MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 THE UNOFFICIAL EPISODE GUIDE
SEASON THREE: COMEDY CENTRAL, 1991-1992
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. 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!”
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. 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 movie we get Kenny, the prototype of the whiny, privileged, tiny-shorts-wearing grade schooler who demands to be heard and obeyed. Enjoy.
• Yes, Joel saw this movie during the KTMA season, but remember, this is all new to Trace. He was out of town last time. It’s possible Kevin had to sit through some or all of this, I suppose.
• 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.
• 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. But, in their defense, 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 riffs: 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.
• I asked these questions when we did the KTMA version of this movie, and got some pretty good answers, but I want to ask again anyway. Questions for the movie: 1) So, the old eskimo is the latest in a long line of keepers of the ancient Gamera stone that’s been handed down in his tribe for thousands of years, right? Then these complete strangers show up in his village and he happily hands it over to them? “Now son, guard this sacred stone with your life, um, unless somebody asks to have it.” 2) What’s with Dr. Hidaka pretty much lying through his teeth when he vouches for the reporter? Is he just doing him and Catherine a favor so they can continue their tepid romance? He says the reporter has extensive knowledge of Gamera. What does the reporter know that Hidaka and Catherine don’t know? He never demonstrates any real knowledge of the situation, that I noticed. 3) This is really another angle to the question of “Kenny: what gives?” Kenny behaves as if he has some sort of psychic connection with Gamera. But the movie never presents any evidence that this is actually the case. Yes, Gamera doesn’t kill Kenny when he has the chance, but that could have just been luck. (Some commenters said it’s a “lost in translation” thing with the dubbing. One commenter suggested Kenny has a form of Asperger’s. Most said he’s just crazy.)
• 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.
• The Brains 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.
• “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.
• Cast and crew roundup: 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.” In front of the camera: Eiji Funakoshi also appears in “Guiron.” Yoshiro Kitahara also appears in “Barugon” and “Gaos.” Koji Fujiyama also appears in “Barugon,” “Gaos” and “Zigra.”
• Creditswatch: One Lisa Sheretz is listed as a contributing writer for this and the next two episodes. Maybe she was a tryout that didn’t take? 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. Audio was a rotating job this season: Fred Street did it in the last episode, John Calder did it this time and in the next two.
• Fave riff: “Oh…this is Pearl Harbor…how’d THAT get in here?…” Honorable mention: “So, extra crispy or regular?”
Movie: (1984) When some alien eggs hatch, it spells trouble for a pair of poachers, a vacationing singer and his entourage and an isolated family.
First shown: 6/15/91
Opening: J&tB are having an arts chautauqua
Invention exchange: After a brief scene from “An Officer and a Gentlemen,” Joel demonstrates his monster chord; while the Mads have invented a public domain karaoke machine
Host segment 1: J&tB record “Idiot Control Now” and it stinks!
Host segment 2: J&tB present New Age music from Some Guys in Space
Host segment 3: “You are magic, aren’t you, Trumpy?”
End: J&tB sing, “A Clown in the Sky”
Stinger: “It stinks!”
• People adore this episode. In the ACEG it’s described as a “fan favorite.” But I gotta say this is number-one in my list of “sleeping pill” episodes. Don’t get me wrong: the riffing is great and the host segments are ALL winners (which is a rarity). But the movie just puts me to sleep. Maybe it’s all the fog and new agey music. I did make it through this viewing without dozing off, but I was getting pretty drowsy by the end.
• This movie was originally released in Spain as “Los Nuevos Extraterrestres.” For the American video release it was called “The Unearthling,” but you might also have seen it titled “Extra-Terrestrial Visitors,” “Tales Of Trumpy” or “The Return Of E.T.”
• This episode was included in Rhino’s “The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 2.”
• Kevin croaks out the word “merchant” in the opening bit–they keep going.
• The blowed-up bots are the handywork of newly arrived Toolmaster Jef.
• Dr. F mentions the once-trendy clothing retail chain Chess King. They would be gone in four years.
• Frank addresses Jerry the Mole Person but we never see him.
• Despite the fact that the bots have just been badly blowed up, the regular bots walk into the theater a moment later. Joel covers by mumbling “Good thing we got those re-…um…those new heads on…”
• FVI used clips from a movie called “Galaxy Invader” for the titles. That movie would later be riffed by RiffTrax.
• The last time we had an episode with two songs was 202- THE SIDE HACKERS. We wouldn’t get another one until episode 521- SANTA CLAUS.
• Callback: “Puma? Puma!” (Ring of Terror)
• That’s makeup lady (and occasional writer) Faye Berkholder as the recording studio assistant in Deep 13, her one and only appearance on the show. A lot of people thought it was Bridget for a long time.
• Kevin sort of coughs/clears his throat at one point in the theater. They keep going.
• During the wall of keyboards sketch, Crow has a bit of sammich on his beak. Another nice touch from Jef. Also–Why is Joel staring down at the floor while he’s talking? Is he reading his lines?
• A lot of people had no idea about the origin of that voice Crow does when he does Trumpy. “He’s like a poh-tay-toe!” He’s doing a vague impression of The Elephant Man from the movie of the same name.
• Also, a lot people had no idea who McCloud was. Dennis Weaver, we hardly knew ye.
• That said, they ran the “Chief? McCloud!” bit right into the ground. A running gag is one thing, but sheesh.
• Vaguely dirty riff: “That trunk could come in handy for hard to reach places!”
• Goof: When Joel says “Trumpy, you can do STUPID things!” in the theater, he’s referencing a line by the little kid, Tommy, who says: “Trumpy, you can do magic things!” Unfortunately Joel does that riff about 10 minutes BEFORE the Tommy says the original line. Another example of what happens when you watch a movie five or six times in a week. You can lose track of when stuff happens.
• The house in this movie is MUCH bigger on the inside than it looks like on the outside. It appears to have three or four guest bedrooms and endless hallways (and a door to the outside in the bathroom off one of the bedrooms, though which evil Trumpy escapes after killing the girl in the shower). Is it a TARDIS house?
• Cast and crew roundup: The only person credited for this movie that has a credit in any other MSTed movie is, once again, scoremeister Karl Michael Demer, who was Film Ventures International’s go-to credits music guy.
• CreditsWatch: Unbelievable: After two episodes where it didn’t appear, “Special Guest Villians” (misspelled) returns. Starting with this episode and continuing through most of the season: “Host Segments Directed by Jim Mallon.” And an important first in this episode: “Toolmaster: Jef Maynard.” Mike and Kevin get the credit for “A Clown in the Sky.” Trace gets a solo Art Direction credit (no Joel, for the only time during his tenure at the show). A new credit appears: “Post Production Coordination.” It’s Alex (already listed as “Production Manager”) and Jann (already listed as “Production Coordinator”). Sheesh. Another new credit: “Prop Assistant.” This week it’s one Barb Oswald, who will get the gig in two more eps this season.
• Fave riff: “Hi! We’re the cast from ‘Straw Dogs’.” Honorable mention: “Hear that? Sounds like Norm Abrams being killed by a giant chicken.”
Movie: (1966) In the second outing of the series, a group of conspirators travels to a remote jungle island to retrieve what they believe is a giant opal. They’re wrong: it’s actually the egg of mythical lizard-dog creature, Barugon.
First shown: 6/22/91
Opening: Crow and Tom argue the merits and drawbacks of computer interfaces
Invention exchange: The interface war continues; Joel demonstrates his animated soda can, while the mads show off their disco cumber-bubble-bund
Host segment 1: Fast-talking Tom announces the “5000-piece fightin’ men & monster set”
Host segment 2: Crow and Tom are Midwestern monster women (?) eating at TGI Tokyo’s
Host segment 3: Enjoying a simulated day at the beach, Joel tells Tom and Crow about the big celebrities in the movie, then vapor locks
End: Joel helps Tom and Crow read more about monster movies, Joel reads a letter, Frank has gotten Dr. F a book to read at the beach
Stinger: Opal guy seems happy
• While not really a bad episode, after last week’s iconic outing this one’s a bit of a letdown. On the other hand, compared to the LAST time they riffed this, back in episode K04, it’s leaps and bounds better. The riffing is steady and funny, but there’s not a lot that’s memorable. The movie itself is strange, but reasonably watchable. And the host segments, typically, are a mixed bag.
• One nice thing about this outing is the absence of any sort of squeaky deranged kid.
• Following a repeat of this episode (some time in ’92, I think), the user interface sketch sparked an actual “Mac vs. PC” flame war on the MST3K newsgroups. Ah, simpler times. And in case you forget how long ago this was, note that when this sketch was written, the now-long-forgotten Mac OS System 7 was still in the future (though, by the time this show aired it had been released for about a month). And remember when people called PCs “clones”?
• Joel is very funny in the opening. His mannerisms and delivery are just great.
• In the opening, Tom is typing “wp51.” He’s running Word Perfect?
• At the beginning of the invention exchange, Crow calmly suggests rewriting the autoexec.bat file–a suggestion that probably sounds crazy to modern computer users. And what the heck is a “memory manager”? (A commenter explained.)
• Also, early in the invention exchange, Crow’s arm accidentally disconnects from his body and hangs from the desk. Eventually Joel grabs it and tosses it on the floor.
• Frank’s paltry bubble-making efforts are augmented by extra bubbles coming in from stage left.
• We get another look at Tom’s “rockem-sockem-robot” neck extension. Only the most obsessive bot maker felt it necessary to include this function.
• Joel mumbles that the cumber-bubble-bund looks familiar…it should, they demonstrated a similar item in season one.
• What does the chant “Charbroiled cities!” refer to?
• Callbacks: Tom mentions “Jungle Goddess” as the helicopter lands; “a thousand wonderful hours” (Rocketship XM).
• Crow and Tom give us a little preview of segment 2 in the theater as they lapse into their Midwestern middle-aged lady voices.
• We have another case here where maybe a different host segment order would have worked better: Segment 1, which is very fun and frantic, by the way, mentions Barugon’s ram tongue action–but we haven’t seen it in the movie yet.
• The desk on the SOL was removed in order to shoot the photos for segment 1 and again for segment 3.
• Note the presence, in two sketches, of the partial air filter that was used in the “cheap Halloween costumes” sketch in season two.
• Segment 2 is a bit baffling. What is with the weird masks the bots are wearing? In the ACEG, Kevin calls the faces “awfully and inexplicably weird.” So I don’t even know if THEY know why they did it. I do love the dessert descriptions. Mike probably had a lot to do with that one.
• In segment 3, Joel recalls going to a drive-in “in Buffalo.” “The Lucky Twin on Route 5.” He probably means Buffalo, Minn., not New York. But I suspect he means Route 55 (which runs right through Buffalo) and he appears to remember the name wrong. See the comments for more on this.
• There’s a funny outtake to segment 3 in the poopie reel. (Help me!)
• Joel rips Crow’s arm off again in the theater!
• Joel declares an official ban on the “By this time…” riff.
• The movie was originally titled “Dai Kaiju Keto: Gamera Tai Barugon” (“Great Monster Battle: Gamera vs. Barugon” ) ; it was released in the U.S. as “War of the Monsters.” You might also see it listed as “Gamera vs. Baragon (instead of “Barugon”) . That’s a typo stemming from confusion between Daiei Studios’ monster Barugon and rival Toho’s Baragon, which appeared in “Frankenstein Conquers the World” a year earlier. The two monsters are somewhat similar looking, but they are not the same monster.
• Cast/crew roundup: (I won’t repeat the credits for anybody who was listed in the episode guide for 302- Gamera.) Special effects guy Kazufumi Fujii also worked on “Gamera Vs. Gaos,” “Gamera Vs. Guiron,” and “Gamera Vs. Zigra.” Special effects guy Masao Yagi also worked on “Gamera Vs. Gaos.” In front of the camera, both Kojiro Hongo and Kyoko Enami were also in “Gamera Vs. Gaos.”
• Creditswatch: Additional contributing writer: Jef Maynard. Guest “Villians” (misspelled) again. Two new credits appear: “Online Editor” (this week it’s Tim Paulson); and “Audio Editor” (it’s always Tim Scott). Barb Oswald is Prop Assistant again. Disco ball courtesy of: Teener’s Theatrical Department Store.” (They moved in 2007 and may have closed.) Another new credit: “Additional Music Written and Arranged by.” This week, and most weeks, it’s Mike, but later in the season others will get it. The voice of Meryl Streep reading “The Velveteen Turtle” is not credited, but it sounds like Magic Voice, who was Alex Carr at this time.
• Fave riff: “Solipsism is its own reward.” How true that is. Honorable mention: “Hey, I listened to the diamond thing, but I’m NOT going to arouse him.”
Movie: (1973) Unsuccessful TV pilot about an astronaut who finds himself on a mirror-Earth, where the shadowy, oppressive “Perfect Order” rules.
First shown: 6/29/91
Opening: Joel has turned Crow and Tom into a shooting gallery
Invention exchange: The shooting gallery is now in Apple Dumpling Gang mode; both Joel and the Mads show off variations of the “BANG!” gun
Host segment 1: Crow and Tom fight over their trading cards until Joel intervenes; he then shows off his “kids in court” trading cards
Host segment 2: Tom’s baking cookies; Crow tells him about a nightmare that reminds Tom of Ward E, and they discuss their personal visions of what Ward E is like
Host segment 3: Joel is a TV movie villain, the bots are his henchmen
End: Joel and Crow try to sell “Stranded in Space” to producer Tom; Joel reads a letter, the Mads are TV movie villains and Dr. F foresees a promotion for Frank
Stinger: Bettina strikes Stryker.
• I think Sampo’s Theorem is going to be in full force here, because, frankly, I’m not a big fan of this one, which means that I’m sure somebody will come forward to express their undying love for it. For me, the biggest problem is that the movie is as drab as a sinkful of dishwater. There’s very little for the riffers to grab on to (though of course there are some great moments as always). All the host segments are worth a smile or two, but nothing is outstanding. A classic “meh” episode.
