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Episode guide: 210- King Dinosaur (with short: “X Marks The Spot” )

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
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (129 votes, average: 4.36 out of 5)

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• 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. Smile
• 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.”

86 comments to Episode guide: 210- King Dinosaur (with short: “X Marks The Spot” )

  • 51
    Fred Burroughs says:

    @10 – Joseph Nebus
    Hey Joe N; if your father really knows every location from the short, could you tell us what town or section it was filmed?
    My wife is a Jersey girl and I’d be curious just what part of NJ they would use for the DMV. The shore doesn’t look like the Philly suburbs, which don’t look like the rural south or the clogged north. ‘Course it looks all different now I’m sure. Did people really walk into and out of other people’s cars back then?

       1 likes

  • 52
    Edge says:

    I’ve got to believe that the ‘hat will be the grandest of all’ comes from a variation of the words to ‘Easter Parade’ from the movie of the same name:

    In your Easter bonnet
    with all the frills upon it,
    You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade

    Can I prove it? No. Only the ‘Brains’ no for sure.

       1 likes

  • 53
    RL says:

    http://youtu.be/WrW2W3rN4N0

    On this youtube clip at about 2:45 Joel talks about reading a magazine with a mention that a hat party is being held at a convention.

    Nothing about it being “the grandest of all” but it’s something!

       1 likes

  • 54
    MiqelDotcom says:

    I really like Joel, but this hipster beatnik poetry stuff is annoying, even if it is semi-ironic. Maybe it reminds me too much of myself when i was a coffee house denizen!

    I had never seen the original Joey the Lemur sketch when I saw the parody of it on LOTWH. That was very puzzling … Joel is either making it up, not reading the script very well or pretending to – i can’t really tell which.

    The background organ music (Mike Nelson?) in ‘Emotional Scientist’ is totally perfect! Strangely, there are a few themes in the film score that got stuck in my head to the point that I had to learn them on the flute.

    Also, I have to agree with some of the other comments, the “science” in the movie is idiotic, even for a cheap 50s scifi, and the “scientists” in this film are among the most pathetic of any MSTied movie!

       1 likes

  • 55
    Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    This one might crack my top 5 for the season. The short is really good and the Host Segments are mostly solid. Host Segment #1 starts slow but ends up being hilarious, maybe Crow’s stand-out moment of Season 2. So many great lines! I love the NETWORK-inspired line, “C’mon friends, run to your windows and shout, I’m cheesed and I’m not gonna hang around ’till this thing gets better!” as well as the callback to the classic commercial from my childhood, “ask Mr. Owl how many licks it takes to get to the tootsie-center.” Crow caps it off with a perfect “the pain…the pain…” Classic stuff. Segment #2, the classic Joey the Lemur sketch, is good manic stuff. Is Joel on crazy pills? HS#3 is just okay. Meh.

    The movie itself is a big pile of wrong. Plotless and incredibly stupid, definitely not the “best” Lippert movie of Season 2 and definitely not the best we’ll get from Mr. Bert I. Gordon, but still fairly watchable, despite the graphic lizard violence. Overall, I find myself giving this one a generous 4/5 rating.

    RIFFS:

    —-During X Marks the Spot:
    Joel: “Think they’re gonna talk about how ugly that guy is?”

    Crow: “I’m soooo ashamed!”

    Joel: “Looks like Nixon’s enemy list.”

    Crow: “He was higher than Judy Garland.”

    —–during King Dinosaur:

    Crow: “Joel, I’m tripping!”

    Joel’s snake voice: “Hi. Remember me? I’m Satan.”

    Servo and Joel talk about callbacks in the theater, which I found very interesting, as I assumed that was a term that MSTies made up. Also, the Bots mention Host Segments during the closing Segment. All of this is very meta.

    Joel: “Hey those aren’t real tears, I’ve heard about you!”

    And one of my favorite lines I like to throw out every once in awhile, JOEL: “He’s a chocolate mess!”

    .

       4 likes

  • 56
    MonkeyPatrol:InColor says:

    Oh man, this is my favorite season 2 episode; I’ve always felt like this was the first “best” episode of the series.

    It’s baffling to me how many people are confused about the Joey the Lemur sketch. To me it’s pretty obviously written tongue-in-cheek.

