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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: 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 (147 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 Replies to “Episode guide: 211- First Spaceship On Venus”

  1. MiqelDotcom says:

    “It’s a meteor.
    It’s famous.
    I hate it.
    Thank you”

    There is a reference to “Brown 25” during the lava/spiral tower scene, this is a satirical commercial for an industrial multi-use product by Uranus Corporation made of, well ….. anyway it was from “The Groove Tube” movie.

    I mention that because it confirms (for me at least) an earlier suspicion that the ‘brought to you by KLACK’ recipe segment was inspired by, but not a copy of, the ‘KRAMP TV kitchen’ sketch, also from The Groove Tube (& infused by the brains with a generous helping of Firesign Theater style wordplay)
    Now I know for sure they had seen that film at least
    – here’s a YouTube link to the KRAMP segment “4th of July Heritage Loaf”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6vJYyYrRps

    Anyway, i’d like to enjoy this episode more … the movie is actually pretty creative and weird(I love the saturated colors in those 60s scifi films), the riffing is not bad, the host segments are ok but overall it just bores me.
    Fun to watch on occasion. 3 stars?

       1 likes

  2. Dan Belcher says:

    When I first bought three MST3K box sets and decided to get into the show (after having just seen a few clips here and there over the years when it was actually on TV), this was the first movie I watched. Therefore, it always will hold a special place in my heart, even if I found it to be just sort of middling. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I now need to go talk into a toothbrush. He’s the only one who understands me.

       4 likes

  3. Bookworm says:

    Something about my reaction to ‘First Spaceship on Venus’ (abbreviated ‘FSV’ ) that I posted on the MST3K newsgroup 10 years ago (*10* years ago? Yikes!):

    In ‘First Spaceship on Venus,’ we see an planet/cityscape that’s a *heck* of a lot more alien than such things in other sci-fi B-movies…and even a lot of A-movies. I kinda used to think that was a good thing about the movie, but now I’m not so sure. Granted, it may be more “realistic,” but I think it’s actually detremental to the story.

    Sci-fi plots are often convoluted things; so, to save time, characters often make semi-intuitive leaps of deductions to keep the plot moving. With planetscapes, cityscapes, and equipment that at least look somewhat familiar, audiences can often follow along pretty easily. In the case of ‘FSV,’ however, it’s just plain confusing. I mean, what *was* the Epcot-looking sphere? Why the chamber of novelty-items-that-were-actually-recorders? What was the deal with the vicious Mapo attack? Or the dangling phone earpieces? Because all of this was so alien-looking, we don’t have any sort of reference
    to help us identify things, and so we can’t figure out how the *characters* figured things out. All we can do is be swept (or prodded, depending on the speed of the plot) along, wondering what the heck is going on.

    I honestly think that, with a bit more work on the plot and characterization, and a bit less work on the alien planetscape, ‘FSV’ would have been a good little movie. Barring, of course, the whole being-able-to-land-on-Venus-in-the-first-place thing. *grin*

       1 likes

  4. Kenneth Morgan says:

    I thought this was a good episode, with a fairly good movie, actually. And it has two of my favorite host segments: Servo’s debut as an Irish tenor and the off-kilter Klack Foods commercial. (I love Joel’s expressions in this one.)

    One question: a while back, I was in WAl-Mart and saw a real junk drawer organizer, made by a company based in Minnesota, being sold. Does Joel get a piece of that?

    And I remember Roseanne singing the National Anthem. Truly awful.

       3 likes

  5. big61al says:

    Gallagher…actually saw him at a show in San Diego way back in 84 or 85. He was funny until he went totally bezerk on a young lady who had too much to drink. Yeah she kinda screw up his act a little but he turned on her like a crazed hungry grizzly bear. He was screaming curse words that would make navy men cringe so loud I am sure it was heard for blocks. That dude is just plain nuts. Never liked since. This is for you Joel. “To hell with him.”

       5 likes

  6. Zee says:

    The movie parts of this one have always left me cold, but I love the crazy, all-over-the-map host segments. It stings a little you call the gorilla segment ‘lame’, I think it’s the good kind of random and the bots are all cute and in character- I like when Crow tells Gypsy not to turn around, and she immediately does and then faints.

    The KLACK commercial is another all-time fav, I’m a big fan of host segments like this, the Gamera Fightin’ Men and Monsters Set, and the ‘Appreciating Our Gypsy’ bit where they use still photos to show the gang doing stuff.

