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Episode guide: 111- Moon Zero Two

Movie: (1969) On a colonized moon, the services of a disaffected former-astronaut-turned-“moon ferry”-pilot are needed by sinister tycoon and a woman looking for her moon miner brother.

First shown: 1/20/90 (unconfirmed)
Opening: Joel explains the premise and suggests viewers go get a nutritious snack
Invention exchange: Larry’s hair is lifeless. Joel demonstrates his food teleporter; the Mads have invented celebrity mouth-to-mouth toothpaste
Host segment 1: J&tB perform a moon landing pageant
Host segment 2: J&tB conjecture about games of the future
Host segment 3: Crow and Tom fight over the women in the movie, in zero gravity
End: The bots play the “good thing/bad thing” movie review game and Joel reads a letter. Larry’s hair is better.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (136 votes, average: 4.13 out of 5)


• I’m going to put this one, just barely, in the “good” column. The movie is just so goofy, but actually pretty watchable. (It’s interesting — to me, anyway, since I lived through that time period — to see an enactment of the future a lot of people considered almost inevitable right after the moon landings took place: that NASA would smoothly continue, colonizing the moon, beginning passenger space travel, then mounting expeditions to other planets. I think if you went back in time and told the movie makers that, in the second decade of the 21st century, we haven’t done any of it, they’d be amazed.) The riffing is also quite good. The host segments aren’t terribly funny, but they’re passable.
• This episode was included on Shout’s Mystery Science Theater 3000: 25 Anniversary Edition.
• The bots are wearing robes in the opening, but not Joel.
• When Joel dances to the movie credits music, he jumps up on some sort of low platform to the left.
• When Magic Voice attempts to announce “commercial sign in 15 seconds,” her mic is off. You can hear her somewhere in the studio, but she is very faint. It’s back on for the final countdown. Either nobody noticed or they didn’t bother to do it again.
• That twine attached to Crow’s chin is again very noticeable.
• Joel once again explains the premise, using almost the exact same language as in previous openings.
• The Bots are uncharacteristically silent during the opening segment and the invention exchange.
• Joel is playing with something as the invention exchange begins. Some sort of magnetic game? Anybody know what it is?
• As the Mads call, Joel says: “Try not to look so happy, you guys.” One of the interesting things about the first season is the way Joel didn’t seem to be that upset about being stranded in space. It was only in later seasons that his character seemed to become more anxious to get back to Earth.
• Joel’s invention is one of his lamer efforts, I’d say. You can pretty much see the mechanisms of everything. Or is that the point?
• Joel still has part of his invention exchange on his head when he comes into the theater.
• I have a question about our hero’s space ship. The movie takes place in the 21st century, so it’s been at least 30ish years since the Apollo program. The bad guy says Kemp’s “moon ferry” is 10 years old–so that means it was built in the 1990s at least. So, it’s not like it’s a leftover Apollo lunar module. So, why does it look exactly like a lunar module? (I know, the real answer is probably because the filmmakers thought audiences would immediately recognize it as a space vehicle.)
• Josh reads that whole moon landing sequence in segment 1 like he had it memorized, but I asked him on Twitter and he said he wasn’t that big of an Apollo buff–he just read the script they gave him.
• Also one minor fact is wrong. The Eagle landed on the moon on July 20, not July 22.
• Crow is still wearing his helmet when he returns to the theater after the first host segment. Joel later removes it, causing Crow to yell “Ow! Ow!” It’s those little touches that make Trace’s performance so amazing.
• “I kinda miss the moon, you guys.” Joel is still horny.
• Several times, the bots sing snippets of “The Wiener Man,” a campfire favorite. I remember there was much fan chatter about this when it aired. It was mentioned in one of the early newsletters and there was an entry about the song in the FAQ for a while. There are a number of variations to the lyrics, but I think the most standard one (the newsletter notwithstanding) is:

I know a wiener man
He owns a hot dog stand
He gives me everything
From wieners on down.
Someday, I’ll be his wife
And then we’ll live the wiener life
Hot dog! I love the wiener man!

