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Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Weekend Discussion Thread: “Psychic Lawn Darts”

In the documentary “This is MST3K,” Kevin Murphy says: “The obscure jokes are so much fun because there’s a very small percentage of people who get those, but the ones who do say ‘My God they’re inside my head. They know me. They know too much about me.'” He has called these jokes “psychic lawn darts.”

So let’s share our favorite “psychic lawn darts.”

Mine came with episode 201; “ROCKET SHIP XM” when Tom said: “Dreezle drazzle drozzle drome, time for zis one to come home” (from the ancient and [mostly] forgotten “Tooter the Turtle” cartoons).

I hear that riff and suddenly I’m seven years old, it’s Saturday morning, and I can taste the soggy Froot Loops.

What’s yours?

(Keep sending those discussion thread ideas to msampo at a-o-l dot com!)
(Reminder: Get out that copy of “Death Rat” and re-read it before the end of the month!)

165 Replies to “Weekend Discussion Thread: “Psychic Lawn Darts””

  1. ARCH HALL 3 says:

    I LOOOVE TOOTLE THE TURTLE AND HAVE MY COPY OF DEATH RAT AT THE READY! :laugh:

       0 likes

  2. ARCH HALL 3 says:

    SORRY, TOOTER!

       0 likes

  3. Fart Bargo says:

    MANNIX!

    Every time I hear it a checkered blazer, greased backed black hair and a snub nose holstered at his small of the back flashes before my eyes. What I’m hearing is Aunt Ida yakking how she went to HS with him.

       1 likes

  4. Mr. B(ob) says:

    Any references to old cartoons or children’s shows like Beanie and Cecil, Kukla Fran and Ollie, Tooter Turtle, Gerry Anderson Supermarionations like Thunderbirds, or commercials from those days (e.g., “Like father like son, think about it won’t you”) were perfect for me because they reminded me of things I had often forgotten about and when I would hear the references something long buried would spring back to the front of my brain. Similarly, the first time I saw Rocketship X-M and they did the “By this time my lungs were aching for air” I immediately remembered seeing Sea Hunt when I was a little kid, but I hadn’t seen it or thought about it in something like 2 decades at that point. There’s even a joke about “Diver Dan” in one episode, another forgotten show from childhood that I couldn’t (and can’t) remember anything about because I haven’t seen it since I was a wee lad, but the joke about it reminded me of it and that I had watched it years ago.

    The other “psychic lawn darts” for me had to do with film references. I’ve been a film buff since an early age and was watching classics and silent films that were already old even when I was a kid, so references to Kurosawa or Eisenstein, Kubrick, etc. are always personally pleasing for me.

    And there are the references to “cult” things I like that are very personally funny and pleasingly seemingly targeted at me like RPGs (“ouch, I fell on my 8-sided dice” from Cave Dwellers), the Renaissance Festival jokes (like the punching bags from Giant Gila Monster or “huzzah” comments in Pod People), Star Trek references, Tolkien, etc.

       2 likes

  5. trickymutha says:

    “The Sales revolution will not be televised!”- Mike from the “Selling Wizard”- this riff blew me away cause I popped in this episode late last weekend while thinking about the death of Gil Scott-Heron and there is my favorite show paying riff homage to him.

       2 likes

  6. Mr. B(ob) says:

    Oh, and Quinn Martin productions. I watched all those shows as a kid, The FBI, Cannon, Barnaby Jones, The Streets of San Francisco, etc. I can’t imagine why now! But there are a lot of jokes about them on MST3K. I’m about the same age as most of the show’s cast so I guess we all grew up watching the same stuff for better or worse.

       1 likes

  7. Revlillo says:

    I had goose bumps when they sang “Amen” after the title of “World Without End” came on the screen at the first live show. They used the exact harmony used in The Lutheran Hymnal for that part of the liturgy. I’m sure that it is an Anglican harmony since The Lutheran Hymnal stole most of its melodies from the Book of Common Prayer, but it brought me right back to remembered church services. (We had started using a revised liturgy several years before the show and I hadn’t sung that liturgy for quite some time.) “Wow,” I said, “SOMEONE on the show spent a fair amount of time in a liturgical church when growing up.”

