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Goodbye Sci-Fi

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

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Episode guide: K15- Superdome

Movie: (1978) A star-studded cast, each with their own subplot, descends on New Orleans for the Super Bowl, but a killer is on the loose.

First shown: 3/12/89
Opening: In a letter to his uncle, Servo recalls how he almost talked the Mads into bringing Joel back to Earth
Host segment 1: Still writing his letter, Servo recalls when Joel showed Servo what it’s like to feel pain
Host segment 2: Still writing his letter, Servo reveals that Joel isn’t really like his lovable on-air persona. His crabbiness seems to trigger recreations of memorable movie moments in the bots
Host segment 3: Still writing his letter, Servo experiences a sentimental montage
End: Joel and Crow show off some artwork sent in by viewers; then present the stuff you’ll get if you join the fan club.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (108 votes, average: 4.19 out of 5)

• The host segments in this episode appear to be a spoof of sitcom clipshow, although only one segment, the one in segment 1, features an actual clip from a previous episode (it’s from episode K13- SST DEATH FLIGHT), but the others were made to look like they were.
• For years, the only known existing copy this episode was missing the final host segment. That changed in October 2004, when the missing final segment came to light in the possession of a Minnesota woman named Teresa Dietzinger. She sent some artwork in to the show (it’s the first one shown in the final segment, she says she included her name on the drawing, nonetheless Joel says he can’t remember it and mistakenly assumes a guy did it). She taped the episode and held on to the tape for 16 years. Although her father long ago taped over the rest of the episode with family footage and such, the final host segment remained intact.
• Servo is typing on an old IBM Selectric (probably some KTMA office equipment). For you kids, that unfamiliar object is called a “typewriter.” You couldn’t get Facebook on it, but it was useful sometimes.
• Servo has feet? (He claims to be typing with them.)
• “Is that your head or did your neck blow a bubble?” is a joke already used in an earlier episode. Sounds like it might have been a heckler putdown from Josh’s standup act.
• Callback: “Did these guys fly in on SST Death Flight?”
• This movie’s just chock full of late-’70s casual hooking up. Quite the time capsule.
• Servo coughs and kind of chokes in the theater.
• Servo seems to be malfunctioning in the theater. At one point he falls over into Joel’s lap. Joel casually shovels him back the other way. He recovers, mumbling something about “narcolepsy.” Later he sags to one side and suggests Joel needs to adjust his “equilibrium functions.” For a lot of the episode he bobs up and down in the seat as if Josh is having trouble holding him steady.
• Joel is smoking in segment 2 in order to telegraph that he’s a being a jerk. That segment reminds me of the host segment in episode guide: 608- CODE NAME: DIAMOND HEAD in which Mike is mean to the bots.
• Some of the clips in the montage in segment 3 appear to be from K01, K02 and K03, of which no fan copies are known to exist.
• What do you bet they didn’t clear that Louis Armstrong song they used in the montage in segment 3?
• As they enter the theater after segment 3, Crow gets into his seat and then adjusts his position with a lovely mechanical noise.
• As the fan club address appears on the screen, Crow says, apparently to the audience, “Don’t call. Write.” This would appear to be the official shift away from taking phone calls and in the direction of letters.
• At one point toward the end, Joel admits to being completely unable to think of anything funny to say. This prompts Servo to recall the flashback in the opening segment, in which Crow ruins Servo’s attempt to get the Mads to bring them down to Earth. The two bots begin bickering. It’s a strange moment.
• Minneapolis joke: An overhead shot of the seats in the Superdome prompts Crow to identify it as “The Guthrie.”
• Movie stuff: There are a lot of extras in this thing. Were they all actors, or did they just shoot this on game day? I wonder what marching band that is that gets so much screen time. It’s not named in the end credits.
• Also, the announcer keeps hyping the madness that has descended on New Orleans with the arrival of the Super Bowl. He’s really overselling it. It’s not like New Orleans has never had tourists visit it before.
• J&tB stand up in the theater for the national anthem.
• It’s interesting that the fan club membership cards appear to be the same ones that were handed out for years later. Maybe they bought a whole bunch in the initial order?
• If you want to read that newsletter Joel is holding, it’s here.
• Although the final host segment was saved from oblivion, the closing credits of that show were not. If you have the copy of this that includes the final host segment, that DVD includes the closing credits from episode K20 “just for consistency.”
• Cast and crew roundup: director Jerry Jameson also directed “It Lives By Night.” Score composer John Cacavas also worked on “SST- Death Flight” and “Hangar 18.” In front of the camera, David Janssen was also in “Marooned” aka “Space Travelers.” Van Johnson also appeared in “San Francisco International.” Ed Nelson was also in “Teenage Caveman,” “Swamp Diamonds,” “Night of the Blood Beast” and “Riding With Death. Michael Pataki was also in “The Side Hackers” and “It Lives By Night.”
• Fave riff: “And a gun FOR the doberman!” Honorable mention: “Women cause weak knees. It’s a fact!”

