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SEASON FOUR: 1992-1993
Last modified on 2008-01-03 19:05:22
First shown: 6/6/92
Opening: “The Great Crowdini!”
Invention exchange: The dollaroid, facial tissue
Host segment 1: Space race advancements
Host segment 2: Reenacting the movie so Crow can do his
Host segment 3: J&TB wonder: If one of them had to
End: Magic fun, letters
Stinger: Hackman, demonstrating that he’s good in
Comments and observations:
And so we begin the second of four 24-episode seasons BBI
pumped out. You can really feel how settled in and relaxed they
are. As they said in the ACEG, they were luxuriating in that rarity
of rarities in the TV world, job security. And I think a lot of
fans would agree that season four is one of the high points of the
series. They really had the process down and were really feeling
confident about what they were doing.
• “Marooned,” the movie Film Ventures
International chopped up to create “Space Travelers,”
is the only movie MST3K ever did that actually won an Oscar.
notes: “It won for Special Visual Effects, and was also
nominated for cinematography and sound. All three seem pretty lame
• Daddy-O also notes: “WALTER BROOKE, who plays
the the network commentator here, plays Dean in 607-BLOODLUST and
Clifford Foster in 614-SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL. He’s best
known as D.A. Frank Scanlan on the “Green Hornet” TV
series. His films include 1955’s Conquest of Space;
1967’s The Graduate; and 1968’s Sergeant Ryker.
• Somebody check for me: I’m pretty sure
it’s episode 201- ROCKETSHIP X-M where Joel asks “Why
didn’t you just show us ‘Marooned’?” and
Dr. F replies “We couldn’t get it!” Guess they
could get it after all.
• The opening bit, with the GREAT CROWDINI!!!, produced
a memorable moment in the first poopie tape as well. It’s a
complicated sketch–you’re supposed to notice that Crow
accidentally drops the all-important key and nobody thinks to
retreive it for him before he is blown to kingdom come. I bet the
whole thing went right over the heads of some people.
• We get several reminders of how LONG AGO this was:
When they mention “the Bush Administration” they are
referring, of course, to Bush the Elder. Some of you who’ll
be posting were not born yet. Somebody mentions the president, and
Servo says he’ll “vomit on some Japanese people.”
For those who don’t recall that charming moment in
report on the incident he’s referring to.
• This one starts a little slowly, largely because the
movie itself starts a little slowly. It seems insane now, but I was
alive then and I can tell you: The workings of NASA fascinated most
Americans, and just watching them work was captivating enough for a
lot of people. I’m sure the filmmakers thought nothing of
beginning their movie with 15 minutes or so of random NASA footage.
But there’s not a lot you can say about it.
• My copy includes the commercials and, I gotta say,
talk about a blast from the past: Those ads for the video game
“Burn Cycle” came rushing back as did the battery
commercials featuring the hideous Duracell family.
• For a moment, J&TB do ethereal “eeeee”
singing bit — a reference to the movie “2001: A Space
Odyssey” — that they used to such good effect in
episode 205- ROCKET ATTACK USA.
• Crow’s Gregory Peck is truly killer. Joel also
attempts a Peck impression and pales by comparison.
• The list of “Advancements from the Space Program
(”The bendy straw. Jim Mitchum. The bassett hound.”)
used to be a part of the old usenet List of Lists, and I just
noticed that for some reason it never made it to Ward E. I will
rectify that soon.
• Servo does a very good Burt Reynolds laugh.
• Not one, not two but THREE Firesign Theater
• Host segment 2 is a classic example of the
“broken sketch sketch” — essentially Joel/Mike
and the bots try to put on a sketch and the whole thing goes to
hell — that was a MST3K staple throughout the years.
• Callback: Crow recalls that he “called
dibs” on the ability to say who lives and who dies, back in
• Dated reference:
• The wonderful “aaaaaaaahhh!” closing bit
by the Mads became a great way to say goodbye to MSTie pals for
• Fave riff: “Oh they’re dead. How’s
Last modified on 2008-01-10 15:03:47
First shown: 6/13/92
Opening: Crow and Tom are the Thing with Two Heads
Invention exchange: Sitcom radio, Renaissance festival
Host segment 1: Crow and Tom disrupt Joel’s soda shop
Host segment 2: Different types of funny drunks
Host segment 3: “Servo on Cinema” looks at Ray
Kellogg’s “Leg Up” directorial style
End: Hee-La the rock group rehearses, letters (including one
from TV’s Frank!)
Stinger: Old guy gags on sody pop
Comments and observations:
• This episode is about to come out from Rhino, both as
part of “Volume 10.2″ and as a solo disc.
• This episode became infamous in the 1995-1996 period
on Comedy Central, as a number of other episodes dropped out of the
rotation due to movie rights issues. The movie in this episode is
in public domain, which meant that CC could play it as often as it
liked, and it played it a lot, so much so that some online MSTies
began to grumble about (yes, #386 of the things online MSTies
• Ya gotta assume there were multiple puppeteers in the
trench for that bit with the decapitated bots. Must have gotten a
• That’s Mike, of course, as the radio announcer
• We get more trashing of the Renaissance Fest, last
bashed in episode 303- POD PEOPLE. “Bite me, Frodo.”
• Servo does his great coughing car bit, sort of an
impression of Mel Blanc as Jack Benny’s car.
• Mildly naughty riff: “Old rubber? No! No!”
• Tom and Joel spit in the sherrif’s hat! Ew!
• The sound in this movie is uniformly terrible. One of
the problems with a PD movie is that nobody takes care of it.
• Part of the plot of this movie involves our hero
eavesdropping on a party line, a long-dead technology almost
everywhere, and I sometimes wonder if young people even understand
what’s going on. Our hero also has one of those
phones. Did people really still have those in the 50s?
• Another “broken sketch” sketch this week:
this time it’s the bots who sabotage Joel’s sketch.
• Gypsy must be in a goth period. She’s got black
• This is the episode that would give us the “sing
whenever I sing whenever I sing” bit they’d do in many
future episodes whenever somebody was banging or pounding on
• For those who have no idea who Crazy Guggenheim was,
this piece by comedian Larry Miller, who, by the way, was also
mentioned by in this episode. He takes a bit to get to his point,
but it’s worth it.
• The little bit Joel and the bots do in unison at the
end is a popular reading from AA meetings. “Bill W” was
even thanked in the credits for a while, so there clearly was at
least one person in recovery on the staff.
• Joel asks: “Was the ‘Richard Speck’
a popular haircut back then?” Yes, Joel. Sadly, it was.
• Movie note: Not that I expect much from this
movie, but I feel I must note that in the scene where the old
drunkie guy is racing the train, there’s footage of at least
three, maybe four different trains that are all supposed to be the
• Annoying commercial on my version (the version I have
comes Turkey Day 1994): that Zima commercial where the muddy people
are standing around chatting on what is apparently the sidelines of
a football game, while that one guy stares off into space and nods
like he’s received a serious head injury during the game.
Whenever I saw it, I would think: “Jeez! Stop chatting and
call an ambulance for that guy!” Do they still make that
• There’s a nice little TV in-joke during
Tom’s “Servo on Cinema” sketch when Tom turns to
face a non-existent second camera during his introduction and has
to be corrected by Joel.
• Nice film editing by Cambot!
• Joel (sort of) sneaks in the name of beloved cult band
“They Might Be Giants”
• Callback from previous episode: J&TB sing the Wild
Rebels theme song.
• Obscure riff: “So how do you like
• For those who wondered why Pearl called Crow
“Art” many seasons later, it’s because of the
illustration that accompanied one of the letters Joel reads in this
episode. Apparently the young letter writer had just seen episode
203- JUNGLE GODDESS, in which Joel imitates the way Jackie Gleason
would introduce his cast and the end of the show. For those who
remember it, he would always save longtime castmate Art Carney for
last, shouting “ART CARNEY!” over the already
applauding crowd noise. Joel, in a takeoff of that, shouted
“ART CROW!” The little letter writer, not understanding
the reference, just assumed Crow’s name was Art.
• Watch and listen to Crow during the closing segment.
Note how he says not a word, and when spoken to only sort of hums,
exactly the way somebody WOULD do if they had a giant rolled-up
tongue in their mouth and was waiting for the cue to unfurl it. I
• Fave riff: “Not the coda! No!”
Last modified on 2008-01-17 11:57:57
First shown: 6/20/92
Opening: Joel says “ping-pong balls,” then wishes
Invention exchange: Mr. meat & potato head, pop star
Tupperware, featuring Morrissey
Host segment 1: Song: “Oh, Kim Cattrall!”
Host segment 2: The Fantastic 85
Host segment 3: More super-heroes
End: Playing the City Limits trivia game, letters, the Mads
have had enough of Morrissey
Stinger: Tiny radio controlled death from on high
• I’m not a big fan of this one. It has its moments
(every MST3K episode does) but J&TB seem to be fending this one
off, rather than tearing it up. The plot’s confusing (I never
quite got how Robbie Benson fit in) and most of the action is a
little hard to see. The host segments are just sort of so-so.
It’s just sort of a middling episode. And call me a statist
if you must, but I felt a little sorry for Kim Cattrall’s
character. Sent by an apparently hopeful and rebuilding government
to restore basic services, she is derailed at every turn by
lunkheaded teeners and thuggish government contractors. It’s
enough to disillusion a person!
• With this episode, the “Turn down your lights
(where applicable)” message that began every episode since
the beginning of season two is replaced by a title card featuring a
still from the movie and a gruff voice (usually that of editor Tim
Scott) saying “Mystery Science Theater 3000, show [show
number here]; reel one.”
• The ping-pong ball bit comes from the old Captain
Kangaroo show. Unfortunately, the best of Captain Kangaroo was not
recorded and very little of it survives to help explain it to young
people who never saw it. But a running gag on the show was that the
puppet characters would try to trick the captain into saying the
words “ping-pong balls,” at which point a veritable
cloudburst of the little guys would pour down from the heavens onto
the Captain. You had to be there…and you had to be 6.
• Crow’s “help me!” is a callback from
a well-remembered moment from episode 205- ROCKET ATTACK USA. Other
callbacks: “Hi, I’m Max Keller.”
“…After the Robot Holocaust.” “I’m a
• Mike is just hilarious as Morrissey, who, by the way,
I had never heard of when I first saw this episode back in
• The opening of the movie says that it takes place
“15 years from now.” 15 years from when the movie was
made was 2000. Thankfully the world in 2000 looked very little like
the one this movie predicts. (By the way, 15 years from when this
episode was shown is…well, now, more or less.)
• Early on, there is a very clever solution to the
appearance of some brief female nudity when Joel inexplicably feels
the urge to stand up and open an umbrella.
• Joel mentions a place that sounds like
“mays-a-may” Wisconsin. Where’s that?
