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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

1899: Paul Vogel, cinematographer for the movies in episodes 411- THE MAGIC SWORD and 523- VILLAGE OF THE GIANTS.
1906: Milton Rosen, who composed part of the musical score for the movie in episode 801- REVENGE OF THE CREATURE.
1916: Elizabeth Russell, who played Countess Lorenz in the movie in episode 105- THE CORPSE VANISHES.
1919: Carlo Savina, music director for the movie in episode 502- HERCULES.
1922: Fernando Oses, who played a vampire in the movie in episode 624- SAMSON VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN.
1927: Claudio Guzman, an assistant director for the movie in episode 307- DADDY-O.
1928: Gilbert Marchant, music editor for the movies in episodes 407- THE KILLER SHREWS and 623- THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN.
1929: Bernard L. Kowalski, director for the movies in episodes 406- ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES and 701- NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST.
1931: Ruth-Maria Kubitschek, who played Mrs. Brinkman in the movie in episode 211- FIRST SPACESHIP ON VENUS.*
1938: John Gummoe, founder and lead singer of The Cascades, who sang “There’s a New World” in the movie in episode 204- CATALINA CAPER.*
1957: Mojo Nixon, who was mentioned in a host segment in episode 311- IT CONQUERED THE WORLD.*

1975: Jean Yarbrough (age 74), director of the movie in episode 702- THE BRUTE MAN.
1975: Muir Mathieson (age 64), musical conductor for the movie in episode 909- GORGO.
1975: William Riggs (age 49), who had a role in the movie in episode 307- DADDY-O.
1988: Robert Emmet Smith (age 73), art director of the movie in episode 803- THE MOLE PEOPLE.
2009: Harry Alan Towers (age 89), who was the producer of the movies in episodes K18- THE MILLION EYES OF SU-MURU, 323- THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU and 519- OUTLAW. He was also a writer for the latter two movies under the pen name Peter Welbeck.

1997: Episode 815- AGENT FOR H.A.R.M. first shown.

2011: Shout! Factory releases The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. XXI, “MST3K Vs. Gamera.”

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: How to Do Jobs in MSTed Movies

“Leo Artunian” opines:

I saw a new book recently that provides job manuals for jobs without manuals, such as “How to be a wrestler in Mexico City”[!]. “How to be a musician without an instrument in Mozambique,” and so on. How about asking for “job manuals” (or perhaps a list of five instructions) for doing various jobs that appear in MST3K films?

For example, “How to be Batwoman in a Wild World”:
1. Wear a black leotard and a feathery mask that looks nothing like a bat.
2. Surround yourself with go-go girls who will swear unswerving allegiance to you.
3. Play the organ.
4. Show no emotion no matter how dire the situation.
5. Do nothing that in any way resembles actual crime fighting.

Or, alternatively, job applications for jobs that appear in MST3K films, consisting of qualifications and an answer to the classic question asking for your greatest weakness at work.
For example, a job application from Torgo:
Carrying luggage.
Watching the place while the master is away.
Creeping out suburban housewives.
Unswerving devotion to mystic authority figures.
Greatest weakness: Tend to overdo the Thigh Master.

What do you think?

Now Available from RiffTrax…


Persis Khambata stars in a movie featuring a lame hero on a motorcycle, one year before she went on to star in a movie featuring a lame hero on a motorcycle. Stream or download it here.

Two Little-Noted Things

Here are two things I will put before you, for you to ruminate upon:

1. slashed prices a while back, and now it has slashed THOSE prices. They seem to be selling to the walls.

2. This.


Episode guide: 315- Teenage Caveman (with shorts: ‘Aquatic Wizards’ and ‘Catching Trouble’)

Short: (1955) Water skiing thrills in Florida’s Cypress Gardens.
Short: (1936) Wildlife bully Ross Allen threatens ecosystems, endangers animals and generally terrorizes the Florida Everglades.
Movie: (1958) A rebellious teenage caveboy questions the clan’s rules and yearns to explore the land beyond the river.

