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Sampo & Erhardt

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Visit our archives of the MST3K pages previously hosted by the Sci-Fi Channel's SCIFI.COM.

Goodbye Sci-Fi

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

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MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000
THE UNOFFICIAL EPISODE GUIDE


SEASON FIVE: COMEDY CENTRAL, 1993-1994


Episode guide: 501- Warrior of the Lost World

Last modified on 2016-04-01 07:58:21 GMT. 159 comments. Top.

0501
Movie: (1983) A nameless hero and his talking motorcycle fight an evil dictator in a post-apocalyptic world.

First shown: 7/24/93
Opening: Servo attempts a formal welcome but Crow rattles him
Invention exchange: The Mads demonstrate the Square Master, J&tB show Bittersweet Hearts
Host segment 1: Joel retrofits the bots to be slot cars, but Tom still needs some work
Host segment 2: J&tB put on a sketch: The warrior tries to get a driving permit
Host segment 3: J&tB discuss things you could do after the apocalypse
End: J&tB get a phone call from Megaweapon, Joel reads a letter, the Mads enjoy an active lifestyle
Stinger: The Paper Chase Guy checkin’ out Persis
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• This episode has its moments, I’ll give you that. The movie is all over the place, from the whiny, chipmunk-cheeked hero and his air-headed onboard computer, to the squeaky spiders, to guerrilla leader Jimmy Carter/Ronnie Cox, to hapless Persis Khambata, to perhaps Donald Pleasance’s creepiest performance (and that’s saying something), to the “Road Warrior” rejects, to the raw star power that IS Megaweapon. The riffing is solid for the most part, and the host segments are decent. It doesn’t quite add up to a classic for me, but, yes, it has its moments.
• This episode is in included in Shout!Factory’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XVI.”
• The stretch between the end of season 4 and the beginning of season 5 was 168 days, the sixth-longest amount of time MSTies had to wait between episodes.
• That said, longtime fans will recall that, although this is episode 501, it is NOT the first episode shown in season 5. That honor went to episode 502- Hercules, which aired a week before this one. Why? They’ve never said, I don’t think, but my guess is that the Comedy Central suits decided the Hercules movie was a more marketable opener. In any case, as we’ve done in the past, we go by episode number.
• I wonder who Dickie Schnable is.
• Joel’s bittersweet hearts invention has since come true. You can now buy little chalky hearts that say all sorts of weird things.
• Joel makes what I always thought was an astute observation: that the afterlife would be a little like Ellis Island. I’d never thought about it like that…
• Callback: “Ator? Tong?” (Cave Dwellers) “Old Time bus driver Billy Slater…” (Junior Rodeo Daredevils) Crow mentions “Hangar 18” “He hit Big Jake” (Sidehackers). “I Accuse My Parents.”
• How are they controlling the robots during the slot car host segment? Are puppeteers crouching under the track?
• Everyone loves that bit during the movie when Joel and Tom Servo get into a little dual-riff that is, I guess, a parody of Robitussin commercial–one I don’t remember ever seeing. Maybe that’s why I don’t find it as hilarious as everybody else seems to…
• It’s nice to see Tom Servo forthrightly admit that they never bothered to write an ending to bit in segment 2–having movie sign happen is a little like when Monty Python “drops the cow.”
• I believe this episode contains the very first reference to then newly elected President Bill Clinton.
• Do you think that the odd, pointless little comments of the onboard computer were the inspiration for the bittersweet hearts invention?
• Persis Khambatta’s character gets called Natasha and Nastasia, depending on who is addressing or referring to her.
• Then-topical: The “woo-woo-woo” thing audiences of the Arsenio Hall Show did.
• Probably my favorite moment of the episode is toward the end when the camera does that long pan of all the revolutionaries celebrating and Tom Servo has a celebrity name for every single one. Amazing and hilarious.
• That’s Mike, it hardly needs saying, providing the voice of Megaweapon. The raport all the actors have with one another at this point in the show is really remarkable.
• Cast & Crew roundup: Cinematographer Giancarlo Ferrando also worked on “Devil Fish.” Make up person Otello Fava also worked on “Danger: Diabolik” and production designer Massimo Antonello Geleng also worked on “Devil Fish.” In front of the camera, we’ll see Donald Pleasance again in “The Pumaman.”
• CreditsWatch: The writers list is now: Trace Beaulieu, Paul Chaplin, Frank Conniff, Joel Hodgson, Bridget Jones, Kevin Murphy and Mary Jo Pehl (Michael J. Nelson is still head writer). Contributing writers: Colleen Henjum, Jim Mallon. Host segments directed by: Trace Beaulieu. New credit–Utility Infielder: Patrick Brantseg (which I think means Patrick started getting paid for what he was already doing). Hair and make-up: Andrea J. DuCane (she will do it for all but five episodes this season). New interns: Stephanie Hynes, Peter Keffer, Michael J. Sheehan and E. Jane Shortt.
• Fave riff: “Heeeeyyeee, it’s the crazy Guggenheim museum!” Honorable mention: “They love it when he signals a left turn!”

Episode guide: 502- Hercules

Last modified on 2015-11-21 01:06:34 GMT. 110 comments. Top.

Movie: (1957) Hercules helps Jason, the true king, wrest the throne away from pretender Pelias and his son Iphitus, while wooing the lovely Iole.

First shown: 7/17/93
Opening: J&tB “wing it” with the intro
Invention exchange: The Mads demonstrate the cellular desk, J&tB demonstrate Instant Karma
Host segment 1: Tom has updated the constellations for the ’90s; Crow disapproves
Host segment 2: Crow and Tom want to know about Hamilton Joe Frank and Reynolds
Host segment 3: Crow valiantly performs a solo version if the ‘Match Game’
End: The bots discuss Amazons, then some visit on the Hexfield; Frank is now at the desk
Stinger: “It’s like something out of a bad dream!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• Pardon if it seems like I’m channeling Leonard Maltin, but I’d give this one two-and-a-half stars. The host segments are fair at best, and the movie is so cut up that it’s almost impossible to follow. It has its moments, but the episode is a bit frustrating.
• This episode was included in Shout!Factory’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XXXII.”
References.
• It’s clear that the Brains chose to make most of their cuts at the commercial breaks, but the result is that half the time the characters are in the midst of one plot development before the commercial, and by the time we get back they’re somewhere else entirely. Important plot information was apparently cut as well. Why does the floor make a sound when Jason crosses it? We’re never told, but it seems an important point to everyone in the movie. How does Herc go from retrieving a discus to fighting a lion? No idea. How do Herc and his pals escape the Amazons? One minute they’re being fed sleeping potions and watching dancers, after the commercial break they’re back on the ship. You almost have to treat each of the eight movie segments separately. The riffing is good, and they have plenty of weird stuff to work with, but I’m afraid this episode is less than the sum of its parts.
• This was a widescreen movie, but in this print we see about half of the screen at any moment. It’s not even pan-and-scan. It just sits in the same spot no matter what’s happening on the screen.
• Callbacks: “Where is the sampo??!” (Day the Earth Froze) “Hey, its’ Commando Cody!”
• As noted in the previous writeup, despite being episode 502, this was the first episode shown in season 5. In the previous writeup, I offered a guess as to why.
• During the invention exchange, the third “instant karma” bag leaks. They keep going.
• Many of the riffs in this episode were used in that MST3K program for Windows 3.1 somebody created. For those who weren’t computing then, it put shadowrama at the bottom of your screen and played one of only about 15 quick sound bites every so often. It got very old very fast and, worse, it turned out to be a very invasive program that was hard to remove. Anybody remember that?
• The first host segment is clever but creating modern constellations that make about as much sense as the old ones do is really not an original idea. That said, they put a great spin on it.
• Arcane reference: something is said to resemble a Jim Dine sculpture.
• Tom Servo channels every naughty third-grader with: “Claude Balls, ladies and gentlemen…”
• Note the completely unremarked-upon box of Capt’n Ron cereal sitting on the desk in the second segment.
• If you’re wondering, they were a trio, Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds, composed of Dan Hamilton, Joe Frank Carollo and Tommy Reynolds.
• One I don’t get: When the Amazons surround our heroes and raise their arrows, Crow says, in a very stilted voice, “even the archers are beautiful!” What the heck?
• The Match Game bit, while funny, is another one of those “huh?” sketches.
• One of the cleverest bits comes right at the end, as they sit through the closing credits and Tom explains what happened to the characters after the story. Pretty funny stuff, but why do they sit through the credits when large chunks of the film were excised?
• Mary Jo makes her first physical appearance on the show, and Bridget makes her first appearance since season three, as the Minnesota amazons.
• Cast and crew roundup: Many of the same people also worked on the sequel “Hercules Unchained,” including American executive producer Joseph E. Levine (who also brought you “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”), director Mario Bava (who also directed “Diabolik”), director/screenwriter Pietro Francisci, screenwriters Ennio De Concini and Gaio Frattini, editor Mario Serandrei and score composer Enzo Masetti. Executive assistant Massimo DeRita also worked on “Puma Man” and art director/set designer Flavio Mogherini was the art director on “Diabolik.”
Similarly in front of the camera, Steve Reeves, Sylva Koscina, Fabrizio Mioni, Mimmo Palmara (who also appears in “Hercules and the Captive Women), Gabriele Antonini, Andrea Fantasia, Aldo Fiorelli, Gino Mattera, Willy Colombini, Fulvio Carrara and Aldo Pini were all in “Hercules Unchained.” In addition, Ivo Garrani was also in Hercules and the Captive Women and Luciana Paoluzzi was also in “The Green Slime.”
• Creditswatch: Host segments directed by Kevin Murphy. Hair and makeup by Clayton James (one of only two times this season).
• Fave riff: “Stay away from their powerful hind legs!” Honorable mention: “It’s the Andrea Dworkin memorial cemetery!” “Do you have a reservation for Hercules? It might be under Heracles…”

Episode guide: 503- Swamp Diamonds (with short: ‘What to Do on a Date’)

Last modified on 2015-11-21 15:31:20 GMT. 108 comments. Top.

Short: (1951) Young Nick hopes to ask schoolmate Kay for a date, but can’t think of a venue.
Movie: (1956) Four women (including one undercover cop) break out of prison, with a plan to recover a cache of stolen diamonds.

First shown: 7/31/93
Opening: Crow and Tom are obsessed with the ‘Spock in love’ episode of “Star Trek”
Invention exchange: The Mads present the U-view, J&tB demonstrate the Andrew Lloyd Webber grill
Host segment 1: Tom has decided that he wants to date Gypsy
Host segment 2: Tom calls Gypsy to ask for a date
Host segment 3: Tom and Gypsy go out on a date, briefly
End: Tom thought the date went well, Gypsy dumps him, Joel reads a letter that upsets Tom, Frank is still watching himself
Stinger: “Ssssssssshut up!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• This is one of those episodes where the short pretty much overwhelms the movie that follows it. The same thing happened with “War of the Colossal Beast,” which was almost completely swamped by “Mr. B.” The short is just so precious and silly, and the movie is so slight and ephemeral (despite some very good riffing) that tail wags the dog, as it were.
• This episode appeared on Rhino’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 10” (and 10.2).
• Callback: Shut up, Iris! (The Beatniks); “To be like the Cor-Man…” (Robot Monster)
• Watch carefully during the “U-View” bit: Both Frank and Dr. F reach about six feet to take things from each other. A great blink-and-you-missed-it, unremarked-upon sight gag.
• We spend that entire invention exchange looking at the back of an old-style CRT TV, dating the whole sketch.
• The ST:TOS episode Joel calls “the Elias Sandoval episode” (and which we refer to in our episode guide as the “Spock in Love” episode) was in fact called “This Side of Paradise.” I’m not going back, Jim!
• Mike “Touch” Connors was born Kreker Ohanian. So “Touch” doesn’t sound so bad after all.
• Naughty riff: “Beverly can handle a Johnson, can’t she?”
• The “Baywatch” bit during the “U-View” invention exchange is kind of an expansion of a throw-away gag Tom Servo did in the previous episode: “Don’t get drunk and swim under the dock.” Doodly-doodly-doodly… “I’m drunk and swimming under the dock!”
• The previous time around, I asked if anybody could identify the guitar Joel is playing in segment 1. A couple of people told me it was a copy of a Stratocaster, probably a Yamaha. The song he was singing was Neil Young’s “Old Man.”
• Gypsy seems a little grumpy in this one. She’s usually more easy-going.
• Then-current reference: “The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag” (1992).
• I remember being bothered, the first time I saw this, about the “cutting off the legs of the pants” scene. I thought–“They’re in a mosquito/tick-infested swamp and they want to expose MORE skin?? Are they crazy??” Then I saw them in shorts and I forgot about all that… :grin:
• Let’s keep in mind: a snake was shot and killed — on camera — in the making of this movie.
• When BBI cleared out of the studio after the show was cancelled, they held an auction designed, mostly, to sell off office furniture and the like. But Barb says there was a bit of confusion that day, and among the things offered for bid were boxes of video tapes, most of which had unedited rough footage of host segments (sometimes three or four or five takes of the same segment, so you can see them trying different line readings) and a few aborted theater sequences where they got started and then stopped for some reason. One of the tapes included some stuff from this episode. BBI was a little embarrassed that these tapes made it into circulation. A lot of it was recovered, but some stuff has been copied and shared a bit.
• Check out this list of Touch’s other possible names from Ward E.
• Cast and crew wrapup: Director Roger Corman also gave us “It Conquered the World,” “Teenage Caveman,” “Viking Women,” “Gunslinger,” “The Undead” and was executive producer on “Attack of the Giant Leeches,” “High School Big Shot” and “Night of the Blood Beast.” Cinematographer Frederick West also worked on “It Conquered the World,” “Gunslinger” and “The She-Creature.” Editor Ronald Sinclair also worked on “Viking Women,” “The Sea Creature,” “The Amazing Colossal Man,” “Earth vs. the Spider” and “War of the Colossal Beast.” Makeup person Carlie Taylor also worked on “Daddy-O.” Production manager Bartlett Carre was production supervisor on “The She Creature.”
In front of the camera, Beverly was, of course, also in “It Conquered the World” and “Gunslinger.” Lou Place was more often behind the camera: he directed “Daddy-O,” was assistant director on “The Undead” production manager on “It Conquered the World and “Agent for H.A.R.M.” Jonathan Haze was in “It Conquered the World,” “Teenage Caveman,” “Viking Women” and “Gunslinger”. Ed Nelson was in “Teenage Caveman, “Night of the Blood Beast,” “Riding with Death” and “Superdome.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Joel Hodgson. And he’s not in the credits, but that’s Mike doing the “Baywatch” voices, of course.
• Fave riff from the short: “Kay has worked on the kill floor. She knows where to deliver the blow.” Honorable mention: “The sensuous pagan ritual begins.”
• Fave riff from the movie: “Let’s just stand here and jut some more.” Honorable mention: “As we left the clam flowage that day…”

Episode guide: 504- Secret Agent Super Dragon

Last modified on 2016-04-21 14:19:18 GMT. 137 comments. Top.

