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Episode guide: 113- The Black Scorpion

Movie: (1957) Giant black scorpions emerge from a Mexican volcano and go on a rampage.

First shown: 2/3/90
Opening: The robots are throwing a party for Joel
Invention exchange: Joel has invented a man-sized party favor; the Mads have mutated
Host segment 1: J&TB attempt to speak Spanish
Host segment 2: Crow and Tom ponder the strange habits of Joel, failing to notice — until it’s too late — that Gypsy is going through some changes
Host segment 3: The Bots’ put on a puppet show; J&TB discuss stop-motion animation
End: J&TB read some letters; the Mads are starting to feel better
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (59 votes, average: 3.97 out of 5)

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• This is a fun, kind of middle-of-the-road episode. The movie is really not that bad; indeed there are moments where you really can get caught up in the story (though the romance between Richard Denning and Mara Corday is completely flat). The riffing keeps up with the movie, and it’s pretty funny, which makes it, overall, a fun experience. But the host segments continue the trend of the last few episodes: they’re mostly long setups that don’t pay off.
• Nice spit take from Joel in the opening.
• Josh’s make up in this show is remarkable! Quite a job. Faye Burkholder and Clayton James are listed as the makeup people in the credits. Kudos to them if they are responsible.
• Thanks to several commenters for pointing out a big goof in this episode: In the opening, Dr. F says the movie features special effects by Ray Harryhausen. It does not, the effects are by Willis O’Brien. In segment 3, Joel correctly describes Harryhausen as O’Brien’s protege, even though he doesn’t seem to be aware that O’Brien’s work is featured in the film he’s watching. In the early days, BBI didn’t do much in the way research. I suspect that, until about season six, the closest thing they had to a research library was a dog-eared copy of Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide.
• They do love that “Fentonville, east of Muncie” joke, don’t they? We’ll hear it several times in the episodes ahead.
• In the ACEG, Mike apologizes for the use of a peeing sound effect in episode 102. But he fails to mention the applause sound effect used every time Ramos is introduced in this ep. Who’s supposed to be clapping, anyway?
• Gypsy’s scorpion tail falls off in host segment 2.
• Crow’s Bing Crosby sounds a LOT like his Dean Martin–and vice versa.
• There’s about five minutes after segment 2 when they seem to do nothing but golf riffs. Not really sure why. The scenery in the movie doesn’t really resemble a golf course.
• This episode includes one of my all-time favorite Joel riffs: “Remember that bad thing we saw? It looked just like this. This is bad.”
• We get a couple of uses of the “SEEMED like [fill in the blank] … At first!” bit in this episode.
• Then-current reference: Manuel Noriega (tinpot strongman in Panama who had been recently toppled by U.S. forces when this show aired).
• Somebody refers to a “Dan Witkowski halftime show.” He is referring to this. Thanks to commenter Unga Kahn for figuring this one out.
• At the end of the closing segment, Josh simply says “Bye!” and walks off the set. And the first cast member departure takes place. Weinstein gets short-shrift by many, and I don’t feel this is deserved. Looking back, Weinstein was clearly a gifted young man with a sense of humor and style well beyond his years. He certainly held his own in many ways with co-stars many years his senior. And Weinstein deserves credit for one other achievement–it was Weinstein that spotted struggling comedian Michael J. Nelson and suggested he be hired.
• Favorite riff: “It’s the Oaxaca steps sequence.”

62 comments to Episode guide: 113- The Black Scorpion

  • 1
    Dan in WI says:

    Very little work went into this week’s invention exchange. It was lame to begin with and then used both on the SOL and in Deep 13. But Trace must be doing double pupeteering duties. Not only does he do the normal Crow duties but has to puppeteer Dr. F as well this week. But at least we get one final proper unison “Thank You” from the Mads.

    Speaking of Trace’s puppeteering, it looks like he ran out of hands. While holding up the hot dog to the fire, Crow’s lips don’t move. You’d think they could have got an intern to do the hot dog leaving Trace’s hands free.

    Once again I’m watching a Cheepnis copy of this episode. The source tape was obviously a re-run aired after the Comedy Channel/Ha! merger. That huge Comedy Central proto-bug that appears in the lower LEFT corner from time to time is weird compared to the channel logo bugs we are used to the past 15+ years. But beyond that bit of weird it struck a thought. The very fine multi-page show history on this website makes note of the placement of the “normal” bug (that would come later) often being placed over Crow in the lower RIGHT corner as being a source of contention between fans and Comedy Central during the days when the Best Brains/Comedy Central relationship was deteriorating. So here earlier on Comedy Central knew the bug placement was important, but later on they would get dumb about it. Strange.

    Hey leave those subtitles on the screen long enough for us to read them if you want us to get the jokes.

    I was noticing early on in this season it was real inconsistent. Now I’ve seen it all the way through for the first time. (I bought the KTMA’s and season 1 through Cheepnis to participate in these weekly discussions.) I continue to be amazed by this inconsistency. There was such growth in the KTMA year I was really surprised by the backsliding in the early part of this season and continued to be surprised at the violent ups and downs. I would have thought the tougher part of the learning curve should have been behind them after KTMA. Perhaps switching to scripting lead to more reinventing of the wheel than I you would think at first.

    So next week it is on to the introduction of Frank and Kevin. It’s weird to say this but after watching predominantly Josh episodes for the past 31 weeks it’s going to take a little re-getting used to the only voice of Servo and only lab assistant I ever knew back in the day.

    Favorite Riffs:
    Wood street signs are shown and Joel says “Hey look, it looks like it’s from the old MASH set.” That MASH riffs two weeks in a row!

    Crow: Let’s roll back the instant replay here… as a special effect is repeated.

