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Sampo & Erhardt

Sci-Fi Archives


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 FOUR: COMEDY CENTRAL, 1992-1993 (plus the MST3K Scrapbook)


Episode Guide: 401- Space Travelers

Last modified on 2015-11-21 16:21:45 GMT. 111 comments. Top.

Movie: (1969) In a re-edited version of the movie “Marooned,” various obstacles hamper attempts to rescue three NASA astronauts trapped aboard a crippled space capsule.

First shown: 6/6/92
Opening: The Great Crowdini attempts an astounding escape.
Invention exchange: J&tB demonstrate The Dollaroid, while the Mads show off their “facial” tissue
Host segment 1: J&tB present a list of space race advancements
Host segment 2: Reenacting the movie so Crow can do his killer Peck
Host segment 3: J&tB wonder: If one of them had to sacrifice themselves…
End: Magic fun, letters
Stinger: Hackman, demonstrating that he’s good in anything
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• And so we begin the second of four 24-episode seasons BBI pumped out. You can really feel how settled in and relaxed they are. As they said in the ACEG, they were luxuriating in that rarity of rarities in the TV world, job security. We start off with a very good but not spectacular episode. The riffing is comfortable and steady, and we haven’t had a star-studded, very watchable movie like this since the KTMA days. None of the segments are clunkers, either, so it’s a great way to start the season.
• This episode was included in Shout! Factory’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XXXII.”
• The stretch between the end of season 3 and the beginning of season 4 was 133 days, the eighth-longest amount of time MSTies had to wait between episodes.
• “Marooned,” the movie Film Ventures International chopped up to create “Space Travelers,” is the only MST3K movie that actually won an Oscar. It won for Special Visual Effects, and was also nominated for cinematography and sound.
• In episode 201- ROCKETSHIP X-M where Joel asks “Why didn’t you just show us ‘Marooned’?” and Dr. F replies “We couldn’t get it!” Guess they could get it after all.
• The opening bit is a little complicated. You’re supposed to notice that Crow accidentally drops the all-important key and nobody thinks to retreive it for him before he is blown to kingdom come. But you could easily miss it.
• Joel’s invention really doesn’t make sense, but they got a good bit out of it anyway.
• In the ACEG, they tell a story about meeting Dennis Miller, whose only comment to them was that he wished they hadn’t riffed “Marooned.” He likes it. It was an early instance of the response they would get a lot with “This Island Earth.”
• The riffing in this one starts a little slowly, largely because the movie itself starts a little slowly. It seems insane now, but I was alive then and I can tell you: The workings of NASA fascinated most Americans, and just watching them work was captivating enough for a lot of people. I’m sure the filmmakers thought nothing of beginning their movie with 10 minutes or so of random NASA footage. But there’s not a lot you can say about it.
• For a moment, J&tB do ethereal “eeeee” singing bit — a reference to the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” — that they used to such good effect in episode 205- ROCKET ATTACK USA.
• Then-current reference: Somebody mentions the president, and Servo says he’ll “vomit on some Japanese people.” Here’s a report on the incident he’s referring to. Also: Baby Jessica. Jessica, by the way, is married with kids now.
• Crow’s Gregory Peck is truly killer. Joel also attempts a Peck impression and pales by comparison.
• Servo, on the other hand, does a very good Burt Reynolds laugh.
• This ep has not one, not two, but three Firesign Theatre references!
• Host segment 2 is another “broken sketch sketch” — essentially Joel/Mike and the bots try to put on a sketch and the whole thing goes to hell — that was a MST3K staple throughout the years. Not all of them were that funny but this one is pretty good.
• Callback: Crow recalls that he “called dibs” on the ability to say who lives and who dies, back in season 3. Also, “That was number 9!” (Sidehackers)
• The wonderful “aaaaaaaahhh!” closing bit by the Mads became a great way to say goodbye to MSTie pals for years.
• Cast and crew roundup: It probably shouldn’t be surprising that most of the people listed for this movie also worked on KTMA movies, many of which were much more mainstream. 2nd unit director Ralph E. Black was a production manager for “Invasion U.S.A.” Script writer Mayo Simon also worked on “Phase IV.” In front of the camera, David Janssen was also in “Superdome.” James Franciscus was also in “City on Fire.” Tom Stewart was also in “SST: Death Flight.” And Walter Brooke was also in “Bloodlust” and “San Francisco International.”
• CreditsWatch: Additional Contributing Writer: Bridget Jones. Host Segments Directed by: Jim Mallon, but, unlike most of last season, they will take turns as the season goes on. Trace and Frank are no longer “villians” but Dr. F’s last name is still spelled “Forrestor.” Frank is, beginning with this episode, “TV’s Frank.” The new season means a new set of interns, most notably this episode marks the arrival of Patrick Brantseg. Also there was Nathan Devery, Brendan Glynn, Suzette Jamison and Steven Sande. Bryan Beaulieu and Bill W. are gone from the special thanks credit. Added have been Mark Gilbertson, all MSTies coast-to-coast and the authors of the 1st Amendment. This episode also marks the arrival of Bradley J. Keely, as assistant editor. For the entire season, they had the services of Rob “the engineer” Burkhardt in engineering. Clayton James comes in for a two-show stint in hair and makeup.
• Fave riff: “Oh they’re dead. How’s the rabbit?” Honorable mention: “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!”

Episode Guide: 402- The Giant Gila Monster

Last modified on 2015-08-15 15:12:28 GMT. 136 comments. Top.

Movie: (1959) A 30-foot killer lizard is loose in the woods near a small town and its gang of hot-roddin’ teens.

First shown: 6/13/92
Opening: Joel has made Crow and Tom the Thing with Two Heads
Invention exchange: J&tB show off their sitcom radio, the Mads demonstrate their renaissance festival punching bags
Host segment 1: Crow and Tom disrupt Joel’s soda shop sketch
Host segment 2: J&tB discuss the funny drunk
Host segment 3: “Servo on Cinema” looks at Ray Kellogg’s “Leg Up” directorial style, but Crow and Joel horn in
End: J&tB have formed the rock group Hee-La, Joel reads some letters (including one from TV’s Frank!)
Stinger: Old guy gags on sody pop
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• It’s hard to go wrong with this episode. It’s got it all: weird movie, great riffing and some great host segments. I love it. It’s also pretty good as a starter episode.
References.
• This episode replaced episode 212- GODZILLA VS. MEGALON when Rhino released “Volume 10.2.”
• This episode became infamous in the 1995-1996 period on Comedy Central, as a number of other episodes dropped out of the rotation due to movie rights issues. The movie in this episode is in public domain, which meant that CC could play it as often as it liked, and it played it a lot, so much so that some online MSTies began to grumble about (yes, topic number 386 of the things online MSTies grumbled about).
• You’ve got to assume there were multiple puppeteers in the trench for that bit with the decapitated bots. Must have gotten a little crowded.
• That’s Mike, of course, as the radio announcer
• We get more trashing of the Renaissance Fest, last bashed in episode 303- POD PEOPLE. “Bite me, Frodo.”
• You can see Dr. F’s mic cord during the invention exchange
• Servo does his great coughing car sound, sort of an impression of Mel Blanc as Jack Benny’s car.
• Mildly naughty riff: “Old rubber? No! No!”
• Tom and Joel spit in the sheriff’s hat! Ew!
• The sound in this movie is uniformly terrible. One of the problems with a PD movie is that nobody takes care of it.
• Part of the plot of this movie involves our hero eavesdropping on a party line, a long-dead technology almost everywhere, and I sometimes wonder if young people even understand what’s going on. Our hero also has one of those Hooterville/Mayberry put-the-thing-to-your-ear-and-talk-into-the-thing-on-the-wall phones. Did people really still have those in the 50s?
• Another “broken sketch” sketch this week: this time it’s the bots who sabotage Joel’s sketch.
• Gypsy must be in a goth period. She’s got black lipstick.
• This is the episode that would give us the “sing whenever I sing whenever I sing” bit they’d do in many future episodes whenever somebody was banging or pounding on something.
• For those who have no idea who Crazy Guggenheim was, check out this piece by comedian Larry Miller, who, by the way, is also mentioned by in this episode. He takes a bit to get to his point, but it’s worth it.
• The little bit Joel and the bots do in unison at the end is a popular reading from AA meetings. Surely this was a contribution from Frank.
• Tom notices the reel change. I do that all the time.
• Joel does a little impression of comedian Kevin Meaney.
• Joel asks: “Was the ‘Richard Speck’ a popular haircut back then?” Yes, Joel. Sadly, it was.
• Movie note: Not that I expect much from this movie, but I feel I must note that in the scene where the old drunkie guy is racing the train, there’s footage of at least three, maybe four different trains that are all supposed to be the same train.
• There’s a nice little TV in-joke during Tom’s “Servo on Cinema” sketch when Tom turns to face a non-existent second camera during his introduction and has to be corrected by Joel.
• Nice film editing by Cambot!
• Joel (sort of) sneaks in the name of beloved cult band “They Might Be Giants”
• Callbacks: J&tB sing the “Wild Rebels” theme song. Also: “Glenn is 50 feet tall.” (War of the Colossal Beast)
• For those who wondered why Pearl called Crow “Art” many seasons later, it’s because of the illustration that accompanied one of the letters Joel reads in this episode. Apparently the young letter writer had just seen episode 203- JUNGLE GODDESS, in which Joel imitates the way Jackie Gleason would introduce his cast and the end of the show. For those who remember it, he would always save longtime pal Art Carney for last, shouting “ART CARNEY!” over the already-applauding crowd. Joel, in a takeoff of that, shouted “ART CROW!” The little letter writer, not understanding the reference, just assumed Crow’s name was Art.
• Watch and listen to Crow during the closing segment. Note how he says not a word, and when spoken to only sort of hums, exactly the way somebody WOULD do if they had a giant rolled-up tongue in their mouth and was waiting for the cue to unfurl it. I love it.
• Cast and crew roundup: Executive producer Gordon McLendon, a Houston media and real estate tycoon, fancied himself a movie mogul, but he only mad this movie and the movie in episode 407-THE KILLER SHREWS, and he did so with most of the same crew, including producer Ken Curtis (yes, Festus of TV’s “Gunsmoke”), director Ray Kellogg (who also wrote the story), script writer Jay Simms, cinematographer Wilfred Cline, editor Aaron Stellm makeup artist Corrine Daniel, produiction manager Ben Chapman (who was also a stuntman on “The Mole People”), Art director Louis Caldwell, set designer Louise Caldwell (who also worked on “The Amazing Transparent Man”), sound man Earl Snyder (who also worked on “The Amazing Transparent Man” and “The Crawling Hand”) and sound effects guy Milton Citron. In front of the camera, Don Sullivan was also in “The Rebel Set.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Jim Mallon. The name John Carney appears at the end of the list of writers; he would not appear again. Bridget Jones was added to the writers list for the rest of the season. Dr. F’s last name is still spelled Forrestor.
• Fave riff: “Not the coda! No!” Honorable mention: “Things make sense when yer all liquored up!”

Episode Guide: 403- City Limits

Last modified on 2015-08-22 16:56:42 GMT. 137 comments. Top.

Movie: (1984) In a bleak future, teen biker gangs and a sinister corporation battle for control of an abandoned city.

First shown: 6/20/92
Opening: Crow and Tom get Joel to say “ping-pong balls” and Joel soon wishes he hadn’t
Invention exchange: J&tB present Mr. meat & potato head, while the Mads demonstrate pop star Tupperware, featuring Morrissey
Host segment 1: Crow sings: “Oh, Kim Cattrall!”
Host segment 2: J&tB list some of the Fantastic 85
Host segment 3: J&tB keep listing superheroes
End: J&tB try to play the City Limits trivia game, Joel reads letters, the Mads have had enough of Morrissey
Stinger: Tiny radio-controlled death from on high
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• I’m not a big fan of this one. It has its moments (every MST3K episode does) but J&TB seem to be fending this one off, rather than tearing it up. The plot’s confusing and most of the action is a little hard to see. The host segments are just sort of so-so. It’s just sort of a middling episode. Part of the problem is I don’t get why I am supposed to root for the biker kids. An apparently hopeful and rebuilding government has contracted with Kim Cattrall and Robbie Benson to restore basic services. That’s evil why, again?
• This episode has not yet been released on commercial DVD.
• It is, probably, with this episode that the “Turn down your lights (where applicable)” message at the beginning of each episode, was replaced by a title card featuring a still from the movie and a gruff voice (usually that of editor Tim Scott) saying “Mystery Science Theater 3000, show [show number here]; reel one.” But my copy, taped off TV, doesn’t have that. I can’t say for certain, because many showings on CC did not include it and just went right into the episode. However, some commenters say they saw rerun showings where it appeared. My guess: Nobody at BBI told anybody at CC about the change, and some drone at CC looked at it, didn’t think it was something the public was supposed to see, and skipped past it to the start of the theme song.
• The ping-pong ball bit comes from the old “Captain Kangaroo” show. Unfortunately, like so many daily kids shows of that era, most of “Captain Kangaroo” was not recorded and very little of it survives. But a running gag on the show was that the puppet characters would try to trick the captain into saying the words “ping-pong balls,” at which point a veritable cloudburst of the little guys would pour down from the heavens onto the Captain. You had to be there…and you had to be 6.
• Callbacks: Frank’s is humming “I sing whenever I sing” from Giant Gila Monster; Crow’s “help me!” is a callback from a well-remembered “Rocket Attack USA.” “Hi, I’m Max Keller.” (Master Ninja) “…After the Robot Holocaust.” “My own FLESH I don’t love better!” (Sidehackers) “I’m a Grimalt warrior!” (Viking Women), “I feel like a happy king!” (Mr. B Natural), “…not allowed…” (The Crawling Hand) and “McCloud!” (Pod People).
• Mike is just hilarious as Morrissey.
• The opening of the movie says that it takes place “15 years from now.” The movie was made in 1985, so “15 years from now” was 2000. Thankfully the world in 2000 looked very little like the one this movie predicts. (By the way, it’s been more than 15 years since this episode debuted, and it is 15 years [and counting] from “15 years from now.”)
• Early on, there is a very clever solution to the appearance of some brief female nudity when Joel inexplicably feels the urge to stand up and open an umbrella in the theater.
• Kim Cattrall tells the story that one evening she had just checked into a hotel and she turned on the TV and by pure chance host segment 1 was running on Comedy Central. At first she thought the hotel had cooked it up to welcome her. She says she was completely baffled as to why a golden puppet was repeatedly singing her name.
• There’s a mention of “Far Side Gallery,” a book I also owned. That shot does look like the cover, a little.
• Somewhat obscure riff: “I’m still here, Happer, you crap hound!” (From one of my favorite movies.)
• More obscure riff: “But all I have is an alcove!” (From another of my favorite movies.)
• For a full list of the Fantastic 185, visit Ward E.
• A rare moment: Tom does something they almost never do—he quietly explains a riff (after quoting Lady Macbeth). Wonder why they felt that riff, among all the others, needed explaining.
• Several times the movie shows flashbacks of moments we’ve never seen. I assume this was stuff cut by either Film Ventures International or BBI.
• Movie observation: I do love how all the characters get gussied up to beat the band before making their big assault.
• Dated reference: a mention of the shortlived-and-now-forgotten James Earl Jones series “Gabriel’s Fire.”
• Watch the handoff from Joel to Kevin following after segment 3. You can see Kevin moving around.
• There’s another reference to Apple’s System 7, along with observation “we gotta get Windows for this thing.” In 1992 that was actually techie jargon.
• Tom still has ping pong balls in his head in a couple of segments.
• Great throwaway line by Crow: “Daddy needs a new pair o’ hydraulic talons!”
• During her appearance at the second convention, Kim’s recollections about making this movie included always filming at night in a dangerous part of L.A., and suffering with the ever-present stench from a nearby dogfood factory.
• Cast and crew roundup: One of the minor characters in this movie (the guy J&tB keep calling “Michelle Shocked”) is played by a fellow named Dean Devlin. He also appeared in the movies “My Bodyguard” and “The Wild Life” before going on to become a big Hollywood producer, bringing us such mindless, noisy blockbusters as “Independence Day” and “Godzilla.” Premiere magazine ranked Devlin and ID4 director Roland Emmerich No. 44 on 1997’s Power List of the 100 Most Influential People in the Hollywood Industry. Score composer Mitchell Froom has produced recordings for such acts as Los Lobos, Del Fuegos, Crowded House, Elvis Costello, Richard Thompson, and his then-wife (1995-98), Suzanne Vega. He was one of the founders of The Latin Playboys. He also composed the theme from the TV show “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.” Sound mixer: Mark Ulano also worked on “Being from Another Planet.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Jim Mallon. Production person Ellen “Ellie” McDonough joins the show. She’ll be there through season six. This is one of three episodes this season where Andrea DuCane did hair and makeup. Clayton James did most of them. Occasional prop assistant Barb Oswald, who did work back in season three as well, gets a new title this week: “Toolmaster Jr.” Brendan Glynn finishes up a three-episode stint as intern. Additional writer: John Carney. Dr. F’s name is still spelled “Forrestor.”
• Fave riff: “I’m getting beaten up by the cast of ‘Pirates of Penzance!'” “Okay, let’s stop for a moment and look at our scripts. Oh, I guess it DOES say Boy George comes riding in lobbing molotov cocktails.”

