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This Date in MSTory

Brian “Erhardt” Henry, co-maintainer of Satellite News, who served as a “guest intern” during the production of episode 1001- SOULTAKER.*
1876: Henry MacRae, associate producer of the season two serial THE PHANTOM CREEPS.
1906: Lurene Tuttle, who played Anna Noble in the movie in episode 811- PARTS: THE CLONUS HORROR and Judge Cecilia Steele Tropp in the movie in episode 112- UNTAMED YOUTH.
1908: George Macready, who played Prof. Dornheimer in the movie in episode 420- THE HUMAN DUPLICATORS.
1910: Ron Ormond, who played the janitor in the movie in episode 514- TEEN-AGE STRANGLER.
1922: Lane Bradford, who played Lasvon in the movie in episode 417- CRASH OF MOONS.
1929: Susan Shaw, who played Hestia in the movie in episode 416- FIRE MAIDENS OF OUTER SPACE.

1967: Malcolm Brown (age 64), art director for the movie in episode 615- KITTEN WITH A WHIP.
1967: George Webber (age 91), cinematographer for the short X MARKS THE SPOT, seen in episode 210- KING DINOSAUR.
1978: Emma Roldan (age 85), who played Maria the housekeeper in the movie in episode 102- THE ROBOT VS. THE AZTEC MUMMY.
1981: Lowell Thomas (age 89), who was the narrator for the short THE CHICKEN OF TOMORROW, seen in episode 702- THE BRUTE MAN.
2003: Annabelle Weenick (age 78), dialogue director for the movie in episode 418- ATTACK OF THE THE EYE CREATURES.

1992: Episode 411- THE MAGIC SWORD first shown.
1998: Episode 912- THE SCREAMING SKULL (with the short ROBOT RUMPUS: A GUMBY ADVENTURE) first shown.

1955: Mamie Van Doren, who played Penny Lowe in the movie in episode 112- UNTAMED YOUTH, married musician Ray Anthony. Their marriage was already on the rocks four years later when they starred together in the movie in episode 601- GIRLS TOWN, in which she played Silver Morgan and he played Dick Culdane.
1979: The movie in episode K16- CITY ON FIRE, was released in Canada where the movie was filmed.
2006: Rhino Home Video releases “The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 10.”
2010: Timothy Van Patten, who played Max Keller in episodes 322- MASTER NINJA I and 324- MASTER NINJA II, shares an Emmy Award for outstanding miniseries for “The Pacific.”

This Date in MSTory is written and compiled by Steve Finley, Chris Cornell and Brian Henry. Copyright © 2015 All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce This Date in MSTory items in any form without express written permission from the authors.
* = According to the IMBD this person is alive. If you can supply evidence that he or she has died, and when, please let us know.
** = If this appears next to a birthday, the IMDB indicates that the person has died, but the IMDB does not have a full death date (probably just a month and year or just the year he or she died). If you can give us the exact date (with some sort of proof we can check), please let us know.
** = If this appears next to a death date, the IMDB does not have this person’s full birthday. If you can provide it (with some sort of proof we can check), please let us know.

Episode guide: 319- War of the Colossal Beast (with short: ‘Mr. B. Natural’)

Short: (1957) A shrill, androgynous succubus urges a gawky middle schooler to take up a musical instrument.
Movie: (1958) When giant Glenn from “The Amazing Colossal Man,” now a deranged and disfigured monster, is spotted in Mexico, his worried sister tries to save him.

First shown: 11/30/91
Opening: J&tB come up with new names for Mex-American food combos
Invention exchange: The Mads have invented the breakfast bazooka, while Joel shows off his between-meal mortar
Host segment 1: Tom and Crow debate the topic “Mr. B. Natural: man or woman?”
Host segment 2: J&tB are singing the Big Head song when Glen revisits
Host segment 3: Joel presents “KTLA predicts!”
End: Joel offers the bots samples of his special bread, Joel reads a letter then Glen reads one; Frank gets another breakfast shot at him
Stinger: That’s a happy king?
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (107 votes, average: 4.58 out of 5)