• This one’s not on DVD.
• Joel explains the premise, this time adding some details we’ve never heard before, nor will ever hear again. He says, “As you can tell by the opening the Mads made…” and also says the Mads “sell the results to cable TV.” The show seldom makes that much effort to explain itself.
• To wake the bots up, Joel throws glittery confetti. What is he, the Harlem Globetrotters? (Alternately, Rip Taylor.)
• Watch the plunger on the TNT prop as Frank presses down. They keep going. JEF!!
• Callbacks: Two uses of “hikeeba” (Women of the Prehistoric Planet) and several uses of “No!!!” (Cave Dwellers). Also: two references to Sidehackers: “The most dramatic confrontation since Rommel met JC” and “that’s pretty good!”
• Before FVI got hold of it, this was called “The Stranger.” In their re-edit, they used clips from a movie called “Prisoners of the Lost Universe” during the credits sequence (RiffTrax would riff it in 2012).
• My copy is from March of 1995, the “Play MSTie for Me” era. The OJ trial was in full swing and Comedy Central runs one of its “Just Say No J” promos twice.
• Movie observation: You can see why this never went to series. His only way off the planet is via the Terra version of NASA. How many space launches are there? The guy says they have an active space program, but still. How likely is he to be able to sneak aboard a flight? If the plan they concoct in this episode failed, is some other plan likely to work better? It’s an unworkable premise is what I’m saying.
• Dated riff: Joel and Tom both mention “Photomat.” The once-ubiquitous film developing retail chain is now long dead, put out of business by digital technolgy.
• Instant catchphrase: “People used to laugh more then…the were concerts in the park…”
• Again, the order of segments isn’t quite right: They’ve mentioned Ward E by the time we get to segment 2, but they haven’t shown it to us yet.
• Tibby makes a return appearance in segment 3!
• What’s “People’s Road 94?” I’m guessing it’s a Minnesota joke. Google is silent.
• At the end of the movie, a character introduces himself as “Tom Nelson” and Tom says “MIKE Nelson.” That must have been baffling to viewers in 1991.
• In the ending segment, Tom says “letter latey.” They keep going.
• Dr. F mentions Gizmonic Institute during the closer. First time in a long while.
• I always mix this one up in my mind with “Space Travelers.” Both are such bland names and besides the astronauts in the other movie are more stranded in space than Stryker is, so…
• Cast/crew roundup: Score composer Richard Markowitz did the same for “The Magic Sword.” Actor H.M. Wynant also appears in “Hangar 18.” Buck Young also appears in “Mitchell.” And, of course, Cameron Mitchell also appears as Captain Santa in “Space Mutiny.”
• CreditsWatch: A guy named Bob King came in to do audio for this episode and only this episode. Tim Scott is listed as “on-line editor” for this episode only. Jann Johnson and Alex Carr are listed as additional contributing writers. Trace and Frank are still “guest villians” (misspelled) and now Dr. F’s name is spelled “Forrestor.” This was Lisa Sheretz’ last episode as a contributing writer, and after this episode Colleen Henjum took three episodes off.
• Fave riff: “You’ll always be a little girl.” Honorable mention: “Sir, why aren’t the Landers sisters in this meeting?”
Movie: (1974 TV series; 1987 compilation movie) A trio of young people take refuge in cryogenic capsules during an earthquake, and awaken in a world populated by intelligent apes.
First shown: 7/13/91
Opening: Using Tom as a T-ball stand, Joel shags some flies to Crow, breaks a window and causes explosive decompression
Invention exchange: Gypsy fixes the hole and warns them not to do it again but of course they do. Joel shows off his cellulite phone, while the Mads demonstrate their miracle baby growth formula
Host segment 1: J&tB present: “Why doesn’t Johnny care?” A film by Bell Labs
Host segment 2: J&tB present their version of “Inherit the Wind”
Host segment 3: Crow presents an “ape fashion minute”
End: J&tB sing the Sandy Frank song, Joel reads a letter, and in Deep 13, Baby pushes the button
Stinger: “Johnny, be careful.” “I don’t care!”
• Back when we did the KTMA version of this, I wrote that the episode got “dragged down by the film, which is just a big giant carbuncle of a movie. Though it’s much funnier, of course, I’m not a big fan of the season 3 version either.” I based that statement on my memory of past viewings, but I gotta say, this time around was a pleasant surprise. I found myself laughing a lot and the movie, cut to incomprehensible ribbons though it is, moves along at a breezy, watchable pace. The host segments are all giggle-worthy too. It just goes to show you how your opinions of episodes can change over time.
• As most of you know, this movie was cut together from an entire season’s worth of TV adventures. If you watched the KTMA version, it was barely followable, but you could sort of find the thread of the action. But THIS incarnation has ALSO been cut for time by BBI and, intentionally or not, the result is a series of scenes, mostly action-y set pieces, that have little or no relation to each other. The overall final product is totally unfathomable. But, for riffing, it works.
• This episode is included in Shout’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XXII.
• During his second at bat, Joel’s knocks off what’s left of Tom’s head. Ouch. They cover with a handy plastic coffee mug.
• Joel says “You potched up the hole.” They keep going.
• Crow’s baseball glove falls off (you can see the duct tape) and Joel just rolls right with it.
• The baby is played by little Eli Kenneth Mallon, who is now not so little (he’s in his 20s).
• The miracle growth baby is sound guy Tim Scott, in the first of two appearances in that role.
• When they enter the theater after the opening, Tom is still wearing a coffee mug and Crow is still netless.
• Joel continues his strict style in the theater, AGAIN threatening to dismember Crow when he utters a pun.
• Just a really dumb line from the movie: Somebody notes that earthquakes are possible but the Dr. Lee insists “nothing will happen suddenly.” Wait, what?
• As we watch the monkey wake up, it sure sounds like Joel says “Shit.” It might be “shoot” though.
• Crow asks Joel: “You said ‘bowling ball’ earlier. What did that mean?” Well, Crow, Joel was reacting to a shot of sun-bleached skull that looked vaguely like a bowling ball–albeit a white one.
• During segment 1, I love that Crow provides the projector noise, and that Tom misses a few sprockets, only to be nudged back into place by Joel. I think we have a few former A/V squad members on the writing staff.
• As they return to the theater after segment 2, Joel is carrying the cardboard cutout of Judge Wapner (somebody sent them that??) and sails it toward the screen saying, “Fly, judgie! Fly!” His Honor gets some good distance!
• Crow reenters the theater after segment 3 still wearing his hat.
• Tom’s wearing a weird monkey mask during the final segment.
• Cast/crew roundup: Screenwriter Keiiche Abe also wrote “Fugitive Alien” (and, of course, “Star Force”). Cinematographer Yoshihiro Mori also worked on “Mighty Jack.” American editor William L. Cooper Jr. also edited “Mighty Jack.” Score composer Toshiaki Tsushima also did music for “The Green Slime.” In front of the camera, Wataru Omae was also in “Godzilla Vs. the Sea Monster” and Hiroyuki Kawase was also in “Godzilla Vs. Megalon.”
• CreditsWatch: Colleen Henjum moves from contributing writer to writer for this and the next two episodes. Additional Contributing Writers: Lynn-Anne Freise, Craig Tollifson, Tom Wedor, Jann L. Johnson, Alexandra B. Carr. It was the first of 14 episodes in season 3 that a guy named Brian Wright did the audio. Dr. F and Frank are still “Special Guest Villians” (misspelled) and Dr. F’s name is again spelled “Forrestor.” This is the last time in the Comedy Central era that Jim Mallon appears in the writers list.
• Fave riff: “Harder…” Honorable mention: “Home, where I comb my facey.” “Johnny is a walking faux pas.”
Short: (1951) A placid tour of the alphabet.
Movie: (1959) High-panted, cool-singing, truck-driving hepcat tangles with blonde bombshell, tries to solve his friend’s murder and becomes a courier for drug dealers.
First shown: 7/20/91
Opening: J&tB are marketing mad dogs gathered around the water cooler
Invention exchange: Dr. F is feeding the miracle growth baby; Joel shows off his air freshener mobile, while the mads demonstrate the alien teething nook
Host segment 1: Joel sings: “Hike Your Pants Up”
Host segment 2: J&tB reenact the drag race from the movie, with Joel getting killed a lot
Host segment 3: Joel is conducting a spit-take lesson, but the dumb guy from the movie keeps appearing on the Hexfield
End: Joel is studying the “Want some?” scene, Joel reads letters, and in Deep 13 the button doesn’t work
Stinger: “Couldn’t help ya if I wanted to, fella. Gym policy.”
• As the kids say, this episode is full of win (that is what they say, isn’t?). It is chock full o’ awesome. It’s got everything: a cheesy but watchable movie (featuring the high-panted Dick Contino) that even includes swingin’ musical numbers, great host segments, riffing that starts in high gear and stays there and a memorable closing segment. A classic.
• This episode will be included in Shout’s upcoming MST3K Collection Vol. XXXIII.
• If you’re playing along at home, this was number 30 on that 1995 Comedy Central countdown.
• Those who say host segments in the Joel years were more often related to the movie were probably thinking of episodes like this one: Just about ALL the host segments are not only related to the movie, they’re direct parodies or reenactments of scenes from the movie.
• In the opener, J&TB introduce the phrase “Saaaaaay!” to the MSTie lexicon.
• The idea of the alien teething nook was taken up by this plush toy. It didn’t have the nipple, though.
• Again, that’s Tim Scott as the miracle growth baby.
• The blue tint is back. Ugh.
• The short is the first of many educational shorts that would eventually become one of the most popular elements on the series.
• I love the way Joel imitates Dick Contino’s rictus grin as he sings.
• That lyric about Corey Haim in “Hike Your Pants Up” got a bit less funny in 2010.
• In the reenactment of the race, it’s interesting to note that Tom plays the guy and Crow plays the girl, for a change! It probably has to do with the placement of the guy and gal in the movie, but still, it’s a rarity.
• When they re-enter the theater, Tom covers the absence of the cars they were wearing by saying “Good thing we were thrown clear of those cars!”
• Callbacks: “Ya got me!” (Catalina Caper) “Chili peppers burn my gut” (Sidehackers) “Hey that’s from Catalina Caper!” “The driver is either missing or…” (The Phantom Creeps) “I don’t care!” (Time of the Apes)
• Is THIS the last time we hear the “Weiner Man” song? Similarly, is THIS the last episode with a mole person?
• Okay, Dick lost his license, but he doesn’t need a driver’s licence to race cars on private property, right? It’s a plot hole.
• Segment 3 features the first use of the hexfield viewscreen since episode 302. That’s Mike, of course, as the clueless Bruce.
• During segment 3, Tom’s Carmen Miranda hat almost falls off. Joel straightens it and they keep going.
• The lady in the club looks a LITTLE like Lou Reed from the Transformer album. It’s kind of a stretch, though.
• Little letter writer Christina, 7 when she wrote to the show, is now (assuming she is okay) cruising toward 30.
• The crowning glory of this terrific ep is the famous “broken button” bit, a gem people remembered for years. Unfortunately, in later years a lazy Comedy Central did not respect the bit and actually ran voice overs during it–an incident that sparked one of several major online protests among fans.
• The closing bit also features an uncredited mole person! Is THIS the last appearance?
• Cast and crew roundup: Director Lou Place was on the set of lots of MSTed movies. He was the assistant director for “The Undead,” played the police captain in “Swamp Diamonds” and was production manager for “It Conquered the World” and “Agent for H.A.R.M.” Editor Harold White also worked on “The Beatniks.” Makeup lady Carlie Taylor also worked on “Swamp Diamonds.” In front of the camera, actress Sonia Torgeson was also in “Teenagers from Outer Space.” Actor Bob Banas was the choreographer on “The Skydivers.” Dick Contino also appears in “Girls Town,” of course. Buttery Bruno Vesota wasm also in “Attack of the Giant Leeches,” “Gunslinger,” “The Wild, Wild World of Batwoman” and “The Undead.”
• CreditsWatch: Jim Mallon moves from writer to contributing writer for the rest of the season. Paul Chaplin joins the list of contributing writers. “The Pants Up Song” is by Mike and Kevin and Mike did the “baby music.” Trace and Frank are still guest “villians” (misspelled) and Dr. F’s name is still spelled “Forrestor.”
• Fave short riff: “But he’s got a brain like a chick pea!” Honorable mention: “It’s the Georgia juvenile correction system.”
• Fave feature riff: “On my ANKLE, like I SAID!” Honorable mention: “Do you like the names of lots of fish?”
Movie: (1967) In third outing of the long-running Japanese movie series, the giant flying turtle monster faces off against Gaos, a shovel-headed bat-monster with the ability to shoot laser beams. Caught between the two monsters are some nearby villagers, who want to stop the construction of a highway through their land (or at least get a good price when they sell it). The grandson of their leader is young Itchy who, after Gamera saves him, becomes an instant expert on both creatures.
First shown: 7/27/91
Opening: The bots are pretending they are raspy-voiced celebrities and Joel joins in
Invention exchange: Gypsy does her impression of the NBC Sunday Night Mystery Movie. The mads show off their self-image printers, Joel demonstrates his fax tissue dispenser
Host segment 1: Joel presents an arts and crafts project, but Crow and Tom are no help
Host segment 2: The “Gamera-damerung” never gets off the ground
Host segment 3: Ed Sullivan presents “Gaos the Great”
End: The bots suggest other ways to snuff Gaos and request ideas from the viewers
Stinger: Comic relief guys get scared.
