The MST3K Journal: Season 10

Encoded within one of his jam recipes, the prophet Nostradamas foretold that, as the millennium drew to a close, the stella amoris would fall from the sky and crash in the core of the West, ending a decade of joy and mirth. And thus was predicted the cancelation of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Actually, I made that all up. It hardly required precognitive visions to determine that SciFi was about to mail a batch of pink slips to Eden Prairie. The writing was on the wall, and the penmanship was excellent. MST3K was about to go off the air, and this time there would be no last second rescue. But the Brains were determined to go out with a bang instead of a whimper, and it all started with the season premiere including a couple of recognizable faces.

Any pretense of adhering to the mandate of SF movies only was thrown out the window. This meant that crime dramas got one last opportunity. Personally, I could have done without them, but I can appreciate that others might feel differently.

Then there was Hamlet episode. I’ll get into this more later. Sufficed to say it has got to be the most polarizing episode among the fanbase, eliciting extreme responses from both ends of the love/hate spectrum. About the only thing that exceeds it is the ill will from the Joel vs Mike Flame Wars of 1993.

Enough of that. Time for one more dive into the Made in Minnesota version of the show

1001: Soultaker [Grade: A]

It’s rarely a good sign when the lead in a movie also wrote the script. And the narrative for this one has all the markings of a creative writing project from a seventh grade English class. The primary issue concerns the inconsistent tone for the antagonist. On one hand, he’s presented as a slasher in the vein of Freddy Kreuger, with snappy one-liners that aren’t very snappy. But then we get this past life horse-hoo of romantic involvement with the female lead shoved at us that is just silly. There’s also the whole matter of how these Soultakers seem to operate like an inefficient bureaucracy, which may hint to their true origins. Contrary to what movies like It’s a Wonderful Life and The Horn Blows at Midnight would have you believe, a bureaucracy is a more applicable framework for Hell. Add in the sinister demeanor of the Soultakers and I think it’s obvious that they’re collectors of damned souls.

Host segments are largely detached from the movie and are concerned with the guest appearances of Joel and Frank. While amusing in its own right, the true gutbusting material occurs during the movie’s end credits, where Servo and Crow express some pessimistic speculations concerning what happens to the relationship between Zack and Natalie following the cliché happily ever after ending.

Regarding Joel’s lame refusal to take Mike off the Satellite, there a fan theory regarding the former which has some merit. The idea is that Joel the character died shortly after returning to Earth. After all, he landed in the Australian Outback, a region notorious for its inhospitality to human habitation. Add in how Frank announces that Joel is on his soultaking to-do list, and it’s surprisingly plausible.

  • Favorite riff: Hi. I’m a tree. Just want to put in a good word or two for nature since the camera is on me.
  • Stinger: Pseudo-lesbian incest hijinks.
  • Alternate Stinger: Agree.
  • Bechdel Test: Pass. Natalie and her actual mom exchange goodbyes at the end.

1002: Girl in Gold Boots [Grade: C]

The set-up in the feature is reminiscent of The Beatniks, where a talented amateur is spotted and offered a shot in the entertainment industry. The big difference here is that the source of the offer in this one is considerably sketchier. And rather than a legitimate media outlet, the source of employment is a night club run by a crime syndicate. As is typical with the crime dramas that got screened, there’s plenty of greasy, loathsome people being greasy and loathsome. The atypical element here is the pompous drifter Critter, whose quandary is that he’s been drafted and is not keen on signing up. The way he goes on when he reveals this to Michele, you’d think he had made himself the target of a nationwide manhunt. Sorry Critter, but I think Mr. Hoover has bigger fish to fry than some blowhard hippie with delusions of significance.

The host segments start off a brief arc where Pearl works on getting accredited as a mad scientist, which is worth a few chuckles. The standout is the parody of a song Critter sings in the movie, with how the occasional images of Michele appearing are handled being especially hilarious.

  • Favorite riff: If you’re the town drunk of L.A., you’ve got a problem.
  • Stinger: “Oh, Gawd!!!!! I wish I had that pretty mind back!!!!!”
  • Alternate Stinger: Perfect!
  • Bechdel Test: Pass. Michele and Joan have multiple non-male conversations.

1003: Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders [Grade: B+]

When a movie engages in deception regarding its content, it usually occurs in the advertising. You’d think all the flimflamery would be cast aside once the film gets going, but not in this case. In this anthology production, the framing device involves a grandfather (portrayed by Ernest Borgnine) telling stories about Merlin setting up shop in the modern age to his grandson. Along with the tinkly music, it’s easy to get the impression that this will feature lighthearted tales of whimsy and wonderment.