       3 likes

  8. Dark Grandma of Death says:

    In The Unearthly, when John Carradine says to Mark Houston, “You seem a bit wobbly,” Joel replies, “I’m a Weeble.” Carradine then tells him to take a seat, and Tom says, “Hey, I wobble but we don’t sit down.” That one took me right back to the 1970s Weebles toys that my friends’ kids had, the ad campaigns, and our own personal variation – “Weebles wobble, but they don’t float.” It was kind of an odd thrill to hear a Weebles reference in an episode.

       4 likes

  9. JeffyWu says:

    From “Last of the Wild Horses”–“I’m deputy Dawg!” Talk about being transported back in time…

       3 likes

  10. sixofone88 says:

    I think the reference that really blew me away was about Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel.

       3 likes

  11. Absorbine_Sr says:

    In Monster-A-Go-Go, as someone sneaks past a room and jangly music plays, the line is something like “He’s walking by Robert Fripp’s room.” In my head I then hear the “noodling” improv section of Moonchild from the first King Crimson album. Fripp is their guitarist.

       3 likes

  12. Chris L. says:

    When they pointed out in opening of Mitchell that in one shot the robber looked like Al Noga. They knew Noga as a former Minnesota Viking, I knew him from his college days at Hawaii. Either way, he wasn’t exactly a household name as far as football players went, so it blew me away when they referenced him, and the fact that they were right, he did look like Al Noga, made it even better.

       2 likes

  13. hollyhox says:

    In many movies where dogs are heard barking, they do a riff about “the Bumpuses’ dogs,” the annoying-but-never-seen neighbors from the 1983 film A Christmas Story.

       4 likes

  14. ck says:

    #4

    One of the best Kurosawa references was in the Creeping Terror- the
    shot of the clothesline just after the housewife checked on her
    sensory deprivation experiment with her baby. It did look like a
    Kurosawa shot.

       1 likes

  15. MSTie says:

    My “psychic lawn darts” are any of the numerous nods made to “It’s a Wonderful Life,” because I’ve seen that one so many times (it’s a Christmas Eve tradition at our house) that I’ve memorized all the dialogue. There are just too many to list, many to do with Mr. Gower, but the latest one that pierced my brain was when a character in “I Accuse My Parents” went into the bank and one of the ‘bots, I think, said something about how he hoped he wouldn’t give his newspaper to Mr. Potter.

       2 likes

  16. monoceros4 says:

    Probably my favorite obscure riff is from The Screaming Skull when, during some nighttime scene or other, Servo (I think) says, “Brekekekex, koax, koax,” which is from the Greek text of Aristophanes’s “The Frogs”. They don’t get much more obscure than that.

    I love the specific It’s a Wonderful Life riffs, particularly because they refer to so many different scenes in the movie throughout the show’s run. Twice, I think, they’ve riffed on the scene where Jimmy Stewart starts manhandling and screaming at Thomas Mitchell. “WHY DID YOU BLOW UP THAT PLANET YOU SILLY STUPID OLD FOOL!?” Also hilarious is when TV’s Frank asks Joel and the bots to “keep playing” a sketch during Manos and Servo simply responds, “Oh, daddy,” again referring to Jimmy Stewart’s breakdown in IaWL.

       2 likes

  17. brainguy921 says:

    My favorite psychic lawn darts are from Firesign Theater (e.g. “in fear and hot water” from Gamera). The first time I heard a FT ref on the show I knew I had found a group of kindred spirits. Like MST3K, FT is something you either get or you don’t. I’ve seen folks sit through an entire FT album (showing my age there) and never crack a smile – same thing with episodes of MST3K. That makes me sad, but then again I don’t get Gallagher. To each his own I suppose.

       3 likes

  18. jjb3k says:

    From “Kitten With a Whip”, when John Forsythe comes home and hears Looney Tunes on TV in the other room: “Carl Stalling’s in his house!”

    Not a lot of casual Looney Tunes fans know who Carl Stalling was – he composed the music for most of the classic Warner Bros. cartoons, along with his longtime colleague Milt Franklyn, from 1936 to 1958. I was like “Hey, the Brains know their Looney Tunes history too!”

    They also make Mel Blanc riffs in a few episodes (most notably “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” – “You’re goin’ out with ME, varmint!” ), but Blanc was a little more widely known. Indeed, he still seems to be the only “name” voice actor that a lot of people are familiar with, despite being dead for over 20 years.