       2 likes

  7. Dan in WI says:

    This film marks the first (national TV) foray into Warsaw Pact films.

    What’s with the strange voice Kevin uses while being sarcastic? It really takes away from what was an otherwise decent sketch.

    I would love to know what inspired a robot that communicates with foam. What was going on in the writing room that day? But more importantly why didn’t it enter the theater and join in the riffing? Now that would have been fun.

    Joel is leaning goofy while sitting in the theater for much of this experiment. That doesn’t look comfortable.

    The Klack commercial feels like a lame attempt to recreate the magic of the Spacom commercial from season 1.

    Incomprehensible is the word for this episode. It definitely applies to the movie. I’m not saying it doesn’t have a plot. In fact I’m pretty sure it does. But much like K11 Humanoid Woman I just can’t follow or keep tract of it. Is that some sort of Eastern Bloc thing? And then the host segments follow suit. There were complaints during the Mike years that the host segments didn’t follow the movie. Well these followed nothing. They didn’t follow the movie unless you consider they followed the movie in not making sense. They weren’t well constructed and had unrelated jokes. They just were (in a random sort of way.) This episode is another down example of the violently up and down nature of this very inconsistent season.

    Also this movie kind of reminds me of Cinematic Titanic’s Doomsday Machine.

    Favorite Riffs:
    Scientist “There is only one other planet it could have come from.” Crow “Uranius”

    Tom singing “This the way the Teddy Bears fly to Venus.”

    Waiting for the robot to speak: Tom “Line, line please.” (This riff would be used to perfection years later when Rifftrax riffs the Twilight saga.)

    After the magma retreats: Crow “Well that scene was a load of crap.”

    The rope is dropped: Crow “Hey can you give me some slack. Ah, never mind.”

       2 likes

  8. Fart Bargo says:

    Agree mostly with Sampo’s feelings on this one. On the Gallagher issue, I noticed that Best Brains continued their ‘bad blood’ even after Joel left for Australia so I wonder if it was more than Joel and if Gallagher has ever commented on any of this?

    I liked the movie and always thought that the Space ship was boss looking!

       1 likes

  9. Chuck says:

    I also have to say that I kinda actually enjoy the film itself here. It’s a good episode, better than average for sure. But the film itself is just very watchable for me.

    Also, I remember the Rosanne incident and I’m only 29, so I don’t think it’s THAT far outside the cultural zietgiest.

       2 likes

  10. gorto says:

    though consciously aware of such silly marketing at the time, I do not recall the kraft food commercials that the Klack segment was referencing. either way, it was so obscure to me that it is one of my favorite pieces. I guess I like the insane writing, and the pace of the presentation. I also enjoyed the foam robot segment. The concept of having lifeforms communicate in alternate methods tickles my funny bone.

       2 likes

  11. Creepygirl says:

    This episode is only “meh” for me. When the 20th Anniversary box came out I watched this one for the first time in years. I have to admit I didn’t like it at all. I gave it another chance last night and now I’m giving it 2 stars.

    I found both the riffing and host segments to be average. The movie looked real pretty but was boring. As my mind wondered during those slow spots I totally got lost on what was going on. I did like that a few crew members died or were left behind on Venus. You don’t always see that in a 1959 B-space movie.

    Now let us look forward to next week with GODZILLA vs MAGALON.

       3 likes

  12. Mr. B(ob) says:

    Another episode that gets little love in fan polls that we absolutely adore around our home. This episode is my teenage son’s favorite and it’s definitely on my list of favorites as well. I never get tired of watching this one and pop in the DVD fairly often compared to many other episodes.

    A few favorite lines:
    – Would you like some fries with your gyro?
    – Good thing the Venusians couldn’t get far away from the bathroom.
    – How much does a herring weigh?
    – 400 billy-bob? What is he saying? It’s babble.
    – “It’s nothing special” (a character says about Omega), to which Crow chimes in, “you can say that again!”
    – What a STUPID robot!
    – So long suckers!
    – We are the planet of novelty items. You will come to know that in time.
    – That scene was a load of crap.
    – “And Brinkman…”, Joel interjects, “cried like a baby when we flew off and left him.”
    – He doesn’t matte well.

    The sarcasm sequencer gags are pure win as is the Klack commercial segment. Some of the oddest adjectives and epithets ever strung together in the Klack advert, really original, clever and funny.

