Satellite News - Season One Episode Guide


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SEASON ONE: 1989-1990

Featuring the comments and observations of Chris "Sampo" Cornell.


First shown: approx. 11/89.
Opening: None.
Invention exchange: Electric bagpipes, canine anti-perspirant, welcome to Deep 13.
Host segment 1: Heads, you lose.
Host segment 2: Gypsy uncoils.
Host segment 3: The giant eyes have it.
End: Good thing/bad thing, the Mads are happy.

Comments and observations:

  • In the clips during the opening theme, you can spot Josh's and Jim's head sticking up--it's during the section where Joel sings "...because he used those special parts..." You can slso spot the PVC pipe that was used to work Crow in some clips.
  • There is no opening host segment between the theme song and the first commercial, something that became institutionalized later.
  • We get as much information as we're ever going to get about Deep 13 in that first host segment.
  • Note that there are no buttons on the table: At Movie Sign, Joel just sort of slaps the table! Movie Sign is a somewhat lifeless affair all the way flashing lights, no camera shaking, just a buzzer.
  • In Deep 13, Dr. F. appears to be controlling the camera with some sort of remote control device that looks like a little satellite antenna. In Season Two, they would create the notion of the Mole People assisting on camera and such...and then they just stopped worrying about explaining who was behind the camera.
  • Tom Servo is built slightly different from later eps--larger shoulder thingies and a larger, somewhat disturbing, white beak.
  • Trace is still using his "baby" voice for Crow, like he used in KTMA and which he later slowly abandoned.
  • You can see the shadows of the puppeteers on the wall during the second host segment.
  • Gypsy is as primitive and strange as she will ever be in the second host segment--her mouth clunks so loudly when she talks that you can barely make out what she's saying. And that whole comment from Tom about discovering something that "narrows down" what Gypsy's sex is--that's just odd. Also, her light isn't on. And this is the one and only time Joel removes her "eye"--something that seems to upset her quite a bit.
  • According to an informed source, BBI used the KTMA Crow for the theater segments here--all they did was add an extra floralier tray and clean him up a little.
  • BBI was using a "thinner" bluescreen level than they would use later--the result is that Crow's "net" seems to vanish, and you can see some odd gaps between Servo and the theater seats.
  • Tom Servo is positively immobile in the host segments--though Josh never had the time with Servo to become as skillful as Kevin later became, this was also due to the more primative construction of early Servo, which limited his movement.
  • We get the origin of the "Richard Basehart" running gag in the final host segment.
  • Tom walks into the theater by himself in the first movie segment--demonstrating that this is not impossible; he's just lazy!
  • On the desk is a vase with something Joel calls "vacuflowers." These were supposedly flowers that Joel had managed to grow on the ship--it's a concept left over from KTMA days, and was the subject of an early host segment in the KTMA era.
  • The "electric bagpipes" used in the invention exchange were the first of many props from Joel's old standup act that would re-appear as inventions.
  • Favorite riff: "I'm Popeye the sailor man...I've got a guy's head in my hand!"


First shown: approx. 12/89.
Opening: None.
Invention exchange: The airbag helmet, the chalkman, Deep 13's new security system.
Host segment 1: Demon dogs attack; Tom takes them on, and fares poorly.
Host segment 2: Talks with Enoch, the demon dog king, don't go well.
Host segment 3: Crow's attempt to impersonate Enoch also fails.
End: Joel's trick fools the demon dogs...or does it?

Comments and observations:

