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Episode Guide: 501- Warrior of the Lost World

Last modified on 2008-06-25 22:32:09 GMT.  73 commentsTop.

First shown: 7/24/93
Opening: Crow disrupts Servo’s formal welcome
Invention exchange: The square master, bittersweet hearts
Host segment 1: Hot slot bots!
Host segment 2: Trying to get a post-apocalyptic driving permit
Host segment 3: Things to do after the apocalypse
End: Phone call from Megaweapon, letter, the Mads enjoy an active lifestyle
Stinger: The Paper Chase Guy checkin’ out the babe
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

• This episode has its moments, I’ll give you that. The movie is all over the place, from the whiny, chipmunk-cheeked hero and his air-headed onboard computer to the squeaky spiders to guerilla leader Jimmy Carter-Ronnie Cox, to hapless Persis Khambata to perhaps Donald Pleasance’s creepiest performance (and that’s saying something) to the “Road Warrior” rejects to the raw star power that IS Megaweapon. The riffing is solid for the most part, and the host segments are decent. It doesn’t quite add up to a classic for me, but, yes, it has it’s moments.
• Longtime fans will recall that, although this is episode 501, it is NOT the first episode shown in season 5. That honor went to episode 502- Hercules, which aired a week before this one. Why? They’ve never said, I don’t think, but my guess is that the Comedy Central suits decided the Hercules movie was more marketable.
• Annoying commercials: My copy, from the fall of ‘94, is infested with those Eagle Talon comercials starring the then-red-hot Greg Kinnear. It also has spots for the Fresh Cheese Tour then going on, as well as those mildly-funny-once-but-really-annoying-the-500th-time “life is like a box of chocolates” Comedy Central promos. Oh! And commercials for [snort] CD-I with [sniff] Phil Hartman.
• Joel’s bittersweet hearts invention has since come true. You can buy little chalky hearts that say all sorts of weird things now.
• Joel makes what I always thought was an astute observation: that the afterlife would be a little like Ellis Island. I’d never thought about it like that…
• Callback: “Ator? Tong?” (Cave People) “Old Time bus driver Billy Slater…” (Junior Rodeo Daredevils)
• HOW are they controlling the robots during the slot car host segment? I don’t see how they’re doing it. Any guesses?
• Everyone loves that bit Joel and Tom Servo get into that I guess is a parody of Robitussen commercial–one I don’t remember ever seeing. Maybe that’s why I don’t find it as hilarious as everybody else seems to…
• It’s nice to see Tom Servo forthrightly admit that they never bothered to write an ending to bit in segment 2–”movie sign” is to MST3K what “dropping the cow” is to Monty Python.
• I believe this episode contains the very first reference to then newly elected President Bill Clinton.
• Do you think that the odd, pointless little comments of the onboard computer were the inspiration for the bittersweet hearts invention?
• I’d need to go back and watch this again (and I don’t really want to) to be sure but I think that Persis Khambatta’s character gets called Natasha and Nastasia, depending on who is addressing or referring to her.
• Then topical: The “woo-woo-woo” thing audiences of the Arsenio Hall Show did.
• Probably my favorite moment of the show is toward the end when the camera does that long pan of all the revolutionaries celebrating and Tom Servo has a celebrity name for every single one. Amazing and hilarious.
• That’s Mike, it hardly needs saying, providing the voice of Megaweapon. The raport all the actors have with one another at this point in the show is really remarkable.
• Fave riff: “Heeeeyyeee, it’s the crazy Gugenheim museum!”

Episode Guide: 502- Hercules

Last modified on 2008-07-02 23:04:21 GMT.  47 commentsTop.

First shown: 7/17/93
Opening: Casual day on the SOL
Invention exchange: Cellular desk, instant karma
Host segment 1: Constellations for the ’90s
Host segment 2: Wondering about a ’70s rock band
Host segment 3: Crow does the ‘Match Game’ by himself
End: The bots discuss Amazons, then some visit on the Hexfield, Frank is now at the desk
Stinger: “He’s like something out of a bad dream!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

• Pardon if it seems like I’m channeling Leonard Maltin, but I’d give this one two-and-a-half stars. The host segments are fair at best, and the movie is so cut up that it’s almost impossible to follow. It’s clear that the Brains chose to make most of their cuts at the commercial breaks, but the result is that half the time the characters are in the midst of one plot development before the commercial and by the time we get back they’re somewhere else entirely. Important plot information was apparently cut as well. Why does the floor make a sound when Jason crosses it? We’re never told, but it seems an important point to everyone in the movie. How does Herc go from retrieving a discus to fighting a lion? No idea. How do Herc and his pals escape the Amazons? One minute they’re being fed sleeping potions and watching dancers; after the commercial break they’re back on the ship. You almost have to treat each of the eight movie segments separately. The riffing is good, and they have plenty of weird stuff to work with, but I’m afraid this episode is less than the sum of its parts.
• As noted, despite being episode 502, this was the first episode shown in season 5. No idea why.
• Trivia, courtesy of Daddy-O: Besides being behind the camera this movie and its sequel HERCULES UNCHAINED, Italian cinematographer MARIO BAVA (1914-1980) directed such jems as 1963’s Atom Age Vampire; 1965’s Planet of Blood; 1966’s Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (with Vincent Price and 1967’s DANGER: DIABOLIK. His son, LAMBERTO BAVA, was the assistant director on DIABOLIK as well as the director of the movie in episode 911-DEVIL FISH.
• Annoying commercials (Those who don’t like this feature, cover your eyes and go “la-la-la!” for a moment): My tape is from the fall of ’94, and has that irritating VW commercial with the faux hipster saying: “Oh, man! You don’t drive on it! Delivery boys drive on it!”
• During the invention exchange, the third “instant karma” bag leaks. They go right on…
• Many of the riffs in this episode were used in that MST3K program for Windows 3.1 somebody created. For those who weren’t computing then, it put shadowrama at the bottom of your screen and played one of only about 15 quick sound bites every so often. It got very old very fast and, worse, it turned out to be a very invasive program that was hard to remove. Anybody remember that?
• The first host segment is clever but creating modern constellations that make about as much sense as the old ones do is really not an original idea. That said, they put a great spin on it.
• Arcane reference: something is said to resemble a  Jim Dine sculpture.
• Speaking of arcane, there are a couple of riffs in this one you’ll only get if you know your Greek mythology: (Example: “Do you have a reservation for Hercules? It might be under Pericles…”)
• Tom Servo channels every naughty third-grader with: “Claude Balls, ladies and gentlemen…”
• Note the completely unremarked-upon box of Capt’n Ron cereal sitting on the desk in the second segment.
• If you’re wondering, they were a trio, Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds, composed of Dan Hamilton, Joe Frank Carollo and Tommy Reynolds.
• One I don’t get: When the Amazons surround our heroes and raise their arrows, Crow says, in a very stilted voice, “even the archers are beautiful!” What the heck?
• The Match Game bit, while funny, is another one of those “huh?” sketches.
• One of the cleverest bits comes right at the end, as they sit through the closing credits and Tom explains what happened to the characters after the story. Pretty funny stuff, but why do they sit through the credits when large chunks of the film were excised?
• Mary Jo makes her first physical appearance on the show and Bridget makes her first appearance since season three as the Minnesota amazons.
• Fave riff: “Stay away from their powerful hind legs!” Honorable mention: “It’s the Andrea Dworkin memorial cemetery!”

Episode Guide: 503- Swamp Diamonds with short: “What To Do on a Date”

Last modified on 2008-07-09 22:29:57 GMT.  52 commentsTop.

First shown: 7/31/93
Opening: The bots are obsessed with the ‘Spock in love’ “Star Trek” episode
Invention exchange: U-view, Andrew Lloyd Webber grill
Host segment 1: Tom wants to date Gypsy
Host segment 2: He calls Gypsy to ask for a date
Host segment 3: They go out on a date, briefly
End: Tom thought the date went well, Gypsy dumps him, letter, Frank is watching himself
Stinger: “Ssssssssshut up!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

• This is one of those episodes where the short pretty much overwhelms the movie that follows it. The same thing happened with “War of the Colossal Beast,” which was almost completely swamped by “Mr. B.” The short is just so precious and silly, and the movie is so slight and ephemeral (despite some very good riffing) that tail wags the dog, as it were.
• The ST:TOS episode Joel calls “the Elias Sandoval episode” (and which we refer to in our episode guide as the “Spock in Love episode”) was in fact called “This Side of Paradise.” I’m not going back, Jim!
• Mike “Touch” Conners was born Kreker Ohanian. So “Touch” doesn’t sound so bad after all.
• The Baywatch bit during the “U-View” invention is kind of an expansion of a throw-away gag Tom Servo did in the previous episode: “Don’t get drunk and swim under the dock.” Doodly-doodly-doodly… “I’m drunk and swimming under the dock!”
• Trivia from Daddy-O: “A few years ago, this short was shown to inner city high school kids in Miami, Fla. They responded with expected laughter during its presentation, but then in discussion afterwards expressed that they missed out on more innocent, less stressful times.”
• Callback: To be like the Cor-Man. (Robot Monster)
• Hey guitar afficiandos out there, what kind of axe is Joel seen playing in segment one? The song he was singing was Neil Young’s “Old Man.”
• Gypsy seems a little grumpy in this one. She’s usually more easy-going.
• Then-current reference: “The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag” (1992).
• Fave riff from the short: “Kay has worked on the kill floor. She knows where to deliver the blow.”
• Fave riff from the movie: “As we left the clam flowage that day…”

Episode Guide: 504- Secret Agent Super Dragon

Last modified on 2008-07-16 21:09:26 GMT.  78 commentsTop.

