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Episode guide: 211- First Spaceship On Venus

Movie: (1959) Scientists determine that an object bearing a garbled message came from Venus, so a multinational space mission travels to the planet to investigate.

First shown: 12/29/90
Opening: Joel adjusts Tom Servo’s sarcasm sequencer
Invention exchange: The adjustment goes well, maybe a little TOO well. Joel’s invention is a junk drawer starter kit; the Mads can’t find their invention in THEIR junk drawer, but they DO find Abe Vigoda
Host segment 1: Crow and Tom make a robot that speaks in foam; things get kinda foamy
Host segment 2: A menacing gorilla appears on the hexfield, but Tom soothes it with a song
Host segment 3: J&tB present a commercial featuring some possibly tasty(?) Klack recipes
End: J&tB offer their opinions of the movie: Crow liked it, it brought back memories for Joel and Tom gets so sarcastic his head explodes; letters; Tom revives and everybody is happy, which makes Frank happy and Dr. F. is nauseous
Stinger: The alphabet people wave good-bye
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (146 votes, average: 3.82 out of 5)

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• Overall I like this ep, though portions of the movie make my head (and eyes) hurt a little. The movie is almost too watchable, a truly bizarre vision of an international (but not necessarily any more competent) future and a genuinely alien depiction of Venus. The riffing is very strong: as we come down to the end of the season two, they really have a grasp on what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. The host segments are, as usual, a mixed bag, but there are definitely some highlights.
• In the ACEG, Kevin says that after this one was over, “I for one had a good, long cry.” I think that’s a little harsh. As Crow says of the movie at the end, I kinda liked it.
• This episode was included in Shout’s 20th Anniversary Edition.
• Joel’s is back to the cyan jumpsuit.
• The opening features the well-remembered “sarcasm sequencer” sketch, featuring yet another dig at Best Brains’ least favorite comic, Gallagher. Why is Gallagher so loathed (besides his act, I mean)? A popular fan rumor stated that he and Joel were performing on the same bill one night and Joel came off stage to find fellow prop comic Gallagher digging through Joel’s box of props (apparently a huge invasion of space and a no-no in the world of prop comics) and there’s been bad blood ever since. Joel recently more or less confirmed that story, as well as claiming Gallagher stole some some illusions from him.
• That’s Mike as “Abe Vigoda’s back.”
• Movie background: Polish physician and prolific sci-fi writer Stanislaw Lem wrote the novel, “Astronauci” (“The Astronauts” ) in 1951, and he helped convert it into the screenplay for “First Spaceship On Venus.” But somehow it got away from him. After seeing the film he repudiated it.
• Movie observations: The characters keep referring to the “Tunga” meteor. Was “Tunguska” too hard to say? Also: When they get to Venus, the astronauts keep making these huge conjectural leaps that I really don’t see a basis in hard evidence for. The little bobbly toy things are communication devices? They all seem so certain of this, but I don’t see why. The whole visit to Venus is like that: “I’ve made one small observation so it’s obvious the whole planet works like THIS.” Hey, maybe that’s why ol’ Stanislaw disowned it.
• A reference to “Roseanne singing the National Anthem” demonstrates the danger of topical humor. How many people even remember that incident?
• Segment one…sigh. I suspect they built the prop and then tried to write a sketch around it. Not much there.
• Host segment two, while generally lame, is highlighted by the golden Irish tenor voice of Kevin Murphy. When asked to sing at public appearances, he generally choses this little ditty. Inside the gorilla suit is a fellow named Crist Ballas. This was his first involvement with the show (according to the credits, anyway), but he went on to do hair and make up for 11 other episodes (mostly when Andrea DuCane couldn’t make it, apparently). By the way, a commenter says Joel’s math question is kind of a trick question and the answer is: any integer.
• Joel says “permersion” at one point. I think he meant to say “permission.” They keep rolling.
• Obscure reference: Crow’s mutters: “…strange figgahs, weird figgahs…,” an homage to a memorable moment in The Marx Brothers film “Animal Crackers.”
• Host segment three’s clever but nauseating parody of the equally nauseating commercials often featured on TV’s “Kraft Holiday Playhouse,” is hilarious but a little gross. It also seems to be an extension of the Satan/Kraft commercials they were doing in the theater in the previous episode.
• Callback: I’m on my way! (Rocketship XM)
• Tom Servo’s head explodes in the final segment. That hasn’t happened in a while.
• The credits add the sound of Dr. F. wretching.
• Cast and Crew Roundup: Hugo Grimaldi, the producer of the American version of this movie, also produced “The Phantom Planet,” produced and directed “The Human Duplicators” and edited “Hercules and the Captive Women.” Score composer Gordon Zahler was apparently his pal: He also did the scores for “The Phantom Planet,” “The Human Duplicators” and “Hercules and the Captive Women,” as well as “Women of the Prehistoric Planet.”
• CreditsWatch: This Week’s Creative Pit Boss: Michael J. Nelson. “Villians” is still misspelled. The “Klack Holiday Parade” music was by Mike. Kevin wrote “O Sweet Mother o’Mine.”
• Fave riff: “Any interest I had for them getting safely off the planet has been completely erased by a miasma of boring technical stuff!” Honorable mention: “At least we have our ewok suits to cheer us up.” Astronaut: “I’m not getting you!” Tom: “I’m getting the Ha! Channel.”