Episode Guide: 404- Teenagers from Outer Space

Last modified on 2015-08-23 11:31:10 GMT. 145 comments. Top.

Movie: (1959) Aliens have a plan to use Earth as a farm for their giant lobster livestock. One of the crew rebels and flees to a small town, with another alien on his trail.

First shown: 6/27/92
Opening: Joel uses behavior modification to prevent a recurrence of the “NBC Mystery Movie” gag
Invention exchange: J&tB demonstrate the scratch ‘n’ sniff report card, while the Mads show off their resusci-Annie ventriloquist doll
Host segment 1: J&tB present “Reel to real”
Host segment 2: J&TB recreate a pre-movie no-littering message
Host segment 3: A really boss-looking space ship visits, but the pilot is a disappointment.
End: Duct tape fashion statements, letters, Dr. F. dines with a friend
Stinger: “When we return to our planet, the high court may well sentence you to TORTURE!!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• How I love this episode. Maybe it’s the easy-to-follow (albeit punishingly stupid) plot. Maybe it’s the goofy host segments, most of which are not so much funny as wry. Maybe it’s the charmingly naïve idea that somebody thought people would believe that giant lobsters walk upright. Whatever it is, this one’s a lot of fun.
References.
• This episode was included in Rhino’s “The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 6.”
• This episode definitely begins with the “Title card.”
• Body (or, rather, skeleton) count: 6, not counting Sparky and the lobster and the big mess at the end. And for you Dave Barry fans, Sparky and the Lobster WBAGNFARB.
• “Lisa Smithback,” mentioned in the invention exchange, has to be a real name, probably a schoolmate of one of the Brains. Wonder if she’s out there somewhere?
• I love the little Jeff Dunham-esque gestures Trace does around the dummy as he does the ventriloquist bit.
• Callbacks: Crow’s desire for “hamburger sammich” is from episode 203- JUNGLE GODDESS. Later he retreads the “Welcome to Death Valley Days, the driver…” bit, and “How fortunate! This will seemplify everything!” from The Phantom Creeps.
• The word TORCHAA! became an immediate MSTie buzzword following this episode.
• So, what do you think is the point of the “ironic” tone Joel and the bots adopt during the “Reel to Real” sketch? They read all their lines like a presenter at an awards ceremony who is given a bit to do and resents having to do it. Did they decide the material was too lame to be played straight? But wait a minute! Maybe they’re parodying comedians who tell jokes ironically! That’s TWO levels of irony! We’re through the looking glass here, people!
• Host segment foreshadowing: In the illustrations (who did those, by the way?), we see Betty in a bathing suit, and grandpa sleeping on the couch, but we haven’t seen either in the movie yet.
• The repeated muffled voice in the trunk bit almost gets a little unpleasant after a while. Tom just portrays it as so horribly desperate.
• As Derek and Betty enter the college, there are several riffs about the smell of school. Perhaps these riffs were the genesis of this episode’s “scratch and sniff report card” invention exchange.
• Several characters have songs stuck in their heads. Grandpa’s is the theme song for the TV show “New Zoo Revue.” The ill-fated professor’s secretary’s is AC-DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.” The Doctor has two: first it’s Nick Gilder’s “Hot Child in the City,” then Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded.” The nurse has several, including Apollonia 6’s “Sex Shooter,” “Aqualung” by Jethro Tull, The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and the “Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” by Country Joe and the Fish.
• As Thor bursts into Betty’s house, watch Joel. I could be wrong, but it looks like he’s pickin’ his nose.
• So the point of segment two is to set up a few throwaway lines in segment three? (i.e. “goomy bears?”)
• Movie observation: Derek says he saw the Commander stop Thor from killing him. He did not. He was 40 yards away and running like hell.
• J&tB failed to notice this continuity screwup: Thor pistol whips the nurse, there’s a short cutaway, and in the next shot Thor and the nurse have magically switched seats in the car!
• Naughty riff: “What until you see my tongues.”
• During host segment three, Joel professes his faith. Or is he being ironic again?
• Gotta admit: the spaceship in segment three really is boss.
• The third segment is great. Joel seems incredibly relaxed. And anytime anybody tries to tell you he was always “sleepy” just show them this segment. He’s wide awake, baby.
• There is a LOT of juicy gossip about the making of this movie: Reportedly, Tom Graff, who played reporter Joe Rogers and wrote, directed, edited and co-produced the film, charmed producers Bryan and Ursula Pearson (who played “Thor” and “Hilda,” respectively) into paying $5,000 of the movie’s $14,000 shoestring budget. After they heard Graff got $25,000 from Warner Brothers for the distribution rights, they sued, but all they got was their $5,000 back.
The flying saucer was reportedly abandoned on property near the estate of Gloria Swanson, who used it for publicity.
Graeff and David Love (“Derek”) were reportedly lovers. The two met when Graff cast Love in a short film Graff made a few years earlier. Love vanished after the film and his whereabouts are unknown.
Graeff never made another movie. In 1962, he bought a huge ad in the L.A. Times proclaiming himself the second Christ. In 1968, he bought another ad, this time in Variety, announcing the upcoming production of a film called “Orf,” to be directed by Carl Reiner (it wasn’t true, and Reiner immediately threatened to sue). Graeff committed suicide in 1970.
The Pearsons eventually divorced. Ursula ran a travel company in L.A. and died in 2006. Bryan, a struggling actor, was only able get a few acting roles and retired from acting in the late ’60s. As of 2006 he was working in real estate in Hawaii.
• This is yet another MST3k movie featuring Bronson Canyon in some of the exterior shots. Through the use of selected locations and very tight framing, Graeff was pretty successful in making the streets of Hollywood look like a small town.
• Tom servo has legs???
• The final bit in Deep 13 in a riot. “Help me!” “No, literally! I have a man up in space!”
• Cast and crew roundup: Sonia Torgeson was also in “Daddy-O.” And of course Harvey B. Dunn was also in “Bride Of The Monster,” and “The Sinister Urge.” Robert B. Williams was also in “Revenge Of The Creature” and “This Island Earth.”
• CreditsWatch: Mary Jo Pehl joined the writing staff with this episode. And, for the first time in at least three seasons, the host segments were directed by somebody other than Jim Mallon—this week, Kevin Murphy. Resusci-Anne provided by Nancy Mason. Dr. F’s name is still spelled “Forrestor.”
• Fave riff: “There’s a piece of green something between your–” Honorable mention: “I’m David Eisenhower! That makes you… Julie Nixon!!”

Episode Guide: 405- Being from Another Planet

Last modified on 2015-08-29 16:08:04 GMT. 101 comments. Top.

Movie: (1982) Re-edit of a movie called “Time Walker.” A mummy found in King Tut’s tomb is x-rayed by a university team. This awakens the mummy, and it goes on a killing spree.

First shown: 7/4/92
Opening: J&TB playing movie slogan 20 questions
Invention exchange: The Mads present their “Tragic Moments” figurines, while J&tB demonstrate their Jack Palance impersonation kit
Host segment 1:J&tB’s discussion of mummies leads to a discussion of Bill Mumy
Host segment 2: Crow and Tom are playing haunted house with Joel
Host segment 3: Joel’s rainy-day funsketch and the HFVS funtime holoclowns fail to cheer up Tom & Crow
End: The TV’s Frank shopping network has a great deal, Joel reads a letter, Dr. F invents the “die-master”
Stinger: The heartbreak of extraterrestrial psoriasis
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• A middling-to-good episode for me. The movie itself is a bit easier to follow than, say, “City Limits,” but waiting for the mummy to actually DO something starts to get tiresome. On the other hand, the movie compensates with some unintentionally hilarious moments, notably the impromptu costume parade through campus (wtf?). The “oh Joel it’s scary in the basement” bit doesn’t wear well for me, but the riffing is generally pretty crisp and funny. Lots of memorable host segment stuff, too.
• Here are the slogans from the “20 questions” sketch that I was able to track down (and note that some of these are not exactly accurate, but are close approximations):
“Fueled by imagination” – “Radio Flyer” (1992)
“Be afraid. Be very afraid.” – “The Fly” (1986)
“The most exciting undersea odyssey ever filmed.” – “The Neptune Factor” (1973)
“100% pure adrenaline.” – “Point Break” (1991).
“It’s not only his nose that grows!” – “The Erotic Adventures of Pinocchio” (1971)
“This time, it’s personal.” – “Jaws: The Revenge” (1987)
“Dudley Moore juggles two women in an attempt to save his sanity” – “Micki & Maude” (1984)
“A sassy brassy musical humdinger.” – “Funny Lady” (1975)
The ones I can’t track down:
“A new high in adventure when they go thrill-deep in danger.”
“A bikini-clad romp through summer’s fun.”
“A shocking expose of souls in bondage.”
Anybody know any of these?
• Watch for the boom shadow on Frank’s face as Dr. F says “Clayton Stonewall Forrester.” They just keep going.
• Joel says “we’ve came up” and they just keep going.
• Dark and obscure riff: “Hey it’s Pete Duel” (Duel, Ben Murphy’s co-star in the western series “Alias Smith and Jones” killed himself on New Year’s Eve, 1971.)
• Callbacks: “Trumpy! You can do magic things!” (Pod People). Also: “Laurence, would you put that down please!” (Catalina Caper).
• For more on Bill Mumy, visit his site.
• Joel mentions Mumy’s early performance in the movie “Dear Bridget” and then mentions another movie where he played “a super-genius mathematician.” Sorry Joel, but you’re thinking of the same movie, “Dear Bridget.” By the way, the “Twilight Zone” episode Joel mentions (where he wishes people into the cornfield) is entitled “It’s a Good Life.” Mumy was also in a couple of other TZ eps.
• Joel and Tom are already in the theater after the first segment, still discussing Butch Patrick, when Crow joins them.
• Then-current reference: “Hey, Jim Fixx!” Also, mentions of Intellivision and the Michelangelo virus (completely forgot that one).
• At one point they call the massive pipes in the basement “Coppolla’s espresso machine.” When I think of somebody who would be rich and powerful enough to have such a massive device, director Francis Ford Coppolla is not the first person I think of. Bill Gates? Aaron Spelling? Sure. But not Francis. Was Francis maybe more notoriously rich and powerful then? I don’t recall.
• Joel makes a reference to the ’60s TV show “The Mod Squad.” Amusingly, he makes virtually the same riff in the first Cinematic Titanic episode, and then follows it with a plaintive “Oh, I’m old!” What a difference 15 years makes.
• Crow once again requests to be carried out of the theater. Joel once again declines.
• During the haunted house sketch, Joel got spaghetti in the jell-o. Bleh. (And my OCD rears its ugly head.)
• Also during the sketch, there is another mention of a “Mrs. Reedy,” previously mentioned in during the “Posture Pals” short.
• Tom explains a riff again: After singing “Michael Goldstein! Michael Goldstein! What a beautiful name!” he adds: “Funny Girl!”
• I think Crow attempts a Dr. Hibberd (from “The Simpsons”) impression but he sounds more like Kingfish of “Amos and Andy.”
• “Sarah …” “Jockman!” Somebody’s an Allan Sherman fan.
• This episode begins our two-part encounter with the impossibly creepy holo-clowns. That’s Mike and Paul, of course, and this is Paul’s first on-screen appearance.
• Gypsy’s still wearing black “lipstick” and it doesn’t look very well applied.
• I love all the Ludlum titles, like “The Mingmang Pa-ting-ting” A full list is in Ward E.
• Nick Gilder’s “Hot Child in the City” is referenced for the second week in a row.
• My copy of this episode is from a showing on or very near Super Bowl Sunday 1996 (the Cowboys beat the Steelers at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.). It has bumpers that feature Dom Irrera, a comedian I always liked, somewhat desperately wandering around the periphery of the stadium looking for somebody to interview or something to film. Kind of sad.
• At one point, during a shot of Shari Belafonte, Joel says “Oh my God! I’ll never be in another film!” Not true, Joel. Shari has done three movies since “Time Walker” (and many many TV shows and TV movies).
• The bit in which Tom insists this is the worst movie they’ve ever done is in Ward E. Oh and, Tom is entitled to his opinion, of course, but so am I, and no way is this movie worse than most of the movies named. It’s a funny trip down memory lane, though.
• The final segment brings back the notion of the “button that brings down the SOL,” which we heard about a couple of times in season two.
• Firesign Theatre reference: “…and the snake knives, Mrs. Presky!”
• Cast and crew roundup: assistant art director Pamela Warner was an art director for “Alien from L.A.” Sound mixer Mark Ulano also worked on “City Limits” and later won an Oscar for “Titanic.” Music by score composer Richard H. Band can also be heard in “Robot Holocaust” and “Laserblast.” In front of the camera, Robert Random was also in “Village of the Giants,” Austin Stoker was also in “Riding with Death” and so, of course, was Ben Murphy.
• Fave riff: “Sizzler! Heeheeheehee!” Honorable mentions: “Caution: snow angels in progress.” “And if you do find something, stay there.”

Episode Guide: 406- Attack of the Giant Leeches (with short: ‘Undersea Kingdom’–Episode 1)

Last modified on 2015-11-05 14:49:20 GMT. 114 comments. Top.

Short: (1936) In part one (“Beneath the Ocean Floor”) of a serial, a submarine expedition to Atlantis discovers a hostile kingdom.
Movie: (1959) Folks begin vanishing near a Florida swamp, and a game warden discovers the culprits are mutant leeches.

First shown: 7/18/92
Opening: Joel manages to shut off the holo-clowns
Invention exchange: The Mads introduce Patches the leech, while J&tB present the insty-adolescence kit
Host segment 1: J&tB discuss taking over the world and what you’d wear to do it
Host segment 2: J&tB chat about dreams over coffee
Host segment 3: J&tB sing: “Danger to Myself And Others”
End: J&tB try to understanding the leeches, Joel reads a letter; meanwhile in Deep 13, Patches has been on Frank too long
Stinger: Billy gets into it.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• Plenty of fun here, in an episode that is deservedly a fan favorite. Most of the host segments are great and the riffing is terrific. A great all-around episode.
• This episode was included in Rhino’s “The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 6.”
• Part two of the holo-clowns bit is classic MST3K: “Get on your orange and yellow knees and kiss my clown feet that I haven’t killed you!!!” That bit may be a true litmus test of MSTiedom. If you don’t think it’s hilarious, you really shouldn’t bother with this show.
• Joel says he started up the holoclowns “about three weeks ago.” Actually it was two weeks since the previous episode aired.
• Dr. F is reading “Putting the One-Minute Manager to Work” (the edition he’s reading is now out of print but a new edition was published in 2006 ) while Frank is reading “Working with Difficult People.” Again, that edition is rare since an updated edition came out in 2002.
• That’s Kevin, of course, as the giant leech. That bit gave us another great moment in the poopie tape: “Is it my sucking you?” By the way, doctors have in fact found useful medical applications for leeches.
• Yay! The first short of season 4 and the first in 10 episodes. By the way, “Undersea Kingdom,” made in 1936, is the oldest thing (movie or short) MST3K ever riffed on.
• Joel feels “blindsided” because the Mads fail to mention the short before “movie sign.”
• Then-still-somewhat-current reference: Mayor Dinkins. Remember him?
• Tom Servo attempts a complicated joke that sort of misfires and Joel responds: “That’s a Swiss army joke.”
• For the third episode running, the song “Hot Child in the City” is referenced.
• This movie has a pretty much classic Corman cast, including Bruno VeSota, Michael Emmet, Russ Sturlin and Gene Roth. Suprisingly, no Merritt Stone.
• Servo’s coffee head is a nice touch, and the best part is that nobody even really mentions it. It’s just kinda there and nobody thinks much of it.
• Joel pours some cream for Gypsy and she interrupts him to say “when” and that seems to amuse Joel.
• Movie comment: Our cuckolded store keeper Dave clearly has a double-barreled shotgun. Now I’m no firearms expert, but I believe such a weapon, assuming it is fully loaded, has the capability of firing (at the most) twice before the user has to reload, correct? And in fact, we do see Dave reload, placing a shell in each barrel. But that’s after we’ve heard him fire at least four shots. And after he reloads, he fires another four shots before backing Liz and her paramour into the lake. Now it’s possible he reloaded off-camera, but if I was Liz’s boyfriend, I wouldn’t shrink in fear of that obviously empty gun.
• Sexy Liz is played by Yvette Vickers, who met a very sad end.
• The exterior swamp shots were done at the Arboretum in Arcadia, Calif., where shots for TV’s “Fantasy Island” were done years later.
• Some of the cast were almost electrocuted on thee set when a water tank full of actors collapsed.
• Joel quietly hums a line of the upcoming song in the theater.
• Lots of characters are humming internal songs in this episode. I remember this being one of my favorite kinds of riff for a while.
• “A Danger to Mahself and Others” is one of the truly great MST3K original songs. Joel and Mike share the writing credit, by the way. My only complaint is that they taped a pipe to Tom’s lower lip and we can hear it bonking loudly against his torso during the song. Very distracting.
• Tom Servo’s head practically FLIES off as they leave the theater for the last time. They cover beautifully.
• Cast and crew roundup (it’s Corman, so strap in): Gene Corman, Roger’s brother, produced both MSTed films which Bernard L. Kowalski directed: “Attack of the Giant Leeches and “Night of the Blood Beast.” Scriptwriter Leo Gordon appears as an actor in “Kitten With A Whip.” Cinematographer John Nicholaus also worked on “High School Big Shot” and “Night of the Blood Beast.” Editor Carlo Lodato also worked on “High School Big Shot.” Costumer Ross Sturlin (who also acts here) also worked on “Teenage Caveman” and “Night of the Blood Beast.” Costumer Ed Nelson also worked on “Superdome” and “Riding with Death.” Production manager Jack Bohrer worked on “Night of the Blood Beast” and was assistant director on “Teenage Caveman” and “Viking Women.” Art director Dan Haller also worked on “Night of the Blood Beast” and “The Girl in Lovers Lane.” Prop man Richard Rubin also worked on “Bloodlust.” Sound guy Al Overton worked on “Earth Vs. the Spider,” “The Phantom Planet” and “The Screaming Skull.” Score composer Alexander Laszlo also worked on “Night of the Blood Beast,” “Manhunt in Space” and “Crash of Moons.”
In front of the camera, Ken Clark also appears in “12 to the Moon.” Michael Emmet also appears in “Night of the Blood Beast” and “Untamed Youth.” Bruno VeSota also appears in “Gunslinger,” “Daddy-O,” “The Wild, Wild World of Batwoman” and “The Undead.” Gene Roth also appears in “Earth Vs. the Spider,” “Tormented” and “The Rebel Set.” Tyler McVey also appears in “Night of the Blood Beast.” George “doughy guy” Cisar also appears in “Teen-Age Crime Wave.” Ross Sturlin also appears in “Teenage Caveman,” “Viking Women” and “Night of the Blood Beast.” Joseph Hamilton also appears in “Teenage Caveman.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Jim Mallon. Dr. F’s last name is still spelled “Forrestor.”
• Fave riff from the short: “This looks like a fine place to set down my pasty white bottom.” Honorable mention: “How come they all turned when he said ‘Dad’?”
• Fave riff: “…or someone might stab you in your sleep…” Honorable mention: “Looks like the cave of Dr. Calamari.”

