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
• 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.”