You would be so horribly wrong. What we get instead would be more appropriate for a horror anthology series. The first half would be a good fit as a Night Gallery segment, especially since it caters to Rod Serling’s love of twist endings. The second half (which is a pared down edit of a film the director made in 1984 called The Devil’s Gift) I would peg as something more appropriate for Hammer House of Horror. In fact, if you were to return the original downbeat ending, flip all the scenes with vehicles, dub everyone with British accents, and CG alter the kid’s Return of the Jedi shirt (Hammer House of Horror aired back in 1980), you could pass off The Devil’s Gift as a lost episode. For both, you may wish to give them a pass if household pets meeting unpleasant demises upsets you greatly. But if you can stomach all that, the riffing is top notch. Particularly memorable are the ones where they imagine how Grandpa Borgnine is narrating the events that occur onscreen (usually for scenes that are excessive in gruesomeness or mundanity).

Host segments are strong as well. Pearl begins her mad scientist accreditation in earnest with her own variant of Phillip Zimbardo’s fraudulent prison experiment. Crow and Servo also generate plenty of chuckles with their imitations of the pompous columnist from the first half of the movie. But the real winner is where they read the collection of Ernest Borgnine children’s books.

  • Favorite riff: See, here’s his problem. He’s going around dressed like that, asking women, “Have you seen my little monkey?”
  • Stinger: “Rock and roll Martian.”
  • Alternate Stinger: Friendly neighborhood psychic flips her lid.
  • Bechdel Test: Pass. Madeline and Zurella talk about the wishing stone.

1004: Future War [Grade: C]

Another one of those meaningless titles with no connection to what happens on the screen. Not only is there no war (the violence presented barely qualifies as a skirmish), but it takes place in the present day. And really, a movie featuring cyborgs using velociraptors as tracking beasts should not be this tedious. I suspect the bulk of the movie’s budget went into the dinosaur puppets, which are reasonably well made. Certainly, they’re better than what was featured in the Doctor Who serial “Invasion of the Dinosaurs” (I should probably note that I like “Invasion of the Dinosaurs”. But let’s not kid ourselves, the creature effects in it were bad even by classic Doctor Who standards.) The dinosaurs of Future War have a different issue in that, to realize some of the larger specimens, poorly executed forced perspective was employed.

At least “Invasion of the Dinosaurs” had a moderately intriguing story to tell. Not so much for Future War. It focuses on a guy who escaped from a spaceship operated by the above-mentioned cyborgs (whose cyberware is realized using props even cheaper looking than the ones for the Captain in the Doctor Who serial “The Pirate Planet”) and teams up with a nun who was once a hooker. Everything that occurs from then on happens because the script demands it rather than any logical progression of events. One of the more obnoxious instances is where our lead character is arrested by the police for no in-story reason. From a screenwriting perspective, it was so they could do a rip-off of the police station rampage from The Terminator. That’s never a good reason to feature a scene.

Host segments are shockingly bland. In each case, some minor aspect from the movie is taken and pounded into something that falls flat, like the Thank You for Not Killing Us sketch. The one exception to this is not strictly speaking a host segment. Instead, it’s a sketch that occurs during the end credits where Mike demonstrates forced perspective. That at least provoked a few chuckles.

  • Favorite riff: “I have a past that I’m not proud of.” That’s why I kept a scrapbook!
  • Stinger: The future warrior’s shirt is head-butted right off.
  • Alternate Stinger: Agree.
  • Bechdel Test: Pass. Sister Ann discusses her crisis of faith with the Mother Superior.

1005: Blood Waters of Dr. Z [Grade: C+]

When you get down to it, most mad scientists aren’t insane in the clinical sense. They’re just overly enthusiastic about pursuing and expounding on unorthodox theories, with some occasional bitterness over the rejection from their colleagues. This is particularly the case for the wacky mad scientists common in the 1980s. Listening to his inner monologues, you get the sense that Kurt Leopold suffers from some genuine mental illnesses.

But even taking this into account, his scheme is a bit silly, as he spreads a mutagenic substance in the local waters to make the aquatic wildlife bigger and meaner which will somehow allow him to rule the universe. With this taking place in Florida, perhaps he expected his fishy minions to take over Cape Canaveral. He also uses the mutagenic on himself, though his new form doesn’t look especially fish-like. His main opposition comes from a couple of agents from an outfit with the unfortunate acronym INPIT. There’s also a redneck sheriff and a black marine biologist where the intent appears to be to mimic In the Heat of the Night, but it doesn’t really work out.