Episode Guide: 407- The Killer Shrews (with short: ‘Junior Rodeo Daredevils’)

Last modified on 2015-11-14 16:11:47 GMT. 112 comments. Top.

Short: (1949) Cowpoke and old-timer Billy Slater straightens out some wayward kids by making them put on a small-time rodeo.
Movie: (1959) A hunky skipper makes a delivery to a small island, and learns that the inhabitants include heavy-drinking scientists who are conducting genetic experiments.

First shown: 7/25/92
Opening: Joel gives out presents to the bots
Invention exchange: The Mads prepare to destroy Earth, but are stopped by Jim Henson’s Edgar Winter Babies
Host segment 1: Joel vapor-locks while trying to do Will Rogers
Host segment 2: While presenting the Killer Shrews board game, the bots snap
Host segment 3: J&TB concoct the Killer Shrew drink
End: The shrewbots attack scientist Joel, letter, Frank isn’t feeling good
Stinger: Festus swipes Roscoe’s drink.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• This is one of those episodes where the movie is SO stupid and the print is SO bad that it takes a lot of really good riffing to overcome it — and that, for the most part, is what you get. You can tell the writing team struggled with the movie’s tediousness -– it comes out in one segment -– but overall I think they did a pretty good job. The host segments are lots of fun too. I’m not sure I’d recommend this one for a newbie, because the movie’s just so hard to see and hear, but the episode is plenty funny.
• This episode is featured on Rhino’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Volume 7” and became notorious after fans noticed that the movie had been cut a little bit and that there were some mastering issues, causing Rhino to send corrected disks to any who complain.
References.
• People always talk about the way Joel was a “dad” to the bots in a way that Mike never tried to be. The opening sketch is pretty much a pristine example of that dynamic. Who hasn’t been in poor Crow’s place at one time or another?
• This ep has another use of the “aaaaaaahh!” farewell by the mads, first used (I think) in episode 321- SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS.
• Servo is still wearing his hat in the theater during the short, but it’s gone by the time the movie starts.
• The whole “Jim Henson’s [fill in the blank] babies” concept, which was clearly a phrase being batted around the BBI writing room for past several weeks, reaches its peak with this episode: it was used three times, including the invention exchange.
• The riffs get very dark during the short — a taste of the way it’s going to be in plenty of shorts to come.
• Crow DID get some use out of those slacks: He is wearing them in segment 1.
• Segment 1 is an corollary to the “sabotaged sketch” — the “Joel vapor locks” sketch. Mike had a tendency to vapor-lock too.
• You have to be a certain age to get the “He’s the guy who taught LBJ how to hold dogs” riff. For those too young, President Johnson loved his beagles, but caused a kerfuffle among animal lovers when he was photographed lifting them by the ears. He insisted there was nothing wrong with doing so, but dog lovers howled.
• Some entirely understandable tears are shed by the bots during segment 2, as the bots seem to express the feelings of writers about the dull, actionless movie.
• Has anybody noticed that this movie has, in a general sort of way, the same plot as “Jurassic Park”?
• Two “Dune” references in this one: “It’s the Gom Jabbar” and “Tell me about your home world, Usul.”
• Segment two is a great example of what movie sign can be good for — giving the sketch an ending it otherwise doesn’t have.
• Joel and the Bots decide Hispanic Mario is Manuel from “Fawlty Towers.” It allows them to do foreigner jokes that they otherwise probably couldn’t get away with.
• I remember after this episode aired that a few people actually tried to follow the recipe for a killer shrew. Anybody ever taste one? If they did, they’re probably in a diabetic coma. This sketch also has a nice little visit to Deep 13, something that doesn’t happen that often in mid-movie.
• The sound is so bad in this movie that there are about a dozen riffs where they are essentially asking what the hell some character just said. Way more than usual.
• The killer shrew costumes, far from “not cutting it,” are a riot.
• Joel says “we will be-ack” and “MST3 viewers.” They keep going.
• Ipecacs reappear; they first reared their ugly head in episode 315- TEENAGE CAVEMAN.
• Cast and crew roundup: The person to blame for this movie is Gordon McClendon, a Houston radio tycoon went through phase where he fancied himself a movie producer. The result was “Giant Gila Monster” and this. He also fancied himself an actor: he plays the Steve Allen-like scientist in this one and was the narrator in GGM. Both movies were made by many of the same crew members, including: co-producer Ken Curtis (yes, Festus of “Gunsmoke” fame), director Ray “knees up” Kellogg, screenplay/story guy Jay Simms, cinematographer Wilfred Cline, editor Aaron Stell (who also worked on “Beginning of the End”), makeup lady Corrine Daniel, production manger Ben Chapman (who was a stuntman in “The Mole People”), art director Louis Caldwell, set designer Louise Caldwell (who also worked on “The Amazing Transparent Man”), sound guy Earl Snyder (who also worked on “The Amazing Transparent Man” and “The Crawling Hand”) and sound effects guy Milton Citron.
• CreditsWatch: Additional contributing writer: Steve Hollenhorst. Host segments directed by Jim Mallon. Dr. F’s last name is still spelled “Forrestor.”
• Fave riff from the short: “And the crowd goes wild — yay.” Honorable mention: “Oh no. This is wrong. I signed up for debaaaaate…”
• Fave riff from the movie: “Imagine in how much detail, senor?” Honorable mentions: “I’ve been going through the script and I think I’m in this scene.” “The…end…”

Episode Guide: 408- Hercules Unchained

Last modified on 2015-09-06 21:12:04 GMT. 117 comments. Top.

Movie: (1959) Traveling with his young companion Ulysses, Herc’s mission to stop a war is sidetracked by hypnotic Queen Onfale, while his wife Iole pines for him.

First shown: 8/1/92
Opening: It’s wash and wax day for the bots
Invention exchange: The Mads have created decorator roaches (and Steve Reeves visits!), while J&tB present the Steve-o-meter
Host segment 1: Gypsy demonstrates that she is the Hellenistic ideal
Host segment 2: J&tB consume the water of forgetfulness, among other things
Host segment 3: Tom and Crow want to know what are Hercules and the nice lady are doing
End: J&tB ponder the meaning of the Hercules movies; while in Deep 13, Steve is no help
Stinger: The queen REALLY misses Herc
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• This is the first of several sword-and-sandal outings for MST3K. I think they’re perfect for the show: colorful, action-filled, mildly sexy and really really weird. I don’t think this is their best one, but it’s a lot of fun. The riffing is great, and the host segments are slyly funny.
• This episode was included in Rhino’s “The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 7.”
• Is anybody a scholar of these Hercules stories? I’m not. How close does this plot follow the “real” adventures of the Herc? (Update: Several scholars filled us in in the comments.)
• One thing I DID notice, though: Herc is surprised to encounter Oedipus (whom Ulysses says is “a good man”) blind and banished, but nobody really thinks to ask why. The whole thing is kind of glossed over…
• I’ve never been a fan of “detour” movies and that’s really what this is: The main plot–Hercules returns to his hometown of Thebes only to find it in the midst of a power struggle between Oedipus’ two sons–is sidetracked for most of the movie as Herc lumbers down one plot cul-de-sac after another. When he finally gets where he wanted to get, the big battle scene is actually pretty cool. Plus ya got lots of scantily clad nymphs…
• This movie was originally released in Italy as “”Ercole e la regina di Lidia”
• The opening segment ends as Joel leaps over the desk at Crow. It’s actually a more difficult move than you may think: For those who don’t know, directly behind the desk is the puppeteer “trench”–essentially an approximately three-foot drop. In order for Joel (and later Mike) to stand right up next to the desk, there was a narrow wooden plank laid across the trench. So, to make that move, Joel had to launch himself forward, carefully plant one foot on the plank (and not misstep and go crashing into the trench), and spring over the desk. A fellow could hurt himself, he could.
• What is the music on the menu screen of the DVD? I don’t think it’s from the movie.
• That’s Mike as Steve, of course. I love that “Nuh-uh.” By this time it was really becoming a delight anytime he popped up.
• A little personal story related to the Steve-o-meter sketch: In a previous incarnation I used to write, for the Philadelphia Inquirer (and the now-defunct Knight-Ridder news syndicate), that little write-up next to the TV grid that tells you what’s worth watching on TV that night. In one column, I said something nice about an performance by Steve Allen’s wife, Jayne Meadows. A few weeks later I was stunned to receive a hand-written letter from Ms. Meadows herself, thanking me for my kind words. I wrote back thanking HER for being so nice, and in the letter I mentioned MST3K, briefly explained the premise of the Steve-O-meter and ended my letter with something to the effect of “now I know something else Steve thought of, marrying a class act.” A week or so later I was even MORE stunned to receive ANOTHER letter, informing me that Steve thought the Steve-O-meter bit sounded funny and asking where they could get their hands on a tape of that show. I duped off a copy and sent it to them, and later got a short note saying Steve thought the sketch was very funny.
• Somewhat obscure reference: “He’s everywhere! He’s everywhere!” From the legendary Chickenman radio series back in the ‘60s. God, I loved that show.
• I can’t hear exactly what Servo says under his breath when Oedipus is mentioned, but it’s something about his mom…
• The whole little plot cul-de-sac at the beginning of the movie with Anteus the giant just seems like filler. It really has no relevance to the rest of the movie. And Herc is kind of a jerk during it.
• Primo Carnera, who played Anteus the giant was a household name in the 1930s. He was the world heavyweight boxing champion in 1933-34, during which he was also the heavyweight wrestling champion.
• Note the mention of Rondo Hatton, who we’ll later meet in “The Brute Man”
• Every once in a while in the theater, you can really tell that Joel/Mike and the bots are in a large echoey room. Listen when Joel yells “I haven’t showered since Zeus was a pup!” The acoustics are not good.
• Great job by Jim segment 1. He really belts out that song.
• The riff “Look! I’m hungry.” “Listen! It’s cold” brought back a memory: my daughter, about 8 at the time, thought that was one of the funniest things she’d ever heard. I remember her just rolling on the couch with laughter for about five minutes after she heard it.
• Another movie complaint: The guy tests if Ulysses is actually deaf by hurling a spear into the deck right next to him… I hate to break it to the movie, but any deaf person would feel the vibration of that. Not really a good test…
• Servo, as the pretentious theater fellow, mentions that he’s doing “an anti-Columbus thing.” And you might think: huh? Columbus? Remember, it was ’92, the 500th anniversary of ol’ Chris’ arrival in the western hemisphere and lots of people were making a pretty good living being outraged about it.
• Vaguely naughty riffs: “You mean nymph loads!” “Ow! My eye!” “It’s twue! It’s twue!” The Herc movies brought out the naughty.
• Then-current references: Distant entertainment memories “Curly Sue” and “Remington Steele.”
• As segment 3 opens, Joel is reading, highlighting and apparently really enjoying the novel “Tek Wars” by William Shatner. But he is — quite rightly — embarrassed by it.
• Segment 3 seems like it’s not in the right place. Tom says that by this point in the movie Herc is living with the nice lady. But actually by the time the segment comes up Herc has already left the nice lady. Seems like they could have moved Segment 1 to the third spot, Segment 2 to the first spot and Segment 3 to the second spot and it would have flowed with the movie a bit better.
• Tom says: “Oh for the clarity of Mighty Jack.” It’s a funny line, but really this movie has a much more easily-discernible plot than “Mighty Jack” which I had to watch about five times before I began to make any sort of sense of.
• Joel invokes the memory of short-lived ’60s TV show “Garrison’s Guerrillas,” which I think most boys loved because it had that cool Jeep-mounted machine gun. Who didn’t want to ride around in that when you were about nine?
• Callbacks: “He hit big Jake!” (“Sidehackers”) and the “He learned too late” speech from “It Conquered the World.” “Hikeeeba!” (Women of the Prehistoric Planet).
• Firesign Theatre reference: “He’s no fun, he fell right over.”
• The final segment is great, but I do wish they could have led into it a bit more smoothly. Gypsy’s question –“Why these kind of movies?”– sort of comes out of nowhere. But the rest of sketch is hilarious: Gypsy tries to contribute, but doesn’t quite have the mental dexterity. Crow has clearly paged through Campbell’s “Hero With a Thousand Faces” but, like an under-educated guy at a snooty cocktail party, can’t quite pull his thoughts together. Tom, ever the realist, cuts to the chase. Wonderful writing like “…which translates into big sweaty guys pushin’ girls around…” is one of the reasons why I love MST3K so much.
• Cast and crew roundup: This movie was made not long after the movie in episode 502- HERCULES, and many of the same cast and crew worked on both, including: assistant director/cinematographer Mario Bava (who also directed “Danger: Diabolik”), script writers Ennio De Concini and Gaio Frattini, editor Mario Serandrei and score composer Enzo Masetti. And don’t forget that Joseph E. Levine, executive producer of the American version, also produced “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” among many others. In front of the camera there was Steve Reeves, of course, plus Sylva Koscina, Mimmo Palmara (who is also in “Hercules and the Captive Women”), Gabriele Antonini, Andrea Fantasia, Aldo Fiorelli, Fabrizio Mioni, Gino Mattera, Aldo Pini, Fulvio Carrara and Willy Colombini. Another face in the crowd is Sergio Ciani a.k.a. Alan Steel, who we’ll meet again in “Hercules Against The Moon Men). And we’ll see Carlo D’Angelo again in “Secret Agent Super Dragon.”
• CreditsWatch: Additional contributing writer: Don Jurek. And, at last, the last name of Dr. F is corrected to “Forrester.”
• Fave riff: “You win the crazy award!” Also: Centurion: “Great Queen!” Joel: “Thanks!”

Episode Guide: 409- Indestructible Man (with short: ‘Undersea Kingdom’–Episode 2)

Last modified on 2015-12-03 21:38:32 GMT. 91 comments. Top.

Short: (1936) In part two (“The Undersea City”) of a serial, our heroes are menaced by Atlantean soldiers.
Movie: (1956) A vicious criminal is executed, but then resurrected by scientists. Discovering that he is now invincible, he vows vengeance on those who squealed on him.

