Well, the spoiler commands have been lifted, but before we begin discussing each of the episodes, I’m going to you another week to get some of these watched.
So, in the meantime, here is the official list of the movies that will be riffed in season 11:
1102- Cry Wilderness
1103- The Time Travelers
1105- The Beast of Hollow Mountain
1107- The Land That Time Forgot
1108- The Loves of Hercules
1109- Yongary – Monster from the Deep
1110- Wizards of the Lost Kingdom
1111- Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II
1112- Carnival Magic
1113- The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t
1114- At Earth’s Core
An open thread to discuss tonight’s RiffTrax Live show.
Movie: (1977) A troubled teen finds an alien’s weapon and takes revenge on those who taunted him.
First shown: 5/18/96
Opening: With Mike tied up, Crow and Tom present the “Thunderdome” joke
Intro: Dr. F.’s funding has been cut, so he cuts the SOL loose! But Tom gets the thrusters working
Host segment 1: The SOL picks up Monad, an annoying robot
Host segment 2: The SOL hits a field of star babies — and one of them needs changing
Host segment 3: With the SOL heading toward a black hole, Mike undergoes a terrifying but useful transformation
End: The SOL reaches the edge of the universe and its inhabitants become beings of pure energy. Meanwhile, Dr. F. becomes unstuck in time, has a revelation and is reborn
Stinger: “Faaar out!”
• And so we come to the end of another era of MST3K and the departure of MST3K’s powerhouse, Trace Beaulieu. It really is hard to imagine that the show could have become the classic it is without him, and while it did manage to find its footing again after his departure, his absence was keenly felt for a long time. Thanks for everything, Trace.
• As for the episode itself, it’s mostly a winner. As usual when they have a story to tell in the host segments, they do it with brisk efficiency. The sci-fi parodies are everywhere (perhaps preparing viewers — and themselves — for what was to come) and a couple of the segments are classics. The riffing is steady and strong — and they had a LOT to work with. All in all, it would have made a fine farewell episode if the show had not been picked up.
• This episode appears in Shout! Factory’s “20th Anniversary Edition.”
• Mike writes about the episode and then Paul, Mary Jo and Kevin wrap up the season here.
• Joel Hodgson’s “TV Wheel” was shown immediately following this episode’s debut, so it was kind of a big day for MSTies.
• It had been 10 weeks since the last new episode and, as far as anybody knew when this first aired, there would never be another episode again. As it turned out, we would have to wait eight and a half months.
• In his writeup, Mike explains that the hilarious opening sketch was something that arose from a running gag in the writing room. I actually had an opportunity to use the thunderdome joke recently. Its message is still timely.
• The umbilicus, completely forgotten since about mid-season six, suddenly makes a reappearance and is suddenly a critical connection that determines whether the SOL’s orbit begins to decay or not. (And in the “how does he eat and breathe?” department, what was preventing their orbit from decaying in seasons K through 5?) Mike notices this in his writeup as well.
• I love how Mike does the Star Trek “shirt tug” before he says “Engage!”
• It’s fun to make fun of Kim Milford, who plays Billy, but that becomes more difficult after you find out that Milford died of heart failure following open heart surgery. He was only 37. (Incidentally he did NOT die of HIV, as was rumored.)
• You might recognize some of the background score. It’s the same Richard Band noodling that was also used in the movie in episode 110-ROBOT HOLOCAUST.
• Callbacks: “Roxie!” (Eegah) also “Eegah!” “It was after the Acropolis.” (Robot Holocaust) “Hi, I’m Max Keller.” (Master Ninja I) “It’s the Coleman Francis mountain!” Also a mention of Cherokee Jack. “Robert Ginty” (Warrior of the Lost World). And “Leave the Bronx!”
• I love the riff: “Let’s pop amyls and watch ‘Days.'” I’d assumed he was referring to the soap opera “Days of Our Lives” but a commenter suggested he might be saying “Dazed” as in the movie “Dazed and Confused,” which might also make sense. I previously asked if that line was from something and nobody so far has recognized it.
• Of course that’s Jim as the voice of Monad the perfection-seeking robot. It’s a funny idea but the bit feels a little rushed to me.