• If there was ever an episode where the short outshines the feature, this is it. But, that being said, this was one of those times where I was expecting to struggle through the movie but was pleasantly surprised. Instead of the dull slog I remembered from previous viewings, I found it pretty entertaining and the riffing was pretty consistently good. The host segments are more good than bad as well. This really is a fun episode all around.
• Ah, Mister B. Calling it a classic short isn’t enough. It is probably the most famous of all the shorts the show presented and maybe the most watched 20 or so minutes of the entire series. I practically have the thing memorized. (Note: I admit to stealing the phrase “shrill succubus” from the ACEG. It’s just too perfect a description.)
• Can I just mention, however, that the short is in horrible shape? Mr. B’s arrival in the kid’s home has been spliced out, for example. It was probably hilarious, and therefore somebody cut it out of the print and kept it for his or her own collection of goofy footage. A lot of classic moments in movies have been lost to anonymous “collectors” savaging the only remaining copy of a particular movie.
• That being said, thanks to RiffTrax, we now know that a pristine, un-chopped-up copy of the short exists—it’s the one they used when RiffTrax re-riffed it.
• The short was filmed at the Waukegan (Illinois) Elementary School and Miami (Ohio) Sr. High School.
• Betty Luster, who played Mr. B, had a brief TV career in the early 1950s. Her first TV job was on the CBS show “Sing It Again” (1950-51), which was a game show similar to “Name That Tune.” Her second TV gig was on the NBC show “Seven at Eleven,” which was only on the air for one month in 1951.
• For a long time I wondered what the target audience of this short was. It couldn’t be the kids. It couldn’t be the school music teacher. Recently, it hit me: It’s for the PARENTS! The music teacher probably was paid to show this during parent-teacher night.
• In the segment 1, Joel says “bogart” instead of “robot.” They just keep going.
• The military guy says the river below Boulder Dam is “a mile deep in some places.” WHAT??
• The Big Head makes another appearance in segment 2.
• The gibberish Joel shouts at the end of segment 3 comes from the chaotic labels of a product known as Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap–still available at your local health food store. There’s an explanation of this stuff here.
• Movie comment: Why didn’t they keep Glenn sedated once they got him into the hangar? (I know, they wanted to have the exciting escape scene).
• Callback: McCloud! (Pod People)
• Of course, this movie is known for the 30 seconds of color at the end, triggered by Glenn grabbing the power lines. Did Bert I. really think this was going to help the movie somehow?
• This is one of two MSTed movies (522- TEENAGE CRIME WAVE is the other) that ends at L.A.’s Griffith Observatory.
• Cast and crew roundup: Set designer Maury Hoffman also worked on “I Was a Teenage Werewolf. Assistant director/production manager Herbert E. Mendelson also worked on “The Magic Sword.” Sound mixer Ben Winkler also worked on “The She-Creature.” The voice of monster Glenn’s was provided by the great Paul Frees. We’ll hear his voice again in “The Sword and the Dragon” and “The Deadly Mantis.” By the way, he was the director and script writer for “The Beatniks.” George Becwar also appears in “Bride of the Monster.” George Milan also appears in “Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders.” Roy Gordon also appears in “The Unearthly.” Dean Duncan Parkin, who played Glen the monster, also was help behind the scenes of “The Beginning of the End”… he was a grasshopper wrangler!
• CreditsWatch: This was intern Cindy Hansen’s last episode. Trace and Frank are still “villians” and Dr. F’s name is still “Forrestor.”
• Fave riff from the short: “Mom, Dad? Tell me you heard that!” Honorable mention: “Forget music! I wanna dance!”
• Fave riff from the movie: “My nurse fell down his throat!” Also: “Hee Haw, it’s Sam Wainwright!” “Sir, you just described ME!”

A Couple of Mr. B Promo Pics

Banu Gibson, wife of Buzz Podewell, was recently archiving some of his old pictures and came across these two “Mr. B Natural” promo shots. She was kind enough to send them to us.