First shown: 8/15/92
Opening: Something’s different about the bots (and Magic Voice), but Joel can’t quite figure it out
Invention exchange: The Mads’ have an invention, but they can’t show it to us; J&tB show off their cereal novels
Host segment 1: Tragedy strikes the Undersea Kingdom parade goes awry
Host segment 2: Joel asks: “What would you do if you were indestructible?”
Host segment 3: Joel tries the Lon Chaney “eye thing,” Tom and Crow are no help
End: J&tB sign the “no cop/doughnut joke” pledge, while the Mads deal with cops in Deep 13
Stinger: Indestructible man struggles with a manhole cover
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• We’re getting into the meat of season four, and this is another of those great, seemingly effortless episodes. Terrible but watchable movie, great riffing, funny segments. Another winner.
• This episode was included in Rhino’s “The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 11.”
• Joel mentions Crow’s Billy doll, last seen the last time “Undersea Kingdom” was featured.
• I assume Trace was running Tom and Kevin was running Crow in the opening segment. I wonder if that was the only time that has ever happened…
• A little biting literary commentary as Tom refers to the “controversial-yet-all-but-forgotten” novel “American Psycho.”
• This episode contains a notorious goof by the Brains: Dr. F says that the movie features “Casey Adams of ‘Catalina Caper’ fame.” In fact, Adams does not appear in “Catalina Caper.” The Brains are confusing him with “Catalina Caper” star Del Moore, whom Adams somewhat looks and sounds like … but not that much, really. Throughout the movie, when J&tB are supposedly doing impressions of Casey Adams, they’re really imitating Moore’s campy portrayal in “Catalina Caper.” They don’t really much sound like Adams at all.
• How could they make such a dumb mistake? Not to sound too much like an old “I walked uphill in the snow to school” fogey, but it’s important to remember that this episode was done before the World Wide Web—and the ability to just pop on to the IMDB and get your cast information straight — existed. My sense is that Best Brains’ entire movie research department, at that time, consisted of a dog-eared copy of the Leonard Maltin Movie Guide — which would have given them the correct name of the “Catalina Caper” actor, had they bothered to consult it.
• This is the only episode I’m aware of in which an actor appears in both the short and the main feature. It’s Lon Chaney Jr., the star of the main feature, who also appears in the short and actually has a few lines.
• The Rodney King incident was fresh in the writers’ minds. There are several references to it.
• Several times during the short, when a character refers to the “strange prisoners” or “strange captives” J&tB respond with “…weeeeird prisoners…” and “…weeeeird captives…”. For those wondering what that’s about, it’s reference to the early Marx Brothers movie “Animal Crackers.” In it, Groucho briefly parodies the trance-like intonations used in the monologues that are the gimmick in Eugene O’Neill’s play “Strange Interlude” (which was playing down the street when “Animal Crackers” was a Broadway musical). Aren’t you sorry you asked?
• Whoa! A somewhat startling reference to future Vice President Dick Cheney. I forgot he was SecDef when this episode was made.
• This installment of “Undersea Kingdom” is largely people running and riding around. It doesn’t really advance the plot very much…
• In segment 1, Crow’s little commercial for pepper sounds like a lot like the ones Garrison Keillor does (used to do? I haven’t listened in a while…) on his St. Paul-based radio show “A Prairie Home Companion.” I wonder if it’s an homage or just a coincidence.
• There’s also something incredibly silly about “Pollixfen, for your den-fen-tures….” That’s about three levels away from an actual joke, but it’s still funny.
• Props to Jef Maynard and the rest of the props team for the parade in segment 1. Very cool.
• As segment 1 ends, Crow says “I’m just going to step into this doorway,” a reference to Les Nessman in the famous “Turkey Drop” episode of “WKRP in Cincinnati.”
• J&tB get mighty cranky during the incredibly static car conversation. Maybe I’m just hardened off to boring movie scenes, but it doesn’t seem that bad to me.
• They still make Old Smuggler. From one who knows.
• The cop-donut thing is funny, but by my count there were only three of them in this episode. Doesn’t seem like Joel overdid it to me…
• Another overtly religious remark from Joel: “…only millions of Christians…”
• The Brains treat Joe Flynn’s appearance in this movie a little strangely. The recognition of him comes when they make a joke that he’s a Joe Flynn lookalike. Later they acknowledge that it IS Joe Flynn, croaking “McHale!” several times and they even make a great “Inspector Henderson and Captain Binghampton” joke. I wonder if that first riff was a leftover from an early pass through the movie.
• This movie offers extensive footage of the Angels Flight trolley, a popular (and, in 2001, deadly) L.A. tourist attraction.
• Lon must have loved this role—there were hardly any lines to learn.
• Try to not blink as long as the witness lady goes without blinking. It’s tough!
• Fans of Joel got about as close as they’re ever going to get to their hero in segment 3. You can count the pores!
• Callbacks: “Hikeeba!” (Women of the Prehistoric Planet). ”Want some?” (Daddy-O). The routine Tom and Crow fall into at the end of segment 3 is from “Sidehackers.” That they are still going on about it two seasons later is amazing.
• Obscure ref: “I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster” – the name of a very short-lived ’60s TV series. Also, Tom refers to “that Crazy Glue demonstration,” a reference to an all-but-forgotten TV commercial in which an actor playing a construction worker Crazy Glues his hardhat to the bottom of a girder and then hangs from it.
• Gypsy’s a notary?
• Mike and Kevin are great as the cops in the final segment. By the way, that scene also provided a wonderful poopie moment, with Mike and Frank cracking each other up.
• Cast and crew wrapup for the short: Some people who worked on this short also worked on “Radar Men from the Moon” including special effects guys Howard and Theodore Lydecker and production support guy Barney A. Sarecky (who also worked on “Radar Secret Service” and “The Corpse Vanishes”). In front of the camera, Jack Mulhall was in “The She-Creature,” Edwin Parker was in “This Island Earth,” “Bride of the Monster” and “The Mole People” and Tom Steele was in “Radar Men from the Moon.”
• Cast and crew roundup for the feature: producer-director Jack Pollexfen also worked on “The Atomic Brain,” as did screenwriters Sue Bradford and Vy Russell. Cinematographer John Russell Jr. also worked on “Girls Town” and “Invasion USA.” Art director Theobold Holsopple also worked on “Rocketship X-M.” Of course, score composer Albert Glasser worked on lots of MSTed movies.
In front of the camera, Ross Elliott was in “The Crawling Hand,” Kenneth Terrell was in “Radar Men from the Moon,” Robert Shayne was in “Teenage Caveman” and “The Rebel Set”) and Robert Foulk was in “Untamed Youth.”
• CreditsWatch: Andrea Ducane does the makeup for the second of three shows this season (Clayton James was the main makeup guy at this point). Suzette Jamison finishes up her internship. Additional contributing writer: David Sussman.
• Fave riffs from the short: “This looks like a set the Monkees would end up on.” Honorable mention: “It’s Jim Henson’s Birth of a Nation Babies.”
• Fave riffs from the movie: (As Irish cop) “Alright, gather round everybody, lots to see, show’s just startin’.” Honorable mention: Detective in movie: “You wanted me?” Joel: “For years!!”

Episode Guide: 410- Hercules Against the Moon Men

Last modified on 2015-12-10 14:10:59 GMT. 97 comments. Top.

Movie: (1964) Evil Queen Samar is in cahoots with a cult of monstrous moon men. Herc is determined to stop them.

First shown: 8/22/92
Opening: Crow and Tom run away from home (briefly)
Invention exchange: The Mads unveil DEEP HURTING!; J&tB demonstrate their super freak-out kit
Host segment 1: Tom & Crow present the amazing BOOBY trap illusion
Host segment 2: Newly muscular Crow and Tom consider tough guy names
Host segment 3: Song: “Ode to Pants!”
End: J&tB discuss the switch from Steve Reeves to Alan Steele, Joel reads a letter, Crow gets disciplined, Tom reads another letter; In Deep 13, Dr. F is baffled by the outcome of the experiment, while Frank is wistful
Stinger: Old guy gets skewered
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• This is, for me, the funniest of the sword-and-sandal movie episodes, and an all-around great episode. As I said with the last one, these Herc movies are just perfect for MST3K, very watchable and very riffable. Strong riffing, great segments, just lots of fun.
• This episode was included in Rhino’s “The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 7.”
• Joel seems to have let his goatee grow out since last episode. Attention dsman71.
• “Deeeeeeep hurting!” (and, to a lesser extent, “saaaaaannndstoooorrrmmm”) became an immediate catchphrase and it’s still being used by longtime fans. By the way, it’s a reference to a commercial for a nostrum called “Deep Heating Rub.” I don’t think this is the actual commercial they were parodying, but you get the idea.
• Ya gotta love “Wishbone Ash” Frank’s freakout. Traaaaiiills!
• While the title and the dubbing refer to our hero as Hercules, in the original Italian he is Maciste (aka “My cheesesteak”). The strongman character has a long history: he originated in the 1914 Italian movie “Cabiria” and was resurrected when sword-and-sandal epics suddenly became very popular in the late 1950s. Because American audiences were unfamiliar with Maciste, the title character’s name was usually changed to Atlas, Colossus (as in “Colossus and the Headhunters,” although nobody calls him that in the movie), Goliath, Hercules or Samson.
• Obscure riff: “The Mighty Flavog!” That was a character invented for The Muppets’ very brief stint on Saturday Night Live, more than 30 years ago.
• Love the “pizza-pizza” stuff. A reference to popular commercials for the Little Caesars pizza restaurant chain. This should give you an idea of what was going on.
• I always enjoy the bit where some character in the movie has a long speech with odd little pauses and Tom tries to get a word in edgewise, as he does here when the old guy talks.
• During segment one, the walls of the amazing BOOBY trap illusion swing rather freely … Not really very threatening. This is also a “meta” bit, essentially a joke about a joke.
• Callbacks: “Hikeeba.” (Women of the Prehistoric Planet). “Trumpy, you’re angry!” (Pod People). o/` “Hey, it’s the undersea kingdom…” o/` “I’m a Grimault warrior!” (Viking Women). “You told me a fabricated story…” (The Unearthly). “It was after the apocalypse. They had to get to the power station…” (Robot Holocaust).
• Mildly naughty moment: “Guys, I am so homesick right now…”
• The first time I saw this I was floored when they referenced this ancient TV commercial for “Marvel the Mustang” that I had completely forgotten about until that moment. What horse do!
• Although Tom’s body rejected his muscle-man arms in segment 2, Joel has put his old arms back by the time he reenters the theater. He quietly thanks Joel.
• During the brawl on screen, J&tB do a terrific version of the “Star Trek” fight music. Harmony and everything.
• Segment three features one of my favorite MST3K songs: “Pants!” Even Frank gets into it! (This segment also gave us a couple of great poopie moments.)
• When the sandstorm scene finally arrives, it definitely is pretty punishing. In earlier seasons, it’s the sort of thing that might have gotten the movie rejected. What can you riff on when essentially nothing is happening in the movie for several minutes? But the geniuses at MST3K found a way, and it’s a great example of turning a liability into an asset. Instead of ruining the episode, that section is one of the highlights.
• Joel actually uses the term “riffing” several times, something he didn’t do a lot.
• In the discussion of the movie at the end of the episode, J&tB speak of the movie as if it was a direct sequel to the movie they watched a couple of episodes back, but really the two aren’t related at all.
• Somebody mentions Gaines Burgers, which you don’t really see in the stores any more. Since I seem to linking to commercials on youtube a lot this time around, here’s what they’re talking about.
• Cast and crew roundup: Of course we saw Alan Steel in “Hercules Unchained.” Goffredo Unger, who was one of the actors in this movie, was an assistant director for “Devil Fish.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Jim. Barb Oswald was “Toolmaster Jr.” one last time. “Pants” was written and arranged by Mike and Frank. Beginning with this episode and for the next seven episodes, the credits misspell “Ammendment” in “the authors of the 1st Ammendment.”
• Fave riff: “Meet Sammy SPEAR and his orchestra!” Honorable mention: “Don’t make me laugh, Woodsy Owl!”

Episode Guide: 411- The Magic Sword

Last modified on 2015-12-18 00:05:27 GMT. 104 comments. Top.

Movie: (1962) A knight tries to save damsel from an evil sorcerer with the help of his magical foster mother.

First shown: 8/29/92
Opening: Joel fancies himself a caricature artist
Invention exchange: J&tB demonstrate their Big Gulp berets; The Mads have created designer bio-hazard absorbent throw pillows and Frank performs a one-act play to explain them
Host segment 1: J&tB present their commercial for Basil Rathbones for dogs
Host segment 2: Joel, Gypsy and Crow, in medieval costumes, present a pageant on life in the middle ages, but Tom ruins things
Host segment 3: Crow sings: “Estelle”
End: J&tB discuss words you can’t say on TV, Joel reads a letter, TV’s Frank’s not looking good
Stinger: Estelle’s two-headed assistant
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• I agree with Joel (in the theater), Tom (in a host segment) and Paul (in the ACEG): this movie is not that bad for a Bert I. Gordon movie, which makes the whole affair more watchable. The riffing is decent and the host segments are fun. This one may not be great, but it’s very good.
• This episode was included in Shout! Factory’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XXVI.”
• RiffTrax has re-riffed this movie.
• In the opening bit, Trace and Kevin must have been crouching in front of the SOL set. Probably uncomfortable.
• That’s Maili Nurma, aka Vampira, as the enchantress/hag who tempts the Frenchman.
• Nice cartoon sound effect as the needle is removed from Frank’s neck.
• I love the phrase “criminally-priced spring water.” It hasn’t gone away.
• One thing I’ll say for about this episode, it answers at last the question of who Merritt Stone is … he’s the guy who plays “King Grady.”
• Callbacks: “Hey, it’s the Undersea Kingdom…” “I say it’s foggy!” (The Crawling Eye), “Ya got me!” (Catalina Caper), Crow imitates Del Moore from Catalina Caper, “I’m so sleepy I can barely keep awake!” (The Hercmeister) “Hikeeba” (Women of the Prehistoric Planet) and “…Happy king…” (Mr B Natural).
• Joel mentions a “Jane Fonda video.” It’s been decades since she’s made one, so a lot of people may not remember that Fonda was once the queen of exercise and fitness videos.
• Joel does another overt religious (or Biblical at least) riff: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”
• As they head out of the theater toward segment 1, they start talking about the host segment they’re about to do. I like when they do that. Adds continuity.
• Great reference: “They’re packed with bits of Nigel Bruce!”
• Note the LOTR reference before LOTR references were commonplace.
• Crow’s song is easily a highlight, though I confess I like Tom’s list of people better looking than Estelle ever better. (However, hate to break it to Tom, but Jesus Jones is not a person.)
• Alas, Crow’s love was not to be. Estelle died in 1984.
• Joel mentions Ashwaubenon High, his alma mater.
• While reading the letter, Joel actually says “keep circulating the tapes.” I think it’s the only time he ever did that on the show.
• Poor Frank at the end — and, hey, didn’t something very similar happen to Dr. Erhardt?
• Cast and crew roundup: Of course, we’ve already suffered through Bert I. Gordon’s “King Dinosaur,” “The Amazing Colossal Man,” “Earth Vs. The Spider” and “War of the Colossal Beast.” In the future we’ll get “Tormented,” “Beginning of the End” and “Village of the Giants.” Scriptwriter Bernard Schoenfeld also wrote “The Space Children.” Cinematographer Paul Vogel also worked on “Village of the Giants.” Editor Harry Gerstad also worked on “Rocketship X-M.” Costume guy Oscar Rodriguez also worked on “I Was A Teenage Werewolf” and “The Phantom Planet.” Assistant director/production manager Herbert E. Mendelson also worked on “She Devil.” Art director Franz Bachelin worked on “Village of the Giants.” Set designer George R. Nelson worked on “Code Name: Diamond Head.” Score composer Richard Markowitz also worked on “Stranded in Space.” In front of the camera, Gary Lockwood has a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” role in “Kitten With A Whip.” Angelo Rossitto also appears in “The Corpse Vanishes.” And don’t get me started about Jack Kosslyn and Merritt Stone.
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Jim. Crist Ballas did the hair and makeup, the only episode he worked this season. “Ode on Estelle” was written and arranged by Mike and Paul. “Ammendment” is misspelled.
• Fave riff: “Just came to freak you out, baby…” Honorable mention: “Ga-nish!”

Episode Guide: 412- Hercules and the Captive Women

Last modified on 2015-09-20 16:37:19 GMT. 72 comments. Top.

Movie: (1961) Hercules goes to Atlantis to save his son, but evil Queen Antinea stands in his way.