More Joel Appearances Coming Up

This weekend at Baltimore Comic Con, Joel will do a panel on Saturday and will host the costume contest on Sunday. More info here.
September 27 RetroCon at The Greater Philadelphia Expo Center – Joel signs autographs, and does Q and A. More info here.
October 18th, Tide Water Comicon, Virginia Beach, Virginia – Joel signs autographs, does Q and A and performs “Riffing Myself.” More info here.
October 24-26 Chiller Theater Expo Parsippany, N.J. – Joel signs autographs, does Q and A and performs “Riffing Myself.” More info here.

Andrew McLaglen, RIP

McLaglenH2 FRIDAY HARBOR, WASH.– Veteran Western and action movie director Andrew V. McLaglen died Aug. 30 at his home here. He was 94. Although best remembered as the director of a numnber of John Wayne movies, including “Cahill U.S. Marshal” and “McLintock!”, MSTies will recall him as the director of the movie in episode 512- MITCHELL.

There’s a nice long video interview with him here, recalling his career.

‘The Frank’ Now Available

It is now available at Amazon.

Trace says: “Limited quantities will be available for sale at Dragon Con this weekend! Come find me and Frank Conniff at the Walk of Fame, table 19.”

Weekend Discussion Thread: What Would You Say to MSTed Movie People?

Alert regular Steve sent a suggestion that I am going to bounce off of for this weekend’s question: If you could jump into a time machine and visit anyone involved in any MSTed movie while they were making it, what would you say to him or her? Don’t worry if your comment might make the movie less funny.

Me, I think I would find Larry Buchanan, the director of “ATTACK OF THE THE EYE CREATURES” and say one word: “care.”

New VOD Title from RiffTrax…

Okay, so I’m a day late on this.


See a sample or download it here.

Episode guide: K14- Mighty Jack

Movie: (1968 TV series; 1987 compilation movie) A top secret organization, called Mighty Jack, makes use of a giant submarine, called Mighty Jack, to battle terrorist organization Q.

First shown: 3/5/89
Opening: Dr. E. thinks he and Dr. F need a change; Joel listens in
Host segment 1: As a joke, Servo, Crow and Gypsy weld themselves together
Host segment 2: Crow and Servo admit they have no idea what humans think is funny
Host segment 3: Crow bowls, but Crow and Servo don’t want to play games with Joel anymore
End: Viewer mail
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (83 votes, average: 3.69 out of 5)

• As with some of the other Sandy Frank movies, we get to see lots of footage we didn’t get to see in the season 3 version, including a long segment before the credits. And I have to say that it helps. The season 3 “Mighty Jack” is a thick, almost impenetrable plot stew. It took many repeat viewings of it before I could figure out what the heck was going on. I was able to follow the plot, such as it was, much more easily watching this version.
• I was always aware that this is the first and last episodes of a TV series, but in the more complete version you can really see the dividing line. Clearly the end of the first episode comes when Atari is introduced as the team’s new commander and all the old grudges are smoothed over.
• In the theater, as the opening credits roll, Joel addresses the viewers and promises a fan club newsletter in two weeks. He does so again about half-way through the movie.
• I have been pleasantly surprised at the viewability of these DVDs. They ARE several-generation copies of VHS tapes of an over-the-air TV feed, after all. But I should mention that there are some pretty rough spots in this one, and I can’t tell if it’s just tape artifacts or if whoever was originally taping this just had their rabbit ears adjusted badly.
• During segment 1, Joel “accidentally” drops a pencil, then bends down (out of shot) to pick it up. For a moment, no one is in the frame … then Joel pops back up. That way the editors could cleanly cut the action.
• Host segment 2 is a little dark, what with the bots contemplating Joel’s death.
• One of the fan letters refers to the part of “SST Death Flight” in which Servo says “His eye needs some air.” This line was actually said by Crow, but no one corrects the viewer’s error.
• In Segment 2, as an example of what is clearly NOT funny, we see a little snippet of the TV series “Punky Brewster.” If you’re too young to remember it, don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything.
• Two odd comments in the theater: At one point, Servo says: “That’s the kind of entertainment Josh — this guy I know — really likes.” Weird. Even weirder, Crow says that one character “looks like Frank Conniff”!
• Watch Servo as J&tB leave the theater right before segment 3. As he exits, Josh lifts the puppet too high and it completely clears the theater seats. We can see the control rod, a little of Josh’s hand and we can also see that Servo doesn’t have the lower half of his body! Wow!
• Segment 3 was redone in episode 106- THE CRAWLING HAND.
• Toward the end of the movie, one of the characters yells “Launch!” and Joel riffs “I said lunch, not launch!” Somebody check for me, but I THINK that is a rare example of a riff that appears in both versions.
• Crow waves goodbye at the end of the episode. Ah, the days when Crow’s arms worked.
• CreditsWatch: Additional writing: Faye Burkholder. Additional puppet operation and voices: Alexandra Carr, Faye Burkholder. Alexandra, taking on even more work, is now also listed as fan club coordinator.
• Fave riff: “Ew. Get a mop.” Honorable mention: “”Hmmm… how to drive a boat.”