First shown: 8/7/93
Opening: Crow and Tom build an annoying robot
Invention exchange: Virtual comedy, micro-golf
Host segment 1: The jazzy “Secret Agent Super Dragon” theme
Host segment 2: J&TB read through Crow’s latest screenplay: “The Spy Who Hugged Me”
Host segment 3: J&TB discuss spy movie post-kill puns
End: Dr. F.’s super-villain conference call
Stinger: Jumping the Super Dragon, with xylophone accompaniment
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

Okay, as Crow notes, the only way around it is through it…
• I hadn’t seen this one in a while and my memory of it was that it was sort of mediocre. But, I dunno, maybe this is the opposite of the situation with Human Duplicators, and I was just in the right mood or something, but I laughed all the way through this one. The host segments were clever and topical, and the riffing, while not brilliant, is very good. My biggest gripe is the awful awful condition of the print.
• Okay, toy afficianados: Is Minsky the robot an actual vintage toy? Anybody recognize it? If so, is that really what it says?
• Tom invokes “WKRP in Cincinnati” with the mention of “Chy-chy Rodragueez.”
• Callbacks: “I killed that fat barkeep.” (The Beatniks) Also: “Any talent to declare?” (Warrior of the Lost World) and a reference to Ward E (Stranded in Space).
• Joel wears his glasses in segment 2, which tells me he’s actually reading his lines off that script.
• Then current: “ Herb from Burger King.” Also: “ I ate the last Frusen Gladje.”
• Naughty riff: “We’ll be covering you from behind.” Crow: “You’ve been in prison too long.”
• Plot question–why did the bad guys choose a college town in Michigan to test their drug, when it’s fairly clear all their operations are in Europe? I don’t think the movie ever says.
• Frank is great in the ending segment, humming: ” …I sing whenever I sing…” and doing the exact minimum required to assist Dr. F. “Eagerly.”
• Fave riff: “Emo, avec lute.” Honorable mention: “Remind your engineers to use coasters on me.”

Episode Guide: 505- Magic Voyage of Sinbad

Last modified on 2008-07-23 23:40:03 GMT.  44 commentsTop.

First shown: 8/14/93
Opening: The SOL-tie awards
Invention exchange: Chin-derwear, rat pack chess set
Host segment 1: Meeting of the Junior Jester Club
Host segment 2: The bearded town council debates the Sinbad problem
Host segment 3: Crow’s lifelong quest thingy goes awry
End: The bots are amazed by Joel’s channel cat puppet, letter, Frank meets Mr. Fistie
Stinger: Laughing horse
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

• Oh my oh my oh my, what a wonderful episode. An all-time fave. Everything works, everything clicks. Great invention exchanges, great host segments, great riffing and a well-shot, expensive — albeit weird — movie. Despite my personal attachment to “Day the Earth Froze,” I have to say this is the best of the Russo-Finnish movie episodes.
• You gotta assume the opening is perhaps a reflection on their “ always a nominee, never a winner” TV award history.
• Both inventions, chin-derwear and the Rat Pack chess set, are not just clever, they are downright witty.
• That’s Mike, of course, attempting Frank Sinatra. He sounds nothing like ol’ Blue Eyes, but he has the intonation down pretty good.
• Daddy-O notes: “He’s not Sinbad, and director Ptushko never intended him to be. But when this Soviet-financed film was released to American audiences, the lead character was given the name “Sinbad” in hopes of fooling American moms and dads, who, the American importers knew, would never allow their kids to see a movie made by commies.
• Crow the jester is carrying the little mini Crow last seen in the possession of Sir Giggles Von Laughs-a-lot.
• Again, the writing in the Junior Jester Club sketch is off-handedly brilliant.
• Shadowrama oddities: They’re still wearing jester hats when they enter the theater after the first segment. Also, Crow has no net for a lot of the riffing.
• Arty reference: “I can’t tell if that’s a Magritte or a hole in the wall.” Did Magritte do many giant frescos?
• Odd riff: “…and a tetherball.” What’s that about?
• Too-harsh riff?: “Jello tonight!”
• Did anybody else notice a similarity between the creepy laughing horse in this movie and the creepy laughing reindeer in “Santa Claus”?
• As if the segments up to this point haven’t been great, the second sketch is a riot, maybe one of their best. It even has an ending! “I wanna be the Labor MP from Brixton!”
• Callback: “Tom Stewart killed me!” (Tormented)
• This one of those episodes with some theater business: First Joel and Crow drift off under the spell of the magic bird, then off goes Crow on his lifelong quest thingy. I love how Crow flies in from above upon his return. I guess Jef Maynard or somebody was up on a ladder next to the riffing chairs?
• I haven’t checked Andrew’s riff rate, but I’m guess it’s high.
• My copy is from Oct. ’94 (it has a “starts this Friday” commercial for “Puppet Masters”): Most of the annoying commercials are ones I’ve previously commented on, but there was one annoying new one: the ad for “Leslie Nielsen’s Bad Golf Made Easier.” Shame on you, Leslie.
• Obscure reference:  the infant of Prague.
• The movie was already really strange, but in the last 15 minutes it really gets goofy.
• Gypsy seems a little hungry in the final segment.
• Firesign Theatre reference: “Those eyes! Weird!”
• There are not one but two uses of “wha happa?” in this episode.
• And just to finish things off, the appearance of an instant classic bit, Mr. Fistie!
• Fave riff: “And stock up on socks! You know, you’re never gonna have this chance again!” Honorable mention: “Is this really the best away team he could have chosen?”

Episode Guide: 506- Eegah!

Last modified on 2008-07-31 17:09:59 GMT.  69 commentsTop.

First shown: 8/28/93
Opening: Deep frozen Crow
Invention exchange: Pork-orina, replacing Frank’s blood
Host segment 1: Subtle forms of hell
Host segment 2: The bots alter Joel’s face to look like Arch Hall Jr.
Host segment 3: Why ’60s sitcoms are run by single dads
End: Washing the movie off the bots, letter, Frank’s fluid change
Stinger: “Fake it.” “That’s what I’ve BEEN doing. Now I’m getting sick!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

• We’re in a very good stretch of episodes here. Another winner, following close on the heels of last week’s gem. Great host segments, great inventions, great riffing. Shtemlo!
• What IS the real instrument that made that porkorina sound? Musicians? Help me out.
• This was one of the first episodes released on DVD by Rhino, in April of ’00.
• Then-current reference: While doing his Cryptkeeper impression, Crow mentions cable series “Dream On.”
Callbacks: “Glen was 50 feet tall!” (War of the Colossal Beast) “To Live Like the Hu-Man” (Robot Monsters) “Durn smoochers!” (Attack of the the Eye Creatures) “He tampered in God’s domain” (Bride of the Monster).
• Segment one, is another  pithy, brilliant sketch, one that assumes a certain level of sophisitication on the part of its viewers. It’s classic MST3K.
• After having referenced “Last of the Mohicans” with the classic “Stay alive! Whatever may occur! I will find you!” line in the last episode, they go ahead and do it again…and then they do it again!
• The second segment, while not as witty, is  a great example of the sort of Looney Tunes silliness they often did well.
• Crow is once again netless following the second segment, as he was in the previous episode.
• There is very little that needs to be said about this travesty of a movie, since it’s been thoroughly examined many times, but it’s worth saying again, as so many have before, that the scenes in the cave, with Roxy’s dad cheerfully suggesting she give in to Eegah’s romantic advances — particularly he horrifying shaving scene — are the very dictionary definition of icky.
• This is the episode that launched so many catchphrases, from “Stop saying ‘whee!’ Nobody says ‘whee!’” to “My tires are filled with water!” to “Watch out for snakes!” to “Shtemlo!”
• “Wha happa!” is used once again.
• Joel again invokes Gregg Toland, the cinematographer for “Citizen Kane,” because the shot shows a ceiling.
Arty reference: Keith Haring. []
Fave riff: “Sit down, pie face, it’s a long list.”

Episode Guide: 507- I Accuse My Parents (with short: “The Truck Farmer”)

Last modified on 2008-08-17 04:29:23 GMT.  88 commentsTop.

First shown: 9/4/93
Opening: Tom Servo is naked!
Invention exchange: Cake ‘n’ shake, junk drawer organizer
Host segment 1: Joel analyzes the bots’ art therapy projects
Host segment 2: J&TB reenact the night club scene from the movie
Host segment 3: J&TB analyze troubled Jimmy from the movie
End: J&TB reenact the cafe scene from movie, letter, digging out Rodney
Stinger: “What? What’s so funny?”

Well, here goes my entry in the essay contest…
• Another in a string of wonderful episodes. The movie is a little bland, but the riffing is great. And, you know, I begin to suspect that, for any given episode you can sort of tell whether the movie held their interest and sparked a lot of discussions and ideas or whether their minds were wandering, based on how much the host segments have to do with the movie. You can tell they were really following the movie this time.
• The Rhino packaging has a small goof. Anybody know what it is?
• Great line: “How many times have you gone rootin’ through your junk drawer muttering to yourself ‘Where’d I put that gun?’” And, I never noticed before but toward the end of the movie, our hero roots through the junk drawer in the hall table of his parents’ house, looking for a gun. Think that moment may have been the inspiration for this host segment?
• Now duck news! Here’s Hugh McQuacken! The do the “quacking” gag five times, and it gets funnier each time. For those who don’t get it (and I remember that right after this aired, a number of people posted questions online asking “Why were they quacking?”) look at the wall of the hallway outside the door.
• The short would be incredibly depressing if not for the riffing…as it is, it’s still a LITTLE depressing.
• Sam Newfield did NOT direct “Jungle Goddess” as Joel says when his credit appears. He DID, however, direct (103-) The Mad Monster, (208-) Lost Continent and (520-) Radar Secret Service. He also directed the infamous “Terror of the Tiny Town,” the all-midget Western. Again, this was the era when you couldn’t just look stuff up on the IMDB. Why could have led them to have made that mistake? I’ll bet it has something to do with the use of the phrase “hamburger sammich with French fried potatoes,” which is used in this movie and in Jungle Goddess.
• Last week Crow was shattered. This week Tom gets painted. They really started doing stuff to the bots in this period.
• Then somewhat current reference: Joe Bolster. Haven’t heard much from him lately.
• Host segment 1 is, um, quirky and only vaguely movie-related. Peggy Cass is an odd element.
• Segment 2 is a riot, especially Joel’s takes to the camera. I think it works so well because it comes IMMEDIATELY after the actual movie sequence. Nice to see Gypsy was willing to go along. Also, listen for another “wha happa!”
• I love the PA announcements J&TB do during the second song. “Cheese fries are up!”
• Another VERY movie-focused sketch in segment 3, one of those segments where they vent a lot of the anger and frustration the movie was causing them.
• Obscure reference: the religious TV show “Insight.” I remember watching that a little, but to me they always felt like defanged “Twilight Zone” episodes.
• Our pal Daddy-O was always baffled as to why Anne Blythe’s name is written on the tank. I suspect they’re just trying for World War II authenticity.
• I remember that somebody in the AOL MSTie forum – or it might have been on RATMM – had an idea for a MSTie cookbook. My submission was a hamburger sammich with French fried potato garnish, complete with handgun on the side and a required trip to church every Sunday.
• That’s Brad Keeley as Rodney in his first on-camera role.
• Fave riff: How do ya like my swingin’ church, son?