124 comments to Episode guide: 211- First Spaceship On Venus

  • 101
    Torgospizza-NJ says:

    @98-EricJ- Prop comedy now has a very bad reputation, as it’s current master is Carrot Top. But in
    the 1970’s is was considered clever and cool, as practiced by Gary Mule Deer, Andy
    Kaufman (to an extent) and a young JOEL HODGSON.

       3 likes

  • 102
    Sitting Duck says:

    The frequently mentioned, “I’m getting the Ha! Channel,” riff imply that this episode was written before the Comedy Central merger. Anyone know what the typical turnover rate between an episode being written and being aired?

       0 likes

  • 103
    pondoscp says:

    @99 – I’ve noticed the Weiner Man song being mentioned as late as Daddy-O. Not sure if it went beyond that.

    And this episode never did much for me. I’d say it’s about average, it’s got some funny moments. Biddi-bidi-bidi, I gotta go walkies.

       0 likes

  • 104
    goalieboy82 says:

    off topic
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-v-f2mT94Y
    since tomorrow is good friday.

       0 likes

  • 105
    goalieboy82 says:

    just watched Roseanne sing the national anthem. thats about a minute i am got getting back.
    Pain

       1 likes

  • 106
    littleaimishboy says:

    The stuff Tom says while his sarcasm sequencer malfunctions is SUPPOSED to be not funny, that’s why the sequencer needs to be adjusted.

    Golly, that’s the first time I’ve ever used caps to emphasize a point here.

       0 likes

  • 107
    littleaimishboy says:

    littleaimishboy:
    The stuff Tom says while his sarcasm sequencer malfunctions is SUPPOSED to be not funny, that’s why the sequencer needs to be adjusted.

    Golly, that’s the first time I’ve ever used caps to emphasize a point here.

    Oh, REALLY?

    Well THANK YOU for so generously enlightening us, oh wise one!!!

       4 likes

  • 108
    touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    “the danger of topical humor.”

    The concept of topical humor really has no bearing on MST3K. Roseanne Barr? How many people remember Abe Vigoda or Gerry Anderson at all? Haven’t we all, at times, wondered what the heck a riffer was talking about? It wasn’t until years after viewing “Devil Doll” that I found out what “She’s dancing with a Spitting Image puppet” meant. Remember, “The right people will get it.” Smile

    ***

    On a separate not-related-to-the-episode note, I recently came across a movie that would be perfect to nominate for riffing if it was in fact possible to so nominate a film: 1985’s “Interface.” Like “The Final Sacrifice,” it was a student film but the acting and writing is IMHO much worse. It kind of qualifies as a vigilante/slasher film except that the murders are committed by role players via remote control, like a cross between “Dungeons and Dragons” and video games. There are more masks than there are killers. Its protagonist is the Nick “Time Chasers” Miller before there was a Nick “Time Chasers” Miller and “The Nanny”‘s C.C. Babcock, the cops aren’t even enough on the ball to qualify as clueless, the prominence of TSR-80 would probably be a veritable motherlode of geek humor, and there’s an obvious “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank” callback built right in.

       0 likes

  • 109
    snowdog says:

    @touches no one: Go for it! http://ideas.rifftrax.com/

       0 likes

  • 110
    Sitting Duck says:

    littleaimishboy:
    The stuff Tom says while his sarcasm sequencer malfunctions is SUPPOSED to be not funny, that’s why the sequencer needs to be adjusted.

    Making it a case of succeeding too well.

       0 likes

  • 111
    Dan in WI says:

    littleaimishboy: Oh, REALLY?

    Well THANK YOU for so generously enlightening us, oh wise one!!!

    Hey: I call no riffing yourself. Someone else holds that patent.

       1 likes

  • 112
    dsman71 says:

    I still remember finding myself fascinated with Joel’s hair growth during the season from 201 up. He had a different hairdo every episode Smile I still love the million pounds of doodie riff from this episode. This is a decent film on its own too Smile

       0 likes

  • 113
    argharg says:

    This was good, but Humanoid Woman has more robots and more spaceships and equal amounts of land rovers.
    Advantage to Humanoid Woman.