Movie: (1966) A report of drugged chewing gum in Michigan sends a suave super agent to Amsterdam to investigate a sinister crime organization.

First shown: 8/7/93
Opening: Crow and Tom build a robot, who soon becomes annoying
Invention exchange: Frank demonstrates virtual comedy until Dr. F. programs in a few hecklers, J&tB demonstrate micro-golf
Host segment 1: Joel, Crow and Tom are a jazz trio playing the “Secret Agent Super Dragon” theme
Host segment 2: J&tB read through Crow’s latest screenplay: “The Spy Who Hugged Me”
Host segment 3: J&tB discuss spy movie post-kill puns
End: Dr. F.’s holds a super-villain conference call
Stinger: Jumping the Super Dragon, with xylophone accompaniment
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• I don’t watch this one often, but when I do, it always surprises me all over again. It’s really a solid episode. The host segments are clever and the riffing is very good. My biggest gripe is the awful awful condition of the print.
• This episode is on Rhino’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000, Vol. 12.”
References.
• Minsky the robot is an actual vintage toy, and that is what it really says. BBI named him Minsky in honor of artificial intelligence guru Marvin Minksy.
• Tom invokes “WKRP in Cincinnati” with the mention of “Chy-chy Rodragweez.”
• Callbacks: “I killed that fat barkeep.” (The Beatniks) Also: “Any talent to declare?” (Warrior of the Lost World), a mention of Ward E (Stranded in Space), “…but there was no monster” (Monster A-Go-Go).
• Joel wears his glasses in segment 2, which tells me he’s actually reading his lines off that script.
• Then current: “Herb from Burger King.” Also: “I ate the last Frusen Gladje.”
• Naughty riff: “We’ll be covering you from behind.” Crow: “You’ve been in prison too long.”
• Plot question–why did the bad guys choose a college town in Michigan to test their drug, when it’s fairly clear all their operations are in Europe? I don’t think the movie ever says.
• Frank is great in the ending segment, humming: ” …I sing whenever I sing…” and doing the exact minimum required to assist Dr. F. “Eagerly.”
• A very small cast and crew roundup: Set designer Arrigo Equini also worked on “Danger! Death Ray.” In front of the camera, Marisa Mell was also in “Danger: Diabolik,” Carlo D’angelo was also in “Hercules Unchained” and Benito Stefanelli was also in “The Pumaman.”
• Creditswatch: Host segments directed by Trace Beaulieu. Clayton James does hair and makeup for the last time in season 5.
• Fave riff: “Emo, avec lute.” Honorable mention: “Remind your engineers to use coasters on me.”

Episode guide: 505- Magic Voyage of Sinbad

Last modified on 2015-11-29 04:09:24 GMT. 110 comments. Top.

Movie: (1952) A sea-going adventurer sets sail to find the bluebird of happiness, which he believes will help his down-on-its-luck hometown.

First shown: 8/14/93
Opening: J&tB are presenters and nominees at the SOL-tie awards
Invention exchange: The Mads present chin-derwear, while J&tB show off the rat pack chess set
Host segment 1: J&tB have a meeting of the Junior Jester Club
Host segment 2: J&tB are the bearded town council debating the Sinbad problem
Host segment 3: Crow’s lifelong quest thingy goes awry
End: The bots are amazed by Joel’s channel cat puppet, letter, Frank meets Mr. Fistie
Stinger: Laughing horse
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• Oh my, oh my, oh my, what a wonderful episode. An all-time fave. Everything works, everything clicks. Great invention exchanges, great host segments, great riffing and a well-shot, expensive — albeit weird — movie. Despite my personal attachment to “The Day the Earth Froze,” I have to say this is the best of the Russo-Finnish movie episodes.
• This episode was included in Shout! Factory’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XX.”
• You gotta assume the opening is perhaps a reflection on their “always a nominee, never a winner” TV award history.
• Both inventions, chin-derwear and the Rat Pack chess set, are not just clever, they are downright witty.
• That’s Mike, of course, attempting Frank Sinatra. He doesn’t sound much like ol’ Blue Eyes, but he has the intonation down pretty good. In any case, as we approach the switch in hosts, Mike is seen and heard more and more.
• He’s not Sinbad, and director Aleksandr Ptushko never intended him to be. But when this Soviet-financed film was released to American audiences, the lead character was given the name “Sinbad” in hopes of fooling American moms and dads, who, the American importers knew, would never allow their kids to see a movie made by commies.
• Comedy Central used this episode for a contest: viewers were asked to write in and guess what the riff would be after Morgana (or whatever her name was) said “You seem troubled.” The correct answer was: “Have some Prozac.” The winner was a lady in New Jersey named Susan Schneider (she’s at the beginning of this collection of ’93 Turkey Day bumpers) who was on, I forget, either Prodigy or AOL. The prize was one of those god-awful giant-screen rear-projection TVs that were unaccountably popular at the time (and five grand, which was pretty sweet, even if the ridiculous TV took up half the space in her rec room). She threw a party and invited some of the folks she knew on line for the weekend — a decision she came to regret, but that’s another story for another day. I’m sure that behemoth she won is moldering in a landfill somewhere now.
• Crow the jester is carrying the little mini Crow last seen in the possession of Sir Giggles Von Laughs-a-lot.
• Again, the writing in the Junior Jester Club sketch is off-handedly brilliant.
• J&tB are still wearing jester hats when they enter the theater after the first segment. Also, Crow has no net for a lot of the riffing.
• Arty reference: “I can’t tell if that’s a Magritte or a hole in the wall.” Did Magritte do many giant frescos?
• Odd riff: “…and a tetherball.” What’s that about?
• Too-harsh riff?: “Jell-O tonight!”
• Did anybody else notice a similarity between the creepy laughing horse in this movie and the creepy laughing reindeer in “Santa Claus”?
• As if the segments up to this point haven’t been great, the second sketch is a riot, maybe one of their best. It even has an ending! “I wanna be the Labor MP from Brixton!”
• Callback: “Tom Stewart killed me!” (Tormented), “Please give my best wishes to everybody!” (Minsky the robot in last week’s episode) “A sampo?” (Day the Earth Froze), “Hikeeba!” (Women of the Prehistoric Planet).
• This is one of those episodes with some theater business: First Joel and Crow drift off under the spell of the magic bird, then off goes Crow on his lifelong quest thingy. I love how Crow flies in from above upon his return. I guess Jef Maynard or somebody was up on a ladder next to the riffing chairs?
• Obscure reference: the infant of Prague.
• The movie was already really strange, but in the last 15 minutes it really gets goofy.
• Gypsy seems a little hungry in the final segment.
• Firesign Theatre reference: “Those eyes! Weird!”
• There are not one but two uses of “wha happa?” in this episode.
• And just to finish things off, the appearance of an instant classic bit, Mr. Fistie!
• Cast and crew roundup: Some of the same folks worked on “The Sword and the Dragon,” including cinematographer Fyodor Provorov, costumer Olga Kruchinina, art director Yevgeni Kumankov and actors Sergei Stolyarov, Yelena Myshkova and Sovol (a.k.a. Sergei) Martinson. Actor Mikhail Troyanovsky was also in “The Day the Earth Froze.” And of course Alfred Pusco a.k.a. Aleksandr Ptushko, also directed “The Day The Earth Froze” and “The Sword and the Dragon.”
• CreditsWatch: Andrea J. DuCane is back for a 14-episode run doing hair and makeup. Host segments directed by Kevin Murphy.
• Fave riff: “And stock up on socks! You know, you’re never gonna have this chance again!” Honorable mention: “Is this really the best away team he could have chosen?”

Episode guide: 506- Eegah

Last modified on 2015-12-05 15:49:12 GMT. 148 comments. Top.

Movie: (1962) A teen girl, her weird-faced boyfriend and her scientist dad discover a cave man living in the desert.

First shown: 8/28/93
Opening: Crow has been frozen to nearly absolute zero!
Invention exchange: Rebuilt Crow is just like new; J&tB presents the Pork-orina, while the Dr. F replaces Frank’s blood with antifreeze
Host segment 1: J&tB consider subtle forms of hell
Host segment 2: The bots alter Joel’s face to look like Arch Hall Jr.
Host segment 3: J&tB discuss why ’60s sitcoms are run by single dads
End: Washing the movie off the bots, Joel reads a letter, Frank gets a fluid change
Stinger: “Fake it.” “That’s what I’ve BEEN doing. Now I’m getting sick!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• We’re in a very good stretch of episodes here. This is another winner, following close on the heels of last week’s gem. Great host segments, great inventions, great riffing. Shtemlo!
• This was one of the first episodes released on DVD by Rhino, in April of ’00.
References.
• I always wondered what the “porkorina” instrument really was. Commenters informed me that it is a bass harmonica, aka a bass harp.
• Then-current reference: While doing his Cryptkeeper impression, Crow mentions the now-forgotten cable series “Dream On.”
• Callbacks: “Glen was 50 feet tall!” (War of the Colossal Beast), “The Torgo school of fondling,” “To live like the hu-man” (Robot Monster—also a mention of the Robot Monster set) “Durn smoochers!” (Attack of the the Eye Creatures) “He tampered in God’s domain” (Bride of the Monster), “Giant Gila Monster.”
• Segment one, is another pithy, brilliant sketch, one that assumes a certain level of sophistication on the part of its viewers. It’s classic MST3K.
• I hate to tell Joel, but maybe the reason he didn’t see anything in the papers about Charley Weaver dying is that Charley’s real name was Cliff Arquette.
• After having referenced “Last of the Mohicans” with the classic “Stay alive! Whatever may occur! I will find you!” line in the last episode, they go ahead and do it again…and then they do it again!
• The second segment, while not as witty, is a great example of the sort of Looney Tunes silliness they often did well.
• Crow is once again netless following the second segment, as he was in the previous episode.
• There is very little that needs to be said about this travesty of a movie, since it’s been thoroughly examined many times, but it’s worth saying again, as so many have before, that the scenes in the cave, with Roxy’s dad cheerfully suggesting she give in to Eegah’s romantic advances — particularly the horrifying shaving scene — are the very dictionary definition of the term ”icky.”
• This is an episode that launched so many catchphrases, from “Stop saying ‘whee!’ Nobody says ‘whee!’” to “My tires are filled with water!” to “Watch out for snakes!” to “Shtemlo!”
• “Wha happa!” is used twice.
• Joel again invokes Gregg Toland, the cinematographer for “Citizen Kane,” because a shot shows a ceiling.
• Arty reference: Keith Haring.
• Cast and crew roundup: associate producer/editor Don Schneider worked on “Incredibly Strange Creatures,” screenwriter Bob Wehling was an actor in “Revenge of the Creature,” cinematographer Ray Dennis Steckler directed “Incredibly Strange Creatures.” He also appears in the movie as the guy who gets thrown into the pool at the end. Sound recorder Sam Kopetzky also worked on “Girl in Gold Boots” and score composer Henri Price worked on “Incredibly Strange Creatures.” In front of the camera Richard Kiel was also in “The Human Duplicators” and “The Phantom Planet.” Carolyn Brandt was also in “Incredibly Strange Creatures.”
• CreditsWatch: Contributing writer Colleen Henjum becomes Colleen Henjum-Williams. Host segments directed by Joel Hodgson.
• Fave riff: “Sit down, pie face, it’s a long list.” Honorable mention: “That little satchel will be the death of him.” “Poor shovel. Didn’t ask to be in this movie.”

Episode guide: 507- I Accuse My Parents (with short: ‘The Truck Farmer’)

Last modified on 2015-12-06 15:00:37 GMT. 169 comments. Top.

Short: (1954) A look at the then-new techniques that enabled farmers to rush produce to market.
Movie: (1944) Ruined by — but in astonishing denial about — his boozy, carousing parents, a neglected essay-contest-winning young man gets involved with gangsters.

