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Visit our archives of the MST3K pages previously hosted by the Sci-Fi Channel's SCIFI.COM.

Goodbye Sci-Fi

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

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Season’s Greetings from Satellite News!

childschristmasinspaceWith the holidays upon us, it’s time once again for our annual holiday tradition, A Child’s Christmas in Space by Tom Servo.

Tom: It’s quiet in the cold of our own little orbit, starless and bible black. And as I look down on the big blue bean we would call home I think it so near, yet… oh, I wish on that star and I hope that in a little snow-covered house with a warm hearth and a loving family, maybe some kid is looking up tonight and wishing upon us. Oh, and how I hope sweet Santa will fly by tonight, because if he does I’m gonna reach right out and hug that big guy. Oh, for the sound of hooves against the steel hull of the ship. Oh, to see the rosy face of Santa in the porthole, offering me a Coke and a smile… (gradually becoming upset) …of course, his cheeks WOULD be rosy because it’s a VACUUM out there! I mean, Santa’s HEART would explode! (becoming hysterical) But HE wouldn’t feel it because the capillaries in his brain would pop like little firecrackers (Joel tries to calm him down) due to the blood boiling away in his face like pudding in a copper…OH THE HUMANITY!! (Now both Joel and Crow are trying to calm him down.) And his jolly old belly would start bubbling like a roasted marshmallow, eyes bulging and popping out… AND THE REINDEER–OH THE REINDEER!!!–keep floating like holiday floats and in turn exploding in a hail of blood and entrails! Prancer–BOOM! Dancer–BOOM!…
Joel: HEY!
Crow: Tom!
Joel: Tom, take it easy! Santa’s gonna be okay, buddy.
Tom: You sure?
Joel: Yeah, give him a little credit, okay?
Tom: Phew, what a relief!

And it is with that sense of relief that we want to offer you our best wishes for the Swayziest holiday season ever, if that’s okay, and hopes for an amazing colossal new year.

–The Maintainers of Satellite News

Thanks to our pal Sabrina Zbasnik for the gorgeous image.

Weekend Discussion Thread: Mini Marathons

Alert reader Walt writes in to say:

What about mini marathons?
Some days I’m in the mood for themed episodes and watch two to four episode mini marathons. It can range from the Coleman Francis episodes to spy movies (Danger! Death Ray!, Code Name: Diamond Head, and Secret Agent, Super Dragon) or “70s Guy Turns into Something” movies (It Lives by Night and Track of the Moon Beast). I’m always trying to figure out new combinations and would love to hear other people’s suggestions!

As painful as it sounds, I’ve actually had fun with a Coleman Francis trifecta: “Red Zone Cuba,” then “Beast of Yucca Flats,” then I end with the comparatively upbeat “The Skydivers.”

What’s your pick?

This Date in MSTory

1902: Mikhail Volpin, the movie’s screenwriter for episode 813- JACK FROST.
1909: Augusto Benedico, who played Prof. Orloff in the movie in episode 624- SAMSON VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN.
1922: Tom Gries, screenwriter for the movie in episode 210- KING DINOSAUR.
1929: Renzo Palmer, who played the assistant to the minister of finance in the movie in episode 1013- DIABOLIK.
1929: John “Bud” Cardos, director of the movie in episode 519- OUTLAW.*
1929: Edward Earle a.k.a Zebedy Colt, who co-wrote three songs that were featured in movie in episode 817- HORROR OF PARTY BEACH.
1945: Peter Criss, drummer for the band Kiss, mentioned in a host segment in episode 313- EARTH VS. THE SPIDER.*

1992: Peter Brocco (age 89), who played Krog in the season one serial RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON.
2000: Richard Hazard (age 79), musical score composer for the movie in episode 520- RADAR SECRET SERVICE.
2004: Arlon Ober (age 61), musical score composer for the movie in episode 704- THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN.
2007: Jeanne Carmen (age 77), who played Lillibet in the movie in episode 112- UNTAMED YOUTH.

1967: The movie in episode 204- CATALINA CAPER is reviewed in Variety.

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.