• Kim Cattrall tells the story that one evening she had
just checked into a hotel and she turned on the TV and by pure
chance host segment 1 was running on Comedy Central. She says she
was completely baffled as to why a golden puppet was repeatedly
singing her name.
• There’s a mention of “Far Side
Gallery,” a book I also owned. That shot does look like the
cover, a little.
• Somewhat obscure riff: “I’m still here,
Happer, you crap hound!”
• More obscure riff: “But all I have is an
• For a full list of the Fantastic 185,
• A rare moment: Tom does something they almost never
do—he actually explains a riff (after quoting Lady Macbeth).
Wonder why they felt that riff, among all the others, needed
• Weird movie moment: Several times the movie shows
flashbacks of moments we’ve never seen. I assume this was
stuff cut by either Film Ventures International or BBI.
• Dated reference: a mention of the
shortlived-and-now-forgotten James Earl Jones series
• Watch the handoff from Joel to Kevin following after
segment 3—you can see Kevin moving around.
• One of the minor characters in this movie (the guy
J&TB keep calling “Michelle Shocked”) is played by
a fellow named Dean Devlin. He also appeared in the movies
“My Bodyguard” and “The Wild Life” before
going on to become a big Hollywood producer, bringing us such
mindless, noisy blockbusters as “Independence Day” and
“Godzilla.” Premiere magazine ranked Devlin and ID4
director Roland Emmerich No. 44 on 1997’s Power List of the
100 Most Influential People in the Hollywood Industry.
• Great throwaway line by Crow: “Daddy needs a new
pair o’ hydraulic talons!”
• Fave riff: “I’m getting beaten up by the
cast of ‘Pirates of Penzance’”!
Last modified on 2008-01-24 23:38:52
First shown: 6/27/92
Opening: Joel uses behavior modification to prevent a
recurrence of the “NBC Mystery Movie” gag
Invention exchange: Scratch and sniff report card,
resusci-Annie ventriloquist doll
Host segment 1: Reel to real
Host segment 2: J&TB recreate a pre-movie no-littering
Host segment 3: A really boss-looking space ship visits
End: Duct tape fashion statements, letters, Dr. F. dines with
Stinger: “When we return to our planet, the high court
may well sentence you to TORTURE!!”
Comments and observations:
• How I love this episode. Maybe it’s the
easy-to-follow (albeit punishingly stupid) plot. Maybe it’s
the goofy host segments, most of which are not so much funny as
wry. Maybe it’s the charmingly naïve idea that somebody
thought people would believe that giant lobsters walk upright.
Whatever it is, this one’s a lot of fun.
• Body (or, rather, skeleton) count: 6 (not counting
sparky and the lobster and the big mess at the end). And for you
Dave Barry fans, Sparky and the Lobster WBAGNFARB.
• “Lisa Smithback,” mentioned in the
invention exchange, has to be a real name, probably a schoolmate of
one of the Brains. Wonder if she’s out there somewhere?
• I love the little Jeff Dunham-esque gestures Trace
does around the dummy as he does the ventriloquist bit.
• Callbacks: Crow longs for a “hamburger
sammich” from episode 203- Jungle Goddess, and later retreads
the “Welcome to Death Valley Days, the driver…”
• The word TORCHAA! became an immediate MSTie buzzword
following this episode.
• So, what do you think is the point of the
“ironic” tone Joel and the bots adopt during the
“Reel to Real” sketch? They read all their lines like a
presenter at an awards ceremony who is given a bit to do and
resents having to do it. Did they decide the material was too lame
to be played straight? It almost feels like they’re cheating.
Commit to the material, guys! But wait a minute! Maybe
they’re parodying comedians to tell jokes ironically!
That’s TWO levels of irony! We’re through the looking
glass here, people!
• Host segment foreshadowing: In one of the
illustrations, we see Betty in a bathing suit, but we haven’t
gotten to that part of the movie yet.
• The “muffled voice in the trunk” bit
almost gets a little unpleasant after a while. Tom just portrays it
as so horribly desperate.
• As Derek and Betty enter the college, there are
several riffs about the smell of school. Perhaps these riffs were
the genesis of this episode’s “scratch and sniff report
card” invention exchange.
• Several characters seems to have songs stuck in their
heads. Grandpa’s is the theme song for the TV show “New
Zoo Revue.” The ill-fated professor’s secretary’s
is AC-DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.” The
Doctor has two: First Nick Gilder’s “Hot Child in the
City,” then Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded.” The
Nurse has several: Prince’s “Sex Shooter,” then
“Aqualung” by Jethro Tull, then The Beatles’
“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” then “The Feel
Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” by Country Joe and
• Dated reference: “Must be that nice Adam Rich
boy for his prescription again.”
• So the point of segment two is to set up a few
throwaway lines in segment three? (”Goomy bears?”)
• Derek says he saw the Commander stop Thor from killing
him. He did not. He was 40 yards away and running like hell.
• J&TB failed to notice this little bit of movie
magic: Thor pistol whips the nurse, there’s a short cutaway,
and in the next shot Thor and the nurse have magically switched
seats in the car!
• Naughty riff: “What until you see my
• During host segment three, Joel professes his faith.
Or is he being ironic again?
• Gotta admit: the spaceship in segment three really is
• The third segment is great. Joel seems incredibly
relaxed. And anytime anybody tries to tell you he was always
“sleepy” just show them this segment. He’s wide
• There is a LOT of juicy gossip about the making of
rounded it all up.
• Fashion show surprises: Tom servo has legs??? And,
say! Nice package on Crow!
• Great final bit in Deep 13. “Help me!”
“No, literally! I have a man up in space!”
• Fave riff: “There’s a piece of green
something between your–”
Last modified on 2008-01-31 02:50:07
First shown: 7/4/92
Opening: J&TB playing movie slogan 20
Invention exchange: Tragic moments figurines, Jack
Palance impersonation kit
Host segment 1: Bill Mumy tribute
Host segment 2: Playing haunted house with Joel
Host segment 3: Holoclown fun on the Hexfield
End: TV’s Frank shopping network, letter,
Stinger: The heartbreak of extraterrestrial
Comments and observations:
• A middling-to-good episode for me. The movie itself is
a bit easier to follow than, say, “City Limits,” but
waiting for the mummy to actually DO something starts to get
tiresome. On the other hand, the movie compensates with some
unintentionally hilarious moments, notably the impromptu costume
parade through campus (wtf?). The “oh Joel it’s scary
in the basement” bit doesn’t wear well for me, but the
riffing is generally pretty crisp and funny. Lots of memorable host
segment stuff, too.
• Here are the slogans from the “20
questions” that I was able to track down (and note that some
of these are not exactly accurate, but are close approximations):
“Fueled by imagination” - “Radio
“Be afraid. Be very afraid.” – “The
“The most exciting undersea odyssey ever filmed.”
– “The Neptune Factor” (1973)
“100% pure adrenaline.” – “Point
“It’s not only his nose that grows!”
– “The Erotic Adventures of Pinocchio” (1971)
“This time, it’s personal.” - “Jaws:
The Revenge” (1987)
“Dudley Moore juggles two women in an attempt to save
his sanity” - “Unfaithfully Yours” (1987)
The ones I can’t track down:
“A sassy brassy musical humdinger.”
“A new high in adventure when they go thrill-deep in
“A bikini-clad romp through summer’s fun.”
“A shocking expose of souls in bondage.”
Anybody know any of these?
• Watch for the boom shadow on Frank’s face as Dr.
F says “Clayton Stonewall Forrester.” They just keep
• Frank says “we’ve came up” and they
just keep going.
• Dark and obscure riff: “Hey it’s Pete
Duel” (Duel, Ben Murphy’s co-star in the western series
“Alias Smith and Jones” killed himself on New
Year’s Eve, 1971.)
• Callbacks: “Trumpy! You can do magic
things!” (a catchphrase from “Pod People). Also:
“Laurence, would you put that down please!” (as the
foppish bad guy from Catalina Caper).
• For more on Bill Mumy,
visit his site.
• Joel mentions Mumy’s early performance in the
movie “Dear Bridget” and then mentions another movie
where he played “a super-genius mathematician.” Sorry
Joel, but you’re thinking of the same movie, “Dear
Bridget.” By the way, the “Twilight Zone” episode
Joel mentions (where he wishes people into the cornfield) is
entitled “It’s a Good Life.” Mumy was also in a
couple of other TZ eps.
• Joel and Tom are already in the theater after the
first segment, still discussing Butch Patrick, when Crow joins
• Dated reference: “Hey, Jim Fixx!” Also,
mentions of Intellivision and the Michelangelo virus (completely
forgot that one).
• At one point they call the massive pipes in the
basement “Coppolla’s espresso machine.” When I
think of somebody who would be rich and powerful enough to have
such a massive device, director Francis Ford Coppolla is not the
first person I think of. Bill Gates? Aaron Spelling? Sure. But not
Francis. Was Francis maybe more notoriously rich and powerful then?
I don’t recall.
• Joel makes a reference to the ’60s TV show
“The Mod Squad.” Amusingly, he makes virtually the same
riff in the first Cinematic Titanic episode, and then follows it
with a plaintive “Oh, I’m old!” What a difference
15 years makes.
• Crow once again requests to be carried out of the
theater. Joel once again declines.
• During the haunted house skectch, Joel got spaghetti
in the jell-o. Bleh. (And my OCD rears its ugly head.)
• Tom explains a riff again: After singing
“Michael Goldstein! Michael Goldstein! What a beautiful
name!” he adds: “Funny Girl!”
• I think Crow attempts a Dr. Hibberd (from “The
Simpsons”) impression but he sounds more like Kingfish of
“Amos and Andy.”
• “Sarah…Jockman!” Somebody’s
an Allan Sherman fan.
• This episode begins our two-part encouter with the
impossibly creepy Holo-clowns. That’s Mike and Paul, by the
• Gypsy’s still wearing black
“lipstick” and it doesn’t look very well applied.
• I love all the Ludlum titles, like “The Mingmang
Pa-ting-ting” A full list is in
• Nick Gilder’s “Hot Child in the
City” is referenced for the second week in a row.
• My copy of this episode is from a showing on or very
near Super Bowl Sunday 1996 (the Cowboys beat the Steelers at Sun
Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.). It has bumpers that feature Dom
Irrera, a comedian I always liked, somewhat desperately wandering
around the periphery of the stadium looking for somebody to
interview or something to film. Kind of sad.
• The bit in which Tom insists this is the worst movie
they’ve ever done is
E. Oh and, Tom is entitled to his opinion, of course, but so am
I, and no way is this movie worse than most of the movies named.
It’s a funny trip down memory lane, though.
• The final segment brings back the notion of the
“button that brings down the SOL,” which we heard about
a couple of times in season two.