• I’ll admit I was dreading this one. After my encounter with it during the KTMA season, I remembered it as a long slog. What a pleasant surprise. It’s really a lesson for me not judge a season 3 episode by its KTMA antecedent. The riffing is sharp (though it sags a bit in the middle) the host segments are generally fun and the movie was more watchable than I was worried it was going to be. All in all, lots of fun.
• This episode was included in Shout’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Gamera Vs. MST3K (aka Vol. XXI).
• For those keeping score, this was number 52 in that 1995 countdown.
• Joel blows his reading of the name “Brenda Vacarro.” They keep going.
• Joel is VERY funny in the opening sketch. Of course, most of the people mentioned in the sketch are now dead, because they all got their raspy voices from smoking which, you know, killed them.
• Alert dsman71: Joel seems to have gotten a haircut.
• This will not be the last time the “NBC Sunday Mystery Movie” is mentioned.
• I’ve always suspected that the Mads’ invention was largely a way that Jim could invest in some large-format printers and then write them off.
• The noise we hear as the printer images are revealed sounds like a dot matrix printer, which they probably had sitting around in the office. I suspect Trace and Frank are just unrolling the images by hand.
• That’s not to say it isn’t a funny sketch. Dr. F’s self-description is great. There’s probably several catchphrase T-shirts in that speech.
• Joel’s invention is dependent on the then-current nature of fax paper. Two decades later, with plain-paper fax machines having almost completely taken over, younger viewers might not even know what he’s talking about (or even know what a fax machine is).
• Callback: “Rex Dart, Eskimo Spy.” (Godzilla vs. Megalon); amid the striker rhubarb: “It’s pretty good!” (Sidehackers)
• This is as good a place as any to mention that quite a few of the little “Play MSTie for Me” bumpers CC ran during that summer of 1995 were, simply, wrong. One example came in this episode, in a message that reads: “Joel Hodgson was 10 in 1967.” No he wasn’t. The author of all or most of these cards was a MSTie named Mike Pearce, who managed to make friends with somebody in the Comedy Central scheduling department, and soon became quite useful to online MSTies by regularly posting largely accurate lists of which episodes were going to air. He apparently gained CC’s confidence enough that he got tapped for this gig. But there was no fact checking, apparently.
• Is this the first episode featuring the phrase: “You look at it, I’m bitter”?
• Then-current reference: “Arsenioooo Haaaall!” (Woo! Woo! Woo!)
• The “arts and crafts” segment is a classic, with a TON a great lines. And Joel, I believe you about the mucilage.
• Joel, usually quite the stickler about puns to the point of ripping parts off the bots, says: “I thought this was ferris wheel’s day off.” The bots glare at him. Hypocrite!
• Joel re-warns Tom about Anthony Newly impressions.
• Naughty line: “Have you ever seen ‘The Last Emperor’, sister?”
• Joel uses the phrase “deus ex machina,” not for the last time.
• I like the way Gypsy chuckles at the phrase “Gameradamerung.” As Mike mentions in the ACEG, that segment had a lot of set-up for a two-second bit.
• Tom is still wearing his Gameradamerung costume when he reenters the theater.
• Kinda dark riff: “Take one down, write piggy on the wall…”
• Sandwich riff: “The substation is burning.” “We’ll have to go Schlotzski’s.” I wonder if there was an actual place called “The Sub Station” near them.
• Gamera climbs on Gaos’s back and Tom says: “You’re a big ol’ hog!” Yikes!
• Then-current riff: “Just like when Gary died.” (It’s a “thirtysomething” reference.)
• I wonder how many young viewers have any clue what that Ed Sullivan sketch is about. I do love the way Joel slaps the plates together over and over, as if it’s supposed to demonstrate something.
• In the last segment Tom is again wearing the hat he was wearing in segment 3.
• Did anybody write in to the “Ways to Snuff Gaos” contest? They never read any of the entries if they did.
• Movie stuff: I noted this during the KTMA writeup and I will note it again. Sometimes Gamera doesn’t have to spin to fly, though sometimes he does. Weird.
• Another note from last time: Unlike Kenny in “Gamera,” Itchy does seem to have a genuine relationship with Gamera. Why, I have no idea.
• Cast and crew roundup: Again, I will not repeat the items that were mentioned in previous Gamera entries. Prod: Hidemasa Nagata also produced “Guiron” and “Zigra.” Planning person Kazutada Nakano also worked on “Guiron.” Cinematographer Akira Uehara also worked on “Zigra.” In the cast, Reiko Kasahara also appears in “Guiron” and “Zigra.” Isamu Saeki, Mikiko Tsubouchi, Yashushi Sakagami and Eiko Yanami also appeared in “Zigra.”
• CreditsWatch: Trace and Frank are still “guest villians” (misspelled) and Dr. F’s name is still spelled “Forrestor.” Someone named Karen Lindsay does the first of nine season 3 eps as online editor. A Lori Schackmann was prop assistant for only this episode. Mike wrote the plate spinning music, which he entitled: “Opus 4, Number 23, Plate Spinning Song”
• Fave riff: “Grace Jones takes one to the head–she can’t take it there!” Honorable mention: “I wish to play with clay now!”
Movie: (1957) Exposure to an atomic blast causes an army colonel to become a giant.
First shown: 8/3/91
Opening: Crow and Tom hide out in their super-secret cardboard fort
Invention exchange: The Mads have created a plant that reviews music; Joel shows off his idea for non-permanent tattoos
Host segment 1: Joel helps the bots learn the right thing to say to the relative of a horribly disfigured nuclear accident victim
Host segment 2: Joel agonizes about being a 50-foot man
Host segment 3: The bots wonder what they’d ask Glen, then he visits
End: J&tB suggest other things Glen could’ve done, Joel reads letters, Dr. F. has a giant hypo
Stinger: Glen laughing ’til it hurts
• The movie is iconic, and we meet so many AIP regulars in the process (see cast/crew roundup below), that this episode feels very much like a milestone. But in terms of bringing the funny, I have to give it a good-not-great rating. The movie is strangely captivating, and I think the writers kind of got caught up in it. There are some great riffing moments, but it’s just not solid throughout.
• This episode was released and then almost immediately recalled by Rhino. If you have a copy, you have a rarity.
• Callback: “The HU-man” (Robot Monster). And lots of “No!” (Cave Dwellers)
• The plant guy, aka “Robert Plant,” was Kevin’s first on-screen performance on the show.
• Great moment: This movie has an incredibly long shot with nothing happening and nobody in frame–we just look at a door for a good 12 seconds. J&tB make the most of it.
• As they leave for a break, Crow departs, then comes back for one more riff.
• Naughty riff: “Sorry, wrong bone growth.”
• It was popular back then to call A&E the “all-Hitler Channel.” This was before A&E spun off their massive library of World War II documentaries, mostly to The History Channel.
• Joel is hilarious as Glen, the 50-foot man! “Aah! No!”
• In “Daddy-O,” Crow asks “Do you know the names of lots of fish?” In this ep, Tom asks “How many fish can you name?” Funny both times.
• During that sketch Tom’s arms work! Crow even asks him about it!
• In the lab scene, they do three consecutive riffs hammering the idea that cosmetic companies use animals like rabbits to test their products. It’s one of the few times I can recall them doing three variations of essentially the same joke right in a row. I do love Crow’s great little voice as the rabbit, though.
• The movie’s single strangest idea (and that’s saying something): the notion that the heart is “made up of a single cell.” Did they think audiences were going to buy that?
• We haven’t seen J&tB daydreaming at that window since episode 201- ROCKETSHIP X-M.
• Mike is also great as Glen.
• Joel is still holding the Barbie from the earlier sketch later on.
• Precognition by J&tB: In segment three they mention Glen in Vegas, when we haven’t gotten to that part of the movie yet.
• I enjoy the window fan shadow when they are supposed to be in the helicopters, obviously trying to convey to the audience that they are flying. Pro tip: a real helicopter blade, going fast enough to keep the helicopter up in the air, would not make a distinct shadow like that. If you are in a helicopter, and you see that kind of shadow crossing your body, it means you’re plummeting.
• Tom makes a pun and Crow warns him: “That kinda talk’ll get your arm ripped off.” From one who knows.
• As the movie ends, and the “The End” card comes up, J&tB respond with “Or is it?” Did they already know they were going to do the sequel?
• Cast/crew roundup: To begin with, we have producer director Bert I. Gordon, who we already encountered in “King Dinosaur,” and who we’ll meet again in “Earth Vs. The Spider,” “War of the Colossal Beast,” “The Magic Sword,” “Tormented,” “Beginning of the End” and “Village of the Giants.” Then there’s assistant director Jack Berne, who also served that role in “I Was A Teenage Werewolf.” Albert Glasser — “the man who holds you down and pummels you with music” — was one of Hollywood’s most prolific movie score composers. Of the some 200 movies he scored, 11 were MSTed: “Rocketship X-M,” this movie, “Earth Vs. The Spider,” ” Teenage Caveman,” “Viking Women and the Sea Serpent,” “War of the Colossal Beast,” “The Indestructible Man,” “Tormented,” “Beginning of the End,” “Invasion USA” and “Last of the Wild Horses.” Script writer Mark Hanna also served that role on “Gunslinger” and “The Undead,” as well as serving as production coordinator for “Terror from the Year 5000.” Cinematographer Joseph “I am!” Biroc also served that role on “Kitten With A Whip” and “SST Death Flight.” Editor Ronald Sinclair also worked on “Earth Vs. the Spider,” “War of the Colossal Beast,” “Viking Women,” “Swamp Diamonds” and “The She-Creature.” Flora Gordon worked with Bert I. doing special effects for “Earth Vs. the Spider,” “War of the Colossal Beast,” “Tormented,” “The Beginning of the End” and “Village of the Giants.” Special effects/prop guy Paul Blaisdell also worked on “Earth Vs. the Spider, “The She Creature,” “It Conquered the World” and “Teenage Caveman.” Hairstylist Joan St. Oegger also worked on “Revenge of the Creature” and “The Mole People.” Production assistant Henry Schrage also worked on “Earth Vs the Spider” and “War of the Colossal Beast.” Prop master James Harris also worked on “Beginning of the End.”
In front of the camera, Russ Bender, also appears “War of the Colossal Beast” and “It Conquered the World.” Hank Patterson was also in “Beginning of the End” and “Earth Vs. the Spider.” Glenn Langan also worked on “Women of the Prehistoric Planet.” Cathy Downs was also in “The She Creature.” James Seay was also in “Beginning of the End.” William Hudson was also in “The She Creature.” Judd Holdren was also in “Rocketship X-M.” Frank Jenks was also in “The She Creature.” Jack Kosslyn was also in “Earth Vs. The Spider,” “War of the Colossal Beast” and “Tormented.” June Jocelyn was also in “Earth Vs. The Spider,” “Teenage Caveman” and “War of the Colossal Beast.” Jean Moorehead was also in “The Violent Years.”
• CreditsWatch: Collen Henjum, who has gone back and forth between “writer” and “contributing writer,” goes from writer to contributing writer for the rest of the season. Tim Scott is back as online editor. Trace and Frank are still guest “villians” (misspelled) and Dr. F’s name is again spelled “Forrestor.”
• Fave riff: “That, and ‘aaaaaah!'” Honorable mention: “John Philips Sousa’s life is flashing before his eyes!”
Movie: (1978 original TV show episodes; 1986 compilation movie) Alien marauder Ken becomes a fugitive from his home planet, then joins the Earth spaceship Bacchus 3 to fight against his former masters. Meanwhile, his girlfriend Rita is sent on a deadly mission.
First shown: 8/17/91
Opening: Old Joel Robinson had a farm?
Invention exchange: The mads demonstrate their eye, ear, nose & throat dropper; Joel has invented a musical chair and there’s a special guest in Deep 13: Jack Perkins!
Host segment 1: J&tB stage a hat party
Host segment 2: Joel forces Crow and Tom to reenact a scene from the movie
Host segment 3: Crow and Tom are confused by the movie, so Joel helps out using Syd Field’s “Screenplay.”
End: Joel explains his buttons and reads a letter, in Deep 13, they’re still torturing Jack Perkins.
Stinger: “AHAHAHAHA….you’re STUCK HERE!”
• Wow, this was really a watershed episode. There’s so much going on here. The sketches are all great, the movie is mind-boggling and the riffing is everything you want from an MST3K episode. An instant and enduring classic. Plus, it’s full of phrases that immediately became part of the MSTie lexicon, from “You’re stuck here!” to the merry tune, “He tried to kill me with a forkliiiiift….” One of the best.
• This episode was on Shout’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XXIV.”
• Love the opener. These folks have been around farmers and they know farmer talk. Tom’s “help ussss!” is priceless.
• Mike is also hilarious as Jack Perkins. Jack would return, and not just in Deep 13. The character of “the host” who introduced the “MST3K Hour” shows was loosely based on Jack, though he was never explicitly called Jack Perkins. By the way, the real Mr. Perkins reportedly found Mike’s impersonation as hilarious as everybody else did.
• Hopelessly dated line: “He’s in more trouble than ‘Hudson Hawk’ at the box office!” It seemed like a big deal at the time.
• Call forward: Tom mentions “Marooned.”
• The “Marooned” mention comes as part of a succession of bits Tom and Crow do in the theater when they pretend they are scif-fi geeks. Geek culture is now robustly defended by the members of its community. Did (does?) anyone who considers themselves part of that community have a problem with these bits?
• Vaguely dirty lines: Joel: “I wanna die in the thong section of Victoria’s Secret!” Also: “Speaking of punishing mercilessly….rooowrrr!”
• Literary riff: Tom: “Biff!” Crow: “Happy!” SOMEbody’s read/seen “Death of a Salesman.”