    After all, it’s not a sketch show, but rather a show about a guy and his robots putting on sketches–so they make a crappy one every once in a while. You can really tell from Crow and Tom’s reactions that they’re “breaking character” (within the show) by reacting sort of bewildered and annoyed by Joel and the crappiness of the sketch. It’s meta, and it’s friggin’ hilarious.

       3 likes

  • 57
    Joseph Nebus says:

    @51 Fred Burroughs says:

    @10 – Joseph Nebus
    Hey Joe N; if your father really knows every location from the short, could you tell us what town or section it was filmed?

    I asked and my father’s up for watching the short and seeing what places he can pin down, with the note that some places like Palmer Stadium are really gimmes, and he didn’t remember having seen the short before. But he’s like that.

    If this pans out, this could easily be the most trivial advance in MST3K knowledge since the horizontally flipped video of Crow, Joel, and Tom Servo inside the theater during the opening credits was sorted out.

       3 likes

  • 58
    ck says:

    Even in the 50s this movie had to viewed as sexist.
    And June Cleaver could have punched out the guys.

    But say what you will, the movie is more engrossing then The Starfighters. Pain

       2 likes

  • 59
    Sharktopus says:

    It’s true that not everyone in New Jersey drives like a maniac, but the many who do have perfected a reckless abandon that makes the Dukes of Hazzard look like Ralph Nader.

       2 likes

  • 60
    TheDON3k says:

    Tom (I seem to recall) makes a semi-dirty reference in this one. As the guy, hiding the cave, is loading-up the flare gun, you see he’s inserting a long metal-looking tube into the gun, to which Tom says something to the effect of, ‘Let’s load-up the Steely Dan, here’…

    He’s referring to the shell having a resemblance to the Band’s namesake, of course.

       3 likes

  • 61
    GizmonicTemp says:

    I’m a bit late in commenting, and this is a bit of a personal comment, so most have already stopped reading it… but anyway…

    This episode has a special place in my heart. I was furloughed from my job for six weeks while restructuring was going on and one of my “cheap entertainment” decisions was to purchase Season Two on video CD from a tape trader. I made it through most of season two with “Ring of Terror” being the only one better than a “m’eh” as far as I was concerned. Then, I popped in “King Dinosaur”. The short was dark and hilarious, the movie was absurd, the host segments were clever and charming, and the riffing was PLENTIFUL! I had always loved MST3K, but this show single-handedly convinced me that getting my hands on every episode was something I should pursue.

    I love this episode. Kissing

       7 likes

  • 62
    Lex says:

    “My forheads all bondo.”

    “If you kill yourselves here, we can’t kill them over there.”

    I don’t remember anything about the movie, but I remember the Lemur sketch. I don’t think it went well.

       1 likes

  • 63
    losingmydignity says:

    Funny, I didn’t like this one the first time through. But subsequent viewings have changed my mind. A very funny solid ep, and the best of the Lippert’s.

    I can just see Best Brains watching the next Phantom Creeps episode and saying, no, we gotta do something else! I move every bit as important as the removal of Joel’s goatee. Good riffing right out of the gate.

    I think this film may set the record for number of minutes of stock footage, footage from other films, and–what you call it–insert shots? in any film. Footage of the actors and such probably doesn’t amount to more than an Twilight Zone episode’s worth.

    Weird roughness with women. Creepy. Though I have to admit I do laugh at the Brains’ reaction to that moment when our “hero” throws down the girl. Whoa.

    I love the way Crows moment alone in the theatre sets up the first host seg which is a real charmer.

    I always thought the Joey the Lemur sketch was a parody of something specific, especially given Joel’s voice. Its weirdenss seems to come from its going on way too long. So long it becomes funny.

    B+

       1 likes

  • 64

    Don’t mean to sound like a dick (and I know that anytime you preface something with “don’t mean to..” you come off exactly how you’re not trying to come off, but bare with me) but isn’t the reason The Brains and the fans call things host segments and callbacks; is because that is exactly what they are since those terms/words were old hat by the 80s.

    It seems like Lippert and others really got good use out of the cruel reptile fight and in a way The Brains, since it’s in this, Lost Conteniat (sp?, my English degree weeps), and Robot Monster.