First shown: 9/4/93
Opening: Tom Servo is naked!
Invention exchange: The Mads present cake ‘n’ shake, and Frank bakes the exotic dancer right into the recipe; J&tB demonstrate the junk drawer organizer
Host segment 1: Joel analyzes the bots’ art therapy projects
Host segment 2: J&tB reenact the night club scene from the movie
Host segment 3: J&tB analyze troubled Jimmy from the movie
End: The bots try to reenact the cafe scene from movie to scam a hamburger, Joel reads a letter, the Mads are digging out Rodney
Stinger: “What? What’s so funny?”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• Another in a string of wonderful episodes. The movie is a little bland, but the riffing is great. And, you know, I begin to suspect that, for any given episode you can sort of tell whether the movie held their interest and sparked a lot of discussions and ideas or whether their minds were wandering, based on how much the host segments have to do with the movie. You can tell they were really following the movie this time. I watched this on a big screen (with Joel sitting next to me) a few years ago and the audience was simply roaring with laughter all the way through.
• Early versions of the Rhino packaging of this episode had a small goof. It lists the episode number as 424. It got fixed in later printings.
• Great line: “How many times have you gone rootin’ through your junk drawer muttering to yourself ‘Where’d I put that gun?’” Toward the end of the movie, our hero roots through the junk drawer in the hall table of his parents’ house, looking for a gun. Think that moment may have been the inspiration for this host segment?
• Now, duck news! Here’s Hugh McQuacken! They do the “quacking” gag five times, and it gets funnier each time. For those who don’t get it (and I remember that every time this show aired, a number of people would post questions online asking, “Why were they quacking?”), look at the wall of the hallway outside the door.
• The short would be incredibly depressing if not for the riffing. As it is, it’s still a LITTLE depressing.
• Sam Newfield did NOT direct “Jungle Goddess” as Joel says when his credit appears. He DID, however, direct the movies in episodes 103- The Mad Monster, 208- Lost Continent and 520- Radar Secret Service. He also directed the infamous “Terror of the Tiny Town,” the all-midget Western. Again, this was the era when you couldn’t just look stuff up on the then-fledgling, Usenet-based IMDB. What could have led them to have made that mistake? I’ll bet it has something to do with the use of the phrase “hamburger sammich with French-fried potatoes,” which is used in this movie and in “Jungle Goddess.”
• In the previous episode Crow was shattered. This week Tom gets painted. They really started doing stuff to the bots in this period.
• Then somewhat current reference: Joe Bolster. Joel is an admirer.
• Host segment 1 is, um, quirky, and only vaguely movie-related. Peggy Cass is an odd element.
• Segment 2 is a riot, especially Joel’s takes to the camera. I think it works so well because it comes IMMEDIATELY after the actual movie sequence. Nice to see Gypsy was willing to go along. Also, listen for another “wha happa!”
• I love the PA announcements J&tB do during the second song. “Cheese fries are up!”
• Another VERY movie-focused sketch in segment 3, and very funny.
• Obscure reference: the religious TV show “Insight.” I remember watching that a little, but to me they always felt like defanged “Twilight Zone” episodes.
• Some people wondered why Anne Blythe’s name is written on the tank. I suspect they’re just trying for World War II authenticity.
• I remember that somebody in the AOL MSTie forum – or it might have been on RATMM – had an idea for a MSTie cookbook. My submission was a hamburger sammich with French-fried potato garnish, complete with handgun on the side and a required trip to church every Sunday.
• That’s Brad Keeley as Rodney in his first on-camera role.
• Cast and crew roundup: As noted above: director Sam Newfield also directed “Mad Monster,” “Lost Continent” and “Radar Secret Service.” Special effects (?!) guy Ray Mercer also worked on “Lost Continent,” “Radar Secret Service,” “Last of the Wild Horses,” “The Sinister Urge” and “The Beast of Yucca Flats. Art director Paul Palmentola also worked on “Teen-Age Crime Wave.” Set designer Harry Reif also worked on “Radar Secret Service.” “Women of the Prehistoric Planet” and “The She-Creature” and was assistant director of “Gunslinger.”
In front of the camera, super-hottie Mary Beth Hughes was also in “Last of the Wild Horses.” Edward Earle was also in “The She-Creature.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Trace Beaulieu.
• Fave riff from the short: “Texans!” Honorable mention: “A pre-teen is put to work; her beauty will soon fade.”
• Fave riff: How do ya like my swingin’ church, son? Honorable mention: o/` I knew I’d go from rags to riches… o/`

Episode guide: 508- Operation Double 007

Last modified on 2015-12-12 15:44:54 GMT. 146 comments. Top.

Movie: (1967) A famed plastic surgeon/hypnotist/championship archer, whose brother is a “top agent,” is recruited to stop a villain and his scheme involving radioactive rugs.

First shown: 9/11/93
Opening: Tom is enjoying Joel’s home movies; Crow is scared
Invention exchange: The Mads show off Frank’s Lederhosen-hosen, Crow has invented Sara, the bobbin’ buzzard
Host segment 1: Joel’s is an evil supervillian! “I know!”
Host segment 2: J&tB parallel the lives of Sean and Neil
Host segment 3: While Joel tries to hypnotize Tom, Torgo returns in Deep 13
End: Dr. F. uses his magnetizer, much to J&tB’s dismay
Stinger: Mr. “Thunderball” pushes the button
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• When I converted my ancient VHS tapes to DVD, the one containing this episode was the only one that failed to function. A pal of mine (now, sadly, no longer with us) provided me with a fresh copy. Thanks, buddy. (The last time around, this item led to a discussion of my rickety computer set up. If you’re interested, I did eventually get that mac mini — which, about a year later, died one morning and I had to get a newer one, which is working splendidly, thank you — but I am still struggling with slow and spotty Verizon DSL.)
• This episode appears in Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XXV, as “Operation Kid Brother.” They had to use the alternate title to get the rights.
References.
• This is episode is fun, and funny, but I don’t love it quite as much as the previous couple of shows. The host segments are hit and miss, for one thing. But an even bigger problem for me is that I never understood the bad guy’s plan. Or is it plans? The last time through I pointed to this site, which does a pretty good job of explaining what the heck is going on, but even he gets confused.
• I previously claimed that this is the first mention of swing choir. A commenter proved me wrong.
• Frank really commits to the lederhosen bit. You have to wonder how they felt doing some of those bits, without any audience to tell them if it was hilarious or dreadful. In the absence of feedback, they just committed.
• The Bobbin’ Buzzard is a lovely prop. Kudos to Jef Maynard or whoever was responsible.
• This movie may very well have the greatest theme song of any MSTed movie.
• Callbacks: “Hooray for Santy Claus!” (Santa Claus Conquers the Martians). Tom does the “That must be one of those [fill in noun here]s I’ve heard them talk…about…so…much…lately…” bit twice (Gamera). “There WAS no Yashuko.” (Monster-A-Go-Go). “To see your land!” (Magic Voyage of Sinbad).
• Obscure reference: “Michael, I want all the episodes of Captain Nice burned.”
• If you think this was Neil’s one and only film role, you’re mistaken. He was also in “The Body Stealers” in the 1970s, then he “retired” for a while, but ten years later he returned to movies and has been working intermittently since then. Once you get show bidness in the blood…
• Literary riff: “She thinks she’s in Dresden during the war.”
• The Rodney King incident is still on the writers’ minds.
• Joel makes a rare entrance through the “G” door in the first segment. This segment is a good example of what I call an “aren’t they adorable” sketch. It only works because, at this point, all Joel has to do is look at the camera and arch an eyebrow and we laugh. If you showed this sketch to somebody with no knowledge of the show or its performers, they’d be probably be baffled as to what’s funny about it. But fans who know and love the characters get it. I think it’s hilarious.
• Kevin really tapped into his Catholic upbringing during the nun scene.
• Crow does his Phyllis Diller impression twice, using the same line: “I’m looking for Fang!” (Fang was an invention of Diller’s from her standup days: a boorish husband she could mock. The reason he does it is because the lady’s wacky hat looks like something Diller might have worn in those days.)
• Segment two reminds me of one of those long, over-written, complicated sketches from season two. But you can sense Mike Nelson’s influence: it makes reference to a cheese factory.
• During the weird hijacking scene, Tom notes that the melody in the score sounds very similar to the classic kids’ hymn “Jesus Loves Me.” But what’s interesting is that this mockery displeases Joel, who makes him stop singing it.
• The last time around, I wondered why Beta wants to kill his own henchbabes. A commenter set me straight and this time I realized that Beta himself explains this during the party scene. I must have missed it in a previous viewing.
• Mike returns, eight episodes later, as Torgo. With the lag time these episodes had, I’m guessing the Brains had only recently picked up on the rave reviews from fans about “Manos.”
• Yet another “wha-happa?” “Wha happa” is to season 5 what “I thought you were Dale” was to season 8.
• Dr. F. is nice and evil in the closing segment. Oh, and nice job of building the magnetizer, which looks a LOT like the one in the movie. This was one of those prop-heavy episodes Jef Maynard talked about in the documentary about the show.
• Cast and crew roundup: Director Alberto de Martino also directed “The Pumaman.” Scriptwriter Frank Walker also wrote “Devil Fish.” Costumer Gaia Romanini also worked on “Hercules.” Score composer Ennio Morricone also provided music for “Diabolik.”
In front of the camera, Adolfo Celi was also in “Diabolik.” Lois Maxwell did voice work for “Invaders from the Deep.” Guido Lollobrigida was also in “The Pumaman.”
• Host segments directed by Kevin Murphy. Manager of Business Affairs Heide A. LeClerc becomes Heide A. LeClerc-Becker. Alpine horn provided by: Josef Diethelm. (Diethelm was the front man for a Twin Cities polka band.)
• Fave riff: “Do I have enough time to beat up the band?” Honorable mention: “Oh, who’s the sign for?”

Episode guide: 509- The Girl in Lovers Lane

Last modified on 2015-12-13 01:01:29 GMT. 129 comments. Top.

Movie: (1960) A whiny runaway is befriended by a world-weary drifter, but the duo’s arrival in a small town spells trouble for a local waitress.

First shown: 9/18/93
Opening: Tom and Crow are retrofitting themselves with bellybuttons; Joel approves
Invention exchange: The Mads present evil baseball promotions, Joel presents “Don Martins”
Host segment 1: J&tB sing “What a Pleasant Journey”
Host segment 2: The bots want to reenact the pool hall scene
Host segment 3: Crow is Crow Elam
End: Furious about the ending of the movie, the bots devise new endings, Joel reads letters, Frank devises endings too
Stinger: “Are you waiting for a bus?”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• This is what I used to call a “little” episode. The movie has a very narrow scope. The host segments are fun but nothing spectacular. The riffing is decent but workmanlike. It’s good, not great. But, like practically every episode, it has its moments…
• This episode is included on Shout’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XV.
• Once again they’re doing stuff to the bots in the opening segment. This time it’s belly buttons. I do love the way Joel thinks it over and decides to go for it.
• Something I never noticed before: In the opener, when they turn on the electric drill, the lights dim a little for a second. A great subtle little touch.
• The baseball promotion invention exchange is as dark as Frank predicts it will be, at least for any baseball fan. I’m old enough to remember when my dad took me and my two brothers to “bat day” at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia: every kid got an actual regulation wooden bat, and yet we behaved. I suspect there’d be mayhem in the stands if they did that today.
• Why does Joel’s jumpsuit come equipped with ONE kneepad?
• One of the best things about this episode is the songs. The song Tom makes up to go with the movie’s theme during the credit sequence is just marvelous. Joel and Crow add a line or two, but of course it’s dominated by Tom.
• This episode also features the “Camera three get off the tracks!! Arrgghhh!” sequence, which was later used in promos for the show.
• The other great song: “What a pleasant journey.” What can you say? One of the funniest songs of the series. The impression they’re doing, by the way is sort of a vague Woody Guthrie.
• The Mary Jo influence: Mentions of Appleton and Circle Pines.
• Callbacks: o/` “Leather coat…” o/` (The Beatniks) “To live like the E-lam…” (Robot Monster) “You’re stuck here!” (Fugitive Alien)
• One I didn’t get lat time around: Her neck looks like Randy Johnson’s. Commenters explained it to me.
• Elam does look like Garrison Keillor, which they point out at least twice.
• There are several references to the “This Side of Paradise” Star Trek episode again.
• Crow notes that Jack Elam was a fine character actor, “and for all I know he still is.” He was indeed still alive when this episode first aired … not so much now, sadly. He passed in 2003.
• I lost count of the “Carrie, you’re so very…” riffs, which did NOT get funnier with each iteration. For those who have no idea what it’s about: Check it out here.
• Yes, the truck driver does look a little like Gene Kelly, if you squint. I counted SIX riffs to that effect.
• The bots are upset about the ending of the movie in the final sketch, and there is also some outrage expressed in the ACEG, but J&tB don’t seem that upset in the theater when Carrie’s brutal and completely undeserved murder actually occurs.
• Cast and crew roundup: Art director Dan Haller also worked on “Attack of the Giant Leeches” and “Night of the Blood Beast.” Set designer John F. Burton also worked on “12 to the Moon” and “High School Big Shot.” Score composer Ronald Stein also worked on “It Conquered the World,” “Attack of the the Eye Creatures,” “Gunslinger,” “The Undead” and “The She-Creature.” In front of the camera Brett Halsey is also in “Revenge of the Creature.” William Coontz is also in “Bloodlust,” and Patricia Dean” is also in “Beginning of the End.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Joel. The music for “The Train Song” a.k.a. “What a Pleasant Journey” was by Michael J. Nelson; the lyrics are by Frank Conniff.
• Fave riff: “This is a great date. I always wanted to be nuzzled by a hobo.” Honorable mention: “Did his head just turn into a big sucker?”

Episode guide: 510- The Painted Hills (with short: ‘Body Care & Grooming’)

Last modified on 2016-06-02 20:48:43 GMT. 123 comments. Top.

Short: (1947) College students are reminded that they need to bathe and wear clean clothes if they hope to get some.
Movie: (1951) In 1870s California, a loyal collie witnesses the murder of a gold prospector.