First shown: 11/9/91
Opening: It’s dreary rainy day on the SOL and J&tB are bored. Magic Voice has some suggestions for activities
Invention exchange: J&tB present their creative ipecacs, the Mads try to unveil their invention, but end up in a brawl
Host segment 1: J&tB present “Catching Ross”
Host segment 2: The Mads are still fighting
Host segment 3: Joel explains to the bots how there were conservatives and risk-takers throughout history
End: The bots are dressed as the mutants from the movie, Joel reads a letter, the Mads are patching things up with a cup of kindness
Stinger: Watch out for that … tree!
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (102 votes, average: 4.14 out of 5)

• It’s a rare two-short episode and that’s just one of the delights of this episode. The movie is Corman at his corniest, and it brings out the best in the riffers, and the segments are a lot of fun too. A standout episode.
• This episode is not yet available on DVD.
• My copy is from Turkey Day ’94, with Robert Vaughn appearing in the window of Adam West’s microwave during the introductory bumper.
• J&tB have one of their longest conversations with Magic Voice during the opener.
• The invention exchange has the memorable ipecac bit, followed by the truly classic battle of the Mads.
• As Frank and Dr. F prepare to mix it up, Frank makes use of the classic “Road House” line: “Take the train.”
• What do the two shorts in this ep have in common? They’re both essentially commercials for now-extinct Florida tourist traps. For more about Cypress Gardens, which in 2011 reopened as Legoland, this page has a lot of good info. Ross Allen’s Florida Reptile Institute was in Silver Springs and closed down in the 1970s, as the popularity of Walt Disney World muscled out a lot of other Florida attractions. You can still visit Ross Allen Island, however.
• The riffers did a lot of variations of the line: “Just throw that stuff in back, I kinda live outta my car.” (Does anybody know where that line is from?) In the water skiing scene it’s: “Just throw that stuff in the back. I kinda live off my shoulders.”
• Where I used to live, we knew a couple who actually named Bob and Connie. I made them a special sound file of Crow saying: “Bob and Connie really enjoy life.” They did, too, and as far as I know they still do.
• Now we come to the infamous “Catching Trouble” short – featuring such casually cruel footage that J&tB feel they must immediately take revenge in the following host segment, which became an instant classic. I love Joel’s cry of “We went to camp together! He hates me!”
• Memorable moment: Joel has one bear cub call another bear cub “Greg.” Tom then turns to him and asks, incredulously, “Greg?”
• Wondering what the Helsinki Formula is and why they keep mentioning it? It’s a supposed baldness cure that Robert Vaughn used to pitch. These days Robert pitches law firms (at least in my neck o’ the woods). And while we’re on Robert, I said this on Twitter but I’ll say it here: WHEN oh WHEN will there be the Robert Vaughn guest shot on “NCIS,” alongside David McCallum??? It’s a ratings blockbuster waiting to happen!!
• A character in the movie mentions “the thing that gives death with its touch” and the riff is “Penny Marshall?” Huh?
• Joel seems to be parodying his own season two segments in segment 2. That stack of artist’s renderings has become shorthand for “Joel has a boring idea for a presentation.”
• There’s a moment in the theater when Tom Servo applauds. …um…
• Note the Star Trek fight music playing during second fight scene. Also note the classic Mannix/James Kirk disarm, the cry of “HiKeeba!” and a slam on Beetle Bailey outta nowhere.
• Isn’t it fun when you get a riff for the first time, even after you’ve seen the episode several times? I had one of those this time, when Tom sings o/` “Heeeeerrrrre he iiiiiis, your komodo draaaaagonnnn” o/` which I suddenly realized was a reference to the movie “The Freshman.”
• Segment 3 is not really funny, just kind of thoughtful. But I like when Tom Servo says “Well, they were right about THAT!” Which is true, and kind of negates the point Joel is making.
• For some reason Crow’s net is on the counter during segment 3.
• Vaguely dirty riff: “He invented the quiver.” “So did SHE!”
• Callbacks: “You know right now I could go for a char-broiled hamburger sandwich…” (Jungle Goddess), “Plenty of lip and tongue action,” (the Speech short), “I’m Trumpy!” (Pod People), “Thong, the fish are ready!” (Cave Dwellers), “Chili peppers burn my gut” (Sidehackers), “…a charbroiled hamburger sandwich…” (Jungle Goddess) and “This looks like a job, for MIGHTY JACK!”
• At one point, when actor Ed Nelson appears, Joel recognizes him and points out that he’s there. So? Just a state park joke?
• There’s a Firesign Theatre reference as Tom, as the old survivor, says that something “scared everybody.”
• This makes twice in two episodes they have used the Odd Couple line: “bad meat or good cheese.”
• Behind the scenes: The parrot-like costume is left over from “Night of the Blood Beast,” and was worn, as it was in that movie, by uncredited actor Ross Sturlin. Sturlin also helped make and wore a leech costume in “Attack of the Giant Leeches.” Screenwriter R. Wright Campbell was capable of better: he got an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for 1957’s “Man of a Thousand Faces.” Once again, stock footage from “One Million B.C.” makes an appearance. Exterior water scenes were done at the Arboretum in Arcadia, Calif. Other exterior shots were filmed at Bronson Canyon, of course.
• Cast and crew round up: (Again, I will not repeat connections I’ve mentioned in previous entries) Cinematographer Floyd Crosby was assistant director on “The Screaming Skull.” Assistant director Jack Bohrer was production manager on “Viking Women,” “Attack of the Giant Leeches” and “Night of the Blood Beast.” Production manager Maurice Vaccarino was assistant director on “The Screaming Skull” and “The Phantom Planet.” Sound man Herman Lewis also worked “Viking Women,” “Blood Beast” and “Mitchell.” Sound man Philip Mitchell worked on “Bloodlust!” and “The Unearthly.”
In front of the camera, we already ran into Robert Vaughn in KTMA’s “Hangar 18.” Joseph Hamilton was also in “Giant Leeches.” Barboura Morris was also in “Viking Women.” Ed Nelson was also in “Blood Beast,” “Superdome,” “Swamp Diamonds” and “Riding with Death.” Robert Shayne also appeared in “The Indestructible Man” and “The Rebel Set.”
• CreditsWatch: Faye Burkholder returns for two eps as hair and makeup person. Trace and Frank are still guest “villians” (misspelled) and Dr. F’s last name is still spelled “Forrestor.”
• Fave riff from first short: “They just snap clean away!” Honorable mention: “This has got litigation written all over it.”
• Fave riff from the second short: “Ross tries to towel away the evil, but nothing doing” Honorable mention: “Oh, there just happened to be a camera under the water…”
• Fave riff: “Um, like, do you know any Tull?” Honorable mention: “So, how many toasters did we get?”

