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Goodbye Sci-Fi

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

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Episode guide: 321- Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Movie: (1964) Determined to bring Christmas to their home planet, Martians kidnap Santa Claus.

First shown: 12/21/91
Opening: Crow and Tom are looking at Christmas catalogs
Invention exchange: The Mads demonstrate their wish squisher; J&tB offer up their own misfit toys
Host segment 1: J&tB sing: “A Patrick Swayze Christmas”
Host segment 2: J&tB look over tapes of cheesy Christmas specials
Host segment 3: J&tB read their Christmas essays
End: Caroling, stocking time, Joel reads a letter, meanwhile in Deep 13, the Mads are also exchanging gifts
Stinger: Bad martian’s derisive laughter
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (139 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

• This one is a genuine classic, and for a lot of MSTies it’s as much a part of the holiday season as “White Christmas” or “It’s A Wonderful Life.” All the host segments are gems. The riffing is solid throughout. It’s also another one I have almost completely memorized. But as good as it is, as much fun as it is, as much as “A Patrick Swayze Christmas” has become a yuletide tradition, well, I’ll just say it: Both the RiffTrax and Cinematic Titanic riffs are funnier. That said, this one’s guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit.
• This episode was included in Rhino’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Essentials.”
• This episode was the one they were working on when a crew from Comedy Central arrived at the studios to shoot footage for the documentary “This is MST3K.” Unfortunately, that led to several misunderstandings among some fans. MSTies had been told that bots painted black were used in the theater sequences, but in the special we could see that the regular bots were being used. “What gives?” a lot of fans asked at the time. The answer: The regular bots had been altered slightly with Christmas additions, and so those were used in the theater, this one time, for continuity’s sake, rather than the usual black bots. It’s just unfortunate that cameras were there to capture it.
• The invention exchange segment starts very abruptly, directly in Deep 13 rather than having the usual SOL intro. Were they just hurrying for time?
• What is a “video cassette cartridge game”? Frank seems to think kids would like to get one…
• Why isn’t the tree in the background in Deep 13 decorated?
• The image above was the best one I could get for this movie, because this version has no title card. The version you can download at also has no title card. For a while I thought this was the only print available, but the RiffTrax and Cinematic Titanic versions DO have the title card. So, a much cleaner version exists.
• There are a LOT of then-current topical references in this one: C. Everett Koop … “Twin Peaks” … the Thomas hearings … “Gates has been confirmed” … the notion that Drew Barrymore is a little kid … Eric Heiden … Donna Rice … and the first of several references to long forgotten commercial character, “Bonnie, your Time/Life operator.”
• At one point Servo says to Droppo: “You’re the Gilligan of your time.” Um, sorry, Servo, but this movie and “Gilligan’s Island” both came out in the same year.
• Callbacks: “Puma?” (Ring of Terror) “…the Robot Holocaust…”
• Right before they start singing “A Patrick Swayze Christmas.” Joel says “Paul…” Apparently that was meant to be a David Letterman impression, but almost NOBODY got it.
• That’s Mike on the keyboards.
• Note the reference to “suggestive refueling sequences”–we’d get more in season 6.
• In segment 2, Joel seems to “reading” the undersides of unpackaged VHS tapes. What could possibly be written there? They couldn’t have taken two minutes to fabricate little packages? Oh, and Burl Ives has since died.
• Frank’s present has little Shadowrama tape on it.
• The movie reportedly was filmed in some abandoned airplane hangars near the Roosevelt Field Mall in Long Island, New York.
• About Pia. For those who don’t get the “Golden Globe” reference, in 1982 Pia Zadora, who as a child played little Girmar, stunned Hollywood when she won a Golden Globe in the “best new female star” category for her bland performance in a terrible little movie called “Butterfly.” Hollywood whispers had it that her rich husband, many decades her senior, bought her the nomination and award through much publicity — and possibly other methods. Hollywood cringed again when she and her husband bought the former estate of movie legends Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and she promptly started gutting and modernizing the historic home. That said, Pia does appear to be moderately talented, and apparently has a self-deprecating sense of humor, as shown in when she accepted roles in the movies “Hairspray” and “Voyage of the Rock Aliens.” As Joel says in the Cinematic Titanic riff, “You know, I remember thinking that the fact that Pia Zadora was in this was hilarious, but now I can’t remember why.”
• Cast and crew roundup: Executive producer Joseph E. Levine was also responsible for “Hercules” and “Hercules Unchained.” Makeup artist George Fiala also worked on “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die.”
• CreditsWatch: For some reason, this episode has a whole herd of “additional contributing writers”: Lynn-Anne Freise, Tom Wedor, Craig Tollifson, Bob Schrad and Christopher Whiting, whoever they are. It should be no surprise that the music and lyrics for “A Patrick Swayze Christmas” were written by “Road House” aficionado Michael J. Nelson. Trace and Frank are still “guest villians” and Dr. F’s last name is still spelled “Forrestor.”
• Fave riff: “Tonight I’m a space pirate! Permission to come aboard!” Honorable mention: Martian: “Crush him!” Tom Servo (robot voice): “You were adopted!”