    Another 5-star season 2 episode!

       3 likes

  13. PrivateIron says:

    Roseanne seems to be one of the pioneers of the Celebrity X mangles public singing “reality” genre; so the joke may not be so dated. Weird figgas obscure? People still watch the Marx Brothers; probably even more than they watch MST3K.

    A better attempt than most SF movies, but often that translates to dull instead of goofy and I think that applies here. But it’s all grist for the bot mill; so I say IT STINKS with my thumbs up.

    Know this is off-topic, but I have never been able to track down the referent for “Jerryyyhhhh!!!” the bots sometimes raspily scream. I know they used it in at least one version of Gamera v. Barugon among other instances.

       1 likes

  14. Cubby says:

    I had vague memories of commercials from the 80s with Kraft recipes, and found some on YouTube from 1986. (I suppose that isn’t Ed Herlihy, but the cadence is similar to Kevin’s) And while I haven’t seen TV ads like these from Kraft anymore, I can say from personal experience that they still compile Kraft special recipe booklets, and some are pretty good. Still no Polynesian Cheese Devils, but …

       1 likes

  15. jjb3k says:

    Last week, I talked about how the Brains were delving into more surreal humor in Season 2, and that reaches its pinnacle here. Between the bizarre movie (Astronauts in teddy bear suits? A chess-playing robot who predicts the weather? A planet of metal insects and dangling telephone receivers?) and the equally bizarre host segments (A robot who speaks in foam? A gorilla in space? Abe Vigoda in a junk drawer?), it really feels like the Brains broke the goofy-meter with this episode. I spend less time laughing at this episode and more time just scratching my head going “Huh?” I think that’s what Kevin is referring to in the ACEG when he says that he had a “good long cry” after this one. He knows it’s an episode that makes no sense. (Also, I have to question the decision to have Dr. Forrester vomit throughout the entire ending credits. I still can’t listen to that.)

    Kevin also mentions that the Brains took a vacation after this episode. And it shows – when they came back in early 1991 for the two Godzilla movies that finish off the season, everything seems to be more focused. The riffing is much more observational, and the host segments are stronger all around.

       2 likes

  16. Riley says:

    This is the only episode in the first 3 seasons that I missed the first time ’round. I didn’t even know it existed til around the time of the 7th season.

    When I finally saw it, I didn’t really feel that I’d missed much.

       0 likes

  17. Fred Burroughs says:

    Usually FSOV gets some praise for its diverse cast of scientists; I think most SF movies were attempting that back then, only this goes the extra mile of every continent represented with experts, and they all get good lines; some even get to die on Venus at the end, even . . . *snif* Brinkman. … I’m okay. I have to agree, pretty good movie for a MST but they overload it with so many weird effects, technical plot cul-de-sacs and endless consultations, that I lose track of what anything means anymore and I don’t care if ANYONE gets back alive.

    The Host segments are similarly from out in left field, with little connection to the movie or each other, or reality. I do enjoy them, though: the foam robot is great; reminds me a little of “Spewy” the alien from Chris Elliott’s Get a Life show, who barfed on everyone. If you’re not prepared for this episode, you’ll be left with w a headache. Best taken in short segments.

       3 likes

  18. dsman71 says:

    I love the Million Pounds of Doodie riff from Joel after the ship gets covered with that molasses type stuff..this was a funky film..not a bad film..dull in some spots….Its a B movie but it was colorful…
    I was not to thrilled for this to be Joel Episode to represent the 20th Anniversary Set that shout did as their grand entrance because there are plenty of better Joel episodes..I guess it was just at that time what they could get..
    Now nearly 2 years later theyre given us a Gamera box set !! :)
    With Godzilla vs. Megalon we get the debut of Joel’s maroon jumpsuit

       0 likes

  19. Tom Carberry says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkKfYsV965E

    Here is the Klack commercial (host segment) in question. I think it is one of the best segments of Season 2 (IMHO). The movie was ok, but their treatment made is much more enjoyable. I visualize one of my former co-workers when I hear the line “if you can cook, but are incapable of showing emotion…” She was an excellent cook (by virtue of her weight estimated in metric tonnage, and a holiday spread she deigned to share with her co-workers during the holiday season) but was the most unpleasant person I’d worked with in 30+ years.