Joel, Frank & Trace at DragonCon This Weekend

This weekend Joel, Frank and Trace will all be appearing at DragonCon in Atlanta. One highlight will be clearly be Friday Night’s “MST3K NIGHT II: YE MEDIEVAL BOOGALOO.” Our buddy Daniel Griffith will have “exclusive footage.”

As has been the case at previous Dragon Cons, our pal Ken Plume will host many of the guys’ appearances. They include:

Friday, 8:30 p.m. “FRED Presents Attack of the Celebrity Improv. A fast, furious game of improvised comedy. Like The Hunger Games with more laughs and fewer arrows.” Trace and Frank will both take part.

Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Joel will present “Riffing Myself.”

Saturday, 8:30 p.m. Trace will be among the players in “Gonzo Quiz Show V: The Quizening.”

Sunday, 11:30 a.m. “MST3K: Reel Crime Court is in session as MST3K’s own defend their cinematic guilty pleasures.” All three guys are scheduled to take part.

Sunday, 4 p.m. “Comedy Writing. A discussion about the art of writing comedy, with those who have done so professionally.” Trace and Frank will be on the panel.

Sunday, 8:30 p.m. “Frank and Joel will participate in Gonzo Quiz Show VI: Quizopolis.”

Monday, 10 a.m. “You Know More Than We Do. A Mystery Science Theater 3000 trivia game where no answer is too obscure or accurate and you’ll be the judge.” Trace and Frank are schedule to participate.

And of course all three will be available at various times to sign autographs.

If you’re going, we’d love to get photos, videos and reports!

Lord Richard Attenborough, RIP

I didn’t think this one was in our ballpark, but then I remembered…


LONDON–Lord Richard Attenborough, the respected British actor and Academy Award-winning director of “Gandhi,” the multiple-Oscar-winning best picture of 1982, has died. He was 90. No cause of death was given, but he has been in poor health for some time.
MSTies will recall that Mike impersonated him in a host segment in episode 1001- SOULTAKER.

The L.A. Times has the story.

Official Vol. XXXI Press Release


Here’s the official press release from Shout!

For Immediate Release
Available on DVD November 25th, 2014 from Shout! Factory
Mystery Science Theater 3000:
The Turkey Day Collection
Four DVD Box Set Features Previously Unreleased
Episodes Jungle Goddess, The Painted Hills,
The Screaming Skull and Squirm

It’s time to talk turkey! Celebrating Thanksgiving with turkey has been a well-known tradition for generations, but for MST-ies, Turkey Day also means celebrating another tradition: one that involves giving thanks for turkeys of the cinematic variety. This year, our Turkey Day feast will feature four never before on DVD episodes, Jungle Goddess The Painted Hills The Screaming Skull and Squirm.

This 4-DVD collectible tin box set is also stuffed with bonus features, including exclusive new Turkey Day episode introductions by Joel Hodgson, a new interview with Squirm star Don Scardino, new featurettes Undercooked & Overstuffed: Inside the Turkey Day Marathon, Bumper To Bumper: Turkey Day Through The Years, This Film May Kill You: Making ‘The Screaming Skull’ and Gumby & Clokey; as well as four exclusive Mini Posters by artist Steve Vance!

Fans who order this title from will receive a free MST3K Vol. XXXI slipcase, free exclusive MST3K coasters and free standard US shipping, with their copies shipping three weeks before street date. Pre-orders can be placed at

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Turkey Day Edition brings us Jungle Goddess, the tale of two pilots in search of a missing heiress and her father’s reward money. They track her down in the African jungle where she is doing just fine, thank you. Includes The Phantom Creeps Chapter One: “The Menacing Power; The Painted Hills, based on a novel about a kindly prospector who is murdered and his faithful pup takes on the perp. Also includes the short film Body Care & Grooming; The Screaming Skull, wherein a neurotic woman is driven to distraction — if not destruction — by the ghost of her new husband’s previous wife. Also includes the Gumby short Robot Rumpus; and the cult horror film Squirm, the low-budget tale of a southern town beset by electrified, carnivorous worms. Includes the short film A Case of Spring Fever, in which a frustrated man wishes springs (metal, not seasonal) never existed…and lives to regret it.

Bonus Features Include:
· Exclusive Turkey Day Episode Intros by Joel Hodgson
· Undercooked & Overstuffed: Inside the Turkey Day Marathon
· Bumper To Bumper: Turkey Day Through The Years
· Gumby & Clokey
· This Film May Kill You: Making The Screaming Skull
· Interview with Squirm Star Don Scardino
· Four Exclusive Mini-Posters by Artist Steve Vance