       0 likes

  • 2
    Sitting Duck says:

    I tried looking up Dan Wichowsky on Wikipedia and it suggested that perhaps I meant Dan Illowsky. Illowsky created Snack Attack, a Pac-Man rip-off for the Aplle II.

    Next was a Google search. All I got was this page.

       0 likes

  • 3
    Sitting Duck says:

    That should be Apple II.

       0 likes

  • 4
    underwoc says:

    I used to play Snack Attack for hours…

    Are you sure “Wichowsky” is correct spelling? It might be Wieczowski or something. Anyway, the reference sounds like a local sportscaster on a midwestern TV station…

       0 likes

  • 5
    Creepygirl says:

    I had not watched this episode in many years. I was under the idea from the past that this ep was slower and even more boring than Robot vs Astec Mummy. I now know I was completely wrong. I really like the movie and the episode as a whole. I will agree that the host segments are middle-of-the-road like but the Mad’s mutant looks are both cool and funny.

    I think the riffing is consistant and non stop. Maybe it’s not always hilarious but I don’t recall any out-and-out lulls or patches of silence. The stop action FX in our film are also pretty darn good for a cheezy B movie from 1957. It certainly is more entertaining than giant creature Lippert effects.

    G’Bye Josh. We hardly knew thee.

    3 1/2 stars out of 5.

       5 likes

  • 6
    ck says:

    While this comment verges on the political, it is nice to
    see an Anglo/Mexican romance played without
    condescension towards Mexicans.

       4 likes

  • 7

    Kind of a dull movie but it’s redeemed by some fantastic action sequences and genuinely frightening moments. Listening to the shrieks and growls of the giant scorpions becomes grating after a while, but the stop-motion and miniatures are fun to look at. The generally strong riffing helps too, even though they go off on some lame tangents (milling festival, golf).

    Handsome lead Richard Denning was also the star of Day the World Ended and Creature from the Black Lagoon. There is an abundance of photos of the charming Mara Corday online. Their budding romance among all the carnage is typical of these monster movies but helps to give it a bit of heart.

    The rounds of applause whenever Dr. Ramos is introduced (a sound effect, added in post-production or played live at the taping?) is a cute running gag, but I’m glad they didn’t try it again. And little Juanito – we haven’t seen a kid this annoying since the Gamera flicks in Season Zero. We never even learn who his parents are.

    Intro by the Mads is more horrific than usual (great makeup on Josh – MJ says it’s based on David McCallum in the Outer Limits episode, the “Sixth Finger” ), but contains the weird Willis O’Brien / Ray Harryhausen mix-up. Joel corrects this in a later host segment, but I wonder why they introduced it at all.

    My DAP copy has a “Comedy Channel Labor Day Blowout!” bug show up onscreen intermittently.

    During the volcanic eruption, the weenie roast gag is cute but I’m curious about the line, “Is it soup yet?” I know it’s from a Lipton instant soup commercial from the 70’s but I’d heard it used sarcastically years before MST, like in CREEM magazine, or maybe MAD. Was it a commonly used phrase in the 70s/80s?

    • Joel (reading the credits): Edmund Fitzgerald – this must be his wreck.

    • Hank (upon discovering the baby): That rattlesnake is the worst kind of them all.
    Joel: Let’s blast it!

    Who’s this “Gary” that Crow as Bing Crosby keeps referring to? (never mind, just looked it up. Yikes…)

    • Teresa: I really can ride, gentlemen.
    J&tB: (clearing their throats) Ahem…sure…uh-huh. (someone even whistles)

    • (Ramos inspects the rock he found)
    Joel: Thou shall not ki-
    (Kernunrex notes this is called-back to in episode 104, filmed after this, the true end of Season One)

    • Hank: It’s obsidian.
    Crow: Oh I don’t think it’s that bad.

    • Soldier: You’d be surprised at the experiments that go on there.
    Crow: He’s making a taco salad where you can actually eat the bowl.
    (I like this riff just because I like taco salads)

    • “Oh you got a little, ah…” (Joel beats this one into the ground, referring to the drooling scorpion, multiple times)

    • Servo: It’s udder chaos… (laughs) …Cow could i say that?

    • Dr. Velazco: May God help all of you.
    Servo: Or some of you… (to Hank) like you.

    J&tB do a pretty major chunk on a golf theme for a few minutes, followed by the Jacques Cousteau descending into the cave bit.

    • Joel: Scorpions like this always keep lots of ice cold beer around. (callback to The Crawling Hand)

    Sealing the cave with an explosion – a similar solution to that used in Earth vs. the Spider (1958), where it didn’t work either.
    • Joel: It seemed like a good idea. / The Bots: …at first

    • Crow (as scorpion): I’m hungry for Mexican.

    • Joel (to crowd): Serpentine!

    4 stars

    NOTE: Re-watched 104- Women of the Prehistoric Planet to finish the season in correct order and to verify my grade (still a 3, despite it’s colorfulness). Noticed a couple of other call-backs to The Black Scorpion:
    “She’d be perfect for my experiments” and “Is it primordial soup yet?” Also a couple instances of “Wonder what she wanted?” which I think started in Untamed Youth. It also has another erupting volcano, and allows Josh to leave the show with a song, “I think I’ll file this thing for you…”

       3 likes

  • 8
    Fart Bargo says:

    You can not get any better entertainment in a B movie than a Harryhausen flick. Throw in some good riffing and you got popcorn.

    Josh’s tenure was all too short and I will miss Erhardt’s ultra polite “Thank You!”s.

       2 likes

  • 9
    jjb3k says:

    This isn’t Josh’s last episode – “Women of the Prehistoric Planet” is. The stupid numbering system the Brains used for Season 1 confuses pretty much everybody.