UPDATE: Vol. 33 Reviews

Into the news desk first is our pal Bruce Westbrook.

UPDATE: The official release date was yesterday, so…

Kyle Anderson at has a review.

Adam Frazier at has one too.

So does Jamil Scalese at

As does Matt Hinrichs at

Did I miss any?

Weekend Discussion Thread: Eps Your Significant Other Enjoys

Alert reader Rick suggests:

Significant others. Don’t we love them? And, do they love our obsession with MST3K? My girlfriend of seven years was a MSTie Turkey Day fan in college, but beyond that had been away from the show until we met. She now is the proud owner of her own top 10 episode list (and beyond) and embraces my passion. Her number 1 episode: Angels Revenge.
So, what experiments does your significant other like? Or, are they more obsessed than you, or, not interested?

My wife is hearing impaired, and it’s hard to read a puppet’s lips or read the lips of a guy who has his back to you. So she’s not a crazed fan, but she likes the host segments (especially the Deep 13 segments) and definitely enjoys the ones that are being closed captioned by Shout. She particularly likes The Movie.

What’s your special person think?

New Shorts from RiffTrax…


Double the pleasure, double the fun. It’s two shorts from Bridget and Mary Jo in one. Stream or download them here.

Episode guide: 314- Mighty Jack

Movie: (1968 TV series; 1987 compilation movie) A top secret organization, called Mighty Jack, makes use of a giant submarine, called Mighty Jack, to battle terrorist organization Q.

