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Sampo & Erhardt

Sci-Fi Archives

Visit our archives of the MST3K pages previously hosted by the Sci-Fi Channel's SCIFI.COM.

Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Episode guide: 509- The Girl in Lovers Lane

Movie: (1960) A whiny runaway is befriended by a world-weary drifter, but the duo’s arrival in a small town spells trouble for a local waitress.

First shown: 9/18/93
Opening: Tom and Crow are retrofitting themselves with bellybuttons; Joel approves
Invention exchange: The Mads present evil baseball promotions, Joel presents “Don Martins”
Host segment 1: J&tB sing “What a Pleasant Journey”
Host segment 2: The bots want to reenact the pool hall scene
Host segment 3: Crow is Crow Elam
End: Furious about the ending of the movie, the bots devise new endings, Joel reads letters, Frank devises endings too
Stinger: “Are you waiting for a bus?”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (83 votes, average: 4.59 out of 5)


• This is what I used to call a “little” episode. The movie has a very narrow scope. The host segments are fun but nothing spectacular. The riffing is decent but workmanlike. It’s good, not great. But, like practically every episode, it has its moments…
• This episode is included on Shout’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XV.
• Once again they’re doing stuff to the bots in the opening segment. This time it’s belly buttons. I do love the way Joel thinks it over and decides to go for it.
• Something I never noticed before: In the opener, when they turn on the electric drill, the lights dim a little for a second. A great subtle little touch.
• The baseball promotion invention exchange is as dark as Frank predicts it will be, at least for any baseball fan. I’m old enough to remember when my dad took me and my two brothers to “bat day” at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia: every kid got an actual regulation wooden bat, and yet we behaved. I suspect there’d be mayhem in the stands if they did that today.
• Why does Joel’s jumpsuit come equipped with ONE kneepad?
• One of the best things about this episode is the songs. The song Tom makes up to go with the movie’s theme during the credit sequence is just marvelous. Joel and Crow add a line or two, but of course it’s dominated by Tom.
• This episode also features the “Camera three get off the tracks!! Arrgghhh!” sequence, which was later used in promos for the show.
• The other great song: “What a pleasant journey.” What can you say? One of the funniest songs of the series. The impression they’re doing, by the way is sort of a vague Woody Guthrie.
• The Mary Jo influence: Mentions of Appleton and Circle Pines.
• Callbacks: o/` “Leather coat…” o/` (The Beatniks) “To live like the E-lam…” (Robot Monster) “You’re stuck here!” (Fugitive Alien)
• One I didn’t get lat time around: Her neck looks like Randy Johnson’s. Commenters explained it to me.
• Elam does look like Garrison Keillor, which they point out at least twice.
• There are several references to the “This Side of Paradise” Star Trek episode again.
• Crow notes that Jack Elam was a fine character actor, “and for all I know he still is.” He was indeed still alive when this episode first aired … not so much now, sadly. He passed in 2003.
• I lost count of the “Carrie, you’re so very…” riffs, which did NOT get funnier with each iteration. For those who have no idea what it’s about: Check it out here.
• Yes, the truck driver does look a little like Gene Kelly, if you squint. I counted SIX riffs to that effect.
• The bots are upset about the ending of the movie in the final sketch, and there is also some outrage expressed in the ACEG, but J&tB don’t seem that upset in the theater when Carrie’s brutal and completely undeserved murder actually occurs.
• Cast and crew roundup: Art director Dan Haller also worked on “Attack of the Giant Leeches” and “Night of the Blood Beast.” Set designer John F. Burton also worked on “12 to the Moon” and “High School Big Shot.” Score composer Ronald Stein also worked on “It Conquered the World,” “Attack of the the Eye Creatures,” “Gunslinger,” “The Undead” and “The She-Creature.” In front of the camera Brett Halsey is also in “Revenge of the Creature.” William Coontz is also in “Bloodlust,” and Patricia Dean” is also in “Beginning of the End.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Joel. The music for “The Train Song” a.k.a. “What a Pleasant Journey” was by Michael J. Nelson; the lyrics are by Frank Conniff.
• Fave riff: “This is a great date. I always wanted to be nuzzled by a hobo.” Honorable mention: “Did his head just turn into a big sucker?”