    For anyone who still doesn’t know, the Brains wanted to do “Women of the Prehistoric Planet” as the fourth episode of Season 1, but couldn’t get the rights to it until the end of the season. But when they did do that movie as the season finale, they still numbered the episode 104 for some inexplicable reason. Thus, even though it was the thirteenth episode shot for Season 1 and accordingly aired last, people thought it was shot fourth and aired out of order, leading to such confused questions as “Was the Plant Guy Contest faked?” and “How could they do callbacks to movies they hadn’t even watched yet?”

    Just bugs me, that’s all. Though I see Finnias Jones up there does follow the correct episode order, as do I and a number of other obsessive fans.

       1 likes

  • 10
    RockyJones says:

    This one’s probably my favorite episode of the entire season. The movie is fairly well made and interesting, and the riffing is extremely solid throughout. I especially crack up at the “applause”, every time the two guys are introduced.

    I will admit, though…Juanito tends to get on my nerves REALLY quickly. (I hate it when they shoehorn an annoying brat into the story for no purpose other than using them as a convenient plot device to fall back on.)

    All in all, though…I’d still give this one 4 stars.

       2 likes

  • 11
    I'm not a medium, I'm a petite says:

    Dan Wachowski. Local TV sports correspondant. More details to follow.

       0 likes

  • 12
    Sharktopus says:

    Google provides a number of hits for “Dan Wachowski” and “Dan Wienczkowski,” but nothing particularly notable. You fail us again, interweb.

       0 likes

  • 13
    swh1939 says:

    Add me to the obsessive fan list in regards to episode order. I keep all of my MST3K/Film Crew/Rifftrax/Cinematic Titanic DVDs in one of those giant “wallets”. Although I have “WotPP” listed as Episode 104, it is placed in the sleeve after this episode, ending the season. I’ve always been a fan of production order rather than air order (or in this case, production number order).

       1 likes

  • 14
    I'm not a medium, I'm a petite says:

    As far as i can tell, a gent by the name of Dan Wachowski has been hovering around the edges of college and minor league sport for a good many years. mostly in the Illinois area. Maybe not TV so much ( sorry ) but for newspapers and on-line sports sites, and has worked in community relations for minor league sports teams.

       0 likes

  • 15
    Kouban says:

    Frankly, if what Josh told Ken Plume during their Bit of A Chat is true, I don’t blame him for leaving with little ceremony.
    And I kinda like this episode being Larry’s last one, as if he’d either had enough after being forcibly mutated or there were unforeseen aftereffects that forced him to leave.

       0 likes

  • 16
    ck says:

    I’m also rather compulsive-obsessive about watching them in order.
    Although it can end up with watching the Santa Claus movies in Spring or Summer.

    And I had forgotten about the annoying Juanito in the movie. One reason i don’t care
    to watch much Star Trek the Next Generation with the kid thrown in for young viewers.

       0 likes

  • 17
    Bobby 23-Skidoo says:

    Is this the quickest the riffers made it into the theater. Usually when watching and not in the mood for the host segments, I’ll fast forward to the 5 minute mark. Doing that this time had me fairly deep into the episode.

    Quite a few running gags in this episode in the riffing. While most were enjoyable (I loved the Cousteau, Julia Child and even the milling around festival stuff), I’m so glad the applauding never caught on. It didn’t even warrant a smile the first time, and by the 3rd or 4th time it getting groans.

    I’m hoping this thread brings about somebody who knows what the reference was in regards to Dan Wikowski.

    Fave riff: “If you look out the left side of the train, you’ll see the right side of the train.”

       1 likes

  • 18
    Cody Himes says:

    @Fart Bargo (tee hee)

    Harryhausen didn’t work on this movie, despite what’s said in the episode. Willis O’Brien (animator of King Kong, The Lost World and dozens of short subjects) was responsible for the animation here. He reportedly used some models from the infamous Spider-Pit scene (from King Kong) in the cavern scene in this movie.

       2 likes

  • 19
    Tom Carberry says:

    I hope the folks at Shout! are able to secure this one for release. I’m not sure if it is Public Domain. I have this one in its original form (un-MSTed) and a little at the beginning has been trimmed (probably for running time). It is a voice-over with a lot of stock footage of the volcano.

       1 likes

  • 20
    Brandon says:

    I think the reason behind the whole 104/113 number controversy is simply because The brains may have figured there was any reason to fix it in the first place.

    As I mentioned in my review for 104, production numbers were meant for producers, or network executives, or just in-house reference.

    “Seinfeld” has a similar Production number mystery concerning the 2-parter episode with Marisa Tomei (I think it’s called “The Cadillac”). Part 1’s production number is 714, but the 2nd part’s production number is something like 717. It’s never been said why part 2 has a larger number, instead of 715, but, Part 2 is the part where Marisa Tomei appears, and it’s been speculated that Part 2 was filmed a few episodes later, because Tomei was originally unavailable, and they waited until she could be.

    Anyway, here’s my review, with some additions in brackets.

    113- The Black Scorpion

    Plot: Mexico becomes overrun with black scorpions. Oh the humanity.

    Host Segments:
    Opening: J&TB are partying like it’s 1990(?).
    Invention Exchange: The Mads have mutated themselves. The poor suckers. Joel presents new ideas for party whistles.
    Segment 1: A tribute to Mexico.
    Segment 2: While Servo and Crow discuss Joel’s sleeping habits, Gypsy sneaks up on Servo dressed as a scorpion and eats him!
    Segment 3: Crow and Tom do a tribute to the *AHEM* special effects in the film.
    Ending: J&TB read letters. Crow receives an unusual letter.