Episode Guide: 508- Operation Double 007

Last modified on 2008-08-17 04:28:34 GMT.  84 commentsTop.

First shown: 9/11/93
Opening: Tom is enjoying Joel’s home movies, which scares Crow
Invention exchange: Lederhosen-hosen, Sara the bobbin’ buzzard
Host segment 1: Joel’s is a evil supervillian!…”I know!”
Host segment 2: The Sean & Neal show: parallel lives
Host segment 3: Joel tries to hypnotize Tom, Torgo returns
End: Dr. F. uses his magnetizer
Stinger: “Thunderball” pushes the button

• First off, thanks to Cubby, for providing me with a fresh copy of this one. When I recently converted my ancient tapes to DVD, the one containing this episode was the only one that failed to function.
• This is episode is fun, and funny, but I don’t love it quite as much as the previous couple. The host segments are hit and miss for one thing. But an even bigger problem for me is that I never understood the bad guy’s plan. Or is it plans? The formidable Skenderberg  does a pretty good job, but even he gets confused.
• This is the first mention of swing choir — something I had never heard of before this. We’ll get a horrifying expanded look next season.
• Frank really commits to the lederhosen bit. You have to wonder how they felt doing some of those bits, without any audience to tell them if it was hilarious or dreadful.
• The Bobbin Buzzard is a lovely prop. Kudos to Jef Maynard or whoever was responsible.
• This movie may very well have the greatest theme song of any MSTed movie. (Note to self: good idea for a weekend discussion thread!)
• Callbacks: Tom does the “That must be one of those [fill in noun here]’s I’ve heard them talk…about…so…much…lately…” bit twice (Gamera). “There WAS no Yashuko.” (Monster-A-Go-Go).
• Obscure reference: “Michael, I want all the episodes of  Captain Nice burned.”
• Daddy-O tells us that after this movie, Neil appeared in 1970’s “The Body Stealers,” then “retired from film, and became a full-time plasterer.” But the  IMDB says that 10 years later he was back and has been working intermittently since then. Once you get show bidness in the blood…
• Intellectual riff: “She thinks she’s in Dresden during the war.”
• Then-current reference: “The Rodney King verdict just came in.”
• Joel makes a rare entrance through the “G” door in the first segment. This segment is a good example of what I call an “aren’t they adorable” sketch. It only works because, at this point, all Joel has to do is look at the camera and arch an eyebrow and we laugh. If you submitted this sketch to somebody with no knowledge of the show or its performers, they’d be baffled as to why it’s funny. But fans who already know and love the characters will love it. I think it’s hilarious.
• Kevin really tapped into his Catholic upbringing during the nun scene.
• Crow does his Phyllis Diller twice, using the same line: “I’m looking for Fang!” (Fang was an invention of Diller’s from her standup days: a boorish husband she could mock.)
• Segment two reminds me of one of those long, over-written, complicated sketches from season two. But you can sense Mike Nelson’s influence: it makes reference to a cheese factory.
• I thought it was interesting that, during the weird hijacking scene, Tom notes that the melody in the score sounds very similar to the classic kids’ hymn “Jesus Loves Me.” For some reason, this displeases Joel.
• I know I’m thinking about this movie more than the moviemakers did, but: The pivotal point of the movie is when the henchgirls decide to rebel against the Beta, having learned that he plans to blow up the ship with them on it. Okay, he’s evil and all, but I still don’t accept this turn of events. Why turn on your henchbabes? Wouldn’t he just have to hire and train a whole new bevy of henchladies? Doesn’t make practical sense.
• Mike returns, eight episodes later, as Torgo. With the lag time these episodes had, I’m guessing the Brains had only recently picked up on the rave reviews from fans about “Manos.”
• Yet another “wha-happa?” “Wha happa” is to season 5 what “I thought you were Dale” was to season 8.
• Dr. F. is nice and evil in the closing segment. Oh, and nice job of building the magnetizer. One of those prop-heavy episodes.
• Fave riff: “Do I have enough time to beat up the band?”

Episode Guide: 509- The Girl in Lovers’ Lane

Last modified on 2008-08-21 11:08:16 GMT.  59 commentsTop.

First shown: 9/18/93
Opening: Bot bellybuttons
Invention exchange: Evil baseball promotions, “Don Martins”
Host segment 1: Song: “What a Pleasant Journey”
Host segment 2: The bots want to reenact the pool hall scene
Host segment 3: Crow Elam
End: Furious about the ending of the movie, the bots devise new endings, letters, Frank devises endings too
Stinger: “Are you waiting for a bus?”

• This is what I used to call a “little” episode. The movie has a very narrow scope. The host segments are fun but nothing spectacular. The riffing is decent but workmanlike. It’s good, not great. But, like practically every episode, it has its moments…
• Once again the writers find themselves doing stuff to the bots in the opening segment. This time it’s belly buttons. I do love the way Joel thinks it over and decides to go for it.
• Annoying commercial: My copy is from October of ’94 and features a commercial for a dead-on-arrival game console called the JVC X’eye. (Anybody buy it?) It played CDs … and Sega Genesis cartridges. Seemed like a good idea at the time, I guess. Also annoying: the Hockey Strike CC bumpers. I may have mentioned them before. Also, the futuristic ATT commercial predicting all sorts of modern marvels that will some come to pass, and I don’t think any of them have, 14 years later.
• The baseball promotion invention exchange is as dark as Frank predicts it will be, at least for any baseball fan. I’m old enough to remember when my dad took me and my two little brothers bat day at Connie Mack Stadium in Philly: every kid got an actual regulation wooden bat, and yet we behaved. There’d be mayhem in the stands if they did that today.
• Why does Joel’s jumpsuit come equipped with ONE kneepad?
• One of the best things about this episode is the songs. The song Tom makes up to go with the movie’s theme during the credit sequence is just marvelous. Joel and Crow add a line or two, but of course it’s dominated by Tom.
• This episode also features the “Camera three get off the tracks!! Arrgghhh!” sequence, which was later used in promos for the show.
• The other great song: “What a pleasant journey.” What can you say? One of the funniest songs of the series. The impression they’re doing, by the way is sort of a vague Woody Guthrie.
• The Mary Jo Pehl influence: Mentions of Appleton and Circle Pines.
• Callbacks: o/` “Leather coat…” o/` (The Beatniks) “To live like the E-lam…” (Robot Monster) “You’re stuck here!” (Fugitive Alien)
• One I don’t get: Her neck looks like Randy Johnson’s? Huh?
• Elam does look like Garrison Keillor, which they point out at least twice.
• There are several references to the “This Side of Paradise” Star Trek episode again.
• Crow notes that Jack Elam was a fine character actor, “and for all I know he still is.” He was indeed still alive when this episode first aired…not so much now, sadly. He passed in 2003.
• I lost count of the “Carrie, you’re so very…” riffs, which did NOT get funnier with each iteration. For those who have no idea what it’s about:  Check it out here.
• Yes, the truck driver does look a little like Gene Kelly, if you squint. I counted SIX riffs to that effect.
• I forget who it was that said they were putting together a list of religious references. There’s one in this one: “You’re gonna kill the fatted calf.”
• The bots are so upset about the ending of the movie in the final sketch, and there is also some outrage expressed in the ACEG, but J&TB don’t seem that upset in the theater when Carrie’s brutal and completely undeserved murder actually occurs.
• Fave riff: This is a great date. I always wanted to be nuzzled by a hobo…

Episode Guide: 510- The Painted Hills (with short: “Body Care & Grooming”)

Last modified on 2008-08-28 12:29:34 GMT.  57 commentsTop.

First shown: 9/26/93
Opening: Crow is Jay Leno, complete with chin
Invention exchange: Cholester-do all, back-talk
Host segment 1: Crow and Tom debate the messy woman in the short
Host segment 2: Reports on bearded guys include Crow’s paper on Rutherford B. Hayes
Host segment 3: Crow is crushed into an ingot
End: Discussing the Lassie’s culpability, Dr. F. tries to revive Frank
Stinger: Naughty girl goes into the shower

• It was certainly a bold move, picking this movie, and westerns are always fun to riff, even westerns that do it doggie style. But I have to put this in the “good not great” category, something like the previous episode. The movie’s just a little too good (I actually got caught up in the story), while the riffing and segments are hit and miss.
• In the opening bit, I know Joel is just setting up Crow’s last punchline, but you can’t get sued for making fun of Congress. Kinda ruined the joke for me.
• I guess, being old enough to remember Johnny Carson, Jay Leno still sort of seems like “the new guy.” But the opening, which first aired nearly 15 years ago, is a little reminder of how long Jay has had the gig.
• The actual prop Frank is wearing around his neck during the invention exchange is kinda cool. “Ee-kay-gee, does it work great!”
• Then-current reference: short-lived TV show “Delta”
• The short seems to be aimed at college students. Did they really show this sort of thing in COLLEGE? Did college kids in the 1950s really need to be told to shower occasionally?
• That moment in the short where the movie moves backwards and Tom does the backward talking–do you think that’s what sparked the “Back Talk” invention?
• Segment 1 is MST3K at its best, witty, wise and fun. Love the reference to “Scoop Jackson Democrats” and “Jacob Javitz Republicans.”
• Annoying commercial: My recording is from October of 1994, and features a commercial for Harry Shearer’s terrible but thankfully short-lived show “The News Hole.” I like Harry, but not all of his projects are winners.
• Pile-On Pete was an instant sensation in the message boards following this episode. As was the line “Snausages!”
• Daddy-O notes that this movie was a rarity. In most Lassie movies, Lassie is a female character that was generally played by male dogs. But in this case, the character of Shep, a female, is actually played by a female dog. Or as he puts it: “Kinda like Victor-Victoria with fleas!”
• Segment 2 goes on a little long, but there’s some good stuff there. I like how you can hear Tom say “Rutherford B. Hays!” as Cambot is halfway down through the movie sign door.
• Callback: “Smoochers on mah property!” (Eye Creatures)
• Segment 3, well, they’re doin’ stuff to the bots again. Funny puppet, though.
• Crow says “Thank you for extruding me” (like a little kid thanking his grandma for an itchy sweater he’ll never wear) as they enter the theater…
• The ending bit in Deep 13 I love the food popping out of Frank’s mouth as Dr. F gives him CPR.
• A rarity: the stinger is from the short, rather than the movie.
• Fave riff: First thing I’m gonna do is buy me a montage!