129 Replies to “Episode guide: 509- The Girl in Lovers Lane”

  1. Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    Such a polarizing episode, although it seems the YAY!’s outweigh the NAY!’s at this point… me? I absolutely LOVE this episode. Second favorite of Season 5, one of my TOP 10 all time favorites episodes. Back in the I Accuse My Parents thread I posed the question as to whether that episode was the best non-scifi/horror/genre film they ever did. Well, in my book, Girl in Lovers’ Lane trumps it. By a mile. This was one of my “go-to” episodes for a long long time. I’d pop in the VHS tape after school, work, or before bed, anytime. The opening segment is clever and fun (bellybuttons!) and I disagree with Sampo, all 3 Host Segments work for me, especially HS#1 with The Train Song (my favorite song of theirs, Crow’s verse is hilarious!) and HS#3 with Crow as Elam. The fact that a puppet can pull off such a brilliant impression is another testament to this shows greatness. Oh yeah, Evil Baseball Promotions! The ‘Mads Invention Exchange is easily one of their darkest inventions ever, so evil. Joel and the Bots’ invention is cute, but not really that funny. Notice how Gypsy’s line gets cut off by Joel; something about “that’s why our take a walk on the wild side department..”…?

    In regards to this movie being “dark” and unenjoyable because of such….seriously? For reals? The only way you can be upset at Carrie’s death (spoiler?) is if you were emotionally invested in the character and the story. As neither one of those things are possible, as the character isn’t well defined and the story is sort of paper thin (although, not bad, honestly), I’m not really sure what the problem is, and I’m not going to make conjectures and try to proclaim my opinion to be better or “right” over anybody else’s, that would get us nowhere. I’ll just explain why I love this one: the movie is very watchable (even with all the “wormholes” in the print) despite it’s dumb script, and a couple actors (Jack Elam, Brett Halsey) are better than decent. The gay subtext of Big and Danny’s relationship is pretty blatant in a few scenes, but it adds another interesting layer to the whole thing. The riffing is spot on, never lets up, and is a riot from start to finish. Servo’s song over the credits is a hoot. Combined with other reasons listed in the paragraph above, this is a home run episode for me.

    I know I’ve told this story before, probably in some Weekend Discussion thread, but it belongs here too as it pertains to this episode, so here goes: back in college, around 2001, I had a speech class and we were doing persuasive speeches this one week. I gave mine on why MST3k was the best show ever. Other than my one friend in the class, none of my peers had heard of the show. I gave a rundown on the show’s history, which turned into me geeking out like a nerd in front of a classroom of people, jabbering on about all the characters and the actors and who left the show when and etc, etc. It got bad; my friend gave me the “wrap it up” sign. Anyway, at the end of the speech, I showed a clip from the show. I chose the opening theater segment of The Girl in Lovers’ Lane, leading up to the credit sequence. It went over well…for me and my friend (and one other guy) who were the only ones laughing. At the end, my teacher gave me a “uhhhh, huh…” and the bell rang. Class dismissed. I think I got a B on the speech, maybe….not sure. I do recall that my informative speech on slasher films went over well, got an A on that. But that is neither here nor there….

    Or is it? Sure, we all know (or should) that Jack Elam is a great character actor, but let’s talk about Brett Halsey, the lovable “Big Stupid,” who is maybe best known for his roles in Return of the Fly and The Atomic Submarine, and maybe even his small part in Godfather Part III, but he is also very well known to gorehounds for his Lucio Fulci films, Touch of Death, Demonia, and Cat in the Brain. I think Halsey has a charming quality about him, very down to earth and manly. There’s a good interview with him on the Cat in the Brain DVD, I think it touches on his early career a bit, he mention Girl in Lovers’ Lane..

    oh man,
    I just typed a bundle,
    sorry about that…
    Some RIFFS! :

    Joel: “We never pants a hobo before!”