• We get another reference to “Yards of Leather.”
• One of the waitresses on the moon base is played Carol Cleveland, who, that same year, began making regular appearances on a little TV show called “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”
• The down side of the higher resolution you get with a DVD is you can see little things you might have missed. Example: At the end of segment three you can the string attaching the bottle to the glass. If one carefully pours down the wire, you can’t see it, but Joel isn’t quite that careful.
• Toward the end of the show, they come back from commercial and only Joel and Crow can be seen in the theater. After a few moments, Tom Servo pops up from the last seat on the left and heads over to his seat, saying: “Got my gum back.” Did he leave it there at the end of the last theater segment?
• Gypsy’s light is on at last! She again answers “Richard Basehart” when asked a question, and is again rewarded for it.
• Suggested stinger: Any portion of the floor show.
• Cast and crew roundup: art director Scott MacGregor also worked on “Fire Maidens of Outer Space” and “Million Eyes of Su-Muru.” In front of the camera, Catherine Von Schell was also in “Cosmic Princess.” Sam Kydd was also in “The Projected Man.” Michael Ripper was also in “The Deadly Bees.” Warren Mitchell was also in “The Crawling Eye.”
• CreditsWatch: additional production assistants were, again, Melanie Hartley and Neil Brede. The additional production staff was, again, Jim Erickson.
• Fave riff: “Fourth floor: Tyrannical tycoons, loose women.” Honorable mention: “In space, no one can art direct.”

80 comments to Episode guide: 111- Moon Zero Two

  • 51
    Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    @44 Zeroninety: Thanks for the info. I’ve been wondering about that.


  • 52

    Two words: Catherine Schell.

    Five stars.


  • 53
    fathermushroom says:

    I really enjoy this movie, as some others have posted. Apart from the freaky lady wigs and the zero-gravity bar fight, I think “Moon Zero Two” really does a pretty good job of anticipating what industrial life on the Moon might be like. They emphasize the bleakness and drudgery of making a buck up there. And, like others here, I lived through that period of history and remember vividly what people hoped to accomplish up there.

    Funny how J&TB mock “Moonopoly” and now, of course, they sell every variety of Monopoly you can dream up.

    I never did like the cartoon intro, though. To me it’s completely out of character with the flick. I always imagine the director having a fit when he finds out the studio insists on the cartoon opening.

    A bit off topic, but from an earlier post, I just learned that the creep from General Hospital was Roy Thinnes. Yikes! It IS him!


  • 54
    Cronkite Moonshot says:

    @big61al #33 I’m not talking about Moon Zero Two in my post at #32, I’m talking about Rocketship XM. If you go back and read my first post (#20) you’ll see that I actually praised Moon Zero Two as one of the few movies that MST did that actually tried to treat space in a realistic fashion. I also mentioned that Space Travelers/Marooned was another, and that Rocketship XM tried somewhat but failed.

    Anyway if what you said about the late 1960’s movie audience is what you believe then I can only assume you don’t know much about that era of film. Some of the most intelligent and well made mainstream science fiction movies came from the late 60’s early 70’s era, and I would say that movies and their audience in general were VASTLY more intelligent at that time than they are today. Even a campy movie like Moon Zero Two tried to handle the science behind space travel and living on the Moon in a fairly accurate and sophisticated way. That’s because they DIDN’T just instantly assume the audience were drooling dullards the way most modern movies do. Again, Star Wars (as much as I love the original trilogy) opened the door which inevitably lead to today’s modern moronic “popcorn movie” “blockbuster” attitude, and made idiotic massively budgeted movies like Transformers or The Day After Tomorrow possible at all. There is a reason that in the 1950’s and 1960’s the unintelligent and trashy science fiction movies were mostly the cheap ones, while the more expensive ones were usually more intellectual fair like 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Forbidden Planet. It’s because the studios didn’t think it was wise to put a lot of money into the more unintelligent low brow B movies, but were more willing to put money into the more intelligent films. It’s pretty much the opposite today. Now they won’t dare spend a lot of money on movies that might actually make the audience think, but they will dump hundreds of millions into the modern day equivalent of the 1950’s B-Movie with very little hesitation. If he had lived in the 1950’s Michael Bay would have been just like Ed Wood. Making the same kinds of terrible movies he does now, but with no budget, and no fancy special effects and big explosions to wow so many dullards into not noticing what an awful director he actually is.


