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Goodbye Sci-Fi

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

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Visit mst3k.com, the official site of Best Brains, Inc. and Mystery Science Theater 3000.

And be sure to visit Cinematic Titanic by Joel Hodgson and other original MST3K cast members.

And don't forget about rifftrax.com, the place to download DVD commentaries by Michael J. Nelson.

And check out the official web site of Joel Hodgson.

And also be sure to visit the official web site of Mary Jo Pehl.

Also also be sure to visit the official web site of Kevin Murphy.

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Episode guide: K10- Cosmic Princess

Movie: (compilation 1982; original episodes 1976) A re-edit of two “Space: 1999″ TV episodes. The inhabitants of a space station encounter a hostile alien and his shapeshifting daughter. Later, her shapeshifting ability goes out of control and endangers the ship.

First shown: 1/22/89
Opening: It’s Superbowl Sunday! The Mads show off their “no-d” glasses
Host segment 1: Crow gives Joel a haircut
Host segment 2: Crow suggests Servo can learn to fly. It doesn’t go well
Host segment 3: The Bots help Joel with his taxes, and find out more than they wanted to know
End: Joel, Crow and Gypsy play football, and Gypsy and Joel sing “We Are the Champions”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (102 votes, average: 3.84 out of 5)
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• This episode originally aired on Superbowl Sunday 1989, which explains all the football stuff. Servo’s head comes off for the first time (that we know of) in this episode. This episode also marks the first time the show used a movie that was actually two TV show episodes loosely spliced together. The concept would later reappear “Master Ninja” “Mighty Jack” “Riding With Death” and more.
References.
• Segment 1 was re-done in episode 105- THE CORPSE VANISHES; some of the football game during the end segment was featured in the MST3K Scrapbook Tape.
• Servo’s head extends again during the riffing.
• Joel says something silly and Crow turns to him and calmly asks: “What color is the sky in your world, Joel?” That one would come back later.
• During the transition period between episodes, Joel keeps saying “series” when he means “episode.”
• Servo just gets up and leaves at one point.
• The riff “there go the music lessons” is an early version of “There go the piano lessons” from the movie.
• About Servo’s head falling off: I think the first time it happens, after Crow has talked Tom Servo into base jumping off the desk, was on purpose. But when it falls off again later, I think that was an accident. They just kept going.
• Servo’s head is still off when they return to the theater. Joel reconnects it.
• Servo is still steamin’ mad at Crow after segment 2. They two almost come to blows!
• Movie stuff: So, I didn’t watch this show as a kid (I knew OF it, I just never watched it.) Was this sort of an attempt at a British “Star Trek”? (Some commenters agreed that it was, even though it was a decade later.) Landau seems to be trying to do Shatner in a couple of places.
• The episodes that were combined to make this “movie” were “The Metamorph” and “Space Warp.” The former was the debut episode of the show’s second season. The latter came 13 episodes later. Yet when the second half of the “movie” begins, alien Maya is again in sick bay, giving the impressions that she in sick bay for 14 episodes. Not true, the commenters said. She just ended up in Sick Bay a lot.
• Can I just note that this movie is mostly really really boring, although it is occasionally punctuated by some actual action? (It nearly put me to sleep.)
• Cast and crew roundup: Executive producer Gerry Anderson also did “Invaders from the Deep” and “Revenge of the Mysterons,” as did score composer Barry Gray. Production designer Keith Wilson also did “Revenge of the Mysterions.” Producer Fred Freiberger also did “Beginning of the End. In front of the camera, Catherine Schell was also in “Moon Zero Two.” Stuntman Peter Porteous also appeared in “Future War.” And Alf Joint was also in “The Projected Man.”
• Fave riff: The reference to the “Dennis Hopper segment of the film.” Honorable mention: Joel sings a few bars of the Banana Splits theme song as our heroes climb into the ridiculous moon buggy.