• After going several seasons without so much as making mention of it, this episode features not one but two uses of the “hatch” at upstage left. In the past it has been used by Joel/Mike to get to the theater. Now it seems to be a portal into space. Mike also notices this in his writeup.
• The “changing the starbaby” bit is a cute idea (I especially like Mike as the quintessential NASA flight controller guy), but it doesn’t really have a payoff (“put it on a shelf”?).
• The whole “ready for some football” thing became a catchphrase, and long-lived one. it pops up every fall on MSTie social media to this day.
• Obscure riff: “This sucks, I was supposed to headline,” as the characters pull up in a car together. This is reference, as I think I have mentioned before, to the experience many of the writers had as traveling comics working a circuit of comedy clubs in the upper midwest. They tended to travel to the club in one car, with the headliner getting the best seat, etc.
• Over several seasons, they’d established Mike’s bizarre ability to “become” other people at times of stress. He became Carol Channing and Kenny G, for example. This strange notion finally pays off in segment 3 when Mike — in one of the most notorious segments of the series — becomes “Star Trek Voyager”‘s Captain Janeway and saves the day.
• The whole Leonard Maltin thing really does point up the fundamental flaw of his rating system. I was once a devotee of his books: buying a new one every September was an annual rite of the fall. And before the arrival of the IMDB (which pretty much made Maltin’s guide superfluous) it was pretty handy. But I always felt his rating system was completely out of whack. The problem, to begin with, was he used a four-star rating system when a five-star system would have served him better. But the bigger flaw in the system was that, for reasons that I felt were never adequately explained, his lowest rating (other than “bomb”) was 1-and-half stars. No film received a one-star or half-star rating, which created a kind of odd star-rating inflation among bad movies. Had he made use of the half-star and one-star ratings, I believe this sort of problem would not have happened (or at least would not have been so acute) and he might not have let himself in for the well-deserved mockery he gets here.
• By the way: in Ward E we have a list of MSTed movies that have been given 2-and-a-half stars by Leonard Maltin.
• The final bit, of course, is amazing; as Mike notes, that’s Trace’s dad (who has since passed away) as “old Forrester.” The final moment of that segment gives me chills every time.
• Cast and crew roundup: Editor Jodie Copelan also worked on “Ring of Terror” and “Night of the Blood Beast.” Special effects guy Harry Woolman also worked on “The Incredible Melting Man.” “Hangar 18” and “Agent for H.A.R.M.” Score composer Richard Band also worked on “Robot Holocaust” (as noted above) and “Being From Another Planet.”
In front of the camera: Cheryl Smith was also in “The Incredible Melting Man.” Keenan Wynn will be seen again in “Parts: The Clonus Horror.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Trace Beaulieu. This of course was Trace’s last episode with the show. In addition to his acting and writing credits, this is the last episode he got “art direction” and “set design” credits. Joel Hodgson’s and Jef Maynard’s “set design” credits end with this episode as well. The “additional original music written and arranged by” credit goes away completely. This was Helen Espinoza’s last episode as prop master. It is Beth “Beez” McKeever’s last show as prop assistant (she would get a promotion beginning with season eight). We also bid farewell to: production manager/post-production coordinator Wendell Jon Anderson, production assistant Michael D. Parker, Info Club poobah Julie Walker (assistant poobah Barb Tebben would get a promotion in season eight) and interns Danika King, Ben Mooers and Kelly Schrandt.
• Fave riff: “So they’re just off County Road C goin’ at it, huh?” Honorable mention: “Look! Everyone was sending a sheet of paper to everyone else.”
This thread is for comments on and reactions to the screening of episode 1101 that is available to Kickstarter backers today.
Please DO NOT post reactions in any other thread on this site.
I think you can guess what the Weekend Discussion Thread will be on Friday. :-)
I’m once again stealing a topic from Facebook, where a fellow named Luke Yount asked:
Is Watney Smith from Outlaw of Gor the most openly loathsome character from an episode of MST3K?
I would have to pick the two peeping tom military guys from “Attack of the the Eye Creatures.” I feel like they’d be clammy to the touch. (Ew.)
Keep sending thread ideas!
Bridget and Mary Jo tackle “Angel’s Revenge.” Stream or download it here.