    Memorable riffs:
    Joel: “Christmas trees!”
    Servo: “Ten bucks a foot? Jeez.”

    Servo: “No more beans and tortillas for that kid!”

    Crow: “Hey, that’s the same place where they filmed Robot Monster!”

    (cows mooing)
    Crow: “Meanwhile in the shower…”

    (cows continue mooing)
    Joel: “Alright, everybody thank you. But, Oklahoma has been cast already.”

    Crow: “Jerry Mathers as the beavero.”

    Crow: “We have giant 40 foot pincers! Oh, no wait. That’s the scorpion.”

    (shot of a demolished building)
    Crow: “Heeeey your apartment is greeeeat!”

    (shot of a train)
    Crow: “Scorpion hobos!”

    Joel: “Meanwhile in Ancient Greece, the same war raged on!”

    Fav. riff:
    (giant scorpions attack train)
    Joel: “We here at AmTrack would like to apologize for any inconvinience this may have caused. This rarely ever happens.”

    Comments:
    -Hilariously, The Mads accidently did the same invention that Joel did!

    -During the opening shot of a destroyed/burnt building Joel says, “It’s Universal studios!” Whoever came up with this riff, probably meant MGM studios. [ADDITIONAL NOTE: And now the riff becomes harsher in hindsight, since a part of Universal Studios did get destroyed by a fire a couple years ago. I think my review for this episode was done before then.]

    -By this time Trace is starting to use the more “mature” tone for Crow’s voice. But the “baby” tone still breaks through occasionally later on.

    -Esoteric reference: Eddie Fitzgerald. I’m amazed someone at BBI knows him. [NOTE: Yes, i’m aware Joel actually says Edmund Fitzgerald]

    -About 3 minutes into the film, Joel, for whatever reason, crouches underneath the theater seat. He’s probably turning the page script, but I don’t know why he felt the need to bend over so far. Maybe he dropped something.

    -I’m watching this episode off of Youtube, and the yo-yo that uploaded it stuck a fat “Flip4Mac” logo in the middle of the screen. It’s not too obstructive, but the logo really kills Segment 1. I have virtually no idea what most of the subtitles are. So could anybody be a dear and post them for me. I’d like to be able to read them.

    -A clip from this film was later used for the “Film Dub” game in an episode of the American “Whose Line is it Anyway?”

    -I have no evidence to back me up, but I’m wondering if the footage of the giant scorpions came from “King Kong” (1933) as part of the infamous lost spider pit sequence. The stop-motion animation here looks REALLY old, even for this film. It looks very 30s-ish. [NOTE: Someone confirmed to me some time ago, that it is]

    -In the movie, during the radio announcement for the deaths at the train station, the announcer uses the word, “apalling”. Wow. Talk about an understatement.

    -Somewhat dated riff: “Hey, it’s the Disney Channel!” It’s kinda dated, since the Disney Channel’s logo doesn’t look like that anymore.

    -After Crow says, “Let’s get an instant replay of that”, the footage of the scorpion grabbing the helicopter is replayed (for whatever reason). Obviously, Trace knew the footage was going to be replayed. More evidence that they’ve seen the movie before.

    -Words fail to describe the letter Crow receives in the final segment. I wonder where the bloke who wrote all that is now? Actually, I probably shouldn’t act negative, as that person may be on these boards, and I wouldn’t even know it.

    Best segment: Hard to say. All of the segments were pretty weak. I guess I’ll pick the Invention Exchange. BTW, Dr. F looks cute as a skeleton.
    Worst segment: Segment 3 seemed pointless.

    Overall: This is a fine episode. I do like the riffing here, but the host segments are a bit disasterous.
    Rating: **1/2

       0 likes

  • 21
    Sampo says:

    Thanks to the several folks who pointed out the Harryhausen/O’Brien goof. I have added it in to the main entry.

       0 likes

  • 22
    Mr. B(ob) says:

    A couple notes. Someone above mentioned Ray Harryhausen. This is a Willis O’Brien special effects effort. O’Brien was Harryhausen’s mentor in stop motion.

    The synopsis at top says Josh Weinstein brought in Mike Nelson to BBI. Funny, if I recall in some of the interviews provided in easily accessible places like extra features on the MST3K DVDs Kevin Murphy seems to take credit for that, and with Mike Nelson sitting right next to him in at least one of those interviews. Doesn’t Kevin say something about bringing Mike in to record the jokes tossed by the other writers and telling him to feel free to toss some in himself, then quickly discovering Mike was “the funniest guy on the planet” thereby quickly elevating his job status in the writing room?

       0 likes

  • 23
    Sampo says:

    Mr. B(ob): Mike himself told me that it was Josh who first approached him after a set in a comedy club about “doing some typing.”

       0 likes

  • 24
    Johnny Ryde says:

    Dan Wachowski. Noted scientist. Flag on the moon.
    Dan Wachowski. A man becomes a beast.
    Dan Wachowski. Quarterback for the Eagles.

    — Coleman Francis

       2 likes

  • 25
    Mr. B(ob) says:

    I don’t doubt you for a moment, Sampo. I was just pointing out that the way Mike and Kevin told that story together on one of the DVD episode extra features, they gave the impression that Kevin may have been the one to do that.

       0 likes

  • 26
    jjb3k says:

    Another random tidbit: this being a Warner Bros. movie, I’m pretty sure the narrator at the start of the film is Robert C. Bruce, an actor and announcer for KFWB, the Warner-owned radio station in the ’30s and ’40s. He also did a bunch of Looney Tunes voices, usually as a narrator in Tex Avery’s travelogue parodies.