       2 likes

  19. EricJ says:

    During one jazzy musical number (can’t remember the episode), J&tb sing along “Oranges, oranges…Ain’t no rhyme for oranges.”
    (Shut up!–I did not see that episode of Pufnstuf when I was a kid, and you can’t prove I ever did!)

    That, and the string of flaming moose-boat Rocky & Bullwinkle jokes in “Day the Earth Froze”:
    “Now there’s something you don’t see every day, Chauncey”. “What’s that Edgar?” “KISS going bass-fishing.”

       1 likes

  20. Zombie Turtle says:

    Since I’m comparatively young, (sorry, not bragging or anything, trying to make a point), I really don’t get most of the obscure riffs. My favorite, even though I don’t think it counts as obscure, is from #404 Teenagers From Outer Space, when Crow goes, “I’m not dead yet!” Being a huge Monty Python fan, and most people my age have never heard of the movie, I had a spooky feeling that there was someone in my head. . . .

       6 likes

  21. Thomas K. Dye says:

    During “Attack of the Eye Eye Creatures,” Joel says “I love you, Mr. Johnson, and I want to have your baby.” Which has to be the ONLY, ONLY reference to “Blackadder” I’ve ever heard in MST 3K ever (barring one reference to Rowan Atkinson during “Colossus and the Headhunters”). So they must have watched the show, but just not figured that it was popular enough for anyone to recognize it. But such an OBSCURE line from the third series…!

       6 likes

  22. KJB says:

    Seeing how that Pace Picante ad from the ’80s has been a running joke in my family since it originally ran, the “NEW YORK CITY!!!” riffs always take me back…

       2 likes

  23. Magicvoice says:

    There were a few instances where a building was on fire and they referenced Edie Sedgwick. I’m a big follower of Warhol’s superstars and many people don’t know who she is so I always felt like they were in my head a bit with that one.

       1 likes

  24. NoTrafficAccidents says:

    To add to #11, there’s also in Teenage Caveman when our eponymous hero is playing his pipes, Tom says it’s “I Talk To The Wind” by King Crimson.

       2 likes

  25. Malachi says:

    In high school I got obsessed with reading Kurt Vonnegut, so I couldn’t help but feel like they were in my head during “Mitchell” when Joel said “Uh..Sorry about the porn, there’s a Kilgore Trout piece in there.”

       2 likes

  26. EricJ says:

    @21 – So they must have watched the show, but just not figured that it was popular enough for anyone to recognize it. But such an OBSCURE line from the third series…!

    Actually, it was from the repeated Comedy Central ads for the series (and baffled most of the fans, since that scene had always been cut out of the original A&E airings the first fans had memorized).
    Have to put some riffs in context of late-80’s/early 90’s Comedy Channel, such as the Lance Link, Joe Besser and Supercar refs….Oh, young kids don’t KNOW what we had to watch during the Birth of Cable.

       1 likes

  27. Jane Dobson says:

    I always love it when I hear Joel/Mike and the bots make musical theater references (I’m a theater nerd, what can I say?). Two jokes that made me feel like they were definitely in my head–and made me almost fall out of my seat laughing–are:

    From “Pumaman”– Vadinho: “Tony!” Crow: “It’s me, Chino, I’ve been lookin for ya, ya mook!”
    From “Hobgoblins”, when the Club Scum emcee walks on stage– Mike: “Wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome …”

       1 likes

  28. JJK says:

    I always thuoght the “I want to have your baby” line came from SCTV. Catherine O’Hara as Lola Heatherton used to say that to Sammy Maudlin and other “celebrities” on the talk show parody they did.

       1 likes

  29. Stoneman says:

    Hi everybody? Wassup? As a previous poster mentioned, I’m not sure how obscure these references are, but they hit me hard when I caught them:

    1. “Cavedwellers”: When they say Dong, er Thing, is Jimmy Carl Black from the Mothers of Invention- a lot of people, even from my generation (I’m 52) have no idea who Frank Zappa is/was, much less Jimmy. It also made my ears perk up when a music score featured vibes and they would mention Ruth Underwood.

    2. In the short “Century 21 Calling…”, during the closing song the singer’s line is something like “We’ll be seeing everything”, and Crow adds “at the Annie Sprinkle show”.

