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Goodbye Sci-Fi

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

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This Date in MSTory

1890: Chester M. Franklin, producer of the movie in episode 510- THE PAINTED HILLS.
1898: Richard Arlen, who played Lt. Shaw in the movie in episode 420- THE HUMAN DUPLICATORS and Lee Barringer in the movie in episode 106- THE CRAWLING HAND.
1907: Leslie Bradley, who played the symbol-maker in the movie in episode 315- TEENAGE CAVEMAN.
1907: Nathan Juran, director of the movie in episode 804- THE DEADLY MANTIS.
1928: George Maharis, who played Les Phillips in the movie in episode K13- SST: DEATH FLIGHT.*
1930: Joyce Holden, who played Claire Erling in the movie in episode 807- TERROR FROM THE YEAR 5000.*
1938: Virginia Aldridge, who played Betty Alexander in the movie in episode 618- HIGH SCHOOL BIG SHOT.*
1939: Priscilla Eastwold, who had an uncredited role as a sports fan in the movie in episode K15- SUPERDOME.*
1945: Venita Wolf, who played Tina Moss in the movie in episode 204- CATALINA CAPER.

1977: Henry Vars (age 74), musical score composer for the movie in episode 320- THE UNEARTHLY and was an uncredited contributoer to the score in the movie in episode 802- THE LEECH WOMAN.
1999: Joseph Green (age 71), director/screenwriter of the movie in episode 513- THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE.
2003: Rand Brooks (age 84), who played Andrews in the movie in episode 417- CRASH OF MOONS.
2008: Don LaFontaine (age 68) who had a bit part as a reporter in the movie in episode 405- BEING FROM ANOTHER PLANET.

1996: At MST3K’s CONVENTIOCON EXPOFEST-A-RAMA 2: ELECTRIC BUGALOO held in Minneapolis, Kim Cattrall (403- CITY LIMITS), Rex Reason (THIS ISLAND EARTH) and Russell Johnson (THIS ISLAND EARTH and 906- THE SPACE CHILDREN) treat MSTies by appearing in person on the celebrity panel. And a few lucky MSTies get to play Doom with Mike Nelson or go shopping with Bridget Nelson and Mary Jo Pehl.
2002: The book A YEAR AT THE MOVIES: ONE MAN’S FILMGOING ODYSSEY by Kevin Murphy hits book stores.

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.

Weekend Discussion Thread: Introducing the Show to Millenials

Alert regular Jaybird suggests:

What about a discussion of everyone’s experiences trying to introduce younger people to MST3K. I had a mortifying experience along those lines recently, and it made me realize just how hard it is for the average millennial to relate to a show like MST3K. Most of these people have grown up being able to pick and choose exactly what they want to watch, and the methods of delivery they usually use (Netflix and other online streaming, Red Box rentals, etc) all heavily favor more recent shows and movies. With a few notable exceptions, most of these people have never seen a complete movie that is more than about ten years old, so the experience of sitting down in front of a creature feature show and watching a bad old movie with your wisecracking friends (which is what MST3K is meant to remind you of) is about as foreign to them as putting a quarter in a Kinetoscope machine. As a result, the genius of MST3K’s humor is almost completely lost on them, not to mention the now-dated references, and the whole experience leaves them completely cold. I’m just curious to know if anyone else has similar stories to share.

I would add what Kevin Murphy has noted a few times: that it seems as if when millennials are presented with a black and white movie, it’s like they’re simply unable to see anything on the screen at all.

Of course there are exceptions, and I would assume that any millennial who visits this site is a good example of one. But have you noticed this kind of attitude in your cohorts?

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 (113 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 (123 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.