    Crow: “Olly olly friggin’ oxen free!”

    Joel: “Stamp butts…dead out.”

    movie: “I know this guy was carrying a fat roll..”
    Crow: “And some bagels, too.”

    Servo: “It’s Jesus!”
    Crow (under breath): “In oxfords?”

    Joel: “Wake up, snowball, the credits are over.”

    movie: “What’s your name kid?”
    Crow: “Sex poodle.”

    Joel: “How’s that make ya feel?”

    Servo: “GET OUTTA THE ROAD, YOU DRIFTERSSSS!” —–i say this all the time to pedestrians!!

    Crow: “Hey can we stop for biscuits and gravy, Bigs?”

    movie: “what town we coming to?”
    Joel: “Funkytown.”

    Joel: “Green eyed lady, sexy lady…”

    Crow: “Bigs, should I have not put my head in the drivers’ lap? Was that wrong?”

    Joel: “AH, we hit a wrinkle in time!!”

    Crow: “Hard to tell if he combs his hair forwards or backwards..”

    Crow: “My tumalogical region!”

    Joel: “Danny likes ya mister!”

    Joel: “Once again, Bigs saves Danny from a heterosexual experience.”

    Joel: “They’re in the Land of the Lost.”
    Crow: “Watch out for Sleestaks.”

    All 3: “Big Stupid to the rescue!”
    Servo: “My Big Stupid!”

    A classic episode, an all time favorite,
    at a local pawnshop I recently scored a used copy of Shout! Factory’s VOL. XV, which contains this episode. SCORE!
    And, oh yeah,
    the bathtub lady is totally hot…despite Joel’s comment about her looking like Kurt Russell…

    I must proclaim, with no sense of shame, my love, for the Girl in Lovers’ Lane… a 5/5 !


  2. EricJ says:

    @100 –
    A few of our local stores brought back Quaker’s “retro” re-release of Quisp. It’s as I remember it: Cap’n Crunch still has the more flavor, but Quisp has the lighter shape and sogs faster. Quake–shaped like bolt nuts and about as crunchy–never came back, and Orange Quangeroos have been lost to history.

    (And yes, points to the poster who identified this episode as downbeat Kitten w/Whip pain, but still in the pantheon of great improvised opening-credit songs…)


  3. Mitchell Rowsdower Beardsley says:

    The most interesting thing I would like to hear is from the people who think this one of the better episodes, what do you think are the worst?

    I love that the next 3 are gems.


  4. Pete says:

    The slide whistle baseball promotion reminds me a recent promotion I was at.

    In 2010 the Marlins gave away vuvuzelas because of the World Cup. I was part of 15,000 who blew the annoying horns constantly.

    The manager Fredi Gonzalez screwed up the lineup card with the umpires, and blamed the vuvuzelas on it.


  5. schippers says:

    I am late to this conversation, due to a vacation, but #103, I will rise to your challenge. I LOVE love love this episode, and what do I think are among the worst?

    * The Atomic Brain
    * The Unearthly

    Those two spring to mind. It was all I could do to keep watching them.


  6. Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    Also in response to #103,

    as a super fan of The Girl in Lovers’ Lane (see post #101), let me give you My Five Least Favorite Joel Episodes, and just to make it even sweeter, I won’t include any KTMA OR Season 1 episodes.

    So here you go, least favorite is up top…

    #1. Castle of Fu-Manchu (#323) –Fu-ManBLEW!
    #2. Ring of Terror (#206) ———–snooooozzze!
    #3. Manhunt in Space (#413) —–dislike Rocky
    #4. Crash of Moons (#417) ———dislike Winky
    #5. Star Force: Fugitive Alien II –sorry Sandy Frank movie fans, this one isn’t very good..

    so there you go,
    I’m sure these are somebody’s favorites,
    Sampo’s Theorem,
    etc, etc…


  7. Bruce Boxliker says:

    Yeah, sorry. Still one of my least liked episodes. Marginal riffing, & far from the best host segments. Add in the completely pointless little pile of a so called movie & you get… well, what we got. I couldn’t even bring myself to watch it again.