       0 likes

  • 27
    Mr. B(ob) says:

    One more little tidbit about BBI thinking that Harryhausen did the effects instead of Willis O’Brien. They must have just assumed when they saw stop motion monsters during the movie that it was Harryhausen, because they didn’t really have to do any research to see that they made a mistake. After all Willis O’Brien’s name appears on the credits. If they watched the movie 6 to 8 times to write their script of jokes for it, then it shows how little attention the MST3K writers paid to the film’s credits, at least in this one instance.

       2 likes

  • 28
    Matt Sandwich says:

    Oddly, this is a movie I don’t find that compelling. Unlike the vast majority of MSTed movies, it’s one I’d been interested in seeing on its own terms, and although I didn’t see it until long after it first aired (as with many of the pre-season 2 eps) it was my first time viewing the movie. So maybe it just felt like a letdown.

    Still, there are some very funny moments the gang here. I actually love Gypsy’s “scary” costume and interaction with the other bots. And there’s one line in here that kills me, though I have no idea why. It’s the exasperated delivery of “Would someone PLEASE pass the sour cream?!” This usually comes to mind when I’m sitting with a group of people as a tense situation develops, like an argument. Generally during a meal, of course.

       1 likes

  • 29
    schippers says:

    This comment is pretty much unrelated to the present ep since I haven’t seen it in years. But I did want to mention something that has been percolating in my mind about the KTMA and 1st seasons for awhile now, and that is Joel’s differing relationships with Tom Servo pre and post 1st season. Many times throughout KTMA eps, and continuing to a certain degree in season 1, Joel (often in the theater) will ask Servo if this or that is correct, or he’ll ask for Servo’s opinion about something – hardly ever Crow. This deferential behavior pretty much vanishes once we get to season 2, when Joel becomes much more overtly custodial in his behavior toward the bots (giving them educational projects, shielding them from naughty bits, etc.). Anyway, just wondering if anyone else had noticed that, and if anyone else thinks (as I kind of do) that this changing dynamic may have reflected, in some way, Joel’s differing relationships with Josh vs. Kevin.

       3 likes

  • 30
    H says:

    This is a pretty good one. The movie’s decent, typical giant monster fare. The host segments are pretty good but nothing great. I prefer to think of 104 when I think of Josh leaving. Josh had a good run but I understand him leaving. And, if he hadn’t, we possibly wouldn’t have been exposed to the baritone stylings of Kevin Murphy.

       1 likes

  • 31
    swh1939 says:

    Baritone?? No disrespect, but to me Kevin seems much more of a tenor.

       0 likes

  • 32
    Spector says:

    Can’t really say this episode was particularly memorable, other than this was the last episode with Josh, who wasn’t bad but Kevin Murphy did a better job with Servo and Frank was significantly better as Dr. F’s sidekick. Overall another middle of the road episode for Season One. Fortunately, Season Two and the SOL we know and love was around the corner. Farewell Josh, welcome Kevin and Frank!

       1 likes

  • 33
    fathermushroom says:

    My copy of this episode is so dark that I have to crank the brightness on my TV all the way to max. The only other episode like this (for me) is “Ring of Terror.”

    I love the female lead in Black Scorpion.

    The voice-over announcer at the start was also, I think, doing this job in late-1960s, early 1970s cartoons like the original “Space Ghost and Frankenstein Junior (Junior, junior, junior…..)”

       1 likes

  • 34
    Canucklehead says:

    This is one of those movies that I’ve seen the original of (indeed, I have it on DVD), but have never seen the MiSTed version. I am definitely a fan of the original (though Juanito has, for me at least, raised the bar for annoying kid who are too stupid to keep out of trouble.) I would love for the MiSTed version to be released, but am not going to hold my breath, given that it is a “big studio” release.

       1 likes

  • 35
    trickymutha says:

    Josh is cool. WE met him at Royal Oak last year during the CT tour. He was more than pleasant and patient with a huge autograph seeking crowd, while talking to my youngest son who watched MST episodes since he was 4 and loved the KTMA and season one Servo very much. Josh rocks.

       1 likes

  • 36
    Richard the Lion-Footed says:

    schippers @ 29

    I agree that the whole relationship between Joel and the bots DID change as we moved from KTMA to Comedy Central.
    In fact, the relationship Joel had in the beginning is more like the one that Mike had in the later years.
    Many have commented on the almost paternal interaction Joel had, but after watching these episodes again, that was obviously NOT the original intention.

    Maybe (pure speculation on my part) that was ore a reflection of the relation Joel had with the original cast. As the show grew and characters became more defined, a desperation between on stage and off stage relations could develop.
    (WOW, I have to stop watching Dr. Phil)

    Good catch.

       1 likes

  • 37

    At the risk of sounding redundant, I recommend all hardcore MSTies watch ep. 104 after 113 to fully grok the evolution of the series, both for developments on the SOL/Deep 13 and the writing of the riffs. Plus it gives one a better send off to Josh. Whatever strife he was experiencing behind the scenes (mostly from Mallon, who treated, and paid him, like an intern, according to Weinstein in recent interviews – that Ken Plume Chat is a good one), he never showed it onscreen or in the theatre. In an alternate universe he would have stayed on for Season Two and who knows what would have happened? (In an extreme “What if…” situation, maybe Kevin would have eventually inherited Joel’s role as host?)

    And re. the Harryhausen/O’Brien issue, my pet theory is that maybe the Brains knew the correct FX credit but went with the more well-known name in the Mad’s intro to entice viewers to watch the episode, only to correct and educate them later. A little “bait and switch.” Could be a good question for Trace and Joel if Sampo ever does that follow-up interview to the KTMA one he did awhile back…

    In any case, I don’t think we ever hear of Tom Servo’s love of mango juice and being rubbed with exotic oils again.