       1 likes

  • 114
    TJmathfan189 says:

    YouTube commenter says the answer to Joel’s question is: 0 to 5.

    I could not find the YouTube video mentioned above in Sampo’s review of EP 211, but I must disagree with that answer to Joel’s question. Here is my reasoning. Please correct me if I misheard Joel’s reading of the question, but here is what I heard and my solution. “What integer can be the sum of itself and a number less than the positive square root of 30.” Soln. If we let X be the integer and Y < sqr. root of 30, then we have X + Y = X, which means that Y must be zero. The final answer should be that the integer X can be any integer, not just an integer between 0 and 5.

    Note that if we try to make Y any number other than zero, then the given restriction on X; namely, X + Y = X, would be false for any X since no number can equal the sum of itself and a nonzero number. I view the given info about "…and a number less than sqr. root of 30" as trick to fool the listener into thinking the problem is harder than it is.

    I know this is not a Math Forum, but please let me know if anyone finds an error in my reasoning.

       0 likes

  • 115
    Cornjob says:

    The pudding mass here reminds me a bit of the possibly sentient ocean in Stanislaus Lem’s Solaris.

       0 likes

  • 116
    thequietman says:

    This is one where the movie itself is almost too watchable, making the riffs feel rather superfluous. I’d only watched this one once before when I first got the 20th Anniversary set. But then came the KLACK commercial and I was roaring with laughter, making the whole experience worthwhile.

    Fave riffs:
    Voiceover: The stars hang almost motionless…
    Servo: …on black construction paper!

       0 likes

  • 117
    Sampo says:

    TJmathfan189:
    YouTube commenter says the answer to Joel’s question is: 0 to 5.

    I could not find the YouTube video mentioned above in Sampo’s review of EP 211, but I must disagree with that answer to Joel’s question.Here is my reasoning.Please correct me if I misheard Joel’s reading of the question, but here is what I heard and my solution.“What integer can be the sum of itself and a number less than the positive square root of 30.”Soln.If we let X be the integer and Y < sqr. root of 30, then we have X + Y = X, which means that Y must be zero.The final answer should be that the integer X can be any integer, not just an integer between 0 and 5.

    Note that if we try to make Y any number other than zero, then the given restriction on X; namely, X + Y = X, would be false for any X since no number can equal the sum of itself and a nonzero number.I view the given info about “…and a number less than sqr. root of 30” as trick to fool the listener into thinking the problem is harder than it is.

    I know this is not a Math Forum, but please let me know if anyone finds an error in my reasoning.

    Well darn, now I can’t find the youtube comment either. I accept your calculations (unless somebody knows better)!

       0 likes

  • 118

    I first saw this stinkburger on the old Count Gore Show back in the early ’70s, and I have to agree with Crow that any interest I had in what happened to the astronauts was totally drowned in the massive torrent of meaningless, pulled-out-of-the-writers’-asses fake science babble.

    Joel’n’the Bots did a top job of making this movie watchable for me. I was sold early on, during the scenes where the scientists are working in the Tunguska Meteor impact zone, and you see the old guy waving his arms to indicate where to look next, and Servo says “Ach, who knew? D’ahh, go figure…!”

    Then, there’s the host segments — priceless, especially the sarcasm sequencer, the foam-belching robot and, last but not least, Servo’s Klack Holiday Recipe Ideas commercial.

    And now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to duck down to the kitchen for some Polynesian Cheese Devils and a frosty mug of holiday swill.

       0 likes

  • 119
    ahaerhar says:

    @115
    Humanoid Woman had plop on the prowl, too.

    I wonder what kicked off the (maybe) Intelligent Mass of Goop cliche for the Eastern Bloc.

       1 likes

  • 120
    Cornjob says:

    The goop in Humanoid Woman made me wonder if it was another Stanislaus Lem adaptation. I liked the Russian version of Solaris. I started reading His Master’s Voice by Lem and liked it but got a bit bogged down in the verbiage. Stanislaus Lem eventually became the lead of Motorhead of course.

    BTW my comments at #83 from last time around still hold.

       0 likes

  • 121
    ahaerhar says:

    @120
    And in his role as lead of Motorhead he’d get more of his SF oeuvre riffed when Zombie Nightmare opens with his classic “Ace of Space”.

       1 likes

  • 122
    Cornjob says:

    Stanislaus Lemmy and Motorhead perform Ace of Space and blow Ace of Base off the stage.

       0 likes

  • 123
    Doktor Strangelove says:

    I really like the original, East German Silent Star version of this movie. It looks and sounds great on the aforementioned DVD.

       0 likes

  • 124
    mnenoch says:

    I like this episode a lot. The movie is entertaining on it’s own and the guys make it more fun. The host segments are silly but the whole episode breezes by.

       0 likes