First shown: 9/26/93
Opening: The bots are putting on their own version of “The Tonight Show”
Invention exchange: Dr. F presents the cholester-do all, J&tB demonstrate back-talk
Host segment 1: Crow and Tom debate the messy woman in the short
Host segment 2: Reports on bearded guys include Crow’s paper on Rutherford B. Hayes
Host segment 3: Crow is crushed into an ingot
End: J&tB discuss is Lassie is guilty of murder, Dr. F. tries to revive Frank
Stinger: Naughty girl goes into the shower
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• It was certainly a bold move, picking this movie, and westerns are always fun to riff, even westerns like this one, that do it doggy style. But I have to put this in the “good not great” category, something like the previous episode. The movie’s just a little too good (I actually got caught up in the story), while the riffing and segments are hit and miss.
• This episode was included in Shout’s Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Turkey Day Collection (aka Vol. XXXI).
• Unlike practically all the other episodes, there are no free versions of this episode on YouTube, although you can rent it for $3.99. (Oops, since I wrote that, one appeared. Never mind.)
References.
• In the opening bit, I know Joel is just setting up Crow’s last punchline, but you can’t get sued for making fun of Congress. Kinda ruined the joke for me.
• A Youtube clip of the opening bit was often linked to as a way to disparage Leno during the great Leno/Coco wars. Leno hasn’t changed much.
• The actual prop Frank is wearing around his neck during the invention exchange is kinda cool. “Eee-kay-gee, does it work great!”
• Then-current reference: short-lived TV show “Delta.”
• The short seems to be aimed at college students. Did they really show this sort of thing in COLLEGE? Did college kids in the 1950s really need to be told to shower occasionally?
• That moment in the short where the movie moves backwards and Tom does the backward talking–do you think that’s what sparked the “Back Talk” invention?
• Segment 1 is MST3K at its best, witty, wise and fun. Love the reference to “Scoop Jackson Democrats and Jacob Javitz Republicans.” Those are pretty much gone.
• “Pile-On Pete” was an instant sensation in the message boards following this episode. As was the line “Snausages!”
• This movie was a Lassie rarity. In most Lassie movies, Lassie is a female character that was generally played by male dogs. But in this case, the character of Shep, a female, is actually played by a female dog.
• Segment 2 goes on a little long, but there’s some good stuff there. I like how you can hear Tom say “Rutherford B. Hays!” as Cambot is halfway down through the movie sign door.
• Callback: “Smoochers on mah property!” (Eye Creatures) “Sampo!” (Day The Earth Froze.)
• Segment 3: well, they’re doin’ stuff to the bots again. Funny puppet, though.
• Crow says “Thank you for extruding me” (like a little kid thanking his grandma for an itchy sweater he’ll never wear) as they enter the theater…
• The ending bit in Deep 13 is great: I love the food popping out of Frank’s mouth as Dr. F gives him CPR.
• A rarity: the stinger is from the short, rather than the movie.
• Cast and crew roundup: This movie has very few connections to the other movies. Makeup guy William Tuttle also worked on “Girls Town.” In front of the camera, Ann Doran was also in “Kitten With A Whip.
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Trace Beaulieu.
• Fave riff from short: “And look at that sidewalk!” Honorable mention: “Those … nose!”
• Fave riff from the movie: “First thing I’m gonna do is buy me a montage!” Honorable mention: “Oh for the want of a Frisbee!”

Episode guide: 511- Gunslinger

Last modified on 2016-06-09 14:38:49 GMT. 93 comments. Top.

Movie: The widow of a murdered sheriff attempts to clean up the crime in her small town with help from the man hired to kill her.

First shown: 10/9/93
Opening: Tom goes “Ka-Boom!”
Invention exchange: The Mads show off the scanner planner, J&tB demonstrate new whiffle items
Host segment 1: J&tB imagine their funerals
Host segment 2: The Gypsy Express
Host segment 3: Tom demonstrates quantum linear super-positioning
End: The ’70s: A pretty foul decade, Joel reads a deep-fried letter, Dr. F. scans Frank!
Stinger: “What about our clothes?”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• Well, here we go, the penultimate episode, the last regular episode before big changes occur. I generally like this one. Corman always brings out the best in them, and while it isn’t a slam dunk, it’s pretty consistently entertaining. Good not great.
• This episode is on Rhino’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 6.
• Did Gypsy mean to throw the dice onto the floor behind the desk or was that a goof?
• Jim blows a line in the opening bit. They keep going.
• The opening bit is downright hilarious, a brilliant melding of attitude and great prop building.
• I love how Frank does the classic Harpo Marx “gookie” when being “scanned.”
• Dr. F. says this is their first western. Doesn’t “The Painted Hills” count?
• Callback: “I’m a Grimault warrior!” (Viking Women)
• Segment 1 is great. It’s kind of a funeral for the Joel years (at least it feels that way to me) and it’s got great writing. However, is it my imagination or is everybody a little short with each other in this sketch? I may be imagining things.
• Segment two: meh. It goes on a little too long. Oh and: peanut butter and Dijonnaise?? Ew!
• This one has one of the season’s funniest running gags: the riffs about the doors that open the wrong way. They just get funnier.
• Joel seems to lose patience with the movie about two thirds the way through. “Man, this movie is just sitting on my head and crushing it.”
• I forgot this episode has a “I thought you were Dale”!
• Crow wasn’t far off when he said Corman did “Swamp Diamonds” on Tuesday and this on Friday. The movie actually had a seven-day shooting schedule. Among the problems on the set: John Ireland and Beverly Garland were attacked by red ants during their romantic tree-sitting scene, Beverly twisted her ankle and it became so swollen that her boot had to be cut off, and Allison Hayes broke her arm falling off a horse.
• Segment 3 is one of the best of season 5, witty and intelligent, but not too talky.
• We are entering the “Honey” period of this show—the epoch when everyone was calling each other “honey” constantly. There are at least four instances in this ep.
• I imagine they had a ton of letters to Joel laying around, that they wouldn’t be able to use any more. Deep frying them seems like a nice bit of closure.
• Cast and crew roundup: Okay, it’s a Corman, and he loved to use the same people, so strap in. In addition to Roger, screenwriter Charles B. Griffith also worked on “It Conquered the World” and “The Undead.” Screenwriter Mark Hanna also worked on “The Undead,” “The Amazing Colossal Man and “Terror from the Year 5000.” Cinematographer Frederick West also worked on “It Conquered the World,” “Swamp Diamonds and “The She-Creature.” Editor Charles Gross also worked on “It Conquered the World.” Assistant director Harry Reif was a production designer for “Women of the Prehistoric Planet,” and a set designer for “The She-Creature,” “I Accuse My Parents” and “Radar Secret Service.” Score composer Ronald Stein also worked on “It Conquered the World,” “The Undead,” “The She-Creature, “Attack of the the Eye Creatures” and “The Girl in Lovers Lane.” Choreographer Chris Miller also worked on “The Undead.
In front of the camera, Beverly Garland is also in “It Conquered the World” and “Swamp Diamonds.” Allison Hayes was also in “The Undead,” “The Crawling Hand” and “The Unearthly.” Jonathan Haze was also in “It Conquered the World,” “Teenage Caveman,” “Viking Women and the Sea Serpent,” and “Swamp Diamonds.” Bruno VeSota was also in “Attack of the Giant Leeches,” “The Undead,” “Daddy-O” and “The Wild, Wild World of Batwoman.” William Schallert was also in “Invasion USA” and “Hangar 18.” Dick Miller was also in “It Conquered the World” and “The Undead. Chris Miller was also in “The Undead.” Aaron Saxon was also in “The Undead.” Paul McGuire was also in “Radar Men from the Moon.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Joel Hodgson, his last one. Additional writer: Timothy Scott.
• Fave riff: “Oh, rut like crazed weasel. You?” Honorable mentions: “Most people are morally ambiguous, which explains our random dyin’ patterns” and “Come out!”

Episode guide: 512- Mitchell

Last modified on 2016-06-16 14:18:18 GMT. 232 comments. Top.

Movie: (1975) A slovenly cop is determined to bring a mob kingpin to justice.

First shown: 10/23/93
Opening: Joel’s unveils his toothpicky creation; the bots know what they have to do
Invention exchange: The Mads are being audited, so they’ve hired a temp by the name of Mike; J&tB present the Daktari stool
Host segment 1: Gypsy overhears the Mads plotting and thinks they’re talking about Joel
Host segment 2: A worried Gypsy tries to think of a way to get Joel off the SOL; Crow and Tom are no help
Host segment 3: Mike learns of a hidden escape pod, and gives Gypsy control
End: Joel is ejected into the escape pod, leaving behind a plaque and a final word; Dr. F. is furious … until Mike presents his time card
Stinger: “Your lying through your teeth!” “Buzz off!” “No, you buzz off!” “I SAID BUZZ OFF, KID!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• It all starts so normally. Just another episode, right? Wrong. This is, of course, the most famous of the show’s “transition” episodes, and I’ve seen it perhaps a dozen times now. What sticks out is how well the whole thing falls together. There’s a lot going on here, but it’s all accomplished in about 15 minutes. Tight scripting, tight performances, tight editing, it’s a marvel of precision. It’s sentimental, but it doesn’t get mawkish. And it’s very funny all the way through.
• This episode was first put out as a single-disk release on November of 2001.
References.
• You want a metaphor? How about Joel building an extremely fragile creation, certain in the knowledge that it will be destroyed? Now, that’s a metaphor.
• Mike makes his first appearance as, well, Mike. Wow is he young. (Recently I saw a movie starring a young Tab Hunter, and I’d never noticed before how much a young Mike and young Tab vaguely resemble each other. Maybe it’s the square heads.)
• The Daktari stool sat in the hallway of BBI for years. It was still there when I visited the set in 1999.
• What does Joel have against Harlan Ellison? Besides the obvious, of course…
• Segment 1 features a parody of the scene in “2001: A Space Odyssey” in which computer Hal reads the lips of the astronauts. Interesting that “2001” is again parodied in another transition episode at the end of season seven.
• Segment 1 is pretty much as close to Dr. F and Frank as most of us will ever get. I remember some female fans of Trace rather enjoyed it.
• Jim does a great job in segment 2. “Breathe through your nose”?
• I love the moment when Mitchell says: “Sh—.” and Joel finishes his line with: ‘…ugar?”
• Want a connection from this movie to the Robert Blake murder case? Sure, we all do! Gary McLarty and Ronald (Duffy) Hambleton, both of whom testified against Blake when he was accused of killing his wife, had small roles in this movie. McLarty played one of Mistretta’s henchmen and Hambleton played mob boss Edmondo Bocca, who gets dropped by Mitchell just short of the green. Both testified that Blake explicitly discussed killing his wife. But, unfortunately for the prosecution, both of these guys had somewhat checkered pasts. Blake’s defense team successfully undermined the credibility of both witnesses, introducing evidence of mental illness, drug addiction, etc. In the end, their testimony may have actually helped Blake get off.
• Not mentioned in the references list, because they only do references during the movie and not during the host segments, is the “OPE” thing Gypsy is muttering. It’s a reference to the movie “Dr. Strangelove.”
• The presence of that Christmas tree in John Saxon’s house — and pretty much no other references to it being Christmas — is one of the many odd things about this movie.
• Joel seems to lose it during the “Adam Rich” scene. (Actually, the kid is played by a Todd Bass, in his second and last role in show business, according to the IMDB. It would be fun to find Mr. Bass, who must be in his 40s by now, to see what he remembers of this shoot. By the way, according to Wikipedia the kid is supposed to be the son of Linda Evans’ character! Who knew?)
• Then current reference: the forgotten movie “Cop and a Half.”
• Hamdingers suddenly took over the MSTie consciousness after this episode, but it was funny how Gypsy and Mike (and, by extension, BBI) seemed very clear on what Hamdingers were … but nobody else seemed to be. It was hard to nail down just what they were, and descriptions seemed contradictory. Some said the Swift-Premium folks made them (I believe Kevin invoked Swift Premium during an online chat). Not true. At long last, I can point to this site, which seems to solve the mystery at last.

Hamdingers were a short-lived meat product produced by the Patrick Cudahy Co. out of Cudahy, WI, in the mid ‘70s … The product was sliced ham patties, about the size of a hamburger patty, and it came in a round can. Like Spam, it became a great meat to fry up with some eggs for breafast, but the great thing about Hamdingers is that it came in individually sliced portions, so you could grab a patty and fry it up for that perfect Hamdinger sandwich.

The entry doesn’t mention that they were reportedly great fish bait as well.
• I love that DOS command Mike has to type in to the “techtronic panel” (apparently this was the one and only time that the control panel in Deep 13 was called this).
• Movie comment: Toward the end of the movie, Mitchell inserts a portion of his handkerchief (there’s a lesson, kids!: always remember to carry a handkerchief; you never know when you might want to blow up a drug dealer’s car!), then screws the gas cap back on over it, so that the rest of the handkerchief is hanging down. He then drives to the meeting place and when the deal goes south he, all in a split second, whips out a lighter, lunges forward and holds the lighter to the handkerchief, which INSTANTANEOUSLY lights up. Now maybe, just maybe, the tank was very, very full and the handkerchief got nice and soaked with gasoline on the ride over. But the tank might also have been mostly empty, meaning the handkerchief could have been bone dry. That seems far more likely, doesn’t it? Which would mean it would have taken maybe ten seconds for Mitchell to light it, plenty of time to stop Mitchell. What I’m saying is that it seems unlikely that the handkerchief would immediately burst into flames in a fraction of a second like it does here. The whole thing is about as implausible as a young, sultry callgirl falling in love with Mitchell.
• Callbacks: Several references to “Eegah”; reference to rock climbing.
• Toward the end of the movie, we get Joel’s last bit of fatherly control during the bit where Tom and Crow get a bit dark and suggest Mitchell should turn the gun on himself.
• Naughty riff: “I’m huge.”
• I love the classic, low-tech use of confetti to simulate static in the Hexfield. Very Joel.
• When fans on the internet weren’t obsessing about Hamdingers, they were arguing about the correct pronunciation of “Lao” as in “Dr. Lao.” The consensus was that Joel blew it.
• Tom and Crow fall apart during the PANIC, but I think this may be one time it was on purpose.
• I love Mike’s expression as Dr. F and Frank laugh about his fate.
• Cast and crew roundup: Sound mixer Herman Lewis also worked on “Teenage Caveman,” “Viking Women and the Sea Serpent and “Night of the Blood Beast.” Score composer Jerry Styner also worked on “The Side Hackers.” In front of the camera, Buck Young also appears in “Stranded in Space,” Rayford Barnes also appears in “Beginning of the End,” Jim B. Smith also appeared “San Francisco International and Alan “Mustang hood” Gibbs did stunts for “Hangar 18.” And, of course, Joe Don Baker also stars in “Final Justice.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Kevin Murphy. Jim Mallon is listed as a contributing writer for every episode in season 5 except this one, where he is listed as an “additional writer.”
• Fave riff: “We’re going to control the ghetto, you and I, young man.” Honorable mention: “BABY OIL??? NOOOO!!!!”