RIP Booth Colman

Booth Colman  World Without End (1956) LOS ANGELES–Character actor Booth Colman, who had a long career in movies and TV, died at Cedars Sinai Hospital Dec. 15. He was 91. MSTies may recall that he played Mories in the movie “World Without End,” which was riffed in MST3K’s first live show, in Minneapolis.
Colman was born in Portland, Oregon, and as a child actor in local productions became active in the early radio programming. He attended the Universities of Washington and Michigan and was often involved with campus theater. After Army service during World War II he went to New York and got a foothold in Broadway theater. He appeared in Irwin Shaw’s war drama “The Assassin” and was invited to join the prestigious Maurice Evans company and the long running “Hamlet”. Other Broadway productions included “Tonight at 8:30″, “The Winslow Boy” with Basil Rathbone, “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” with Fredric March and several long tours of “The Hasty Heart”, “Mary Stuart” and the Robert Shaw Chorale.
In Hollywood he began with Howard Hawks’ “The Big Sky” and has played in fifty subsequent features between “Julius Caesar” and “Norma Rae”, including three Peter Ustinov production and a John Wayne western.
He Followed his old chief, Maurice Evans, in the role of Dr. Zaius in the popular “Planet of the Apes” series.
Every year for the past sixteen he has gone to the Meadow Brook Theatre in the Detroit area to play Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” He has also appeared at the Meadow Brook in a number of other plays which include “The Andersonville Trial” (twice, 1971 and 1989), “A Man for All Seasons,” “The Merchant of Venice” and “Inherit the Wind” (twice, 1974 and 1990). He also appeared in dozens of TV shows,
For more information, visit

Episode guide: 109- Project Moon Base (with shorts: Radar Men from the Moon, Chapter 7: ‘Camouflaged Destruction’ and Chapter 8: ‘The Enemy Planet’)

Short 1: (1951) The thugs have a new ray gun in a disguised truck, but Cody and Ted are after them.
Short 2: (1951) Cody and his team return to the moon and drive off with a cache of lunarium, but some moon men give chase.
Movie: (1953) In the far future — 1970 — the U.S. space program plans its first flight around the moon, but a commie spy plans sabotage.

First shown: 1/6/90
Opening: Joel is cleaning the robots
Invention exchange: Joel shows off special paddles that let him juggle water, the Mads have invented the insect-a-sketch
Host segment 1: J&tB are playing Commando Cody and the moon man
Host segment 2: J&tB show off their line of neckties of the future
Host segment 3: SPACOM!
End: Crow and Tom are upside down reading letters
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (103 votes, average: 4.02 out of 5)

• I’m going to give this one a good-not-great rating. The movie is just so much fluff, with very little substance and Commando Cody is really overstaying his welcome. The riffing is fine and the necktie and SPACOM host segments are first-season gems, but, even grading on the season one curve, it’s not that memorable.
• Tom Noel has somehow unearthed a Cable Guide from the week this first aired and has confirmed the debut date, one of only two confirmed debut dates for season 1.
• This episode is included in Shout! Factory’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol XX.”
• This was initially intended as a pilot film for a TV series to be called “Ring Around the Moon.” When science-fiction movies suddenly became popular, producer Jack Seaman added enough footage to the film to bring it up to feature length. This was done without the knowledge of writer Robert A. Heinlein, and he disowned the result.
• Joel’s in a robe again in the opening, and so are both bots. I can’t believe I never noticed this before.
• The juggling water bit is from Joel’s standup act, but I’m pretty sure the insect-a-sketch is new.
• This episode has “thin” shadowrama. Crow looks a bit strange.
• Fun moment in the theater: during a fight scene, Joel’s produces “Batman” (the 60s TV show)-style letters saying things like “biff!” A very Joel moment.
• Joel seems to know what the caller is telling Cody in the first short, and Servo is amazed.
• During the second short, J&tB sing the lovely Commando Cody theme song.
• It’s interesting (to me, anyway) to compare “Project Moonbase,” in which a sinister nation is worried about America’s preeminence in space, and “Rocket Attack USA,” (shown in season two) in which a worried America frets about a sinister nation’s preeminence in space. Guess that’s the difference between the optimistic world view of 1953 and the nervous world view of 1961. Did I just give somebody a poly sci/communications masters thesis idea?
• Another funny bit in the theater: Joel holds up cue cards to help “Dr. Bellows” with his little speech about gravity.
• This ep features the first use of the riff: “By this time my lungs were aching for air.” In fact, they use it twice, once in the short and again in the movie.
• The word “hexfield” pops up in the second host segment.
• I think this is also the first use of the little “buckawow” song, meant as shorthand to indicate a spot where the sex starts in a dirty movie.
• And I think this is also the first use of the riff: “Get your shoes on, we’re at Grandma’s.”
• An example of how casual this show is: There’s a lovely closeup of Crow’s hand (claw?) during “mail call” and nobody has bothered to fix the chipped-off paint.
• Stinger suggestion: Brite Eyes writhes in super gravity.
• Something else about that letters segment: Early in 2013, a reader named JK Mangold wrote this to me:

“When they read the letters at the end, one of the letters is from one Sam Litzinger in Hawaii. This caused me a short circuit because I hear this name almost everyday. Sam Litzinger is an reporter/Washington anchor for CBS radio news. Same guy? Well, per his brief bio at CBS, he did attend university in Hawaii.”