This Date in MSTory

BORN TODAY
1893: Roy Reid, producer of the movies in episodes 610- THE VIOLENT YEARS and 613- THE SINISTER URGE.
1893: Irene Morra, editor of the movie in episode 315- TEENAGE CAVEMAN.
1902: Robert Griffin, who played Police Chief Pat Baker in the movie in episode 809- I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF.
1910: Emmett Bergholz, camera operator for the movie WORLD WITHOUT END, riffed in MST3K’s first live show.
1914: Mario Bava, cinematographer for the movies in episodes 408- HERCULES UNCHAINED and 502- HERCULES, as well as the director for the movie in episode 1013- DIABOLIK.
1916: Sidney Tafler, who played Dr. Higgins in the movie in episode 416- FIRE MAIDENS OF OUTER SPACE.
1922: Marc Hamilton, who played a priest in the movie in episode 803- THE MOLE PEOPLE and a Metaluna inhabitant in THIS ISLAND EARTH, seen in MST3K: THE MOVIE.
1924: Jacques Gallo, who played Sir Dennis in the movie in episode 411- THE MAGIC SWORD.
1924: Garard Green, who played a pilot in the movie in episode 101- THE CRAWLING EYE.
1926: Hans Gottschalk, producer of the movie in episode 1009- HAMLET.
1939: France Nuyen, who played Tso-Tsing in the movie in episode 608- CODE NAME: DIAMOND HEAD.*

DIED TODAY
1971: Steve Drumm (age 77), who was a makeup artist for the movie in episode 517- BEGINNING OF THE END.
1979: Rocky Cline (age 80), who did mechanical effects for the movie in episode 602- INVASION U.S.A.
1987: Joseph E. Levine (age 81), executive producer of the movies in episodes 321- SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS, 408- HERCULES UNCHAINED and 502- HERCULES.

EPISODE PREMIERE
1993: Episode 503- SWAMP DIAMONDS (with the short WHAT TO DO ON A DATE) first shown.

EVENTS
2012: Shout! Factory releases The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. XXIV.


This Date in MSTory is written and compiled by Steve Finley, Chris Cornell and Brian Henry. Copyright © 2014 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.

Mike and Sharknado

Tommy Cummings of the Dallas Morning News talks “Sharknado” with Mike.

Vol. XXX Reviews

Vol. XXX is out, and the reviews continue.

New: Our pal Erich Asperschlager has one at DVDVerdict.com.

Our pal Bruce Westbrook has one.

Nick Lyons at dvdcorner.net has one too.

Weekend Discussion Thread: Favorite “Finishing a Sentence” Riffs

Alert regular “Sitting Duck” suggests:

My topic suggestion concerns tack-on riffs. By this I mean riffs where the riffer adds on something to what a person in the movie just said. For example, my favorite occurs in the “A Day at the Fair” short, from Code Name: Diamond Head. During the cake judging, the narrator states, “Judging cakes ought to be fun.” Servo then adds, “…but this woman sucks the joy out of it.”

This works especially well with narration. The first one that comes to mind is from “A Date with Your Family.” Narrator: “The women of this family seem to feel they owe it to the men of the family to look relaxed, rested and attractive at dinner time.” Mike: “…so they’re unsuspecting when they KILL THEM!”

What’s your pick?

Keep those topics coming!

The Vol. 31 Titles Are…

Direct from Comic-Con:

The titles are:

203- JUNGLE GODDESS with short: THE PHANTOM CREEPS PT 1
510- THE PAINTED HILLS with short: BODY CARE AND GROOMING
912- THE SCREAMING SKULL with short: ROBOT RUMPUS
1012- SQUIRM with short: A CASE OF SPRING FEVER

New Short from RiffTrax…

WillieWhistlePoster

View a sample or download it here.

Episode guide: K09- Phase IV

Movie: (1974) An astronomical event endows an ant colony in the Arizona desert with sentience. Two scientists are sent to investigate, but who’s testing whom?

