Movie: (1965) In the first of a long-running Japanese movie series, a giant mutated turtle with super powers is accidentally revived from eons of hibernation and, of course, attacks Japan. Authorities, there and in the U.S., work to stop it. Meanwhile, young Kenny is fascinated by the beast.
First shown: 6/8/91
Opening: Tom leads some warmup exercises
Invention exchange: Crow tricks Tom into the old “trust exercise” prank; Joel shows off his endless salad takeout container, but Frank’s birdcage vacuum malfunctions
Host segment 1: Tom sings “Tibby, Oh Tibby”
Host segment 2: Crow and Tom hate Kenny, but Joel suggests a positive outlook, and proposes a contest
Host segment 3: The bots are playing beauty salon when Gamera visits on the Hexfield
End: Another look at the cast of the film, Joel reads some letters
Stinger: Eskimo says: “Bye…”
• One of the things that this episode-watching process does is compress the whole evolution of the show. It has only been a little over four months since we watched episode K05- GAMERA, but for the Brains it had been two-and-a-half years since they watched it. But, wow, what a long way they have come in that time. This one, like last week’s episode, is chock full of things that would be revisited again and again. The riffing is very funny and the movie is, well, it is what it is. Either you like this sort of movie or you don’t. This is the most grownup Gamera movie (from here on they get more and more juvenile), but we also get Kenny, the prototype of the whiny, privileged, tiny-shorts-wearing grade schooler who demands to be heard and obeyed. The segments are all at least good, and that brings the rating up a bit further. So this one may not be a home run, but it’s a solid stand-up triple.
• With this episode, season three begins its odd see-saw rhythm: first a Japanese import, than an American film (mostly classic 50s sci-fi), then back to a Japanese import and so forth.
• And although he was mocked a bit during the KTMA days, it’s with this episode that we really begin the troubled relationship with one Sandy Frank.
• I believe both inventions are from Joel’s standup act.
• The next episode, “Pod People,” is famous for its “Chief? McCloud!” riffs, but did you catch the one here? “Goodbye, Chief.” “Goodbye, McCloud.” So it’s clear this was a concept that was already percolating in the writing room.
• Callback: “No!” (Cave Dwellers). “No dancing, not allowed” (The Crawling Hand).
• The phrase “In fear and hot water” is a Firesign Theatre reference.
• We haven’t really had a complete song from Kevin since “Creepy Girl,” and he’s terrific once again — although Crow steals the show.
• Joel is carrying, and drinking from, a soda can during Tom’s song.
• Watch Joel and Crow exchange “oh brother” faces during Tom’s song. Trace’s puppetry is has gone from good to great.
• The last time I saw this, I was confused by the gesture Joel makes over Tom’s head, like he’s catching something. This time I realized he is catching the tiny, almost invisible sparkles that are falling.
• Following the song, back in the theater, Crow mercilessly pummels Tom with Tibby jokes and then Joel joins in, upsetting Tom so much he tries to leave–and he runs left! Where does he think he’s going?
• Did anybody ever send replies to “Kenny! What Gives?” If so, apparently they weren’t funny enough to be included in a later show. It never comes up again.
• Goof: Tom Servo mentions Kenny’s rocks before the “Kenny’s rocks” scene in the movie. A lot of times they do a host segment that might have been more effective if it appeared later in an episode, after whatever they’re referencing takes place in the movie. This is one of those. I suspect when you watch a movie five or six times in a given week you can lose track of when stuff happens.
• Then-current riff: Tom does a Robin Leach impression. At the time Leach’s show, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” was all the rage. Not so much, now.
• Also: Crow notes that the other international leaders are likely to listen to Japan “since you own their countries.” Japan’s “lost decade” put an end to jokes about how the uber-wealthy Japanese were buying up everything.
• Mike is hilarious as a smarmy Gamera, but unfortunately the gag “You’d know about pain–you’ve seen Spalding Gray” isn’t quite as funny since Gray’s death.
• Crow makes a bad pun about midway through the movie, and Joel casually rips Crow’s arm off and tosses it across the theater!! He doesn’t even let Crow retrieve it at the end of the segment! Later, he does it again! He’s so strict!
• What causes him to do it a second time is when Gamera is being blasted off against his will, and Crow says, mockingly “Hey Joel, remind you of anything?” He and Tom then begin singing the opening theme song! This seems to enrage Joel.
• They make no attempt to hide the fact that Tom’s hand is taped to his head in the last segment. He even yells “Yowch!” when Joel pulls it off.
• In episode 208- LOST CONTINENT, when Joel gets “movie sign against my will” the official FAQ stated that the Mads gave him a “shock to the shammies.” But that phrase wasn’t used in that episode, and didn’t appear until this one.
• Cast and crew roundup: Daddy-O notes: If you’re looking for somebody to blame for the entire Gamera oeuvre, look no further than Noriaki Yuasa, who directed this and three other MSTed Gamera outings (for brevity’s sake I am just going to refer to these movies by the name of Gamera’s opponent: “Gaos,” “Guiron,” and “Zigra.” Plus he supervised the special effects for “Barugon.” Then again, you could also blame screenwriter Fumi Takahashi, who wrote all five of the MSTed Gamera movies. Exec producer Masaichi Nagata also had that role for “Barugon,” “Gaos,” “Guiron” and “Zigra.” Producer Yonejiro Saito was the planner for “Barugon.” Editor Tatsuji Nakashizu also worked on “Barugon” and “Gaos.” Score composer Tadashi Yamauchi also worked on “Gaos.” Eiji Funakoshi, who plays Dr. Hidaka, also appears in “Guiron.” Yoshiro Kitahara. who plays Sakurai, also appears in “Barugon” and “Gaos.” Koji Fujiyama, who plays an engineer here, also appears in “Barugon,” “Gaos” and “Zigra.”
• Daddy-O also notes: “Gammera the Invincible” was the USA-released version of this movie, which included extra scenes with an American cast (Albert Dekker, etc.) filmed in America. The scenes added nothing…just more people talking about Plan Z. They’re not included in the Sandy Frank version.
• Creditswatch: One Lisa Sheretz is listed as a contributing writer for this and the next two episodes. Also: Colleen Henjum begins a contributing writer gig that will continue into season six. Along with Bridget Jones, Henjum was a “home writer” — they sent her a copy of the movie with the time codes and she would fax in jokes.
• Fave riff: “Oh…this is Pearl Harbor…how’d THAT get in here?…”