Mr B Natural w_director Mr B Natural on the clef

Says Banu: “Buzz never answered emails or inquiries regarding if that was him in the short. He wasn’t interested in that kind of attention but the posts after his death were so touching and lovely I thought I would share [these photos] in case anyone would be interested. By the way, those are Buzz’s real parents who play his parents.”

Thanks to Banu for sharing with us!

If You’re Headed to DragonCon…

… you will want to know about this, from our pal Daniel Griffith. No word yet on who the “special guests” might be, but Trace, Frank and Bill are slated to appear at the con (see below). Two words: En-joy!


Scheduled cast appearances (many run by our pal Ken Plume) include:

Riftrax. Bill Corbett hosts a lively hour full of rifftacular fun. J. Scrimshaw; Fri 10:00 am; Imperial Ballroom [M]

Joseph Scrimshaw & the Attack of Comedy Joseph Scrimshaw’s geekcentric comedy show on Star Wars, Batman, video games, &
our New Geek World. B. Corbett, M. Lewis, H. Lublin; Fri 1:00 pm; Intl. S [H]

Comedy Writing. A discussion about the art of writing comedy, with those who have done so professionally. T. Beaulieu, F. Conniff, B. Corbett, J. Scrimshaw; Fri 4:00 pm; Cent. I [H]

Gonzo Quiz Show & Doin’ Improv. Celebrity guests in a gonzo game face flurries of fast, furious improvised comedy. K. Plume, S. McCoy, T. Beaulieu, F. Conniff, Paul and Storm, B. Corbett, S. Adsit, J. Urbaniak, M. Lewis, J. Scrimshaw, A. Fever, Angela Webber, H. Lublin, M. Gagliardi; Fri 5:30 pm; Imperial Ballroom [M]; 2.5 Hrs

Gonzoroo III: A Musical Quizodyssey. Music, geekery, comedic delights, & surprises galore! A big ol’ concert followed by a big ol’ quiz show! K. Plume, D. Hammer, T. Beaulieu, F. Conniff, Paul and Storm, S. Adsit, J. Urbaniak, M. Lewis, J. Scrimshaw, A. Fever, M. Phirman, The Doubleclicks, H. Lublin, M. Gagliardi; Sat 8:00 pm; Atrium Ballroom [M]; 2.5 Hrs

We Got This. Mark & Hal settle once and for all which is the best Classic Movie Monster. K. Plume, T. Beaulieu, F. Conniff, B. Corbett, M. Phirman, H. Lublin, M. Gagliardi; Sun 10:00 am; Imperial Ballroom [M]

Reel Crime. MST3K’s Bill Corbett, Trace Beaulieu, & Frank Conniff defend cinematic guilty pleasures. K. Plume; Sun 1:00 pm; Grand Ballroom West [Hil]

You Know More Than We Do. An hour with the folks behind Mystery Science Theater 3000. K. Plume, T. Beaulieu, F. Conniff, B. Corbett; Mon 1:00 pm; Cent. I [H]

Bill: Fri 10:00 am, Fri 01:00 pm.
Bill, Trace and Frank: Fri 04:00 pm, Fri 05:30 pm, Sun 10:00 am, Sun 01:00 pm, Mon 01:00 pm.
Trace and Frank: Sat 08:00 pm.

Weekend Discussion Thread: Your MST3K-Themed Restaurant or Bar

An alert reader suggests:

Have we ever had a WDT of “Name your MST3K bar or restaurant”?

I would have a bar called Beer on the Sun, kind of a weird Canadian/Jimmy Buffet hybrid. Then again, “Beer on the Sun” is pretty much my answer for everything.

What would your pick be?

Now Available from RiffTrax…


Proving once again that there’s no Estevez like Joe Estevez. Stream or download it here.

Episode guide: 318- Star Force — Fugitive Alien II

Movie: (1978 original TV show episodes; 1987 compilation movie) The further adventures of the crew of Earth spaceship Bacchus 3: They try to destroy a super-weapon and Ken finally confronts his former leader.