  • Again, no opening segment.
  • Again, the disturbing early Tom Servo design
  • Again, no buttons on table: table slapping
  • No Bots are present during invention exchange.
  • Say what you will about Josh, he was really "inside" Tom Servo; Kevin never used a phrase like "You can look me in the bubble and say that??" as Josh does here.
  • The thinner bluescreen level makes Tom Servo look very odd in the theater--kind of elongated. Tom is also VERY animated in the theater--a stark contrast to his wooden behavior in the host segments.
  • The "demon dogs" were made out of a "Masters of the Universe" toy called "Battle bones," painted red and black and added with some contruction paper ears.
  • That is clearly Jim Mallon doing the voice of Enoch, the king and charismatic leader of the dog people. Unfortunately, it's really hard to make out what he is saying thanks to the incessant clacking of the puppet's mouth.
  • Josh makes an odd comment during host segment 2, calling the SOL "the 2525" and telling Cambot that the SOL's schematics are under "2525" in his files. He appears to have flubbed a line here, but it's still an odd thing to say.
  • Watch carefully early in the feature during the flashback of the Aztec ceremony scene, as Joel covers the irritating singing lady's mouth: Joel clearly has something in his hand--between his two fingers, as one would hold a cigarette. Was Joel smoking in the theater? Gasp! :-)
  • Historical note: The demon dog in the theater at the end is the first of many unexpected guests who would invade the theater over the years.
  • The "airbag helmet" was another bit from Joel's standup act.
  • Favorite riff: "We're hitting people!"


First shown: approx. 12/89.
Opening: None.
Invention exchange: Hell-in-a-handbag, acetylene-powered thunder lizard.
Host segment 1: Tom hits on a blender.
Host segment 2: Crow and Tom have questions about Jedro the werewolf.
Host segment 3: Joel switches Crow and Tom's heads (it's Servo-Crow-ation!).
End: Good thing/bad thing.

Comments and observations:

  • Again no opening segment.
  • Again, no buttons: table slapping.
  • Again, no Bots during invention exchange.
  • Joel's invention, "hell in a handbag," is straight from his standup as is the Mads' "thunder lizard."
  • One of the elements of season one that was later abandoned was noting that a commercial was coming up during the movie. In this ep, Servo says "He's going to fly into the commercial!" and then the show breaks for commercial.
  • Host segment 1 is a first-season classic with Josh doing some of his best puppetry (such as it is) as Tom Servo puts his best moves on a blender (It's also an almost word-for-word do-over of a KTMA segment).
  • Joel calls Servo "Crow" at one point...they both react with irritation.
  • What is going on with Joel's hair in host segment 2? Looks like a mohawk!
  • There are a lot of riffs here that clearly were not written ahead of time--this episode has the improvised feel of a KTMA episode. I think this episode may be the lowpoint of the national series.


First shown: approx. 12/89.
Opening: Redecorating the SOL.
Invention exchange: Clay & Lar's Flesh Barn, toilet paper in a bottle.
Host segment 1: During "This is Joel's Life," a strange machine appears outside the ship, so Joel brings it inside.
Host segment 2: It turns out to be the Isaac Asimov's Literary Doomsday Device.
Host segment 3: J&TB try to disarm the device, but it explodes, with horrific consequences.
End: The effects wear off, letters, the winners of the "name the plant guy " contest (see #110).

Comments and observations:

  • This episode was actually the last season-one episode taped. Why it has this production number remains a mystery.
  • Before it was confirmed in the "Amazing Colossal Episode Guide," fans had long suspected this was a late season-one entry, partially because it features a number of innovations that would come later in this season, including an opening segment before the commercial, buttons on the desk in the SOL, and a Movie Sign that looks much more like the Movie Sign we know.
  • Another major clue was the references to several LATER episodes--most notably in the closing segment when Joel announces the WINNERS of a contest that will not be announced until episode 110- Robot Holocaust. Also in that segment, a letter refers to episode 105- The Corpse Vanishes and episode 109- Project Moonbase.
  • Tom twice refers to one of the leading men as "Johnny Longtorso," a name that would later be used in an invention exchange in episode 421- Monster a-Go-Go.
  • This episode contains the first original song on the national series: the "Clay and Lar's Flesh Barn" jingle (and I would love to know who that is playing the kazoo during that).
  • This show features the first speaking role for Mike Nelson (he's the voice of the killer satellite).
  • Of course, this episode is where the oft-repeated phrase "Hi-keeba!" came from. Listen up about an hour into the episode, as Paul Gilbert, as moronic-engineer-comic relief guy Lt. Bradley (NOT Wendell Corey, as the ACEG incorrectly states) relates a tedious story about his martial arts training, cries "Hi-keeba! Hah!" and does a pratfall.
  • Watching this episode, I noticed something sort of interesting. While I understand Best Brains' decision not to air these episodes anymore, there is a certain specialness about them...a kind of leisureliness. Not as empty as the KTMAs, nor as hectic as the seasons that would follow, there is a calm, languidness here that soon departed. Perhaps it would never have succeeded if it had gone on like that, and it may be that very atmosphere the Brains now repudiate. But it has its moments.
  • Oh: this was the first episode I ever saw.
  • Favorite riff: "Ah, the Samuel Becket method!"