• Firesign Theatre reference: “…and the
snake knives, Mrs. Presky!”
• Fave riff: “Sizzler! teeheeheehee!”
Last modified on 2008-02-07 21:46:29
First shown: 7/18/92
Opening: Shutting off the holo-clowns
Invention exchange: Patches the leech,
Host segment 1: Taking over the world and what
you’d wear to do it
Host segment 2: Talking about dreams over coffee
Host segment 3: Song: “Danger to Myself And
End: Understanding the leeches, letter, Patches
has been on Frank too long
Stinger: Billy gets into it
• Ah, Corman, sweet Corman. Plenty of fun here, in an
episode that is deservedly a fan favorite. I don’t have a
huge amount to say about it, but it’s a great all-around
• Part two of the holo-clowns bit is classic MST3K:
“Get on your orange and yellow knees and kiss my clown feet
that I haven’t killed you!!!” That bit may be a true
litmus test of MSTiedom. If you don’t like that bit, you
really shouldn’t bother with this show.
• Yay! The first short of season 4 and the first in 10
episodes. By the way, “Undersea Kingdom,” made in 1936,
is the oldest thing (movie or short) MST3K ever riffed on.
• Dated reference: Mayor Dinkins. Remember him?
• Tom Servo attempts a complicated joke that sort of
misfires and Joel responds: “That’s a Swiss army
• For the THIRD episode running, the song “Hot
Child in the City” is referenced.
• This movie has a pretty much classic Corman cast,
including Bruno VeSota, Michael Emmet, Russ Sturlin and Gene Roth.
Suprisingly, no Merritt Stone.
• Servo’s coffee head is a nice touch, and the
best part is that nobody even really mentions it. It’s just
kinda there and nobody thinks much of it.
• Joel pours some cream for Gypsy and she interrupts him
to say “when” and that seems to amuse Joel.
• Movie comment: Our cuckolded store keeper Dave clearly
has a double-barreled shotgun. Now I’m no firearms expert,
but I believe such a weapon, assuming it is fully loaded, has the
capability of firing twice before the user has to reload, correct?
And in fact, we do see Dave reload, placing a shell in each barrel.
But that’s after we’ve heard him fire at least four
shots. And after he reloads, he fires another four shots before
backing Liz and her paramour into the lake. Now it’s possible
he reloaded off-camera, but if I was Liz’s boyfriend, I
wouldn’t shrink in fear of that obviously empty gun.
• I never noticed before that Tom hums a line of the
upcoming song in the theater.
• Lots of characters are humming internal songs in this
episode. I remember this being one of my favorite kinds of riff for
• “A Danger to Mahself and Others” is one of
the truly great MST3K original songs. Joel and Mike share the
writing credit, by the way. My only complaint is that they taped a pipe to Tom’s lower lip and we can hear it bonking loudly
against his torso during the song. Very distracting.
• Tom Servo’s head practically FLIES off as they
leave the theater for the last time. Joel and Kevin cover
• That’s Kevin, of course, as the giant leech.
That bit gave us another great moment in the poopie tape: “Is
it my sucking you?”
• Fave riff: “…or someone might stab you in
Last modified on 2008-02-13 22:22:23
First shown: 7/25/92
Opening: Joel has presents
Invention exchange: The Mads prepare to destroy
Earth, but are stopped by Jim Henson’s Edgar Winter Babies
Host segment 1: Joel vapor-locks while trying to
do Will Rogers
Host segment 2: While presenting the Killer Shrews
game, the bots snap
Host segment 3: J&TB concoct the Killer Shrew
End: The shrewbots attack scientist Joel, letter,
Frank isn’t feeling good
Stinger: “Any unusual experiment can produce
• This is one of those episodes where the movie is SO
stupid and the print is SO bad that it takes a lot of really good
riffing to overcome it. You can tell the writing team struggled
with the movie’s tediousness – it comes out in one
segment – but overall I think they did a pretty good job.
• The person to blame for this movie is Gordon
McClendon, a radio tycoon went through phase where he fancied
himself a movie producer. The result was “Giant Gila
Monster” and this.
• This episode is featured on the Mystery Science
Theater 3000 Collection, Volume 7 and became notorious after fans
noticed that the movie had been cut a little bit and that there
were some mastering issues.
• People always talk about the way Joel was a
“dad” to the bots in a way that Mike never tried to be.
The opening sketch is pretty much a pristine example of that
dynamic. Who hasn’t been in poor Crow’s place at one
time or another?
• Another use of the “aaaaaaahh!” farewell
by the mads, first used (I think) in episode 321- SANTA CLAUS
CONQUERS THE MARTIANS.
• Servo is still wearing his hat in the theater during
the short, but it’s gone by the time the movie starts.
• “Jim Henson’s [fill in the blank]
babies” was clearly the phrase being batted around the office
that week; it was used three times during the episode.
• The riffs get very dark during the short–a taste
of the way it’s going to be in plenty of shorts to come.
• Crow DID get some use out of those slacks: He is
wearing them in segment 1.
• Segment 1 is an corallary to the “sabotaged
sketch”–the “Joel vapor locks” sketch. Mike
had a tendency to vapor-lock too.
• You have to be a certain age to get the
“He’s the guy who taught LBJ how to hold dogs”
riff. For those too young, President Johnson loved his beagles, but
caused a kerfuffle among animal lovers when he was photographed
lifting them by the ears. He insisted there was nothing wrong with
doing so, but dog lovers howled.
• Some entirely understandable tears are shed by the
bots during segment 2, as the bots seem to express the feelings of
writers about the dull, actionless movie.
• Has anybody noticed that this movie has, in a general
sort of way, the same plot as “Jurassic Park”?
• Obscure (and nerdy) reference: “Tell me about
your home world, Usul.”
• Very early on, Joel and the Bots decide Hispanic Mario
is Manuel from “Fawlty Towers.” It allows them to do
foreigner jokes that they otherwise probably couldn’t get
• I remember after this episode aired that a few people
actually tried to follow the recipe for a killer shrew. Anybody
ever taste one? If they did, they’re probably in a diabetic
coma. This sketch also has a nice little visit to Deep 13,
something that doesn’t happen that often in mid-movie.
• The sound is so bad in this movie that there are about
a dozen riffs where they are essentially asking what the hell some
character just said. Way more than usual.
• The killer shrew costumes, far from “not cutting
it” are a riot.
• Joel says “we will be-ack” and “MST3
viewers.” They keep going.
• Epicacs reappear; they first reared their ugly head in
episode 315- TEENAGE CAVEMAN.
• The credits include a writing credit for a Steve
Hollenhorst. Anybody know any info about him?
• Fave riff: “Imagine in how much detail,
Last modified on 2008-03-13 00:27:36
First shown: 8/1/92
Opening: Wash and wax day for the bots
Invention exchange: Decorator roaches (Steve
Reeves visits!), the Steve-o-meter
Host segment 1: Gypsy is the Hellenistic ideal
Host segment 2: The water of forgetfulness, etc.
Host segment 3: What are Hercules and the nice
End: The meaning of the Hercules movies
Stinger: The queen recalls Herc
• The first of several sword-and-sandal outings for MST3K.
They’re perfect for the show: colorful, action-filled, mildly
sexy and really really weird. I don’t think this is their
best one, but it’s a lot of fun.
• Is anybody a scholar of these Hercules stories?
I’m not. How close does this plot follow the
“real” adventures of the Herc?
• One thing I DID notice, though: Herc is surprised to
encounter Oedipus (whom Ulysses says is “a good man”)
blind and banished, but nobody really thinks to ask why. The whole
thing is kind of glossed over…
• I’ve never been a fan of “detour”
movies and that’s really what this is: The main
plot–Hercules returns to his hometown of Thebes only to find
it in the midst of a power struggle between Oedipus’ two
sons–is sidetracked for most of the movie as Herc lumbers
down one plot cul-de-sac after another. When he finally gets where
he wanted to get, the big battle scene is actually pretty cool.
(Joel says one moment reminds him of “Empire Strikes
Back,” but that’s putting the cart before the horse,
isn’t it?) But mostly it’s all a big detour. On the
other hand, there ARE lots of scantily clad nymphs…
• The opening segment ends as Joel leaps over the desk
at Crow. It’s actually a more difficult move than you may
think: For those who don’t know, directly behind the desk is
the puppeteer “trench”–essentially an
approximately three-foot drop. In order for Joel (and later Mike)
to stand right up next to the desk, there was a narrow wooden plank
laid across the trench. So to make that move, Joel had to launch
himself forward, carefully plant one foot on the plank (and not
misstep and go crashing into the trench), and spring over the desk.
A fellow could hurt himself, he could.
• What is the music on the menu screen of the DVD? I
don’t think it’s from the movie.
• That’s Mike as Steve, of course. I love that
“Nuh-uh.” By this time it was really becoming a delight
anytime he popped up.
• A little personal story related to the Steve-o-meter
sketch: In a previous incarnation I used to write, for the
Philadelphia Inquirer, that little write-up next to the TV grid
that tells you what’s worth watching on TV that night. In one
column, I said something nice about an performance by Steve
Allen’s wife, Jayne Meadows. A few weeks later I was stunned
to receive a hand-written letter from Ms. Meadows herself, thanking
me for my kind words. I wrote back thanking HER for being so nice,
and in the letter I mentioned MST3K, briefly explained the premise
of the Steve-O-meter and ended my letter with something to the
effect of “now I know something else Steve thought of,
marrying a class act.” A week or so later I was even MORE
stunned to receive ANOTHER letter, informing me that Steve thought
the Steve-O-meter bit sounded funny and asking where they could get
their hands on a tape of that show. I duped off a copy and sent it
to them, and later got a short note saying Steve thought the sketch
was very funny.
• Somewhat obscure reference: “He’s
everywhere! He’s everywhere!” From the legendary
radio series back in the ‘60s. God, I loved that show.
• I can’t hear exactly what Servo says under his
breath when Oedipus is mentioned, but it’s something about
• The whole little plot cul-de-sac at the beginning of
the movie with Anteus the giant just seems like filler. It really
has no relevance to the rest of the movie.
• We get a mention of Rondo Hatton, who we’d later
meet in “The Brute Man”
• Every once in a while in the theater, you can really
tell that Joel/Mike and the bots are in a large echoey room. Listen
when Joel yells “I haven’t showered since Zeus was a
pup!” The acoustics are not good.
• Great job by Jim segment 1. He really belts out that
• The riff “Look! I’m hungry.”
“Listen! It’s cold” brought back a memory: my
daughter, about 8 at the time, thought that was one of the funniest
things she’d ever heard. I remember her just rolling on the
couch with laughter for about five minutes after she heard it.