  • 55
    Fart Bargo says:

    I like this film. For it’s time it, is one of the more realistic films that is dumbed down with silly cartoon intros and a sometimes silly scripting. I thought the overall plot was good, crime set in space. Good actors in Maria and James. I actually remember seeing this in the theater and laughing with the crowd at the ‘Moonopoly’ game.

    This was good riffing fodder none the less due to the silly script and toon that just breaks up any serious interest. In a lot of ways, this flick reminds me of Total Recall.


  • 56
    Matt D. says:

    Hey, the first Transformers was a really good movie. And what about The Island…oh wait nevermind.


  • 57
    RGA Dave says:

    I saw this movie when it first came out. My dad took us to the Bedford Drive In in Bedford, NH. So I of course got this on DVD, it’s sort of nostalgic for me. Also the part of it I most remembered, as a 10 year old when I saw it, was the girl gradually removing all her clothing while the sun gradually drove up the heat inside the ‘moon bug’. Cool! Otherwise the movie itself is laughable, in retrospect. Crashing and asteroid onto the moon, to harvest it? Wouldn’t the impact sort of totally pulverize it?


  • 58
    Cornjob says:

    I like the episode and the movie itself. It has a goofy fun feel to it.


  • 59
    Rhys says:

    I think I’m in love with this movie, I bought the movie poster and the novel adaptation of it, and was tempted to buy an 8mm print of it. Certainty one of the better movies MST3K tackled, one of the better season 1 episodes too (probably the only one i’ve watched more than once)


  • 60
    J.Ho says:

    I, too almost completely forgot this episode until the point wherein Clementine mentions her brother ‘mined cop


  • 61
    J.Ho says:

    I really hate Apple’s iOS softkeyboard…

    Anyhow Clementine mentions her brother “mined copper in Montana” I happen to be from the one-time biggest copper mine in the world and current ecological disaster, Butte, Montana. I then recalled seeing this over 20 years ago, because, as a kid with no friends, seeing your new favorite TV show ever mention your bucolic barrio created an engram that caused a little bit of lucid Deja vu when I just watched it. The other thing I thought about, this time, since I didn’t know anything about L. Ron Hubbard when I was 10 (except that he wrote bOoks about erupting volcanoes), was he grew up in Helena, MT (an hour’s drive from Butte) and as has been well established in the intervening two decades, was an evil egomaniac with a penchant for getting others to do his dirty work and raping every penny out of anybody foolish enough to follow him. Oh yeah, he was a well known sci-fi writer in the golden age of Pulp. I figured at the first introduction of JJ Hubbard in the film that perhaps he was so named in homage of his prolific output in the SF arena. Then I considered that at the time of this film’s production, Scn world headquarters was in England at Saint Hill Manor, he was particularly infamous and actually banned from England at this time, but no bother. He was busy cruising the Mediterranian with his own personal fleet sEarching for his past lives’ hidden gold (Search “Mission Into Time”) at which time England’s Grenada TV did an interview with him (search ‘The Shrinking World of L Ron Hubbard’) which is fairly revealing in-between-the-lines, in the parlance of our times. If you do a little more research on the corporate structure of Scn at this time, you’ll find that the scene in the movie depicting J Hubbard winning Moonopoly money from a nubile assistant and then docking 17 cents or whatnot from her pay to be in alignment with Scn tactics of removing any and all funds from their dupesErrr I mean adepts, ie charging for ‘rundowns’ (lessons or audits) again and again, because if YOU don’t show the powers of a Clear or an OT, YOU must have done the lower levels on The Bridge To Total Freedom wrong and it is keeping you from making cognitions and case gains.