    And thanks fellow readers for the “likes,” though I’m still not quite sure what that means…

       3 likes

  • 38
    H says:

    @31, fair enough.

       0 likes

  • 39
    Unga Khan says:

    Figured out who “Dan Wichowsky” is- and it’s spelled Dan Witkowski. He ran the Minnesota-based MagicCom company that produced what was apparently a bizarre Superbowl XXIII halftime show in 1989. Here’s a link:

    http://popdust.com/2011/02/04/the-true-story-of-the-weirdest-super-bowl-halftime-show-ever/

       7 likes

  • 40
    GizmonicTemp says:

    Specter #32 and Sampo – Sampo, no Josh doesn’t get a lot of the credit deserves for MST3K, but that’s mainly due, as Specter mentioned, to the common thinking that Frank had MUCH better chemistry with Trace. Perhaps it’s not fair to make a one-to-one comparison as pretty much EVERYTHING about the show got exponentially better after the first season and it’s impossible to say that the show would have been better or worse had Josh stayed. But Frank was just so good, fans soon forget Josh.

    It’s kind of like saying that Trent Green doesn’t get enough praise for building the Rams Superbowl offense. When Trent went down and Kurt Warner stepped in, Kurt made fans forget. And then Trent came to Kansas City and was pretty much freakin’ awesome. Kind of like Josh going to Cinematic Titanic.

    Sorry that I’m so talkative, but it’s late and I’ve been drinking…

       2 likes

  • 41
    RockyJones says:

    @39: Oh my gawd! I actually still have a VHS recording of that halftime show in it’s entirity…along with the 3D glasses! (The 3D effect actually did work remarkably well.) Somehow I knew, even before I clicked on the link, exactly which Superbowl halftime show they HAD to be referring to…and I was right.

       1 likes

  • 42
    Manny Sanguillen says:

    I just watched that interview on the merlin dvd where Kevin says Mike was the funniest guy on the planet and I recall Mike stating that Josh, who he knew from performing at local comedy clubs, called him and said they needed somebody to type up the scripts. Kevin never said anything about being the one to bring Mike in.
    They gave Josh the credit.
    Watch the interview again, you’ll see.

       3 likes

  • 43
    Sharktopus says:

    Okay, Unga Khan deserves some kind of reward for solving our mystery. The Satellite News No-Prize, perhaps? Excelsior!

    And swh1939 is correct, Kevin is most definitely a tenor, especially when he sings. Thankfully his range is enough that his Servo didn’t sound too different from Josh’s sonorous baritone.

    Also, add mine to the pile of “Josh, you’ll be missed” cards. The best part of Cinematic Titanic, for me, has been discovering just how multitalented he is. (That short attention span radio bit he does with Grubber is amazing.)

       2 likes

  • 44
    pondoscp says:

    I actually like the host segments on this one, but I’m a big public access viewer, and these segs still have that made-at-home feel. And yes, I know KTMA was a UHF station, just to clarify that I don’t think MST started on public access. But it does feel like it, especially in the K and first seasons.

    And unlike Crow, I like the green sauce!

    Let the true awesomeness begin next week! I’m a huge Frank fan! I love everyone else, but Frank is where it’s at for me. @37, I’ve often wondered, what if Dr. F had sent Frank into space after Joel escaped? Then Torgo becomes the new assistant, like in “Village of the Giants,” which I’m watching/listening to as I type this. Frank is the best Frank that’s ever happened to me!

    I’ve got the “Labor Day Blowout” copy too.

    And I vaguely remember that Super Bowl halftime. But, like “Troll 2,” I didn’t realize at the time how goofy it was. “Cause there was a lot of goofy back in ’89/’90. It seemed normal then.

       1 likes

  • 45
    pondoscp says:

    Or send Jack Perkins into space! That would have been crazy. He would have complimented everything!

       1 likes

  • 46
    Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    And we come to the end of Season 1.  Feels good, don’t ya think?

    I’ve enjoyed this rewatch of Season 1, some of these I had only seen once.  I was surprised by how uneven the season was as a whole, lots of ups and downs in quality.  The theater riffing got more and more solid as the season went on, but the Host Segments were really suffering towards the end.  All on all, I liked it more than I thought I would, but just like every TV show I watch, the First Season is my least favorite.
      
    As for the whole numbering & final episode debate, this is where I stand.  Obviously, Black Scorpion is the final episode of the season.  It’s right there in the ep#, 113.  Highest number, last episode.  NOW, obviously 104 was filmed after 113, but due to the Brains mix up (or maybe they.. just… didn’t.. care? (or maybe they never thought anybody would obsess over it 20+ years later?)) it ended up at the 4th ep, not the 13th.  I’ve never watched the show in sequential order (before now) and have always been a randomizer.  I guess if you’re gonna watch the show “in order” you can watch 104 as the last of Season 1, otherwise, 104 is 104 and 113 is 113.  No take backs.

    On the subject of Josh.  I used to be a disliker of his schtick.  Consider me reformed.  While he is no TVs Frank (who is?) and his portrayal of sidekick Larry is sometimes grating, I found his Servo to be surprisingly fresh and different and, yes, funny.  I think he does a more than servicible job, I would say, he does a good job.  Way to go kid!   I always thought it was cool to see his name on The Simpsons or Conan, and while I’ve never seen Cinematic Titanic (I know; what’s wrong with me?) and can’t judge the guy by his current work, I’m glad he’s part of the Mystery Science Family.

    Now, as for 113 The Black Scorpion:

    The Bots are oddly silent (again) during the opening.