• Another movie complaint: The guy tests if Ulysses is
actually deaf by hurling a spear into the deck right next to
him… I hate to break it to the movie, but any deaf person
would feel the vibration of that. Not really a good test…
• We hear Servo as the pretentious theater fellow,
mention that he’s doing “an anti-Columbus thing.”
And you might think: huh? Columbus? Remember, it was ‘92, the
500th anniversary of ol’ Chris’ arrival in the New
World and lots of people were making a pretty good living being
outraged about it.
• Vaguely naughty riffs: “You mean nymph
loads!” “Ow! My eye!” “It’s twue!
It’s twue!” The Herc movies brought out the naughty.
• Dated reference: Distant entertainment memories
“Curly Sue” and “Remington Steele.”
• As segment 3 opens, Joel is reading, highlighting and
apparently really enjoying the novel “Tek Wars” by
William Shatner. But he is—quite rightly—embarrassed by
• Segment 3 seems like it’s not in the right
place. Tom says that by this point in the movie Herc is living with
the nice lady. But actually by the time the segment comes up Herc
has already left the nice lady. Seems like they could have moved
Segment 1 to the third spot, Segment 2 to the first spot and
Segment 3 to the second spot and it would have flowed with the
movie a bit better.
• Tom says: “Oh for the clarity of Mighty
Jack.” It’s a funny line, but really this movie has a
much more easily-discernable plot than “Mighty Jack”
which I had to watch about five times before I began to make any
sort of sense of.
• Joel invokes the memory of short-lived 60s TV show
“Garrison’s Guerillas,” which I think most boys
loved because it had that cool Jeep-mounted machine gun. Who
didn’t want to ride around in that when you were about nine?
• Callback: “He hit big Jake!” (Catalina
• Firesign Theatre reference: “He’s no fun
he fell right over.”
• The final segment is great, but I do wish they could
have led into it a bit more smoothly. Gypsy’s
question–”Why these kind of movies?”–sort
of comes out of nowhere. But the rest of sketch is hilarious: Gypsy
tries to contribute, but doesn’t quite have the mental
dexterity. Crow has clearly paged through Campbell’s
“Hero With a Thousand Faces” but, like an
under-educated guy at a snooty cocktail party, can’t quite
pull his thoughts together. Tom, ever the realist, cuts to the
chase. Wonderful writing like “…which translates into
big sweaty guys pushin’ girls around…” is one of
the reasons why I love MST3K so much.
• This week’s mysterious credit: Additional
Contributing Writer–Don Jurek. Who the heck’s he?
• Fave riff: “You win the crazy award!”
Also: Centurion: “Great Queen!” Joel:
Last modified on 2008-03-13 00:30:23
First shown: 8/15/92
Opening: Something’s different about the bots (and
Invention exchange: Mads’ secret invention, cereal
Host segment 1: The Undersea Kingdom parade goes awry
Host segment 2: “What would you do if you were
Host segment 3: Joel does the Lon Chaney “eye
thing,” the bots are no help
End: J&TB sign the “no cop/donut joke”
pledge, cops in Deep 13
Stinger: Indestructible man struggles with a manhole cover
• The movie is so silly and yet drab that it might be one
of those episodes where the movie overwhelms the riffers, but
somehow J&tB bring in a winner. Another great ep as we get
deeper into season four.
• Joel mentions Crow’s Billy doll, last seen the
last time “Undersea Kingdom” was featured.
• I assume Trace was running Tom and Kevin was running
Crow in the opening segment. I wonder if that was the only time
that has ever happened…
• A little biting literary commentary as Tom refers to
the “controversial-yet-all-but-forgotten” novel
• This episode contains a notorious goof by the Brains:
Dr. F says that the movie features “Casey Adams of
‘Catalina Caper’ fame.” In fact, Adams does not
appear in “Catalina Caper.” The Brains are confusing
him with “Catalina Caper” star Del Moore, whom Adams
somewhat looks and sounds like… but not that much, really.
Throughout the movie, when J&tB do Casey Adams, they’re
really imitating Moore’s campy portrayal in “Catalina
Caper.” They don’t really sound like Adams at all.
• How could they make such a dumb mistake? Not to sound
too much like an old “I walked uphill in the snow to
school” fogie, but it’s important to remember that this
episode was done before the World Wide Web—and the ability to
just pop on to the IMDB and get your cast information
straight—existed. My sense is that Best Brains’s entire
movie research department, at that time, consisted of a dog-eared
copy of the Leonard Maltin Movie Guide—which would have given
them the correct name of the “Catalina Caper” actor,
had they bothered to consult it.
• Several times during the short, when a character
refers to the “strange prisoners” or “strange
captives” J&tB respond with “…weeeeird
prisoners…” and “…weeeeird
captives…”. For those wondering what that’s
about, it’s reference to the early Marx Brothers movie
“Animal Crackers.” In it, Groucho briefly parodies the
trance-like intonations used in the monologues that are the gimmick
in Eugene O’Neill’s play “Strange
Interlude” (which was playing down the street when
“Animal Crackers” was a Broadway musical). Aren’t
you sorry you asked?
• Whoa! A somewhat startling reference to future Vice
President Dick Cheney. I forgot he was SecDef when this episode was
• This installment of Undersea Kingdom is largely people
running and riding around. It doesn’t really advance the plot
• In segment 1, Crow’s little commercial for
pepper sounds like a lot like the ones Garrison Keillor does (used
to do? I haven’t listened in a while…) on his St.
Paul-based radio show “A Prairie Home Companion.” I
wonder if it’s an homage or just a coincidence.
• Props to Jef Maynard and the rest of the props team
for the parade in segment 1. Very cool.
• As segment 1 ends, Crow says “I’m just
going to step into this doorway,” a reference to Les Nessman
in the famous “Turkey Drop” episode of “WKRP in
• J&tB get mighty cranky during the incredibly
static car conversation. Maybe I’m just hardened off to
boring movie scenes, but it doesn’t seem that bad to me.
• They still make Old Smuggler. From one who knows.
• The cop-donut thing is funny, but by my count there
were only three of them in this episode. Doesn’t seem like
Joel overdid it to me…
• Another overtly religious remark from Joel:
“…only millions of Christians…”
• This movie offers extensive footage of the
trolley, a popular (and, in 2001, deadly) L.A. tourist
• Lon must have loved this role—there were hardly
any lines to learn.
• Try to not blink as long as the witness lady goes
without blinking. It’s tough!
• Fans of Joel got about as close as they’re ever
going to get to their hero in segment 3. You can count the pores!
• As the bots try to distract Joel, Crow makes licking
noises and Joel exclaims “Somebody’s licking me!”
Who knew Crow had a tongue?
• The routine Tom and Crow fall into at the end of
segment 3 is from “Sidehackers.” That they are still
going on about it a season and a half later is amazing.
• Obscure ref: “I’m Dickens, he’s
Fenster” – the name of a very short-lived 60s TV
series. Also, Tom refers to “that Crazy Glue
demonstration,” a reference to an all-but-forgotten TV
commercial in which an actor playing a construction worker Crazy
Glues his hardhat to the bottom of a girder and then hangs from it.
• Gypsy’s a notary?
• Mike and Kevin are great as the cops in the final
segment—that scene also provided a wonderful poopie moment,
with Mike and Frank cracking each other up.
• This week’s mysterious credit: Additional
Contributing Writer–David Sussman.
• Fave riffs: “Alright, gather round everybody,
lots to see, show’s just startin’” and Detective
in movie: “You wanted me?” Joel: “For
years!!” There’s also something incredibly silly about
“Pollixfen, for your den-fen-tures….”
That’s about three levels away from an actual joke, but
it’s still funny.
Last modified on 2008-03-06 13:02:10
First shown: 8/22/92
Opening: Crow and Tom run away (briefly)
Invention exchange: DEEP HURTING!, super freak-out kit
Host segment 1: The amazing BOOBY trap illusion
Host segment 2: Newly muscular Crow and Tom consider tough
Host segment 3: Song: “Pants!”
End: Wayne Rogers syndrome, letters
Stinger: Old guy gets skewere
• This is, for me, the funniest of the sword-and-sandal
movie episodes, and an all-around great episode.
• Joel seems to have let his goatee grow out since last
• “Deeeeeeep hurting!” (and, to a lesser
extent, “saaaaaannndstoooorrrmmm”) became an immediate
catchphrase and it’s still being used by longtime fans. By
the way it’s a reference to a commercial for a nostrum called
“Deep Heating Rub.” I don’t think
the actual commercial they were parodying, but you get the idea.
• Ya gotta love “Wishbone Ash” Frank’s
• For your edification, Daddy-O reports that while the
title and the dubbing refer to our hero as Hercules, in the
original Italian he is Maciste (aka “My cheesesteak”).
The strongman character has a long history: he originated in the
1914 Italian movie “Cabiria” and was resurrected when
sword-and-sandal epics suddenly became very popular in the late
1950s. Because American audiences were unfamiliar with Maciste, the
title character’s name was usually changed to Atlas, Colossus
(as in “Colossus and the Headhunters,” although nobody
calls him that in the movie), Goliath, Hercules or Samson.
• Obscure riff: “The Mighty Flavog!” A
character invented for The Muppets’ very brief stint on
Saturday Night Live, more than 30 years ago.
• Love the “pizza-pizza” stuff. A reference
to popular commercials for the Little Caesars pizza restaurant
should give you an idea of what was going on.
• I always enjoy the bit where some character in the
movie has a long speech with odd little pauses and Tom tries to get
a word in edgewise, as he does here when the old guy talks.
• During segment one, the walls of the amazing BOOBY
trap illusion swing rather freely… Not really very
threatening. It’s a very “meta” bit, essentially
a joke about a joke.
• Callbacks: Trumpy, you’re angry! (Pod People);
I’m a Grimault warrior! (Viking Women); You told me a
fabricated story… (The Unearthly); It was after the
apocalypse. They had to get to the power station… (Robot
• Mildly naughty moment: “Guys, I am so homesick
• The first time I saw this I was floored when they
referenced this ancient TV commercial for “
Mustang” that I had completely forgotten about until that
moment. What horse do!
• Although Tom’s body rejected his muscle-man arms
in segment 2, his old arms are back as he reenters the theater.
• During the brawl on screen, J&tB do a terrific
version of the “Star Trek” fight music. Harmony and
• Segment three features one of my favorite MST3K songs:
“Pants!” Even Frank gets into it! (This segment also
gave us a couple of great poopie moments.)
• When the sandstorm scene finally arrives, it
definitely is pretty punishing. It’s the sort of thing that
might have gotten the movie rejected. What can you riff on when
essentially nothing is happening in the movie for minutes at time?
But the geniuses at MST3K found a way, and it’s a great
example of turning a liability into an asset. Instead of ruining
the episode, that section is one of the highlights.