    I’ve read about 6 biograHies and Countless other material on him, and it is actually quite fascinating – he is probably the greatest con man of the 20th century, and right up there with Joe Smith in the last 1,000 years. Before that I’d say it were that Mehmet feller and prior to him some Jewish zombie carpenter dude.

    Bloated digression? Yeah, probably – still more informative than redundant review rehashes repeating redundant repetitions.


  • 62
    jjk says:

    As a fan of the Hammer horror movies I recently saw this episode for the first time. I was horrified as to how much this movie is a terrible example of that studio’s work. Awful acting, cheesy sets, misplaced humor and such a relic of it’s time it was out of date by the time they released it. Anyone not familiar with other Hammer movies would think it was the worst studio on earth.
    So I guess you could say I didn’t like the movie.


  • 63
    JCC says:

    “Oh no they’re on the Moon Zero Two set!”

    I don’t watch this one very often.


  • 64
    Sitting Duck says:

    Moon Zero Two fails the Bechdel Test. The only female conversation is when Clementine and Elizabeth talk about the former’s brother.

    For the stinger, I’d go with the zero-G bar fight.

    Then current riff: He’s got the Nintendo Power Glove there.

    I’m surprised there was no riff when Elizabeth remarked on Bill’s heavy load.

    @ #1: Well, it does allude to roles which involved the actors in question vomiting. That’s kind of evil, or at least gross.

    Wonder if Joss Whedan saw this. It does feel like it could be a Firefly episode.

    Favorite riffs

    Houston, our central air is here, but they didn’t send the duct work. Over.

    When did you join the guard?
    Right after I turned in the von Trapp family.

    “That’s what the man said.”
    Don’t you listen to what The Man says.

    In the future, bras will grow on the Moon.

    Hey, it’s the original Space Mountain. What do you know. And look, the line’s still long.

    Fourth floor, tyrannical tycoons, loose women.

    Have you ever been in jail? You’d like it quite a lot.

    “A six thousand ton jewel. How would you like to meet the broad who could hand that around her neck?”
    She’s probably got a boyfriend.

    In space, no one can hear a wedgie.

    In space, no one can art direct.

    “Anyway, I wasn’t a passenger pilot. So I quit.”
    Okay, I lied. They got me on a morals charge.

    If we don’t die. you want to catch a movie or something? I mean, if you’re not alive, I totally understand. It won’t hurt my feelings or anything.

    “Leave your suit on. It’s two hundred degrees below zero in here.”
    What’s the wind chill, though?

    Wow, apparently I’m dead.


  • 65
    Terry the Sensitive Knight says:

    The only things that really stand out about this episode are MOOOOOOOOON ZEROOOOOOOOO TWWOOOOOOOOOOO, brightly colored spacesuit, and nude astronauts.


  • 66
    goalieboy82 says:

    Carol Cleveland went on to bigger things.
    What a terrible joke!
    But it’s my only line!


  • 67
    Sean says:

    This is actually my favorite episode from Season 1. Watchable movie goes hand-in-hand with the riffing.


  • 68
    thequietman says:

    This is probably my favorite Season 1 episode. Sure the movie is not ‘bad’ in the way most MST’ed films are, but I love the mindset behind this depiction of the future. I used to think the “zero two” referred to the year 2002, as in “We’re even more advanced than Kubrick’s 2001!”, but watching the episode again I realized the title is referring to Kemp’s ship (or at least his callsign).