The aspect that really sticks out (in a bad way) though is the cinematography. With these indy movies from the 1960s and 1970s that are in color, the cinematography tends to look a bit off. Mostly this comes from getting the lighting wrong or using substandard film stock. It’s even worse in the case of this movie, as there’s this brownish haze over everything. Perhaps it was a deliberate choice, or maybe the print used here was kept in less than ideal storage conditions. It could even be that this part of Florida just naturally exudes brownness. Whatever the case, it makes that part of the state look very unappealing. I certainly can’t imagine wanting to swim in that water. As well as looking absolutely filthy, it is surely full of leeches, water moccasins, and maybe some alligators.

Of the host segments, the clear winner is the one where Crow does his own variant on Dr. Leopold’s internal monologue rants. But the others pull their weight, with Crow trying out chewing tobacco generating some chuckles (though the scene in question is incredibly gross).

  • Favorite riff: No matter how much the movie insists that there’s tension, I must respectfully disagree with it.
  • Stinger: “Sargassum! The weed of deceit!”
  • Alternate Stinger: Perfect!
  • Bechdel Test: Pass. Ma Pringle informs her daughter Sue that she’s leaving and is acknowledged.

1006: Boggy Creek II: and the Legend Continues… [Grade: C-]

For people with a genuine interest in cryptozoology, movies like this must be infuriating. It’s true that the title critter (in this case an ape-like creature that resides in the Arkansas wilderness) is treated as being real. But the portrayal of the investigators is not what you would call flattering. First and foremost is the pompous bore anthropology professor who leads the expedition. Even more grating is Leslie, a vacuous tagalong with Eighties Hair for whom the concept of roughing it is completely alien. Then there’s Tim, who is frequently shirtless even though his physique is not suited for the look.

But for a sight guaranteed to provoke an Oedipal reaction, there’s Old Man Crenshaw, a bloated mountain man they encounter who wears overalls without a shirt and one strap undone. Looking back, it’s surprising there were no Deliverance riffs. There are also several flashback scenes recounting encounters with the Boggy Creek Monster that often use a soft focus. The least pleasant of these is a “humorous” tale that involves an outhouse. And that’s probably more than you’d care to know already. On the plus side, the creature suit is quite well made. Especially when you consider the limited resources typical for an indy production like this.

Host segments are a mixed bag. Servo’s whittling factory is a predictable gag that falls flat. The parody of the movie’s constant flashbacks is okay but kind of bland. The real winner is where Pearl tries to create her own variant on the Boggy Creek monster and make it into a tourist trap.

  • Favorite riff: So the once great Monster Studies Department went under. Tanya and Leslie brought me up on charges, of course. Tim just wandered off and we haven’t seen him in years.
  • Stinger: “I saw the little creature.” “Nooo!!”
  • Alternate Stinger: Agree.
  • Bechdel Test: Pass. Leslie and Tanya have multiple non-male conversations.

1007: Track of the Moon Beast [Grade: B]

Apparently, there’s a line of thought which believes that an otherwise by-the-numbers werewolf movie in the vein of The Wolfman can be freshened with the protagonist being a were-something else. Taking it a step further, Track of the Moon Beast adds a science fiction angle by having the infection come, not from a bite, but from a tiny meteorite fragment that penetrates into the shmuck’s brain. But just because this somehow transforms him into a werelizard doesn’t mean it can distract from how it’s still a by-the-numbers werewolf movie.

In fact, it can’t help but draw comparisons to the Season 9 movie Werewolf. Both are set in the American Southwest and employ some badly garbled tribal folklore of the region as the basis for their werebeast. Both have a mopey chump and his aggressively supportive girlfriend as the leads. Both mopey chumps are even named Paul. The werelizard costume is not that impressive, and it’s kind of hard to believe it was made by legendary creature costume designer and makeup effects wizard Rick Baker. But then he would have been about 22 at the time, and even the best have to start somewhere.

Of the host segments, the one where the lame practical joke involving a tribal mask is reenacted looks at first like one of those instances where the Brains do something too well. But it saves itself thanks to Mike non-reaction and Crow descending into self-loathing as he realizes how lame the prank was. The real winner though is their tribute to The Band That Played California Lady.