    3. I think it was in “Eegah”, during a host segment Joel and the bots are talking about hell being more effective when presented in a small way, and they wrap it up by wondering who sometimes gives human beings the power to resist hell, and I think Crow says “Gee, Davy, do you think it was…God?” This brought memories of “Davy and Goliath” flooding back.

    There are others, but I will stop now. Keep ’em coming, I am once again learning new things from youse guys and gals!

       2 likes

  30. losingmydignity says:

    Mentions of the Green Ghost game. I had it as a kid. Now that is obscure.

    Just too many to think of here…though when they say Sampo’s dreezle drazzle etc, I think of a Replacements song.

       1 likes

  31. In ‘Bride Of The Monster’, when the fat, fingerless detective sings the ‘New Zoo Review’ song, I wondered if I was the only one who remembers seeing that in the early 70s.

       3 likes

  32. SESSIONS presents…

       4 likes

  33. Jacob says:

    On perhaps my 3rd viewing of “The Girl in Lovers’ Lane,” I heard Servo say something like “12 minutes late–racoon on the track at Eastbourne…” while watching the train footage. On the Brit-com “The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin,” Reggie always had a different excuse for why he was late to the office, and it always had something to do with the train he was riding on; I was stunned. (Though, given these guys, I shouldn’t have been…)

       1 likes

  34. MPSh says:

    Bonzo Dog Band references (“Adolf Hitler on Vibes…” ) and religious riffs (“Oh, he’s a Calvinist” in response to any reference in the movie to something predetermined). I’ve never heard ANYONE else make jokes about things like that…

       2 likes

  35. LDG says:

    John M. Hanna – You aren’t the only one that saw ‘The New Zoo Review’. I actually remember the entire song, including the variants with and without Emmy Jo. (God, I feel old.)

    Although I think they did that joke in Teenagers from Outer Space, not Bride of the Monster.

       2 likes

  36. bohowyr says:

    The Arby’s riffs are some of my psychic lawn darts. I used to work at our local Arby’s and hated it! I find these jokes cathartic. I wonder if one of the writers used to work at Arby’s because the riffs sound personal (or maybe it’s just me).

    Also, I may have grown up in the 80’s and 90’s, but I listened to mostly oldies and watched a lot of reruns on Nick at Night. “In the Year 2525” by Zager and Evans is one of my favorite songs, so all the references to it on MST3K are not lost on me (like James Unguentine KTLA). I also got a lot of the TV references, especially the Get Smart and Odd Couple riffs.

       1 likes

  37. Girl from Deep 12 says:

    Ok, I’m not sure how obscure this is, but it’s a riff that really clicked for me. In Alien from L.A., Charmin (or is it Gus?) shows up to help Wanda out of one of her many jams, and Mike yells out, “It’s Paul Westerberg to the rescue!” As a Replacements fan, and a fan of PW’s solo stuff, that one cracked me up. With his flannel shirt and big mussed hair, he really did look like Paul Westerberg!

       3 likes

  38. robniles says:

    HAMLET in its entirety. Tons of people don’t get that one.

    As for specific riffs, Mike quoting Parappa the Rapper in DEVIL FISH always blew my mind. Talk about niche-y.

       2 likes

  39. trickymutha says:

    “HELLO! My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!” – From the Comedy Central version of Time of the Apes. My GF loves the movie Princess Bride- a psychic lawn dart for her.

       5 likes

  40. Edward says:

    Any Nick Mancuso “Stingray” riff. The first time I heard one I couldn’t believe they remembered that show.

    @ #11 – Thanks for explaining the King Crimson riff. I never understood that one.
    @ #16 – Greek text? That has to be the most obscure riff ever. Has that been a discussion thread yet?

       1 likes

  41. Titanius Anglesmith, Fancy Man of Cornwood says:

    Diabolik: “Nitanny Lions are sent in. As a Pennsylvanian, that was pretty sweet!

       2 likes

  42. Jeremy says:

    I have three, off the top of my head:

    When Krankor’s monster steps up and Servo exclaims “Cecil Fielder!”

    From Leech Woman: “Is it true?” “Kroger’s has double coupons!?!”

    And from Future War: “Romeo was restless he was ready to associate produce.”