    But one thing that really makes me like this episode is the presence Bernard Bresslaw. No one’s talked about him yet, but he deserves a lot more credit than he seems to get. He comes in for a lot of mocking in this episode, but I can only think of his performances in the “Carry On” comedy series, which are full of fun. So I really enjoy watching him. It is interesting to see him play a totally straight role, even if he’s just the hired muscle. Although, Joel and the Bots riffs for him probably would have been actual dialogue if this was “Carry on Spaceman” or something.

    New fave riff: “They’re so rich they go to movies and don’t even watch ’em!”


  • 69
    Sitting Duck says:

    Carol Cleveland went on to bigger things.

    Carol Cleveland has bigger things. Grin


  • 70
    littleaimishboy says:

    One of the best episodes of the Joel era & probably the “best” (= least bad) movie. A host of great British character actors – especially villain-at-large Warren Mitchell of “Till Death Us Do Part” fame, theme sung by Julie Driscoll, not only Carol Cleveland but also Catherine Schell and Adrienne Corri … pretty much 100% fun here folks.


  • 71
    edward says:

    This is by far my favorite Season 1 episode probably because the movie itself falls into the “not terrible” category. I like the story, the music and the riffing.


  • 72
    imrustyokay says:

    Hey! I just got this episode for Christmas! Cool. Grin


  • 73
    touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    “wieners on down”?

    How can that possibly not be a sexual reference of some kind?

    The fact that Crow sings about being someone’s wife sort of links back to Joel’s “Cybernetic Remotely Operated Woman” joke. Sort of.

    Really, when you think about it (“So don’t think about it.”), the only indication that the Bots are male is that they have male voices. If they’d debuted with female voices, we’d have accepted them as such and we’d find the idea of them being male just as bizarre as many readers are at this very moment finding the idea of them being female. Wink


  • 74
    Sitting Duck says:

    The one thing that bothers me is how the gravity switch is out in the open. If you think a random dickweed pulling a fire alarm as a prank is annoying, that pales in comparison to one doing it with artificial gravity.


  • 75
    Cornjob says:

    “What good is it to be on the Moon if you’re just going to re-enact the atrocities of Earth?”

    Well said Mr. Robinson.


  • 76
    Cornjob says:

    Not a terrible movie that does have a bit of a Firefly/Serenity vibe. The opening animation is amusing. I like the theme music a bit though it seemed to get a bit mushy as it progressed.


  • 77

    I’m a big fan of both this episode and the movie itself. Yes, there are a few groaners in it (the zero-G fight, Moonopoly…), but they get the socio-economics right (in the sense that they are a logical extrapolation of the times) and the characterizations are actually quite strong.

    It gets me frustrated when the guys putting together the DVD extras seem to go out of their way to find experts who will denigrate the movies, as if they need to justify their usage or something. I would vastly prefer they find someone who knows the history and is a fan of the movie, or at least sympathetic to it. I mean, I can recognize that “2001: A Space Odyssey” is a better film than “Moon Zero Two” (duh), but which would I rather *watch* on a lazy afternoon? Would I rather lull myself to sleep with the beautiful cinematography and deep insight into mankind of “2001” or would I rather watch some fistfights and shootouts on the friggin’ Moon?

    And this one is still five stars. (…mmmm…Catherine Schell…)


  • 78
    JeremyR says:

    A lot of movies from this era try to be quirky/campy/kooky. And it is just painful to watch. If it had been a wholly serious movie it might actually been decent – it has a lot of good scenes.

    But at any rate, it’s one of the rare cases where the movie overshadowed the riffing.


  • 79
    Imrustyokay says:

    I also noticed that when the main character is in the locker room or just before it, Crow says some lines but his beak doesn’t move!


  • 80
    mnenoch says:

    What a wacky movie. It’s a fun episode, the 60’s western in space movie helps a lot with all of the dance scenes. One of the better movies that they did during the show but I think in the end it was quite ripe for the riffing.