Episode 1003- Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders

Movie Summary: Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders is a couple of movies sewn together with the flimsy thread of a recurring toy monkey. Ernest Borgnine, looking just as fresh and girlish as his Marty days, is a large grandpa who's babysitting his grandson and letting him watch whatever he wants on TV. When the power goes out during a storm, Grandpa B is forced to talk to the boy and begins to tell him a story about magical Merlin.
In Grandpa's tale, willowy Merlin now runs a little shop with his rubicund wife, Zurella, in a vague, Los Angeles-y kind of suburb. One day two women with pointy voices come into the shop. After a standard "Hihowareyou," one of the women goes into graphic detail to the other woman about not being able to conceive. The barren woman's husband follows them into the shop; he's a store reviewer and a freelance asshole. He's anxious to blow the lid off little mom & pop shops in strip malls. When the man asks Merlin why the hell the shop even exists, Merlin tells him he wants people "to experience their belief in magic again." Mr. & Mrs. Merlin look at the barren woman knowingly and they give her a wishing stone that looks like malformed Jell-O.
The antagonistic boutique critic threatens to shut down Merlin's shop with a bad review. To appease him, Merlin gives him a book of magic filled with spells and sorcery. The man and his wife return home: she goes off to bed alone and he goes downstairs to do some officing in his garage. He starts dabbling with the spells in the book and wreaks havoc right and left: He breathes fire, the cat levitates and the devil visits him when he tries to turn the cat into a familiar. As all this is happening our friend is rapidly aging. We cut to Grandpa Borgnine who does some back-pedaling to explain that when you mess with magic it drains your life force and causes you to age.
When the man realizes how close he suddenly is to retirement, he finds the rejuvenation spell to replenish his life force. The recipe calls for fresh blood, which he takes from his pinched and still barren wife. The formula de-oldens him so much so that he becomes an infant. Voila! The woman finally has the baby she's always wanted! On the down side, she has to raise her husband. On the plus side, she's gotten rid of her husband. Or has she? This is upsetting and confusing.
When this story fails to satisfy the kid, Grandpa B spins another wonderful yarn which begins with a thief breaking into Merlin's shop after hours, and stealing the creepy little monkey toy. Out of all the useless stuff in Merlin's show, why the monkey toy? Maybe the other worthless crap had ink tags.
The thief pawns the creepy monkey toy (hereafter, CMT) and a pleasant woman whose name seems like it should be Susan buys it. She goes to a birthday party where she gives the CMT to a child. We don't know who the child is, we don't know what Susan is doing there, we don't know if she's a girlfriend, we don't know if she's a neighbor, we don't know who the guy is, we don't know if he's the dad of the kid, and we don't know who the other guy is either, and we don't know whose house it is.
Well, anyway...once CMT is in the house, there are foreboding occurrences: plants die; flies die; goldfish die. These things happen each time the malevolent monkey clashes his cymbals. Meanwhile, Merlin is hunting for his monkey with a police sketch in hand. CMT goes too far when he starts a fire in the garage and kills Sparkle the Dog, the only character who we know who it is. At a loss, Vague Dad Guy (I think his name is David, but it should be Susan) consults a psychic who tells him to GET RID OF THE MONKEY DAVID FOR GOD'S SAKE!
Susan the Dad tries to get rid of the monkey, first by casually throwing it in the garbage. When that fails, he drives out to a deserted area to bury the CMT. But the CMT, smiling ever benevolently, uses his preternatural powers and conjures a violent storm and an earthquake. Susan-man falls into a crevice created by the earthquake, barely escapes with his blandness, and returns home.
Meanwhile, Merlin, as he searching for his monkey toy, just happens to run into a guy who just happens to be a traveling trinket salesman who just happens to have sold Merlin's monkey to an elderly woman who just happens to have paid by check, allowing Merlin to stalk her. In the subplot of a subplot of subplot, Mr. Susan's mother returns home from a vacation. And Grandma has brought a gift for the kid! Hooray! It's the creepy monkey toy! Hell hath no fury like a toy scorned and the CMT brings about another earthquake. Just as his cymbals are about to clang, Merlin magically appears, stops the CMT, and gently rebukes him for raining hellfire on all around him. By this time the Grandpa B's charge has fallen fast asleep. (Here you may make the obvious joke to yourself or to the person on your right.)

Prologue: The gang on the SOL is into 1920s college pranks. Mike is swallowing goldfish; Servo is stuck in a phone booth with a bunch of other hims; and Crow is flag- pole sitting.

Segment One: Pearl receives orders from the Institute of Mad Science for an experiment to inflict on Mike and Les Bots. The theory is that if one person is given complete power and authority over others, that person will become corrupt. Before Pearl can even finish her hypothesis, Servo has made himself autocratic ruler of the SOL. In a personal touch, Pearl adds a variant to the experiment: fire ants in the test subject's underwear, thus proving that insects can change the course of governments. Control group Bobo should have had no ants in his pants but, Bobo being Bobo...

Segment Two: Servo and Crow become niche reviewers and review each other. They give each other virulent and vehement thumbs down.

Segment Three: Servo, using a bogus magic book, accidentally turns Mike into an adult baby but Mike doesn't realize it. Mike makes a present for Servo.

Segment Four: Mike has got the entire series of children's books written by Ernest Borgnine, including "Santa's Workshop of Shimmering Delights" which is anything but.

Segment Five: Bobo is an ersatz toy monkey, sent up to the SOL by Pearl to wreak havoc and disaster. Pearl calculates their pain quotient, using a variety of standardized scales. Meanwhile, Brain Guy beams Bobo back down to the Castle, where he surreptitiously tries to get Bobo into a large bag. Bobo loves bags!

Stinger: Kid playing with odd monkey toy, lost in some fantasy play world, singing "Rock 'n roll martian.... rock and roll martian..."

Reflections: In just about every movie we've ever done, there's always a moment upon which we writers fixate. We will go back and forth over the same few seconds of movie, frame by frame, and we'll dissect and discuss the moment. This will happen in each of the four or five viewings of the particular film; and each time we'll have a long discussion, casting theories and supposing explanations for the odd moment. Or we'll simply be fascinated by the moment. To wit: "Rock and roll martian..." We laughed very hard, we played it over and over again, and there was a lot of discussion about what the kid was saying. It sounds like he could be saying "F***ing old Martian..." It seems to be such a pure kid moment -- how did they get it on film?
We also loved the psychic taking David to task so virulently. "MY GOD, DAVID!" This was a close second in our choice of stingers. Man, working at MST3K was a fun job... -- Mary Jo Pehl.


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