First shown: 1/15/89
Opening: The Mads are running low on funding
Host segment 1: Joel discusses Isaac Asimov’s Laws of Robotics
Host segment 2: J&tB discuss the first thing they plan to do when they get to Earth
Host segment 3: A game of “I spy” becomes a performance of “Wipeout.”
End: Joel programs Crow and Gypsy to recite a new robotic law
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (110 votes, average: 3.98 out of 5)
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• This episode is the first episode (not counting KTMA episodes 1-3) to feature a non-Gamera movie, and the first episode featuring a movie that would not be riffed on the show later. As such I will, with this entry, begin the “Cast and Crew Roundup” feature (I will do the Sandy Frank titles when they come back around in season 3).
References.
• There’s lots going on in the opening. It’s the first time the show has started with The Mads instead of Joel. It’s also the first time we get a sense that there is somebody with authority over The Mads (btw, the nickname “Old Leadbottom” is from a ’60s TV show called “McHale’s Navy.” Look it up, kids!). We also get the first mention of “the madscientist-mobile,” which would come up again.
• Also this is the first time, as far as we know, that Joel did the “getting run down by Cambot” routine, which both he and Mike would do again in the future.
• One thing that has surprised me is: there’s been no explicit mention so far of Gizmonic Institute! Clearly The Mads are transmitting FROM Gizmonic Institute during KTMA (Joel once directly confirmed that to me). I guess he had not come up with the name yet?
• I saw this movie when it first came out. I thought it was a pretty good little sci-fi thriller and I still do. The ant photography, as well-done as it is, goes on a little long and slows the pace down too much, and the acting by the humans is pretty low-key, but it’s not really a “cheesy” movie.
• The Brains must have thought so too. They seem to get into it. Several times they say something like “uh-oh” when a plot development unfolds, a sure sign they are caught up.
• However, Josh never seems to quite get the premise of the movie. “Yes, because most ants have the power of reasoning…” he says sarcastically when the movie suggests that they do. Later he yells: “They’re ants!!” when a character suggests that there is an intelligence behind their actions. That’s the premise of the movie, Josh!
• A segment of riffing in the theater, starting at about 7 minutes into the episode (not counting commercials), was included on the pitch tape that was used to sell the show to the Comedy Channel. That tape was included included on the MST3K Scrapbook tape. Question: Was that really the most sparkling few minutes of riffing the whole season?
• Servo extends his head again in the theater.
• Another first in segment 2: The first time a bot mentions his “load pan.”
• Now-dated reference: When a high-pitched sound makes some glass break, Crow says “Ella!” That’s a reference to a then-popular Memorex commercial featuring jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald.
• Uh, could Segment 3 get any more random? It’s completely stream-of-consciousness. Were they are just killing time?
• At one point in the theater somebody drops something and it makes a rather large noise, so loud the performers feel they can’t ignore it, so they acknowledge that it happened. Then there is a strange scraping noise, which they don’t acknowledge. Was someone dragging whatever it was away?
• Movie observation: For a science lab that was just built, it sure has a lot of shelves full of spare parts laying around, like a warehouse that has been sitting there for years.
• Joel calls Gypsy Gipsum again.
• Cast and Crew Roundup: Screenwriter Mayo Simon also wrote “Space Travelers. Camera operator Jack Mills also worked on “Gorgo.” In front of the camera, Alan Gifford was also in “Devil Doll.”
• Fave riff: Meanwhile Grandma and Grandpa are patty melts out on the lawn. Honorable mention: Hope nobody’s eating rice at this point…

RIP John Fasano

kinopoisk.ru Los Angeles–Writer, producer and director John Fasano, had more than 40 credits on feature films and primetime television, died at his home here Saturday, July 19. He was 52. No cause of death was given. He served as assistant director for the movie in episode 604- ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE. He also appeared on screen in that movie as William Washington.
The Hollywood Reporter has an obit here and Variety’s obit is here.

Thanks to Duane and Paul for the heads up.

James Garner, RIP

garner Los Angeles — Actor James Garner, famed for his easy-going portrayals on TV series including “Maverick” and “The Rockford Files,” died at his home here Saturday, July 19. He was 86. MSTies will remember him described as “beef spokesman James Garner” in a host segment in episode 403- CITY LIMITS.
A full obituary is here.