  8. Johnny's nonchalance says:

    This is one of my all time favorites. I sometimes ponder changing my name to “Sex Poodle”

    The movie is great, the sketches are great… Crow IS Jack Elam gets me every time.

    I don’t know if anyone else remembers, but the “What a Pleasant Journey” was based on an actual event. As a teenager from Minnesota, I was always especially tickled by the local references.

    Check out the NY Times article about the benzine cloud:

    Does Maga-zines rhyme with ben-zine?


  9. Sitting Duck says:

    The Girl in Lover’s Lane fails the Bechdel Test. All Carrie and Peggy talk about with each other is guys.

    My question about the egg trick they’re attempting in HS #3 still hasn’t been answered. Any takers?

    Crow done up as Jack Elam was actually a bit creepy.

    The bots are upset about the ending of the movie in the final sketch, and there is also some outrage expressed in the ACEG, but J&tB don’t seem that upset in the theater when Carrie’s brutal and completely undeserved murder actually occurs

    Perhaps it just took a while for it to set in.

    @ #2: I’ll grant you this film is a downer, but still doesn’t compare to The Coleman Francis Trilogy of Despair.

    Favorite riffs

    He does look like an easy target for thugs. Hell, I’d like to beat him up.

    War torn Wisconsin.

    And I’ll give you ten dollars every time you don’t hit me.

    As a young man, Garrison Keillor was shunned by his friends.

    “Well do you think you can get back here with a menu before the food goes bad?”
    The food’s bad already.

    “Bet you have a lot of boyfriends, a pretty girl like you.”
    No, I’m saving myself for the right oily drifter.

    “I’ve still got an hour to kill.”
    Maybe I’ll kill you.

    Are we going to hustle these men, Big?

    “If you want to look on the dark side, we get killed and they take our loot.”
    And being in a state of mortal sin, we go straight to Hell.

    I don’t want to be a hobo. I want to be a nurse.

    How about that guy I groined in the knee?

    Oh, this is a great date. I always wanted to be nuzzled by a hobo.

    You’ll never served lunch in this town again.


  10. Goshzilla says:

    I always forget just how funny the first four fifths or so of this episode are due to the pointlessly dark ending. I mean, I know these are supposed to be bad movies, but Girl In Lovers Lane is reasonably well-made outside the needlessly depressing and altogether poorly-written ending. Killing the hero’s girlfriend to kickstart a plot is a trope as old as storytelling itself, butCarrie’s death serves no purpose here. It’s like a classical tragedy, except nobody is changed by the events and the characters don’t learn a damn thing. “Welp, the only reason I had to stick around was murdered; guess I’ll hop the next train outta town. Good luck running the diner all by yourself, Pops!” Did Big and Danny even stay for the funeral?

    This may be the only experiment that actually makes me angry at the characters, so I guess the film is successful on a level that most movies featured on MST3K aren’t. Next week in The Painted Hills (Yes, I read ahead.) Tom keeps asking Joel about the moral of the movie. How about for this one? Never make emotional connections with others, I guess?

    Still, some very funny riffing here, especially with Danny. “What about that guy I groined in the knee?” And, of course, it’s all worth it for the train song:

    The Five Fifteen from Duluth
    Oh my it just derailed
    Toxic waste is spillin’
    The conductor’s been impaled
    A benzene cloud is risin’
    And the whole town’s startin’ to cough
    *cough cough* *cough cough*
    Within a matter of day-ees
    All of our skin will fall off

    Plus I get to dust off my old Crow as Jack Elam gravatar.


  11. Goshzilla says:

    Johnny’s nonchalance:
    I don’t know if anyone else remembers, but the “What a Pleasant Journey” was based on an actual event.

    Check out the NY Times article about the benzine cloud:

    I had no idea they were referencing an actual event. That makes it a loss less funny.

    The spokesman added that 14 cars that derailed were near the center of the train and that none of the train’s crew was hurt.