Episode guide: 513- The Brain that Wouldn’t Die

Last modified on 2016-06-23 13:22:53 GMT. 174 comments. Top.

Movie: (1959) When a doctor’s fiancee is decapitated, he keeps her head alive in his laboratory and tries to find her a new body.

First shown: 10/30/93
Opening: Mike’s been in training for his first movie
Invention exchange: Mike presents the gutter-bumber-shoot, The Mads demonstrate the dream buster
Host segment 1: Mike tries to get control of the SOL, but nothing doing (that’s not cheese!)
Host segment 2: M&tB first project together: designing hats for Jan in the pan
Host segment 3: Mike, Crow and Tom discuss the movie’s hateful message; Mike shares an embarrassing moment from his past
End: A visit from Jan on the Hexfield; Dr. F. is inspired!
Stinger: “Who’s to tell me to blow if I don’t want to?”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• A fair-to-good first show for Mike. Horrible movie, great riffing, but many many changes to the forumla.
• This was one of the two episodes that was first released as singles by Rhino, in April of 2000, their first two MST3K titles.
References.
• I spent most of October 30, 1993, in Edina, Minn., at the home of a very nice lady named Debbie Tobin, with a lot of oddly dressed people I’d never met before. Thereby hangs a tale.
For the previous two Thanksgivings, Comedy Central had paid Best Brains to create short film segments — called “bumpers” in showbiz lingo — that would link one episode to another in its annual “turkey day” marathon. But in 1993, for reasons that will never be understood, I guess, Comedy Central asked BBI to make the bumpers for free. BBI told CC to pound sand. So, CC was forced to look elsewhere for its bumpers.
Now, at the same time, Debbie, who was a regular poster at MST3K bulletin board on the Prodigy online service, had announced she was throwing a Halloween costume party on the day of Mike’s first episode. Somebody at CC saw her posting and asked her if they could send a video crew to film it and make bumpers out of the footage. Debbie agreed, and was (wisely) told to keep it a secret, and most of the people who showed up had no idea the camera crew was going to be there.
Thus on the appointed day I, and about 35 jolly people from all over the country, were in Debbie’s house, in costume. It was the first time Erhardt and I had met, and there were a couple of other people there who I’m still good friends with all these years later.
(And let me just take time out from this story to say that if you were there at MSTieween, please drop me a line and let me know how your life is going.)
We managed to finish up filming just before 5 p.m. local time, when this episode was to debut. Shouting “movie sign!!” we rushed to the basement and the den, where TVs were set up so we could watch. And that’s where I was when the Mike era began.
• There is a LOT to take in here, right off the bat. New theme song lyrics, a new theme song singer, a new robot roll call and a new door sequence, all in about two minutes. It was breathtaking at the time.
• One of the new doors in the door sequence looks vaguely like a pizza. This was a cute reference to the fact that many fans claimed that one of the Joel-era doors made a sound that sounded like somebody saying “pizza!”
• According to BBI, Gypsy says “I’m not ready!” It sounds to me like “Hi from me!”
• Crow and Tom have been “training” Mike using “The Beast of Yucca Flat” [sic]. I think this is only the second time they mention a movie that they would later riff — the other one being “Marooned.” There’s also a mention of “Night of the Lepus,” a movie they SHOULD have riffed.
• Is Tom wearing a Temple University cap? Sure looks like their “T.”
• Right out of the box, Mike is intentionally different from Joel. In an interview that I did with Jim at about this time, he said (I’m paraphrasing from memory here) “I never quite understood why Joel’s character is so polite and deferential to the Mads. They trapped him in space! Why is he being nice to them?” Thus we have an immediately rebellious Mike, who scoffs at being expected to “hop to.” Radical!
• I love the use of the “Flint phone” sound effect with Dr. F’s invention. The world would later hear it in the Austin Powers movies too.
• Another great “Mike as newbie” moment comes when moviesign arrives — and Mike has no idea what to do. He then fails to carry a humiliated Tom into the theater. Crow explicitly mentions the air grate.
• Segment 1 is our first real taste of interaction between Mike and bots. They seem to be getting along okay, but it’s clear the bots have abandonment issues. Can bots have “issues”?
• I gotta say that this movie is pretty harsh for Mike’s first experiment. It is easily the most misogynist movie they ever did (and that’s saying something). The scene where our “hero” goes trolling for bodies is particularly dark.
• Callback: “Back to the ‘Unearthly’ set.” “Mitchell!!”
• At one point, Tom says: “Not with RADAR!” Huh? We won’t get “Radar Secret Service” for seven episodes. Is it a reference to that? Had the Brains already seen it as part of the selection process? Maybe that was a riff that came from Frank, the previewer.
• Segment 2 is fun, a bit a throwback to season 3, when Joel was forever giving the bots assignments and projects.
• Mike is still wearing the lazy susan hat when when they re-enter the theater.
• Tom does a little Flash Bazbo.
• Segment 3 seizes another opportunity have fun at the new guy’s expense, but also has some wonderful assessments of the movie.
• Great running gag in this one: AHH! I’M IN ANOTHER DIMENSION!!
• Cast and crew roundup: Just one item this time: Makeup man George Fiala also worked on “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.”
• CreditsWatch: Joel’s name comes off the “art direction” credit, leaving Trace and Jef. Skyline Displays Inc. (the company that offered them the space that would become their studio) comes out of the “Special Thanks” credit, as does the credit for Mark Gilbertson. The “Executive Producers: Jim Mallon, Joel Hodgson” credit comes out completely. David Sussman is added to the list of writers for the rest of the season. Host segments directed by Trace Beaulieu. For the rest of the season, the theme song credit says: lyrics: “The Brains.” Jim Mallon is back in the list of contributing writers (his name was removed in last week’s credits) and will be for the rest of the season. And of course that’s Mary Jo, hilariously depicting Jan in the pan.
• Fave riff: “Hahahaha…have you seen Frankenhooker?” Honorable mentions: “…with a Milwaukee Sawzall.” “If Jack Ruby owned a Denny’s.”

Episode guide: 514- Teen-Age Strangler (with short: ‘Is This Love?’)

Last modified on 2016-05-31 09:02:45 GMT. 132 comments. Top.

Short: (1957) A college couple rushes into marriage, while another couple is taking their time.
Movie: (1964) In a West Virginia town, a newly arrived family is at the center of a series of murders.

First shown: 11/7/93
Opening: Mike tries to phone his grandma
Invention exchange: Dr. F shows off the Frank-n-forcer, M&tB demonstrate the waiter-baiter
Host segment 1: M&tB ask: What is love?
Host segment 2: Crow and Tom want to rumble, but Mike intervenes
Host segment 3: Crow and Tom have a gadget that will make Mike act like Mikey
End: Song: “I’m a Janitor;” Dr. F. cleans up after Frank
Stinger: “And he didn’t steal no bike neither … I did!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• And so the show tries to settle into a new routine, and largely succeeds. The movie is plenty riffable and the memorable riffs are plentiful. The host segments are still a little awkward, but the show ends on a real high note. It’s a sign of good things to come.
• This episode is included in Rhino’s Vol. 10.
• Why is Mike calling his grandma? Not his parents? Not his brother Eddie?
• That’s Mary Jo as the voice of Mike’s grandma; that’s Kevin as the voice of the waiter-baiter.
• Mike channels his TGIFridays days with the waiter-baiter invention.
• Once again we get a short apparently aimed not a grade-schoolers, or even high-schoolers, but college students. I wonder when, exactly, college students stopped listening to mental hygiene movies with 30-year-old Romulans playing the students. Still, the message of the short — take your time, let your parents give you a house — is a good one, perhaps even more so today.
• RiffTrax would later riff “How Much Affection?” which is plugged in the short’s closing credits.
• In the first segment, it’s amazing how many of those celebrity romances are no more: almost all of them. I guess that was the point, but I’m still impressed by their accuracy rate.
• What’s the deal with John Humphries, who plays Mikey? At the first Conventio-Con, he explained. He said was a complete novice to acting when the film was made, and that he took his acting cues from Jo Canterbury, the actress who played weepy girlfriend Betty, whom he knew was from New York and had some acting experience. Thus, as her performance became more teary and shrill, so did his.
• The movie was filmed in, and stars many of the residents of, Huntington, WV. The real sheriff even played the movie sheriff. As one reviewer put it, “The effect is of a small town putting on a high school play about a serial killer.”
• During the introduction to the immortal “Yipes Stripes” number, M&TB try to come up with the dirtiest band names they could get away with, including The Cramps, The Buzzcocks and The Butthole Surfers. I think at the time they were just looking for band names that were good punchlines, but all those bands are now considered pretty important.
• “Yipes Stripes” is a real earworm. I’ve been unwillingly humming it for days.
• We get a nice look at Crow’s legs in second segment, which is otherwise pretty forgettable.
• In this episode they began using something different from the traditional five-second shot of the spinning spaghetti ball when they went to commercial. The bits show closeups of Deep 13. In the first one, the camera focuses in on a datebook that gives the episode number and the name of the movie In the second, the camera pans along a workbench in Deep 13 and stops on a beaker labeled with that info. In the third, we see a blackboard with that info, then what looks to be a big spitball then hits the blackboard.
• In the theater, Servo whistles. Hmmm…
• Segment three is fun, though it goes on a little too long…and why “rime”?
• Mike and Tom are already in the theater after segment three, and Crow enters still wearing the Mikey glasses — and therefore talking like Mikey.
• Callbacks: “Cornjob!” (Gamera v. Guiron). “The Master wants you but he can’t have you.” (Manos) [Note: Mike does that one.] “You can flip any chick in the house.” (Brain That Wouldn’t Die) Also, references to “Eegah” including “Watch out for snakes!” “Mr. B Natural is in one of those lockers!”
• One thing about Mike in these early episodes (and I think somebody in the comment thread last week mentioned this) is that he seems unwilling to actually yell when the line calls for yelling. Instead he sort of whisper-yells. He sort of simulates yelling, though he’s not actually raising his voice. As he got more comfortable in the role, that kind of faded away, but it’s pretty noticeable in these early ones.
• We get another “whu-happa?”.
• The show ends with Mike’s first song as host, and it’s a winner. Mike sang it in the live show at the first conventio-con as well.
• This movie was largely made by, and featured, people who had never made a movie before and would never make a movie again. Hence, no cast and crew roundup this week.
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Kevin Murphy. “The Janitor Song”: Music by: Michael J. Nelson and David Sussman. Lyrics by: Frank Conniff.
• Fave riff from the short: “A big VISA bill!”
• Fave riff: “Fortunately, the Higgins Boys and Gruber were on the scene.” Honorable mention: “Looks like mom has won some dirt track trophies.”

Episode guide: 515- The Wild Wild World of Batwoman (with short: ‘Cheating’)

Last modified on 2016-06-11 16:58:14 GMT. 199 comments. Top.

Short: (1951) A high school student is caught copying his test answers from another student.
Movie: (1966) Revealingly-clad crimefighter Batwoman is on the case after villains Ratfink and Professor Neon steal an atomic hearing aid.