First shown: 9/12/92
Opening: Gypsy wants to join Joel, Tom and Crow in the theater and Joel agrees, though Tom and Crow are dubious
Invention exchange: Frank demonstrates The lawn baby, J&tB show off the womb-mate
Host segment 1: Joel wonders: is there such a thing as “good-natured” brawling
Host segment 2: Crow presents his rather dubious “history” of Hercules
Host segment 3: The bots’ have created a Hercules action figure, and it’s pretty lame
End: Laying the Hercules movies to rest, Joel reads letter, Frank is being chased by mower
Stinger: “Hercules! Help me!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• This is one of the lesser sword-and-sandal outings. Confusing movie, hit and miss riffing, pretty good segments. Of course, this one includes the classic line: “Today is dedicated to Uranus,” and is the landmark episode in which Gypsy watches a short portion of the movie along with Joel, Tom and Crow. All in all, fun, but a lesser effort.
• This episode was included in Shout! Factory’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XXIX.”
• Joel’s confidence in Gypsy is admirable, but let’s note for the record that, sadly, Crow and Tom’s instincts were correct. Gypsy is not down with the street.
• Joel says “Zatharatu.” I’ve always heard it was “Zarathustra.” Did he mean it or is Joel using some obscure alternate name?
• Despite all the hoopla to the contrary, this is NOT the last Hercules movie.
• As Tom sagely notes: “This would really be exciting if I knew what was goin’ on.” All the excitement about Gypsy in the theater takes place when the movie is setting up the plot, with the result that I never did really figure out what the heck is going on in this movie.
• I suspect a hunk of the movie was cut right around the first commercial. Before the commercial, there are portents of danger and Herc is tossin’ thrones around. After the break, Herc wakes up on a ship and everybody is smirking silently at him. The heck?
• Does this story resemble any actual ancient tale? Was there ever a King Androcles (with or without a lion)?
• All these movies have men in miniskirts, but this one has to have the miniest minis I’ve seen yet (shudder).
• Gypsy’s riff: “They’re steam-cleaning the horses!” delights Joel, Tom and Crow. Eh, not bad. But of her few riffs, I actually like “Oh, they’ve got a fun friend!” better.
• By my count, Gypsy lasts 5 and a half minutes. Sheesh, Gypsy, these sword-and-sandal things are among the more watchable movies MST did! What a lightweight!
• Gypsy exits left. A few other characters have exited or entered this way. Where does that exit lead? And how do they eat and breathe?
• Firesign Theatre reference: “…The Golden Hind.”
• I never noticed before that, a couple of times, they do a needle drop on that musical sting that I think was originally composed for “This Island Earth” and that I’ve heard in a lot of Universal movies.
• Crow goes a bit overboard with the “I have my rights! It was Callahan!” bit. (For those who don’t know, it’s a reference to the movie “Dirty Harry.”) He does it five times by my count, practically every time the little guy in the movie has a line.
• Callback: ”Hurry, Diana!” (Undersea Kingdom), Frank sings “I sing whenever I sing…” (Giant Gila Monster), “Rock Candy Baby” (Daddy-O), “…I’ve heard them talk about so much lately…” (Gamera).
• That’s Frank as the voice of the action figure when he says “I’m so sleepy…” but the final comment is by Mike. Wonder why they didn’t just have one of them do all the comments? By the way, the action figure’s arm falls off in the middle of the sketch. Joel conceals pretty well and they keep going.
• CreditsWatch: Nathan Devery finished up his internship with this episode. “Ammendment” is still misspelled.
• Cast and crew roundup: The editor of the American version was Hugo Grimaldi, who also worked on “The Phantom Planet,” “First Spaceship on Venus” and “The Human Duplicators.” Gordon Zahler composed the score on the American version, as he did with “The Phantom Planet,” “First Spaceship on Venus,” “The Human Duplicators” and “Women of the Prehistoric Planet.” In front of the camera, Ivo Garrani also appeared in “Hercules” and Mimmo Palmara also appeared in “Hercules Unchained” and “Hercules.” Narrator Leon Selznick can also be heard in “The Phantom Planet.”
• Fave riff: “Dear lord, the canary exploded!” Honorable mention: Tom: “You guys are supposed to be nice to me! Today is dedicated to my…” Joel: “We know!” Also: “Well, whatever tugs at your bobber, little fella.”

Episode Guide: 413- Manhunt in Space (with short: ‘General Hospital’–Segment 1)

Last modified on 2015-10-18 16:05:13 GMT. 110 comments. Top.

Short: (1963) A few scenes from the soap opera “General Hospital.” Jesse plans a party while Dr. Hardy gives a worried patient a diagnosis.
Movie: (1954) Edited-together episodes of the TV series “Rocky Jones, Space Ranger.” Our hero and his sidekick Winky rescue stranded Vena and confront space pirates working for evil Queen Cleolanta.

First shown: 9/19/92
Opening: Crow isn’t happy that the movie is going to be in black and white, leading to the discovery that Tom Servo is color blind!
Invention exchange: The Mads have invented beanbag pants, while J&tB demonstrate recycled paper clothing
Host segment 1: The bots are playing soap opera, but Joel won’t play
Host segment 2: J&tB discuss the overuse of modifiers, such as “space”
Host segment 3: J&tB get a visit from Winkie on the Hexfield
End: Crow is Joel’s guitar and Tom is the amp, Joel reads a letter, the Mads are stuck in their bean bag chairs
Stinger: Space traitor Ken tosses a chair
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• Of the two Rocky Jones episodes, I prefer “Crash of the Moons,” but this one is a good time too. The previous time I watched this I was really, really sick. The consequence was that the black-and-white movie and all that monotonous rocketship taking off and landing practically put me to sleep (the meds might have contributed to this). This time through I was fully functional (more or less) and I have to say I liked it a lot more. The movie is pretty strange but the cast really commits to the premise, which makes the riffing easier and more fun. The host segments are mostly pretty good (although the “space modifier” segment wears out its welcome) and generally I didn’t have any trouble staying awake and laughing a lot.
• This episode was included in Shout! Factory’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XIV.”
• A little backstage info: Kevin has acknowledged that he actually does have red-green color blindness, which I guess is where the idea for the bit came from.
• I love how, in the short, the doc tells his patient that his treatment for her apparently minor condition is TWO WEEKS in the hospital. How times have changed.
• When John “Dr. Hardy” Beradino appears, Crow says “Wow, he was old even then!” Beradino was in his mid-40s when that scene was shot. Wonder if Trace would still make that joke? I know I wouldn’t! :smile:
• Showbiz info: The syndicated television series “Rocky Jones, Space Ranger,” lasted only one season, because it lost a considerable amount of money. It was the first space opera to be shot on film, (which is why it survives so well today) and had huge overhead costs (sets, special effects, large cast) compared to other shows of the early 1950s (I know, hard to believe THOSE were bank-breaking special effects, but…). The show was popular and had no lack of advertising sponsors, but it became evident during its first season that it would probably never break even.
• Tom Servo thinks a shot of a planet looks like the MST3K logo—Joel hushes him.
• All the rocket ship footage seemed to push some “Thunderbirds” buttons for the cast: they mention it a couple of times and Crow says “Scott Tracy!” at one point.
• During segment one, Crow mentions “mogo-on-the-g-go-go” a W.C. Fields reference which we can now be pretty certain came from Frank, since he goes on at some length about it here.
• Nice reminder that Cambot is there at the end of segment 1. We sometimes forget but they seldom did.
• Callback: “I told you to find adventure not bring it home with you!” (City Limits); Hikeeba (Women of the Prehistoric Planet); “I’m a Grimault warrior!” (Viking Women); “Chief? McCloud!” (Pod People); The Gamera song.
• Then-current reference: “What’s your position?” “Leaning towards Perot.”
• Last time, I thought Tom said, “What is this, Radio Oz?” Turns out it’s Radio AAHS.
• I had the same reaction to segment 2 this time that I’ve had in the past: “Did they really say ‘space’ that much? I can’t remember them doing it even once.”
• Movie complaint: Winkie says “the ship won’t land on its tail” and then it does. Several times. Hmm. But I always enjoyed the notion of a rocket ship landing back on its tail, like a car backing into a parking space, but apparently in real life it’s really damn hard.
• In segment three, Crow has an acid-flashback to episode 310- FUGITIVE ALIEN, which Joel notes was “like, 20 experiments ago.” It was 26 episodes ago, to be exact.
• Mike is great as Winkie (is that an MST3K logo on his shirt?) and Frank sure does a great little old lady voice.
• As a side note, Scotty “Winkie” Beckett wrote that song he sings. Another thing he was not that good at, I guess.
• Shoes for industry! (Another Firesign Theatre reference.)
• As the traitor carries Rocky to the gantry, Crow says “Oh, he’s gonna do the Letterman thing.” Huh?
• Um, Joel can call Earth? (I know, I know…)
• Cast and crew roundup: Of course, much of the same crew also worked on “Crash of the Moons,” including executive producer Guy V. Thayer, producer/creator Roland Reed, associate producer Arthur Pierson, director Hollingsworth Morse, assistant director Dick Moder, editors Fred Maguire and S. Roy Luby, special effects guy Jack R. Glass (who also worked on “Project Moon Base”), production manager Richard L’Estrange, art director McClure Capps and music conductor Alexander Laszlo (who also worked on “Attack of the Giant Leeches” and “Night of the Blood Beast”). In front of the camera, Richard Crane, Scotty Beckett, Sally Mansfield, Robert Lyden, Maurice Cass, Charles Meredith, Patsy Parsons and Harry Lauter were all back again for “Crash of the Moons.” In addition, James Griffith was in “The Amazing Transparent Man,” Dale Van Sickel was in “Radar Men from the Moon” and Judd Holdren was in “Rocketship X-M.”
• CreditsWatch: Curtis Anderson and Kelly Ann Nathe started their internships. Jim directed the host segments once again, but this was his last time in season four. Kevin, Joel and Trace would trade off for the rest of the season.”Ammendment” is still spelled wrong.
• Fave riff from the short: “Here comes Nurse Feratu.” Honorable mention: “Nothing an expensive operation can’t complicate.”
• Fave riff from the feature: “What are you doing in Alan Brady’s office?” Honorable mention: “I’ve got something that’ll put you through the floor, boys.”

Episode Guide: 414- Tormented

Last modified on 2016-01-07 20:21:10 GMT. 143 comments. Top.

Movie: (1960) A betrothed jazz pianist believes he’s escaped his troublesome mistress when he fails to save her from a fall. But then he’s visited by her ghost … and a blackmailer.

First shown: 9/26/92
Opening: The bots have set up housekeeping in a ventilation duct
Invention exchange: J&tB demonstrate the Aunt Catherine wheel, while the Mads show off the drinking jacket
Host segment 1: Joel is stuck in ventilation duct, Crow and Tom are no help
Host segment 2: Joel asks the bots which pop singers they’d like to throw from a lighthouse
Host segment 3: Crow and Tom pretend to be bodyless ghosts, but Joel has the last laugh
End: J&tB are depressed so they think happy thoughts and sing a happy song, and does Frank
Stinger: “Tom Stewart killed me!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• A lot of people say this may be Bert I.’s best, and it may be true. It’s definitely possible to get caught up in this one, as strange as it is. The riffing is good and the host segments are what we’ve come to expect from season four. Definitely a fun episode.
• This episode was included in Rhino’s “The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 11.”
• “This is one dark mama-jama of a movie,” Joel says toward the end, and, wow, is it ever. It’s also kinda dull for the first half, although the weirdness overwhelms the blandness in the second half. The script makes some bold narrative choices: nobody can sympathize with the awful, grasping, brassy Vi, and Tom didn’t actively kill her and yet he is still subjected to blackmail and as nightmarish haunting. It seems like Tom’s biggest mistake (not counting killing the hipster) was not immediately reporting Vi’s death.
• Cambot is leaning WAY over the desk to shoot Joel in the opening.
• That’s definitely Mike as “The Aunt Catherine Wheel” and “Uncle Carl,” and it sounds like the same voice as “Grammy Fisher” and “Aunt Ethel” but who is it? Trace, maybe?
• I have a special fondness for the “drinking jacket” invention — I created my own and wore it in the costume contest at the second convention.
• Sadly the “Spalding, old man!” joke is not so funny now.
• Movie comment: They’re sending the invitations only a week before the wedding?
• I’m no expert on men’s calves but certain people of the female persuasion have expressed agreement with Crow’s assessment. Any thoughts on Joel’s calves?
• This episode’s overused joke: “Sessions presents…” Once or twice, okay, but they really beat it to death.
• After segment 2, Joel is so excited he playfully tosses Tom as they reenter the theater (Kevin is apparently laying on his back waiting to catch him).
• Crow goofs: The snack bar chef is NOT Merritt Stone. That’s Gene Roth. But Stone IS in the movie: he’s the clergyman who marries Tom and his bride.
• Callback: “Charles Moffett…” (Ring of Terror)
• Joel suggests this is more depressing than hanging in a bar talking to Neil Young. Why is talking to Neil Young depressing? He seems like a pretty cheerful guy.
• One highlight of the episode is the hilarious “happy thoughts song,” including Frank’s verse at the end. Great stuff. Note that the Prince Roach from episode 408- HERCULES UNCHAINED is on the floor near Frank.
• I’ve always enjoyed Joel’s use of the phrase “K’nerping for moisture.”
• During the song, Tom Servo’s head falls off. They keep going.
• Cast and crew roundup: Of course, many of the people who worked on this worked on other BIG movies, to wit: scriptwriter George Worthing Yates also wrote “Earth vs. The Spider” and “War of the Colossal Beast.” Cinematographer Ernest Laszlo also worked “The Space Children.” Editor John Bushelman worked “War of the Dinosaurs” and “Village of the Giant. Costumer Marge Corso worked on “Earth Vs. the Spider,” “Teenage Caveman,” “Bloodlust” and “The She-Creature.” And of course Albert Glasser did every movie ever. In front of the camera, in addition to Gene Roth and Merritt Stone, there’s Harry Fleer, who was also in “The Unearthly,” Vera Marshe, who was also in “The Space Children” and George Stanley, who was in “Earth Vs. Spider.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Kevin Murphy. Tim Scott replaces Brian Wright as audio guy. Andrea DuCane did hair and makeup (the third of three times this season). And it is with this episode that we say farewell to Alexandra Carr, who was with the show since the KTMA days and did just about every job, including writer and performer. Her departure caused a lot of title shifts, but we’ll deal with that in the next episode. “Ammendment” is still spelled wrong.
• Fave riff: “Honey, I’m ho-o-o-o-oh, yeah, you’re dead.” Honorable mention: “C’mon, we’re going bowling.”

Episode Guide: 415- The Beatniks (with short: ‘General Hospital’–Segment 2)

Last modified on 2016-01-14 17:38:56 GMT. 124 comments. Top.

Short: (1963) A scene from the soap opera “General Hospital.” Nurse Jesse throws the most tense and awkward party ever.
Movie: (1960) Hoodlum and wannabe singer Tony gets his big break, but can’t shake his psycho pseudo-beatnik buddies.

First shown: 11/25/92
Opening: A uncharacteristically mean Joel dominates the bots in a game of rock-paper-scissors
Invention exchange: The Mads have donned troll doll costumes, Joel demonstrates pocket pool
Host segment 1: Joel, Crow and Tom present: Either you are or aren’t a beatnik
Host segment 2: The bots’ slumber party gets a call from Tony Travis!
Host segment 3: Tom Servo stars in a dramatization of the life of a ’50s rock star
End: Crow is in Moon mode, Joel reads a letter, while the Mads are a hot property
Stinger: Moon gets hysterical
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• There’s so much to love about this episode. The movie is both watchable and eminently stupid, a perfect combination for MST3K. The riffing is solid, and you would expect no less at this stage of season 4. Even the segments are uniformly good. A great episode for newbies and just all-around fun.
References.
• This episode was included in Shout’s “The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. XVII.”
• This episode debuted on the Turkey Day 1992 marathon, and was the first new episode to air in two months.
• As noted, Joel is uncharacteristically mean in the opening! Anybody who says Joel was always a father figure to the bots should watch this sketch. (Although he reminds me a bit of MY father a little.) Thankfully, GYPSY CRUSHES JOEL! and we have a happy ending.
• That’s Mary Jo as Magic Voice, for the first time.
• Naughty line: “You got a snooker down there!”
• During the short, J&tB do probably their best “commercial” for the Booze Council, featuring the classic line: “Booze takes a dull party and makes it better!”
• Callback: “Rock candy baby you’re mine, yeah!” (Daddy-O). “Brought to you by Ken-L Ration” and “I have a hiatus hernia” (General Hospital).
• You can hear director/scriptwriter Paul Frees (the voice of Boris Badenov) introducing Eddie when he makes his first TV appearance and also as the voice of the police detective in the hospital. Frees also did voices for Inspector Fenwick on “The Dudley Do-Right Show” and the magpies on “The Heckle and Jeckle Show” among many many voice jobs.
• One great thing about this episode is that all Eddie’s songs have these giant gaps after each line of lyrics, allowing J&tB to insert a riff after practically every one.
• Odd moment in the movie: Does Harry really have to ask permission to use the pay phone in Iris’ mom’s diner?
• “I killed that fat barkeep!!” became an immediate MSTie catchphrase.
• Firesign Theatre reference: As segment 2 begins, Tom is singing the “Porgie Tirebiter” theme song.
• That’s Mike, of course, as the voice of Tony Travis. “If you’re a bill collector or if you’re with the military…”
• In segment 3, Crow’s wig falls off. They keep going.
• One of the weirdest things about this movie is the casting of the hatchet-faced Joyce Terry (aka “Donald Sutherland in drag”) as Helen. Her beauty is supposed to tempt Eddie away from the dim-witted, co-dependent Iris, but it’s hard to understand what Eddie could possibly see in her.
• The letter they read at the end is from a kid who got in trouble for calling his mom a “dickweed.” J&tB state that it is NOT a swear word and they’re right … but I think you still shouldn’t call your mom a dickweed (even if she’s being one).
• Cast and crew round up: Editor Harold White also worked on “Daddy-O.” Musical director Stanley Wilson also did the score for “Radar Men from the Moon.” In front of the camera, Karen Kadler was also in “It Conquered the World.” Peter Breck was also in “The Crawling Hand.” Frank Worth, who had a bit part here, wrote the score for “Bride of the Monster.” As for Paul Frees, besides doing the grunts and groans for Glenn Manning in ”War of the Colossal Beast,” he’s the voice of Kalin in “The Sword and the Dragon” and the narrator in “The Deadly Mantis.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Joel Hodgson (the first of four eps this season). But the big news is the departure of Alex Carr, causing everybody to move up a rung: Jann Johnson becomes production manager (Alex’s old title) and Ellen (Ellie) McDonough becomes production coordinator (Jann’s old title). Alex’s name comes off and Ellen’s name is added to the “post production coordination” credit along with Jann. Ellie comes off the list under “production assistant.” Clayton James did hair and makeup for all the rest of the episodes this season. “Ammendment” is still spelled wrong.
• Fave riff from short: “This is Pete from props. Don’t eat the cake!” Honorable mention: “There’s a layer of squirrel in here!”
• Fave riff from the movie: “Dish of ice cream! Don’t tempt me!” Honorable mention: o/` “…a tight leather mask…” o/`, “Accessory After The Fact Theater will return after this.”