• Joel actually uses the term “riffing”
several times, something he didn’t do a lot.
• In the discussion of the movie at the end of the
episode, J&tB speak of the movie as if it was a direct sequel
to the movie they watched a couple of episodes back, but really the
two aren’t related at all.
• Somebody mentions Gaines Burgers, which you
don’t really see in the stores any more. Since I seem to
linking to commercials on youtube a lot this time around,
what they’re talking about.
• Fave riffs: Meet Sammy SPEAR and his orchestra! Also:
Joel: Jiffy Pop’s done. Tom: And I don’t care! And:
Don’t make me laugh, Woodsy Owl!
Last modified on 2008-03-13 18:22:10
First shown: 8/29/92
Opening: Joel is a caricature artist
Invention exchange: Big gulp berets, designer bio-hazard
absorbent throw pillows
Host segment 1: Rathbones dog biscuits
Host segment 2: J&TB don medieval costumes, but Tom ruins
Host segment 3: Song: “Estelle”
End: Words you can’t say on TV, letter, TV’s
Frank’s not looking good
Stinger: Estelle’s two-headed assistant
• [chuckle. chuckle. chuckle.] Yo, yo, yo dawgs, check this
out. This one was just okay for me. Basil Rathbone is a little bit
pitchy in places, and I don’t think Gary Lockwood went all
out like we know he can, and… oh. I’m terribly sorry.
It’s just that when I started to write about this episode, I
began to feel like a mildly disappointed Randy Jackson commenting
on a less than successful effort by an American Idol wannabe. This
episode has it’s moments, but it’s not a favorite.
• In the opening bit, Trace and Kevin must have been
crouching in front of the SOL set. Probably uncomfortable.
• Maili Nurma, aka Vampira, who pops up briefly as an
enchantress/hag recently passed away.
• Nice cartoon sound effect as the needle is removed
from Frank’s neck.
• I love the phrase “criminally-priced spring
• One of the funniest moments is when Dr. F. gets all
S&M on us: “Beg me to do the invention exchange! No!
Well, okay…” For those of you who don’t get
it…when you’re older.
• Frank is a riot in his little skit. “Dr. Clayton
Forrester, I love you!”
• One thing I’ll say for about this episode, it
answers at last the question of who Merritt Stone
is…he’s the guy who plays “King Grady.”
• Callbacks: “Hey, it’s the Undersea
Kingdom…” “I say it’s foggy!” (The
first line of the the first movie they did in a national episode,
“The Crawling Eye.”) “I’m so sleepy I can
barely keep awake!” (The Hercmeister). “…Happy
king…” (Mr B Natural).
• Somebody mentions a “Jane Fonda video.”
It’s been more than 20 years since she’s made one, so a
lot of people may not remember that Fonda
was once the
queen of exercise and fitness videos.
• As they head out of the theater toward segment 1, they
start talking about the host segment they’re about to do. I
like when they do that. Adds continuity.
• Great reference: “They’re packed with bits
of Nigel Bruce!”
• Note the LOTR reference before LOTR references
• My copy of this episode comes from 1995 (it features a
“Batman Forever” commercial :::shudder:::). This
week’s annoying commercial: o/` “SAIL AWAY!” o/`
for Becks beer.
• Crow’s song is easily a highlight, though I
confess I like Tom’s list of people better looking than
Estelle ever better.
• Alas, Crow’s love was not to be. Estelle, sadly,
died in 1984.
• Richard Keil is among the various
“pinhead” henchmen, the first of three appearances in
• Joel mentions Ashwebenon High, his alma mater.
• Isn’t the end of the final segment pretty much
where we were the last time we saw Dr. Erhardt?
• This week’s mysterious credit: Special thanks to
Mark Gilbertson, whoever that is.
• Fave riff: “Just came to freak you out,
Last modified on 2008-03-20 00:43:54
First shown: 9/12/92
Opening: Gypsy wants to watch the movie and Joel agrees
Invention exchange: The lawn baby, the womb-mate
Host segment 1: “Good-natured” brawling
Host segment 2: Crow’s “history” of
Host segment 3: The bots’ lame Hercules action figure
End: Laying the Hercules movies to rest, letter, Frank being
chased by mower
Stinger: “Hercules! Help me!”
• This is a sneaky episode. I remember not liking it and
thinking it’s the least funny of the sword-and-sandal
outings, but on this viewing I warmed to it quite a bit. And
I’d forgotten that it includes the classic line: “Today
is dedicated to Uranus.”
• And I’d also forgotten that this is the landmark
episode in which Gypsy watches a portion of the movie along with
J&tB. Joel’s confidence in Gypsy is admirable, but
let’s note for the record that, sadly, Crow and Tom’s
instincts were correct. Gypsy is not down with the street.
• As we tune into Deep 13, Frank is noisily singing the
“I sing whenever I sing whenever I sing” song from
“Giant Gila Monster.”
• Joel says “Zatharatu” when he means to say
Zarathustra. They keep going.
• Despite all the hoopla to the contrary, this is NOT
the last of the Hercules movies.
• As Tom sagely notes: “This would really be
exciting if I knew what was goin’ on.” All the
excitement about Gypsy in the theater takes place when the movie
tries to set up the plot, with the result that I never did really
figure out what the heck is going on in this movie. Part of it has
to do with the strange plot break that takes place after the first
commercial. Before the commercial, there are portents of danger and
Herc is tossin’ thrones around. After the break, Herc wakes
up on a ship and everybody is smirking silently at him. The heck?
Then there’s something about Atlantis and girls inn rocks and
I don’t know what all.
• Does this story resemble any actual ancient tale? Was
there ever a King Androcles (with or without a lion)?
• Gypsy’s riff: “They’re
steam-cleaning the horses!” delights J&tB. Eh, not bad.
Of her few riffs, I actually like “Oh, they’ve got a
fun friend” better.
• By my count, Gypsy lasts 5 and a half minutes. Sheesh,
Gypsy, these sword-and-sandal things are among the more watchable
movies MST did! What a lightweight!
• Gypsy exits left. A few other chracters have exited or
entered this way. Where does that exit lead? And how do they eat
• Firesign Theatre reference: “…The Golden
• Crow falls apart almost immediately during the
good-natured brawling. Trace rolls with it brilliantly.
• I never noticed before that, a couple of times, they
do a needle drop on that musical sting that I think was originally
composed for “This Island Earth” and that I’ve
heard in a lot of Universal movies.
• Crow goes a bit overboard with the “I have my
rights! It was Callahan!” bit. (For those who don’t
know, it’s a reference to the movie “Dirty
Harry.”) He does it five times by my count, practically every
time the little guy in the movie has a line.
• Callback: “Hurry, Diana!” (Undersea
• My copy, from 1995, included the little
“facts” about the movie as the commercial breaks ended.
Two of them are only tangentally related to this movie–they
discuss other actors who also played Hercules. Thin gruel.
• That’s Frank as the voice of the action figure
when he says “I’m so sleepy…” but the
final comment is by Mike. Wonder why they didn’t just have
one of them do all the comments?
• Fave riff: Dear lord, the canary exploded!
Last modified on 2008-03-27 02:02:21
First shown: 9/19/92
Opening: Tom Servo is color blind!
Invention exchange: Beanbag pants, recycled paper clothing
Host segment 1: The bots are playing soap opera, but Joel
Host segment 2: Space modifiers
Host segment 3: A visit from Winkie on the Hexfield
End: Crow is Joel’s guitar, Tom is the amp, letter, the
Mads are stuck in their bean bag chairs
Stinger: Space traitor tosses a chair
• I don’t know about where you are, but where I
am, a rather nasty strain of upper-respiratory infection is
incapacitating vast swaths of the citizenry and last week I got it,
or it got me, or whatever. I watched this flat on my back in bed,
every so often making that quavery moaning noise that invalids
make, and periodically laughing, followed by a series of horrible
hacking coughs. So maybe it was my condition, but this this episode
didn’t do a lot for me, mostly because both the dreary short
and the dull, repetitive movie just sort of sat on my head (or my
chest). I mean, is the spaceship on THIS pad, or is it on the THAT
pad, zzzzzzz. Again, I may not have been the best judge.
• Where is Joel pouring that liquid when he is pouring
it on Crow? Is it trickling down Trace’s arm?
• I love how, in the short, the doc tells his patient
that his treatment for her apparently minor condition is TWO WEEKS
in the hospital. How times have changed.
• When John “Dr. Hardy” Beradino appears,
Joel says “Wow, he was old even then!” Beradino was in
his mid-40s when that scene was shot. Wonder if Joel would still
make that joke? I know
• As Daddy-O notes: “The syndicated
television series ROCKY JONES, SPACE RANGER lasted only one season,
because it lost a considerable amount of money. It was the first
space opera to be shot on film, (which is why it survives so well
today) and had huge overhead costs (sets, special effects, large
cast) compared to other shows of the early 1950s. The show was
popular with the viewing public and had no lack of advertising
sponsors, but it became evident during its first season that it
would probably never break even.” Hard to believe those were
EVER bank-breaking special effects…
• Funny inside bit: Crow notices that the planet on the
video screen looks like the MST3K logo and Joel mutters
“You’re not supposed to know about that!” But why
shouldn’t Crow know about it? In season 3, Joel says that the
Mads “sell the results” of the experiments “to
cable TV.” Did he think Crow didn’t hear that?
• Something about this episode seemed to push a lot of
“Thunderbirds” buttons for the cast: they mention it a
couple of times and Crow says “Scott Tracy!” at one
• During segment one, Crow mentions
“mo-go-on-the-go-go-go” a W.C. Fields reference which
we can now be pretty certain came from Frank, since he goes on at
some length about it
• Nice reminder that Cambot is there at the end of
segment 1. We sometimes forget but they seldom did.
• Callback: “I told you to find adventure not
bring it home with you!” (City Limits); I’m a Grimault
warrior! (Viking Women)
• I love that the movie feels it’s necessary to
spend several minutes in a rather painstaking explanation of what
an “orbit” is.
• Date reference: “What’s your
position?” “Leaning towards Perot?” Wow that was
a long time ago.
• Somebody says, “What is this, Radio Oz?”
I’m proud of the fact that I get a lot of references, but
this is apparently outside of my ken. Can somebody fill me in?
• This week’s annoying commercial: “THANK
YOU, MR. SHEIK!” Surprisingly I couldn’t find it on the
intartubes. When he yelled “I’d use ‘em all the
time!” a lot of viewers wondered “How likely is that,
• I had the same reaction to segment 2 this time that
I’ve had in the past: “Did they really say
that much? I can’t remember them doing it even
• Movie complaint: Winkie says “the ship
won’t land on its tail” and then it does. Several
times. What the?
• At the end, Crow has an acid-flashback to episode 310-
FUGITIVE ALIEN, precisely 26 episodes ago, to be exact.