• Does this episode hold the record for the most callbacks? Among them: “Third planet from the sun shall be called…Earth” (Women of the Prehistoric Planet); a reference to the “geometric nucleus” (Cave Dwellers); “It was after the…Robot Holocaust;” “I was in Time of the Apes!” “…and a good friend” (Rocketship XM); “Trumpy, you’re stinky!” (Pod People) “Hikeeba!” (Women of the Prehistoric Planet.) “Hey, like the Wild Rebels!” “This must be the [fill in the blank]…I’ve heard them talk about…so much…lately?” (Gamera); “Rock climbing, Joel.” (Lost Continent). Did I miss any?
• Crow has a right to be concerned in segment two. Didn’t Gypsy have a six-foot foam scorpion stinger hanging off her butt during episode 113- THE BLACK SCORPION? There’s a precedent!
• I noticed something this time about the “forklift” song. The first time they sing “This is the chase, Rocky and Ken,” they do so before the movie reveals that it was Rocky driving the forklift (though Ken immediately suspects him and says so).
• When Joel punches the bots in segment 2, note how VERY GENTLY he punches them. He knows how fragile they are.
• Joel is great in the closing bit. “That’s portion control. Next question.”
• This week’s cast and crew roundup is a short one: screenwriter Keiichi Abe also was one of the writers for “Time of the Apes.” That’s it.
• CreditsWatch: Trace and Frank are still guest “villians” (misspelled) and Dr. F’s last name is still spelled “Forrestor.” Special Make-up: Crist Ballas and Glen Griffin. I’m guessing that’s Mike’s Jack Perkins getup. This was Faye Burkholder’s last episode doing regular hair and makeup.
• Fave riff: “Uh, you’re crying on my bombs.” Honorable mention: “Oh, those are bugs. They wash right off.”
Short: (1945) A newsreel spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of winter sports, including “she-ing” and “she-horing.”)
Movie: (1956) With the aid of a deluded Earth scientist, a Venusian pickle creature uses bat thingies to take control of humanity.
First shown: 8/24/91
Opening: Joel tries his hand at ventriloquism, with Crow as his dummy
Invention exchange: The Mads show off their hanged man costumes; Joel has invented the “Sony Sea-man”
Host segment 1: Tom narrates “The Winter Cavalcade of Fun”
Host segment 2: J&tB share sarcastic banter over dinner
Host segment 3: With time to kill, J&tB sing a song about celebrity siblings with the same last names
End: J&tB rewatch Peter Graves’ speech, Crow, Tom and Gypsy each read a letter, the Mads rewatch Peter Graves’ speech
Stinger: “He learned too late that a man is a feeling creature…”
• Holy skit, let’s get this thing started!
• I’ll start with the good news. The short is great fun, with great riffing. All the host segments, even the oddball song in segment three, are entertaining. And the movie is, well, what can you say? It’s classic Corman. Now the bad news: the riffing just kind of limps along, with only occasional bright spots. State park jokes abound. As with “Amazing Colossal Man,” I think they kind of got caught up in the movie a little. So there’s fun to be had in this episode, just not as much as I would have liked.
• For you younger folks, “Star Search” was sort of the ’90s version of “America’s Got Talent.” Amusingly, Geechy Guy (a repeat contestant on “Star Search”) is STILL seeking fame — he recently appeared on AGT.
• Joel’s mannerisms as the ventriloquist are classic. The random movements are done to distract you from looking at the ventriloquist’s lips.
• In Googling around, I actually found a reliable site that gave me a definitive year for “Snow Thrills,” one of the few shorts we haven’t been able to put a date on up to now. (1945)
• Callback: “That’s not half bad!” “She’s givin’ it back to you!” (a paraphrase from Sidehackers)
• Naughty line: Announcer: “It’s the biggest one-man thrill in Jack Frost’s show.” Joel: “I know a better one…”
• Fave riff from the short: “Get in, old man, you’ve seen enough.”
• As previously noted, this movie is our first taste of oeuvre of one Roger Corman. Dr. F. introduces it as one of his best and that may be true. But he also says “it’s really really really bad,” and I don’t think that’s true. It’s not a “good” movie, of course, but it’s not really bad one either. Its chief defect is that it was clearly made on a very low budget. But, despite that, Corman coaxes some really pretty good performances out of people who would go on to be known as pretty good actors. In addition, the story, while silly in some places, is almost gripping in others. We’ll see many worse movies, including some from Corman.
• Then-current reference: “I’d rather watch ‘thirtysomething’.” (And the second “thirtysomething” reference in two or three episodes.)
• Joel again warns Tom about Anthony Newly impressions.
• They again do a “Helloooo baaaaaaby…” joke during a plane crash. Two weeks ago somebody called it “mean.” Not sure about that, but it’s a little dark.
• My copy is from Turkey Day ’94, and includes a commercial for the video game “Burn Cycle,” for Magnavox’s cd-i game platform. Remember THAT vaporware?
• During the song in segment 3, Tom again does his Tom Waits impression.
• Triple callback: “Thong? Ator? Puma?” (Cave Dwellers and Ring of Terror) I half-expected to hear “Chief?” next.
• Somewhat obscure riff: “Not the craw, the craw!”
• Riff I don’t get: “Meanwhile in a Samuel Fuller movie not far away… I know who Fuller is, I just don’t get why the shot of soldiers evokes him. UPDATE: Commenters have explained it. Guess I didn’t know who he was, after all.
• The closing repetition of the speech can be explained by Joel’s earlier admission that the show was a bit short that week.
• Is this the first time they’ve used the word “hoverskirt”? In the final segment Joel, also takes a moment to explain Gypsy and her role again.
• Daddy-O reports: If you’re interested, the Venusian costume was lobster red. It was nicknamed “Big Beulah” by its creator, Paul Blaisdell, and “Denny Dimwit” by the screenwriters. Other names given by the cast and crew were the “Tee-Pee Terror,” “the Cucumber Critter” and “The Carrot Monster.” When she was a guest at an MST3K convention, Beverly Garland recalled that she kept telling herself that it wasn’t finished…that they were still working on it…that it would get better. But of course, it never did. Chocolate syrup served as the Venusian’s blood at the dramatic end of the movie. Always ready to reuse props, Corman used the bat-thingies again the following year in “The Undead.”
• Once again, the exterior shots were done at Bronson Canyon, which was also used for exterior shots in the filming of seven other MSTed movies.
• This movie was remade for television by director Larry “Attack of the the Eye Creatures” Buchanan as “Zontar, The Thing from Venus.”
• Cast and crew roundup: LOTS of folks we will meet again in thos one, so strap in: Executive producers Samuel Z. Arkoff and James H. Nicholson performed the same roles for “Earth Vs. the Spider,” “Teenage Caveman,” “Viking Women and the Sea Serpent,” “War of the Colossal Beast,” “Night of the Blood Beast, “The Undead,” “Terror from the Year 5000,” “The She-Creature,” “I Was A Teenage Werewolf” and “The Screaming Skull.” Writer Lou Rusoff also helped write “The She Creature.” Writer Charles Griffith also helped write “Terror from the Year 5000″ and “Gunslinger.” Cinematographer Frederick West also worked on “Gunslinger,” “The She Creature” and “Swamp Diamonds. Editor Charles Gross also worked on “Gunslinger.” Prop Master Karl Brainard also worked on “Teenage Caveman,” “Night of the Blood Beast” and “The She Creature.” Score composer Ronald Stein also did the scores for “Gunslinger,” “The Undead,” “The She Creature,” Attack of the the Eye Creatures” and “The Girl in Lovers Lane.” And, of course, Roger Corman, in addition to this movie, directed “Teenage Caveman,” “Viking Women and the Sea Serpent,” “Swamp Diamonds,” “Gunslinger,” and “The Undead.” Corman also produced “Attack of the Giant Leeches,” “High School Big Shot” and “701-Night of the Blood Beast.”
In front of the camera, Peter Graves is one the actors most seen in MST3K movies: he also appears in “Beginning of the End,” “SST Death Flight,”and “Parts: The Clonus Horror.” He also provided the uncredited narration for “Attack of the the the Eye Creatures. By the way, he hated MST3K. The lovely Beverly Garland also appeared in “Swamp Diamonds” and “Gunslinger.” Lee Van Cleef also appeared in “Master Ninja I” and “Master Ninja 2.” Sally Frasier, who played Graves’ doomed wife Joan, also appears in “War of the Colossal Beast” and “Earth Vs. the Spider. Dick Miller also appears in “Gunslinger” and “The Undead.” Another actor with a lot of MST3K appearances is Jonathan Haze, who was in this, “Viking Women and the Sea Serpent,” “Swamp Diamonds,” “Teenage Caveman” and “Gunslinger.” Karyne Kadler was also in “The Beatniks.” Marshall Bradford was also in “Teenage Caveman” and David McMahon was also in “The Deadly Mantis.”
• CreditsWatch: Karen Lindsey is back in the credits as online editor. Clayton James does the first of 11 stints as hair and makeup person. Additional contributing writers for this episode were Jef Maynard, Jann Johnson, Alexandra Carr and Timothy Scott. I suspect that credit happens when one of them wanders into the writing room and says something funny and they keep it.
• Fave riff: “Venus? You know: no arms, nice rack…”
Movie: (1969) In the fifth movie of the long-running Japanese monster series, two boys accidentally hijack an alien spaceship and fly to a dying planet, where they encounter two evil babes and knife-headed monster Guiron. Can Gamera save them?
First shown: 9/7/91
Opening: Crow and Tom are playing “school lunch”
Invention exchange: The Mads show off their racy rorschachs, Joel has invented a collapsible trashcan
Host segment 1: J&TB sing The Gamera song (with English lyrics)
Host segment 2: Joel’s “sawing a robot in half” trick gets ruined
Host segment 3: J&tB’s do a pageant about Richard Burton, based on the kid in the movie’s vague resemblance
End: Gamera song again (with fake Japanese lyrics); meanwhile, Michael Feinstein is headlining in Deep 13
Stinger: “What a monster!”
• Wow, this episode is so much fun. It’s my favorite Gamera outing for sure, and just a really fun MST3K episode all around. It has great riffing, and all the host segments are at least worth a smile. And then there’s the movie itself, a truly zany outing (featuring the inimitable Cornjob) made all the zanier by the hamfisted dubbing. Much fun, and no traffic accidents.
• Note the MST3K lunch boxes (now no longer available) in the opening segment … Frank has one too!
• I’m not sure what’s funny about Joel’s invention. Seems pretty useful, actually. Oh, and: call the lawyers, Joel.
• Did you notice the season one-style table slap! What happened to the buttons?
• The awful, awful dubbing in the press conference scene makes for a gaspingly funny few minutes of riffing.
• Callbacks: The space ship is “funny flying.” (Rocketship XM) “…so much…about…lately?” (Gamera) “And he’s givin’ it back to you!” (Sidehackers) “Rex Dart” (Godzilla vs. Megalon)
• There’s a funny in-joke when the bots point out a starfield created by putting “a bunch of Christmas light against a wall” and talk about how really cheesy that is. That, of course, is exactly how BBI did it.
• Joel rolls with the punches again: In the theater, as the Gamera song begins, Crow’s arm falls off. Joel just reattaches it and continues. Crow’s arm falls off again in the next segment and Joel pops it back on again.
• The lyrics to the song in the first segment kind of restate the premise. I wonder if they were they getting notes from the network asking them to restate the premise more.
• One curious lyric in the song is when, explaining the kinds of riffs they do, J&tB sing: “So we hi-keeba all over the place and talk of a thousand wonderful days.” The first example is a pretty good description of a typical riff, but “talk of thousand wonderful days,” a callback to a line in “Rocketship XM,” has maybe been referenced twice since then. Did Mike (who, the credits say, wrote the song) really think that was a typical example of a movie riff?
• The whole notion of a twin earth on the opposite side of the sun (which we previously encountered in “Stranded in Space”) pops up for a moment in the movie and is then forgotten.
• Tom and Crow come into the theater still wearing their hats from the host segment 2; Joel removes them. Crow has no net for the entire theater segment.
• Another moment from this movie that always has me in stitches is the whole “Hello! Thank you!” routine. A classic case of taking something innocuous in the movie and exaggerating it for brilliant comic effect.
• During the flashback, I think we get a few minutes of a Gamera movie MST3K didn’t do. Anybody know which one it is?
• Not-really-current-then-either-but-more-current-then-than-it-is-now riff: “So was Iran Contra!”
• Okay, somebody needs to explain this one to me: One of the kids says “wait a minute…” and Tom says “You’re not a cop!” Both Tom and Joel express their love of that joke. Anybody know what they’re talking about?
• Zappa fans loved to hear “Weasels ripped my flesh! Rizzz!!”
• Instant catchphrase: “I’m feeling really good!”
• Vaguely dirty riff: “Wait, touch me here while you do that!”
• The Richard Burton sketch is pretty dumb, but it’s saved by Trace’s great imitation. Also, it was definitely written in pre-internet days, when they could have easily looked up info on him (such as that he was born Richard Walter Jenkins).
• Is this the first time Crow has called himself “Crow T. Robot”? Joel seems surprised by it. Also, Joel amusingly refers to himself as “the sleepy-voiced narrator.”
• This is the episode with the memorable “Gamera on the high-bar” moment, later used in the opening.
• There’s a riff in which Tom rattles off a bunch of New York-area railway stations–that was probably provided by Frank.
• This is also the episode with the infamous “most obscure reference ever”: “Stop her! She’s got my keyboard!” (By the way, it’s often quoted — including by cast members — as “…Mike’s keyboard…” but that’s not what is said.)
• In the third segment, J&TB sing the Gamera song AGAIN–this time in fake (and mildly racist, it seems to me) Japanese. I’m not sure I get the point, but it’s wacky!
• Mike is hilarious as Michael Feinstein, but wow does he ever hit a sour note at one point.
• CreditsWatch: Brian Wright returns for the first of five eps as audio guy. Someone named Carolyn Sloat was a prop assistant for this episode only. For Thomas Alphonso and Tom Henderson, this was their last show as interns.
