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 it does, the riffing gets up to speed and it really is hilarious. The host segments are mostly in the more-clever-than-funny variety, 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.
• 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 had been, but not that long: The stretch between the end of season 2 and the beginning of season 3 was 119 days, the ninth-longest (or second-shortest, depending on how you look at it) amount of time MSTies had to wait between episodes.
• This episode was included in Rhino’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 2.”
• 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.
• 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 episode 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!”
• 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.)
• Tom is wearing a fez.
• 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 his baseball cap backwards in a homage to the movie “Over the Top.”
• 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).
• One of the commenters identified the movie that the clips used during the opening credits came from. It’s a sword-and-sandal flick called “Taur: the Mighty.”
• 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.
• At the end of segment three, Trace does the voice of TV’s Madam, but gets mixed up and makes Crow’s mouth move for a moment. Oops! They keep going.
• 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.
• Cast and 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.
• CreditsWatch: Several changes have taken place in the credits. For one, former production assistant Jann Johnson is now production coordinator (while Alex Carr remained production manager–wonder how that worked). That’s intern Christopher Wurst as the moleman Gerry, refereeing the robot arm wrestling. Wurst must have put his foot down during the making of this episode about how hot it was inside the mask: Gerry and Sylvia would never be seen again. Trace and Frank are no longer “Special Guest ‘Villians’ (misspelled)” as they were throughout season two. The lines “Special Effects and Other Fancy Stuff: Trace Beaulieu” have been removed, as has “Additional Visual Effects: Industrial Plumbing and Heating,” which I suspect was just a joke anyway. The “Hexfield Viewscreen Designed and Constructed by: Mark Gilbertson” credit, which began with episode 205, is gone. 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. Wurst also got a “Contributing writers” credit, along with Briget. Also, the music during segment 1, which he titled “Jupiter,” were written and arranged by Mike. 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!”