Wednesday, December 7, 2011

MST3K: Episode K05 - Gamera

I've decided to watch all the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. Some people watch Sparkly Vampire movies. I watch bad movies while spacemen and robots riff it.

Background on this little adventure can be found here and here.

Episode K05: Gamera

First aired: KTMA on 11 December 1988

I mentioned previously that the KTMA season (Season Zero) has never been commercially released. The only copies available are because the whole "keep circulating the tapes" thing. The episodes that can be found were recorded on VCRs from over-the-air broadcasts in 1988 & 1989. So, the quality isn't great. And, for some episodes, isn't even good.

No Mad Scientists were harmed in the making of this episode. Because they weren't present.
Once again, the Mad Scientists don't appear. The premise of the show has already developed to include them, since they are seen and sung about in the show opening:
In the not-too-distant future
Next Sunday, A.D.
There was a guy named Joel,
Not too different than you or me.
He worked in a satellite loading bay,
Just polishing switches to pay his way.
He did his job well with a cheerful face,
But his bosses didn't like him so they shot him into space.

"We'll send him cheesy movies..."
"...The worst ever made."
Joel says, "When you got lemons,
You make lemonade."
Now keep in mind he can't control
When the movies begin or end,
Because he used the extra parts
To make his robot friends.

Robot roll call:

If you're wondering how he eats and breathes
And other science facts,
Just repeat to yourself "It's just a show,
I should really just relax
For Mystery Science Theater 3000."
Crow the Christmas Tree
Crow appears in this show, but doesn't really participate. He agreed to be frozen to be a Christmas tree. According to different places on the Internet, Trace Beaulieu, who plays Crow and Dr. Forrester, was unavailable for the show, so they decided to do the Christmas tree gag. When they showed the flashback of Crow being frozen, the voice didn't sound like Crow from the previous episode, so I'm guessing (I don't know this, just guessing) that someone else did the voice for that skit.

Joel is alone in the theater. A frozen Crow explains that robot's absence, but I didn't understand why Servo wasn't there. Server was in some skits, however. Maybe they filmed the skits on a different day than the riffing, and J. Elvis (nee Josh) Weinstein wasn't available for the riffing, but I don't know what the reason was.

Gypsy became a female sometime after the Demo/Pilot was filmed.
Gypsy makes an appearance. She doesn't have the high-pitched voice we're familiar with. Her voice sounds like someone talking while breathing in.

Joel's solo riffing wasn't bad, but there was no playing off each other since, well, there was no other person there. A couple of times, he laughed out loud ... perhaps at some of the bad dialog in the movie. Or maybe some of the staff was trying to break him up. Whatever the cause, it was different seeing him laugh out lout at the movie.

Again, the format is still new and being tweaked, so it's not quite like the MST3K I remember. Of course, having seen more Mike than Joel episodes, I'm not sure if it's the personality of the experiment subject, or just the early development of the format.

Creative transcription of a call.
Funniest part of the show was one of the callers who talked about loving the turtle movies, mentioning that "giant mutant turtles aren't really all that bad... They breathe fire and shit ... and they're really good at weenie roasts..."

About the movie: during the into, Joel kept calling Gamera "Gameron." I don't know if that was a mistake or if he did it on purpose. Oh, and I laughed out loud at the accent of "The Commander" during the shoot-down scenes at the beginning of the film.

The rest of the film was, to me, a Japanese Silly Monster movie. And, a poor quality one; the images were hard to see. I don't know how much of that was caused by a poor quality print and how much was caused by the VCR recording. There were also some distortions that were common in VHS recordings. I so do not miss VCRs.

I still shake my head every time I see Gamera shooting flames out his leg holes and spinning around and flying. They must have good drugs in Japan.

The episode was hard to watch, because the movie was hard to watch. The solo effort was valiant, but riffing isn't a one-man job. Perhaps it was the lateness of the hour, but I actually fell asleep during the last 20 minutes of the movie. Five times. Really. Each time, I woke up after the episode ended and had to fast-forward to the last part I remember and pick it up. Except the last time. I fell asleep and stayed asleep. Just woke up, forwarded to where the falling asleep first started, and watched the ending. Stayed awake for it, but almost wish I hadn't.

During the Comedy Central years, the crew also riffed this movie and I remember that. It must have been funnier because I seem to remember enjoying it. Checking the list of episodes, it looks like they re-did five Gamera movies, plus another three movies that were done during the KTMA/Season Zero year. Some of the later version I remember, some I don't.

The closing credit showed Josh Weinstein, Trace Beaulieu, and Kevin Murphy as "Puppet Operation and Voices." All my references show that Kevin took over as Servo when Josh left the series a couple of years later, so I'm not sure what puppet or voice he did in this episode. It could have been, like Trace for this episode, a standard credit. I hadn't noticed that Kevin also received puppet and voice credit in the previous episode, but, after rechecking, I see that he had. This is in addition to his other credits, such as camera, lighting, writing, etc.

Next up, another Gamera movie. Maybe I'll stay awake for that one.

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