       1 likes

  20. Kouban says:

    Personally, I think the KLACK ad is one of the best segments of MST3K’s history. On its own, it’s strange and amusing, but it’s downright hilarious when you know the source material (my friends and I have spent many hours being alternately amused and grossed out by the 50s and 60s vintage “creative recipe” magazine ads which were the genesis of the segment).
    The movie itself is by turns incredibly dull (as is common with “space travel” movies) and highly disorienting. Venus feels like the result of reading Lovecraft while dropping LSD.

       3 likes

  21. Matt Sandwich says:

    Not the most memorable episode, but it has its moments. The saturated color is fun to watch (if occasionally headache-inducing), and it’s kinda neat to see not only a foreign film, but one with a pedigree as strong as Stanislaw Lem. And I appreciate the info on Lem’s repudiation of the film– it’s tough to see any of his ideas in the final product, which was presumably further bastardized (or should I say ‘Sandy Franked’?) for foreign distribution.

    It’s also interesting to see a Cold War-era film with such ostensibly progressive racial politics. Of course, it tends to have a subtext of “in the future, everyone will have accepted that our ideology is the correct ideology, with the exception of the [evil capitalist stooge/godless communist oppressor].” But still, that’s one international cast! Tani Yoko was a bona fide star in Japan, and I’ve always wondered if there were any repercussions for her in making a film in East Germany. (But obviously haven’t bothered to investigate.)

    And my favorite riff is another one that isn’t all that funny, but for whatever reason the delivery of the line absolutely kills me every time: “The Tun…gumeteorsandwich.”

       3 likes

  22. Matt Sandwich says:

    Oops! Forgot a few things.

    Honorable riff mention: “Oh, looks like it had a hell of a grip on her.” (Again, it’s the delivery that does it for me.)

    The other thing that sticks with me from this episode is the bouncing data-storage insects, which I believe prompts a mention of a toy company that I’ve now looked up several times online, but always forget. “Schaper always leaves you laughing ha(x7).” Anyway, Joel mentions it in an AV Club interview as ‘one of those things’ that really stuck with viewers (like me) even though it didn’t mean anything to them. (Actually the Pop-O-Matic commercial is quoted here too, isn’t it? Again, I don’t know the commercial, but I can recite it from the episode. Meta? Sort of. Sad? I’m afraid so. Uncommon? Probably not.)

       3 likes

  23. Mr. B(ob) says:

    One of the things that strikes me about this episode is that some or at least one of the writers appears to have kind of liked it. Summed up in Crow’s comments at the end, “I kind of liked it”, “it had a lot of action”, along with comments about the international flavor, etc. The movie is silly fun and generally keeps moving in a way that is a relief from endless single-minded sequences of the Lippert films like walking or rock climbing for 20 minutes without virtually anything else happening.

    In general, movies used on the show that focused on firsts in space exploration (e.g., 12 To The Moon, Rocketship X-M, First Spaceship On Venus) all worked incredibly well and provided the writers with tons of silliness of which to make fun while at the same time providing a kind of light entertainment all by themselves. I would have loved to have seen more light SF films like this used in later seasons and less of those tense, depressing and sometimes aggravating teens-in-trouble dramas like Girl In Lover’s Lane or Kitten With A Whip.

       1 likes

  24. Cheapskate Crow says:

    I would put this down with Marooned as the worst of the space exploration movies, it was quite dull and even the riffing didn’t liven it up enough for me. I did like the mention of the Tunguska asteroid, lots of good conspiracy theories about that one. 2 stars. Fortunately next week will get things back on track.

       0 likes

  25. EricJ says:

    @14 – Kraft Music Hall was from the last days of the 60’s-early 70’s when programs were still allowed to do their own sponsorship commercial breaks–
    I have dim memories of the poor-man’s-Ed-Sullivan variety show itself, but the 80’s commercial is…pretty close enough to the mark.

    @22 – The bugs were a reference to the Cooties game, and although the only Cooties ad on YouTube didn’t have the corporate tag, think this should clear it up:
    Schaper (the Cootie Company): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXPIMkYj43k
    Pop-o-matic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfznucMwNuU
    (Ah, the days when we had riffers who actually had archaic baby-boomer ephemera stuck in their heads…)

       2 likes

  26. Ned R. says:

    This has one of my all-time favorite random but right lines, about the first time when the short bald astronaut who runs the robot speaks. He’s just there, looking like that, saying his first line with some excessive cheeriness, to which Crow responds, in a slightly exasperated/’get me out of here’ voice, “Thanks, LEN!” Because, indeed, said short bald astronaut could not be any more of a Len if he tried. Not a Lenny (or Squiggy) but pure, uncut Len. MST3K salutes you, Lens of the world. Or at least that guy.