       0 likes

  • 65

    As soon as I saw the little bears doing a bit of good-natured brawling I half-expected Ross, from “Catching Ross”, to pop out of the undergrowth and bag ’em. And then throw the bag to the ground from a great height, and catch them again when they escape. This film seems to share that kind of mindset, what with the atomic blast at the end. Within a day they shoot a snake, rip up some trees in order to make a shelter, knife an alligator, and shoot a grasshopper-wasp-bee thing. And all the animals were just minding their own business.

    Also, notice how they walk everywhere with the armed men at the front and back of the column and the two women in the middle, as if the women were cattle. It’s almost as if the film was a subtle satire on the colonial mindset. The White Male Reality. It’s a good job that there isn’t life on Mars, ’cause we would have ruined it if we had gone there in the 1950s. We’d have wiped out the Martians and replaced them with our own culture, and then *we* would be the Martians. Wouldn’t that be a good theme for a book, eh?

    “Besides, I’ve decided I’m the new god of this planet”

    The Joey the Lemur sketch is one of those things that skirts the border between brilliance and disturbing madness. I can’t remember the exact quote, but it reminds me of a line about watching a friend who seems to be the upbeat life and soul of the party, but is actually having a nervous breakdown. I assume they decided to do an experiment and just improvise the whole thing, but they had to simultaneously concentrate on operating the puppets and standing in the right place, and it overwhelmed their situational awareness. “I don’t panel well” is a good line though. Elderly or un-eldermy?

    “On this youtube clip at about 2:45 Joel talks about reading a magazine with a mention that a hat party is being held at a convention.”

    Wouldn’t it be incredible if the man himself was reading this, and answered this question by email? It’s never going to happen in a million years, but wouldn’t it be incredible? We’d have to be careful not to offend him, though. Creative people are a bit flaky, prone to outbursts.

    I’m going to click to insert a smiley: Coffee

       1 likes

  • 66
    toot-toottoot-toot says:

    I haven’t commented on these in forever so, while i’m about a month and a half late I figured I’d actually get around to making up for lost time, ha. X Marks the Spot was such a groundbreaking short for the series. It was the first “true” short and actually ranks pretty high on my faves of all time. The movie I felt was an average riffing effort and Joey the Lemur was needless, of course. 3/5 stars.

       0 likes

  • 67
    Seneca says:

    These scientists should never have been allowed to make a space voyage together. Happy loving couples on a multi-million dollar scientific expedition? It’s so dumb only someone like Bert I. Gordon could have conceived it. But then, sometimes I suspect that Bert I. is a subversive film maker who slyly poked fun at the ridiculous macho-military attitudes of the fifties. Certainly none of his films make the military look good.

       0 likes

  • 68
    touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    67: “Happy loving couples on a multi-million dollar scientific expedition? It’s so dumb only someone like Bert I. Gordon could have conceived it.”

    Or, over thirty years later, Gene Roddenberry. Admittedly, Picard, Riker, Data, and the other main characters didn’t have spouses, but any number of the background/bit-player crew members did. I’m just sayin’. Wink

       1 likes

  • 69
    Johnny's nonchalance says:

    Stephen:
    Crow’s “Am I Qualified?” speech is one of my favorite MST moments ever.

    I concur. Yeahhh… we can ALL help.

    I had a bunch of my favorite MST bits on audio tapes. I held the recorder up to the TV speaker. Ah, the technology of the 1980s. I would listen to their songs while I fell asleep. I was 13.

    The Joey the lemur segment also made the tape.

    I remember the short much more fondly than the feature.

       2 likes

  • 70
    Abrabra Navelnite says:

    I can’t help but wonder if the ‘Failed sketch’ thing was meant as an homage of sorts to the At The Barber sketch in A Bit of Fry and Laurie where they do something very similar. It could be a coincidence, I suppose…

       0 likes

  • 71
    David J says:

    When I first saw this movie, I couldn’t stop laughing over the idea of using a iguana from another movie and expecting the audience to consider it to be a perfectly acceptable stand-in for a Tyrannosaurus Rex. I guess the very mention of T-Rex was supposed to be terrifying enough!

       0 likes

  • 72
    Terry the Sensitive Knight says:

    I do so love these old movies that film a bunch of petshop lizards and try to pass them off as dinosaurs. There’s just an innocence about it.

    The short’s pretty good, too. It’s the sort of thing that never would get made nowadays.