First shown: 9/21/91
Opening: Something horrible has happened on the SOL … face!
Invention exchange: The Mads show off the formal flipper; J&tB demonstrate ear-shaped earmuffs
Host segment 1: The bots show Joel their Mighty Jack pet food commercial
Host segment 2: The bots put Joel in the blinding light compartment
Host segment 3: Joel goes off the deep end while suggesting underwater movie ideas
End: J&tB sing “Slow the Plot Down!” and Frank’s quoting Melville, arr.
Stinger: He died as he lived … lovin’ his work.
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (117 votes, average: 4.13 out of 5)

• I’m going to put this in the “good-not great” column. The Brains are on such a roll at this point in the season that even a bolus like this movie can’t stop their momentum. There are a few slow/quiet patches in the riffing and segment 3 is a bit strange, but there’s a lot more to like in this episode than dislike.
• This episode appears on Shout Factory’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XXII.”
• For one of of only two times until he would leave the show, Joel is NOT wearing the standard maroon jumpsuit he’s been wearing since episode 212. Our jumpsuit list in Ward E calls it “pastel green,” dsman71 calls it “teal.” You make the call.
• The opening is a lot of fun. “I’m blind! That thing cut me!” cracks me up every time.
• Jerry the Mole person gets another mention.
• Then-hot phrase: “Hello, Federal!”
• At the beginning of the invention exchange, you may be wondering why there is Velcro on the bots’ heads. You soon find out.
• Tom’s little speech about winter sounds like it’s from something. Anybody recognize it?”
• Yikes, those awful pictures at the beginning of the movie. Bleah.
• Yes, Joel, the joke was a little racist, or at least languageist.
• Callbacks: Puma? (Ring of Terror) Also: “That’s pretty good!” (Sidehackers) “Glenn Corbett! (Stranded in Space) “Hikeeba!” (Women of the Prehistoric Planet) “You’re stuck here!” and “He tried to kill me…” (Fugitive Alien) and “It’s Gamera!”
• Segment 1 is just so conversational and laid-back, it’s a great example of their unique style of humor.
• Obscure riff (for me, at least): Riffing on the horn stuff in score, Servo rattles off the names of several horn players I recognized. But Teo Macero I had not heard of.
• Segment two is a real gem, one for the highlight reel. “You have GOT to be KIDDING me, Crow!”
• You can tell this episode was written only a few months after the end of the first Gulf War. It features a lot of buzzwords and phrases from that era, including “collateral damage” and “baby formula factory.”
• Vaguely dirty riff: “I was just daydreaming.” Also: Movie: “Full thrust!” Crow: “Really!?”
• Regional riff: There’s a reference to Tommy Bartlett, the Wisconsin impresario responsible for several attractions in the Wisconsin Dells. You pretty much have to have vacationed in the Midwest to get that one.
• Like “Time of the Apes” and “Fugitive Alien” before it, this is the first and last episodes of a TV series season, with a little connecting filler thrown in. Initially I, like Crow, could barely even remember anything that I had seen. The movie seemed to self-erase in my memory as I watched it. It took many viewings to get any sense of what the damn thing was about, or for any of it to stick in my memory.
• Joel follows right up on the “Earth vs Soup” bit from last week.
• Joel mentions Shake-a-Pudd’n. I loved Shake-a-Pudd’n. Or maybe I just loved the commercials. I forget.
• The “Slow the Plot Down” song is a classic. Note the way the camera rocks slightly as they sing. Makes me a little nauseous.
• There really isn’t a cast and crew roundup this time. There were a few people who were in other episodes but they were all mentioned already in previous episode guide installments.
• CreditsWatch: Mary Flaa completes her two-episode stint as hair and makeup person, and was never seen or heard from again. Trace and Frank are still guest “villians” (misspelled) and Dr. F’s last name is still spelled “Forrestor.”
• Fave riff: “Meanwhile, back on the Greasy Bastard…” Honorable mention: “Oh, my aching imperialist dogs!”

RIP Van Alexander

LOS ANGELES–Van Alexander, the three-time Emmy-nominated composer and band leader who co-wrote “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” with Ella Fitzgerald and went on to score dozens of films and TV shows in the 1950s and ’60s, died of heart failure Sunday, July 19, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center here. He was 100.
MSTies will remember his work as the musical score composer for the movie in episode 601- GIRLS TOWN.

Variety has the obit.

Thanks to my angels of death, Duane and Paul, for the heads up.