    Phew! Okay, it’s funny again.

    Fun fact: That “new car smell” so many people love comes from the many chemicals used to process the various plastics of a car’s interior, including our carcinogenic friend benzene.


  12. schippers says:

    I see I declared my love for this episode four years ago. I recently rewatched it (well, relistened to it on headphones while doing some painting), and I still love it just as much. “What a Pleasant Journey” is, hands down, one of the best songs the Brains ever penned for the show (perhaps sharing the top slot only with the Inkspots-inspired Brain song from the Sci-Fi era).


  13. Apollonia James (yeah right) says:

    I love this episode! Besides the fact that I have a crush on Big Stupid, the whole episode has a fun feel that even Carrie’s death can’t quite ruin. I love all the jokes about how much of a wimp Danny isn especially with the fight scene (“what about that guy I groined in the knee?”) Also, it’s not a riff, but for some reason I love the prostitute’s line “Are you waiting for a bus?” when Big is staring at her.


  14. Johnny's nonchalance says:

    I never gave a second thought about the screenwriter until I saw comment #91 mention that it was probably a female.

    “A screenplay by Jo Heims that’s pretty lame”

    Turns out Jo has a credit for story and screenplay on Play Misty for Me. Too bad the Brains didn’t put What a Pleasant Journey on their VHS release of Play MST for Me 2 (mentally inserting “Electric Boogaloo”), a collection of songs from seasons 4-6.

    Sex Poodle out


  15. Goshzilla says:

    Johnny’s nonchalance:
    I never gave a second thought about the screenwriter until I saw comment #91 mention that it was probably a female.

    “A screenplay by Jo Heims that’s pretty lame”

    Turns out Jo has a credit for story and screenplay on Play Misty for Me.

    Huh. I never would’ve expected a woman to have written this movie, though now that I think about it, a major theme is how a good woman can fix a broken man, even if she has to be murdered. Clearly Carrie sacrificed herself to save Big’s tortured soul. Or something. I’ve Already given this more thought than Jo did.

    Looks like after 1959’s The Girl In Lovers Lane Jo Heims wrote 1961’s The Devil’s Hand, which RiffTrax did. That’s an odd little movie with Neil Hamilton (who’d play Batman’s Commissioner Gordon four years later) as a murderous voodoo priest. Typical Hollywood typecasting. MST3K regular Bruno VeSota had a small role too, if you can ever describe Bruno as small. Come to think of it, The Devil’s Hand sort of has a virtuous young woman save the soul of a troubled man, too (Alan Alda’s father Robert), only literally this time.


  16. Goshzilla says:

    Hey, here’s an even funner fact I just discovered: Asa Maynor, the blonde hooker in the bathtub, played the stewardess in the famous Twilight Zone episode “Terror At 20,000 Feet” with William Shatner. Neat!


  17. EricJ says:

    CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Joel. The music for “The Train Song” a.k.a. “What a Pleasant Journey” was by Michael J. Nelson; the lyrics are by Frank Conniff.

    “Y’know, maybe we shouldn’t sing about riding in trains, we should just stick to songs about riding….IN CARS (do-do, DO-doo)”

    Say what you will, Joel had a talent for timing pop-culture absurdity at just the right moment for its own sake. :)


  18. Ian L. says:

    I liked the observation in the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide about how the town had an uneven prostitute-to-client ratio. “I guess what I’m saying is, if I were a prostitute, I’d go somewhere else.”


  19. thequietman says:

    “Well, I’m kind of a fem, my friends call me Wormy!”

    After the semi-dud that was Double 007, this one brings things back up to speed in a big way. Since the movie looks halfway decent (albeit cheap) in terms of set design and camerawork, J&TB zero in on the characters with a gusto that makes this a laugh riot from start to (almost) finish.

    I remember when I first saw this episode Crow’s entrance as Jack Elam had me on the floor laughing.