    Tom: “God sure has a crummy office, doesn’t he?”
    Joel: “That’s ‘cuz all the interior decorators are in Hell…”

    But by far my favorite aspect of this movie is how useless the “scientists” are. They don’t hardly conduct any actual studies, they just scream and run around, and best of all rather then try to analyze or preserve the life they find on another planet(something any real scientist would kill to discover) they decide the best course of action is nuke the living bejeezus out of everything and thus “bring civilization to planet Nova”, whatever that means.

       1 likes

  • 73
    Sitting Duck says:

    King Dinosaur passes the Bechdel Test. Patricia and Nora have multiple (albeit brief) non-male conversations.

    Funny how Joel is reading beatnik “poetry” not long after he shaved off the chin fungus.

    If this week’s short along with films like It’s a Wonderful Life and The Horn Blows at Midnight are any indication, it was popular in the Forties to portray Heaven as bureaucratic. This makes no sense to me, as I would think that a lack of bureaucracy would be a prominent feature of Heaven. C.S. Lewis made it plain that Hell is more likely to be awash with red tape.

    It’s amazing how much expressiveness Trace gets out of Crow in HS1. Not only from the movement of the eyes, but also through the angles he’s held towards the camera.

    Brandon #15: Uhh… Deep 13 has an elevator?

    Of course they have an elevator. If they had to use the stairs whenever they needed to go to the surface, Frank would be a lot trimmer.

    @ #50: Maybe he was a wheelman for bootleggers.

    Favorite riffs

    “Sure, he lives on your street.”
    In fact, he’s under your bed right now.

    “Hey, where is that guy?”
    He’s with your wife, Joe.

    “Joe had two kids of his own at that school.”
    And if his wife ever found out…

    “Did he ever drive when he had been drinking?”
    Oh boy, I need my other scroll for that. That’s a doozy.

    That’s just great. We’re stranded in space, and we still have to pull jury duty.

    “There is no margin for error.”
    There is a margin for shame, however.

    “The study of rock formations and its minerals is like reading the personal diary of a planet.”
    Yes, it’s not very polite.

    I believe, by the end of this decade, we will land a piece of stock footage on another planet. Ask not what a process shot can do for you.

    That’s one small step for a man, one giant step into a cow pie.

    I’m Chirpy the Mutant Hellbeast, and I don’t like this film.

    “That island…”
    I hate it. It’s taunting me.

       4 likes

  • 74
    Bruce Boxliker says:

    I can only imagine that the entire trip to this incredible new & completely inhabitable planet was filled with the blonde woman constantly asking ‘Are we there yet? I want to get this over with’. I can’t believe any scientist would be in a hurry to get back instead of spending the rest of their lives studying this new planet. Laziest most incompetent scientists in cinema history.
    Speaking of the trip there, I think this may be the one & only MST3k movie featuring a rocket where no roving gangs of asteroids harass them. Unless they did, but they didn’t show it because there were no animals to abuse.

       4 likes

  • 75
    pondoscp says:

    This is a perfect episode. That’s a great short.

       0 likes

  • 76
    thequietman says:

    Interesting this is the first episode with an honest-to-goodness short (as opposed to a serial chapter) and to me it’s also the first short that almost completely overshadows the feature. I’d forgotten this episode had even been released to DVD until this week.

    @Sitting Duck, you’re right now that I think about it. There’s also “A Matter of Life and Death”, “A Guy Named Joe”, and almost any cartoon using the ‘stork delivers babies’ trope.

    Anyway, besides the short, one of my new favorite moments is in HS3. When Crow starts getting emotional, Joel gives the audience a look that seems like a combination of “see what I have to deal with, people?” and “in another minute, I’m gonna commit mayhem…” and I just burst out laughing.

    Fave riffs
    From the short
    The commish: …without malice, without thinking…
    Joel: WITHOUT ENERGY! WOULD YOU WAKE UP, COME ON!
    I think that must be some record for the shortest length of time before Joel loses it.

    From the film
    Scientists: Notice the higher content of oxygen in the atmosphere?
    Servo: Yep, I’m high as a kite!

       0 likes

  • 77
    OnenuttyTanuki says:

    Possible Weekend topic idea (if it has not been done before):
    I have no idea how many times I’ve watch the King Dinosaur episode in the past, but I didn’t notice till last night that the guardian angel’s hat has little wings on the top of it. Anyone else ever found some little detail in the movies/shorts they never noticed before that was really amusing to them?. IE: The rest of the climbers cracking up as monkey boy is basically wedged up over the cliff in Lost Continent.