Episode Guide: 416- Fire Maidens of Outer Space

Last modified on 2016-01-21 16:52:11 GMT. 97 comments. Top.

Movie: (1956) Astronauts travel to a moon of Jupiter and discover a civilization populated almost entirely by women. Soon they’re battling a monster that has been terrorizing the settlement.

First shown: 11/26/92
Opening: During a posture check, Timmy the dark Crow appears — and attacks Cambot!
Invention exchange: The Mads have the big checkbook, while Joel demonstrates cheese sneaker
Host segment 1: Tom wants to discuss double entendres, but Timmy acts out
Host segment 2: Joel tries to explain the twin-screw controller, but Timmy interferes
Host segment 3: Joel defeats Timmy in a battle to the death
End: Joel, Crow and Tom discuss the lessons they’ve learned, Joel reads a letter, and Timmy’s in Deep 13
Stinger: It’s a secret passage miracle
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• What a great, great episode, featuring the truly inspired “dark Timmy” host segments. The Brains rarely gave us a complete story within the 15 minutes or so that the host segments run, and this is one of the funniest and most creative attempts. Witty and captivating all the way through. The riffing is, again, just what you would expect at this point in season four, when this team was firing on all cylinders. As for the movie, well…you know, in the theme song when they talk about “cheesy movies”? This is about as cheesy as it gets.
• I would really love to see this one on a future DVD collection.
References.
• This was the second of two new episodes shown on Thanksgiving Day, 1992.
• Of course, for the one or two people who don’t know, Timmy is the Crow they use in the theater, painted black to make a nicer silhouette. But are they using two black Crows in the theater when Timmy sneaks in? I can’t really see a difference in the silhouettes.
• Callbacks: Joel’s posture check during the opening is a callback to the “Posture Pals” short (shown in episode 320- The Unearthly). Crow is right, that is the same footage from “King Dinosaur.” Joel says “tenperature” in segment 2, a callback to “Fugitive Alien.” “I’m feeling REALLY good!” (Gamera vs Guiron). “Lawrence would you get back there…” (Catalina Caper).
• Last time I asked if “I prayed for a friend and he came” is from something. Commenters said it’s from a Frankenstein movie.
• I love Frank’s zoned out expression when they first cut to Deep 13.
• I guess with the holiday season approaching, “It’s a Wonderful Life” was on their minds — not only do they make references to it during the movie, but Frank and Dr. F approximate a scene from it during the giant checkbook bit.
• Dr. F is evil, so he pronounces “WimbleDON” incorrectly.
• Frank has a hilarious bit of business during the invention exchange: He needs to sign a giant check, so of course he needs a pen. He pats his pockets looking for a pen but can’t find one, then steps off camera and returns with a GIANT pen. Funny stuff.
• I wonder who art directed the costumes and set pieces in the blackout scenes after Timmy commandeers the twin-screw controller. The images are wonderfully surrealistic and also vaguely reminiscent of the Daffy Duck cartoon “Duck Amuck.”
• Tom still has the rotisserie in his head when comes back into the theater. Joel helps him out.
• Dopey movie moment: When they first encounter the girl being molested by the monster, the astronauts are at least 50 yards away and the girl is standing right next to the monster, but one of them calmly levels his revolver and shoots in their direction. He misses both of them, but either he thinks he’s a REEEEALLY good shot or he’s incredibly reckless. Or he’s in a cheesy movie. Sheesh.
• That’s Jef Maynard running Timmy (he’s in the credits). In those days he tended to be their go-to guy when they needed somebody else in the puppet trench; later it was Pat Brantseg.
• Servo applauds several times in the theater. How does he do that with inoperable arms? (I know, I know.)
• Timmy enters the theater between segments two and three. When they come back from commercial he can’t be seen, but then he slowly reappears and then starts to creep over to attack Tom. This is one of only 14 times someone or something other than Joel, Mike, Tom and Crow enters the theater.
• As Tom is attacked, Joel says “You didn’t tell us Tommy was in here…” He meant “Timmy.” They keep going.
• After Tom is attacked, Joel runs off left. Is that the only time he’s done that?
• Then-current reference: The then-controversial, now mostly forgotten book “Final Exit.”
• The fan letter read at the end of this episode was written by a woman who now uses the stage name Christmas Sagan, and is a member of the rock group Freezepop. Joel invited her to appear on the Thanksgiving marathon in 2015. She appeared again, and performed a cover of the MST3k theme song, during the live telethon in December of 2015.
• Cast and crew roundup: Art director Scott MacGregor also worked on “Moon Zero Two” and “The Million Eyes of Su-Muru.” In front of the camera, Anthony Dexter is also in “Twelve To The Moon” and “The Phantom Planet.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Trace (the first of three eps in this season). Jim Mallon directed most of the first half of the season but in the second half directing duties are being spread around. “Ammendment” is still spelled wrong.
• Fave riff: “Thank you, that’s all.” Honorable mention: “Yeah, it’s Nancy Kulp night.”

Episode Guide: 417- Crash of Moons (with short: ‘General Hospital’–Segment 3)

Last modified on 2015-10-17 12:41:31 GMT. 110 comments. Top.

Short: (1963) From the soap opera “General Hospital,” Cynthia and Phil have it out.
Movie: (1954) Edited-together episodes of the TV series “Rocky Jones, Space Ranger.” Our hero tries to save the inhabitants of two worlds that are about to collide, but evil Queen Cleolanta stands in his way.

First shown: 11/28/92
Opening: Crow is selling true grit
Invention exchange: The Mads present Sugary Deep 13 toothpaste; J&tB demonstrate the rock & wreck guitar
Host segment 1: Crow and Tom serenade Gypsy with “The Gypsy Moons”
Host segment 2: J&tB present a commercial for John Banner-grams
Host segment 3: J&tB read through Crow’s latest screenplay: a space opera
End: Joel reads a letter, John Banner visits on the Hexfield; then the SOL sends Deep 13 a Banner-gram
Stinger: “Boopie!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• A lot of folks love this one and it definitely has a lot going for it besides the aggressive geniality of John Banner. This is the most bearable of the three GH segments and its also the most fun of the Rocky Jones outings, so it’s basically watchable all the way through. Combine that with pretty decent host segments and some strong riffing and you’ve got a winner.
• This episode is included in Shout! Factory’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XVIII.”
References.
• A commenter noticed something I never did before: there’s no “the” on the title card. (Maybe that’s where they got the extra “the” in “Attack of the the Eye Creatures?”) Anyway, in keeping with our policy to list the title as it appears on the title card, the header has now been changed.
• The 1992 Turkey Day marathon was over, but this was the third new episode in four days. MSTies had a wonderful weekend.
• I remember seeing ads when I was a kid trying to get me to sell Grit. But I’ve never seen it on news stands or anything. It’s still around. Is it a Midwestern thing?
• Dr. F’s invention is extra evil this week. Conversely, Joel’s doesn’t look that well-put-together.
• Nice to see they called an unofficial moratorium on “Oh, is the great [name here] going to direct?” riff. Funny back in season two, but…
• I love Crow’s riff: “Orbit? What does that mean?” a reference to the painful explanation of what an orbit is in a previous Rocky Jones episode.
• Callback: “Yew and yor dawtah aw doomt!” (Robot Holocaust) “But you don’t love Ken.” (An almost instant callback to the General Hospital short minutes earlier.) “Not since Fire Maidens of Outer Space…”
• Great song in this episode, but note the then-current reference to Stacy Koon. Yow. Another then-current reference: “Say the secret word and Bill Cosby rips off your show.” I’d totally forgotten Bill Cosby’s miserable attempt to revive “You Bet Your Life.”
• Firesign Theatre reference: “He’s not your son, Fred.”
• Dumb movie question: The space station doesn’t have any ability to propel itself? Not even some little thruster rockets? Seems like a design flaw. Or a plot contrivance.
• Occasionally you pick up a new word from these movies. I’d never heard of a “suzerain” before.
• Is it just me or is Cleolanta kinda hot? Headstrong and evil, sure, but still, rrowr.
• Only after repeat viewings did it hit me why the symbol of Bavaro’s world is a lightning bolt–’cause the planet has lightning a lot of the time. I never made the connection before.
• Satellite News’ Erhardt, dressed as Bavaro, introduced this episode in the 1993 Turkey Day bumpers.
• I like Tom Servo’s beak moving as he reads over Joel’s shoulder. Mike is so klandinkto as John Banner! (Hi, Bavaro.)
• Joel says “Gimme that pinkle, Weekie!” They keep going.
• Cast and crew roundup: Naturally, many of the same people who worked on “Manhunt in Space” also worked on this one, including executive producer Guy V. Thayer Jr., producer Roland Reed, associate producer Arthur Pierson, director Hollingsworth Morse, assistant director Dick Moder, editors Fred Maguire and S. Roy Luby, special effects guy Jack R. Glass (who also worked on “Project Moon Base”), costumer Berman Costumes, production manager Richard L’Estrange, art director McClure Capps, sound guy Joel Moss (who also worked on “Project Moon Base”) and music Conductor Alexander Laszlo (who also worked on “Attack of the Giant Leeches and “Night of the Blood Beast”).
In front of the camera, there’s Richard Crane, Scotty Beckett, Sally Mansfield, Robert Lyden, Maurice Cass, Charles Meredith, Patsy Parsons and Harry Lauter, all from “Manhunt in Space.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Kevin Murphy. Sarah E. Wisner joins the staff as production assistant, Ellie McDonough’s old role before her recent promotion. Patrick Brantseg joins the staff as prop assistant, after interning for the first half of the season. This was intern Kelly Ann Nathe’s last episode. “Ammendment” is still spelled wrong.
• Fave riff from the short: “Would you folks break it up? Your party’s depressing everyone in the building.” Honorable mention: “How can you not love a skull like this?”
• Fave riff: “Horowitz is visibly shaken…” Honorable mention: “…would get beat up in the third grade.”

Episode Guide: 418- Attack of the the Eye Creatures

Last modified on 2016-02-04 17:37:19 GMT. 151 comments. Top.

Movie: (1965) Multi-eyed aliens try to frame a pair of smoochin’ teens.
First shown: 12/5/92
Opening: Crow and Tom quickly go through their “best friends” stage
Invention exchange: Tom is mocking Crow; The Mads demonstrate the router Ouija board, J&tB show off the funny gag fax
Host segment 1: Tom wants learn how to make out
Host segment 2: J&tB present their tribute to Earl Holliman
Host segment 3: J&tB are the Rip Taylor Trio!
End: The case against the film-makers (they just didn’t care!); Larry Buchanan visits Deep 13
Stinger: Greasy drifter in sweater dress
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• I enjoyed this a lot more this time through (I called it “middling” last time). The biggest drawback is that the movie is sort of a comedy in parts — a failed comedy to be sure, but the film is intentionally trying to be funny, and, as we saw with “Catalina Caper” and a few others, that’s always a bit rougher to riff on. Still, the team slogs through pretty well, just as you’d expect at this point in season four. It’s a good example of what they were capable of by this point. In season two, this movie might have gotten the better of them. In season four, this is a movie they could successfully take on. The host segments help somewhat; even the Earl Holliman sketch — a “wtf” bit if there ever was one — somehow comes off.
• This episode has not yet been released on DVD.
References.
• This ep was number 10 on the summer 1995 countdown Comedy Central did.
• Doesn’t it seem like this episode ought to have a short?
• Crow’s arm (which was apparently taped to Tom) comes off during the opening. They keep going, and it’s still taped to Tom’s back in the next segment.
• This movie, believe it or not, is (with some minor changes) a scene-for-scene, line-for-line remake of a movie called “Invasion of the Saucer Men.” That movie also stinks. Larry Buchanan did a number of these remakes for AIP.
• Do you think the presence of somebody (or some THING) named Ethan Allen in the credits sparked the idea for the Mads’ invention?
• I can’t find anything definitive, but I think Homer Formby IS dead. But I found an interesting tidbit: when he hit it big with his furniture refinishing products, he bought an entire island in the Florida Keys. He later sold it.
• “Dern smoochers!” and other variations became an immediate catchphrase.
• For those who don’t know, the double THE in the movie title occurred when the movie was re-released. It was originally titled just “The Eye Creatures.” Somebody decided to jazz up the title and slapped ATTACK OF THE on the title card, not noticing that there was already a THE. They just didn’t care (which also became a catchphrase).
• Wow, it turns out that MST3K invented rickrolling! Tom breaks into a chorus of “Never Gonna Give You Up,” at one point.
• Joel kinda has to lean over the puppet trench to smooch Servo, but he covers well.
• Literary reference: Joel invokes Ignatius Riley from John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Confederacy of Dunces.” I PRESUME everybody in this audience has read it. If you haven’t, go and do so before Lady Fortuna spins the wheel of your destiny downward.
• The Earl Holliman sketch is silly and pointless, but I do like the line “…who would have been William Shatner had there not already been one.” How true that is.
• Call back: “…sing whenever I sing whenever I…” (Giant Gila Monster)
• I used to love Rip Taylor when I was kid. Glad to know he still with us.
• Note that the giant handkerchief is monogrammed “KM.” Hmmm…
• Mike scores again as “Larry Buchanan.”
• Cast and crew wrapup: screenwriter Robert Gurney Jr. also wrote “Terror from the Year 5000.” Production designer James Sullivan also worked on “Invasion USA.” Score composer Ronald Stein also worked on “It Conquered the World,” “The Undead,” “The Girl in Lovers Lane,” “Gunslinger” and “The She-Creature.” In front of the camera, Warren Hammack was in “The Side Hackers,” and “The Hellcats.” Jonathan Ledford was in “The Amazing Transparent Man.” Peter Graves was in a bunch of stuff, Tony Houston, who has a small part in this movie, wrote the screenplays for “Sidehackers” and “The Hellcats” and Jody Daniels was in “Girl in Gold Boots.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Joel Hodgson. Additional music written and performed by Michael J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy — I assume they’re referring to Rip Taylor music. And good news: the “Ammendment” mistake has been corrected.
• Fave riff: “And don’t be alarmed if it suddenly becomes 2 in the afternoon.” Honorable mention: “She’s a female. They have less plumage.”

Episode Guide: 419- The Rebel Set (with short: “Johnny at the Fair”)

Last modified on 2015-10-24 11:36:47 GMT. 114 comments. Top.

Short: (1947) Young Johnny wanders around the 1947 Canadian National Exhibition after his negligent parents lose track of him.
Movie: (1959) A coffeehouse owner wants to knock off an armored car, and gets three losers to help him.