First shown: approx. 12/89.
Opening: None.
Invention exchange: Foundation Trilogy gift set for Larry, chiro-gyro, flame throwing flower.
Host segment 1: Crow and Tom are reading "Tiger Bot" magazine.
Host segment 2: J&TB playing tag.
Host segment 3: Joel gets a haircut.
End: Good thing/bad thing (Tom's head explodes).

Comments and observations:

  • No opening segment after the theme, no Bots present during the invention exchange and possibly no buttons on the table (although the table is not visible during movie sign).
  • The "chiro-gyro" and the "flame throwing flower" were props from Joel's standup act.
  • Servo is slowly evolving into the Servo of later episodes; his weird fat white beak has changed to the familiar silver one. Note: working Servo arms in first host segment.
  • The end of the second host segment includes the rather startling sight of Joel running down the doorway sequence and being run over by Cambot!
  • The third host segment is another classic moment from season one, a re-think of a sketch originally done for KTMA. "They're STILL pickin' up clown noses!"
  • Tom Servo's head blows up for the first time in the final segment.
  • Favorite riff: "Hey, lady, art exhibit in my nose!"


First shown: approx. 12/89.
Opening: Joel explains the premise.
Invention exchange: Safety saw, limb lengthener.
Host segment 1: J&TB bowl, but Crow and Tom don't want to play any more games with Joel.
Host segment 2: J&TB do Shatner with the crawling hand.
Host segment 3: Why is dismembered hand scary?
End: Good thing/bad thing, letter, Larry is very happy.

Comments and observations:

  • THIS episode, not episode 104, is the REAL first time for the opening segment and the buttons on the table. Joel explains the show's premise--and he makes a point of gesturing to the buttons when Deep 13 calls. Still, no Bots are on the set during the invention exchange.
  • At the end of the second segment we see--for the first time, I believe--Joel pop a grape into his mouth after tapping the buttons during Movie Sign. Joel would later explain that the point of the bit was that the Mads were doing a behavior modification thing by rewarding him with a treat for pushing the button.
  • While the riffing is pretty good in this one, all three of the host segments were relatively weak in this episode, particularly segment three, where the arrival of Gypsy in a giant hand costume is a rather unfunny end to a labored bit.
  • Joel starts to mention the "vacuflowers" again during the invention exchange.
  • Favorite riff: "Yeah, well, you're stocky-tubby!"


First shown: approx. 1/90.
Opening: Joel explains the premise.
Invention exchange: Methane whoopee cushion, cumber-bubble-bund.
Host segment 1: Reality vs. Commando Cody (Tom's head explodes--also Crow's and Cambot 's!).
Host segment 2: Crow and Tom play Robot Monster.
Host segment 3: Crow and Tom trying to understand surrealism.
End: J&TB's tribute to Ro-Man baffles the Mads.

Comments and observations:

  • Joel once again explains the premise in the opening segment; the Bots are present during the invention exchange for the first time since episode 101.
  • Josh sneezes in the theater during the first short! Joel expresses some surprise at this, but Josh covers well. Trace just says "'Zoont!" (Short for "gazuntheit," I guess.)
  • Servo's head explodes for the second time in the series during the first host segment, while thinking about bumblebees--followed by Crow and Cambot for the first and only time (I think).
  • And just what, exactly, ARE "the zacklies"?
  • Highlight: Joel's riotous narration of the love scene, including Alice Cooper quotes.
  • Very funny riffing and decent host segments--one of the better episodes of the first season.
  • Favorite riff: "Okay, now tilt the camera down a little."