    I got a DAP Central copy and there is a logo pop-up for Comedy Central Labor Day BlowOut! a few times on screen.  (the exclamation point is theres, not mine).

    I find this movie to be fairly watchable, while the episode is only so-so; the riffing is steady and  full of good times, but the Host Segments tend to suck eggs.  HS#1 left no impression, and in HS#2, Servo’s arms work (he’s holding a magazine), Gypsy’s tail falls off her costume, and the explosion is nice.  Overall, decent, but not great.  

    In Host Segment #3 I am pretty sure the spider (is it supposed to be a scorpion?) that the Bots have on the table next to the doll-Joel is another He-Man Masters of the Universe toy that’s been doctored for TV use (like Battle Bones was used to make the Demon Dogs earlier in Season 1).  I’m pretty sure it is Spydor, a six (?) legged battery powered spider thing that Skeletor rode around in.  Type in “He-Man spider toy” into YouTube and and see a commercial (I’m too lazy to post a link).

    RIFFS:
    Servo: “They’re flavor buds!  They are bursting with flavor!”

    Joel: “Meanwhile, back in Naperville, IL”.  

    When the little kid is pouring drinks, Joel quips, “Take a shot for yourself, little buddy.”

    Little boy says to the dog, Sancho, “What’s happened to you tonight?,” and Crow replies, “I got into a film with Jim Belushi.”. Without checking IMDB, I’m pretty sure that movie is K9.

    Crow gives out a nice Dr Strangelove “bred and slaughtered!” riff at one point.  Is this the first of these?

    Crow: “I was afraid of this…scorpion hobos!”

    And we come to an end…….
    My arbitrary ranking of Season 1 experiments.  Feel free to disagree.  
    110 Robot Holocaust
    107 Robot Monster
    104 Women of the Prehistoric Planet
    112 Untamed Youth
    111 Moon Zero Two
    102 Robot vs Aztec Mummy
    106 Crawling Hand
    109 Project Moonbase
    113 The Black Scorpion
    101 The Crawling Eye
    108 The Slime People
    103 Mad Monster
    105 Corpse Vanishes

    Yay, end of Season 1!!  Bring on Season 2!!!

    Dang, sorry for getting all wordy.  I’m just bursting with flavor buds.

    .

       1 likes

  • 47
    Sampo says:

    Thanks so much, Unga Khan, for figuring that one out!

       0 likes

  • 48
    Dan in WI says:

    #46> That is not “our” Josh Weinstein credited in the Simpsons and I’m pretty sure it’s not him in Conan either. That is a different person and to avoid confusion the surfacing of the “other” Josh is what prompted him to adopt J Elvis as his new moniker.

       3 likes

  • 49
    I'm not a medium, I'm a petite says:

    yes, props to Ungha Khan.

       1 likes

  • 50
    WhereTheFishLives says:

    I enjoy season 1.. at times. However, I am excited to be embarking on season 2, the season where it really began for me. I think Josh is very talented and often wonder if 8 seasons vet Josh, Mike, and Bill would’ve been the Dream Team… Much love to the original cast though, you are all pioneers!

       1 likes

  • 51
    Matt Sandwich says:

    Unga Khan FTW! That’s the first time I’ve ever used ‘FTW’ online or elsewhere. Seems more than appropriate here.

    Like a lot of folks, since my first encounter was with TV’s Frank, who I always absolutely loved, I had a hard time getting used to Josh. (Until the Interwebs came along, Robot Holocaust was my only Josh episode– admittedly a great one.) And while his tenure with the show wasn’t helped by the fact that they were still finding their sea legs (that’s the nice way of saying it, right?), I’ve definitely come to appreciate his talent. Yes, especially considering his age at the time.

    Thanks also to those who brought up the ‘Bit of a Chat’ podcast. I’m looking forward to listening to it.

    I love it when a thread comes together!

       1 likes

  • 52
    Cronkite Moonshot says:

    @#48 Dan in WI… Actually it’s almost certainly a Writers Guild thing. They don’t allow two members to use the same name professionally, so when Josh (J.Elvis) moved out west and joined the WGA he would have had to use a different name because Josh Weinstein, Simpsons writer extraordinaire, was no doubt already a member of the WGA by then. J. Elvis could have just added his middle initial, but he probably wanted to differentiate himself even more from the other Josh Weinstein. By the way Josh Weinstein is highly respected and well known Simpsons writer who along with his writing partner Bill Oakley is responsible for some of the most memorable episodes of that series. They also did a few episodes of the classic Futurama together, and Weinstein is now a producer on the revived version of Futurama. If there is one thing I know/love more than MST3K it’s The Simpsons and Futurama.

