Reader’s Digest version: The “Twilight” people were nice, but ultimately decided against the idea, for understandable reasons.
So, instead:STARSHIP TROOPERS!
Date: Thursday, Aug. 15. Tickets not on sale yet. We’ll keep you updated.
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!”
• First, housekeeping: We will start right in on season 8 next week.
• 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 was 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 them for what was to come) and a couple of the segments are classics. The riffing is steady and strong — they had a LOT to work with. All in all it would have made a fine farewell if the show had not been picked up.
• This episode appears in Shout! Factory’s “20th Anniversary Edition.”
• 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.
• Mike writes about the episode and then Paul, Mary Jo and Kevin wrap up the season here.
• 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?)
• 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.
• Callbacks: “Roxie!” (Eegah) also “Eegah!” “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.’” Is that from something?
• 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.
• The “changing the starbaby” bit is a cute idea (I especially like Mike as the quintessential NASA administrator) but in the end it doesn’t add up to much.
• The whole “ready for some football” thing became a catchphrase.
• Obscure riff: “This sucks, I was supposed to headline,” as the characters pull up in a car together. This is reference to the experience many of the writers had as traveling comics working a circuit of comedy clubs in Minnesota. They tended to travel in one car, with the headliner getting the best seat, etc.
• Over a couple of seasons, they’d established Mike’s bizarre ability to become other people at times of stress. He became Carol Channing and Kenny G in previous instances. 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 last time around I asked about the reference to “Williams and Reed.” A commenter explained I mis-heard them and they said “Williams and Ree” who I’ve never heard of. Must be a midwest thing.
• The whole Leonard Maltin thing really does point up the flaw of his rating system. I was once a devotee of his books: buying a new one every year 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. I think he should have used at least a five-star system, especially because, for reasons that I never saw adequately explained, his lowest rating (other than “bomb”) was 1-and-half stars. Had he made use of the 1/2-star and 1-star ratings at least, he might not have let himself in for this well-deserved mockery.
• 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 passed away a couple of years ago) 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” 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 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.”
Alert reader Patricia muses:
I know you’ve had a discussion about which movies would be good remakes, and I know that when there was a discussion about the MST movie being remade, Canucklehead actually mentioned Pixar remaking it as an animated movie.
But what if the Pixar/Dreamworks form of 3-D animation was used to remake, oh, Manos: The Hands of Fate, or Gamera vs. Guiron? Would the movies be more watchable? How would that serve a movie like Hobgoblins or Pod People? Imagine what the animators could do with the scene of Tor chasing the kids in Beast of Yucca Flats? And just think how the outhouse scene in Boggy Creek II could come alive!
All I know is, if I were very, very rich, I’d fund one of the studios to turn Wild Wild World of Batwoman into an animated romp. Fun!
So which MSTed movie would you like so see in an animated version? What would it be like?
I think “Teenagers from Outer Space” is a good candidate. The gargon could look like anything!
What’s your pick?
Movie: (1981) A street punk 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, 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: wow. 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 not yet on DVD.
• 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 close to a year.
• 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 me, or does leaving the Bronx for New Mexico seem like a pretty good idea?
• My copy of this episode has a lonnng commercial for the movie “Fargo.” I haven’t timed it, but it feels like more than a minute. I’d forgotten there were commercials that long.
• The opening is a cute idea but it kind of gets driven into the ground. The intro, in which Dr. F puts Pearl “in a home” is a very nice reveal. And nothing says “We’ve been canceled” having a big fire for no reason.
• Nice reference to the Spinal Tap song “Sex Farm.”
• 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!
• 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 at this point. Not terribly funny, but 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.
• Annoying commercial: Apparently some sort of flower shop association ad in which “Buzz the bee” suggests that we “think flowers.” Well, okay, then.
• 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 we never see it again, I don’t think and it was used again in the next episode.
• Somebody makes a riff that is premised on the notion of a Kinkos being on every corner. I’d forgotten that era 15 years ago when Kinkos was aggressively expanding. They’ve now been absorbed by FedEx and the brand is fading 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!!!”
Alert reader Timmy suggests:
How about a topic on things that remind you of MST3K. i live near a busy airport in the dc area and i see planes take off ever so often. i always say once a day, “john sununu goes for a haircut” when i see a plane takeoff. also some news things i see i say mst3k lines. there was a story about a man getting bit by a snake, i said, “watch out for snakes”.
When I see a plane taking off, I tend to hum the Starfighters music: o/` “Laaa, da-da-daaaa…” o/`
What examples can you think of from your life?
Several people alerted us to the story by The AV Club, which notes
that AIP is at it again: Remaking some of their old movies, including some that were riffed by our beloved cowtown puppet show.
Also, CNN Entertainment uses the upcoming “Friday Night Lights” feature film as the peg to do an item about TV shows that have become movies, and mentions, well, guess who? (Thanks to our pal Tom for the heads up.)
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 entry 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.
• References. http://www.annotatedmst.com/episodes/incrediblemeltingman/index.htm
• 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.
• Obscure/then-current reference: “He’s gonna steal back his snowblower.” (A reference to the Paul Newman movie “Nobody’s Fool.”)
• Director Crow is wearing a Deep 13 hat.
• Annoying commercial: Comedy Central’s “Finger that candidate” bits.
• 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.” (Also “Rattlers.”) Assistant director Henning Schellerup also worked on “Hangar 18.” In front of the camera, Myron Healey was also in “The Unearthly” and Don Walters MAY have been in “Radar Men from the Moon.”
• 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?”