Episode Guide: 511- Gunslinger

Last modified on 2008-09-05 20:40:14 GMT.  38 commentsTop.

First shown: 10/9/93
Opening: “Blowing” up Tom’s head
Invention exchange: The scanner planner, new whiffle items
Host segment 1: Funeral talk
Host segment 2: The Gypsy Express
Host segment 3: Tom demonstrates quantum linear super-position
End: The ’70s: A pretty foul decade, deep fried letter, Dr. F. scans Frank!
Stinger: “What about our clothes?”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)
(ratings thingy now working again)

• “This is like Silverado, except it’s good…”
• Well, here we go, the penultimate episode, the last regular episode before big changes occur. I generally like this one. Corman always brings out the best in them, and while it’s isn’t a slam dunk, it’s pretty consistently entertaining.
• Did Gypsy mean to throw the dice onto the floor behind the desk or what that a goof?
• Jim blows a line in the opening bit. They keep going…
• The opening bit it downright hilarious, a brilliant melding of attitude and great prop building.
• I love how Frank does the classic Harpo Marx “gookie” when being scranned.
• Dr. F. says this is their first western. Doesn’t “The Painted Hills” count?
• Segment 1 is great. It’s kind of a funeral for the Joel years (at least it feels that way to me) and it’s got great writing. However, is it my imagination or is everybody a little short with each other in this sketch?. I may be imagining things.
• Segment two: meh. It goes on a little too long. Oh and: peanut butter and Dijonnaise?? Ew!
• One of the season’s funniest running gags; the riffs about the doors that open the wrong way. They just get funnier.
• Joel, seeing the end approaching, seems to be a bit impatient with the movie. “Man, this movie is just sitting on my head and crushing it.”
• I forgot this episode has a “I thought you were Dale”!
• Crow wasn’t far off when he said Corman did “Swamp Diamonds” on Tuesday and this on Friday. According to Daddy-O: “The seven-day shooting schedule for this movie was laden with accidents. JOHN IRELAND and BEVERLY GARLAND were attacked by red ants during their romantic tree-sitting scene. In another accident, Beverly Garland’s ankle became so swollen after she twisted it that her boot had to be cut off. ALLISON HAYES broke her arm after falling off a horse.”
• Segment 3 is one of the best of season 5, witty and intelligent, but not too talky.
• We are entering the “Honey” period of this show—the epoch when everyone was calling each other “honey” constantly. There are at least four instances in this ep.
• I imagine they had a ton of letters to Joel laying around. Deep frying them seems like a nice bit of closure.
• Fave riff: “Oh, rut like crazed weasel. You?”

Episode Guide: 512- Mitchell

Last modified on 2008-09-11 17:04:05 GMT.  118 commentsTop.

First shown: 10/23/93
Opening: Joel’s toothpicky creation
Invention exchange: Daktari stool; the Mads are being audited, so they’ve hired a temp by the name of Mike
Host segment 1: Gypsy overhears the Mads plotting Mike’s death and thinks they’re talking about Joel
Host segment 2: A worried Gypsy tries to think of a way to get Joel off the SOL; Crow and Tom are no help
Host segment 3: Mike learns of a hidden escape pod, and gives Gypsy control
End: Joel is ejected into the escape pod, leaving behind a plaque and a final word; Dr. F. is furious…until Mike presents his time card.
Stinger: “Your lying through your teeth!” “Buzz off!” “No, you buzz off!” “I SAID BUZZ OFF, KID!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

• It all starts so normally. Just another episode, right? Wrong. This is, of course, one of the show’s great “turning point” episodes, and I’ve seen it perhaps a dozen times now. On this viewing, what struck me how well the whole thing falls together. There’s a lot going on here, but it’s all accomplished in about 15 minutes. Tight scripting, tight performances, tight editing, it’s a marvel of precision. It’s sentimental, but it doesn’t it doesn’t get mawkish. And it’s very funny all the way through.
• You want a metaphor? How about Joel building an extremely fragile creation, certain in the knowledge that it will be destroyed? Now, that’s a metaphor.
• Mike makes his first appearance as, well, Mike. (I just saw a movie starring a young Tab Hunter, and young Mike and young Tab vaguely resemble each other. I’d never noticed it before. Maybe it’s the square heads.)
• The Daktari stool sat in the hallway of BBI for years. It was still there when I visited the set in 1999.
• What does Joel have against Harlan Ellison? Besides the obvious, of course…
• Segment 1 features a parody of the scene in “2001: A Space Odyssey” in which computer Hal reads the lips of the astronauts. Interesting that “2001” is again parodied at the end of season seven.
• Segment 1 is pretty much as close to Dr. F and Frank as most of us will ever get. I remember some female fans of Trace rather enjoyed it.
• Jim does a great job in segment 2. “Breathe through your nose”?
• I love the moment when Mitchell says: “Shh..” and Joel finishes his line with: ‘…ugar?”
• Want a connection from this movie to the Robert Blake murder case? Sure, we all do! Gary McLarty and Ronald (Duffy) Hambleton, both of whom testified against Blake when he was accused of killing his wife, both had small roles in this movie. McLarty played one of Mistretta’s hoods (not the “Mustang hood” mentioned during the credit sequence, I believe he’s the smirky one who chases Mitchell on a motorcycle) and Hambleton played mob boss Edmondo Bocca, who gets dropped by Mitchell just short of the green. Blake’s defense team successfully undermined the credibility of both witnesses, introducing evidence of mental illness, drug addiction, etc.
• The “OPE” thing Gypsy is muttering about is a reference to the movie “Dr. Strangelove.”
• You know, they really do rag on Joe Don relentlessly (and deservedly). No wonder he’s mad at them.
• I forgot this is a Christmas movie.
• Joel seems to lose it during the “Adam Rich” scene. (Actually, the kid is played by a Todd Bass, in his second and last role in show business, according to the IMDB. It would be fun to find Mr. Bass, who must be in his 40s by now, to see what he remembers of this shoot.)
• Then current reference: the forgotten movie “Cop and a Half.”
• Hamdingers suddenly took over the MSTie consciousness after this episode, but it was funny how Gypsy and Mike (and, by extension BBI) seemed very clear on what Hamdingers were…but nobody else seemed to be. It was hard to nail down just what they were (they are apparently no longer made), and descriptions seemed contradictory. Some said the Swift-Premium folks (I believe Kevin invoked Swift Premium during an online chat), but the company’s Web site does not mention them. Most of the people who claim to have eaten them (or, at least, been served them) recall them only vaguely from their childhood. It appears they were definitely a ham snack of some sort, though whether they were sandwiches with actual bread (sort of like a ham version of a White Castle slider) or simply ham patties, still seems to be unresolved. Some reports say it was only a Milwaukee thing. Others insist is it was a national product. The mystery continues.
• I love that DOS command Mike has to type in to the “techtronic panel” (apparently the one and only time that the control panel in Deep 13 was called this).
• Movie comment: Toward the end of the movie, Mitchell chases the old lady away, to hobble off the docks on her bad hip, and then takes a moment to remove the gas cap, insert a portion of his handkerchief (there’s a lesson, kids! Always remember to carry a handkerchief! You never know when you might want to blow up a drug dealer’s car!), then screw the gas cap back on over it, so that the rest of the handkerchief is hanging down. He then drives to the meeting place and when the deal goes south he, all in a split second, whips out a lighter, lunges forward about 10 feet and holds the lighter to the handkerchief, which INSTANTANEOUSLY lights up. Now maybe, just maybe, the tank was very very full and the handkerchief got nice and soaked with gasoline on the ride over. But the tank might also have been mostly empty (more than likely, considering it’s Mitchell). The handkerchief could have been bone dry (meaning that it would take maybe ten seconds to light, plenty of time to stop Mitchell) or Mitchell might have driven through a puddle and it might have been soaking wet! (meaning it might not light at all) but its unlikely to immediately burst into flames in a fraction of a second like it does here. The whole thing is about as implausible as a young, sultry callgirl falling in love with Mitchell.
• Callback: Reference to rock climbing.
• Toward the end of the movie, we get Joel’s last bit of fatherly control during the bit where Tom and Crow get a bit dark and suggest Mitchell should turn the gun on himself.
• I love the classic, low-tech use of confetti to simulate static in the Hexfield.
• When fans on the internet weren’t obsessing about Hamdingers, they were arguing about the correct pronunciation of “Lao” as in “Dr. Lao.”
• Tom loses his bubble during the PANIC!
• I love Mike’s expression as Dr. F and Frank laugh.
• Fave riff: “Oh, there is? I thought there was just a big slob walking around my house.” Honorable mention: BABY OIL??? NOOOO!!!!

Episode Guide: 513- The Brain that Wouldn’t Die

Last modified on 2008-09-18 11:36:56 GMT.  89 commentsTop.