       0 likes

  27. MSTie says:

    Not one of my favorite episodes. I find the actual movie incredibly boring and the riffs just don’t save it for me.

       0 likes

  28. big61al says:

    Bad space film from Germany [?] with lots of color and weird plot/special effecst always equal a good time even if the host segments and riffing is a little off. With this level of writing you just have to take from it what you like and appreciate it for what it is. Not every film is gonna be a top ten effort. Would they like to redo some of the episodes if they were given a chance? We all know the answer is yes. Did that happen ? No. Watch it because they tried. That’s good enough for me. I Even watch Hamlet every now and then. Every single episode has something for someone. The all have merit and I applaud them for thier effort. If you don’t want to rewatch it watch reuns of whats on your shelf.

       2 likes

  29. Greasyfries says:

    A review and synopsis of the uncut original East German version of this:

    http://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s1708star.html

    The KLACK foods sketch thoroughly amuses my inner eight-year-old.

       2 likes

  30. Matthew Shine says:

    The last two episodes have been kind of lackluster for me and I’m glad to see this episode featured. I don’t get how you can find the film boring, to me, it’s on par with Magic Voyage Of Sinbad for it’s pure WTF factor. The mouse-esq robot, the teddy bear suits and the inexplicable brown sludge all adds up to some of the weirdest footage ever shot.

    Also, the KLACK segment is one of the greatest host segments ever.

       4 likes

  31. Mr. B(ob) says:

    @ #29: It’s nice to find a kindred spirit on this episode. It’s magic fun time for us and always has been.

       1 likes

  32. Raptorial Talon says:

    Hoo boy . . . pretty boring this time around. I need to watch it again sometime, but I don’t remember much of interest. At least from the movie segments.

    Anyone know why the scientists kept calling the robot “Ohmigah” instead of just pronouncing “Omega” correctly?

    While the film itself is mostly boring, I do have to give it some kudos for trying to present an alien civilization as genuinely alien. So often, “alien” civilizations in movies look like they were built to suit the physical needs of guys in suits and the emotional needs of techy nerds, rather than to suit truly alien psychologies. This film at least *attempts* to break away from that cliche.

    As for not (really) understanding what all the weird alien stuff is supposed to be . . . well, consider: if you were an ancient Egyptian transported into a modern mansion, and you saw a T.V., a refrigerator, a toaster, a washer-dryer set, and a remote-controlled toy car, you would have *no idea what the hell you’re looking at.* But by fiddling around with them for a while, you might at least get a sense of what they’re capable of, even if their full functionality and true purpose remain obscure. The same basic principle would apply to modern scientists trying to understand the material culture of an advanced alien society.

    Since the scientists in the movie are trained deductive rationalists instead of primitive tribesmen, the movie wants us to assume that they can at least make educated guesses about what they’re encountering. Though whether that makes any sense in-context is debatable. And Lem’s original vision was no doubt far more coherent and consistent.

       2 likes

  33. Dark Grandma of Death says:

    Crow’s “There’s an angry black man on line one for you,” is one of my favorite riffs. It always bothered me that the crew managed to leave Talua (I think that was the character’s name) on Venus – what…you couldn’t make more of an effort to try & get him back?!

       4 likes

  34. Mr. B(ob) says:

    @ “Anyone know why the scientists kept calling the robot “Ohmigah” instead of just pronouncing “Omega” correctly?”

    A little USA-centric there in that comment. The way they pronounce “omega” in the movie is THE way people pronounce it in the UK, South Africa and many other countries.

       1 likes

  35. Sharktopus says:

    @ Ned R :

    That’s an interesting interpretation, but I’m pretty sure they were saying “Lenin,” since he bears a strong resemblance to the Bolshevik revolutionary, at least at certain angles. He just needs the signature goatee.