• Cast and crew roundup: Again, I am not going to repeat all the connections named in previous Gamera movie episode guide entries. Which narrows down the list a lot.
Tom’s mother was played by Kathy Horan, who was also in “The Green Slime.” The score was composed by Shunsuke Kikuchi (misspelled in the credits), who also gets a credit (though it was probably just a needle drop) in “Zigra.” Similarly, Kenjiro Hirose gets a credit for music and lyrics in both this movie and “Zigra,” when they probably just used the same music.
• Which brings us to a special treat, courtesy of Daddy-O, a MSTie named Lisa Wakabayashi and her mom:
The Gamera Theme Song translated (the Japanese lyrics are, obviously, phonetic. The English lyrics are in parentheses after each line.)
Ikasuzo, Gamera! Ikasuzo, Gamera! Ikasuzo, Gamera!
(So cool, Gamera! So cool, Gamera! So cool, Gamera!)
Nichi, Getsu, Ka, Sui, Nichi, Getsu, Ka, Sui
(Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)
Nikkoh saegiru, Akuma no niji da
(Shadow the sun, evil’s rainbow)
Reitoh kaiju, kurunara koi!
(Frozen monster, dare to march!)
Haneta-zo, tonda-zo. Go! Go! Go!
(Jumped, flew. Go! Go! Go!)
Kaen funsha de yattsukero
(Destroy with jet flame)
Ikasuzo, Gamera! Ikasuzo, Gamera! Ikasuzo, Gamera!
(So cool, Gamera! So cool, Gamera! So cool, Gamera!)
Ganbare, Gamera! Ganbare, Gamera! Ganbare, Gamera!
(Hold out, Gamera! Hold out, Gamera! Hold out, Gamera!)
Getsu, Ka, Sui, Moku, Getsu, Ka, Sui, Moku?
(Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)
Gekkoh yaburu, satsujin onpa
(Overcome the moonlight, super sonic)
Mach kaiju, itsudemo koi!
(Monster mach, come anytime!)
Hikatta, yoketa-zo. Go! Go! Go!
(Burning bright. Go! Go! Go!)
Kuwaete hanasuna, Fukitobase.
(Bite hard and blown away)
Ganbare, Gamera! Ganbare, Gamera! Ganbare, Gamera!
(Hold out, Gamera! Hold out, Gamera! Hold out, Gamera!)
Tsuyoi-zo, Gamera! Tsuyoi-zo, Gamera! Tsuyoi-zo, Gamera!
(So strong, Gamera! So strong, Gamera! So strong, Gamera!)
Ka, Sui, Moku, Kin, Ka, Sui, Moku, Kin?
(Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)
Kasei ka, Kinsei, dokokano hoshino
(Mars, Venus, any other stars)
Uchu kaiju, nandemo koi!
(Come monsters from the universe!)
Kitta-zo, Tsuita-zo. Go! Go! Go!
(Stabbed, shoved. Go! Go! Go!)
Kaiten jet de, taiatari
(Tackled with circling jet)
Tsuyoi-zo, Gamera! Tsuyoi-zo, Gamera! Tsuyoi-zo, Gamera!
(So strong, Gamera! So strong, Gamera! So strong, Gamera!)
• Fave riff: “We’re from the padding department! Where’s the plot hole?”
Movie: (1958) A teen discovers her father has become a meal for a giant spider, which then attacks the town.
First shown: 9/14/91
Opening: Crow hosts Tom in “Inside The Robot Mind.”
Invention exchange: The Mads have invented the cheese phone, while Joel shows off his CD blow drier
Host segment 1: J&tB read through Crow’s screenplay, “Earth vs. Soup”
Host segment 2: A rehearsal of J&tB’s rock band Spidorr brings a visit, on the Hexfield, from the custodian of 7th galaxy
Host segment 3: J&tB discuss Creeple People and other dangerous but fun toys
End: Crow and Tom present their reports on Bert I. Gordon, Tom reads a letter, Frank is sick
Stinger: From the short, lip and tongue action, of a sort.
• Let’s rock this mother!
• As we begin the second half of this season, there is a lot to love about this one. Hokey movie, classic short, familiar faces, great riffing, great host segments. This is one of those “firing-on-all-cylinders” episodes.
• As noted elsewhere, it seems like they had season one and Josh Weinstein on the brain during this episode. In the opening bit, the Mads reprise the season-one catchphrase “Thank you!!”, then look embarrassed. Later, as the deputy (who looks a little like Dr. E) is devoured by the spider, Joel yells: “Dr. Erhardt! No! So that’s what happened to him!” (a reference to the fact that Dr. E’s fate was never really spelled out when he was written out of the premise). And at the end, in another homage to season one, Joel offers ram chips to the bots as rewards!
• Jerry and Sylvia get a mention in the opening.
• The short became an instant classic, with instant catchphrases like “Plenty of lip and tongue action.” I think it really showed them the riffing potential of this kind of short. This could have been one of those episodes where the short overpowered the movie, but they managed to rise to the occasion with the movie as well.
• Fave riff from short: “Here’s George Patton, a patriot and into high-grade weed.”
• Callbacks: “…and a good friend” (Rocketship XM), “Joe Doakes…” (X Marks the Spot), Crow sings “Hike your pants up…” (Daddy-O), “the spider is either missing or he’s dead!’ (Phantom Creeps)
• After the spider attack in the opening, Crow says, approximately “Heyhepullhefilalayvava.” They just keep going. By the way, once and for all, THAT is Merritt Stone driving the truck and being killed by the spider in the beginning of the movie.
• I love how, in segment 1, Crow’s “lips” move while the others read their parts. Classic Trace.
• A little Firesign Theater reference, I think, when Joel says “Oh Porgie no!” while reading through “Earth vs. Soup.”
• I just love Joel’s skeleton voice. “I’m famished!”
• Gross riff: “Does your dad like bran?” Ew.
• Joel brings up, and then defends the reputation of, the Ashwaubenon High Jaguars, from his real-life Wisconsin high school.
• The ELP bashing is interesting. That feels to me like it came from Mike.
• Geek alert: In the Rocket Number 9 shot, the spaceship is a badly disguised TOS Klingon warbird model. I’m so embarrassed that I know that.
• This would not be the last time Mike played a janitor!
• As Paul points out in the ACEG, the second host segment is in the wrong spot. But they seemed to know it at the time–as they’re coming back to the theater Joel says: “I don’t know what that janitor has to do with anything.”
• Dated-even-then reference: Who remembers the TV show “She’s the Sheriff”? Even then it had been off the air for two years.
• An odd moment as they re-enter the theater, Joel says “We’re comin’ out of the game thing.” In some of the outtakes that have come to light in recent years, we sometimes see them reminding each other what host segment was that appeared in the show before the current theater segment. Filming schedules were such that host segments were filmed on one day and theater segments another day, so it was sometimes easy to forget where all the pieces fit in the puzzle. I think that’s what Joel was doing here, but they didn’t bother to start over.
• Daddy-O observes: Character Mike mentions wanting to see Bert I. Gordon’s “Attack of the Puppet People.” You can see the lobby cards for it in the background, and a poster appears outside the theater. Lobby cards and posters for the movie in episode 309- THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN also appear, not-so-subtly. Originally titled, “The Spider,” this movie was retitled to cash in on the name of another successful movie with a similar title, 1956’s “Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers.”
• I can’t find it on the Web anymore, but we used to have a link in the Umbilicus to an odd web site by a guy who was REALLY into the Thingmaker and Creeple People. The page had a transcript of segment three, because he found it so moving.
• Something strange happens in segment 3–for most of it, they seem to be championing these toys and blaming the “careless” kids who got them taken off the market, but then Joel ends it with a saccharine little homily about the toymakers of tomorrow. I don’t get it.
• Note the “Movie Sign!” bumper sticker on the desk in the ending segment.
• There’s an interesting “call-forward” to “Beginning of the End” in Crow’s report. Had they seen it? It was two seasons away.
• Cast and crew round up: Scriptwriter Laszlo Gorog also wrote “The Mole People,” while scriptwriter George Worthing Yates also wrote “War of the Colossal Beast” and “Tormented.” Cinematographer Jack Marta also worked on “War of the Colossal Beast” and “Beginning of the End.” Costumer Marge Corso also worked on “Teenage Caveman,” “Tormented, “The She Creature” and “Bloodlust!” Production designer Walter Keller was an assistant director for “War of the Colossal Beast” and “Beginning of the End.” Assistant director John W. Rogers also worked on “War of the Colossal Beast.” Sound man Al Overton also worked on “The Screaming Skull,” “Attack of the Giant Leeches” and “The Phantom Planet.
In front of the camera, Merritt Stone was also a cop in “War of the Colossal Beast,” “King Grady” in “The Magic Sword” and the minister in “Tormented.” Gene “Gary Busey’s dad” Roth, was in this, played another sheriff in “Attack of the Giant Leeches,” the lunch counter guy in “Tormented” and the railroad conductor in “The Rebel Set.” Jack Kosslyn was also in “The Amazing Colossal Man,” the KTLA newscaster in “War of the Colossal Beast” and the ogre in “The Magic Sword.” June Kenney can also be seen as Asmild in “Viking Women and the Sea Serpent” and as Betty “Bloodlust!”
• CreditsWatch: Paul Chaplin becomes a full-time writer. Tim Paulson is back as online editor. Cindy Hansen begins her stint as an intern. Someone named Mary Flaa does the first of two shows as hair and makeup person.
• Fave riff: Everybody’s afraid of these crane shots!
Movie: (1968 TV series; 1987 compilation movie) A top secret organization called Mighty Jack makes use of a giant submarine called Mighty Jack to battle terrorist organization Q.
First shown: 9/21/91
Opening: Crisis on the SOL … face!
Invention exchange: The Mads show off the formal flipper; J&tB demonstrate ear-shaped earmuffs
Host segment 1: The bots show Joel their Mighty Jack pet food commercial
Host segment 2: The bots put Joel in the blinding light compartment
Host segment 3: Joel goes off the deep end while suggesting underwater movie ideas
End: J&tB sing “Slow the Plot Down!” and Frank’s quoting Melville, arr.
Stinger: He died as he lived…loving his work.
• I’m going to put this in the “good-not great” column. The Brains are on such a roll at this point in the season that even a bolus like this movie can’t stop their momentum. There are a few slow/quiet patches in the riffing and segment 3 is a bit strange, but there’s a lot more to like in this episode than dislike.
• For one of of only two times until he leaves the show, Joel is NOT wearing the standard maroon jumpsuit he’s been wearing since episode 212. Our jumpsuit list in Ward E calls it “pastel green,” dsman71 calls it “teal. You make the call.
• This episode will be in the next set, due out in time for the holidays, I believe.
• The opening is a lot of fun. “I’m blind! That thing cut me!” cracks me up every time.
• At the beginning of the invention exchange, you may be wondering why there is Velcro on the bots’ heads. You soon find out.
• Yikes, those awful pictures at the beginning of the movie. Bleah.
• Yes, Joel, the joke was a little racist.
• Callbacks: Puma? (Ring of Terror) Also: “that’s pretty good!” (Sidehackers) “Glenn Corbett! (Stranded in Space) “Hikeeba!” (Women of the Prehistoric Planet) “You’re stuck here!” and “He tried to kill me…” (Fugitive Alien) and “It’s Gamera!”
• Segment 1 is just so conversational and laid-back, it’s a great example of their unique style of humor.
• Obscure riff (for me, at least): Riffing on the horn stuff in score, Servo rattles off the names of several horn players I recognized. But Teo Macero I had not heard of.
• My copy has a Windows 95 commercial. Now your computer can do more than one thing at once! Also , there’s a commercial for a new thing called AOL.
• Segment two is a real gem, one for the highlight reel. “You have GOT to be KIDDING me, Crow!”
• You can tell this episode was written only a few months after the end of the first Gulf War. It features a lot of buzzwords and phrases from that era, including “collateral damage” and “baby formula factory.”
• Vaguely dirty riff: “I was just daydreaming.” Also: Movie: “Full thrust!” Crow: “Really!”
• Regional riff: There’s a reference to Tommy Bartlett, the Wisconsin impresario responsible for several attractions in the Wisconsin Dells. You pretty much have to have vacationed in the Midwest to get that one.
• Like “Time of the Apes” and “Fugitive Alien” before it, this is the first and last episodes of a TV series season, with a little connecting filler thrown in. Initially I, like Crow, could barely even remember anything that I had seen after the first couple of viewings. The movie seemed to self-erase in my memory as I watched it. It took many viewings to get any sense of what the damn thing was about, or for any of it to stick in my memory.
• Joel follows right up on the “Earth vs Soup” bit from last week.
• What the HECK is going on in segment 3? Has Joel gone space mad again?
• Joel mentions Shake-a-Pudd’n. I loved Shake-a-Pudd’n. Or maybe I just loved the commercials. I forget.
• The “Slow the Plot Down” song is a classic. Note the way the camera rocks slightly as they sing. Makes me a little nauseous. And remember to observe International Talk Like a Pirate Day, mateys.
• CreditsWatch: Mary Flaa completes her two-episode stint as hair and makeup person, and was never seen or heard from again.
• There really isn’t a cast and crew roundup this time. There were a few people who were in other episodes but they were all mentioned already in previous episode guide installments.
• Fave riff: “Meanwhile, back on the Greasy Bastard…” Honorable mention: “Oh, my aching imperialist dogs!” and Movie: “Up there, the roof!” Tom: “Up yours, you goof!”
Short: (1955) Water skiing thrills in Florida’s Cypress Gardens.
Short: (1936) Wildlife bully Ross Allen threatens ecosystems, endangers animals and generally terrorizes the Florida Everglades.
Movie: (1958) A rebellious teenage caveboy questions the clan’s rules and yearns to explore the land beyond the river.