First shown: 10/30/93
Opening: Mike’s been in training
Invention exchange: The gutter-bumber-shoot, the dream buster
Host segment 1: Mike tries to get control of the SOL, but that’s not cheese!
Host segment 2: Designing hats for Jan in the pan
Host segment 3: The movie’s hateful message; Mike shares an embarrassing moment from his past
End: A visit from Jan on the Hexfield; Dr. F. is inspired!
Stinger: “Who’s to tell me to blow if I don’t want to?”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

• I spent most of October 30, 1993, in Edina, Minnesota, at the home of a very nice lady named Debbie Tobin, with a lot of oddly dressed people I’d never met before. Thereby hangs a tale.
For the previous two years, Comedy Central had paid Best Brains to create short film segments, called “bumpers” in showbiz lingo, that would link one episode to another in its annual “turkey day” marathon of MST3K episodes, which it ran every Thanksgiving weekend. BBI had taken to the assignment with gusto, creating some truly memorable comedic moments for those marathons. But in 1993, for reasons that will never be understood, I guess, Comedy Central asked BBI to make the bumpers, but insisted that they do it for free. BBI told CC to pound sand.
CC was forced to look elsewhere for its bumpers.
Now, at the same time, something else was happening. Debbie, who was a well-known member of a very friendly and close-knit community of MSTies frequenting the Prodigy online service, had announced she was throwing a Halloween costume party on the day of Mike’s first episode. Somebody at CC, who was frequenting the Prodigy message board, saw her posting about the party and got an idea. They could send a video crew to film it and CC would have its bumpers. They contacted Debbie and she agreed. But, she was (wisely) told to keep it a secret, and most of the people who were coming had no idea the camera crew was going to be there.
Thus on the appointed day I,  and about 35 jolly people from all over the country, were in Debbie’s house, and dressed rather oddly. I was dressed as Washington Post TV critic (and Joel Hodgson man-crush holder) Tom Shales. It was sort of an in-joke: I was working as TV critic at the time. Erhardt was also present — it was the first time we’d ever actually met — dressed as Bavaro (John Banner) from “Crash of the Moons.” Two or three other people were there who I’m still good friends with 15 years later.
(And let me just take time out from this story to say that if you were there at MSTieween, please drop me a line and let me know how your life is going.)
I won’t bore you with the tedious details of the bumper filming. Anybody who thinks the process of making professional video is glamorous or exciting has never done it. It’s deadly dull, a job largely made up of standing around waiting. But we managed for finish up the ordeal just before 5 p.m. local time, when this episode was to debut. Shouting “movie sign!!” we rushed to the basement and the den, where TVs were set up so we could watch.
And that’s where I was when the Mike era began.
• There is a LOT to take in here, right off the bat. New theme song lyrics, a new theme song singer, a new robot roll call and a new door sequence, all in about two minutes. It was breathtaking at the time.
• One of the new doors in the door sequence looks vaguely like a pizza. This was a cute reference to fans who said that one of the Joel-era doors made a sound that sounded like somebody saying “pizza!”
• Crow and Tom have been “training” Mike using “The Beast of Yucca Flat”(sic). I think this is only the second time they mention a movie that they would later riff — the other one being “Marooned.” There’s also a mention of “Night of the Lepus,” a movie they SHOULD have riffed.
• Right out of the box, Mike is intentionally different from Joel. In an interview that I did with Jim at about this time, he said (I’m paraphrasing from memory here) “I never quite understood why Joel’s character is so polite and deferential to the Mads. They trapped him in space! Why is he being nice to them?” Thus we have an immediately rebellious Mike, who scoffs at being expected to “hop to.” Radical!
• I love the use of the “Flint phone” sound effect with Dr. F’s invention.
• Another great “Mike as newbie” moment comes when Moviesign arrives — and Mike has no idea what to do. He then fails to carry a humiliated Tom into the theater. Crow explicitly mentions the air grate.
• Segment 1 is our first real taste of interaction between Mike and bots. They seem to be getting along okay, but it’s clear the bots have abandonment issues. Can bots have “issues”?
• I gotta say that this movie is pretty harsh for Mike’s first experiment. The scene where our “hero” goes trolling for bodies is particularly dark.
• Callback: “Back to the ‘Unearthly’ set.”
• At one point, Tom says: “Not with RADAR!” Huh? We won’t get “Radar Secret Service” for seven episodes. Is it a reference to that? Had the Brains already seen it as part of the selection process? Maybe that was a riff that came from Frank, the previewer.
• Segment 2 is fun, a bit a throwback to season 3, when Joel was forever giving the bots assignments and projects.
• Segment 3 seizes another opportunity have fun at the new guy’s expense, but also has some wonderful assessments of the movie.
• Great running gag in this one: AHH! I’M IN ANOTHER DIMENSION!!
• Fave riff: “Hahahaha…have you seen Frankenhooker?” Honorable mention: “…with a Milwaukee Sawzall.”

Episode Guide: 514- Teen-Age Strangler (with short: “Is This Love?”)

Last modified on 2008-09-24 22:19:34 GMT.  65 commentsTop.

First shown: 11/7/93
Opening: Mike tries to phone his grandma
Invention exchange: Frank-n-forcer, waiter-baiter
Host segment 1: What is love?
Host segment 2: Crow and Tom want to rumble, but Mike intervenes
Host segment 3: Crow and Tom have a gadget that will make Mike act like Mikey
End: Song: “I’m a Janitor;” Dr. F. cleans up after Frank
Stinger: “And he didn’t steal no bike neither…I did!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

• And so the show tries to settle into a new routine, and largely succeeds. The movie is plenty riffable and the memorable riffs are plentiful. The host segments are still a little awkward, but the show ends on a real high note. It’s a sign of good things to come.
• That’s Mary Jo as the voice of Mike’s grandma; that’s Kevin as the voice of the waiter-baiter.
• Mike channels his TGIFridays days with the waiter-baiter invention.
• Once again we get a short apparently aimed not a grade-schoolers, or even high-schoolers, but college students. I wonder when, exactly, college students stopped listening to mental hygiene movies with 30-year-old Romulans playing the students. Still, the message of the short — take your time, let your parents give you a house — is a good one, perhaps even more so today.
• In the first segment, it’s amazing how many of those celebrity romances are no more: almost all of them. I guess that was the point, but I’m still impressed by their accuracy rate.
• What’s the deal with John Humphries, who plays Mikey? At the first Conventio-Con, he explained. He said was a complete novice to acting when the film was made, and that he took his acting cues from Jo Canterbury, the actress who played weepy girlfriend Betty, whom he knew was from New York and had some acting experience. Thus, as her performance became more teary and shrill, so did his.
• The movie was filmed in, and stars many of the residents of, Huntington, WV. The real sheriff even played the movie sheriff. As one reviewer put it, “The effect is of a small town putting on a high school play about a serial killer.”
• During the introduction to the immortal “Yipes Stripes” number, M&TB try to come up with the dirtiest band names they could get away with, including  The CrampsThe Buzzcocks and  The Butthole Surfers. I think at the time they were just looking for band names that were good punchlines, but all those bands are now considered pretty important.
• “Yipes Stripes” is a real earworm. I’ve been unwillingly humming it for days.
• We get a nice look at Crow’s legs in second segment, which is otherwise pretty forgettable.
• In this episode they began using something different from the traditional five-second shot of the spinning spaghetti ball when they went to commercial. The bits show closeups of Deep 13. In the first one, the camera focuses in on a datebook that gives the episode number and the name of the movie In the second, the camera pans along a workbench in Deep 13 and stops on a beaker labeled with that info. In the third, we see a blackboard with that info, then what looks to be a big spitball then hits the blackboard.
• In the theater, Servo whistles. Hmmm…
• Segment three is fun, though it goes on a little too long…and why “rime”?
• Mike and Tom are already in the theater after segment three, and Crow enters still wearing the Mikey glasses — and therefore talking like Mikey.
• Callbacks: “Cornjob!” (Gamera v. Guiron). “The Master wants you but he can’t have you.” (Manos) [Note: Mike does that one.] Also, references to “Eegah.”
• One thing about Mike in these early episodes (and I think somebody in the comment thread last week mentioned this) is that he seems unwilling to actually yell when the line calls for yelling. Instead he sort of whisper-yells. He sort of simulates yelling, though he’s not actually raising his voice. As he got more comfortable in the role, that kind of faded away, but it’s pretty noticeable in these early ones.
• The show ends with Mike’s first song as host, and it’s a winner. Mike sang it in the live show at the first conventio-con as well.
• Fave riff: “Fortunately, the Higgins Boys and Gruber were on the scene.”

515- Wild Wild World of Batwoman (with short: “Cheating”)

Last modified on 2008-10-02 00:15:53 GMT.  114 commentsTop.

First shown: 11/13/93
Opening: The game is blackjack
Invention exchange: Atomic powered hair dryer, razor-back
Host segment 1: There are unanswered questions about the short, so Mike assigns essays
Host segment 2: The bots write essays, but Crow cheats!
Host segment 3: Mike, Tom & Gypsy meet to decide what to do about Crow
End: Crow responds to the charges against him, letter, Dr. F. likes his new atomic hair style
Stinger: A batgirl puts the bite on the wormy guy
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