    This also has one of the great three-way riffs that gets funnier with each line:
    Joel (scandalized): Laura Petrie? NO!!
    Crow (aroused): Laura Petrie, YES!!
    Servo (sober): Actually guys, it’s Millie Halper…


  20. Bombastic Biscuit Boy says:

    watched this again a couple of days ago, while it is a dark film, the riffing is over the top and terrific!

    “I’d like to see him touch ME.”
    [walks off screen]
    “What do y- HEY! Don’t touch me!”


  21. Cornjob says:

    What a Pleasant Journey is one of my favorite MST songs. First they do the “take something serious and make it trivial” style song parody with the first two verses, and then a wild left turn into “take something innocuous and make it deadly” style parody. Hilarious.


  22. zxcvv says:

    The thing with the egg is “The Egg in a Bottle Trick”.


  23. MSTie says:

    Most of the great riffs have been touched on already. An early one that got me — totally unexpected — was “Christina’s World!!” (The painting, but you all knew that, right? Culture freaks that we are.)

    Yeah, it’s a dark, depressing movie full of idiots. Like real life. And also like real life, riffing makes it bearable.


  24. new cornjob says:

    because i’m a has-been-but-renewed pinball fanatic, thanks to this day and age of virtual pinball via “pinball arcade” and the like, i have to shout out to the “xenon” reference servo makes when “big stupid” starts playing the pb machine at the cafe. so, that’s pb ref #1…

    pb #2 ref would be, what -was- that pb machine they had on set there? i can only think with the angle and those early machines, you’d have to go by the side-table artwork… it obviously would’ve been a “happy days” era pb machine.

    and, pb ref #3: which machine did the bots drag out of joel’s closet for him to play during the break? (i know, i -know- did the mads automatically upload his home inventory when they sent him up? i know, relax, reLAX!) it sure looks super-huge – i’m betting it’s one of the old super-big “samson/hercules!” models that used poolball-sized balls to play with!

    so, any answers for pb q’s #2 and #3 there? :0


  25. Cornjob says:

    So do you sure play a mean pinball?


  26. schippers says:

    #124 – Personally, I find those late 50s / early 60s pins kind of boring, although I can abstractly appreciate their play value for their time.

    Me, I like a good Pat Lawlor table. The Twilight Zone is a sublime pin, if you can ever find one that works properly these days.


  27. new cornjob says:

    “pinball wizard”? yeah sure, as long as you don’t look at my tourney stats! agree that the lawlors are usually the coolest tables; they’ve got the most “mousetrap”-y design of ramps and toys, and he has a cartoonist’s sense of theme (at least his original tables; i’m not much for his licensed-theme stuff like “monopoly” or “nascar”). usually the most fun; no wonder he’s working on a new table for jersey jack – can’t wait to see what he comes up with! but he’s also pretty insidious with the play design; i tend to have an easier time scoring up on ritchie’s tables.


  28. Johnny's nonchalance says:

    Kurt Russell? Ouch.

    No, this time around the bathtub girl looks more like Rachel Platten of recent “Fight Song” fame. Especially in this picture:


  29. Raigely says:

    [wow, am I too late to the comments party or what!]
    I have a very strange view of this one. I love the riffing in the first two acts, particularly all the jokes about what a naive, soggy noodle Danny is [e.g.; when they walk into the scuzzy pool hall, Crow-as-Danny blurting “ARE WE GOING TO HUSTLE THESE MEN, BIG STUPID?” is such a hilarious demonstration of the character’s general ineptitude at drifter-ing]. Unintentional homoerotic overtones never hurt, either.

    That said, it still does lose me around the third act. Partially, I think the riffing slows down a bit, but the “too dark” diagnosis is equally correct. Previous commenters [forget which ones specifically/too lazy to check] were right: the movie is so almost-okay that the sudden death actually does kind of sting. Mr. Stupid getting dragged through the mud even though we all know he’s innocent makes it even worse. So rather than endure it I just switch to a new episode…sometime after Big saves Danny from his heterosexual experience, I think. There’s no shame in that, right…?

    Also, in my top for the invention exchanges. “Man oh man, this is gonna be dark.” You got that right!


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