First shown: 11/9/91
Opening: It’s dreary rainy day on the SOL and J&tB are bored. Magic Voice has some suggestions for activities
Invention exchange: J&tB present their creative ipecacs, the Mads try to unveil their invention, but end up in a brawl
Host segment 1: J&tB present “Catching Ross”
Host segment 2: The Mads are still fighting
Host segment 3: Joel explains to the bots how there were conservatives and risk-takers throughout history
End: The bots are dressed as the mutants from the movie, Joel reads a letter, the Mads are patching things up with a cup of kindness
Stinger: Watch out for that…tree!
• It’s a rare two-short episode and that’s just one of the delights of this episode. The movie is Corman at his corniest, and it brings out the best in the riffers, and the segments are a lot of fun too. A standout episode.
• My copy is from Turkey Day ’94, with Robert Vaughn appearing in the window of Adam West’s microwave during the introductory bumper.
• J&tB have one of their longest conversations with Magic Voice during the opener.
• The invention exchange has the memorable ipecac bit, followed by the truly classic battle of the Mads.
• As Frank and Dr. F prepare to mix it up, Frank makes use of the classic “Road House” line: “Take the train.”
• What do the two shorts in this ep have in common? They’re both essentially commercials for now-extinct Florida tourist traps. For more about Cypress Gardens, which this fall will reopen as Legoland, this page has a lot of good info. Ross Allen’s Florida Reptile Institute was in Silver Springs and closed down in the 1970s, as the popularity of Walt Disney World strangled a lot of other Florida attractions. You can still visit Ross Allen Island, however.
• The riffers did a lot of variations of the line: “Just throw that stuff in back, I kinda live outta my car.” (Does anybody know where that line is from?) In the water skiing scene it’s: “Just throw that stuff in the back. I kinda live off my shoulders.”
• Then-current reference: Leona Helmsley. Did I do that one already? Feels like I did.
• Where I used to live, we knew a couple who actually named Bob and Connie. I made them a special sound file of Crow saying: “Bob and Connie really enjoy life.” They did, too.
• Fave riff from first short: “They just snap clean away!”
• Now we come to the infamous “Catching Trouble” short–featuring such casually cruel footage that J&TB feel they must immediately take revenge in the following host segment, which became an instant classic. I love Joel’s cry of “We went to camp together! He hates me!”
• Memorable moment: Joel has one bear cub call another bear cub “Greg.” Tom then turns to him and asks, incredulously, “Greg?”
• Fave riff from the second short: “Ross tries to towel away the evil, but nothing doing”
• Wondering what the Helsinki Formula is and why they keep mentioning it? It’s a supposed baldness cure that Robert Vaughn used to pitch.
• A character in the movie mentions “the thing that gives death with its touch” and the riff is “Penny Marshall?” Huh?
• Joel himself seems to parodying his own season two segments in segment 2. That stack of artists renderings has become shorthand for “Joel has a boring idea for a presentation.”
• There’s a moment in the theater when Tom Servo applauds. …um…
• Note the Star Trek fight music playing during second fight scene. Also note the classic Mannix/James Kirk disarm, the cry of “HiKeeba!” and a slam on Beetle Bailey outta nowhere.
• Isn’t it fun when you get a riff for the first time, even after you’ve seen the episode several times? I had one of those this time, when Tom sings o/` “Heeeeerrrrre he iiiiiis, your komodo draaaaagonnnn” o/` which I suddenly realized was a reference to the movie “The Freshman.”
• Segment 3 is not really funny, just kind of thoughtful. But I like when Tom Servo says “Well, they were right about THAT!”
• For some reason Crow’s net is on the counter during segment 3.
• Vaguely dirty riff: “He invented the quiver.” “So did SHE!”
• Callback: “Thong, the fish are ready!” (Cave Dwellers) Also: “Chili peppers burn my gut” (Sidehackers) “…a charbroiled hamburger sandwich…” (Jungle Goddess) and “This looks like a job, for MIGHTY JACK!”
• At one point, when actor Ed Nelson appears, Joel recognizes him and points out that he’s there. So? Just a state park joke?
• There’s a Firesign Theatre reference as Tom, as the old survivor, says that something “scared everybody.”
• This makes twice in two episodes they have used the Odd Couple line: “bad meat or good cheese.”
• Daddy-O notes: The parrot-like costume is left over from “Night of the Blood Beast,” and was worn, as it was in that movie, by uncredited actor Ross Sturlin. Sturlin also helped make and wore a leech costume in “Attack of the Giant Leeches.” Screenwriter R. Wright Campbell was capable of better: he got an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for 1957’s “Man of a Thousand Faces.” Once again, stock footage from “One Million B.C.” was used. Exterior water scenes were done at the Arboretum in Arcadia, Calif. Other exterior shots were filmed at Bronson Canyon, of course.
• Cast and crew round up: (Again, I will not repeat connections I’ve mentioned in previous entries) Cinematographer Floyd Crosby was assistant director on “The Screaming Skull.” Assistant director Jack Bohrer was production manager on “Viking Women,” “Attack of the Giant Leeches” and “Night of the Blood Beast. Production manager Maurice Vaccarino was assistant director on “The Screaming Skull” and “The Phantom Planet.” Sound man Herman Lewis also worked “Viking Women” “Blood Beast” as well as “Mitchell.” Sound man Philip Mitchell worked on “Bloodlust!” and “The Unearthly.”
In front of the camera, we already ran into Robert Vaughn in KTMA’s “Hangar 18.” Joseph Hamilton was also in “Giant Leeches.” Barboura Morris was also in “Viking Women.” As Joel noted, Ed Nelson is in this movie. He also played Dave Randall in “Blood Beast” and appeared in “Superdome,” “Swamp Diamonds” and “Riding with Death.” Robert Shayne also appeared as Prof. Bradshaw “The Indestructible Man” and as Lt. Cassidy in “The Rebel Set.”
• CreditsWatch: Faye Burkholder returns for two eps as hair and makeup person.
• Fave riff: “Um, like, do you know any Tull?” Honorable mention: “So, how many toasters did we get?”
Movie: (1971) In the (sigh) seventh outing of the long-running Japanese monster movie series, aliens from a distant planet, called Zigra, send a spaceship, called Zigra, commanded by a strange creature — called Zigra — to Earth with a plan of world domination. Opposing him is a pair of concerned marine biologists, pesky brats Kenny and Helen and, of course, giant turtle monster Gamera.
First shown: 10/19/91
Opening: J&tB are having a root beer kegger to celebrate the last Gamera movie
Invention exchange: The Mads have invented Three Stooges guns; Joel has invented the Crow-ka-bob; Frank spoils Dr. F’s surprise
Host segment 1: The bots have built a scale model of Gamera
Host segment 2: The bots present their shoe box dioramas
Host segment 3: Kenny and Helen visit on the Hexfield.
End: J&tB present different ways to sing the Gamera song
Stinger: Fish boy talks to himself.
• It isn’t my favorite Gamera movie (that would be “Guiron”) but this one is plenty strange and very riffable, and the guys do a great job. The host segments are fair to good.
• The Shout DVD menu notes something I never noticed before–there’s a preponderance of Monty Python references in this one, for some reason.
• At the beginning of the IE segment, Joel hits the piñata a little too hard, I think, and it spins around and empties the “guts” contents with the opening facing away from the camera. Joel quickly reaches in and taps it so it spins back around, and we can still see some guts hanging out, so we get the joke, but we never got to see what we were supposed to see.
• “I’d take the pizza off the ceiling” is a reference to a commercial at the time. I can’t find it on Youtube.
• It must have taken some practice for Trace and Frank to line up those guns so they would meet.
• Tom makes a raspberry, and Joel notes that Tom has no fleshy parts with which to make it.
• Sandy Frank probably didn’t appreciate the assertion that his IQ is 13-and-a-half.
• In the segment with the Gamera model, you can see some “guts” leaking out the bottom from behind the door before Joel opens it.
• Joel says “Oh, Lisa…” before opening the “guts” door. “Green Acres” reference?
• As I noted when we watched this on KTMA: I don’t really understand the anti-science message that floats through the movie. The two dads are biologists. Doesn’t that make them scientists? And are scientists actively polluting the sea? So why are scientists the problem?
• As I also noted then: I have seen this movie a dozen times now and I still cannot make heads or tales out of the weird Zigra monster up on the shelf in the alien spaceship. It looks a little like a skeksis from “The Dark Crystal,” but what’s with the billowing cobwebs?
• Also from the KTMA comments: How did “your Earth science” pollute a planet 400 light years away? I ran that back and listened to it again and that’s definitely what he says. Doesn’t make any sense.
• Then-current riff: There’s a deserved slam on once-prominent KKK leader David Duke, but how many people even remember him now?
• The appearance of the Japanese version of the Monty Python “It’s!” guy seems to go nowhere, as does the whole “who gets to buy the fish” subplot. What was all that about?
• During the sketch with the dioramas, a table has been added to the set in front of the normal desk. It looks like it was something out of the prop shop — there’s spray paint patterns on it that they didn’t even try to cover up.
• It’s a nice touch that Cambot goes through the diorama door.
• Callback: Tom sings the Wild Rebels song. Also: “McCloud!” (“Pod People”)
• Tom again does an impression of Dr. Erhardt saying “Enjoy!”
• A glaring mistake in the dubbing: Lana says she is going to feed the kids to the dolphins, but the animals in the tank before her are killer whales.
• Obscure reference/pun: “That terrapin is stationary.” The right Deadheads will get it.
• In the host segment with the hexfield, the model of Gamera is, well, lame. By the way: this is Bridget’s first appearance on the show.
• The whole sequence where Gamera rescues the crippled bathysphere and delivers it on shore like Lynn Swann scoring a touchdown, which we saw in the KTMA version, is missing here. Tom notices.
• Suggestive riff: “You know, Gamera’s never seen the mohel…”
• I love Gypsy’s bullet bra in the ending segment.
• The final, harmonized version of the Gamera song seems to be all Kevin Murphy, overdubbed.
• There’s no cast and crew roundup this time: Some people did work on other movies we watched, but they’ve all been mentioned in previous episode guide entries.
• Creditswatch: The mole people “roadies” behind Dr. F. and Frank are Kevin Murphy and Jef Maynard. There’s also a “special thanks” to St. Paul Harley Davidson. Wonder why. Maybe for Trace’s and Frank’s getups?
• Fave riff: “And, uh, maybe you could dust up here some time!” Honorable mention: “Wait, I found some more oxygen in a drawer. We’re fine.”
Episode guide: 317- The Saga of the Viking Women and their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (with short: The Home Economics Story)
Short: (1951) Four college girls major in home economics.
Movie: (1957) Viking women set sail to rescue their men who have been enslaved by barbarians.
First shown: 10/26/91
Opening: Joel says: Consider the lowly waffle
Invention exchange: Joel continues to consider waffles; The Mads demonstrate their meat re-animator, Joel shows off an iron that turns waffles into pancakes
Host segment 1: Joel has reprogrammed the bots to love waffles and asks them to suggest new uses for waffles
Host segment 2: “Waffles!”
Host segment 3: Willy the Waffle gives a spirited defense of waffles
End: The Waffle song, Dr. F is “re-animating” Frank
Stinger: “But you don’t understand! I’m a PRINCE!”
• Let me just say: waffles. Things get into the heads of the Brains during the course of doing an episode, and sometimes it just leaks out. I think this is one of those times. All in all, this one is lots of fun. The movie is, if such a thing is possible, even lamer and sillier than “Teenage Caveman” and the riffing is solid. As for the host segments, well: waffles.
• The clip of the Crawling Eye from episode 101- THE CRAWLING EYE that has been part of the intro since the first season has been replaced with Godzilla’s tail slide attack from episode 212- GODZILLA VS. MEGALON.
• Trace’s expressions during the invention exchange are priceless.
• Fave riff from the short: “Kegs will be tapped. Men will be used.”
• Tom and Crow both make LOTR references at the beginning, though Crow says “I’m ashamed I know that.”
• Callback: Tom rediscovers the Creepy Girl (Catalina Caper). It’s a calamity! (Gamera vs Guiron) “The law is the word…” (Teenage Caveman)
• In segment two, after Joel delivers his line, he throws the plate up in the air, and then has to duck out of the way of it.
• Tom and Crow are already in theater when Joel arrives after segment 2.
• How now-middle-aged people had the problem of being allowed to stay up and watch “Love, American Style”? I know *I* did.
• As has been chronicled, the Willy the waffle bit is based on the “Case of Spring Fever” short, which they watched during this season but never riffed until season 10.
• Crow still has his Willy the Waffle outfit on when entering the theater after segment 3.
• Then-current reference: Rosie Ruiz.
• This song comes up again. I thought I would let younger viewers know where it comes from.
• The show ends with a great song, but how come there’s no “lyrics and music” credit for it in the credits?
• Daddy-O notes: In far shots, the sea serpent was actually special effects guy Irving Block’s finger, covered with clay, with a fin stuck on it! And, of course, this is yet another Corman movie largely shot in Bronson Canyon.
• Oh, and just for the record, Jonathan Haze does NOT play the prince, as some, including whoever wrote the episode summary in the ACEG, think.
• Cast and crew roundup: cinematographer Monroe P. Askins also did “The Human Duplicators. Special effects guy Jack Rabin also worked on “Robot Monster” “Rocketship X-M and “Invasion USA.” Special effects guy Irving A. Block also worked on “Rocketship XM” Special effects guy Louis DeWitt also worked on “The Phantom Planet.” Makeup guy Harry Ross also worked on “The Mad Monster” and “Lost Continent.” Assistant director Robert Kinoshita also worked on “The Phantom Planet.” In front of the camera, Sally Todd was also in “The Unearthly.”
• CreditsWatch: Andrea DuCane came in to do makeup for the only time this season.