First shown: 12/12/92
Opening: Joel has something really scary to read to the bots at bedtime
Invention exchange: The Mads demonstrate their “quick primp kit,” while J&tB present their paint-by-number Mark Rothko
Host segment 1: Crow tries record album acting lessons with Scott Baio
Host segment 2: J&tB discuss what to do during a four-hour layover in Chicago
Host segment 3: J&tB have a writing workshop, with Merritt Stone in mind
End: Tom “Hercule” Servo tries to ferret out the mystery of Merritt Stone (and his head explodes. In Deep 13, Frank is equally confused
Stinger: “I am bugged!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• This is the beginning of a stretch of good to really excellent episodes, with everybody on the staff firing on all cylinders. The riffing of the short is classic, and it carries over into the movie. The movie itself is pretty static and dull in the first half, but finally gets going once the robbery starts, giving them plenty to riff on. The segments aren’t all classics, but there are no real clunkers either.
• This was included in Rhino’s “The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 12.”
• Clearly the Brains’ don’t like “Life’s Little Instruction Book,” (which I had never heard of when I initially saw this show). Two decades later, it is still available.
• The quick primp kit is a favorite invention exchange of mine, especially Frank’s Fonzie-esque “ayyyy!”
• What a great short and despite Joel’s admonition, they get plenty dark … you know, the way we like it.
• I’ve exchanged emails Charles Pachter, who at the age of 4 played little Johnny (he has only vague memories of the whole thing) and who now is a fairly prominent Toronto artist. Find out more about him at his web site. Those were his real parents playing his parents, by the way.
• I love the little record player they use in segment 1; and that’s Mike’s voice, of course, as Scott Baio.
• What would YOU do with a four-hour layover in Chicago? (Although if it’s a plane layover, it would take you two hours to get into town from O’Hare and two to get back, so…) Me, I think I’d take the architecture boat tour of the Chicago River and note how the structures of so many of the buildings tend to draw my eyes upward … oh, okay, I’d go Navy Pier and get hammered. By the way, I believe what Tom refers to as the Continental Bank building is now the Bank of America building, unless it’s been sold again.
• I was glad to see they kept the “Get Smart” jokes to a minimum, though that’s fairly typical. They don’t like to beat one reference to death … usually.
• Obscure reference: “Bizarre” with John Byner.
• The “chasing Ed Platt dressed as a priest” scene features every hymn and church song the guys could think of, as well as plenty of religious patter, i.e.: “I. am. in. a. state. of. GRACE!”
• Alright, let’s settle this once and for all. Tom’s right, he’s not Merritt Stone. In fact, Merritt Stone is not IN this movie. He’s Gene Roth. Merritt Stone played the spider-eaten dad at the very beginning of “Earth Vs. The Spider,” the clergyman in “Tormented,” and the King Grady in “The Magic Sword.”
• Can anybody tell me what that’s a picture of on the Rhino DVD face? It looks like a pizza to me … how that relates to the movie I have no idea.
• Cast and crew roundup: director Gene Fowler Jr. also directed “I Was A Teenage Werewolf.” Cinematographer Karl Struss also worked on “Rocketship X-M” (and later in his career won an Oscar). Special effects guy Augie Lohman also worked on “Lost Continent.” Art director David Milton also worked on “The Corpse Vanishes.” Set builder Joseph Kish also worked on “Phantom Planet.” Score composer Paul Dunlap also worked on “Lost Continent” and “I Was a Teenage Werewolf.”
In front of the camera, In addition to Gene Roth, Don Sullivan, as Tom notes during the episode, was in “The Giant Gila Monster.” Robert Shayne was in “Teenage Caveman” and “The Indestructible Man.” I. Stanford Jolley is also in “The Violent Years.” Byron Foulger is also in “High School Big Shot.” Gloria Moreland was also in “Phantom Planet.” Smoki Whitfield was also in “Jungle Goddess.” Carey Loftin was also in “Radar Men from the Moon.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Trace Beaulieu.
• Fave riff from the short: “Jiminy, thinks Johnny, if only could get a ride in one of those.” Honorable mention: “Johnny feels dark hands pressing him onward. The voices in his head start to get meaner.”
• Fave riff from the movie: “And be sure you have your tickets ready. They’re really strict about that.” Honorable mention: “It’s Officer Not Appearing In This Film!”

Episode Guide: 420- The Human Duplicators

Last modified on 2015-10-25 12:02:00 GMT. 134 comments. Top.

Movie: (1965) An alien takes over scientist’s human duplicating machine, hoping to infiltrate the government. But a top agent is on the case.

First shown: 12/26/92
Opening: The bots have suggestions for ways they could be improved.
Invention exchange: The Mads have the a case of the sillies, Joel demonstrates the beanie chopper, the Mads have invented the William Conrad fridge alert
Host segment 1: Joel has assigned the bots a craft project: to make spaceships made from household items
Host segment 2: Tom Servo duplicates himself–many times over!
Host segment 3: A grumpy Hugh Beaumont revisits on the Hexfield
End: Crow and Tom come out as robots, meanwhile, in Deep 13, William Conrad shows up
Stinger: Duplicates cracking up as they choke each other
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• I said last week that this was the beginning of a stretch of good to very good episodes. but I forgot about this speed bump on the road to those goodies. The movie is strange but dull and talky, and the riffing, while okay, isn’t up to the level we’ve had in the last couple shows, and will have going forward. There’s some pretty good host segments, though! (By the way, a lot of commenters disagreed with me the last time around, so I may be completely offbase on this one.)
• This episode has not yet been included on a commercial DVD.
• I’m sure “the sillies” bit is an approximation of many moments on the set. I wonder how much of the laughter we see is genuine.
• In a “Simpsons” episode called “Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy,” which came out two years after this episode, Homer says: “Maybe I could have been something more than I am. Like a travel agent to a great scientist, or the inventor of a hilarious refrigerator alarm.” Can that be anything but a reference to this invention exchange?” (Note: a commenter said I’m wrong.)
• Callbacks: “Calling Scott Tracy…” (one of the SuperMarionation movies they did at KTMA), “I’m a grimaldi warrior!” (Viking Women), o/` S-A-N-T-A…o/` (Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”), “Knew your father, I did!” (Mr. B Natural), “To think like the hu-man!” (Robot Monster), “And a good friend” (Rocketship XM).
• Firesign Theatre reference: “Everything You Know is Wrong!”
• The movie makes the same comment at the same time one of the riffers does, and Crow calls it “riffback.” I’m sure that came from writing room experiences. It’s one of those little things that helps the show feel improvised.
• Movie comment: Um, casting people? Why exactly did you think Adelaide from “Guys and Dolls” would be good female lead? I keep expecting her to break into “Take Back Your Mink” any minute.
• Trace built that SOL model shown in segment one; it spent a lot of time sitting in a corner of the studio. To my knowledge he has not, as of this date, put lighter fluid on it and burned it in the driveway.
• I love segment 2. It may be one of my top ten segments. How did they control them all? However they did it, they really created a sense of each one moving independently. (A commenter explains below.)
• Then-current reference: “Oh did you see Madonna’s book?” A reference to the singer’s once-scandalous nudie book “Sex.”
• Hugh: “…resembling a human.” Joel: “See David Geffen.” Ouch!
• Segment 3 is Mike’s second visit as Hugh; and of course that’s Kevin as William Conrad.
• Cast and crew roundup: Producer/director Hugo Grimaldi was the producer of “First Spaceship on Venus” and the editor of “Hercules and the Captive Women” and “The Phantom Planet.” Producer/screenwriter Arthur C. Pierce had the same titles for “Women of the Prehistoric Planet.” Cinematographer Monroe Askins also worked on “Viking Women and the Sea Serpent.” Editor Donald Wolfe also worked in “The Phantom Planet.” Special effects guy Roger George also worked on “The Amazing Transparent Man.” Makeup guy Bob Mark also worked on “Radar Men from the Moon.” Art director Paul Sylos also worked on “Women of the Prehistoric Planet.”
In front of the camera, George Nader was also in “Robot Monster” and “The Million Eyes of Su-Muru.” Dolores Faith was also in “The Phantom Planet.” Hugh Beaumont was also in “Lost Continent and “The Mole People.” Richard Arlen was also in “The Crawling Hand. Walter Maslow was also in “SST: Death Flight, Lori Lyons was also in “The Phantom Planet.” Richard Kiel also appears in “The Phantom Planet” and, of course, “Eegah!”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Kevin Murphy.
• Fave riff: “The boys did what? They duplicated Lumpy???” Honorable mention: “Phil Harris and Bubbles Rothermere back there, for those of you playing along at home.”

Episode Guide: 421- Monster A-Go Go (with short: ‘Circus On Ice’)

Last modified on 2016-02-27 12:57:19 GMT. 188 comments. Top.

Short: (1954) A look at the 40th annual carnival of the Toronto Skating Club.
Movie: (1965) Authorities launch a search for an irradiated astronaut they believe has returned to Earth as a giant mutant.

First shown: 1/9/93
Opening: The bots have opened a micro-cheesery.
Invention exchange: After making a wager on an action figure invention exchange, the Mads present Johnny Longtorso, and the bots present three non-violent action figures
Host segment 1: Gypsy “doesn’t get” Crow (or is it Tom?)
Host segment 2: Joel and Servo play keep-away from Crow
Host segment 3: Examining “The Pina Colada Song”
End: Joel knights Happy King Servo and Sir Giggles von Laffsalot Crow
Stinger: Monster on the go-go
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• This is a deservedly famous episode featuring a deservedly infamous short and movie. There’s plenty for them to work with here and they knock it out of the park. The riffing is top-notch, the segments are all terrific, just a really strong episode — if you can take the movie.
• This episode was included in Rhino’s “The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 8.”
References.
• Note that the title card only has a hyphen between “A” and the first “Go.” There is no hyphen between the first “Go” and the second “Go.”
• How could such a horrible movie have happened? “You know, four movies went into the making of this film,” Joel says at one point. He’s not far off. Bill Rebane made some of the movie, but ran out of money before it was completed. Meanwhile Herschell Gordon Lewis was looking for a co-feature with his recently completed movie “Moonshine Mountain,” and he needed it quickly. So he bought Rebane’s unfinished film, added some new scenes, and presto … a movie with no continuity and no sense.
• They mention the wonderful movie “Local Hero.” How come you never see that playing on any of the movie channels? It IS streaming, though. If you haven’t seen it, do.
• A hook falls off the peg board with a loud clang during the Mads’ invention exchange. They keep going. And there’s also a lovely crunch as Dr. F. steps toward the camera, right onto the blister packs on the floor.
• You can see Frank ALMOST crack up while singing the Johnny Longtorso theme song, as he actually does on the poopie reel.
• Frank does a nice little bit with the pitchpipe: he blows into several random pipes, making the whole thing pointless.
• Trace is hilarious as he introduces the movie, giving us Dr. F at perhaps his most maniacal. It’s an all-time favorite Trace moment for me.
• Terrific riffing in the short, and Joel doesn’t even try to keep them from getting too dark. The highlight is the great “pink girls” song.
• What does “with a filbert nut” mean? Joel sounds a little like Red Skelton when he says it. Is it a reference to him?
• Segment 1 is rightly famous. If you wanted to introduce the personalities of all three robots to newbie, this would do it very well in just a few minutes.
• Does ANYbody know what that song Crow is singing (“hum-did-a-hee-hee…”) is from? It’s one of the unsolved mysteries of this show. (Several different commenters are certain they know, but each thinks it comes from a different place.)
• Joel opens a can of “pop” (or as normal people call it, soda) in the theater! What a rebel!
• The workings of Tom’s hoverskirt are never explained in detail, but in segment two we see a new use demonstrated: sports!
• Is that a velcro ball Joel throws to Tom when they return to the theater? Still, it’s a pretty good toss.
• Then-topical riff: The now-forgotten Matthias Rust.
• J&tB do a little of the Richard Kiel voice they did a LOT in the last episode.
• When the movie ends up in what looks very much like Chicago’s Lower Wacker Drive, they begin to rattle off some great Chicago references, including McCormick Place and the Arie Crown Theater.
• Both a callback and a call-forward in closing segment: Joel crowns Tom a “happy king,” recalling the “Mr. B. Natural” short and Crow is holding the stick with the tiny Crow on it, which we will see again in jestering segment next season.
• Cast and crew roundup: Tom is right, nobody involved with this movie went on to do anything else. The exception is Bill Rebane who later gave us “Giant Spider Invasion.” But I have to assume the writers were just guessing.
• Creditswatch: Host segments directed by Joel Hodgson.
• Fave riff from the short: “Vomit sprays out in a beautiful Technicolor dream.” Honorable mention: “Now a clown will deliver her eulogy.”
• Fave riff from the movie: Narrator: “There is one terrifying word in the world of nuclear physics.” Tom: “Oops.” Honorable mention: “He made her bark!”

Episode Guide: 422- The Day the Earth Froze (with short: ‘Here Comes the Circus’)

Last modified on 2015-10-31 15:29:02 GMT. 136 comments. Top.

Short: (1946) A look at the Clyde Beatty circus, featuring legendary clown Emmett Kelly.
Movie: (1959) Nordic fantasy tale, based loosely on the Kalevala, about a wicked witch’s schemes to get, and later regain, a magic mill.

First shown: 1/16/93
Opening: J&tB try to pose for a family photo
Invention exchange: J&tB have invented Snack-tion; The Mads show off their “unhappy meals”
Host segment 1: The bots have some ideas for clown acts but Joel is no help
Host segment 2: So, what’s a sampo?
Host segment 3: Gypsy’s presents her one-woman show: “Gypsy Rose…Me!”
End: The bots are imprisoned wind, Joel reads a letter, Frank is also wind and still mad
Stinger: “What’s going to happen to us now?!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• I just love this episode. Fun, goofy, watchable movie, great riffing, great host segments, one of this series’ crowning achievements and the beginning of what became known as the “Russo-Finnish trilogy,” a memorable trio of terrific episodes.
• This episode was included in Shout’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: The 25th Anniversary Edition” aka Vol. XXVIII.”
• As you might have guessed, this episode had a big effect on me. For a long time it was my all-time favorite. Up until this point, on the Prodigy MST3K boards I had just been “Chris in Phila.” The night this was shown (or maybe the next day, I forget), I officially announced that I was taking the handle Sampo, and I’ve had it ever since.
• How do robots spit? I know, I know…
• The unhappy meals are truly an evil invention. I love Dr. F’s Charles Nelson Reilly laugh as he describes them.
• The announcer says “pamalino horses.” The hell?
• The circus in the short is never named, but it’s the Clyde Beatty Circus.
• The acrobat is both Dag Hammarskjöld and Albert Speer. Both references are pretty out of the blue…
• In the short, during the part toward the end when the lady is dancing with the elephants, you can easily see that one of the elephants has rolled in some poop. Gross.
• This movie (originally titled “Sampo” but cheesily renamed to trick American audiences into think it was sci-fi) was based on the Kalevala, the national epic of Finland. (As an aside, J.R.R. Tolkien was heavily influenced by the Kalevala, and his “Silmarillion” was originally begun as an attempt to create a sort of British Kalevala.)
• Increasingly obscure reference: “Hey, it’s Skylab!”
• The “Scandinavian sketch” is obviously drawn from their personal experiences. What I find amusing is how much those Minnesota accents sound like the accents of folks in the Northeastern corner of Pennsylvania, where I now live. There’s probably a linguistic explanation.
• As I noted in 1993 when I introduced this episode on national TV during Turkey Day, the movie DOES explain what a sampo is. J&tB are just in mid-riff when the explanation comes. I wonder if they did that on purpose, just so they can do the “what’s a sampo?” sketch?
• Local riff: “Mini golf at Crosslake.” It’s still around.
• I was very amused by Servo’s grumbling about “Half & Half.” This sounds like a disgruntled husband speaking from a real-life experience.
• Another obscure reference: Crow’s silly voiced: “I thought it was a costume ball!” is a reference to a movie called “Start the Revolution Without Me.”
• In the ’94 Turkey Day, in his introduction, Adam West mistakenly says that this is episode number 424.
• Callback: “I sing whenever I sing…” (Giant Gila Monster)
• Naughty riff: “HE’s got delusions of grandeur.
• There are not one but two Ross Perot references in this episode. I guess it counts as “then-topical” but I would hope most people would remember who he is.
• Of course, one highlight is the classic “failure” song. Joel even gets up to dance!
• Jim gives a real tour de force in “Gypsy Rose ME!”
• Tom gently joshes fellow Minnesota entertainer Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion” during the long, tedious harp attack.
• Cast and crew wrapup: Russian director Alexsandr Ptushko also directed “The Magic Voyage of Sinbad” (originally “Sadko”) and “The Sword and the Dragon” (originally “Ilya Muromets”).
Georgiy Millyar was in “Jack Frost,” Mark Troyanovski was in “Magic Voyage of Sinbad,” the narrator, Marvin Miller, was also the narrator of “King Dinosaur” and “Phantom Planet” and Valentin Bryleyev was also in “Jack Frost.
• Creditwatch: Host segments directed by Trace Beaulieu. “Gypsy Rose Me” was written and arranged by Mike, with lyrics by Mary Jo.
• Fave riff from the short: “You know, don’t laugh, but, in a way, this is this town’s Passion Play.” Honorable mention: “A rogue elephant snaps its tether and kills a coolie.”
• Fave riff from the movie: “Great wedding. You get half a buzz on and you’re sent home with a torch.” Honorable mention: “I’m relative humidity. It’s not so much the heat as it is me.”