  • Favorite riff: She gets off the ground saying, “What happened?” a lot.
  • Stinger: “Moon rock? Oh wow!”
  • Alternate Stinger: Perfect!
  • Bechdel Test: Fail. None of the female characters converse with each other, with Kathy being the sole speaking female for the bulk of the film.

1008: Final Justice [Grade: D]

At the end of their riffing of Mitchell, one of them (I think it was Crow) made a crack wondering how come Mitchell II never got off the ground. Well, this movie is that in spirit if not in name, as Joe Don Baker once again portrays a trigger-happy vigilante cop. What’s particularly sad is how the lead character is being presented as another Dirty Harry. But Joe Don Baker is no Clint Eastwood and is further undermined by his pudgy physique.

The plot involves our Texan deputy lead T.J. having captured a Mafiosi, who he is escorting to Italy for extradition. The latter’s mob ties arrange for their flight to be redirected to Malta, where the car trip to the local hoosegow gets hijacked, letting him go free. T.J. then makes it a personal mission to recapture the miscreant (often at odds with the local authorities), all the while indulging in just about every Ugly American Tourist stereotype you can think of. It’s quite a slog. Helena Abdella, a former Miss Malta who portrays Maria Cassar in her only screen credit, likely does not look back at this production with much fondness. Seeing as how she’s currently a prominent fixture in the Maltese government (though mostly in what appear to be fluff posts), the movie’s often unflattering portrayal of that institution is probably something regarded as objectionable.

Though the depiction of the Maltese government here might be closer to truth than might be comfortable. During the last discussion of this episode at Satellite News, one of the posters brought up an article from his newsfeed that concerned the state of Malta’s government, which focused on the then recent assassination of native journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Apparently, the level of corruption there makes the Daly Machine and Tammany Hall look squeaky clean in comparison. Throw in law enforcement described as at best incompetent and maybe a psychotic vigilante cop would be a step up.

Host segments are kind of disappointing. Pearl’s failed attempt at injecting humor in the workplace is another one of those instances where they do something too well. Mike and the Bots complaining to her about a scene in the movie where a shot is used twice in quick succession is a bit too labored. However, Mike’s attempt to mimic Joel’s original escape (which occurred after watching Mitchell) is worth a few chuckles. Also, Crow’s report on Malta is hilarious, thanks primarily to his over-the-top rage.

  • Favorite riff: “Not getting anything done in this hotel room.” Well not anything you need to know about.
  • Stinger: “Yew think yew kin take me? Go ‘head on. It’s yer move.”
  • Alternate Stinger: Agree.
  • Bechdel Test: Fail. None of the female characters converse with each other.

1009: Hamlet [Grade: A+]

Infamous for being the most controversial episode, not many fans have a neutral opinion on this one. From my (admittedly unscientific) observations, the lovers have a comfortable majority, though there are some among the haters who like to pretend that it’s universally despised. Seeing as how the poll conducted among backers of the Bring Back MST3K Kickstarter had Hamlet ranked at 74 out of 176 reveals that belief as the load of horse hoo it is.

Anyway, it can be said that this episode simulates a true Globe Theater experience. After all, theatergoers in Shakespeare’s day weren’t snooty poseurs who wanted to believe that the plays were being written by Edward de Vere. They were regular folks like you and me looking for some quality entertainment. And if they thought they weren’t getting any, it’s reasonable to believe that they would heckle the performers and maybe pelt them with rancid produce for good measure.

But it still begs the question as to why Hamlet. When you think about it, Hamlet is very reminiscent of other protagonists featured on MST3K. By that I mean he’s an ineffectual chump who blunders through the narrative screwing up at every opportunity, with everything finishing in a colossal mess. Put that way, he’s no different from Rod Tillman or Jimmy Wilson or Marvin Grant or Paul Niles.

Then there’s the issue of why this specific Hamlet. The theory I’ve heard is that the Brains had been hoping that this made for German television production dubbed back into English would feature a Blind Idiot Translation. To give you an idea of what could have been, I ran the second line of the To Be or Not to Be soliloquy through Google Translate from English to German and back to English and got the following: “Whether it is nobler in the head to suffer the slings and arrows of unheard-of luck or to take up arms against a sea of troubles and fight them by fighting them.” That would have been great. Tragically, the company that handled the dub was lazy and just had the voice actors read straight from the original play script. You can spot a couple of instances where the dialogue doesn’t really match what’s happening on the screen, suggesting that the adaptation took a few liberties.