• Mike is a scream as Winkie and why is it that Frank
always gets the little old lady parts?
• Um, Joel can call Earth? (I know, I know…)
• Fave riff: “I’m already sorry,
Last modified on 2008-04-03 00:52:18
First shown: 9/26/92
Opening: The bots hide in a ventilation duct
Invention exchange: Aunt Catherine wheel, drinking jacket
Host segment 1: Joel is stuck in ventilation duct, Crow and
Tom are no help
Host segment 2: Throwing pop singers from a lighthouse
Host segment 3: Crow and Tom pretend to be headless ghosts
but Joel has the last laugh
End: J&TB are depressed so they think happy thoughts, and
Stinger: “Tom Stewart killed me!”
• “This is one dark mama-jama of a movie,” Joel
says toward the end, and, wow, is it ever. It’s also kinda
dull for the first half, although the weirdness overwhelms the
blandness in the second half. It’s not my favorite episode,
partly because the movie almost seems to WANT Tom Stewart to get
away with murdering the grasping, brassy Vi. It’s creepy.
• Apparently Cambot is leaning WAY over the desk to
shoot Joel in the opening.
• That’s definitely Mike as “The Aunt
Catherine Wheel” and “Uncle Carl,” and it sounds
like the same voice as “Grammy Fisher” and “Aunt
Ethel” but who is it? Trace, maybe?
• I have a special fondness for the “drinking
jacket” invention—I created my own and wore it in the
costume contest at the second convention.
• There actually is a
Theater. It’s in Washington State.
• Sadly the “Spalding, old man!” joke is not
so funny now.
• I’m not an expert on men’s calves but
certain people of the female persuasion have expressed agreement
with Crow’s assessment. Any thoughts on Joel’s calves?
• How did they manage to have Joel suspended above the
set in segment 1? Did they string some sort of sling up in the
• This episodes overused joke: “Sessions
presents…” Once or twice, okay, but they really beat
it to death.
• That being said, between the “Sessions
presents…” riffs and segment 2, there was quite a lot
of pop music being discussed in this episode.
• After segment 2, Joel is so excited he playfully
tosses Tom as they reenter the theater (Kevin is in position to
catch him). Tom doesn’t seem to mind.
• Crow goofs: The snack bar chef is NOT Merritt Stone.
That’s Gene Roth. But Stone IS in the movie: he’s the
clergyman who marries Tom and his bride.
• Call back: “Charles Moffett…” (Ring
• Joel suggests this is more depressing than hanging in
a bar talking to Neil Young. Why is talking to Neil Young
depressing? He seems like a pretty cheerful guy.
• If this episode has a highlight for me, it’s the
hilarious “happy thoughts song”, including
Frank’s verse at the end. Great stuff.
• During the song, Tom Servo’s head falls off.
They keep going.
• Fave riff: Honey, I’m ho-o-o-o-o-o-oh, yeah,
Last modified on 2008-04-11 02:39:17
First shown: 11/26/92
Opening: A uncharacteristically mean Joel
dominates the bots in a game of rock-paper-scissors
Invention exchange: Troll costumes, pocket pool
Host segment 1: Either you are or aren’t a
Host segment 2: The bots’ slumber party gets
a call from Tony Travis!
Host segment 3: Servo stars in a dramatization of
the life of a 50s rock star
End: Crow and Tom go nuts, letter, Mads are a
Stinger: Moon gets hysterical
• This episode debuted on the Turkey Day 1992 marathon, and
was the first new episode to air in two months.
• As noted, Joel is uncharacteristically mean in the
opening! Anybody who says Joel was always a father figure to the
bots should watch this sketch. (Although he reminds me a bit of MY
father a little.) Thankfully, GYPSY CRUSHES JOEL! and we have a
• That’s Mary Jo as Magic Voice, for the first
time, I think.
• Naughty line: “You got a snooker down
• Fave riff in the short: “This is Pete in props.
Don’t eat the cake.”
• During the short, J&TB do probably their best
“commercial” for the Booze Council, featuring the
classic line: “Booze takes a dull party and makes it
• My recording of this episode is from August of
’93 and features those annoying commedials for the
“premature” fall season (which I’d completely
forgotten about) as well as commercial for one of the zillions of
short-lived Comedy Central shows, “Everything You Need to
Know” with an embarrassed-looking Christopher Hitchens. Also
annoying: that was the era of Burger King’s reprehensivle
“BKTV” spots, featuring the irritating catchphrase
“I LOVE this place!” It’s a good thing they make
• Callback: “Rock candy baby you’re mine,
• You can hear director/scriptwriter Paul Frees (the
voice of Boris Badenov) introducing Eddie when he makes his first
• One of the funniest things about this episode is that
all Eddie’s songs have these giant gaps after each line of
lyrics, allowing J&TB to insert a riff after every one.
• In segment 2, Tom is wearing what looks like clay on
his cheeks. Supposed to be a mud pack or something I guess.
• That’s Mike, of course, as the voice of Tony
Travis. “If you’re a bill collector or if you’re
with the military…”
• In segment 3, Crow’s wig falls off. They keep
• One of the weirdest things about this movie is the
casting of the hatchet-faced Joyce Terry (aka “Donald
Sutherland in drag”) as Helen, a character that is supposed
to tempt Eddie away from the dim-witted, co-dependent Iris, but
it’s hard to understand what Eddie could possibly see in her.
• I need to check my ACEG but I seem to recall that
“Everything he touched, he destroyed” is supposedly an
in-joke by Frank, a reference to something he once said to his
brother or vice versa. Somebody will correct me, I’m sure.
• The letter they read at the end is from a kid who got
in trouble for calling his mom a “dickweed.” J&TB
correctly note that it is NOT a swear word and they’re right
… but you still shouldn’t call your mom a dickweed.
• Fave riff: Dish of ice cream! Don’t tempt
Last modified on 2008-04-17 10:57:33
First shown: 11/26/92
Opening: During a posture check, Timmy the dark Crow appears!
Invention exchange: Big checkbook, junk food sports shoe
Host segment 1: Double entendres
Host segment 2: Joel explains universal switches, but Timmy
Host segment 3: Joel defeats Timmy in a battle to the death
End: Lessons learned, letter, Timmy in Deep 13
Stinger: It’s a secret passage miracle!
• This was the second of two new episodes shown on
Thanksgiving Day, 1992.
• What a great, great episode, featuring the truly
inspired “dark Timmy” host segments. The Brains rarely
gave us a complete story arc within an episode, and this is one of
the funniest and most creative attempts. Witty and captivating all
the way through.
• As for the movie…You know, in the theme song
when they talk about “cheesy movies” this is pretty
much the epitome of what they’re talking about.
• Of course, for the one or two people who don’t
know, Timmy is the Crow they use in the theater, painted black to
make a nicer silhouette. But are they using two black Crows in the
theater when Timmy arrives? I can’t really see a difference
in the silhouettes.
• Callbacks: opening segment from the “Posture
Pals” short in 320- The Unearthly. Joel says
“tenperature” in segment 2, a callback to
• Is “I prayed for a friend and he came”
from something? It sounds familiar. Twilight Zone, maybe?
• I wonder who art directed the costumes and set pieces
in the blackout scenes after Timmy commandeers the twin screw
controller. The images are wonderfully surrealistic.
• I love Frank’s totally blank expression when
they first cut to Deep 13.
• I guess with the holiday season approaching
“It’s a Wonderful Life” was on their
minds—not only do they make references to it during the movie
(when the movies shows the starfield) but Frank and Dr. F
approximate a scene from it during the giant checkbook bit.
• Dopey movie moment: When they first encounter the girl
being molested by the monster, the astronauts are at least 75 yards
away and the girl is standing RIGHT next to the monster, but one of
them calmly levels his revolver and shoots in their direction.
He’s either a REEEEALLY good shot or incredibly reckless. Or
he’s in a cheesy movie. Sheesh.
• That’s Jef Maynard running Timmy. In those days
he tended to be their go-to guy when they needed somebody else in
the puppet trench; later it was Pat Brantseg.
• Servo applauds several times in the theater. How does
he do that with inoperable arms? (I know, I know.)
• Timmy enters the theater between segments two and
three. When they come back from commercial he can’t be seen,
but then he slowly reappears and then starts to creep over to
attack Tom. This is one of only
times someone or something other than Joel, Mike, Tom and Crow
enter the theater.
• As Tom is attacked, Joel says “You didn’t
tell us Tommy was in here…” He meant
“Timmy.” They keep going.
• My copy is from the holiday season of ‘95.
Annoying commercial: The Nissan Pathfinder ad where the voice says
“She will try to drown you. She will try to freeze
you…” Fortunately with an SUV like the Pathfinder YOU
can kill Mother Nature before she kills you!
• Dated reference: The then-controversial, now mostly
forgotten book “Final Exit.”
• Fave riff: “Thank you, that’ll be
First shown: 11/28/92
Opening: Crow is selling true grit
Invention exchange: Sugary Deep 13 toothpaste, rock &
Host segment 1: Song: “The Gypsy Moons”
Host segment 2: John Banner-grams
Host segment 3: J&TB read through Crow’s latest
screenplay: a space opera
End: Letter, John Banner visits on the Hexfield; then the SOL
sends Deep 13 a Banner-gram
• A lot of folks love this one. It has a lot going for it
besides the aggressive geniality of John Banner. This is the most
bearable of the three GH segments and its also the most fun of the
Rocky Jones outings, so it’s basically watchable to start
with. Combine that with pretty decent host segments and some strong
riffing and you’ve got a winner.
• The 1992 Turkey Day marathon was over, but this was
the third new episode in four days. MSTies had a wonderful weekend.
• I remember seeing ads in comic books when I was a kid
trying to get me to sell Grit. But I’ve never seen it on news
stands or anything.
It’s still around. Is it a
• Dr. F’s invention is extra evil this week.
Conversely, Joel’s doesn’t look that well-put-together.
• Nice to see they called an unofficial moratorium on
“Oh, is the great [name here] going to direct?” riff.
Funny back in season two, but…
• I love Crow’s riff: “Orbit? What does that
mean?” a reference to the painful explanation of what an
orbit is in a previous Rocky Jones episode.
• My copy is from early in 1995. Annoying commercial:
Estelle Harris and Jerry Stiller, cashing in on their roles from
“Seinfeld,” screeching at each other in an AT&T ad.
“I’m sicka da circles!”
• Callback: “Yew and yor dawtah aw doomt!”
• Great song, which unfortunately ends with a now-dated
Yow. Another dated reference: “Say the secret word and Bill
Cosby rips off your show.” I’d totally forgotten Bill
Cosby’s miserable attempt to revive “You Bet Your
• Firesign Theatre reference: “He’s not your
• Dumb movie question: The space station doesn’t
have any ability to propel itself? Not even some little thruster
rockets? Seems like a design flaw.