• Fave riff: “…and no time to figure out how we saw all that!”
Movie: (1978 original TV show episodes; 1987 compilation movie) The further adventures of the crew of Earth spaceship Bacchus 3: They try to destroy a super-weapon and Ken finally confronts his former leader.
First shown: 11/16/91
Opening: Tom and Crow discuss the nature of puppets
Invention exchange: Tom and Crow compete in a “name-that-puppet” quiz show, with Joel as quizmaster. In Deep 13, the Mads have invented big noses, while Joel shows off his big head
Host segment 1: Tom Servo is dead! Joel and Crow rush to save him
Host segment 2: J&tB present the Captain Joe action figure
Host segment 3: J&tB sing: “The Fugitive Alien medley
End: Crow and Tom are hoping to influence the Mads’ movie choices; Joel asks the bots how they would designing the ultimate evil person; Joel reads letters; Frank defends Tom T. Hall
Stinger: “Captain, I’ve got it fixed! It’s all working again!”
• I know if they hadn’t done this, fans would be complaining about that “to be continued” at the end of the first one, but did we really need more of this? The first “Fugitive Alien” ep is one of the most beloved episodes of the show, no question. This one, well, it’s more of the same, and it starts to wear a little thin (for me, at least) in the last hour or so. Still, the host segments are great, so overall I’m going to go with a “fair” rating.
• This is the last of the Sandy Frank KTMA re-dos (though no fan copy of the KTMA riff is known to exist), and the end of this season’s see-saw, back-and-forth pattern — one Japanese outing, one American film, etc. From here the season goes is strange new directions.
• There’s some sort of toy in Crow’s net during the invention exchange segment. Anybody recognize it?
• During the quiz show bit (which is kind of reminiscent of those long season-two segments with the artists renderings) Joel — reading off a card I think — says he wants the bots to guess the “genius” of each puppet. He should have said “genus.” Tom Servo quietly corrects him and they keep going.
I love Joel in full quizmaster mode: “Kukla… Kukla…”
• For a long time, I wondered what that was in Joel’s hand when he’s wearing the Big Head. Then it hit me–it’s his lavaliere mic, which the Big Head would probably have interfered with.
• Trace seems to have more fun with the big noses than Frank. He just loves making waggle ever so slightly.
• Joel wears the big head into the theater, then hurls it aside.
• As soon as the movie starts, all the old riffs come rushing back: “Rocky!” “Again!” “Rita!” “Meter Maid!” And forklifts galore. I don’t think I should call these “call backs.” More like retreads.
• Joel forgets Tom when entering the theater after segment 1. Tom reminds him and he goes back to get him.
• Callbacks: “A girl!?” (Viking Women) “Hikeeba” (Women of the Prehistoric Planet)
• After Joel sings his song in segment 3, Tom quietly comments: “What a lunatic, huh?”
• There’s more Sandy Frank bashing in this one, especially the final verse to the song in segment 3.
• Tom does a lot of singing in this one.
• Then-current reference: “Farfegnugen.”
• Complicated and now-quite-dated riff: “I’m George Bernard Shaw in Baghdad–I’m under a table and I’m writing ‘Candide’.” If this baffles anybody, I’m sure somebody in the comments will explain it.
• This show marks the first reference to Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, as far as I know. Can anybody think of an earlier one?
• To any adult, that first letter Joel reads is worrisome. I wonder what happened to that kid. It’s also a pretty pristine example of the unintended downside of Joel’s “sleepy” character, which a lot of kids mistook as some sort of endorsement by the show, and by Joel in particular, of being a stoned slacker. You can tell the kid was expecting that his comments would be met with approval, not a concerned suggestion that he get into breakfast.
• There’s no further cast and crew roundup other than what was done in the previous “Fugitive Alien” episode.
• CreditsWatch: Clayton James is back at hair and makeup.
• Fave riff: “‘Course it pierced his colon…” Honorable mention: “He’s getting a tattoo with a Busy-Buzz-Buzz.”
Short: (1957) A shrill, androgynous succubus urges a gawky middle schooler to take up a musical instrument.
Movie: (1958) When giant Glenn from “The Amazing Colossal Man,” now a deranged and disfigured monster, is spotted in Mexico, his worried sister tries to save him.
First shown: 11/30/91
Opening: J&tB come up with new names for Mex-American food combos
Invention exchange: The Mads have invented the breakfast bazooka, while Joel shows off his between-meal mortar
Host segment 1: Tom and Crow debate the topic “Mr. B. Natural: man or woman?”
Host segment 2: J&tB are singing the Big Head song when Glen revisits
Host segment 3: Joel presents “KTLA predicts!”
End: Joel offers the bots samples of his special bread, Joel reads a letter than Glen reads one; Frank gets another breakfast shot at him
Stinger: That’s a happy king?
• If there was ever an episode where the short outshines the feature, this is it. But, that being said, this was one of those times where I was expecting to struggle through the movie but was pleasantly surprised. Instead of the dull slog I remembered from previous viewings, I found it pretty entertaining and the riffing was pretty consistently good. The host segments are more good than bad as well. This really is a fun episode all around.
• Ah, Mister B. Calling it a classic short, probably the most famous of all the shorts and maybe the most watched 20 or so minutes of the entire series. I practically have the thing memorized. (Note: I admit to stealing the phrase “shrill succubus” from the ACEG. It’s just too perfect a description.)
• Can I just mention, however, that the short is in horrible shape? Mr. B’s arrival in the kid’s home has been spliced out. It was probably hilarious, and therefore somebody cut it out of the print and kept it for his or her own collection of goofy footage. A lot of classic moments in movies have been lost to anonymous “collectors” savaging the only remaining copy of a particular movie.
• The short was filmed at the Waukegan (Illinois) Elementary School and Miami (Ohio) Sr. High School.
• Daddy-O notes: Betty Luster, who played Mr. B, appeared on two television shows in the early 1950s. Her first TV job was on the CBS show “Sing It Again” (1950-51), which was originally a radio program. It was a game show in which contestants tried to identify a song from the first few notes and was obviously a precursor to the similar game show “Name That Tune.” Betty was probably the singer on that program. Her second was on the NBC show “Seven at Eleven,” which was only on the air for one month in 1951.
• Fave riff from the short: “Mom, Dad–tell me you heard that!”
• In the segment 1, Joel says “mister t bogart”–they just keep rolling.
• The military guy says the river below Boulder Dam is “a mile deep in some places.” WHAT??
• The Big Head makes another appearance in segment 2.
• The gibberish Joel shouts at the end of segment 3 comes from the chaotic labels of a product known as Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap–still available at your local health food store. There’s an explanation of this stuff here. http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a3_386.html
• Movie comment: Why didn’t they keep Glenn sedated once they got him into the hangar? (I know, they wanted to have the exciting escape scene).
• Callback: McCloud! (Pod People)
• Of course, this movie is known for the 30 seconds of color at the end, triggered by Glenn grabbing the power lines. Did Bert I. really think this was going to help the movie somehow?
• This is one of two MSTed movies (522- TEENAGE CRIME WAVE is the other) that ends at L.A.’s Griffith Observatory.
• Cast and crew roundup: Set designer Maury Hoffman also worked on “I Was a Teenage Werewolf. Assistant director/production manager Herbert E. Mendelson also worked on “The Magic Sword.” Sound mixer Ben Winkler also worked on “The She-Creature.” The voice of monster Glenn’s was provided by the great Paul Frees. We’ll hear his voice again in “The Sword and the Dragon” and “The Deadly Mantis.” By the way, he was the director and script writer for “The Beatniks.” George Becwar also appears in “Bride of the Monster.” George Milan also appears in “Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders.” Roy Gordon also appears in “The Unearthly.” Dean Duncan Parkin, who played Glen the monster, also was help behind the scenes of “The Beginning of the End”…he was a grasshopper wrangler!
• CreditsWatch: This was intern Cindy Hansen’s last episode.
• Fave riff: “My nurse fell down his throat!” Also: “Hee Haw, it’s Sam Wainwright!”
Short 1: (1952) An elementary school teacher holds a posture contest in her class.
Short 2: (1950) A young boy realizes how much his parents do for him, and that he should help out around the house.
Movie: (1957) A mad scientist uses nefarious methods to acquire subjects for his bizarre experiments.
First shown: 12/14/91
Opening: The bots are making a “funny” submission for “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and Crow gets the worst of it
Invention exchange: Crow is gnarled, but he likes it. The Mads demonstrate their “hard pills to swallow,” while Joel shows off his everyday products named for celebrities
Host segment 1: Crow and Tom present: “Appreciating Gypsy”
Host segment 2: With the help of the Video Toaster, J&tB present the many faces of Tor Johnson
Host segment 3: Tom and Crow create a “Unearthly” board game, but Joel gets hung up on reading the instructions
End: J&tB enjoy using their “Dead End Kids patois,” Joel reads a letter using the lingo, and even that Mads get into it.
Stinger: “Time for go to bed!”
• This is really a case where the shorts save the episode. Both shorts are fun and the riffing is great. But once the movie starts, things bog down. The guys make fun of Tor for a while, then they start kind of free associating (mixing in some state park jokes), then they fall back on the whole Dead End Kids patois thing. But the riffing never really takes off. Most of the segments are good, which helps drag the rating up a bit as well.
• Oh, the irony of an “America’s Funniest Home Videos” parody. Little did Trace suspect he would be drawing a paycheck from it in less than ten years.
• The Mads’ invention is my all-time favorite IE. Trace and Frank are brilliant. My main problem with Joel’s inventions are how how cheesy they look. None of the figures looks anything like the celebrity they’re supposed to be, and they all look like they were made out of cottage cheese.
• Although there were episodes in the first season that had two episodes of “Radar Men from the Moon,” this is only the second time in the history of the series that we have had two shorts (the first was 315- TEENAGE CAVEMAN). They did it one more time in season six.
• The Rhino version had alternate takes of the host segments. Always interesting to see which take they chose and which ended up on the cutting room floor.
• Short 1 was one of those instant classics that just struck a chord with the fans.
• During the first short, Joel says something odd: “That’s when the kids came up with a plan to blackmail Mrs. Reedy!” Where does that name come from? We know Joel knows the teacher’s name is Miss Martin, because he says it a few lines later. Is that a reference to something?
• Tom seems scandalized by Joel’s reference to VPL.
• Fave riff from short 1: “She should just go home to bed.”
• Crow is still gnarled when they to into the theater–but during short 2 he says “I better go freshen up,” walks off, about three riffs go by without him, and then he returns good as new.
• Fave riff from short 2: “Well, I isolated that nucleotide today…”
• During the segment 1, there’s a shot of the SOL bridge piled high with junk, Many of the items are past invention exchanges.
• At the end of segment 1, Gypsy breaks the button.
• In segment 2, the “artists renderings” make another appearance, only to be immediately rejected.
• In segment 2, Tom says “perfap…er…perhaps.” They keep going.
• Some techies may be amused by the appearance of an early version of the Video Toaster. Frankly, it doesn’t seem that impressive. Maybe they were just not very good at it using it, but most of the images are pretty fuzzy and hard to make out.
• One other note about segment 2: the shot of Tor Johnson that is used over and over is at the very very end of the movie. Another example of them using a moment from the movie they are familiar with because they’ve seen it nine times, but that we aren’t because we’re still in the middle.
• Instant catchphrase: “Time for go to bed!”
• In segment 3 there’s a little Tom Servo figure among all the crap on the table. Where’d that come from?
• Tom and Crow are already there when Joel arrives back in the theater. Another example of Tom making it to the theater on his own.
• Cast and crew roundup: Editor Richard Currier also worked on “Night of the Blood Beast.” In front of the camera, ?Myron Healey was also in “The Incredible Melting Man,” ?Arthur Batanides was also in “The Leech Woman,” Harry Fleer was also in “Tormented, John Carradine was also in “Red Zone Cuba” and Tor Johnson was also in “Bride of the Monster” and “The Beast of Yucca Flats.”
• CreditsWatch: Barb Oswald was prop assistant for her third and last time this season (was SHE responsible Joel’s invention exchange?). She’d be back for a couple of episodes in season four. Jef Maynard gets credit for “Paint Box Artistry” which I assume means he was able to figure out the Video Toaster better than anybody else.
• Fave riff from the movie: “Stop fighting and give me some skin!”
Movie: (1964) Determined to bring Christmas to their home planet, Martians kidnap Santa Claus.
First shown: 12/21/91
Opening: Crow and Tom are looking at Christmas catalogs
Invention exchange: The Mads demonstrate their wish squisher; J&tB offer up their own misfit toys
Host segment 1: J&tB sing: “A Patrick Swayze Christmas”
Host segment 2: J&tB look over tapes of cheesy Christmas specials
Host segment 3: J&tB read their Christmas essays
End: Caroling, stocking time, Joel reads a letter, meanwhile in Deep 13, the Mads are also exchanging gifts
Stinger: Bad martian’s derisive laughter
• This one is a genuine classic, and for a lot of MSTies it’s as much a part of the holiday season as “White Christmas” or “It’s A Wonderful Life.” All the host segments are gems. The riffing is solid throughout. It’s also another one I have almost completely memorized. But as good as it is, as much fun as it is, as much as “A Patrick Swayze Christmas” has become a yuletide tradition, well, I’ll just say it: The Cinematic Titanic riffing is funnier.
• This episode was the one they were working on when a crew from Comedy Central arrived at the studios to shoot footage for the documentary “This is MST3K.” Unfortunately, that led to a misunderstandings among some fans. MSTies had been told that bots painted black were used in the theater sequences, but in the special we could see that the regular bots were being used. “What gives?” a lot of fans asked at the time. The answer: The regular bots had been altered slightly with Christmas additions, and so those were used in the theater, this one time, for continuity’s sake, rather than the usual black bots. It’s just unfortunate that cameras were there to capture it.