Episode Guide: 423- Bride of the Monster (with short: ‘Hired!’–Part 1)

Last modified on 2015-11-06 12:00:13 GMT. 142 comments. Top.

Short: (1941) A Chevrolet sales manager wonders why his team is having trouble selling their product door-to-door.
Movie: (1956) A mad scientist’s efforts to create a race of supermen attract the attention of a reporter and the police.

First shown: 1/23/93
Opening: Joel gets to see what Crow is dreaming … and soon regrets it
Invention exchange: The tough love seat, microwave Faith Popcorn
Host segment 1: “Hired!” the musical
Host segment 2: Joel, Tom and Crow’s discussion rambles from the lame octopus to food monsters
Host segment 3: Willy the Waffle returns to defend advertising
End: Cambot re-edits the ending of the movie, letter, the Mads are playing Bela and Tor
Stinger: Bela has looked better
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• I try not to overuse the already-overused word “classic” but this is one. It’s got a wacky short, an Ed Wood movie (probably his most competent, which isn’t saying much) and we’ve all seen all that backstory in the “Ed Wood” film. The host segments are good to fair, but they’re certainly not awful, and the riffing is top-notch.
• This episode was included in Shout’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XIX.”
• This show first aired three days after the beginning of the Clinton administration. It was certainly made before then, but probably after Bubba’s election, which allows Crow to talk about “The Bush Administration” in the past tense early in the short.
• Joel’s horrified, slightly nauseated take to the camera at the end of the opening is great.
• Then-topical: Faith Popcorn (though she would probably disagree that she isn’t still topical; she’s still around).
• At what point were door-to-door car salesmen discontinued? I never knew they existed before this short.
• If you look carefully you’ll notice that one of the houses the salesman visits is the house where Gilbert the spring lover lived in “A Case of Spring Fever.”
• “Hired, the Musical” is a lot of fun. I especially like Joel’s pained takes to the camera when Gypsy sings.
• My old copy of this episode (before it was released on DVD) is from January, 1995, and it features some fairly hilarious commercials for The Sporting News, in which they attempt to sell you a subscription on the quaint notion of not being able to get out-of-town scores in your local paper. If only somebody would invent the internet!
• Segment 2 is what the kids today call “random.” I have a feeling it’s a slightly stylized version of a actual conversation among the Brains.
• In this movie, Bela does his classic “sleep” bit, complete with the hand gesture. And yet the cast have been referencing it for at least two seasons. Were they just making a reference to a movie they assumed we’d seen?
• Crow references two elements of the classic driver’s ed Smith System: “Hands at 10 and 2” and “watch your space cushion.” Can anybody name the other three?
• Tom Servo does a lovely Flash Bazbo impression.
• The scene where the captain goes to see the file lady who has a pencil behind her ear when shot from behind, and doesn’t have one when she’s shot from the front, brought back a great memory: I remember pointing it out to my daughter, who was about six at the time, and I remember she found it hilarious and asked me to rerun it over and over.
• The random segment 2 is followed by the complete non-sequitur of segment 3. What does advertising have to do with anything?
• As is often the case, you can often spot where BBI has made cuts for times: usually at the spots where the commercials have been inserted.
• Callbacks: Tom says: “Weird! That’s what it is. Weird.” (Ring of Terror); “Hi, Bavaro.” (Crash of Moons); Willy says “Knew your father I did!” (Mr B Natural); I’m a Grimault warrior!” (Viking Women)
• It’s pronounced REK-yah-veek! As in: “One day in Iceland can Reykjavik!”
• I wonder how many other military bases were showing eps on their TV stations?
• Cast and crew roundup: Of course, Eddie also directed “The Sinister Urge” and wrote the script for “The Violent Years.” Conrad Brooks was also in “The Sinister Urge,” and “The Beast of Yucca Flats.” Eddie Parker was one of the stuntmen who played the mutant monster in “This Island Earth” and had a bit part in “Undersea Kingdom.” Screenwriter Alex Gordon was the producer for “The She-Creature.” Cinematographer William C. Thompson also worked on “The Violent Years,” “The Sinister Urge,” “Project Moon Base” and “Racket Girls.” Make up guy Louis J. Haszillo also worked on “The Girl in Lovers Lane.” Make up guy Harry Thomas also worked on “Project Moonbase,” “Racket Girls,” “The Mad Monster,” “The Unearthly,” “Invasion USA,” “High School Big Shot” and “Night of the Blood Beast.” Sound guy Lyle Willey also worked on “Robot Monster.” Technical advisor Igo Kantor also worked on “Women of the Prehistoric Planet” and did music editing for “The Human Duplicators.” Score composer Frank Worth acted in “The Beatniks.”
In front of the camera, of course, Bela was in “The Corpse Vanishes” and “The Phantom Creeps.” Tor was also in “The Unearthly” and “The Beast of Yucca Flats. Harvey B. Dunn was in “The Sinister Urge” and “Teenagers From Outer Space.” George Becwar was also in “War of the Colossal Beast.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Kevin Murphy. Camera: John Finley. “Hired! Song” written and arranged by Micheal J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy. “This episode dedicated to the spirit of William A. Murphy. Thanks, Dad.”
• Fave line from short: “You’ve killed again, haven’t you, son?” Honorable mention: “…And I don’t have a car … HEY!”
• Fave riff from feature: “Nobody’s kissin’ the bird today…” Honorable mention: “Tor go to DeVry.”

Episode Guide: 424- ‘Manos’ The Hands of Fate (with short: ‘Hired!’–Part 2)

Last modified on 2015-11-08 16:22:28 GMT. 262 comments. Top.

Short: (1941) In the conclusion of a two-part short, our sales manager hero gets advice from his handkerchief-wearin’ dad.
Movie: (1966) A hapless family on a car trip in rural Texas takes refuge at a “lodge” that turns out to be the home of a deadly cult.

First shown: 1/30/93
Opening: Joel has programed the bots to agree with everything he says
Invention exchange: The Mads present the chocolate bunny guillotine; J&tB show off the cartuner
Host segment 1: J&tB’s car trip sketch is ruined by Manos footage, Frank apologizes
Host segment 2: J&tB discuss the physical attributes that would make them a monster
Host segment 3: Joel dons a Manos cape, Dr. F. apologizes
End: The bots reenact the lady wrestling scene, Torgo’s pizza arrives
Stinger: “Why don’t you guys leave us alone?”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (330 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)

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• Whatever else they study, every Civil War buff has an opinion about Gettysburg. Whatever else they grow, every gardener has an opinion about tomatoes. No matter which team they root for, every baseball fan has an opinion about the Yankees. And every MSTie has an opinion about “‘Manos’ The Hands of Fate.” So much has been written about this awful, awful movie, and this justly famous episode, that it’s hard to make a fresh observation, but here are a few thoughts.
• This episode was issued by Rhino as a single, and also as part of the “Essentials” set.
References
• This is one of two or three episodes that I practically have memorized. I can pretty much do all the riffs right along with J&tB.
• There’s been a lot of “Manos” news, including the sequel (featuring cast members from the original movie) that now seems to have sputtered out, the work to restore the movie and create a high-definition version, and the re-riff by RiffTrax. A fascinating recent article in Playboy investigated the bitter legal battle for the rights to the movie.
• Paul Chaplin once noted that many MST3K movies are “made by oily guys who elect to direct the camera largely on themselves.” He was talking about TISCWSLABMUZ, but this is another perfect example.
• At several MSTie parties I have attended where this episode was screened, people handed out napkins, which people unfolded and put on their heads at the moment ol’ Dad in the short does so. Has anybody else done this, or do I just hang out with weird people?
• The opening bit is great, and I suspect every fan of Joel has felt a little like the programmed bots at one time or another. You see this butt? Kick this butt.
• There’s a funny clank as chocolate bunny guillotine falls. I’m guessing it’s the weight that held the blade up falling to the floor somewhere off camera?
• The last issuance of The Cartuner isn’t really that strange: It sounds pretty much like something Gary Larson would have actually done (if he wasn’t afraid of getting sued by the Bil Keane empire). God, I miss The Far Side…
• Joel seems a little touchy when Crow suggests this might be a snuff film! Does Joel really know the limit of the sort of evil the Mads might try?
• Stuff about the movie you may already know: The movie was shot with a camera that could only shoot a small amount of film at a time, making long, continuous takes impossible. Hence the “dissolving to the same scene” Crow observes early on. Also, the long pointless driving scene was supposed to have credits supered on it, but Hal forgot.
• I had the opportunity, a few years ago, to exchange emails with Hal Warren’s daughter, who told me that her brother wore the Master costume on several Halloweens and that the painting of the Master adorned a wall of her home for many years.
• Joel’s looks of disgust and horror in segment two are great.
• As I was watching segment 3, my wife wandered through and said, “You should have worn THAT to the costume party at one of the conventions. I could have made that.” I had to break it to her that about 20 guys were wearing versions of the Master cape.
• Joel mentions Mentos, commercials for which were being seen regularly on MST3K.
• Then topical: “The Tasters Choice saga.” Remember when people cared about THAT nonsense? Also, I’m betting fewer and fewer people remember who Marilyn Quayle is.
• That’s Mike, of course, in the first of several appearances as Torgo. Let me just get your complementary crazy bread…
• There is no cast and crew roundup for this movie.
• Creditswatch: Host segments directed by Joel Hodgson. This was intern Curtis Anderson’s last show.
• Callback: “Torgo, you’re the laziest man on Mars.” (Santa Claus Conquers the Martians). “He tampered in God’s domain” (Bride of the Monster).
• Fave riff from the short: “Gah! Flying elves are back!” Honorable mention: “Seein’ as how we’re salesmen and all.”
• Fave riff from the movie: “And now the Manos Women’s Guild will re-enact the Battle of Pearl Harbor.” Honorable mention: “Yeah, here I go! Vroom!”

Next week we will do the MST3K Scrapbook and we’ll start Season 5 the following week.

Episode guide: The MST3K Scrapbook

Last modified on 2015-11-08 16:32:06 GMT. 61 comments. Top.

The MST3K Scrapbook is compilation of video memorabilia about the show that was sold by the BBI Information Club. The first fans to see it were attendees of the 1994 convention, where a shorter version was shown over and over on the hotel TV channel, as well as at the convention.
When a videocasette version went on sale a few months later, it had been expanded to include footage of the convention.
The complete Scrapbook as sold by BBI will never be sold commercially. Brian Ward of Shout!Factory noted that the Scrapbook …

… is FULL of stuff that is, in fact, nearly impossible to release. Logos, uncleared faces, etc.

The portions they COULD clear were included as extras (“GLIMPSES OF KTMA: MST3K SCRAPBOOK SCRAPS”) on “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XV.” But you can still see the whole thing on YouTube, in 7 parts.

Part 1

• We begin with scenes from episode K00- THE GREEN SLIME, the so-called “pilot” episode. Here again are all the now-familiar early stirrings of what would become our favorite cowtown puppet show. including poor inarticulate Beeper and the primitive door sequence (which I recall getting a HUGE laugh at the convention).
• The “chiropractic helmet,” renamed the “Chiro-Gyro,” would be an invention exchange in episode 105- THE CORPSE VANISHES.
• We also see some KTMA promos, and that is clearly Josh doing the voice-overs.
• One thing I wondered: How did they get footage of Joel on NBC that they used on the commercial? Did Joel have it?
• The commercial shows Beeper, which I always thought was interesting, since he wasn’t on the actual show. It also shows brief clips of those Super-Marionation movies they did in the first two episodes. If I had never seen this show, I’m not sure this would be much of an enticement.
• It also shows Joel alone in theater.
• We get the now-familiar KTMA opening, which I had only heard about before I saw it in Minneapolis at the convention. It was quite a revelation.
• The video gives us our only look, so far, of the host segments for episode K01.
• We then get more KTMA: Having now sat through every available minute of those shows, I’m not sure I would have chosen some of the moments BBI did to typify the show.

Part 2

• After some more KTMA, we get footage of a live show at the Comedy Gallery in the Twin Cities in “Spring 1989.” An actual date would have been nice.
• It looks like there about 12 people in that crowd.
• It looks as if Joel did some stuff from his standup act. I’d love to know who those two kids are, and where they are now.
• Then we get into what might have been the most interesting portion of the entire “Scrapbook,” the actual 9-minute “pitch tape” Joel and Jim played for TV execs in New York, to try to interest them in the show. But for some reason BBI chose to steal its own thunder on this tape, and we are subjected to several of the SAME CLIPS (including the KTMA opening) that we JUST SAW not TEN MINUTES EARLIER. I have never understood this. The Pitch Tape would have had much more impact if we had not already seen some of this material.
• However, the KTMA stuff that is fresh is a lot of fun. I remember Crow’s “Get a catcher’s mitt!” riff getting a huge laugh at the convention.
• Both Joel and Tom call Gypsy “Gypsum,” and somebody calls Gamera “Gameron.” I remember a lot of puzzled looks at the convention showing.
• We then go into some amateur footage that Jim shot as they built the first set. Then-current reference: Norm Abram. (Yes, he has returned to “This Old House,” but the show just isn’t the pop culture sensation it was back then.)

Part 3

• Jim gives us some footage of the prop room and it’s fascinating to see the work benches so empty in those early days. When I visited the studio years later those shelves were jammed with stuff.
• Trace is seen painting the set in what I surmise are the wee hours, featuring some now-forever-memorialzed random Twin Cities radio.
• Standing next to Joel is a fellow Jim calls “Tim.” No idea who he is.
• We get a look at the making of the first door sequence, and I only wish it could have been shot from a better (i.e. closer and unobscured) angle.
• At one point Jim asks Trace to move Crow’s hands. It’s clear he thought this would a feature of this new Crow. It wasn’t.
• We get the now-familiar season 1 opening and the opening segment from episode 112- UNCHAINED YOUTH.
• We then get several early Comedy Channel promos including the blackboard promo, and one that is mostly focused on the Mads.
• We also get one that is very focused on episode 102- ROBOT VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY, including the phrase “the experiment begins,” more anecdotal evidence that this ep was the first one shown.
• We also get the promo with the old console TV that calls the show “The future of television today.”
• We then get a promo for episode 103- MAD MONSTER that puts a little spotlight on the riffers, I guess helping the audience notice them.
• Then we move on to the VERY familiar Season 2-5.5 opening followed by the nicest treat of the whole tape, the complete 1991 Turkey Day bumpers.
• We also get the terrific Turkey Day promos, including Joel waving us off organ meats and Crow warning us of the dangers of l-tryptophan.
• For a comprehensive look at what happens in those bumpers, visit here.

Part 4

• More Turkey Day bumpers, including several of my personal favorites.

Part 5

• We finish up with the bumpers and move on to…
• “Scraps from the cutting room floor of ‘This is MST3K.'” featuring an extended look at the writing process.
• One interesting aspect: Joel reads off a submission from home writer Bridget.
• Note the Macintosh Classic being used to type up riffs.
• We visit with Jef Maynard, who explains how he got the moniker “toolmaster.”
• We get some shots of what taping is like, first an SOL scene, then a Deep 13 scene, then a movie scene.
• After that it’s the famous “Death & Taxes” promo.
• And then we get extended footage of the live show they did at the Uptown Theater. Some of the fans are a little TOO excited, but can you blame them?
• Are any of you in this footage?

Part 6

• We finish up with the Uptown show and move on to the first Mike-era opening and Mike’s first segment.
• After that, we move on to the footage that was added after the Scrapbook was shown at the convention. There are two Red Cross promos and then we move into the footage of the first convention.
• There are a lot of people in this footage that I know or knew. A few have, sadly, died, and it’s a little disconcerting to see them standing there.
• The footage does not try to hide the biggest problem of the convention, the endless lines.
• We get footage of people watching the Poopie! tape, and of a group of people taking the studio tour.
• Then there is footage of the “keynote/panel” the first night of the con, including the thunderous reception for Mike.
• We also get footage of the cast signing endless autographs, and of comments by guests Beverly Garland, John Humphries and David Worth at the celebrity panel. I missed this panel at the convention because my studio tour was scheduled for the same time.

Part 7

• We get more of the con guests, then we move on to the live show on the last night of the con. I love how HUGE the camera of the local TV station is.
• There all-too-few scenes from the live show itself, though we do get Frank’s wonderful dance right before intermission and some great moments backstage.
• Then we get some great footage of the costume party after the show, and again, so many people I know or knew, some no longer with us.
• This is the end of added footage.
• The final part of the tape is, I have to say, my favorite. It’s a sort of slide show of still photos all through the years of the show. There are some truly wonderful candid moments.
• Overall, I give this compilation a B+ with the completely unnecessary repetition of the KTMA footage the biggest drawback.


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