• Occasionally you pick up a new word from these movies.
I’d never heard of a “
• Is it just me or is Cleolanta kinda hot? Headstrong
and evil, sure, but still, rrowr.
• It just hit me this time why the symbol of
Bavaro’s world is a lightning bolt–cause the planet has
lightning a lot of the time. I never made the connection before.
• Satellite News’ Erhardt, dressed as Bavaro,
introduced this episide in the 1993 Turkey Day bumpers.
• I like Tom Servo beak moving as he reads over
Joel’s shoulder. Mike is so klandinto as John Banner! Hi,
• Fave riff: “Horowitz is visibly
First shown: 12/5/92
Opening: Crow and Tom quickly go through their
“best friends” stage
Invention exchange: Router Ouija board, funny gag
Host segment 1: Tom wants to make out (but he
Host segment 2: Tribute to Earl Holliman!
Host segment 3: The Rip Taylor Trio!
End: The case against the film-makers (they just
didn’t care!); Larry Buchanan visits Deep 13
Stinger: Greasy drifter in sweater dress on the
• I’d say this is a sort of middling episode for me.
A lot of fun stuff, but not a standout. Kinda hit and miss.
• Doesn’t it seem like this episode ought to have
• Crow’s arm (which was apparently taped to Tom)
comes off during the opening. They keep going.
• This movie, believe it or not, is (with some minor
changes) a scene-for-scene, line-for-line remake of a movie called
“Invasion of the Saucer Men.” It also stinks. Larry
Buchanan did a number of these remakes for AIP.
• Do you think the presence of somebody (or some THING)
named Ethan Allen in the credits sparked the idea for the
• For those who don’t know, the double THE in the
movie title occurred when the movie was re-released. It was
originally titled just “The Eye Creatures.” Somebody
decided to jazz up the title and slapped ATTACK OF THE on the title
card, not noticing that there was already a THE. They just
• Dated reference: “It’s Larry, Darryl and
Darryl” referring to the then-beloved trio on the old
“Newhart” TV series. Also: A reference to
now-largely-forgotten tree hugger (and eater)
• Required answer: Who’s ickier, the
“I’m gonna walk off my great expectations”
drifters or the “I’m looking! I’m looking!”
military peeping toms? Show your work.
• Wow, it turns out that MST3K invented
Tom breaks into a chorus of “Never Gonna Give You Up,”
at one point.
• Joel kinda has to lean over the puppet trench to
smooch Servo, but he covers well.
• Literary reference: Joel invokes Ignatius Riley from
John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel
“Confederacy of Dunces.” I PRESUME everybody in this
audience has read it. If you haven’t, go and do so before
Lady Fortuna spins the wheel of your destiny downward. You will not
• My copy of this episode is from the late summer of
1995. Amusing commercial: the one for this new thing you can get
for your computer called America Online! “My kid gets help
with his homework!”
• The Earl Holliman sketch is silly and pointless, but I
do like the line “…who would have been William Shatner
had there not already been one.” How true that is.
• Call back: “….sing whenever I sing
whenever I…” (Giant Gila Monster)
• I used to love
when I was kid. Glad to know he still with us.
• This is another episode taped during the “MST3K
Countdown” that featured those odd little ten-second bumpers
with facts about the movie etc. And this one had another lame
installment: it reports an message from a supposed conductor who
heard a character talk about playing six pianos and wondered why
they didn’t do a riff about composer Steven Reich. Yeesh,
they were really scraping.
• Mike scores again as “Larry Buchanan.”
• Fave riff: And don’t be alarmed if it suddenly
becomes 2 in the afternoon.
First shown: 12/12/92
Opening: Joel has something really scary to read
to the bots at bedtime
Invention exchange: Quick primp kit, abstract
Host segment 1: “Co-starring with Scott
Baio” acting lessons
Host segment 2: What to do during a four-hour
layover in Chicago
Host segment 3: Writing workshop using the Merritt
End: “Who is Merritt Stone?”
(Tom’s head explodes), Frank hopelessly confused
Stinger: “I am bugged!”
• This is the beginning of a stretch of good to really
excellent episodes, with everybody on the staff firing on all
cylinders. The riffing of the short is classic, and it carries over
into the movie. The movie itself is pretty static and dull in the
first half, but finally gets going once the robbery starts, giving
them plenty to riff on.
• The opening segment offers the Brains’ take on
some trendy books of the day, particularly “Life’s
Little Instruction Book,” (which I had never heard of when I
initially saw this show). A decade and a half later, it is
• The quick primp kit is a favorite invention exchange
of mine, including Frank’s “ayyyy!”
• What a great short and despite Joel’s
admonition, they get plenty dark…you know, the way we like
• As a side note: I exchanged emails Charles Pachter,
who at the age of 4 played little Johnny (he has only vague
memories of the whole thing) and who now is a fairly prominent
Toronto artist. He had heard about the MSTed version of the movie,
but had never seen it, so I sent him a copy. He never wrote back,
so maybe he didn’t appreciate it…
• I love the little record player they use in segment 1;
and that’s Mike’s voice, of course, as Scott
• Scott Baio, thanks to his recent reality show work, is
NOT a dated reference.
• What would YOU do with a four-hour layover in Chicago?
(Although if it’s a plane layover, it would take you two
hours to get into town from O’Hare and two to get back,
so…) Me, I think I’d take the architecture boat tour
of the Chicago River and note how the structures of so many of the
buildings tend to draw my eyes upward…
• I was glad to see they kept the “Get
Smart” jokes to a minimum, though that’s fairly
typical. They don’t like to beat one reference to
• Dated reference: “Bizzare” with John
• Mildly naughty riff: “Wow, really got up
• Alright, let’s settle this once and for all.
Tom’s right, he’s not Merritt Stone. He’s Gene
Roth. Although they do whole Merritt Stone thing in this episode,
Stone is NOT in this movie. As Daddy-O
us: Dark, slender and gaunt Merritt Stone played the
spider-eaten dad Pete Flynn in 313- EARTH VS. THE SPIDER; a
clergyman in 414- TORMENTED; an uncredited part as a consoling cop
near the end of 319- WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST and the King Grady
in 411- THE MAGIC SWORD. Looking like Nick Nolte’s father,
portly, baggy-eyed Gene Roth played the sheriff in both 313- EARTH
VS. THE SPIDER and 406- ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES and the lunch
cart guy in 414- TORMENTED, as well as a railroad conductor in this
movie. Handsome, avuncular Jack Kosslyn portrayed a lieutenant in
309- THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN; the KTLA newscaster in 319- WAR OF
THE COLOSSAL BEAST; Fraser in 313- EARTH VS. THE SPIDER; and, under
a lot of makeup, the ogre in 411-THE MAGIC SWORD. There,
• Can anybody tell me what that’s a picture of on
the Rhino DVD face? It looks like a pizza to me…how that
relates to the movie I have no idea.
• Fave riff: Jiminy, thinks Johnny, if only could get a
ride in one of those…
First shown: 12/26/92
Opening: The bots have suggestions for ways they
could be improved.
Invention exchange: The Mads have the sillies, beanie chopper, the William Conrad fridge alert
Host segment 1: Craft project: spaceships made
from household items
Host segment 2: Tom Servo duplicates
himself–many times over!
Host segment 3: A grumpy Hugh Beaumont revisits on
End: Coming out of the robot closet, William
Conrad shows up
Stinger: Duplicates cracking up as they choke each
• I said last week that this was the beginning of a stretch
of good to very good episodes. but I forgot about this speed bump
on the road to those goodies. This movie isn’t really bad,
just boring and a little out there. Doesn’t give them much to
work with. Pretty good host segments, though!
• I’m sure “the sillies” is an
approximation of many moments on the set. I wonder how much of the
laughter we see is genuine?
• Anybody have any suggestions about how you could be
improved? That fin Gypsy mentioned sounded pretty good…
• In a “Simpsons” episode called
“Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy,” which came out two
years after this episode, Homer says: “Dad, how come you
never gave me any encouragement? Maybe I could have been something
more than I am. Like a travel agent to a great scientist, or the
inventor of a hilarious refrigerator alarm.” Can that be
anything but a reference to this invention exchange?”
• Callback: “I’m a grimaldi warrior!”
(Viking Women) “Knew your father, I did!” (Mr. B
Natural) “To think like the hu-man!” (Robot Monster)
• Trace built that SOL model shown in segment one; it
spent a lot of time sitting in a corner of the studio. To my
knowledge he has not, as of this date, put lighter fluid on it and
burned it in the driveway.
• I love segment 2. How did they control them all?
However they did it, they really created a sense of each one moving
• My copy is from May of 1996. How do I know? It has a
commercial for the “Laserblast” episode and for the
showing if Joel’s “TV Wheel”! Cool!
• Annoying commercial: The Becks beer “SAAAAIL
AWAAAAAY” spots. Sail away and take that adulterated weasel
pee with you.
• Dated reference: “Oh did you see Madonna’s
book?” A reference to the singer’s
once-shocking-now-not-as-shocking nudie book “Sex.”
Sadly, “American Gladiators” is NOT the dated reference
it would have been a year ago…
• Hugh: “…resembling a human.” Joel:
“See David Geffen.” Ouch!
• Segment 3 is Mike’s second visit as Hugh; and of
course that’s Kevin as William Conrad.
• Fave riff: The boys did what? They duplicated Lumpy???
(partially it’s just the way Crow delivers the line).
Last modified on 2008-05-22 04:15:38
First shown: 1/9/93
Opening: America is leaning on cheese!
Invention exchange: Action figure contest: Johnny
Longtorso, non-violent action figures
Host segment 1: Gypsy “doesn’t
get” Crow (or is it Tom?)
Host segment 2: Joel and Servo play keep away from
Host segment 3: Examining “The Pina Colada
End: Joel knights Happy King Servo and Sir Giggles
von Laffsalot Crow
Stinger: Monster on the go-go
• A deservedly famous episode featuring a deservedly
infamous short and movie. Plenty for them to work with here.
• How could such a horrible movie have happened? As
us: Bill Rebane made some of the movie, but had run out of
money before it was completed. Meanwhile Herschell Gordon Lewis was
looking for a co-feature with his recently completed movie
“Moonshine Mountain,” and he needed it quickly.
“So he bought Rebane’s unfinished film, added a couple
scenes with new dialogue, and presto…a movie with no
continuity and no sense!”
• A hook falls off the peg board with a loud clang
during the Mads’ invention exchange. They keep going. And
there’s also a lovely crunch as Dr. F. steps toward the
camera, right onto the blister packs on the floor.
• Trace is hilarious as he introduces the movie, giving
us Dr. F at perhaps his most maniacal.
