. JLH says:

    Sampo, why don’t you just use the chapter title screens for Radar Men instead of the serial title?


  31. Bobby 23-Skidoo says:

    Fave Robot Monster riff: “Gino Vannelli with a kettlehead.” Amazingly, thanks to Canadian content rules, Gino still had something resembling a career north of the border when this originally aired.


  32. Tom Carberry says:

    If you ever visit Los Angeles (or like me who lives here and never saw it until last year) make Bronson Canyon a day trip (it is very close to Griffith Observatory, so you can easily combine the two). I finally walked around the site–it has a great view of the “Hollywood” sign. Be sure to get detailed instructions on how to get there, because without them you could wander around Griffith Park forever and not find it.


  33. Johnny Ryde says:

    “Upon further review, the refs find that Cody is dead. The play stands. Cody is dead.”

    If only…


  34. Spector says:

    I think the series began to hit its strike in the first season a couple of episodes prior and this one is a continuation of that fact. An unbelievably bad sci-fi “thriller” (which is actually considered a cult classic) fronted by two more “Pumpkin Boy” shorts equals very funny stuff. Definitely one of the better episodes of the first season. Most of the best riffs have already been noted here so I won’t bother repeating them, though again I think the Brains would’ve done an even better job with this one had they done it from Season Three onward. Still, for a show that was finding its legs they did a very good job, and I was happy to see this one released as part of the Shout Factory recent MST3K compilation set. 3.5 out of 5.


  35. Cronkite Moonshot says:

    @Brandon #22… That isn’t the moment I was talking about. The KTMA moment you are talking about was when Joel obviously covered up his microphone to say something to Josh after having numerous riffs interrupted by him in a short period of time. As I said the instance I’m talking about was in episode 102, not a KTMA episode, and it wasn’t just him saying something to Josh. He was also reaching over and doing something with the puppet as well. It looks like there was some kind of malfunction that Joel and Josh took care of quickly, and they simply edited out the audio for that brief moment so we couldn’t hear what they were saying rather than having to do an retake of that entire theater segment. It’s probably the type of situation where in later episodes they would have just stayed in character and turned it into a little improvised moment instead.


  36. MiqelDotCom says:

    This movie (and Planet of the Prehistoric Women, but it actually came later) marks the real beginning of the MST3K I fell in love with. The riffing is great for a season 1 ep, especially during the film itself. Also their timing, delivery is getting more natural sounding and diversity of ‘riff types’ is growing fast.

    Seems like they are getting comfortable with the new scripted format and having better sessions in the writing room. I’m not saying this is a 5star episode(I wish they’d waited a few years to do this one), but i can feel the progress.

    The film itself is a gem of absurdity. I can remember the Ro-Man costume being a sort of archetypal 50’s bad-movie monster i’d seen in magazines like ‘Monster’ or ‘Fangoria’ when I was a kid – but I never saw the movie until I got the complete mst3k set.
    The Cody Shorts are forgettable .. but this movie is so crazy … the ‘plot’ is difficult to even comment on – i don’t know where to start. The story, script, plot, (lack of) locations & sets, ‘special’ effects … everything is wonderfully prefectly bad. Good Thing About the Movie: I guess the cameraman is reasonably competent. AND it actually has “The Automatic Billion Bubble Machine” listed in the opening credits!!
    Like Joel says in the host segment “i think it’s kinda cool in a dark surrealistic way”

    Roy – “You’re so bossy you ought to be milked before you come home at night”
    Tom: “dibbs”
    Crow: “I’ll get a stool and a pail”

    “Is this the end of the film?”
    “I think it is”
    “Have you ever had a dejas-vous Joel?” ….. repeat …

    2.7 stars


  37. Kevin says:

    I’m surprised there was no mention of the pirated dinosaur footage from season 2’s Lost Continent crammed into the beginning and end of this film. I wanted to read a little more on how that came to be.


  38. Richard the Lion-Footed says:

    Cronkite Moonshot, (#21) – I noticed the change in the silhouette size from the KTMA DAYS TO SEASON 1. I mentioned it in the episode guide for one of the last movies of the KTMA run. It made them look like you were farther back in the theater from them and not just in the next row.

    Also, this episode is in the Gypsy Box set just released, (got it for Christmas)and in my copy the silhouettes are NOT green. Anyone else?

    Ro-Man has been the butt of jokes for a generation.
    It was one of the movies featured in the comedy compilation movie “It Came From Hollywood” featuring a lot of the original SNL crowd.

    BTW, the DVD just release has some great extras on this movie and is worth a look.


  39. Mr. B(ob) says:

    This is a terrific episode, movie, shorts, host segments, it’s all good to me from beginning to end. I laugh out loud every time Joel hits Servo with the chairs no matter how many times I watch it.


  40. Richard the Lion-Footed says:

    Cronkite Moonshot (#21)v Check the Episode guide for K20- The Last Chase. That was the first one that I noticed the change in size.


  41. Matt Sandwich says:

    Eh. I think it’s perfectly fair to say the movie stars no one. Hell, even in your example you note that George Nader is known primarily for his appearance two other MSTed movies. Though he certainly entertains.

    On the other hand, Elmer Bernstein is pretty much a legend. I haven’t seen any lists of the “top film score composers,” but I imagine he’d make anyone’s top ten (if not five). I’m guessing that if film-buff Frank had been on board at this point, there wouldn’t have been any quips at his expense.