This Date in MSTory

1881: Robert Strange, who played Prof. Blaine in the movie in episode 103- THE MAD MONSTER.
1888: Ford Beebe, director of season two serial THE PHANTOM CREEPS.
1913: Bill Baldwin Sr., who played an announcer in the movie in episode 517- BEGINNING OF THE END.
1913: Larry Germain, hair stylist for the movies in episodes 615- KITTEN WITH A WHIP and 802- THE LEECH WOMAN.
1917: Adele Jergens, who played Lila in the movie in episode 520- RADAR SECRET SERVICE and the floozy Ruby in THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED (riffed by fans in Sci-fi Channel’s “MST3K: The Home Game”).
1921: J. William Hayes, executive producer of the movie in episode 419- THE REBEL SET.
1921: Thomas Felleghy, who played the “elegant reporter” in the movie in episode 705- ESCAPE 2000.*
1927: John Carter, who played a flight surgeon in the movie in episode 401- SPACE TRAVELERS.
1927: William Hughes, who played a bombsite control officer in the movie in episode 309- THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN.
1933: Robert Goulet, who was mentioned in a host segment in episode 308- GAMERA VS. GAOS.
1951: Don White, foley recording mixer for the movie in episode K16- CITY ON FIRE.*

1963: Edwin B. Willis (age 70), set designer for the movie in episode 510- THE PAINTED HILLS.
1978: Ford Beebe (age 90). Died on his birthday.
1992: Joby Blanshard (age 73), who played Smith in the movie in episode 111- MOON ZERO TWO.
2002: Stanley Black (age 89), score composer for the movie in episode 101- THE CRAWLING EYE.
2013: Tony Musante (age 77, who was mentioned in a host segment in episode 305- STRANDED IN SPACE.

1992: episode 416- FIRE MAIDENS OF OUTER SPACE first shown.
1994: episode 616- RACKET GIRLS (with the short ARE YOU READY FOR MARRIAGE?) first shown.

1959: The movie in episode 521- SANTA CLAUS premieres in Mexico, its country of origin.
1965: The movie in episode 302- GAMERA has its premiere in Japan, its country of origin.

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.

Joel Does Yahoo Video Interview

Ethan Alter at Yahoo interviews Joel.

Where to Watch the Turkey Day Marathon

Thanks to our friends at Shout!Factory TV, you’ll be able to watch this year’s TURKEY DAY MARATHON on most every technological viewing-screen device known to mankind.

Watch the LIVE STREAM, starting at 12pm EST / 9am PST.

Watch ON DEMAND on Yahoo.

The details are here.

RiffTrax Stuff

The MSTie high holy days are upon us and RiffTrax is ready. They’ve got two new timely shorts…

Stream or download it here.

Stream or download it here.

They’ve also released DVD versions of two holiday-themed live shows…

Buy it here.

Buy it here.

Plus, when you buy both DVDs, they’ll throw in an exclusive Ice Cream Bunny squeeze toy…

And remember…

Joel Interview

Luke McCormick of interviews Joel

Thanks to Paul for the heads up.

Three Links of Interest

1. Entertainment Weekly presents RiffTrax’s end of the year “Naughty List.”

2. Joel is interviewed by

3. And it’s MST3K Monday at and this week’s episode is 701- NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST.

Felicia Day to Be the New Mad; Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn to Voice the Bots


Joel has posted another update. The big news is the announcement that Felicia Day will play the new Mad, Dr. Forrester’s daughter, and that comedians Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn will provide the voices of Crow and Tom Servo, respectively.

Read the whole thing!

RIP Rex Reason


Walnut, Calif.–Handsome leading man Rex Reason died at his home here Nov. 19 of bladder cancer. He was 86.

Of course, he played Cal Meecham in the movie “This Island Earth,” riffed in MST3K: THE MOVIE.

And, in 1996, at MST3K’s CONVENTIOCON EXPOFEST-A-RAMA 2: ELECTRIC BUGALOO in Minneapolis, he took part in a celebrity panel that also included Kim Cattrall and Russell Johnson.

The Hollywood Reporter has an obit.

Thanks to Paul for the heads up. And thanks to PrezGar for noticing the obit.

Weekend Discussion Thread: Who Should Sing the Theme Song?

Bob writes:

We all know that Joel and Mike sang the songs in their runs on the show. Since it looks like the show will be brought back it’s possible that Jonah Ray could sing it. If he doesn’t then who could? I don’t know if Joel would, as he’s not the host. My personal pick would be Annie Clark/St. Vincent. It would be a new twist having a female vocalist sing the theme! Yes, Mary Jo did sing a few lines in the Sci-Fi era but Mike did the main vocals. I think Annie would do a great job. Annie also plays guitar so she could even do the famous “TWANG!” note at the end of the song.

My suggestion: Man or Astroman, baby!