First shown: 11/16/91
Opening: Tom and Crow discuss the nature of puppets
Invention exchange: Tom and Crow compete in a “name-that-puppet” quiz show, with Joel as quizmaster. In Deep 13, the Mads have invented big noses, while Joel shows off his big head
Host segment 1: Tom Servo is dead! Joel and Crow rush to save him
Host segment 2: J&tB present the Captain Joe action figure
Host segment 3: J&tB sing: “The Fugitive Alien medley
End: Crow and Tom are hoping to influence the Mads’ movie choices; Joel asks the bots how they would designing the ultimate evil person; Joel reads letters; Frank defends Tom T. Hall
Stinger: “Captain, I’ve got it fixed! It’s all working again!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (122 votes, average: 4.45 out of 5)

• I know if they hadn’t done this, fans would be complaining about that “to be continued” at the end of the first one, but did we really need more of this? The first “Fugitive Alien” ep is one of the most beloved episodes of the show, no question. This one, well, it’s more of the same, and it starts to wear a little thin (for me, at least) in the last hour or so. Even Servo sings “We realize you’ve had your fill…” Still, the host segments are great, so overall I’m going to go with a “fair” rating.
• This one was included in Shout!Factory’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XXIV.”
• This is the last of the Sandy Frank KTMA re-dos (though no fan copy of the KTMA riff is known to exist), and the end of this season’s see-saw, back-and-forth pattern — one Japanese outing, one American film, etc. From here the season goes is strange new directions.
• There’s some sort of toy in Crow’s net during the invention exchange segment. Anybody recognize it?
• During the quiz show bit (which is kind of reminiscent of those long season-two segments with the artists renderings) Joel — reading off a card I think — says he wants the bots to guess the “genius” of each puppet. He should have said “genus.” Tom Servo quietly corrects him and they keep going.
I love Joel in full quizmaster mode: “Kukla… Kukla…”
• For a long time, I wondered what that was in Joel’s hand when he’s wearing the Big Head. Then it hit me–it’s his lavaliere mic, which the Big Head would probably have interfered with.
• Trace seems to have more fun with the big noses than Frank. He just loves making waggle ever so slightly.
• Joel wears the big head into the theater, then hurls it aside.
• As soon as the movie starts, all the old riffs come rushing back: “Rocky!” “Again!” “Rita!” “Meter Maid!” And forklifts galore. I don’t think I should call these “call backs.” More like retreads.
• Joel forgets Tom when entering the theater after segment 1. Tom reminds him and he goes back to get him.
• Callbacks: “A girl!?” (Viking Women) “Hikeeba” (Women of the Prehistoric Planet)
• After Joel sings his song in segment 3, Tom quietly comments: “What a lunatic, huh?”
• There’s more Sandy Frank bashing in this one, especially the final verse to the song in segment 3.
• Tom does a lot of singing in this one.
• Then-current reference: “Farfegnugen.”
• Complicated and now-quite-dated riff: “I’m George Bernard Shaw in Baghdad–I’m under a table and I’m writing ‘Candide’.” If this baffles anybody, I’m sure somebody in the comments will explain it.
• This show marks the first reference to Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, as far as I know. Can anybody think of an earlier one?
• To any adult, that first letter Joel reads is worrisome. I wonder what happened to that kid. It’s also a pretty pristine example of the unintended downside of Joel’s “sleepy” character, which a lot of kids mistook as some sort of endorsement by the show, and by Joel in particular, of being a stoned slacker. You can tell the kid was expecting that his comments would be met with approval, not a concerned suggestion that he get into breakfast.
• There’s no further cast and crew roundup other than what was done in the previous “Fugitive Alien” episode.
• CreditsWatch: Clayton James is back at hair and makeup. Additional Music: Lyrics: Kevin Murphy
• Fave riff: “‘Course it pierced his colon…” Honorable mention: “He’s getting a tattoo with a Busy-Buzz-Buzz.”

Now Available from RiffTrax…


Stream or download it here.

Weekend Discussion Thread: The 25-Episodes that Define MST3K

Paste Magazine had a piece this week called “The 25-Episode History of Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

I know a good topic to steal when I see one. (And author Chris Morgan noted wryly on Twitter that it’s an idea that’s been had before.)