First shown: 11/13/93
Opening: Mike is the dealer, the game is blackjack
Invention exchange: Frank has invented an atomic-powered hair dryer, Mike shows off his razor-back
Host segment 1: Mike assigns essays to answer the questions raised by the short
Host segment 2: The bots write essays, but Crow cheats!
Host segment 3: Mike, Tom & Gypsy meet to decide what to do about Crow
End: Crow responds to the charges against him, Mike reads a letter, Dr. F. likes his new atomic hair style
Stinger: A batgirl puts the bite on the wormy guy
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• This is one of those episodes where people tend to say “not even the riffing made it bearable.” To them I say: Pah! Lightweights! :-) The movie IS crushingly horrible, though. Every scene is interminable, the séance scene in particular. The movie belongs in the top (or, rather, the bottom) five on the list of most awful movies. The pain is all the more unbearable because, like “Catalina Caper” and a few other experiments, there are moments when the movie wants to be funny. Ugh. Still, I think it brings out the best in the riffing. The segments are mostly one story line, but it leads up to a great finish, and a special moment for me.
References.
• This title was originally released by Rhino as a single; and the original packaging had a goof: On the back was a photo of Joel. It was more recently re-released as a single by Shout.
• I think you can mark this episode as the point where the invention exchange concept begins its inevitable decline. As explained in the FAQ, there is both an “on-screen” reason and an “off-screen” reason why this happened. On-screen: the invention exchange was a form of greeting between Gizmonic Institute employees. Since both Dr. F. and Joel were both former Gizmonic Institute employees, it was the first thing they did each episode. But Mike never worked for Gizmonic (he was a temp hired directly by Dr. F.) and so he knows nothing of Gizmonic’s corporate culture. Mike would therefore not understand what an invention exchange was about and Dr. F. would see no point in exchanging inventions with him. Off-screen: the invention exchanges were mostly Joel’s doing. He was the gizmo guy. When he left, all the air went out of the concept. In this episode, the Mads’ invention is downright strange and Mike’s is only fair (although, to be fair, Joel had a lot of mediocre ones too).
• The short is a gem, SO serious and dark that it really brings out the riffing gold.
• Mike brings popcorn into the theater! I don’t think he ever did again.
• “You’re opening, Jeff’s middling and I’m the headliner,” is a car conversation the writers probably had in their standup days.
• There’s not much to say about the first segment, since it basically lays the groundwork for what’s to come, or the second one, which advances the story.
• Callbacks: “He didn’t steal no bike, neither!” (Teenage Strangler) “I am the north wind…” (Day the Earth Froze)
• Crow’s cheating causes some unusual meanness in the theater: Tom tells Crow to shut up a couple of times.
• I love all the Bob Hope-style jokes: “Toccata and WOW in D minor!”
• Are those scenes really from “The Mole People”? Are they in the version shown in season 8? I forget.
• The third segment contains a moment that is very important to me. It’s the moment Mike won me over. At this point, I still was not entirely sure about Mike. He was growing on me, but, well, I just didn’t know. But he does something in the third segment—and I’m not sure it’s even intentional—that just endeared him to me immediately. Watch Mike’s expression as a disguised Crow arrives, bearing soup, in the midst of the discussion. Mike sees Crow and puts on a completely guileless smile, warm and delighted at the prospect of a nice mustachioed gentleman offering soup. It’s just such a funny and genuine expression. It cracks me up every time I see it. It was at that moment that Mike completely won me over.
• Mike expresses a desire to hunt down Jerry Warren. Unfortunately, Jerry passed on in 1988.
• In the final segment, watch Mike sniff the Hostess Snowballs, make a face, and put them back on the plate.
• Cast and crew roundup: Cinematographer William Troiano also worked on “The Slime People.” In front of the camera, Steve Brodie is also in “Giant Spider Invasion.” And of course, the great Bruno VeSota is also in “Daddy-O,” “Gunslinger,” “Attack of the Giant Leeches” and “The Undead.”
• Creditswatch: Bridget Jones switches from writer to contributing writer for the next three episodes. Host segments directed by Jim Mallon.
• Fave riff from the short: “Oh, hi, Miss Granb–AHHHHHH!” Honorable mention: “That you, student counselor??”
• Fave riff from the movie: o/` “Yes, the devil made this movie for you.” o/` Honorable mention: “Tethered to the mob!”

Episode guide: 516- Alien from L.A.

Last modified on 2016-06-18 11:55:51 GMT. 149 comments. Top.

Movie: (1987) An airheaded Valley Girl follows her explorer father to the center of the Earth.

First shown: 11/20/93
Opening: Boot camp at Fort Satellite O’ Love
Invention exchange: Dr. F demonstrates the vend-a-gut, M&tB have invented fridge udders (teats!)
Host segment 1: M&tB discuss that supermodel. What’s her name?
Host segment 2: M&tB sing: “My Wild Irish Ireland”
Host segment 3: M&tB introduce the “guess Kathy’s emotions” game
End: Nothing more to say about the movie, Mike reads a letter, in Deep 13, Frank still is dropping quarters
Stinger: “Yuck!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• This is a wonderful episode. Great riffs, great segments and a real departure of a movie. Dull surprise!
• This episode is on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. XXVI.
• References. http://www.annotatedmst.com/episodes/alienfromla/index.htm
• Speaking of “Mike won me over” moments (as we were last week), I had a good friend for whom Mike’s deranged “Hello, Joker!” greeting did the trick.
• Let me just say it: Teats! For several days after this episode, online MSTiedom was full of people saying “teats” just because they could.
• The desk on the bridge magically vanishes so they can do the “fridge tipping” gag.
• Mike does a little Joel-esque climbing around on the movie in the theater.
• This week’s non-spaghetti ball bumpers: pan across the lab to a beaker, pan down to the notebook, pan from globe to blackboard as roll of toilet paper flies by.
• I love the first segment, where the bots assume the personality of that out-of-it relative surely everybody has. Sounds just like my mother-in-law (God rest her soul). By the way, I think they were thinking of Paulina Porizkova.
• The bots are still wearing their outfits as they enter the theater after segment 2.
• Obscure reference not mentioned on the references page: Ballet Trockadero.
• I don’t really get why they keep saying Kathy has “big bones” Is it because she’s tall (Kathy’s 5’10”)? Usually “big bones” is a euphemism for “overweight,” which Kathy is not.
• The classic Dull Surprise sketch immediately launched a catchphrase.
• Mike reacts harshly to mention of “Captain Ron” and finds it necessary to lay down the law … justifiably, in my view.
• Callbacks: It’s Klandinctu! (Crash of the Moons) He’s the best! (Pod People). This to me is good TV. (Jack Perkins).
• Crow is very “helpful” (i.e. blathering inane factoids) quite a few times in the theater — causing Tom tell him to shut up repeatedly.
• As if there weren’t already enough classic bits in this episode, the “femmy movies” bit at the end is great fun. Nice way to distract from a long credit sequence, but several times they mention something called a “video store,” whatever that is.
• Cast and crew round up: Not a big one this week. Executive producer Avi Lerner also worked on “Outlaw.” Production designer Pamela Warner was an assistant art director on “Being from Another Planet.” In front of the camera, Russel Savadier is also in “Outlaw.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Trace Beaulieu. “My Wild Irish Ireland” written and arranged by: Kevin Murphy, Michael J. Nelson and David Sussman.
• Fave riff: “This whole room smells like my eyes!” Honorable mention: “Hey Count Chocula, clear the shot.”

Episode guide: 517- Beginning of the End

Last modified on 2016-07-22 12:32:19 GMT. 162 comments. Top.

Movie: (1957) A swarm of giant grasshoppers, inadvertently created by a radioactive experiment, heads for Chicago.

First shown: 11/25/93
Opening: During a group sing, M&tB get a wrong number
Invention exchange: The Mads present the re-comfy bike, M&tB show off their new playing cards
Host segment 1: Mike calls the Mads and catches them off guard
Host segment 2: Crow unveils his latest screenplay: “Just Plain Peter: The U of M Years”
Host segment 3: Tom’s standup routine is heavy on grasshopper jokes
End: The bots post-card, Bert I. Gordon special effects, Mads are boxing
Stinger: “Alright, men. Into the woods!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• This one’s a bit of a change of pace, literally: Bert I. Gordon slows things down and grinds out the filler thoughout a drab, monster-free first half — but that just leaves plenty of room for the riffs. Once the grasshoppers and Peter Graves arrive, things really pick up. The host segments are fun, especially Crow’s newest screenplay.
References.
• Mary Jo is VERY good at playing those trailer trash gals. Maybe a little TOO good. That’s Paul yelling in the background.
• The playing cards bit, which I think even they realized was a little wifty, would be parodied in season six.
• Some grasshoppers were harmed in the making of this movie: According to reports, the grasshopper wranglers started with 200 of the little guys. During the filming, they began to cannibalize one another, and by the time the last shots were done, only a dozen were left.
• When we started doing the Mike episodes, somebody in the comments said it was the beginning of an era when the Mads became more effeminate, and yeah, I guess there was a bit of an upswing of that kind of comedy. Segment one is a good example.
• Rhino really screwed the pooch on the packaging for this one: Joel’s picture is on the package and he is touted as the star. On the menus, you can hear Arch Hall Jr. croon “Vicky.” Bleah.
• Tom begins to sing a few bars of George Michael’s “Faith” before Mike and Crow threaten him.
• Callbacks: What would Mitchell do? “…sing whenever I sing…” (Giant Gila Monster) Trumpy! (Pod People)
• In the theater somebody who is not Mike coughs. I think it’s Kevin.
• Cast and crew roundup: I’m not going to recite the whole Bert I. Gordon litany. Screenwriter Fred Freiberger was the producer for the “Space: 1999” episodes that appeared in “Cosmic Princess. Cinematographer Jack Marta also worked on “Earth Vs. The Spider” and “War of the Colossal Beast.” Editor Aaron Stell also worked on “The Giant Gila Monster” and “Killer Shrews.” Flora Gordon also helped with special effects on “Amazing Colossal Man,” “Earth Vs. The Spider,” “War of the Colossal Beast,” “Magic Sword” and “Village of the Giants. Special effects guy Dean Duncan Parkin was an actor in “War of the Colossal Beast. Production manager James Harris also worked on “Amazing Colossal Man.” Art director Walter Keller also worked on “Earth Vs. The Spider” and “War of the Colossal Beast.” Sound guy Dick Tyler Sr. also worked on “Radar Men from the Moon.” Our old pal score composer Albert Glasser did music for too many movies to name.
In front of the camera, I’m not going to recite the Peter Graves litany again. Morris Ankrum was also in “Rocketship XM.” James Seay was also in “Amazing Colossal Man.” Hank Patterson was also in “Amazing Colossal Man” and “Earth vs. the Spider. John Close was also in “The Slime People” and “The Deadly Mantis.” Rayford Barnes was in “Mitchell.” Don C. Harvey was also in “Revenge of the Creature.” Larry J. Blake was also in “Teen-Age Crime Wave.” Eileen Janssen was also in “The Space Children.” Patricia Dean was also in “The Girl in Lovers Lane.” Peggie Castle was also in “Invasion U.S.A.” Pierre Watkin was also in “Radar Secret Service.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Kevin Murphy. This was Stephanie Hynes last episode as an intern. There’s a special item at the end: “Shot entirely in Minneapolis, home of the University of Minnesota.”
• Fave riff: “Look, we’ll move to the loop to Schaumburg!” Honorable mention: “Yeah, terrible. Martinis?”

Episode guide: 518- The Atomic Brain (with short: ‘What About Juvenile Delinquency’)

Last modified on 2016-07-03 21:45:49 GMT. 135 comments. Top.

Short: (1955) A teen gang member sours on his life of delinquency after his dad is mugged.
Movie: (1963) A rich, elderly woman wants her doctor to transplant her brain into the body of one of her young captives.

First shown: 12/4/93
Opening: M&tB have their final dress rehearsal for “Love Letters”
Invention exchange: M&tB are The Mads, The Mads are Crow and Tom Servo
Host segment 1: Tom is Weather Servo 9
Host segment 2: Mike demonstrates chin puppetry
Host segment 3: Magic Voice chats with the film’s voice-over guy
End: Crow is Hank Kimball–The Fugitive, Mike reads letters, “Dr.” Frank “consults” with Dr. Fist
Stinger: Spanish for “AAAAAAAH!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• Although the movie is icky, and slows to a crawl in places, there’s plenty to like about this episode: solid riffing and fun host segments. I’m going with “good, not great.”
• The original title of this movie was “Monstrosity.”
• This episode was included in Rhino’s The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 3. In 2011 Shout! Factory re-released it as a single.
• Bill wrote the ultimate sendup of “Love Letters,” called “Hate Mail.”
• Mike, Trace and Kevin (and the rest of the staff for that matter) have surely spent a lot of time around pretentious theater people. They parody them beautifully in the opening.
• This is an inspired invention exchange, as the show almost folds in on itself with self-parody.
• One of the notable mistakes in the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide was in the listing of this episode, when they forgot to note that this episode has a short. And what a short it is!
• Incidentally, this short was riffed again by RiffTrax in 2009, and I don’t think Mike and Kevin even realized they’d done it before. Maybe it’s just that forgettable.
• The scenes in the short that take place in the teen hangout are eerily similar to the teen hangout scenes in “Teenage Strangler.”
• The Rhino version only contains one non-spaghetti ball bumper: a pan to the blackboard which gets hit by giant spitball. Maybe there were more in the original episode?
• Segment 1 is the first time Servo’s been in space since the Demon Dog incident, isn’t it? Note the nice sizzle sound effect as Mike touches Servo after he comes inside.
• There was a guy on a local kiddie show when I was growing up in the Philadelphia area that used to do a chin puppet routine, so I was familiar with the concept. Had anybody else encountered chin puppets before this?
• Returning to the theater from segment 2, Mike casually tosses Tom into his seat, much to his dismay. (I assume Kevin was on his back on the floor waiting to catch him.)
• The “old” jokes come fast and furious. My favorite: “Maybe you can take a real long time to write a check somewhere!”
• In segment 3, Magic Voice has her biggest part yet and her first commercial sign countdown in a while.
• Callbacks “So klandinctu!” (Crash of the Moons) Mike (hey how does HE know that?) says ”Trumpy you can do magic!” (Pod People) “Looking for the ‘Manos’ set.”
• At last we learn what the K in MST3K stands for.
• Dr. Fist, last seen in episode 505- MAGIC VOYAGE OF SINBAD, returns to punch Frank yet again.
• One of the biggest controversies between Rhino and the fans (and BBI) arose when this volume came out, without the stinger. Best Brains said they were certain that the master they sent to Rhino had the stinger. Rhino representatives were equally adamant that there was no stinger on the master. Somebody’s lying. We may never know who. In any case, the recent Shout re-release has the stinger.
• Cast and crew round up: Producer Jack Pollexfen also produced “The Indestructible Man.” Associate prod/screenwriter Vy Russell also worked on “The Indestructible Man, as did assoc producer/screenwriter Sue Dwiggens. Score composer Gene Kauer also composed the scores for “Agent for H.A.R.M.” and “The Beast of Yucca Flats.” In front of the camera, Frank Gerstle was also in “San Francisco International. Director Joseph V. Mascelli was cinematographer for “The Incredibly Strange Creatures…”
CreditsWatch: After three eps as a contributing writer, Bridget Jones returns to the list of writers for the rest of the season. Host segments directed by Jim Mallon.
• Fave riff from the short: “And the Suez Canal incident!” Honorable mention: “I’m too noodly!” and “You boys aren’t movin’ the stuff very well!”
• Fave riff from the movie: “The Cat Suite from ‘Carousel.’” Honorable mention: “Well, so much for the ‘landing on your feet’ theory.”