• The invention exchange segment starts very abruptly, directly in Deep 13 rather than having the usual SOL intro. Were they just hurrying for time?
• What is a “video cassette cartridge game”? Frank seems to think kids would like to get one…
• Why isn’t the tree in the background in Deep 13 decorated?
• The image above was the best one I could get for this movie, because this version has no title card. The version you can download at Archive.org also has no title card. For a while I thought this was the only print available, but the Cinematic Titanic version DOES have the title card. So, more than one version exists.
• There are a LOT of then-current topical references in this one: C. Everett Koop … “Twin Peaks” … the Thomas hearings … “Gates has been confirmed” … the notion that Drew Barrymore is a little kid … Eric Heiden … Donna Rice … and the first of several references to long forgotten commercial character, ‘Bonnie, your Time/Life operator.’ And a name that was a fairly obscure reference back then: “Joseph Biden.”
• At one point Servo says to Droppo: “You’re the Gilligan of your time.” Um, this movie and “Gilligan’s Island” both came out in the same year.
• Callbacks: “Puma?” (Ring of Terror) “…the Robot Holocaust…”
• Right before they start singing “A Patrick Swayze Christmas.” Joel says “Paul…” Apparently that was meant to be a David Letterman impression, but almost NOBODY got it.
• That’s Mike on the keyboards.
• Note the reference to “suggestive refueling sequences”–we’d get more in season 6.
• I never noticed before that all the martians have numbers on their clothes.
• In segment 2, Joel seems to “reading” the undersides of unpackaged VHS tapes. What could possibly be written there? They couldn’t have taken two minutes to fabricate little packages? Oh, and Burl Ives has since died.
• Frank’s present has little Shadowrama tape on it.
• Cast and Crew roundup: Executive producer Joseph E. Levine was also responsible for “Hercules” and “Hercules Unchained.” Makeup artist George Fiala also worked on “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die.”
• Daddy-O notes: The movie reportedly was filmed in some abandoned airplane hangars near the Roosevelt Field Mall in Long Island, New York. And for those who don’t get the “Golden Globe” reference, in 1982 actress Pia Zadora, who as a child played little Girmar, stunned Hollywood when she won a Golden Globe in the “best new female star” category for her bland performance in a terrible little movie called “Butterfly.” Hollywood whispers had it that her rich husband, many decades her senior, bought her the nomination and award through much publicity — and possibly other methods. Hollywood cringed again when she and her husband bought the former estate of movie legends Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and she promptly started gutting and modernizing the historic home. That said, Pia does appear to be moderately talented, and apparently has a self-deprecating sense of humor, as shown in when she accepted roles in the movies “Hairspray” and “Voyage of the Rock Aliens.”
• CreditsWatch: For some reason, this episode has a whole herd of “additional contributing writers”: Lynn-Anne Freise, Tom Wedor, Craig Tollifson, Bob Schrad and Christopher Whiting, whoever they are. It should be no surprise that the music and lyrics for “A Patrick Swayze Christmas” were written by “Road House” aficionado Michael J. Nelson.
• Fave riff: “Tonight I’m a space pirate! Permission to come aboard!” Honorable mention: Martian: “Crush him!” Tom Servo (robot voice): “You were adopted!”
Plot: (1984 TV episodes; 1991 combined movie) An occidental ninja, searching for his long-lost daughter, joins forces with a mush-mouthed drifter to help save an airport, and then a nightclub, from thugs, while evading the ninjas who have been sent to kill him.
First shown: 1/11/92
Opening: The bots build a model muscle car, and it’s a bad influence on Gypsy
Invention exchange: The Mads demonstrate their boil-in-a-bag IVs, while J&tB show off their pop-up books for adults
Host segment 1: Crow presents “The Van Patten Project”
Host segment 2: J&tB brawl to Master Ninja’s many theme songs
Host segment 3: J&tB explore other kinds of nunchuks
End: Song: J&tB sing the “Master Ninja Theme Song” while Joel reads a letter; Frank gets even with Dr. F
Stinger: “To them it’s some kind of ritual”
• I’m going to fall back on the “good-not-great” assessment for this one. The movie is reasonably watchable while being very riffable (did nobody have the nerve to tell Timothy to slow down and enunciate?). Most of the segments are fun (though the nunchucks one goes nowhere), and the stupidity of the movie brings out some solid, if not dazzlingly brilliant, riffing.
• The exact year of this “movie” is unclear. Trans World Entertainment came out with VHS tapes in 1985 that featured these two episodes and it’s called “Master Ninja I,” but I don’t know if they’ve been stitched together to form a movie, or whether Film Ventures International did that when they came out with their version in 1991. In the end I decided to go with the copyright date on the screen.
• These two episodes aired on NBC on Jan. 20 and Jan. 27, 1984. The series was called “The Master.” The individual episodes were titled “Max” and “Out-of-Time-Step,” respectively.
• Why does executive producer Michael Sloan rate a special boo during the opening credits?
• In the invention exchange, the script does not call for them to open the “Naked Lunch” book–so the prop guys didn’t bother making something that opens. Unfortunately, that makes it not look very much like a book.
• Callback: “He learned too late that man is a feeling creature…” (It Conquered the World)
• I like the way Crow ZOOMS out of the theater as he heads into the segment 1, hurrying to prepare his presentation.
• Crow still has his net off when he returns to the theater after segment 1.
• We get another reference to “Bonnie, your Time/Life operator.” This commercial must have permeated somebody’s consciousness.
• Once again there’s a bit that makes a reference to a portion of the movie we haven’t seen yet. At the end of segment 2 we see Frank, with top hat and cane, saying “It’s show ti-…” We have no idea what he means until we return to the movie and get the second plot about the aging hoofer.
• Segment 3 features yet another plea for people to write in, (remember “ways to off Gaos”?) and once again we never hear anything more about it. Did nobody write in?
• Cast and crew roundup. These people all also worked on “Master Ninja II”: executive producer Michael R. Sloan (boo?), episode director Ray Austin, special effects guy Phil Cory, stunt coordinator/ninja choreographer/co-star Sho Kosugi, stunt coordinator Gary Charles Davis and theme song composer Bill Conti. Sound guy Glen Glenn (creative parents, Glen!) not only worked on Master Ninja II, but also “The Corpse Vanishes” and “Hangar 18.” And our old pal Karl Michael Demer is back with more “music.” In front of the camera, of course Lee and Timothy and Sho Kosugi will be back. In addition we’ll meet Clu Gulager (who they call “Gallagher” all through this) in “San Francisco International.” And Bill McKinney (who did a nice interview on the Shout! Factory DVD) will be back in “Final Justice.”
• CreditsWatch: Frank’s name appears along with Mike in the “additional music” credit. There’s also an additional contributing writer: Mike Gandolfi.
• Fave riff: “Hey mister, your ninja’s dragging!” Honorable mention: “I just passed wind in my suit. I ask you, as a point of honor, give me a second.”
Movie: (1969) Evil mastermind Fu Manchu has a new plot to destroy the world, but his arch-nemesis Dr. Nayland Smith is on the case.
First shown: 1/18/92
Opening: J&tB sing “We’re on the Satellite of Love.”
Invention exchange: The bots have developed a useful telephone transducer chip, while all Joel has is the big head (again); The Mads demonstrate the Joe Besser “Stinky” Bomb
Host segment 1: Crow decries “The Miss Saigon Syndrome,” J&tB become distraught, which pleases the Mads
Host segment 2: The Shriner flying carpet sketch collapses into weeping; the Mads are delighted
Host segment 3: The bots are inconsolable, Joel tries to cheer them up with the story of Fu-Manchu, but the pain is too much; the Mads celebrate
End: J&tB are utterly beaten, the Mads toast their victory but then get a little too cocky
Stinger: Monkey pile on the castle guard!
• I know, I know, this movie is terribly painful. I’m sure there are some among you for whom it is too painful. But I’m just going to come out and say it: I LOVE this episode! The host segments are uniformly funny and the riffing is top-notch. In a way, this would be an excellent starter episode, since it’s one of the shows that most explicitly deals with the premise of the Mads trying to drive J&tB crazy with bad movies. The movie, no question, is terrible: it’s drab, confusing, clumsy and poorly shot. But compared to some of the movies we’ll get later, it’s not that bad. This ep is one of my favorites.
• The opening is one of the best ever. My daughter, as a toddler, fell in love with that song and sang it constantly for about two long weeks.
• During the song–which, by the way, ONCE AGAIN explains the premise (though it’s for the first time in a while)–contains the line “Stories! Fun! Toys!” It’s probably from an ancient kid’s show. Likewise the line at the end, “Warriors of the World–by Marx!” Marx was a toy company. Anybody know what it refers to?
• Joel’s line “…uh, I’ll be right back” in the invention exchange segment was sampled by some MSTie and it became a very popular–and useful–chat room sound file.
• Local reference: the piano bar at Nye’s.
• When Crow and Tom do their invention exchange, there’s a closeup on Tom’s hand. Sheesh, couldn’t they have repainted it for the closeup? It looks terrible.
• We get the third and last appearance of the Big Head.
• Dr. F. lights the fuse on the Stinky Bomb and the sparks look like they almost put Frank’s eyes out.
• Then-current references: “Filmed in Oakland” (a reference to the massive firestorm that hit the city in 1991); Crow parodies the now-forgotten “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” and also mentions “Doogie Hauser.”
• Movie comment: The ship sinking footage at the beginning is clearly from some other movie. I also suspect that dam-breaking footage is swiped too. Anybody know what movie they’re from?
• VERY naughty riff from Joel: “I didn’t mean to but, uh, the new seat covers…” Tom and Crow are shocked.
• Crow mentions “The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao.” It would come up again.
• J&tB enter the theater with their Shriner costumes on. Joel removes his, then Crow’s, then turns to remove Tom’s fez, and either can’t do it or thinks better of it.
• Callbacks: “Glen Manning get off that dam!” (Amazing Colossal Man), “I can remember a thousand wonderful hours…” (Rocketship XM), Tom hums the Catalina Caper theme, Hikeeba (Women of the Prehistoric Planet).
• Who drew those “artist’s renderings”?
• In the theater, at different points, both Tom and Joel get irritated at Crow and tell him to shut up or stop. Kinda testy!
• When those cakes of ice float to the surface of the water, Joel makes an odd pantomime that looks a little like he’s picking his nose. I watched it a couple of times, and then it hit me: he’s miming snorting coke.
• Love the slam on Toastmasters (an organization full of people who think they’re witty, but usually aren’t).
• Cast and crew roundup: Producer Harry Alan Towers also produced “Outlaw (of Gor)” and “The Million Eyes of Su-Muru.” Under his pen name Peter Welbeck, he also wrote the screenplays for them.
• CreditsWatch: Kevin’s name appears along with Mike’s under “Additional Music Written and Arranged by.” Maybe he helped on the opening song?
• Favorite riff: “Look at this shot. They should never have let Shatner direct!” Honorable mention: “Feed him to the clam!”
Movie: (1984 TV episodes; 1991 combined movie) An occidental ninja and his mush-mouthed pal help a feisty union organizer, and then help stop a gang of international terrorists.
First shown: 1/25/92
Opening: J&tB are an Improv group
Invention exchange: The Mads have invented a conveyor belt buffet, while J&tB have created a (hopefully) self-perpetuating hamster habitat
Host segment 1: The bots design their own custom vans
Host segment 2: Crow is General Timothy Van Patton
Host segment 3: Tom has a new subroutine that allows him to pair detectives with their appropriate pets
End: Joel shows off the Van Cleef dress-up doll and reads a letter; Frank makes a heartfelt plea for the return of “The Second Hundred Years”
Stinger: Lee! Take it easy with the hamster!
• And so season three comes to a close with a middling effort. This one has some stretches with solid riffing, and other stretches that are less strong. It has one of my favorite host segments and some forgettable ones. All in all, it will pass the time, but it’s nothing remarkable.
• In the “improv group” bits, there’s a lot of jargon only professional comedians who have done improv would know (“going to your where,” “you negated me”, “yes, and”). I think a lot of ordinary folks would hear that stuff and go “huh?”
• I’m guessing the hamster-loving hero of the movie led to the idea for Joel’s invention, while the conveyor belt in the canning factory sparked the Mads’ invention.
• The two episodes in this movie were “State Of The Union” (which originally aired Feb. 3, 1984) and “Hostages” (which aired Feb. 10, 1984).
• Again, Joel makes a special mention of Michael Sloan. I suspect Joel knew him in his California days.
• As they’re digging the grave in the movie, Crow goes completely off the rails with his Cryptkeeper impression. Joel and Tom are ready to kill him.
• Who made those van illustrations?
• “MENDOZAAA!!” is a nice little nod to “The Simpsons.”
• It’s pretty clear the Brains cut the movie for time, and the cuts were so noticeable they felt the need to have the bots mention the edits.
• Callbacks: Several “Hikeebas” and “Charles Moffet: feared not” (Ring of Terror); “Ator! No!” (Cave Dwellers) Ya got me! (Catalina Caper).
• Segment 3, where Tom pairs detectives with appropriate pets, is a classic, the kind of sketch that made MST3K so beloved: Clever, well-written and off the wall.
• Tom does a great little song at the end.
• At one point, BBI was talking about doing “Master Ninja 3.” Cooler heads prevailed, I guess.
• Tom yells “FOUCAULT!!!” at the end of the episode–hope the censors didn’t have a fit.
• Cast roundup: Robert Hoy also appears in “Revenge of the Creature” and “The Mole People.”
• CreditsWatch: Additional contributing writer: Mike Gandolfi; additional special thanks: St. Paul Harley Davidson (not sure why).
• Fave riff: “The wizard’s not in!!” Honorable mention: “It’s great we can joke about now that his hips are crushed.”
Next week: “Poopie” & “Poopie 2″