So, do you agree with their list? If not, what’s your list of 25 episodes that define MST3K?

Episode guide: 317- The Saga of the Viking Women and their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (with short: The Home Economics Story)

Short: (1951) Four college girls major in home economics.
Movie: (1957) Viking women set sail to rescue their men who have been enslaved by barbarians.

First shown: 10/26/91
Opening: Joel says: Consider the lowly waffle
Invention exchange: Joel continues to consider waffles; The Mads demonstrate their meat re-animator, Joel shows off an iron that turns waffles into pancakes
Host segment 1: Joel has reprogrammed the bots to love waffles and asks them to suggest new uses for waffles
Host segment 2: “Waffles!”
Host segment 3: Willy the Waffle gives a spirited defense of waffles
End: The Waffle song, Dr. F is “re-animating” Frank
Stinger: “But you don’t understand! I’m a PRINCE!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (88 votes, average: 4.47 out of 5)

• Let me just say: waffles. Things get into the heads of the Brains during the course of doing an episode, and sometimes it just leaks out. I think this is one of those times. All in all, this one is lots of fun. The movie is, if such a thing is possible, even lamer and sillier than “Teenage Caveman” and the riffing is solid. As for the host segments, well: waffles.
• This episode will be included in Shout!Factory’s “The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. XXXIV.”
• The clip from “The Crawling Eye” that has been part of the intro since the first season has been replaced with Godzilla’s tail slide attack from episode 212- GODZILLA VS. MEGALON.
• Dr. F calls Joel “Aunt Jemima” twice in one segment.
• Trace’s expressions during the invention exchange are priceless.
• Tom and Crow both make LOTR references at the beginning, though Crow says “I’m ashamed I know that.”
• Callback: Tom rediscovers the Creepy Girl (Catalina Caper). It’s a calamity! (Gamera vs Guiron) “The law is the word…” (Teenage Caveman)
• In segment two, after Joel delivers his line, he throws the plate up in the air, and then has to duck out of the way of it.
• Tom and Crow are already in theater when Joel arrives after segment 2.
• How many now-middle-aged people had the problem of not being allowed to stay up and watch “Love, American Style”? I know *I* did.
• As has been chronicled, the Willy the waffle bit is based on the “Case of Spring Fever” short, which they watched during this season but never riffed until season 10.
• Joel’s line “We got a party to go to” at the end of segment 3 is a “Laugh-In” reference.
• Crow still has his Willy the Waffle outfit on when entering the theater after segment 3.
• Then-current reference: Rosie Ruiz.
This commercial is referenced again. I thought I would let younger viewers know where it comes from.
• The show ends with a great song, but how come there’s no “lyrics and music” credit for it in the credits. Guess it was a group effort?
• Backstage stuff: In far shots, the sea serpent was actually special effects guy Irving Block’s finger, covered with clay, with a fin stuck on it. Really. And, of course, this is yet another Corman movie largely shot in Bronson Canyon.
• Oh, and just for the record, Jonathan Haze does NOT play the prince, as some, including whoever wrote the episode summary in the ACEG, think.
• Cast and crew roundup: cinematographer Monroe P. Askins also did “The Human Duplicators. Special effects guy Jack Rabin also worked on “Robot Monster,” “Rocketship X-M and “Invasion USA.” Special effects guy Irving A. Block also worked on “Rocketship XM” Special effects guy Louis DeWitt also worked on “The Phantom Planet.” Makeup guy Harry Ross also worked on “The Mad Monster” and “Lost Continent.” Assistant director Robert Kinoshita also worked on “The Phantom Planet.” In front of the camera, Sally Todd was also in “The Unearthly.”
• CreditsWatch: Andrea DuCane came in to do makeup for the only time this season. Trace and Frank are still “villains” and Dr. F’s last name is still spelled “Forrestor.”
• Fave riff from the short: “Kegs will be tapped. Men will be used.” Honorable mention: “…while Kay struggles with basic motor skills.”
• Fave riff: “…and no time to figure out how we saw all that!” Honorable mention: “Not a chest hair among ‘em” and “I’m Todd the Baptist!”