       1 likes

  • 78
    Cornjob says:

    Between the lady scientist ripping up the photograph and then nuking their incredible discovery this has got to be the absolute worst science and any MST movie. Why did they even have an atom bomb? What diagnostic requires one? Hilarious episode.

       2 likes

  • 79
    Bad Wolf says:

    Johnny’s nonchalance: I had a bunch of my favorite MST bits on audio tapes. I held the recorder up to the TV speaker. Ah, the technology of the 1980s. I would listen to their songs while I fell asleep. I was 13.

    Hah, i still do that. Luckily someone here pointed me to a program that can rip the audio out of DVDs, so i can just put them on my iPod / speakers and listen as i drift off. Sadly my wife is not such a fan, but we manage somehow.

       0 likes

  • 80
    Spade says:

    touches no one’s life, then leaves:
    67: “Happy loving couples on a multi-million dollar scientific expedition? It’s so dumb only someone like Bert I. Gordon could have conceived it.”

    Or, over thirty years later, Gene Roddenberry. Admittedly, Picard, Riker, Data, and the other main characters didn’t have spouses, but any number of the background/bit-player crew members did. I’m just sayin’.

    I’d go a step further and argue that Star Trek Enterprise, with the 4th episode of their 1st season (“Strange New World”), managed to have a very similar opening to King Dinosaur. In both stories, for the very first time, people take an Earth spaceship go explore a new planet… only to have it feel like they’re all vacationing somewhere in Wisconsin.

    Eventually, of course, the plots diverge, but the SF Debris review does a good job of showing how King Dinosaur actually had a *better* starting premise than Enterprise, in that the main characters in the movie did significantly more actual scientific study. The only lip service toward scientific study in the Enterprise episode is some of the crew staying overnight to study “nocturnal marsupials”. For a sudden moment, I thought this was a sly nod from the Enterprise writers to King Dinosaur, but lemurs and kinkajous aren’t marsupials (though they *are* nocturnal).

       0 likes

  • 81
    Spade says:

    Seneca:
    These scientists should never have been allowed to make a space voyage together. Happy loving couples on a multi-million dollar scientific expedition? It’s so dumb only someone like Bert I. Gordon could have conceived it. But then, sometimes I suspect that Bert I. is a subversive film maker who slyly poked fun at the ridiculous macho-military attitudes of the fifties. Certainly none of his films make the military look good.

    That’s a very intriguing take – certainly, it’s difficult for us to imagine how a scientist could nuke the natural habitat of an alien world and then, with a straight face, declare that they’ve “brought civilization to planet Nova”. Crow’s reaction to that line says it all: “Ha! Was that irony? This late in the film…” I’m trying to imagine what audiences in 1955 would have thought of that line, in the wake of World War II and with the Cold War and Red Scare stuff going on (or perhaps nobody was really paying attention to the movie by this point).

    And since I’m a *huge* defender of the movie Tormented, I’d go further and argue that Bert I. Gordon could be a quality storyteller when the opportunity arose later in his career (King Dinosaur was his first movie). Certainly, Joel & the Bots get way more caught up in the plot of Tormented (“This is one dark mama-jama of a movie, guys.”), and the special effects there are used to support the story, rather than the other way around as in King Dinosaur.

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  • 82
    Spade says:

    Sitting Duck:
    If this week’s short along with films like It’s a Wonderful Life and The Horn Blows at Midnight are any indication, it was popular in the Forties to portray Heaven as bureaucratic. This makes no sense to me, as I would think that a lack of bureaucracy would be a prominent feature of Heaven. C.S. Lewis made it plain that Hell is more likely to be awash with red tape.

    Hmm, that’s a rather good point, what *was* up with that trend? It continued past the 40s, you can see it echoed in some of the other MST3K shorts. Here’s the ones that came to mind for me:

    618’s “Out Of This World”: Red and Whitey’s “rather strange and out-of-this-world office, which keeps the sales records of every wholesale bakery salesman on earth” implies that bureaucratic bookkeeping duties are shared equally between heaven and hell. Which really should have been the first indication (among many) to the writers that their theology here was fundamentally flawed. (I’d like to severely misquote Jean-Paul Satre by saying that hell is endless filing cabinets.)