First shown: approx. 1/90.
Opening: Joel and Tom are sleepy, but Crow is a morning bot.
Invention exchange: Cartoon eyeglasses, screaming cotton candy.
Host segment 1: Crow and Tom take Commando Cody to reality court.
Host segment 2: J&TB discuss how dumb the movie is, and suggest ways to make it better.
Host segment 3: Inspired by the movie, the Bots fill the SOL with smoke.
End: Joel bakes a pie, letter, Mads are thrilled.

Comments and observations:

  • The first episode without any noticeable innovations. Reasonably good riffs, fairly minimal "season one"-style host segments.
  • Joel does the "" riff for the second time in just a few episodes.
  • One thing about first season episodes is that they seemed to be following the movie more closely than they would be in later episodes. At one point in this episode, Servo points out: "Why are the guys carrying guns? They have no effect on the Slime People! We know that!" It's hard to imagine that kind of a plot-intensive riff in later seasons.
  • No Tom Servo in the closing segment!
  • Favorite riff: "Honestly, Bonnie, the slime you bring home."


First shown: approx. 1/90.
Opening: Crow and Tom have had a bath.
Invention exchange: Juggling water, insect-a-sketch.
Host segment 1: Crow and Tom are playing "Commando Cody & the Moonman."
Host segment 2: Neckties of the future.
Host segment 3: SPACOM!
End: Crow and Tom are upside down reading letters.

Comments and observations:

  • Just before Movie Sign, the camera in Deep 13 pulls back, a move that is accompanied by a lovely mechanical noise.
  • One of the few songs ever performed in the theater is a highlight of this ep: J&TB singing the lovely lyrics to the Commando Cody theme song.
  • It's interesting (to me, anyway) to compare "Project Moonbase" in which a sinister nation is worried about America's pre-eminence in space, and "Rocket Attack USA," (shown in season two) in which a worried America frets about a sinister nation's pre-eminence in space.
  • The word "hexfield" pops up in an odd spot in the second host segment.
  • There's a very funny bit in the theater with Joel and the cue cards, as Dr. Bellows does his little speech about gravity.
  • This ep also features the VERY first use of the riff "By this time my lungs were aching for air."
  • An example of how casual things were back then: There's a lovely closeup of Crow's hand during "mail call" and nobody has bothered to fix the chipped-off paint on his hand.
  • Favorite riff: "You're over by a metric ton!"


First shown: approx. 1/90.
Opening: Joel sings the Human Blues.
Invention exchange: Nitro burning funny pipe, stocking mask of the future.
Host segment 1: Crow and Tom, in the "We Zone," make Joel do tricks.
Host segment 2: Cambot's sitcom simulator malfunctions.
Host segment 3: J&TB play Robot Holocaust, but Crow and Joel aren't having fun.
End: Brainstorm: Name the plant guy in the movie contest, letter.

Comments and observations:

  • First of all, WHAT is that thing connected to Crow's jaw? Okay, I know what it is--it's a very thick piece of twine--but sheesh! It's very distracting. And he seems to be clacking a lot this episode.
  • The whole "the film broke" thing serves as our farewell to the Cody series. I assume they discovered the feature was JUST a few minutes too short, and they needed a portion of the short to fill the remaining time. In the ACEG, Kevin also says they sick of "Radar Men" by this point. Personally, it's very unsatisfying, though: I was actually wondering what would happen next! Couldn't we have had another two minutes of Commando Cody rather than watch the entire credit sequence of the feature?
  • It's clear that Best Brains thinks this is one of the better episodes of season one; it was the one they chose to show at the first Conventio-con in 1994.
  • I do enjoy Joel's Crazy Duck Face, but it's too bad we don't get to see "Snow storm in China," which reportedly is a stunning magic trick involving lots of confetti.
  • Take note of Tom Servo's comment as they leave the theater at the end of the movie--"Hey Joel, you gotta come carry me over this heating grid." That's one of two times where we have the "on camera" explanation why Joel must carry Tom in the theater.
  • Favorite riff: "Hey!!! It's GREAAT!!"


First shown: approx. 1/90.
Opening: Joel explains the premise.
Invention exchange: Teleporting food, celebrity mouth to mouth toothpaste.
Host segment 1: The "history of men on the moon" pagent.
Host segment 2: Games of the future (like Moonopoly).
Host segment 3: Crow and Tom fight over women in the movie, in zero gravity.
End: Good thing/bad thing, letter.