Episode guide: 519- Outlaw (of Gor)

Last modified on 2016-07-10 00:10:41 GMT. 163 comments. Top.

Movie: (1987) A hero returns to the primitive planet Gor, and is soon caught up in palace intrigue involving an evil sorcerer.

First shown: 12/11/93
Opening: M&tB are roughhousing, and it doesn’t go well for Tom
Invention exchange: The Mads present their “really real” time machine, while M&tB show off their Fabio kit
Host segment 1: The bots find Mike’s theater scrapbook, and the photos all have something in common
Host segment 2: M&tB sing: “Tubular Boobular Joy”
Host segment 3: M&tB read relevant passages from “Palance on Palance”
End: Cambot puts together a compilation of buffalo shots!, while the Mads dance through the years
Stinger: “Get out of here, you disGUSting WOORRRRRM!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• I love-love-LOVE this episode. Great riffing, great segments, seriously wacky but very watchable movie. It’s also a great gateway episode for newbies. For a while it was my all-time favorite Mike episode.
• This episode was the one that was submitted to the Peabody Award people, and won them the award.
• This episode was released as a part of Shout’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection Vol. XXX.
• It’s hard to imagine Joel “roughhousing” with the bots the way Mike does here. Maybe that’s the point.
• Slightly irritating thing in the Mads’ invention exchange: the little signs say “60’s” and “50’s” and “40’s.” Those apostrophes are grammatically incorrect.
• Remember when Fabio mattered? Neither do I. Best line: “Even Janis Ian kneels at his altar.”
• Gypsy singing “I sing whenever I sing…” is the first of a boatload of callbacks in this episode. Others include: o/` “Harry Alan Towerrrrrs!” o/` (Fu Manchu), “Mah-mah-mah-mah-Mitchell (Mitchell), “They’re on the ‘Moon Zero Two’ set!” “Watch out for snakes!” (Eegah), a reference to the Warrior of the Lost World set, “Sampo…Sampo…” and “Want some?” “Thanks Daddy O.”
• Note that when Dr. F is in his caveman outfit, his Deep 13 patch is attached to his skin.
• Servo says, in a stupid voice, “Can we listen to Z-Rock?” I assume this is a local Minneapolis reference?
• Anybody ever play that Cabot drinking game? Did you live through it?
• I’ve eaten at the Perkins on 494.
• Non-spaghetti-ball bumpers: pan to beaker, pan to notebook, close up on film canister, focus on blackboard as what looks like beach ball goes by.
• The debut showing of this episode took place during one of those theme weekends Comedy Central used to have. This one was called “Radio Active TV” and they got radio DJs from around the country to do little bumper bits. For this episode, the DJs were Dave Rickards and Cookie “Chainsaw” Randolph from a station in San Diego. (In a past go-round, I noted that, “astonishingly for an industry where a run of a year or two on any one station is amazing, those two are STILL doing the morning show there 15 years later.” Since I posted that, they were abruptly — or, more accurately, typically, since all radio firings are abrupt — fired. Fans complained, the station held firm. They were out of work for a few months, then they got hired at a competing station in San Diego, where, amazingly, they STILL are.) For some reason, also present in the bits was actor Marc Price, who played Skippy in the ’80s sitcom “Family Ties.” His presence was never explained. And, for some reason, Rickards and Randolph were under the impression that the movie being watched was the Howard Hughes classic film, “Outlaw.” It made them seem pretty clueless.
• Segment 1 is probably the least funny, but even that one is very clever. Mike does look good in a sailor suit.
• First Firesign Theatre reference in a while: “Don’t crush that dwarf! Hand me the pliers!” Maybe Joel was the main Firesign guy?
• Everybody gets to do their Palance impressions to death. Hope their throats were okay at the end of the day.
• Segment 2 was an instant classic, also sung on the live show at the first convention in 1994. The first time I heard the phrase “hung like a horsical” I did a beer spit-take.
• What song are Crow and Tom singing during the scene where the slavers are chasing the slaves around? They don’t seem to know the words.
• M&tB suspect that’s Italy at the end. Actually, despite a mostly Italian film crew, a lot of this was shot in South Africa. That could be Johannesburg.
• The USA Network movie sketch, hard on the heels of the womany movie sketch a couple of episodes ago, means another great credit sequence.
• This ep marks the third mention of Chris Lemmon in three episodes! Somebody really didn’t like him!
• Terrific editing of the buffalo shot compendium. Cambot gets the credit but I assume it was really Brad Keeley.
• Somebody named Kristin Land choreographed the dance number at the end. Great stuff.
• “Kathy Lee had her baby.” They’re referring to the birth of KLG’s second child, Cassidy Erin, who’s now an aspiring actress in her 20s.
• Cast and crew roundup: Producer Avi Lerner was the executive producer of “Alien From L.A.” Producer/screenwriter Harry Alan Towers, of course, also produced “Castle of Fu Manchu” and “Million Eyes of Su-Muru.” Makeup lady Debbi Nichol also worked on “Space Mutiny,” as did art director Geoffrey Hill. In front of the camera Russel Savadier was also in “Alien from L.A.” and, of course, Jack Palance was also in “Angels’ Revenge.”
• CreditsWatch: Crist Ballast takes over hair and makeup for the next three episodes. Host segments directed by Trace Beaulieu. “Tubular Boobular Joy” written and arranged by Michael J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy.
• Fave riff: “You see, freedom is–what the–P-P-PLEASURE???!!!” Honorable mention: “I brought the wrong bowl.” Also: “Please invent the battery!”

Episode guide: 520- Radar Secret Service (with short: Last Clear Chance)

Last modified on 2016-07-17 20:29:12 GMT. 113 comments. Top.

Short: (1959) Union Pacific scare film aiming to teach drivers to pay better attention at railroad crossings.
Movie: (1950) Government agents use the incredible power of radar to track down some crooks dealing in black market atomic “material.”

First shown: 12/18/93
Opening: Mike performs Crow’s maintenance checkup, but has no idea what he’s doing
Invention exchange/Intro: Mike has an escape plan, The Mads have created Hypno-helio-static-stasis
Host segment 1: Trooper Tom presents: “Why Don’t They Look?”
Host segment 2: The bots simulate Mike’s 10-year high school reunion
Host segment 3: Driven mad by the movie, Mike and Crow build the Quinn Martin Nature Preserve
End: The Mads are beaten by Ecstato-euphoro-fun (with patented Hinder 90)
Stinger: Hysterical maid
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• Very good short, very dull movie. This one is reminiscent of episode 319- WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST, where the short tail wags the movie dog, as it were. As the Brains note, the gray, dull, men in gray or black suits and gray or black hats are almost indistinguishable (except for Sid Melton), and for long stretches the movie just lays there. (Each side even has a guy with a mustache!) The Brains try their best — in fact they do a pretty good job, and there are some great riffs — but this is a middling episode at best.
• This episode is included in Shout’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection Vol. XXXII.
• More differentiation between Joel and Mike in the opening, as Mike attempts something Joel did easily, and fails miserably. Crow is hilarious. “Help me!”
• I like how Gypsy just kind of nibbles on Crow to fix him.
• Crow’s sensible slacks make a re-appearance.
• The Poopie tape has a very funny outtake of the Hypno Helio Static Stasis sketch: The entire wall behind Frank falls over and Frank and Trace just go with it.
• It’s in this episode that the invention exchange kind of fades away and becomes a general intro. Hypno-helio-static-stasis is sort of an invention, but nobody calls it that. And Mike is just busy trying to escape.
• Crow still has panties on his head when he enters the theater after the opening. Mike quickly removes them. (I like the way Trace improvs a spitting noise when one gets caught in his beak.)
• The short is one of the show’s finest hours. They showed this one at the Museum of TV and Film event in Los Angeles, on a big screen, and the audience was just roaring with laughter. It was, I think the only time I saw people literally, not figuratively, falling out of their theater seats with laughter. It really reminded me how much more fun watching the show is with a group.
• Segment 1 is one of those great short-followup sketches. It’s too bad that BBI never thought to release a tape of shorts that also included their follow-up sketches.
• As of this episode Best Brains was STILL under the mistaken impression that Sam Newfield directed “Jungle Goddess,” something they also said in “I Accuse My Parents.” I wonder if there was some error in the edition of Maltin’s movie guide that they were using.
• Then-current references: the now-defunct Nashville Network and long-forgotten series “Powers That Be.”
• Callbacks: Dr. F references “Rock climbing” (Lost Continent) and “Deep hurting” (Hercules Against the Moon Men) and Frank refers to “Fire Maidens.” “Send up some gas juice! You know, laugh water!” (The Beatniks), “No waffles!”, Servo sings a little of “Are You Happy in Your Work” (I Accuse My Parents), “But there was no monster” (Monster A-Go-Go).
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers: pan to blackboard as something that looks like a catcher’s mitt flies by; pan down to the notebook; pan to beaker.
• Mike mentions “The Nagely capers” during a shot of highway. Anybody know what that is? I asked Mike on Twitter. He doesn’t remember.
• In addition to all the similar-looking men, Crow seems to have trouble keeping the two women in the plot straight. When they finally appear in the same scene, he is dumbfounded.
• Ward E has a list of all the things they call that radar ball thingy on top of the car.
• Cast and crew roundup: I will not go through the Lippert litany again. Producer Barney A. Sarecky was associate producer for “The Corpse Vanishes” and production supervisor for “Undersea Kingdom.” Sam Newfield also directed “Lost Continent,” “Mad Monster” and “I Accuse My Parents” but NOT “Jungle Goddess,” as noted above. Special effects guy Ray Mercer also worked on “Lost Continent,” “I Accuse My Parents,” “The Sinister Urge” and “The Beast of Yucca Flats.” Art director Fred Preble also worked on “Mad Monster.” Set designer Harry Reif also worked on “I Accuse My Parents,” “Women of the Prehistoric Planet” and “The She-Creature” and was assistant director on “Gunslinger.” In front of the camera, Sid Melton was also in “Lost Continent.” Ralph Byrd WAS actually in “Jungle Goddess.” Robert Kent was also in “The Phantom Creeps.” Pierre Watkin was also in “Beginning of the End.” Tristram Coffin was also in “The Corpse Vanishes,” “The Crawling Hand” and “The Brute Man.” Tom Neal was also in “The Brute Man.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Kevin Murphy. Charles A. Zimmermann joins the staff as editor. He will continue through the rest of the season and for the first 10 episodes of season six.
• Fave riff from the short: “I’m the impish officer of death.” Honorable mention: “…spilled my youth like cheap gin…anyway!”
• Fave riff from the movie: “It’s not the radar, it’s size of the amplitude, if you know what I mean!” Honorable mention: “Not in a strictly Cartesian sense…”

HOUSEKEEPING NOTE:
As we do every time we get to this point, we will skip the next episode, 521- SANTA CLAUS, and save it for the holiday season. Next week we will move on to 522- TEENAGE CRIME WAVE.

Episode guide: 521- Santa Claus

Last modified on 2016-12-11 18:01:48 GMT. 174 comments. Top.

Movie: (1959) Pitch the devil attempts to hinder Santa on Christmas Eve.

First shown: 12/24/93
Opening: A caroling attempt ends in disaster
Intro: Inappropriate gifts are exchanged
Host segment 1: On the SOL, the rock band Santa Klaws performs
Host segment 2: The bots arrange a Nelson family reunion
Host segment 3: An all-inclusive politically correct holiday song: “Merry Christmas…If That’s Okay”
End: On the SOL, it’s a snow day! In Deep 13, Pitch and Santa fight it out
Stinger: Laughing mechanical reindeer
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• This one, of course, is a perennial favorite, and now that it is on DVD, it can truly be a holiday regular. It’s one of those episodes I’ve seen so many times I can practically recite it, but it’s still entertains me every time. The movie is SO odd (it is a very weird reflection on Mexican culture), the riffing is very strong and the segments are generally pretty good. It doesn’t feel like Christmas until I’ve seen it.
• This one can be found on Shout’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XVI.”
• The gift exchange segment may seem a bit dry, even baffling, to our eyes today, but remember that Mike had joined the SOL crew less than ten episodes previous. The point of the segment is that they still barely know each other, so their attempts to give gifts are forced and uncomfortable. But if you didn’t know the context, you could hardly be blamed for not getting the joke.
• The first 15 or so minutes of the movie, when we get a slew of ethnic/national jokes, as Santa’s international cadre of “helpers” are introduced, are great fun. Every four years, when I watch the parade of nations at the Olympic opening ceremonies, I reuse those riffs.
• Does anybody else feel that if Crow had used that “Carmen Miranda rights” joke with Joel, Joel would have ripped at least one arm out?
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers: pan to beaker; closeup on film canister; pan down to notebook.
• I’ve never been a big fan of the “Whispering Christmas Warrior” segment. It feels a little too restrained. I would have like to see them go more Ozzie Osbourne on the thing. I do like the reaction shots of Frank and Dr. F., though.
• One memorable set of riffs comes when each of them gives notable literary opening line. “I was born in the house my father built” is from Richard Nixon’s then-current autobiography, “The minute Yosarian…” is from “Catch-22.” “Call me Ishmael” is, of course, from “Moby Dick.”
• That’s Pat Brantseg, Mary Jo and Tim Scott as “Mike’s family.”
• One of my favorite moments from this episode is when Santa is preparing to leave his castle to deliver the presents, and as he makes his little benediction, he looks up for no particular reason and M&tB respond by looking confusedly around, as if to see what he might be looking at. It cracks me up every time.
• The Brains seem to think the name “Kringle” is funny. They use it a lot.
• As Santa is putting out presents, Crow has him mumbling: “CableAce award…no, that’s no good…” A little bitterness there.
• On the other hand, the “Merry Christmas…If That’s Okay” song is a holiday classic, right up there with “Patrick Swayze Christmas.” Commenting on PC attitudes about Christmas was not a particularly original comedic idea, but they gave it an original spin.
• Then-current reference: “At home with Carl Rowan.” Rowan was a nationally syndicated columnist and prominent supporter of gun control who became a national punchline in 1988 when he shot a teenage intruder with his unregistered .22. He passed away in 2000. Honorable mention: “A scud!” Scuds are no longer the fearsome terror weapon they were considered back then.
• RiffTrax did an entire re-riff of this movie, with all new jokes and an astonishingly bright and clean print of this movie.
• Memorable host segment line: “More pie, man-goat?” They really did a great job on Paul’s costume/make up. And of course that’s Kevin as Santa, though the credits don’t say so.
• Cast and crew roundup: producer Guillermo Calderon also worked on “The Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy.” Importer K. Gordon Murray also brought “Robot Vs. the Aztec Mummy” and “Samson Vs. the Vampire Women to American audiences. Score composer Anthony Diaz Conde also worked on “The Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Jim Mallon.
• Fave riff: “Suddenly Santa corkscrews into Ypsilanti, Michigan!” Honorable mention: “Well, that’s not strictly true either…”
——————–
Next week we will return to regular order with episode 616- RACKET GIRLS.