So he asked Litzinger and got this reply:

“Ha! You’ve discovered my secret!
I used to watch MST 3000 all the time when I was supposed to be studying out in Hawaii. The highlight of my life so far (apart from meeting Lemmy from Motorhead!) was having my card read on the show.
Thanks for writing and reminding me of it.

So there ya go.
• Cast and crew round up: assistant director Leonard Shapiro also worked on “Bloodlust!” and “The Amazing Transparent Man.” Cinematographer William C. Thompson also worked on “Bride of the Monster,” “The Violent Years,” “The Sinister Urge” and “Racket Girls. Special effects guy Jack R. Glass worked on “Manhunt in Space” and “Crash of Moons. Makeup guy Harry Thomas also worked on “Bride of the Monster,” “Racket Girls,” “The Mad Monster,” “The Unearthly,” “Invasion USA,” “High School Big Shot” and “Night of the Blood Beast.” Sound guy Joel Moss also worked on “Crash of the Moons.” In front of the camera, Charles Keane was also in “The Leech Woman.”
• Creditswatch: Additional production assistants were Melanie Hartley and Neil Brede. The additional production staff was again Jim Erickson. Also: “This episode is dedicated to the memory of Alan Hale Jr.”
• Fave riff from short 1: “It’s me! It’s always going be me. Whoever calls you, it’s me!” Honorable mention: “So I’m just gonna hit you with this crowbar.”
• Fave riff from short 2: “I can’t believe we’re trying to annihilate you! This is delicious!”
• Favorite riff: :::as Polly Prattles::: “You’re over by a metric ton!” (Isn’t it interesting how adding the word “metric” makes that riff funnier?) Honorable mention: “Spanking IS protocol in the high echelons of NASA.”

RIP Koichi Kawakita

Koichi_Kawakita Koichi Kawakita, former head of the special effects department at Toho Studios, died from liver failure on Dec. 5, 2014, his 72nd birthday.

The IMDB does not list him, but our Japanese monster movie expert tells us MSTies will remember his work as assistant visual effects cinematographer for “Gojira, Ebirâ, Mosura: Nankai no daiketto,” aka the movie in episode 213- GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER.

Beginning his career at Toho as a cameraman in 1962, he worked his way up through the special effects department until becoming head of that department and director of special effects on the Godzilla series from 1989 to 1995.

While critics and fans praised his work on such films as “Gunhed” (1987) and “Godzilla vs. Biollante” (1989), his sfx work was more criticized as time went on, perhaps due to his admitted alcoholism. His monster fights focused more on beam battles than grappling, and increasing the size of Godzilla and his foes from 50 to 100 meters resulted in less detailed miniatures. One scene in 1995’s “Godzilla vs. Destoroyah” saw the use of actual toys of the titular foe. 

Despite this, Kawakita was popular and accessible with fans. He was a frequent guest at fan gatherings, appearing at Monsterpalooza in Burbank in May and G-FEST in Chicago in July earlier this year.

NatGeoWild Takeover Tuesday

The second “NatGeo Wild” channel RiffTrax takeover, aka “Total Riff Off,” is this Tuesday! Here are two sneak peaks:

There will be a repeat of one of the shows from April at 8 p.m., followed by two new hour-long episodes at 9 and 10 p.m.

Weekend Discussion Thread: Moments When Joel/Mike & the Bots Laughed/Cracked Up

I’m not sure who sent me this, but I like it:

I had an idea for a discussion topic: favorite time the bots or Joel/Mike cracked each other up for real.

In “Monster a Go Go,” I always laugh so hard when Servo sings that song [o/` These two girls they make quite a pair… o/`] during the circus short and keeps going and Joel laughs and tells him to stop. Mike reacts to more stuff in the theater, so there’s more to choose with him, but the infamous mean old shop keeper from “The Brute Man” cracks everybody up. When you can tell the guys are really laughing, it just makes for a funny environment.

Sometimes Servo makes a comment and then follows up with an aside to Mike, which I always wonder if it’s ad libbed because Mike usually reacts naturally and laughs. There’s a good example in “The Incredible Melting Man” during the end credits when they’re all noting what they’ve learned and after Servo says his, he follows up with an emphasized “I did not know that” to which Mike laughs.

My pick is from the KTMA version of “Gamera vs. Zigra.” The spandex-clad henchwoman appears and Crow goggles at her slinky outfit, which cracks Joel up. Love it.

What’s your pick?

New Short from RiffTrax…


Stream or download it here.

The AV Club Asks Joel 11 Questions/Shout Blog Learns from Joel

The AV Club Asks Joel 11 Questions, and you’ll find his answers here.

Meanwhile, The Shout Blog tells us 15 things they learned from Joel’s Reddit AMA.