    Also I wanted to throw my hat into the discussion of Joel’s relationship to the bots, and the why’s and hows of it’s development. I actually agree that in the KTMA episodes it probably had much more to do with their off screen relationships coming through, probably mostly due to the informal nature of the series, and the fact that they were just trying to figure out what it was they were creating. With season one I think it was a combination of them sticking with what they had been doing already while still trying to figure the show out in it’s new form. I don’t think the change to a more parental relationship between Joel and the Bots was fast, nor did it occur right away at the beginning of season 2. I would say their relationships were still more like equal friendships through much of season two. But I also think the eventual change was pretty natural, and also corresponded to the improvement overall in the host segments. They simply got much better as the parental style relationship developed. I can definitely understand why as well, because that kind of relationship is a much bigger springboard in comedy. A guiding “parental” figure is more able to take questions and instigate discussions to comedic effect. Joel gradually took on that roll, and the bots just gradually made the switch from the roll of friends giving their other friend the business into children giving their parent the business. It’s a similar roll, but with much more comedic possibilities. Look at sitcoms. You can have an entire show just built around one house and it’s parents trying to deal with their kids, and take that basic set up quite far before it runs out of steam. On the other hand if you start off with just a group of friends/equals you quickly have to introduce all kinds of other elements to propagate new stories, and create a more interesting show. Things like new places for them to go, inter-group romantic relationships, extra-group romantic relationships, and just other contrived situations in general. So I think it was natural, just from a writing standpoint, that the Joel relationship developed into what it was. And when you look at the later Mike/Bots relationship in comparison you can see the situation I just described even more. It was also natural that Mike’s relationship with them would be more of a friend than a parental figure given that Joel was their creator, while Mike was just the “new guy” and more of an equal. And because of that change in the characters relationships almost right from the start of Mikes era the host segments started getting more complicated, and by the end they were often very elaborate sketches, sometimes even involving the different environments, which never happened during the Joel years. I can’t think of any Joel era host segments off the top of my head that didn’t mainly just feature Joel and the Bots on the bridge of the Satellite of Love (maybe talking to someone on the Hexfield Viewscreen), but in the Mike era we had some radically different kinds of host segmnents. Just off the top of my head I can think of Crow going back in time to the cheese factory, Mike and the bots out in the woods when reality was being twisted in the wormhole, Mike’s trial, Mike and Crow going over to sit with Pearl in her Widowmaker, the entire Nanites thing involving a whole new environment with them, and so much more.

       3 likes

  • 53
    Cronkite Moonshot says:

    Can everyone please forgive my idiotic use of the word “roll” instead of “role”? Please?!

       1 likes

  • 54
    Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    You are forgiven Cronkite Moonshot, if I can be forgiven for my confusion of the two Josh Weinsteins. Oops, is all I got to say.

       2 likes

  • 55
    DICKWEED 1 says:

    This is a good episode. I would say top 10 of season 1. If the host segments were better it would crack top 5. My biggest ? is about the Mexican Kenny/Juanito. Who’s damn kid is he!!! Finnias @ #7 Bing used to beat his wife and kid’s. I think gary was the oldest. He’s not the guy we think of from the xmas specials or A Wonderful Life! Things were kept a lot more hush hush back then. Imagine if they had TMZ/The Internets back then? We’d think a lot different about guys like him, John Wayne,Sinatra ect. Now about Josh leaving. I didn’t get cable till season 3, so of course Franks my boy. But since i’ve found this site and started watching the show in order it’s been cool seeing the evolution of things and josh rightfully belongs as a founding father!! Now my problem is if his reason for leaving is that he didn’t like the structure of the scripted shows. Why in gods name would you go work on that dumbass funniest video show!!!! I was a little bummed when I found out a few years ago he wasn’t the guy from The Simpsons! But he probably still gets residuals!! So god bless him. We all gotta pay the bills!!!!

       1 likes

  • 56
    crowschmo says:

    I ordered this ep from Skyroniter and got it just in time for this discussion. Okay, not great.

    Not a bad little movie. A bit slow, but effects aren’t too bad. Characters are a bit dull.

    Liked Josh’s makeup in his mutated state, and Dr. F was funny as a, I guess shrunken headed- skeleton (it was a little small Smile ).

    Host segs were so-so overall, but cute.

    One of the other dynamics that changed from the Joel years to the Mike years was that Joel would do a lot of movie related lecture-type thingees talking about special FX, sound FX, etc. They got away from that in the later eps.

    Nothing overly hilarious riff-wise in this one, but still some funnies.

    Some faves:

    “And then, tragedy struck – we ran out of stock footage.” – Crow

    “Uh, Tom – there’s no ‘south’ in space.” – Joel

    “Meanwhile, on a pole somewhere…” – Joel

    Footprints!

    The best: “It’s an ancient squeaking scorpion!” – Servo

    But what made me laugh the most was Crow’s “expressions” when Joel was reading that letter. Trace did a good job making that puppet look alive. Smile

    Exit Josh, enter Frank and Kevin.

       1 likes

  • 57
    Greasyfries says:

    #20, while this film doesn’t contain any footage of the infamous KONG “spider pit”, some of the beasties in the cave sequence were, in fact, originally built for that scene back in 1932-33.

       2 likes

  • 58
    Cronkite Moonshot says:

    @#54 Watch-out-for-Snakes… Actually back when I first started seeing Josh Weinstein’s name in the Simpsons credits I thought it was J. Elvis too for a little while. I just thought I’d blather off some info on him since the one thing I’m more obsessed with than MST is The Simpsons and Futurama. I don’t expect everyone to be.

       1 likes

  • 59

    The confusion about the two Josh Weinsteins is understandable, especially when Bender’s catchphrase “Bite my shiny metal ass” sounds like something Tom Servo might have said…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRnq-PFboMI

       1 likes

  • 60
    Dan in WI says:

    Cronkite #52> It is indeed a Writers Guild thing. I learned that this weekend at the Milwaukee Cinematic Titanic events. The story Josh told during his warm-up bit was two fold. I think he was serious though it could have been a part of his shtick too I guess. First he stated that by adopting the middle name Elvis it made his initials J.E.W. which he said struck him as hilarous at the time. Second he stated it was an homage to his hero Elvis Costello. Now that may have been made up because from their he launched into a routine about being the world’s first Elvis Costello impersonator as opposed to the thousands of Elvis Pressly impersonators.

       1 likes

  • 61
    Wydok says:

    I didn’t notice it earlier in the episode, but during Host segment 2 the door is a different color. I also didn’t notice this in any episode earlier this season.

       0 likes

  • 62
    Wydok says:

    Nevermind on the door color, I think it’s the quality of my copy…

       0 likes