    701’s “Once Upon A Honeymoon”: “On this particular morning, the head angel had called a conference about Jeff and Mary, and their guardian angel, Wilbur, was late.” Conferences? Meetings in heaven that you can be late to? Bleah. “‘These clients are your immediate concern – *if* you want to keep your license.’ ‘Oh, yessir, yessir, yes *sir*, chief!'” Guardian angels can lose their licenses? And as a result they have to kiss up to their bosses? Double bleah.

    To be sure, the writers may have been lazily playing with popular tropes and ideas about heaven, filling the gaps with concepts from the everyday world their audiences would have been familiar with. I’m not sure how seriously anyone would have taken this stuff – some, I’m sure, had a response similar to Servo’s comment near the end of 904 Puma Man: “The theology contained within this picture may not be wholly accurate. Consult your doctor before embarking on a theology program.”

    Still, the world would be a much better place overall (not just our fiction, but our reality), if the correlation between bureaucracy and hell were more universally recognized.

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  • 83
    thequietman says:

    Spade: Hmm, that’s a rather good point, what *was* up with that trend? It continued past the 40s, you can see it echoed in some of the other MST3K shorts. Here’s the ones that came to mind for me:

    618’s “Out Of This World”: Red and Whitey’s “rather strange and out-of-this-world office, which keeps the sales records of every wholesale bakery salesman on earth” implies that bureaucratic bookkeeping duties are shared equally between heaven and hell. Which really should have been the first indication (among many) to the writers that their theology here was fundamentally flawed. (I’d like to severely misquote Jean-Paul Satre by saying that hell is endless filing cabinets.)

    701’s “Once Upon A Honeymoon”: “On this particular morning, the head angel had called a conference about Jeff and Mary, and their guardian angel, Wilbur, was late.” Conferences? Meetings in heaven that you can be late to? Bleah. “‘These clients are your immediate concern – *if* you want to keep your license.’ ‘Oh, yessir, yessir, yes *sir*, chief!’” Guardian angels can lose their licenses? And as a result they have to kiss up to their bosses? Double bleah.

    To be sure, the writers may have been lazily playing with popular tropes and ideas about heaven, filling the gaps with concepts from the everyday world their audiences would have been familiar with. I’m not sure how seriously anyone would have taken this stuff – some, I’m sure, had a response similar to Servo’s comment near the end of 904 Puma Man: “The theology contained within this picture may not be wholly accurate. Consult your doctor before embarking on a theology program.”

    Still, the world would be a much better place overall (not just our fiction, but our reality), if the correlation between bureaucracy and hell were more universally recognized.

    I’m guessing there’s a connection with the fact that most of these films (the features, anyway) came out while WWII was raging and people were desperate to see some semblance of order and peace somewhere, even if it’s in the afterlife.

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  • 84
    GizmonicTemp says:

    thequietman: I’m guessing there’s a connection with the fact that most of these films (the features, anyway) came out while WWII was raging and people were desperate to see some semblance of order and peace somewhere, even if it’s in the afterlife.

    VERY interesting discussion! I always thought it was simply a comedic device that used the irony of reducing Heaven and all of its grandeur and serenity and sunbeams breaking through clouds and streets of gold… to a boardroom. Just like “Buddy Christ” from “Dogma”.

    Sitting Duck has a good point; it DID happen a lot back then. However, speaking as a Christian myself, Heaven does have a hell of a lot of rules, so maybe it’s not so fictitious. Smile

    I agree with thequietman that Heaven is often portrayed as people WANT it to be; orderly, intelligent, etc. But also, God doing cartwheels in the grass; again, from “Dogma”.

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  • 85
    Cornjob says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but if I was getting on board a space ship and I spotted someone loading an atom bomb next to the spectroscope I would want to know exactly why it was being brought along and what its’ intended use was. As well as how its’ utility could possibly warrant the risk. And any mission dangerous enough to justify being nuclear armed should handled by someone else.

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  • 86
    Cornjob says:

    Interesting view of the afterlife where it seems a serial killer could get into heaven as long as he was a safe driver.

    Why do safety shorts provide us with valid information that can prolong our lives while making us want to commit suicide?

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