In the missed opportunities department, Horatio was portrayed by Karl Michael Vogler, who was Rommel in Patton. Certainly, Hamlet’s enthusiastic greeting of Horatio would have been a perfect moment to insert a Magnificent Bastard riff.

Host segments are a massive improvement over what we got in the previous episode. As to why any version of Hamlet would be screened, it turns out that it was part of a bet after Mike scammed Pearl into a game of three card monte. While things like the Bots pretending to be the ghost of Mike’s dad and the Hamlet action figure with real soliloquy action provided several laughs, the real winner was Alas Poor Who?, the game show where you identify persons from bits of their skeletal structure. As a point of interest, all of the people mentioned in that sketch were still alive at the time it first aired.

  • Favorite riff: “To cut his throat in a church!” Now see, that’s a little over the top.
  • Stinger: Claudius does a double take.
  • Alternate Stinger: Agree.
  • Bechdel Test: Fail. Gertrude and Ophelia are the only female characters with speaking roles (aside from the brief line from the lesbian clown), and they never converse with each other.

1010: It Lives by Night [Grade: C]

Of the three Ineffectual Chump Becomes a Werebeast While Receiving Aggressive Emotional Support from His Paramour movies, this one has to be the most confounding. The manbeast transformations of Werewolf and Track of the Moon Beast make sense on their own terms, one coming from a supernatural source while the other goes a science fiction route. But this movie offers no justification. As far as the creative staff is concerned, getting bitten by a bat results in the victim turning into a werebat. No indication that it was radioactive bat or other such tomfoolery.

The circumstances leading up to the infection are nearly as stupid, as it starts when the two leads fall back during a cave tour so that they can have sex. I suppose lust-addled newlyweds might be capable of such poor judgment, but that sort of idiocy is more commonly associated with teens. Another issue is that none of the major characters are particularly likable or sympathetic. Once John realizes what has happened to him, he takes on an attitude that borders on sociopathic. Cathy (referred to by the riffers as Mary Tyler Less on account of her resemblance to Mary Tyler Moore) is just kind of grating and useless. As for Sergeant Ward, his sleaziness and obvious stalking of Cathy is quite repulsive.

One possibly intriguing aspect of these three werebeast films is that they link into a circle of sorts. Werewolf and Moon Beast have their ineffectual chump named Paul. Moon Beast and IT Lives by Night have their aggressively supportive paramour named Cathy. Finally, IT Lives by Night and Werewolf have the paramour become a werebeast as well, with the strong implication that it was sexually transmitted.

Host segments are a bland lot, with the only memorable one being the Mary Tyler Moore sketch. Much of that is thanks to Mike’s hilarious Ted Knight impression.

  • Favorite riff: “Doctor, one of the nurses told me what happened.” You pinched her bippy
  • Stinger: John says “Well?” then convulses.
  • Alternate Stinger: Perfect!
  • Bechdel Test: Fail. None of the female characters converse with each other, with Mary Tyler Less as the sole speaking female character for most of the film.

1011: Horrors of Spider Island [Grade: D]

It’s been a while since we’ve had a true slog of a movie. But that’s exactly what we get with this German/Yugoslavian co-produced mockery of all that’s good and true. Though a significant part of the problem concerns the English dub, which can’t reasonably be blamed on the original production team. As well as the usual stiff and awkward reads you get with these low-end foreign film dubs, it has truly distracting walla. As with any other background sound in a movie, walla should enhance a scene rather than draw attention to itself.

However, the European team should be held accountable for the hare-brained plot, involving a troupe of female dancers who are flying to Singapore when their plane inexplicably catches fire and crashes. As a result, we get an idea of what Gilligan’s Island would have been like if all the characters were unflattering variants on Ginger or Mary Ann. Mostly this involves catfights and casual stripping. In fact, it’s reputed that the original European cut had a fair bit of straight up nudity. All American audiences got were a few long shots of some skinny-dipping. There’s also something with a giant homicidal spider, but it comes across as having been thrown in at the last second.

Host segments are largely underwhelming. The one with Mike trapped in a giant spider web is worth a few chuckles. But the parody of the dance audition scene is even more unpleasant and painful than what occurred in the movie.

  • Favorite riff: Man, this is too much even for me, Mike. Can’t we see a couple of elderly scientists in lab coats talking nonstop instead?
  • Stinger: The girls scream from the void.
  • Alternate Stinger: “There’s absolutely no reason yet to fear the worst. Until now, we only know that the plane caught fire and that we’ve lost radio contact.”
  • Bechdel Test: Pass. There are multiple non-male conversations between the members of the Shrill Harpy Dance Troupe.