Comments and observations:

  • Crow still has that twine on his chin; they would later use black string to control Crow's mouth--a vast improvement.
  • The Bots are uncharacteristically silent during the opening segment and the invention exchange.
  • Joel says something curious as the invention exchange begins: "Try not to look so happy, you guys." One of the interesting things about the concept in the first season is that Joel never really seemed to be that upset about being stranded in space. It was only in later seasons that his character seemed to become more unhappy.
  • This movie has, I think, the third reference in this series to a movie called "Yards of Leather." Obviously, they're referring to an adult movie, but I'd love to know if it really exists or is a figment of the Brains' imagination.
  • Favorite riff: "Fourth floor: Tyrannical tycoons, loose women."


First shown: 2/6/90.
Opening: Tom has a tape-worm.
Invention exchange: Never-light pipe, tongue puppets.
Host segment 1: Tribute to Greg Brady.
Host segment 2: What Gypsy thinks.
Host segment 3: Gypsy's sick, and Tom is no help.
End: Understanding the goofy guy from the movie, letters.

Comments and observations:

  • Crow still has the chin twine.
  • I never believed the stories about Joel being stoned on camera, but, I gotta say, in the first host segment, Joel *appears* to be utterly wasted (he also looks like he had a *very* bad shave that morning). He also almost falls over as the segment starts (though, to be fair, there was only a very small platform behind the desk for the host to stand on--the rest was an open trench where the puppetteers stood--and it would be very easy for even a completely sober person to accidentally misstep and almost fall).
  • Very funny riffing in this episode and an extremely watchable movie (if you know what I mean) make this probably the best episode of season one.
  • The movie also marks a departure: It's the first non-horror/sci-fi movie of the national series. In fact, all the movies in Season One except this one would fit easily within the restrictions Sci-Fi Channel would later impose.
  • Gypsy enters the theater for the first time: Joel calls her into the theater to produce cotton in response to Tom Servo's query about what real cotton feels like.
  • Gypsy's lips fall off during segmemt 3.
  • While we're used to Joel stumbling over his lines, in the last half hour in the theater, Trace probably does his worst line flub ever with "Hey, it's Grg-brg-grg-brg-Greg Brady!" Typically, they left it in.
  • With this episode the MST3K "Fan Club" becomes the "Information Club" in the end-of-show announcement.
  • Favorite riff: "Cotton gin and tonic."


First shown: 2/13/90.
Opening: A party.
Invention exchange: Giant party favor, the Mads have mutated.
Host segment 1: Kind of a tribute to Mexico.
Host segment 2: Crow and Tom discuss human nature while Gypsy becomes a scorpion.
Host segment 3: The Bots' puppet show; stop-motion animation.
End: Letters.

Comments and observations:

  • Crow's last appearance with his chin twine.
  • Josh's make up in this show is remarkable! Quite a job.
  • The first segment starts slow and goes nowhere...hoo-boy! Anybody who thinks the Sci-Fi Channel-era host segments were the worst ever should take a look at this one! Yikes!
  • In the ACEG, Mike apologizes for the use of a peeing sound effect in episode 102. But he fails to mention the applause sound effect used every time Ramos is introduced in this ep, which is also clearly edited sounds exactly the same each time. And how Crow and Servo are supposed to be applauding is beyond me.
  • Gypsy's tail falls off in host segment 2.
  • Crow's Bing Crosby sounds a LOT like his Dean Martin--and vice versa.
  • This episode includes one of my all-time favorite Joel riffs: "Remember that bad thing we saw? It looked just like this. This is bad."
  • At the end of the closing segment, Josh simply says "Bye!" and walks off the set. And he is never seen again.
  • Weinstein gets short-shrift by many and this is only partially deserved, in my view. Looking back, Weinstein was (and is) clearly a gifted young man with a sense of humor and style well beyond his years. He certainly held his own in many ways with co-stars many years his senior. And Weinstein deserves credit for one other achievement--it was Weinstein that spotted struggling comedian Michael J. Nelson and suggested he be hired.
  • Favorite riff: "Mrs. Butterworth! Help!"

Thanks to Jack Theakston for some additional info.

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