    And one other thing: I always thought “Yards of Leather” was a brilliant gag. When you hear it, you immediately think ’70s porn title.’ But when you think about it, it makes no sense as an actual title. Yet it’s just plausible enough to make you wonder if it’s really out there. A minor bit, but one I’ve long admired.


  42. Unga Khan says:

    As Sampo said, director Phil Tucker tried to commit suicide following the release of this film. Apparently he tried to shoot himself, but missed (yes really). Severe incompetence can save lives. He later found happiness & success as a film editor.

    George Nader was actually honored with a Golden Globe for best male newcomer in 1954, the year after Robot Monster was released. He joined Universal, had modest success as a second-hand leading man and spent some time on “Playhouse”-type TV shows…until word of his homosexuality got out and his career in serious Hollywood projects was over. Such were the 50s. Following an eye injury in the 70s he gave up acting entirely and turned to writing, where he penned “Chrome”, which is apparently highly regarded in gay literature circles as the first sci-fi to center on a homosexual relationship (not counting the Rocky Jones series).

    It would’ve been great if he had got more acting work- his turns in the Human Duplicators & Sumuru show he fits the profile a smarmy secret agent, a role which was not in short supply during the Eurospy craze.


  43. Warren says:

    This one’s not a favorite but the Brains were getting better at writing and riffing, and this classic of schlock was an obvious choice for MST3K. The Commando Cody serials were dragging and I’m glad that came to an end.
    #18 (“I will hug her and pet her…”, and I immediately thought of Servo’s riff, and wondering if the filmmakers (Joe Dante?) had seen the MST’ed version of Robot Monster, or if it was just a coincidence.)
    That line ‘hug him and pet him and call him George’ or variations thereof, probably came from a Warner Bros. cartoon in the first place, hence its use in a Looney Tunes movie. I’m 99% sure it comes from a looney tune.
    #29 “Where on the graph do “cannot” and “must” meet?” They don’t, Ro-Man is conflicted, so he is apparently subject to human psychology.


  44. Sharktopus says:

    @Richard, the silhouettes ARE green, but Shout’s DVD mastering makes them very dark, especially depending on the settings of your TV. I have my saturation pretty low (to keep Zoidberg’s bright red from bleeding) and I didn’t notice that the shadowama was green until I looked for it.

    Upon second viewing (Just the movie – I can’t take more Commando Cody so soon.), I see that Alice is Johnny’s sister, not his mother, so my psuedo-Freudian analysis is a little bit less creepy. That kid’s still all kinds of screwed up, though.

    As for the episode, I find it rather weak, even by season 1 standards. For me the riffing is far overshadowed by the surreal fever dream mania of the movie, and Radar Men From The Moon is unbearably plodding and repetitive. The Cody host segment is fun though. Joel’s unexplained aviator shades are a nice touch.

    Lame invention exchange, a double-dose of snoozey Pumpkin Boy, and tepid riffing – I think I’d just as soon watch an unMSTed version of Robot Monster. Yikes, there’s something I doubt you’ll ever hear me say again.


  45. Fart Bargo says:

    Well Johnny has a strange imagination, especially for the fifties. I found the strangest part the scene where George & ‘Bossy’ are hiding from Ro Man in some bushes. After he passes, they start to engage in Mime flirtations. What is with that bleeding ear!? Must have been one huge zit George picked at. Why didn’t someone stop the filming and mop him up?


  46. Matthew Shine says:

    One of my favorite Season 1 Episodes, (along with Robot VS. The Aztec Mummy, Robot Holocaust and Moon Zero Two.)

    Commander Cody is just beginning to get tedious and it won’t be long until it’s over.
    I’ve seen Robot Monster un-riffed before I saw the episode and just loved what they did with it. It’s like a Ed Wood movie, in the fact that you just have to laugh at how ridiculous it all is.

    And of course, this movie gave us the infamous B-Movie icon RO-MAN. (“TO BE LIKE THE HU-MAN! TO WANT! TO LOVE! WHY ARE THESE THINGS NOT IN THE PLAN?! I CANNOT…YET I MUST!”)
    I always thought RO-MAN should have appeared in Turkey Day 95 as one of Dr. F’s guests.


  47. Sampo says:

    JLH–I do not have the ability to make these screen captures myself. I am getting them from the MST3K wikia site, and they are doing the main titles. It’s only going to look weird for the couple of times they do two Commando Codys. I can live with it.


  48. Sampo says:

    Warren–Joel was probably referencing that Looney Tune, as you say, but just FYI that line, “Hug him and pet him and call him George” was a parody of the character Lenny in the movie “Of Mice and Men.” So it’s a reference to a reference.


  49. Brandon says:

    @ Sampo- I know it’s a reference to Of Mice and Men, but I just still found it interesting that both MST3K, and a Looney Tunes film would have Ro-Man do the “I will hug her and pet her” line.


  50. Matt Sandwich says:

    @42. Nothing against Nader, but my only point is this: the fact that we know his story isn’t because he was a legendary dynamo of raw talent, but because we’re fans of MST. I was consciously trying not to be dickish in my post because (and I’m sure many recession victims can identify with this) it’s a tragic thing to see a career die due to circumstances beyond one’s control.


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