Short: (1944) Careless New Jersey driver Joe Doakes finds himself in a heavenly courtroom, on trial for his vehicular misdeeds. His guardian angel is his only defense.
Movie: (1955) Two scientist couples are sent to investigate a mysterious new planet and are menaced by snakes, gators, giant bugs and other scary process shots.
First shown: 12/22/90
Opening: Joel reads some beat poetry
Invention exchange: A crushed Dr. F. declares that he, “the pocket scientist,” is his invention; Joel’s accidental invention is the “incredibly stinky sweat socks.”
Host segment 1: Crow asks: “Am I qualified?”
Host segment 2: J&tB introduce Joey the lemur
Host segment 3: Joel objects to the “Emotional Scientist” sketch
End: Crow and Tom complain about all the Lippert’s movies, Joel shows off his theramin, Tom reads a letter
Stinger: Gator wrestling aftermath
• I want to begin by saying that I disavow all previous instances in which I described Joel’s goatee as “cheesy” and I maintain that a crazy person broke into my house when I wasn’t home and added the word to “cheesy” to my descriptions of Joel’s goatee, which at all times is manly and dignified. Now, on to business.
• This is a fun episode. Between the short, the goofy Lippert movie, Joey the lemur (he wasn’t a lemur) solid riffing and a some memorable host segments, there’s plenty to enjoy.
• This episode was included in Shout’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XXIII. Incidentally, I did not steal the description of the movie that appears on the jacket of that episode. THEY borrowed MY description (see above), with my permission, of course. They said they just liked it.
• Joel’s entirely dignified and not at all cheesy goatee is gone — but Crow and Tom are wearing them in the opening bit. He is still wearing the pastel green jumpsuit from last week.
• Does anyone know whose poem Joel is reading in the opening? Google is silent.
• Sir Goofus von Drakesnot is a funny name.
• In the opening Dr. F. is seen working on an elevator. It would reappear a few other times.
• Joel finally provided an explanation to the “hat party” reference, one that had been bugging people for years. It has to do with magic conventions that he and his friends attended, which often had activities for wives of the magicians attending. One was a hat party, and the blurb for it asked: “Will yours be the grandest of all?” or something like that.
• Neither the “pocket scientist” nor the “incredibly stinky sweat socks” are actual inventions, but the former is a very nice illusion and the latter is a pretty funny prop. So I will let them slide.
• With this episode we get our first real short, and it’s clear immediately that this works much better for the show than the serials they’d been using. This isn’t (I don’t think) a classroom short, unless it was something Traffic Court made you watch after you got too many moving violations.
• Crow’s inspirational speech in segment 1, including the brilliant, immortal words “Crush someone with an emotional word or an enigmatic look,” is one of the funniest segments of the season.
• Callback: “That was number 2!!” (Sidehackers)
• Yes, the gecko-Roman wrestling is the same footage from “One Million B.C.” we’ve seen before. Also, Bronson Canyon was used for some exterior shots, as was done in many other MSTed movies.
• “I’m a pan-dimensional being” is a “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” reference.
• One of the highlights of this episode is the series of riffs in which Joel, in a gravelly voice, says “Hi, I’m Satan!” every time a snake appears. As these bits go on, they wander into a whole Kraft cheese thing, climaxing with Tom offering a very strange recipe as announcer Ed Herlihy. Great stream-of-consciousness riffing.
• Segment two is, of course, the infamous “Joey the lemur” bit. Now, I like the “handmade” nature of the show as much as the next guy, but what the heck is going on with Joel? Was this planned? Did he just go off script for the heck of it? I have no idea what he’s saying half the time. In episode 611- LAST OF THE WILD HORSES they do a very funny parody of this bit, implying that even they were baffled by it.
• Segment two, in addition to being weird, is also out of order. The “lemur” hasn’t appeared in the movie yet. But it does seem like they are aware of it: Joel sort of backfills as they re-enter the theater.
• Great “Twin Peaks” reference: “The owl footage is not what it seems.”
• Over the years, many fans have noted that the “lemur” in this movie is actually a kinkajou.
• Segment three is sort of another “we’re trying to do a sketch but it’s not going well” sketch. It was “meta” before (most) people said “meta.”
• Naughty riff: “I’m gonna load up the steely dan.”
• The closing bit is also a bit “meta.” It’s only been a few episodes since Joel did a presentation using the “series of sketches” and/or a musical tribute. They’re already they’re making fun of it? Does this reflect a real situation in the writing room?
• The letter that Tom reads is notable. It’s, I think, the only time anybody on the show uttered the phrase “host segment.” Tom pretends not to know what they are (though they’re mentioned in the credits).
• Cast and Crew Roundup: They make a big deal about this being another movie by executive producer Robert Lippert, but they fail to notice a bigger menace–this is the first of EIGHT movies directed by Bert I. Gordon (he directed more MSTed movies than anybody else). Writer-producer Al Zimbalist also produced “Robot Monster.” Cinematographer Gordon Avil did sound direction for “Robot Monster.” Editors John Bushelman and Jack Cornall also worked on “Village of the Giants.” Special effects guy Howard A. Anderson also worked on “Women of the Prehistoric Planet,” “12 to the Moon,” “The Amazing Transparent Man” and “It Lives By Night.” Sound supervisor Rod Sutton also worked on “It Lives By Night,” “Hangar 18” and “Slime People.” Score composer Mischa Terr also worked on “The Unearthly,” “Bloodlust,” “The Violent Years” and “The Sinister Urge.” We’ll hear narrator Marvin Miller again in “The Day the Earth Froze” and “The Phantom Planet.”
• CreditsWatch: This Week’s Creative Pit Boss: Trace Beaulieu. “Villians” is still misspelled. Intern Nathan Molstad played Jerry the mole person. Additional music: Kevin Murphy, Michael J. Nelson.
• Fave riff from the short: “He said a silent prayer to Bongo, the god of gravity.” Honorable mention: “…but I did find him down by the waterfront dressed in a Spartan costume.”
• Favorite riff: “I’m Chirpy the mutant hellbeast, and I don’t like this film.” Honorable mention: “Relax?! There’s a bee the size of a moose over there and you want him to relax??” and “There is a margin for shame, however.”