1012: Squirm (with A Case of Spring Fever) [Grade: D]

While educational shorts where a person is lectured to by an imaginary entity are a dime a dozen, usually the subject is a child. As well as featuring an adult in such a position, this short employed the trope of a person making a rash wish and a supernatural entity granting it to show the dire consequences six years before It’s a Wonderful Life. In this case, a malicious sprite named Coily erases springs from existence. Once the shmuck recants his wish, he then goes about yammering about the wonders of springs to his golf buddies. It’s a wonder he didn’t get beaned with his own driver and dropped into a water hazard, weighed down with his own clubs. The fact that he kept talking while one of them was attempting a shot alone would have justified it.

The feature is one of those nature bites back movies that proliferated during the 1970s. In this case, a power line falling on a worm farm causes them to become aggressive flesh-eaters. As it was shot in Georgia, this means we get treated to some of the more obnoxious negative Southerner stereotypes. This is possibly meant to distract from how Yankee protagonist Mick (who bears a strong resemblance to Doctor Who companion Turlough) is a condescending jackass. Personally, I found the half-wit worm farmer more appealing, and he’s an obvious knock-off of Jack Elam’s character from The Girl in Lovers Lane.

Host segments again fall flat, with Mikey the Mike Sprite being especially labored. At least Mike’s attempts to use electricity to create mutant worms provokes a few laughs.

  • Favorite riff: No springs? I don’t care, there’s still butter and meatloaf!
  • Stinger: “You gonna be da worm face!”
  • Alternate Stinger: Agree.
  • Bechdel Test: Pass. Geri and Alma discuss their concerns regarding their mother’s mental state.

1013: Diabolik [Grade: A+++]

A while back, I found a Diabolik collection at a library sale and snapped it up. Since it’s in Italian, I only have the roughest idea of what’s going on in it. One of the more curious differences between the comic book (or graphic novel if you must, but a wuss slap will be coming if you insist on sequential art) and its film adaptation concerns Diabolik’s good time gal Eva. Specifically, her day-to-day garb in the comic book is far less slutty than what she wears in the movie, consisting of sweater and slacks.

As I understand it, Diabolik started out as what at best could be considered an antivillain, but later was toned down into more of a Robin Hood type character. This movie was likely made before or during that transition, as he seems unconcerned with all the collateral damage he leaves in his wake (something which Mike and the Bots remark on). Among his capers are the theft of ten million dollars (carried in sacks with dollar signs, just like in old timey cartoons), an emerald necklace, and a twenty-ton gold ingot. This being the 1960s, all these heists are accomplished with James Bond style tomfoolery. And speaking of Bond, Thunderball villain Adolfo Celi makes an appearance as a crime boss working against Diabolik. The ending is kind of weird, as it appears Diabolik has been defeated, with the cops raiding his lair and him having been coated with molten gold. But there’s an insinuation that he’s not really down for the count. But how he would escape we’ll never know, as the mediocre box office performance killed any chances for a sequel. Still, it’s nice that MST3K could end its original run with something energetic and silly instead of one of the pain-inducing slogs seen in the previous two episodes.

As you might expect, the host segments are in top form as Pearl’s rash actions cause the Satellite of Love to initiate reentry procedures. The song “To Earth” is one of the better songs of the season. One issue with it though is that Mike (who admittedly has always been a mediocre singer at best) gives a particularly poor performance. It might have been deliberate, but intentional badness rarely works for me. The conclusion where they’re living in a cramped apartment and sit down to watch a Saturday afternoon screening of The Crawling Eye on a local TV station is a nice touch.

  • Favorite riff: “Wonder how those guys would feel if they knew they were guarding all this wastepaper instead of ten million dollars?” They’d feel hurt, sir.
  • Stinger: “Is that stud coming?”
  • Alternate Stinger: Trap door opens under a dissenting gangster.
  • Bechdel Test: Fail. None of the female characters ever converse with one another.

Bechdel Test totals as of Season 10: 92 Pass, 83 Fail, 1 Ambiguous

And thus ended the original series. Even so, the spirit of riffing would continue to manifest as the cast members later went on to projects like Cinematic Titanic, RiffTrax, and The Mads Are Back. As long as there are incompetently made films, the urge to make wisecracks will not be dead the way you know it. It is with us always. Not dead the way you know it. It is with us always. No matter where we go it is with us.

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