• This is one of those episodes where people tend to say “not even the riffing made it bearable.” To them I say: Pah! Lightweights!  :-)The movie IS crushingly horrible, though. Every scene is interminable, the séance scene in particular. The movie belongs in the top (or, rather, the bottom) five on the list of most awful movies. The pain is all the more unbearable because, for the first time since “Catalina Caper” I think, there are moments when the movie wants to be funny. Ugh. Still I think it brings out the best in the riffing. The segments are mostly one story line, but it leads up to a great finish, and a special moment for me.
• I think you can mark this episode as the point where the invention exchange concept begins its inevitable decline. As explained in the FAQ, there is both an “on-screen” reason and an “off-screen” reason why this happened. On-screen: the invention exchange was a form of greeting between Gizmonic Institute employees. Since both Dr. F. and Joel were both former Gizmonic Institute employees, it was the first thing they did each episode. But Mike never worked for Gizmonic (he was a temp hired directly by Dr. F.) and so he knows nothing of Gizmonic’s corporate culture. Mike would therefore not understand what an invention exchange was about and Dr. F. would see no point in exchanging inventions with him. Off-screen: the invention exchanges were mostly Joel’s doing. He was the gizmo guy. When he left, all the air went out of the concept. In this episode, the Mads’ invention is downright strange and Mike’s is only fair (although, to be fair, Joel had a lot of mediocre ones too).
• The short is a gem, SO serious and dark that it really brings out the riffing gold.
• Mike brings a snack into the theater! I don’t think he ever did again.
• There’s not much to say about the first segment, since it basically lays the groundwork for what’s to come, or the second one, which advances the story.
• Callbacks: “He didn’t steal no bike, neither!” (Teenage Strangler) “I am the north wind…” (Day the Earth Froze)
• Crow’s cheating causes some unusual mean spirits in the theater: Tom tells Crow to shut up a couple of times.
• This show has two “Simpsons” references.
• I love all the Bob Hope-style jokes: “Toccata and WOW in D minor!”
• Are those scenes really from “The Mole People”? Are they in the version shown in season 8? I forget.
• Obscure reference:  Bernie Krause.
• The third segment contains a moment that is very important to me. It’s the moment Mike won me over. At this point, I still was not entirely sure about Mike. He was growing on me, but, well, I just didn’t know. But he does something in the third segment—and I’m not sure it’s even intentional—that just endeared him to me immediately. Watch Mike’s expression as a disguised Crow arrives, bearing soup, in the midst of the discussion. Mike sees Crow and puts on a completely guileless smile, warm and delighted at the prospect of a nice mustachioed gentleman offering soup. It’s just such a funny and genuine expression. It cracks me up every time I see it. It was at that moment that Mike completely won me over.
• Crow refers to “that one Kid in the Hall.” He means Scott Thompson.
• Mike is happy to explicitly admit his admiration for the female form. In this episode, when one of girl dancers wiggles her behind in a strange way, Tom suggests, “You ought to have that looked at!?” Mike replies: “I’LL look at it!” Much more direct than the sort of “Guys, I’ve been in space a LOONG time” comment Joel would make.
• In this 1993 episode, Mike expresses a desire to hunt down Jerry Warren. Unfortunately, Jerry passed on in Aug. ‘88.
• In the final segment, watch Mike sniff the Hostess Snowballs, make a face, and put them back on the plate.
• Fave riff: o/` “Yes, the devil made this movie for you.” o/` Honorable mention: Tethered to the mob!

Episode Guide: 516- Alien from L.A.

Last modified on 2008-10-08 21:18:48 GMT.  65 commentsTop.

First shown: 11/20/93
Opening: Boot camp at Fort SOL
Invention exchange: Vend-a-gut, fridge udders
Host segment 1: Who’s that supermodel?
Host segment 2: Song: “My Wild Irish Ireland”
Host segment 3: The “guess Kathy’s emotions” game
End: Nothing more to say about the movie, letter, Frank loses count
Stinger: “Yuck!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

• I hadn’t seen this one in a while and, wow, what a wonderful episode. Great riffs, great segments and a real departure of a movie. Dull surprise!
• Then-current reference: Now-forgotten TV shows “Sisters” and “Down the Shore.”
• Speaking of “Mike won me over” moments (as we were last week), I had a good friend for whom Mike’s deranged “Hello, Joker!” greeting did the trick.
• Am I seeing things or is Frank’s hair extra high during the invention exchange?
• Let me just say it: Teats! For several days after this episode, online MSTiedom was full of people saying “teats” just because they could.
• Mike does a little Joel-esque climbing around on the movie in the theater.
• This week’s non-spaghetti ball bumpers: pan across the lab to a beaker, pan down to the notebook, pan from globe to blackboard as roll of toilet paper flies by.
• My copy is from the fall of ‘94. Annoying commercial: that Tabasco commercial voiced by Ben Stein. Who cares what Dan Aykroyd does with it?
• I love the first segment, where the bots assume the personality of that out-of-it relative surely everybody has. Sounds just like my mother-in-law. By the way, I think they were thinking of Paulina Porizkova.
• Great song, though Mike seems to stare at Tom a LITTLE too long for my liking. (Note: occasional contributor David Sussman gets a credit on the song.) The bots are still wearing their outfits as they enter the theater.
• Obscure reference:  Ballet Trockadero.
• There’s a very local reference to the Guthrie theater, but I can’t make out the name of the director that Crow says. Can any Minneapolis natives recognize it?
• I don’t really get why they keep saying Kathy has “big bones” Is it because she’s tall (Kathy’s 5′10″)? Usually “big bones” is a euphemism for “overweight,” which Kathy is not.
• The classic Dull Surprise sketch immediately launched a catchphrase.
• Mike reacts harshly to mention of “Captain Ron” and finds it necessary to lay down the law…justifiably, in my view.
• Callback: It’s Klandinctu! (Crash of the Moons) He’s the best! (Pod People)
• Crow is very “helpful” (i.e. blabbering inane factoids) quite a few times in the theater–causing Tom tell him to shut up repeatedly.
• As if there weren’t already enough classic bits in this episode, the “ femmy movies” bit at the end is great fun. Nice way to distract from a long credit sequence.
Fave riff: “This whole room smells like my eyes!”

Episode Guilde: 517- Beginning of the End

Last modified on 2008-10-17 22:36:39 GMT.  70 commentsTop.

First shown: 11/25/93
Opening: Wrong number
Invention exchange: Re-comfy bike, new playing cards
Host segment 1: Mike calls the Mads and catches them off guard
Host segment 2: Crow’s latest screenplay: “Peter Graves Goes to the University of Minnesota”
Host segment 3: Tom’s standup routine is heavy on grasshopper jokes
End: “No grasshoppers before this film,” post-card, Bert I. Gordon special effects, Mads are boxing
Stinger: “Alright, men. Into the woods!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

• This isn’t an awful episode or anything, but it feels to me like a bit of a letdown from the previous frantic pace the early Mike era set. Maybe it’s just that leisurely Bert I. Gordon pace, maybe it’s the black and white, but I think the movie — especially the dreary monster-free first half — just kind of droops and the riffing and the host segments kind of droop with it.
• Mary Jo is VERY good at playing those trailer trash gals. Maybe a little TOO good. That’s Paul yelling in the background.
• The playing cards bit, which I think even they realized was a little wifty, would be parodied in season six.
• Trivia from Daddy-O: The university, where character Ed Wainwright is studying the effect of radioactivity on seeds and plants, is the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. UIUC hosts a Big Bug Film Festival every year. At the start of the movie, 200 grasshoppers (a flightless, hopless species from Texas) were used. During the filming, they began to cannibalize on one another, so by the time the last shots were done, only a dozen were left. The “special effect” of having the grasshoppers die at the end of the movie was done by simply lifting photographs and letting the grasshoppers slide down.
• When we started doing the Mike episodes, somebody in the comments said it was the beginning of an era when the Mads became more effeminate. I really didn’t think so (and Trace’s Dr. F was always a LITTLE swishy) but now that I’ve been alerted to it, I guess there is a bit of an upswing on that kind of comedy. Segment one is really a good example.
• Mike and Kevin both lived in Illinois, Illinois was a friend of theirs, they can state with good assurance that the places shown in this movie are NOT Illinois.
• Until, of course, when it is, during the Chicago location sequences. For those who know the city, it’s neat to see it in that era. Plenty of classic Chicago jokes as well, including the inevitable chuckling about “Wacker” drive and a reference to  Billy Goat’s.
• Rhino really screwed the pooch on the packaging for this one: Joel’s picture is on the package and he is touted as the star.
• Tom begins to sing a few bars of George Michael’s “Faith” before Mike and Crow threaten him.
• Callbacks: What would Mitchell do? “…sing whenever I sing…” (Giant Gila Monster) Trumpy! (Pod People)
• In the theater somebody who is not Mike coughs. I think it’s Kevin.
• Fave riff: “Look, we’ll move to the loop to Schaumburg!”

Episode Guide: 518- The Atomic Brain (with short: “What About Juvenile Delinquency?”)

Last modified on 2008-10-23 11:34:51 GMT.  72 commentsTop.

First shown: 12/4/93
Opening: Final dress rehearsal for “Love Letters”
Invention exchange: The Mads, Crow and Tom Servo
Host segment 1: Tom is Weather Servo 9
Host segment 2: Mike demonstrates chin puppetry
Host segment 3: Magic Voice chats with the film’s voice-over guy
End: Crow is Hank Kimball–The Fugitive, letters, “Dr.” Frank meets Dr. Fist
Stinger: Spanish for “AAAAAAAH!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

• I feel the same way about this episode that I do about last week’s. I don’t actively dislike it, and there’s plenty to like, but it’s not that memorable for me. Good, not great.
• Bill wrote the ultimate sendup of “Love Letters,” called “Hate Mail.”
• Mike, Trace and Kevin (and the rest of the staff for that matter) have surely spent a lot of time around pretentious theater people. They parody them beautifully in the opening.
• This is an inspired invention exchange, as the show almost folds in on itself with self-parody.
• One of the notable mistakes in the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide was in the listing of this episode, when they forgot to note that this episode has a short. And what a short it is!
• We laugh about the ragtime music the kid is listening to, but there was a brief vogue of popularity of Dixieland in the ‘60s. It was sort of the penultimate music craze before the Beatles hit. I direct you to a wonderfully riffable movie called “It’s Trad, Dad” for further information.
• The Rhino version only contains one non-spaghetti ball bumper: a pan to the blackboard which gets hit by giant spitball. Maybe there were more in the original episode?
• Segment 1 is the first time Servo’s been in space since the Demon Dog, incident, isn’t it? Note the nice sizzle sound effect as Mike touches Servo after he comes inside.
• There was a guy on a local kiddie show when I was growing up in the Philadelphia area that used to do a chin puppet routine, so I was familiar with the concept. Had anybody else encountered chin puppets before this?
• Returning to the theater from segment 2, Mike casually tosses Tom into his seat, much to his dismay.
• The “old” jokes come fast and furious. My favorite: “Maybe you can take a real long time to write a check somewhere!”
• In segment 3, Magic Voice has her biggest part yet and her first commercial sign countdown in a while.
• Callbacks “So klandinctu!” (Crash of the Moons) “Trumpy you can do magic!” (Pod People) “Looking for the Manos set.”
• At last we learn what the K in MST3K stands for.
• Dr. Fist, last seen in episode 505- MAGIC VOYAGE OF SINBAD, returns to punch Frank yet again.
• One of the biggest controversies between Rhino and the fans (and BBI) arose when this volume came out. The Rhino version does not have the stinger. Best Brains says they are certain that the master they sent to Rhino had the stinger. Rhino representatives are equally adamant that there was no stinger on the master. Somebody’s lying. We may never know who.
• Fave riff: “The Cat Suite from ‘Carousel.’ “

Episode Guide: 519- Outlaw (of Gor)

Last modified on 2008-10-30 01:12:32 GMT.  75 commentsTop.

