Movie: (1984) An evil overlord imprisons a wise man in order to learn the whereabouts of a powerful weapon. Ator the barbarian and his pals are determined to rescue him.
First shown: 6/1/91
Opening: J&tB consider new names
Invention exchange: The renaming thing gets out of hand, while in Deep 13, Dr. F loses patience with Frank’s “Mike Douglas Show” recreation; Joel’s invention is a smoking jacket, while the Mads demonstrate robotic arm wrestling
Host segment 1: J&tB reenact the half-screen slo-mo credit sequence
Host segment 2: Joel explains how giving extraordinary names to ordinary things can dress them up a bit
Host segment 3: Joel gives a foley demonstration
End: J&tB rail against the movie, which pleases the Mads
Stinger: “Thong! The fish is ready!”
• This one takes a little while to get going (it doesn’t help that a big chunk of the first part of the movie is flashbacks to the movie this is a sequel of), but once the movie gets going, the riffing gets up to speed and it really is hilarious. The host segments are mostly in the more-clever-than-funny category, but we’re so comfortable with these characters by now, clever is usually enough. The movie, as Joel and the bots note in the ending segment, is a bit of a hard ride, but it’s perfect for our experiments.
• The stretch between the end of season 2 and the beginning of season 3 was 119 days, the ninth-longest amount of time MSTies had to wait between episodes.
• Editor’s Note: Back when I was doing the first version of the episode guide comments for this season, I enlisted the help of a very funny MSTie pal of mine named Liz Owen. I just wanted to get a woman’s perspective, wherever possible. Her comments were folded in with all the rest (at her request) and I think both of us have long ago forgotten whose thoughts were who’s. I’m almost completely re-writing all the commentary and I don’t know how much, if any, of her thoughts will survive, but I just wanted to give her a shout-out to be sure she wasn’t forgotten as we go forward.
• It was with this episode that the real heyday of the series began. In the ACEG, Kevin notes it was the first of SEVENTY-TWO contracted episodes (in fact, they’d do at total of 96 episodes from this point before Comedy Central grew weary of them). It was an almost unheard-of situation in the TV business, and you can almost feel them settle in for the long haul with this one.
• That massive contract is perhaps the best evidence of how much CC officials considered this the network’s “signature series.” More evidence: June 1 was the day CC officially went on the air (after two months as “CTV” ): this show was one of the shows that ran that day.
• Many of the catchphrases that we’d hear again and again are heard for the first time in this episode, including “…later…later…,” “bite me, it’s fun!” “It’s not a comic book, it’s a graphic novel!” “they’re kinda dumb; and easy to kill,” and “Go to bed, old man!”
• One of the first things Joel says is: “Looks like we’re back on, everybody!” implying that there’s been some sort of break in communication. And, well, there has been: It had been about four months since the last show of season two debuted (one of the shorter breaks between seasons for this show, by the way).
• Dr. F. gives the whole “stranded in space” premise a boost by asking Joel, “How did you fare going through the asteroid belt?” (Apparently not well. Jeepers, ow.)
• The whole “Mike Douglas Show” bit (a decade before “Seinfeld” would explore similar terrain) establishes the “Man in My Little Girl’s Life” as a piece of mental furniture for this show.
• In the invention exchange, Dr. F. is wearing a baseball cap backwards in a homage to the movie “Over the Top.”
• That’s intern Christopher Wurst as the moleman Gerry, refereeing the robot arm wrestling. Jerry and Sylvia would never be seen again.
• Before, FVI got hold of it, this movie was called “Ator The Invincible.” On video it was titled “The Blade Master.” It was a sequel to “Ator the Fighting Eagle” (1983) and the prequel to “the Iron Warrior” (1986).
• As far as I know, nobody has identified the movie that the clips used during the opening credits came from. Looks like a sword-and-sandal flick. Come on, hive brain! Let’s solve this!
• In the theater, Joel is up out of his seat a lot, rubbing Ator’s pecs, trying to read the giant book and doing the “slow it down” stretching motion during the slow dialog.
• Oddest non-sequitur: Joel says, “and…bring me the head of Gallagher!” apropos of nothing on the screen.
• Segment one just kind of establishes the premise then kills time. The credits are moderately amusing, though.
• Segment two feels very season two-ish: very wordy but funny.
• Segment three also feels like something out of early season two, akin to Joel’s zero-gravity or gobos lectures.
• Crew roundup: Art director Massimo Lentini also served that role on the “Escape 2000″ and Casiomeister Karl Michael Demer is back doing the credits music as mentioned previously.
• Callbacks: “The driver is either missing or he’s dead!” (Phantom Creeps); “Pyuma?!” (Ring of Terror) “I say it’s foggy!” (The Crawling Eye) “It’s the Aztec mummy!” “What’s Your Dream?” (Rocketship X-M)
• Obscure riff: As the cave man eats human heart: “I wanna Barney Clark bar!” In 1983, Clark was the first person to receive a permanent, implanted artificial heart; he lived 112 days.
• Vaguely dirty riff: “It’s the speedy delivery guy and has he got a package!”
• Great wordplay: “I think it’s the Kurds.” “And whey?” “Yes, way!”
• Tom’s little “Ator’s kite” song is great, and Joel’s little harmony at the end really makes it charming.
• I just love that face Joel pulls at the beginning of that final host segment.
• How much Keeffe does this movie have? Miles O’Keeffe, perhaps best known for 1981′s “Tarzan the Ape Man” with Bo Derek, apparently doesn’t take his acting ability too seriously. He reportedly contacted BBI after seeing this episode and told them he loved it.
• Creditswatch: Several changes are evident in the credits. For one, Jann Johnson had moved on to greener pastures and her assistant Alex Carr is now production coordinator (not manager, as Jann had been). The lines “Special Effects and Other Fancy Stuff: Trace Beaulieu” has been removed, as has “Additional Visual Effects: Industrial Plumbing and Heating,” which I suspect was just a joke anyway. New to the credits are technical supervisor Timothy Scott and manager of business affairs Heide LeClerc. And in the thank yous: Randy Herget has been removed and Bill W. has been added (probably at the urging of Frank Conniff). The interns were Thomas Alphonso, Cyn Eells, Tom Henderson and Christopher Wurst. Also, The music during segment 1, which he titled “Jupiter,” were written and arranged by Michael J. Nelson. I tweeted him about what “Jupiter” means and he replied, “that may have simply been the name of the tone on the keyboard.”
• Fave riff: “Gomez! I’ve invented the wheel!!” Honorable mention: “I say: You could drive a Mack truck through your cues! Tempo! Tempo!”