Movie: (1981) A band of outlaws fights an evil corporation overseeing a forced evacuation of the Bronx.
First shown: 3/2/96
Opening: Crow’s charity auction
Intro: Crow starts a fire on the SOL, Dr. F. puts his mother in a “home”
Host segment 1: Mike helps Crow try bio-feedback, but a fire starts
Host segment 2: Men’s night on the SOL
Host segment 3: Dr. F. has a plan to boost ratings: Timmy Bobby Rusty
End: Letter, Servo arrives by helicopter, and Toblerone visits Deep 13
Stinger: “PTOO!” “HA, HA, HA!” sez Toblerone
• This one is hit and miss for me. Some funny segments, some “meh” ones. Some great stretches of riffing, some quiet sections. And the movie: ugh. Boy, is it stupid but, wow, does it have some wacky characters. But above all, there is Toblerone, Dablone, or whatever his name is.
• This episode is included in Shout! Factory’s “Volume XXXVII.”
• Mary Jo also provided the commentary for this episode in our season seven episode guide. Did she mention she loves Dablone? Yes. Yes, she did.
• Fans had been getting episodes pretty regular for the past month, but this was the last one we would get until mid-May (about 10 weeks away) and THAT would would the last one we’d get for many months.
• By this time, fans knew the show had been canceled on CC and suddenly, on this brand new thing called World Wide Web, there were already hundreds of “Save MST3K” sites. It would be several more months before Sci-Fi Channel would make the announcement that the show was coming back.
• Between this and the next episode, “MST3K: The Movie” hit theaters. Indeed, by the time the next episode aired, the movie was already fading fast.
• The phrase “Leave the Bronx!” became an immediate catchphrase.
• Is it just me, or does leaving the Bronx for New Mexico seem like a pretty good idea?
• The opening is a cute idea but it kind of gets driven into the ground. But it does feature that “award show” music we’ve heard before.
• The intro, in which Dr. F puts Pearl “in a home” is a very nice reveal. And it’s definitely a return to form for Dr. F.
• And nothing says “We’ve been canceled” having a big fire for no reason.
• The “men’s night” bit is great, with poor Crow completely unfamiliar with Mike’s 700 different slang requests for a brewski. Nice and breezy.
• Sometimes in an MST3k episode, they’re going along, riffing the movie, minding their own business, then all of a sudden a larger-than-life character appears. Torgo is like that, of course. And later there would be Rowsdower. But in season seven, there was Toblerone. Ha-ha-ha!
• One other thought about the movie: the little demolition expert kid is cute and all, well sort of, right up until he calmly murders a guy. Sure, he’s been blowing them up at a distance for a while now, and yes, the guy was about to shoot his dad, but still.
• In 1980, Peter Gabriel wrote and recorded a song called “Jeux Sans Frontières.” Many casual listeners — like Crow — never guessed that the phrase he was singing was French, and instead struggled to find an English phrase that fit the phonemes they were hearing. Crow apparently thinks Peter was singing o/` “She’s so pop-u-lar …” o/` (I will admit that, before I knew better, I thought he was singing “She’s so funky.”)
• The Timmy Bobby Rusty stuff definitely reflects the kind of notes I’m sure they’d been getting from the suits at Comedy Central. The bit is not terribly funny, but it was probably cathartic for them. Segment 3 is also the first reference in a long time to Dr. F “selling the results of his experiments to cable TV” as Joel used to tell us all the time. That’s Paul as TBR, of course.
• Callbacks: “I gotta get to the ‘Zombie Nightmare’ set,” “I’m Cherokee Jack.” (Red Zone Cuba) “No, Lupita!” (Santa Claus).
• With only one episode to go, BBI seems to have created a brand new bumper for this episode, one with the planet Earth in the background and the SOL going by. It’s pretty, and it was used again in the next episode.
• Somebody makes a riff that is premised on the notion of a Kinko’s being on every corner. I’d forgotten that era 15 years ago when when the chain was aggressively expanding. They’ve now been absorbed by FedEx, most of those locations have closed and the brand has largely faded away.
• That’s Mike, of course, as Toblerone, in the closer.
• Cast and crew roundup: Just one name this time: costumer/art director: Massimo Lentini was also art director on “The Cave Dwellers.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Jim Mallon.