First shown: 12/11/93
Opening: M&TB are roughhousing
Invention exchange: Really real time machine, Fabio kit
Host segment 1: Memories of Mike’s acting career
Host segment 2: Song: “Tubular Boobular Joy”
Host segment 3: M&TB read relevant passages from “Palance on Palance”
End: Buffalo shots!, the Mads dance through the years
Stinger: “Get out of here, you disGUSting WOORRRRRM!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

• I love-love-LOVE this episode. Great riffing, great segments, seriously wacky but very watchable movie. It also a great gateway episode for newbies. For a while it was my all-time favorite Mike episode.
• It’s hard to imagine Joel “roughhousing” with the bots the way Mike does here. Maybe that’s the point.
• Remember when Fabio mattered? Neither do I. Best line: “Even Janis Ian kneels at his altar.”
• Gypsy singing “I sing whenever I sing…” is the first of a boatload of callbacks in this episode. Others include: o/` “
Harry Alan Towerrrrrs!” o/` (Fu Manchu), “Mah-mah-mah-mah-Mitchell (Mitchell), “They’re on the Moon Zero Two set!”, “Watch out for snakes!” (Eegah), a reference to the Warrior of the Lost World set and “Want some?” “Thanks Daddy O.”
• Note that when Dr. F is in his caveman outfit, his Deep 13 patch is attached to his skin.
• Servo says, in a stupid voice, “Can we listen to Z-Rock?” I assume this is a local Minneapolis reference?
• Anybody ever play that Cabot drinking game? Did you live through it?
• I’ve eaten at the Perkins on 494.
• Non-spaghetti-ball bumpers: pan to beaker, pan to notebook, close up on film canister, focus on blackboard as what looks like beach ball goes by.
• Instead of an “annoying commercials” item, this one gets a special “annoying Comedy Central-created bumpers” item: I have a copy of the debut showing of this episode, which took place during one of those theme weekends Comedy Central used to have. This one was called “Radio Active TV” and radio DJs from around the country to did little bumper bits. For this episode, the DJs were Dave Rickards and Cookie “Chainsaw” Randolph from KGB in San Diego. Astonishingly for an industry where a run of a year or two on any one station is amazing, those two are  STILL doing the morning show there 15 years later. For some reason, also present in the bits is Marc Price, Skippy from the ’80s sitcom “Family Ties.” And, for some reason, the pair seemed to have jumped to the conclusion that the movie being watched was actually the Howard Hughes classic of the same name. It makes them seem even dumber than they otherwise would seem.
• Segment 1 is probably the least funny, but even that one is very clever. Mike does look good in a sailor suit.
• First Firesign Theatre reference in a while: “Don’t crush that dwarf! Hand me the pliers!” Maybe Joel was more of a Firesign guy?
• Everybody gets to do their Palance impressions to death. Hope their throats were okay at the end of the day.
• Not annoying commercial: My tape has a ice clean copy of the darkly funny “You’re gonna win!” promo CC did. I liked it.
• Segment 2 was an instant classic, also sung on the live show. The phrase “hung like a horsical” made me spit out me beer the first time I heard it.
• What are Crow and Tom singing during the scene where the slavers are chasing the slaves around? They don’t seem to know the words…
• I’m not sure that’s Italy at the end. From what I can gather, a lot of this was shot in Africa. That could be Johannesburg.
• The  USA Network movie sketch, hard on the heels of the womany movie sketch a couple of episodes ago, means another great credit sequence.
• Third mention of Chris Lemmon in three episodes! Somebody really didn’t like him!
• Terrific editing of the buffalo shot compendium. Cambot gets the credit but I assume it was really Brad Keeley.
• Did somebody choreograph the dance number at the end? Great stuff.
• Fave riff: “You see … P-P-PLEASURE???!!!” Honorable mentions: “I brought the wrong bowl.” Also: “Please invent the battery!”

Episode Guide: 520- Radar Secret Service with short: “Last Clear Chance”

Last modified on 2008-11-06 23:31:15 GMT.  54 commentsTop.

Note programming note at the end of this post.

First shown: 12/18/93
Opening: Mike performs Crow’s maintenance checkup, but has no idea what he’s doing
Invention exchange/Intro: Mike’s escape plan, Hypno-helio-static-stasis
Host segment 1: Trooper Tom presents: “Why Don’t They Look?”
Host segment 2: The bots simulate Mike’s 10-year high school reunion
Host segment 3: Mike and Crow build the Quinn Martin Nature Preserve
End: The Mads are beaten by Ecstato-euphoro-fun
Stinger: Hysterical maid
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

• Very good short, very dull movie. This one is reminiscent of episode 319- WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST, where short tail wags the movie dog, as it were. As the Brains note, the gray, dull, men in gray suits and gray hats are indistiguishable, and for long stretches the movie just lays there. The Brains try their best, and there are some great riffs but this is a middling episode at best.
• More differentiation between Joel and Mike in the opening, as Mike attempts something Joel did easily and fails miserably. Crow is hilarious.
• I like how Gypsy just kind of nibbles on Crow to fix him.
• The Poopie tape has a very funny outake of the Hypno Helio Static Stasis sketch: The entire wall behind Frank collapses and Frank just goes with it.
• It’s in this episode that the invention exchange kind of fades away and becomes a general intro. Hypno-helio-static-stasis is sort of an invention, but nobody calls it that. And Mike is just busy trying to escape.
• The short is one of the show’s finest hours. They showed this one at the Museum of TV and Film event in Los Angeles, on a big screen, and the audience was just roaring. People were literally, not figuratively, falling out of their theater seats. It really reminded me how much more fun watching the show is with a group.
• Segment 1 is one of those great short-followup sketches. It’s too bad that BBI never thought to release a tape of shorts that also included their follow-up sketches.
• Annoying commercial: My copy looks to have been taped in the week between Christmas and New Years in ‘94 and has several repetitions of the “cruncheous” Pringles commercial. Ugh.
• Then-current reference: the now-defunct Nashville Network.
• Callbacks: Dr. F references “Rock climbing” (Lost Continent) and “Deep hurting” (Hercules Against the Moon Men). “Send up some gas juice! You know, laugh water!” (The Beatniks), “No waffles!”, Servo sings a little of “Are You Happy in Your Work” (I Accuse My Parents), “But there was no monster” (Monster A-Go-Go).
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers: pan to blackboard as something that looks like a catcher’s mitt flies by; pan down to the notebook; pan to beaker.
• Tom Servo mentions “The Nagely capers” during a shot of highway. Anybody know what that is?
• Ward E has a list of  all the things they call that radar ball thingy on top of the car.
• Fave riff: “It’s not the radar, it’s size of the amplitude, if you know what I mean!” Honorable mention: “Not in a strictly Cartesian sense…”

LATE ADDITIONAL NOTE: The next episode in order is episode 521- SANTA CLAUS. With the holiday season only weeks away, I am going to call an audible and skip this one for now and move on to episode 522- TEEN-AGE CRIME WAVE. I’ll come back to SANTA CLAUS in a few weeks.

Episode Guide: 521- Santa Claus

Last modified on 2008-12-11 00:57:05 GMT.  113 commentsTop.

First shown: 12/24/93
Opening: A caroling attempt ends in disaster
Intro: Inappropriate gifts are exchanged
Host segment 1: Rock band Santa Klaws performs
Host segment 2: The bots arrange a Nelson family reunion
Host segment 3: An all-inclusive politically correct holiday song: “Merry Christmas…If That’s Okay”
End: On the SOL, it’s a snow day! In Deep 13, Pitch and Santa fight it out
Stinger: Laughing mechanical reindeer
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

• This one, of course, is a perennial favorite, and I sure wish they would put it out on DVD. It’s one of those episodes I’ve seen so many times I can practically recite it, but it’s still entertains me every time. The movie is SO odd (it is a very weird reflection on Mexican culture), the riffing is very strong and the segments are generally pretty good. It doesn’t feel like Christmas until I’ve seen it.
• The gift exchange segment may seem a bit dry, even baffling, to our eyes today, but remember that Mike had joined the SOL crew less than ten episodes previous. The point of the segment is that they still barely know each other, so their attempts to give gifts are forced and uncomfortable. But if you didn’t know the context, you could hardly be blamed for not getting the joke.
• The first 15 or so minutes of the movie, when we get a slew of ethnic/national jokes, as Santa’s international cadre of “helpers” are introduced, are great fun. It feels a little like the parade of nations at the Olympic opening ceremonies.
• Does anybody else feel that if Crow had used that “Carmen Miranda rights” joke with Joel, Joel would have ripped at least one arm out?
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers: pan to beaker; closeup on film canister; pan down to noteboook.
• Annoying commercial: The “shut up and listen” Panasonic spots; also Camelot Music (remember them?) pushing the Jerky Boys CD.
• I’ve never been a big fan of the “Whispering Christmas Warrior” segment. It feels a little too restrained. I would have like to see them go more Ozzie Osbourne on the thing. I do like the reaction shots of Frank and Dr. F., though.
• One memorable set of riffs comes when each of them gives notable literary opening line. “I was born in the house my father built” is from Richard Nixon’s then-current autobiography, “The minute Yosarian…” is from Catch-22. “Call me Ishmael” is of course from Moby Dick.
• That’s Pat Brantseg, Mary Jo and Tim Scott as “Mike’s family.”
• One of my favorite moments from this episode is when Santa is preparing to leave his castle to deliver the presents, and as he makes his little benediction, he looks up for no particular reason and M&TB respond by looking confusedly around, as if to see what he might be looking at. It cracks me up every time.
• The Brains seem to think the name “Kringle” is funny. They use it a lot.
• As Santa is putting out presents, Crow has him mumbling: “CableAce award…no, that’s no good…” A little bitterness there.
• On the other hand, the “Merry Christmas if that’s okay” song is a holiday classic, right up there with “Patrick Swayze Christmas.” Commenting on the PC attitudes about Christmas that were then on the rise was not a particularly original comedic idea, but they gave it an original spin. I’m pleased that whole “war on Christmas” thing, which was all over the news a few years ago, has faded a lot in the last couple of years, but it does make this song a little less timely.
• Then-current reference: “At home with Carl Rowan.” Rowan was a nationally syndicated columnist and prominent supporter of gun control who became a national punchline in 1988 when he shot a teenage intruder with his unregistered .22. He passed away in 2000. Honorable mention: “A scud!”  Scuds are no longer the fearsome terror weapon they were considered back then.
• Memorable host segment line: “More pie, man-goat?” They really did a great job on Paul’s costume/make up. And of course that’s Kevin as Santa.
• Next week:  Jesus and the Oak Ridge Boys.
• Fave riff: “Suddenly Santa corkscrews into Ypsilanti, Michigan!!”