       2 likes

  43. Critter says:

    -In The Dead Talk Back one of the characters is walking by
    someone’s room and about the odd music, “He’s sneaking past
    Robert Fripp’s room.”
    -Also can’t remember the movie but “I have feet like Billy Pilgrim.”
    _And it may be Teenagers from Outer Space but the fingerless guy from
    Bride of The Monster sings the Big Fig Newton song which brings back
    some nightmarish memories…

       1 likes

  44. california calico says:

    Whenever they show a rocket ship in a Japanese movie, the cast would make references to Lutheran churches. I’d laugh because my dad took a photo of a Lutheran church in Iceland that reminded me of a rocket ship. Go figure :)

       1 likes

  45. Joey Stink Eye Smiles says:

    What’s obscure for one person is common for another.

    That being said, I always liked it when they said “There’s a Mingus among us” when a bass line is played.

    Not sure if Charles Mingus is obscure, but I’ll bet most people wouldn’t get it.

       1 likes

  46. Flying Saucers Over Oz says:

    THE NEW ZOO REVUE destroyed my ability to trust. Remember the theme song? “It’s such an unusual thing, the animals talk and sing, with Doug and Emmy Jo, each day it’s a brand new shoooow….!”

    Then they went into reruns…

    Getting back to the boring ol’ question, the two out of nowhere references that got me were the famous “Hey, they’re arresting Harlan Ellison!” line from MITCHELL (And really, it looks JUST like he did at the time the movie was made) and “Hey good lookin’, we’ll be back to pick you up later!” from MONSTER A-GO-GO. (They’re referencing the old Mister Microphone commercial…)

       1 likes

  47. Bob Johnson (no, wait...) says:

    As a Sports nerd AND a MST3k nerd, I love all the obscure athlete references. But my favorite has to be in “Blood Waters of Dr. Z” when a snake is shown slithering–Mike refers to it as Snake “The Don” Prudhomme. This immediately follows Tom intoning “I don’t want none unless its got buns hon” from “Baby Got Back” (the immediate line before that in the song was “My anaconda…”.

       4 likes

  48. Troy says:

    I used to get a kick every time they’d make a Doctor Who/Prisoner/Firesign Theater reference (which I thought was terribly obscure at the time), though I swear that during one of the Joel episodes, he makes a joke about “Superthunderstingcar,” which is a direct reference to an old 1960’s Peter Cook/Dudley Moore sketch about supermarionation (see link below), which had to be pretty unfamiliar for anybody living in the United States prior to the availability of youtube.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riMHp28_cqw

       1 likes

  49. Glen says:

    It’s not exactly obscure, but I’d just happened to see the movie “Koyaanisqatsi” for the first time just a day or two before they referenced it during the the opening credits of “Parts: The Clonus Horror”. Made me feel like THEY KNOW WHAT I’VE BEEN WATCHING!

    Oh, and I’m a big a cappella music nerd, so the reference to the Swingle Singers during the “Ba pa da pa daaaa” music of “Danger! Death Ray!” definitely had that lawn dart quality to it.

       2 likes

  50. Chris Lark says:

    “Psychic Lawn Darts” huh? :-) Well this should be fun. Okay for me that would be 2 words: The Replacements!

    I know The Replacements are from Minneapolis, MN but I NEVER thought that anybody from MST3K would ever reference them riff-wise. So when I first heard them say things like “HOOTENANNY!” or even something liek “hey it’s The Replacements” I always wondered “how do they know about them?” It’s also kinda weird because as far as I know they’ve never done riffs about the other Alternative Punk legends from Minneapolis – Husker Du (unless somebody here knows different? ?:-)

    I also always wondered if anybody from the MST3K gang had actually seen The ‘Mats or Husker Du play in Minneapolis.

    Other “Lawn Darts” to consider?:

    a. When they mentioned NY Punk Legends Richard Hell & Stiv Bators (I forgot which film again) – I was just discovering that style of Punk around the time they made those riffs so that was nice 8-)
    b. Any references Prof. Bobo made to “Planet Of The Apes” – I was a fan of the Apes series so Kevin’s early time as Bobo on the Apes planet before he basically became Pearl’s 2nd sidekick/wingman (wingape?) to Brain Guy was great :heh:

       1 likes

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