• Terrific riffing in the short, and Joel doesn’t
even try to keep them from getting too dark. The highlight is the
great “pink girls” song.
• What does “with a filbert nut” mean? Joel
sounds a little like Red Skelton when he says it. Is it a reference
• Segment 1 is rightly famous (it even
inspired a shirt). If you wanted to introduce the personalities
of all three robots to newbie, this would do it very well in just a
• Does ANYbody know what that song Crow is singing
(”hum-did-a-hee-hee…”) is from? It’s one
of the unsolved mysteries of this show (along with what
“it’s a hat party and mine is the grandest of
all” comes from).
• Joel opens a can of “pop” (or as normal
people call it, soda) in the theater! What a rebel!
• The workings of Tom’s hoverskirt are never
explained in detail, but in segment two we see a new use
• Is that a velcro ball Joel throws to Tom when they
return to the theater? Still, it’s a pretty good toss.
• Then-topical riff: “
• J&TB do a little of the Richard Kiel voice they
did a LOT in the last episode.
• When the movie ends up in what looks very much like
Chicago’s Lower Wacker Drive, they begin to rattle off some
great Chicago references, including McCormick Place and the Arie
• Fave riff: Narrator: There is one terrifying word in
the world of nuclear physics. Tom: “Oops.”
First shown: 1/16/93
Opening: Family picture time on the SOL
Invention exchange: Snack-tion, unhappy meals
Host segment 1: The bots have some ideas for clown acts
Host segment 2: So, what’s a sampo?
Host segment 3: Gypsy’s one-woman show: “Gypsy
End: The bots are imprisoned wind, letter
Stinger: “What’s going to happen to us
• As you might have guessed, this episode had a big effect
on me. For a long time it was my all-time favorite. Up until this
point, on the Prodigy MST3K boards I had just been “Chris in
Phila.” The night this was shown (or maybe the next day, I
forget), I officially announced that I was taking the handle Sampo,
and I’ve had it ever since.
• How do robots spit? I know, I know…
• The unhappy meals are truly an evil invention. I love
Dr. F’s Charles Nelson Reilly laugh as he describes them.
• Joel has to rein in the bots several of times on the
short, but then comes out with “a rogue elephant snaps its
tether and kills a cooley!” NOW who’s getting dark?
• The announcer says “pamalino horses.” The
• The circus in the short is never named, but it’s
the Clyde Beatty Circus.
• The acrobat is both
Speer. Both references are pretty out of the blue…
• As Daddy-O tells us, THE DAY THE EARTH FROZE
(originally titled “Sampo” but cheesily renamed to
trick American audiences into think it was sci-fi) was based on the
Kalevala, the national epic of Finland. (As an aside, J.R.R.
Tolkien was heavily influenced by the Kalevala, and his
“Silmarillion” was originally begun as an attempt to
create a sort of British Kalevala.)
• Russian director Alexsandr Ptushko is generally
recognized as a brilliant filmmaker. He also directed two other
movies that came to be MSTed, episode 505-THE MAGIC VOYAGE OF
SINBAD (originally “Sadko” [Finnish for
“Sinbad” – no, not really], which won the Silver
Lion Award at the 1953 Venice Film Festival); and 617-THE SWORD AND
THE DRAGON (originally “Ilya Muromets”). As Daddy-O
notes: “Those three films are a rare exception for MST3K: big
budget, great cinematography and beautifully made. Too bad some of
their luster was dimmed by the hasty script and dubbing of their
importing American producers.”
• The “Scandinavian sketch” is obviously
drawn from their personal experiences. What I find amusing is how
much those Minnesota accents sound like the accents of folks in the
Northeastern corner of Pennsylvania. There’s probably a
• As I noted in 1993 when I introduced this episode on
national TV during Turkey Day, the movie DOES explain what a sampo
is. J&TB are just in mid-riff when the explanation comes. I
wonder if they do that on purpose, just so they can do the
“what’s a sampo?” sketch?
• Local riff: “Mini golf at Crosslake.”
• My copy is from the ‘94 Turkey Day, but I
don’t know if it would be fair to do an “annoying
commercial” item since this ran at the ungodly hour of 4 a.m.
(Eastern and Pacific) so ALL the commercials are pretty low-rent
and annoying. Art instruction schools, Sally Struthers asking if I
want to make more money, stuff like that. Oh and I should note that
in his introduction, Adam West mistakenly says that this is
epsisode number 424.
• Callback: “I sing whenever I sing…”
• There are not one but two Ross Perot references in
this episode. I guess it counts as “then-topical” but I
would hope most people would remember who he is.
• Of course, one highlight is the classic
“failure” song. Joel even gets up to dance!
• Jim gives a real tour de force in “Gypsy Rose
• Tom gently joshes fellow Minnosota entertainer
Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion during the long,
tedious harp attack.
• Fave riff: “Great wedding. You get half a buzz
on and you’re sent home with a torch.”
Last modified on 2008-06-04 23:18:01
First shown: 1/23/93
Opening: Joel gets to see what Crow is dreaming…and
soon regrets it
Invention exchange: The tough love seat, microwave Faith
Host segment 1: “Hired!” the musical
Host segment 2: From the lame octopus to food monsters
Host segment 3: Willy the Waffle returns to defend
End: Cambot re-edits the ending of the movie, letter, the
Mads are playing Bela and Tor
Stinger: Bela has looked better
Okay, well, sha-la-la-la-la let’s live for today:
• I try not to overuse the already-overused word
“classic” but this is one. It’s got a wacky
short, an Ed Wood movie (probably his most competent, which
isn’t saying much) and we’ve all seen all that
backstory in the “Ed Wood” film. The host segments are
only fair but they’re certainly not awful, and the riffing is
• This show first aired three days after the beginning
of the Clinton administration. It was certainly made before then,
but probably after Bubba’s election, which allows Crow to
talk about “The Bush Administration” in the past tense
early in the short.
• Joel’s horrified, slightly nauseated take to the camera at the end of the opening is great.
• Then-topical: Faith Popcorn (though she would probably
disagree that she isn’t still topical;
• At what point were door-to-door car salesmen
discontinued? I never knew they existed before this short.
• “Hired, the Musical” is a lot of fun. I
especially like Joel’s pained takes to the camera when Gypsy
• Annoying commercials: My copy is from January, 1995
and it’s got those weird “Jack in the Box blowing up
the board room” commercials. It also has some fairly
hilarious commercials for The Sporting News, in which they attempt
to sell you a subscription on the quaint notion of not being able
to get out-of-town scores in your local paper. If only somebody
would invent the internet!
• Segment 2 is what the kids today call
“random.” I have a feeling it’s a slightly
stylized version of a actual conversation among the Brains.
• Okay, I’m trying to figure this one out. In this
movie, Bela does his classic “sleep” bit, complete with
the hand gesture. And yet the cast have been referencing it for at
least two seasons. Were they just making a reference to a movie
they assumed we’d seen? Is it in “Ed Wood” and
I’ve forgotten (it’s been years since I’ve seen
it)? What’s the deal?
• Crow references two elements of the classic
driver’s ed Smith System: “Hands at 10 and 2″ and
“watch your space cushion.” Can anybody name the other
• Tom Servo does a lovely
Flash Bazbo impression.
• The scene where the captain goes to see the file lady
who has a pencil behind her ear when shot from behind, and
doesn’t have one when she’s shot from the front,
brought back a great memory. I remember pointing it out to my
daughter, who was about six at the time, and I remember she found
it hilarious and asked me to rerun it over and over.
• The random segment 2 is followed by the complete
non-sequitur of segment 3. What does advertising have to do with
• Callback: Willy says “Knew your father I
did!” (Mr B Natural)
• It’s pronounced RAKE-yah-vik! As in: “One
day in Iceland can Reykjavik!”
• I wonder how many other military bases were showing
eps on their TV stations?
• Fave line: “Nobody’s kissin’ the
Last modified on 2008-06-12 01:47:57
First shown: 1/30/93
Opening: Joel programs the bots to agree with everything he
Invention exchange: Chocolate bunny guillotine, the cartuner
Host segment 1: Gypsy’s big scene is ruined, Frank
Host segment 2: Why Torgo is a monster
Host segment 3: Joel dons a Manos cape, Dr. F. apologizes
End: The bots reenact the lady wrestling scene, Torgo’s
Stinger: “Why don’t you guys leave us alone"
“You know, there are certain flaws in this
• Whatever other battle they study, every Civil War buff
has an opinion about Gettysburg. Whatever else they grow, every
gardener has an opinion about tomatoes. No matter which team they
root for, every baseball fan has an opinion about the Yankees. And
every MSTie has an opinion about “Manos: The Hands of
Fate.” So much has been written about this awful, awful movie
and this justly famous episode that it’s hard to make a fresh
observation, but here are a few thoughts.
• Paul Chaplin once noted that many MST3K movies are
“made by oily guys who elect to direct the camera largely on
themselves.” He was talking about TISCWSLABMUZ, but this is
another perfect example.
• At several MSTie parties I have attended where this
episode was screened, people handed out napkins, which people
unfolded and put on their heads at the moment ol’ Dad in the
short does so. Has anybody else done this, or do I just hang out
with weird people?
• The opening bit is great, and every fan of Joel has
felt a little like the programmed bots at one time or another. You
see this butt? Kick this butt.
• There’s a funny clank as chocolate bunny
guillotine falls. I’m guessing it’s the weight that
held the blade up falling to the floor somewhere off camera?
• The last issueance of The Cartooner isn’t really
that strange: It sounds pretty much like something Gary Larson
would have done (if he wasn’t afraid of getting sued by the
Bil Keane empire). God, I miss The Far Side…
• Joel seems a little touchy when Crow suggests this
might be a snuff film! Does Joel really know the limit of the sort
of evil the Mads might try?
• Stuff about the movie you may already know: The movie
was shot with a camera that could only shoot a small amount of film
at a time, making long, continuous takes impossible. Hence the
“dissolving to the same scene” Crow observes early on.
Also, the long pointless driving scene was supposed to have credits
supered on it, but Hal forgot.
• I had the pleasant opportunity a few years ago to
exchange emails with Hal Warren’s daughter, who told me that
her brother has worn the Master costume on several Halloweens and
that the painting of the Master adorned a wall of her home for many
years. What a wacky family!
• Joel’s looks of disgust and horror in segment
two are great.
• As I was watching segment 3, my wife wandered through
and said, “You should have worn THAT to the costume party at
one of the conventions. I could have made that.” I had to
break it to her that about 20 guys were wearing versions of the
• Then topical: “The Tasters Choice saga.”
Remember when people cared about THAT nonsense?
• That’s Mike, of course, in the first of several
appearances as Torgo. Let me just get your complementary crazy
• Fave riff: Yeah, here I go! Vroom!