Episode Guide: 522- Teen-Age Crime Wave

Last modified on 2008-11-13 02:32:51 GMT.  59 commentsTop.

First shown: 1/15/94
Opening: Another escape attempt
Intro: Mace mousse, the escape plan fails
Host segment 1: The golden age of the “doughy guy”
Host segment 2: The first deli in space
Host segment 3: Mystos!
End: Tom delivers some letters; Frank is “Doughy Man” but Dr. F. sprays him again, again, and again
Stinger: “TURN IT OFF!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

• For those who missed the note last week, I am skipping episode 521- SANTA CLAUS for the time being. I will get to it at the end of season 5, as the Christmas season is getting under way. Seems more appropriate.
• This movie has a great opening half hour and pretty exciting last 20 minutes. Unfortunately, it also has a deadly 40 minutes in the middle. The segments are hit and miss, with a wonderful finsh. All in all, it’s in the fair-to-good range.
• Invention exchange fadeaway watch: The mace mousse seems to be a genuine invention. Frank is hilarious, by the way. Mike’s still busy escaping–though he does CALL it an invention!
Non-spaghetti ball bumpers: pan to beaker; closeup on datebook.
• Movie observation: An example of stupid script writing: The matron asks the fueding inmates: “Who started this?” What real matron would bother? Has that EVER worked?
• Segment 1 was an instant hit and within hours MSTie internet was bursting with peons to doughy guys. And as a doughy guy myself, I enjoyed it. Mike really belts out his part.
• Annoying commercial: One of those stupid Mentos commercials, which acts as a sort of setup for segement 3! Was it intentional?
• Callbacks: My tape was from the premier of the episiode (from this point forward most of my tapes will be from the premieres): “Mitchell!” Of courese, there are too many callbacks to count in segment 2. And “Why don’t they look?” has already joined the rotation.
• Mike carries Servo by the neck when they enter the theater after segment 2.
• Of course this episode also gave us the classic line: “He’ll never touch you, Terry, you’re dirt.” The Brains apparently really liked because it was used many times thereafter.
• Um, the movie shows an obelisk and Mike (I think) says “The Roddy McDowell monument!” Um, huh? If they’d said “The Milton Berle monument” I’d get it. Was Roddy known for his, um, endowment?
• The mace mousse bit at the end just gets funnier and funnier. It’s very reminiscent to the “Daddy-O” ending.
• Fave riff: “You’re gonna have to get in line. Couple o’ cows ahead of you.”

Episode Guide: 523- Village of the Giants

Last modified on 2008-11-20 11:53:47 GMT.  63 commentsTop.

First shown: 1/22/94
Opening: Quarterly workout
Intro: Dr. F. downsizes TV’s Frank!
Host segment 1: Checking up on Frank, Dr. F. interviews Torgo
Host segment 2: M&TB sign a card for Frank, then interview him
Host segment 3: Song: “The Greatest Frank”
End: A letter to Frank, Torgo is fired!
Stinger: Tribute to Frank Zappa
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

• This is just a great episode all the way around: Great segments, a fun and very riffable movie, great riffing, a great song, everything you can ask for.
• The song Tom is singing in the opening segment is “ Chicken Fat” sung by Robert Preston. I have vivid memories of being forced to do calisthenics to it in elementary school gym class.
• The segments are essentially one story, but each sketch is also a little bit of brilliant free-standing satire on the inanities of the working world. Having been canned myself, the opening resonates.
• Of course, one feature of this movie is an appearance by  The Beau Brummels. I had never heard of them when I saw this for the first time, but they have their admirers, apparently. The Brains are right, though: they are kinda ugly.
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers; close up film canister; pan down to notebook; shot of blackboard–a big bone hits it
• Callbacks: “Coruba!” (Outlaw) “What sin could a duck commit in a single lifetime?” (Amazing Colossal Man) “I didn’t steal no bike, neither.” (Teenage Strangler) “Dang smoochers!” (The the Eye Creatures) “i’m gonna moon you, man!” (The Beatniks).
• Obscure: Servo mentions the legendary band  The Fugs.
• Segment 1 is another gem. The line “Well, I work too hard…hahaha” never fails to slay me.
• Annoying commercial: One of those incredibly stupid claymation California raisins commercials. This one pushes raisins as breakfast food. Does anybody eat raisins, by themselves, for breakfast? Honorable mention: Mark Marin, pushing the new version of “Short Attention Span Theater,” before he got canned for taking MST3K’s side in the growing feud between the show and the network.
• Love the bit where Tom spots his mom and then is horrified that she gives it away for a nickel.
• Segment 2 is yet another classic. I always have a hard time not using Frank’s lines when being interviewed.
• Then-current reference: The late, not-very-lamented “Chevy Chase Show.”
• “Let Me Be Frank about Frank” is a great stuff. The Paul Williams impressions are particularly funny. It also features a great montage: Again, Cambot gets the credit, but the real artist is probably Brad Keeley.
• In the credits, we get a reprise of the song and we think it’s all fun and then the whole thing becomes poignant. In the ACEG, I believe it was Kevin who noted that Zappa had contacted the Brains shortly before his death with the idea of doing something together, but time ran out, alas.
• Fave riff: “This is Tommy Kirk REALLY acting!”

Episode Guide: 524- 12 to the Moon (with short: “Design for Dreaming”)

Last modified on 2008-12-04 14:01:57 GMT.  63 commentsTop.

First shown: 2/5/94
Opening: Gypsy’s tea party
Intro: Frank roasts Dr. F., Tom has a tennis tantrum
Host segment 1: Nuveena pops in
Host segment 2: M&TB prepare to leave with Nuveena
Host segment 3: Nuveena makes Crow and Tom into the appliances, Mike disapproves, so she pops out
End: Letters, Nuveena pops into and out of Deep 13
Stinger: “Ahh, ridiculous!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars ( 103 votes, average:  4.52 out of 5)

• Note: We will complete season five with episode 521- SANTA CLAUS next week. And by the way, the season four posts  are now available as part of the official episode guide, and a season five page will follow soon. For those interested in my long-term plans, once I get all the way through season ten, I plan to go back through seasons one, two and three, updating my thoughts and allowing you to offer yours. (I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do about KTMA.)
• For some, I suspect this is another case where the short kind of takes over the episode. “Design for Dreaming” has become an iconic bit of off-kilter fun, and since it’s in public domain, you see snippets of it all the time. The riffing of it is nothing short of brilliant. In contrast, the feature is in black and white, and has some pretty static stretches. But, me, I love these old rocketship movies (they are my favorite kind of MST3k fodder, with the giant bug movies coming in a close second) and this one’s a hoot. It’s reminiscent, in some respects, of “FIRST SPACESHIP ON VENUS,” what with the conscientious international crew and all. And the characters and situations are so strange, there’s plenty for the riffers to work with. And, of course, there’s the Nuveena story arc in the host segments.
• I’d completely forgotten about the “invisible” face shields on the astronauts helmets! A brilliant, albeit cheesy, solution to the problem of not being able to see or hear an actor in a space helmet.
• The tennis segments are a classic example of how everybody knows the ‘bots arms don’t work, but that doesn’t stop the Brains from suggesting that the ‘bots play tennis. In the “then-current” reference department, the sketches refer to a couple of pro tennis incidents that I suspect are largely forgotten by most people.
• I love Dr. F’s Milton Berle-esque giant cigar during the celebrity roast. The premise of the sketch itself (speaker at roast just viciously attacks the honoree without any semblance of the warmth and humor that is supposed to be part of the format) is not new. It’s been done before. But Frank carries it off well.
• What does “Just call me Bobo” mean?
• Callbacks: “It’s a salute to Mr. B Natural!”
• Non-spaghetti ball bumpers: Shot of blackboard–a stuffed animal that might be Grover from “Sesame Street” hits it; pan to beaker.
• Tom Servo says “Humphrey!” when he sees the dog. Kevin had a cocker spaniel named Humphrey for many years–he appeared in the ACEG and in episode 904- WEREWOLF. Sadly, Humphrey has, ahem, gone to live at a farm in the country.
• It what seems to be a warmup for SPACE MUTINY, the hunky American astronaut is similarly called many tough-guy names. A full list is in Ward E.
• Bridget is terrific — it is maybe her finest hour on the show — as Nuveena. After the show aired, she was an immediate sensation on the MSTie internet. Male MSTies declared their love, and many female MSTies immediately adopted the moniker.
• Annoying commercial: the spot for “Doom” for the 64-bit Jaguar (remember that?) that featured a strange evil preacher. It made no sense.
• Obscure reference: “Everybody to get from street!”, a reference to a throwaway line in a now-largely-forgotten Cold War comedy called “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming!”
• Fave riff: “You know you can only apply one-sixth the tongue on the moon?”