    Like Sampo, I keep wondering why they kept saying “Tungu” meteor rather than Tunguska. (A region of Siberia where a huge meteor did, in fact, plummet to Earth in 1908). I’d guess they shortened the name for the English dub, right after they changed heroic pilot Brinkman’s nationality from East German to American. However, whoever did the English translation, however, either didn’t seem to recognize that the robot’s name was Omega, or didn’t recognize the name for the Greek letter. I’ve heard a couple distinct pronuciations, but ah-muh-gah is a new one for me. I had to look up online what the hell they were saying.

    I’m always amazed by the science fiction movies that imply that so many advances could occur in such a short time. This film was produced in the late ’50s but is set in 1985. Did anyone, even over-optimistic Soviets, truly believe we could have a Moonbase or irrigate the Gobi desert within 25 years or so? Not to mention that a international, multiracial crew of experts is treated as no big deal, but that one is a woman is remakable, at least to the Intervision reporter.

    Fun fact: Intervision, by the way, was a real-life broadcasting organization behind the Iron Curtain. It merged with Eurovision in 1993.

    As for the experiment itself, when I first watched this episode – thanks to the 20th anniversary set – I loved it: strong riffing, very watchable yet charmingly goofy movie, host segments that, even if they’re not exactly funny are certainly memorable nonetheless. But when I put it on last night to refresh my memory, I found the movie segments much more boring thatn I’d remembered, which is strange for me. (Tom’s overcranked sarcasm sequencer got especially irritating very fast. It’s a long, long walk for the very short explosive punchline.) I’ve had episodes grow on me, but this one sort of wore out its welcome. I think I’ll have to let it collect dust for a while before I go back to it with fresh eyes.

       5 likes

  36. Mr. B(ob) says:

    @ “I’ve heard a couple distinct pronuciations, but ah-muh-gah is a new one for me.”

    Again, the accent is on a different syllable for English speakers who are not from the USA. It was not a new one to me when I saw this movie because I’ve heard non-US English speakers say it that way previously.

       1 likes

  37. Sharktopus says:

    Oops. I can’t blame those italics on Skynet this time.

    @ Bob: If they’re dubbing over the original dialogue so that everyone speaks English, and changing the names and nationalities of characters (and cutting the film’s runtime for short-attention-spanned Americans) why shouldn’t they use a more common pronunciation? Anyway, I’ve heard Europeans say “Oh-mee-ga” and “ah-mee-ga,” but for the life of me I could not figure out why they kept calling the robot Oh My God. It seems like the Brains never quite o got it, either.

    Also, I love how the Bots are so uinimpressed by Omega. They’ve come a long way from Robot “YAY!” versus Aztec Mummy “BOO!”

    While I didn’t enjot the episode so much this time, “There’s an angry black man on line two” still mades me laugh way too hard. Maybe because I don’t think they would word it that way if they were doing it these days…

       2 likes

  38. michael says:

    I wouldn’t call the Roseanne joke dated. If Cinematic Titanic made a Roseanne-singing-the-National-Anthem reference today it wouldn’t seem out of place. Just another of the thouseands of semi-obscure references they always make. Why should it be different if the event happened relatively recently?

       3 likes

  39. fish eye no miko says:

    #31: “Anyone know why the scientists kept calling the robot ‘Ohmigah’ instead of just pronouncing ‘Omega’ correctly?”

    Because that’s how you say the word in British English.

    I remember Roseanne singing the National Anthem. I remember a lot of then-current references they make. If the show was nothing but topical references that would be one thing, but I don’t think them making such jokes now and again is that bad. [shrug]

    The movie was odd, but I liked that everything about Venus did truly look… well, alien.

    The Klack segment looks like the inspiration for The Gallery of Regrettable Food:
    http://www.lileks.com/institute/gallery/index.html
    (Warning: Not Safe For Lunch… [retch])

    The Tongue-Goo Meteor. Hee. Yeah, I’m not sure how “Tunguska” is that much harder to say. Was it a translation error?
    [Fun fact: Firefox’s spell check recognizes “Tunguska” as a word. Cool.]

       3 likes

  40. Sharktopus says:

    Actually, for most of the movie I thought the robot’s name was Ommegang, like the excellent Belgian-style brewery in Cooperstown NY. I had an English math teacher who said it “oh-mee-ga.” Maybe if he was German, I wouldn’t have been confused by the movie. ANYWAY, let’s just bury this before a some unholy mathematics/eymology lecture breaks out…

    Has anyone read Lem’s novel, or seen the full, uncut movie, either dubbed or in German? It must make more sense than what we’ve seen.