• Fave riff: “Kill us! … Thank you!” Honorable mention: “All right we’re here in the K-Rock super van with the — AIIIEEEEEE!!!”
Okay here is the spot to post links to media articles about the relaunch — and I think they are going to start coming fast and furious now.
Joe Otterson at Variety has a story.
Simon Abrams at Vulture.com has one.
Keith Phipps at Uproxx.com has one.
Joel and crew get a mention in this piece by H.B. Duran of alistdaily.com.
And here’s a piece by Jon Niccum of the Kansas City Star about the impending visit of “The Mads Are Back.”
See any more?
Alert reader Stacy writes:
I was thinking that a possible discussion thread might be this…
“If MST3K has taught me anything, it’s… (fill in the blank).
For me, MST3K has taught me to be careful when saying the word “peanuts”. :-)
For me, it’s that meteors roam around space in swarms.
What about you?
Movie: (1977) Upon his return to Earth, an astronaut develops melting skin and murderous tendencies, and the authorities try to hush it all up.
First shown: 2/24/96
Opening: M&tB are playing a little hardball
Intro: Crow’s “Earth vs. Soup” screenplay is being made into a movie, with Dr. F. and Pearl in charge
Host segment 1: A script conference goes nowhere
Host segment 2: Crow shoots his movie
Host segment 3: Dr. F. leads a focus group
End: Crow learns the fate of his movie
Stinger: “Let’s get the hell out of here!”
• You can read Mary Jo’s thoughts on this episode here.
• Of course, this ep is dominated by the movie-making segments. The Brains openly admitted that this was their chance to get even with the Hollywood suits who made their lives a living hell during the making of MST3K: The Movie. If they saw it (and they probably didn’t) a few execs may have recognized themselves. In any case, the segments are great fun, the movie is dumb and a little drippy and the riffing is very memorable. A great episode.
• This episode is included in Shout’s “Volume XXXVI.”
• Trace and Mary Jo are pitch-perfect as smug studio heads and it’s nice to see Dr. F and Pearl working together, rather than being at odds. Trace’s running gag with the water bottles is classic.
• Callbacks: Tom is singing “Are you happy in your work” (from “I Accuse My Parents”) as segment 1 begins. M&tB sing a few bars from “Only Love.” (Sidehackers) “What’s the matter, don’t you like it?” (Brute Man) “You always were a good judge of men, Deathstalker.” (Deathstalker) “The melting man was found alive and of normal size” (Monster A-Go-Go).
• This is one of those movies where the Brains find themselves having to riff the same scene (in which our hero Steve gets a bloody nose) several times. They managed it remarkably well.
• Director Crow is wearing a Deep 13 hat.
• This is the movie that features the great “What did we learn?” conversation. They should have done it for every movie.
• A little behind-the-scenes note: Confused about the scene showing a girl sobbing in a police car and a photographer taking pictures of everything in sight? That’s because the scene just before it was cut from the MSTed version. In the scene, the photographer gets the girl model (played by Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith) to pose and bounce around, then forcibly removes her top after she refuses to. She starts hitting him as he continues to take pictures, and then trips over the Bill-Gates-look-alike corpse, making an oozy mess and screaming a lot. That’s why she’s crying in the police car, and that’s why the photographer happens to be there.
• Then-current reference: Now-forgotten sitcom “Caroline in the City.”
• Cast and crew roundup: Executive producer Max J. Rosenberg also worked on “The Deadly Bees.” Makeup/special effects guy Rick Baker also worked on “Track Of The Moon Beast” and “Squirm. Special effects guy Harry Woolman also worked on “Laserblast,” “Aent for H.A.R.M.” and “Hangar 18.” Assistant director Henning Schellerup also worked on “Hangar 18.” In front of the camera, Myron Healey was also in “The Unearthly.”
• CreditsWatch: Host segments directed by Kevin Murphy. Crist Ballas did hair and makeup for the only time this season. The focus group members were Paul, Jim, Beez, Ben Mooers, Helena Espinoza, Kelly Schrandt and Barbara Tebben.
• Fave riff: “You know, I’m actually starting to hate Hans Geiger.” Honorable mention: “Did they have a race horse tied up to the wall?”