Episode guide: 522- Teen-Age Crime Wave

Last modified on 2016-08-18 15:10:18 GMT. 120 comments. Top.

Movie: (1955) Delinquent teens on the run hold a farm family hostage.

First shown: 1/15/94
Opening: M&tB are escaping
Intro: Dr. has invented mace mousse, the escape plan fails
Host segment 1: M&tB salute the golden age of the “doughy guy”
Host segment 2: M&tB create the first deli in space
Host segment 3: M&tB present a commercial for Mystos
End: Tom delivers some letters; Frank is “Doughy Man” but Dr. F. sprays him again, again and again…
Stinger: “TURN IT OFF!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• For those who missed the note last week, I am skipping episode 521- SANTA CLAUS for the time being. I will get to it around Christmas. (One alert reader noted that THIS episode is also a holiday movie — the events happen on Thanksgiving!)
• This episode is included in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. XXXIII.
• This movie has a great opening half hour and pretty exciting last 20 minutes. Unfortunately, it also has a deadly 40 minutes in the middle. The segments are hit and miss, with a wonderful finish. All in all, it’s in the fair-to-good range.
• Mike’s jumpsuit, which has been green since he became host, is suddenly tan in the opening segment, then reverts to green for the rest of the episode.
• Invention exchange fadeaway watch: The mace mousse seems to be a genuine invention. Frank is hilarious, by the way. Mike’s still busy escaping–though he does CALL it an invention!
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers: pan to beaker; closeup on datebook.
• As the opening begins, Mike is pulling something off the wall that he says “we’re gonna need.”
• Movie observations: Why doesn’t Jane save herself and rat out the guys? She HATES them! They tricked her! What loyalty does she owe them? I don’t get it. Also, an example of stupid script writing: The matron asks the feuding inmates: “Who started this?” What real matron would bother? Has that EVER worked?
• Segment 1 was an instant hit and within hours the MSTie internet was bursting with tributes to doughy guys. And as a doughy guy myself, I enjoyed it. Mike really belts out his part.
• Segment 3, of course, riffs on Mentos commercials that had become a regular feature of the episodes of late. By the way, Trace, who famously has trouble carrying a tune, does pretty well singing the Mystos song.
• Callbacks: “Mitchell!” Of course, there are too many callbacks to count in segment 2. “Want some?” (Daddy-O) And “Thank God we have Radar!” and “Why don’t they look?” has already joined the rotation.
• Mike carries Servo by the neck when they enter the theater after segment 2. He doesn’t seem to mind.
• Of course this episode also gave us the classic line: “He’ll never touch you, Terry, you’re dirt.” The Brains apparently really liked because it was used many times thereafter.
• Somebody emailed me about this the last time around and I have still not been able to get a satisfactory answer. There is a quick shot of Ben and Jane sitting on the basement steps, and Mike’s riff is: “I like Wade, he’s just not a dancer.” What’s that from?
• The movie shows an obelisk and Mike (I think) says “The Roddy McDowall monument!” Um, huh? If they’d said “The Milton Berle monument” I’d get it. Was Roddy known for his, um, endowment? (Last time around, several commenters confirmed that he was.)
• Just like in 319- WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST, this movie’s climax happens at L.A.’s Griffith Observatory — quite a remarkable jump, considering that the rest of the film supposedly takes place in the Midwest.
• The mace mousse bit at the end just gets funnier and funnier. It’s very reminiscent to the “Daddy-O” ending.
• Cast and crew roundup: Producer Sam Katzman also produced “The Corpse Vanishes.” In front of the camera: Sydney Mason was in “Revenge of the Creature.” Larry Blake was in “Beginning of the End.” Robert Bice was also in “Invasion USA,” George “doughy guy” Cisar is also in “Attack of the Giant Leeches” and Sydney Mason was also in “Revenge of the Creature.”
• Creditswatch: Host segments directed by Trace Beaulieu. Andrea DuCane returns to do hair and makeup for the final three eps of the season. The title of “Manager of Business Affairs,” which appeared on the credits at the beginning of the season, appears for the last time in this episode, along with the person who held the title, Heide A. LeClerc-Becker.
• Fave riff: “You’re gonna have to get in line. Couple o’ cows ahead of you.” Honorable mention: “I will not be ignored, Ben. Hold please.”

Episode guide: 523- Village of the Giants

Last modified on 2016-07-31 16:40:13 GMT. 117 comments. Top.

Movie: (1965) A boy genius invents a growth formula, which is consumed by some trouble-making teens.

First shown: 1/22/94
Opening: M&tB are doing their quarterly workout
Intro: While Mike juices, Dr. F. downsizes TV’s Frank!
Host segment 1: Dr. F. interviews Torgo
Host segment 2: M&tB interview rough-looking Frank
Host segment 3: M&tB sing: “The Greatest Frank”
End: A letter to Frank, Frank gets his job back
Stinger: Tribute to Frank Zappa
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• This is just a great episode all the way around: Great segments, a fun and very riffable movie, great riffing, a great song, everything you can ask for.
• This episode is included in Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XXVI.
• If you want to know more about this movie — a LOT more — check out villageofthegiants.net. Some amazing stuff there.
References.
• The song Tom is singing in the opening segment is “Chicken Fat” sung by Robert Preston in the original song. I have vivid memories of being forced to do calisthenics to it in elementary school gym class.
• The segments are essentially one story, but each sketch is also a little bit of brilliant free-standing satire on the inanities of the working world. Having been canned myself, the opening resonates.
• Of course, one feature of this movie is an appearance by The Beau Brummels. I had never heard of them when I saw this for the first time, but they have their admirers, apparently.
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers; close up film canister; pan down to notebook; shot of blackboard–a big bone hits it
• Callbacks: “Coruba!” (Outlaw) “What sin could a duck commit in a single lifetime?” (Amazing Colossal Man) “I didn’t steal no bike, neither.” (Teenage Strangler) “Dang smoochers!” (The the Eye Creatures) “I’m gonna moon you, man!” (The Beatniks).
• Segment 1 is another gem. The line “Well, I work too hard…hahaha” never fails to slay me.
• See something familiar in those exterior shots? That’s the back lot. Some of those houses were also used for TV’s “Bewitched” and “I Dream of Jeannie.”
• Segment 2 is yet another classic. I always have a hard time not using Frank’s lines when being interviewed.
• “Let Me Be Frank about Frank” is great stuff. The Paul Williams impressions are particularly funny. It was performed at the live shows in 1994, and featured a lovely interpretive dance by a leotard-clad Frank (video of which was included on the “Scrapbook” tape). The segment also features a great montage: Again, Cambot gets the credit, but the real artist is probably Brad Keeley. The song was created by the songwriting duo of Michael J. Nelson (music) and Bridget Jones (lyrics).
• In the credits, we get a reprise of the song and we think it’s all fun and then the whole thing becomes poignant. In the ACEG, I believe it was Kevin who noted that Zappa had contacted the Brains shortly before his death with the idea of doing something together, but time ran out, alas.
• Cast and crew roundup: Again, I am not going re-recite the Bert I. litany. Suffice to say we know him well. Some guy named H.G. Wells also wrote stuff that “Riding with Death” was very loosely based on. Cinematographer Paul C. Vogel, special effects guy Herman Townsley and art director Franz Bachelin all worked on “Tormented.” Photo process guy Farciot Edouart, sound recorder Charles Grenzbach and make-up man Wally Westmore all worked on “The Space Children.” Sound effects guy Jack Cornall worked on “King Dinosaur.” Editor John Bushelman also worked on “King Dinosaur” and “Tormented.”
In front of the camera, Tommy Kirk and Jim Begg were both in “Catalina Caper.” Johnny Crawford was also in “Space Children.” Bob Random was also in “Being From Another Planet.” Joseph Turkel was also in “Tormented.”
• Creditswatch: Host segments directed by Kevin Murphy. Also, with this episode the “Manager of Business Affairs” credit vanishes, and in its place is a “Director of Operations” title, held by one Jeffrey P. Young. He lasted a grand total of five episodes. I bet there’s a story there.
• Fave riff: “This is Tommy Kirk REALLY acting!” Honorable mention: “A buffalo shot that covers three states.”

Episode guide: 524- 12 to the Moon (with short: ‘Design for Dreaming’)

Last modified on 2016-09-01 12:39:24 GMT. 111 comments. Top.

Short: (1956) Surrealistic fantasy trip to the future, which includes a visit to the General Motors “motorama.”
Movie: (1960) A multinational team of astronauts embarks on a moon mission.

First shown: 2/5/94
Opening: While Crow & Tom play tennis, Gypsy has trapped Mike at a tea party
Intro: While Frank roasts Dr. F., Tom has a tennis tantrum
Host segment 1: Nuveena, lady of the future, pops into the SOL and invites M&tB to come back with her
Host segment 2: M&tB prepare to leave with Nuveena
Host segment 3: Nuveena makes the bots into appliances, Mike disapproves, so she pops out
End: Letters, Nuveena pops into and out of Deep 13
Stinger: “Ahh, ridiculous!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (309 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

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• For some, I suspect this is another case where the short kind of takes over the episode. “Design for Dreaming” has become an iconic bit of off-kilter fun, and since it’s in public domain, you see snippets of it all the time. The riffing of it is nothing short of brilliant. In contrast, the feature is in black and white, and has some pretty static stretches. But, me, I love these old rocketship movies (they are my favorite kind of MST3k fodder, with the giant bug movies coming in a close second) and this one’s a hoot. It’s reminiscent, in some respects, of “FIRST SPACESHIP ON VENUS,” what with the conscientiously international crew and all. And the characters and situations are so strange, there’s plenty for the riffers to work with, and they do a great job. And, of course, there’s the Nuveena story arc in the host segments.
• This episode is included in Shout! Factory’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XXXV.
• I’d completely forgotten about the “invisible” face shields on the astronauts helmets! A brilliant, albeit cheesy, solution to the problem of not being able to see or hear an actor in a space helmet.
• Everybody knows the bots arms don’t work, but that doesn’t stop the Brains from suggesting that the bots play tennis. In the “then-current” reference department, the sketches refer to a couple of pro tennis incidents that I suspect are largely forgotten by most people (i.e. non-tennis fans.)
• I love Dr. F’s Milton Berle-esque giant cigar during the celebrity roast. The premise of the sketch itself (speaker at roast just viciously attacks the honoree without any semblance of the warmth and humor that is supposed to be part of the format) has been done before, but Frank carries it off well, as always.
• What does “Just call me Bobo” mean? (Update: A commenter says it’s a reference to the movie “The Grifters.”)
• Callbacks: “It’s a salute to Mr. B Natural!” “It’s a sampo!” (Day the Earth Froze).
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers: Shot of blackboard–a stuffed animal that might be Grover from “Sesame Street” hits it; pan to beaker.
• Tom Servo says “Humphrey!” when he sees the dog. Kevin had a cocker spaniel named Humphrey for many years–he appeared in the ACEG and in episode 904- WEREWOLF. Sadly, Humphrey has since, ahem, gone to live at a farm in the country.
• In what seems to be a warmup for SPACE MUTINY, the hunky American astronaut is similarly called many brawny-guy names. A full list is in Ward E.
• Bridget is terrific — it is maybe her finest hour on the show — as Nuveena. After the show aired, she was an immediate sensation on the MSTie internet. Male MSTies declared their love, and quite a few female MSTies immediately adopted the moniker or variations on it. It was also the first time any human female was on the bridge of the SOL, for whatever that’s worth.
• Obscure reference: “Everybody to get from street!” a reference to a throwaway line in a now-seldom-seen Cold War comedy called “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming!” (Some commenters took exception to me calling the movie “largely forgotten,” so I’ve changed the wording.)
• Cast and crew roundup: Producer and story writer Fred Gebhardt also worked in “The Phantom Planet.” Special effects guy Howard A. Anderson (also worked on “Women of the Prehistoric Planet,” “King Dinosaur,” “The Amazing Transparent Man” and “It Lives By Night.” Set designer John Burton also worked on “The Girl in Lovers Lane” and “High School Big Shot.”
In front of the camera, Ken Clark also appeared in “Attack of the Giant Leeches.” Anthony Dexter also appeared in “The Phantom Planet” and “Fire Maidens of Outer Space.” Richard Weber also appeared in “The Phantom Planet.” Tom Conway also appeared in “The She Creature.” Francis X. Bushman also appeared in “The Phantom Planet.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Jim Mallon.
• Fave riff from the short: “This is a rebuttal to ‘Roger & Me.’” Honorable mention: “Holly-Go-Weirdly!”
• Fave riff from the movie: “You know you can only apply one-sixth the tongue on the moon?” Honorable mention: “Hey, go stink up your own area!”


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