       1 likes

  41. Johnny Ryde says:

    I’m going to go against the general consensus here. This is one of my least favorite episodes. I can’t stand the movie and the riffing just doesn’t do it for me. And I find Tom Servo’s “sarcasm chip” riffs to be the one of the most annoying things that BB ever did. (Oh, please, sign me up for more of that.)

    I’d actually seen this movie before I saw the MST3k version. Well, I’d seen parts of it. My (then) girlfriend and I bought it on a double-header (with Basil Rathbone in Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, if I remember correctly)… I don’t think either of us ever made it awake through the whole thing.

    BTW, did I miss a joke somewhere? Why is Dr. F puking through the final segment?

    This episode always feels like a “lost” season 1 episode to me. Servo seems strangely out of character and the riffing seems very slight and kind of repetitive…

       2 likes

  42. rcfagnan says:

    This one hurts. To call the movie incomprehensible is to raise it several notches. The host segments really didn’t do it for me, either. NEXT week’s is one of my all time faves tho’!

       1 likes

  43. Jack Burton says:

    As someone who has waited on Gallagher, I can attest that yes, he is a total douchebag (and a lousy tipper to boot) so any slam on him is welcome by me…

       4 likes

  44. Mr. B(ob) says:

    @ #36:

    The “oh my god” was a joke interpretation by MST3K. I had no trouble understanding, even allowing for dubbing, the pronunciation of “omega” during the movie. I stand by my earlier comments.

    As for shortening Tunguska to Tungu, it clearly had to do with dubbing to make the spoken sounds somewhat match the mouth movements of the non-English speaking actors.

       5 likes

  45. sjk says:

    This episode is just okay for me, mainly because the movie doesn’t hold my interest at all. Sampo’s favorite riff sums it up.

    I do like Servo’s sarcasm though. “Oh, sign me up for that!” has made it into my repertoire.

       2 likes

  46. Sharktopus says:

    @ Johnny Ryde:

    I thought the same thing. When I first saw this episode, based on Servo’s sarcastic voice (which sounds to me an awful lot like Kevin trying to mimic Josh), I assumed it must have been from very early Season 2. (I would have guessed that this was the first ep they produced for Season 2 if not for Frank going unintroduced. And the ACEG telling me otherwise, of course.)

    Which is not to say I don’t like this one a lot, but sarcastic Tom… OoOoh PLEASE let me have some more of THAT. :pain:

    The movie can try to sound scientific as much as it wants, but when the narrator says “Then somebody rememberd that in 1908…” you lost me. :laugh:

       2 likes

  47. This Guy says:

    I’m also 29 and remember the Roseanne/national anthem incident. In fact, a good deal of the time when Sampo calls out a topical reference for being remembered by virtually no-one, I remember it. I sometimes wonder if I should be concerned by this.
    The “sarcasm sequencer” bit kind of falls flat for me too, because none of Tom’s overly-sarcastic comments are at all clever–they’re just variations on “Oh, that’s GREAT!”
    I wonder if a lot of older science fiction authors and filmmakers went and poured themselves a stiff drink the first time we (as humans) got a definitive picture of what Venus is really like under those clouds.

       1 likes

  48. Sharktopus says:

    I think it doesn’t really matter whether you actually remember Roseanne caterwauling the National Anthem or not – as long as you know who Roseanne is you can imagine perfectly well how it might have gone. It also helps that mentioning Roseanne in most contexts is inherently funny. (Just not in the way she would like.) For example, I doubt a much more current reference to, say, Christina Aguilera screwing up the words at the last Super Bowl would make any sense 20 years later, but you can still get a laugh out of Dan Quayle jokes. Even if you don’t remember him misspelling potatoe, you probably still know him by reputation.

    By the way, does anyone else thing Herringway looks a lot like director Christopher Nolan? I felt like he looked familiar and I think I finally put my finger on why.

       1 likes

  49. Johnny Ryde says:

    @Sharktopus:

    based on Servo’s sarcastic voice (which sounds to me an awful lot like Kevin trying to mimic Josh)

    That’s it exactly!

       2 likes

  50. touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    I can’t guarantee it, but I’m pretty sure MST3K has used references that date back to the 1930s or earlier, so “topical humor” per se isn’t really an issue with the show. “The right people will get it.” ;-)

       3 likes

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