Friday, December 23, 2011

MST3K: Episode K16 - City on Fire

I'm attempting to watch all the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. All of them. Why? Why not. Background on the project can be found here and here.

Episode K16: City on Fire

First aired: KTMA on 19 March 1989

Mildly-peeved researchers
The film that Joel & the Bots are subjected to during this episode is about a Canadian city located in the Midwest of the U.S. catching fire through a series of unfortunate events. If only the filmstock had caught fire.

Drs. Forrester and Erhardt are upset that the Guild of Calamitous Intent, or the Mad Scientists League -- I forget which -- that says they aren't really mad scientists but more mildly-peeved researchers. They are more than mildly-peeved over that assessment.

We don't see J&tB until after the movie starts. The opening segment between the Peeveds Mads ends with them going to watch the movie.

"Don't smoke"
Even though there's no opening "Movie Sign!" bit, later on, they end a host segment with Joel yelling "Movie sign!" and then run down the hallway. Cambot runs over them again.

Joel does his "Hell in a Handbag" skit. He repeats that during one of the nationally-available seasons.

Servo does another Yul Brynner gag: "Now that I'm dead, don't smoke." Josh Weinstein loved that gag.

They do the Lassie thing a couple of times. Still funny.

There are a couple of references to M*A*S*H, including one that I thought was pretty obscure. During an operating room scene -- there's a hospital and it catches on fire along with the rest of the city -- Joel mentions that there's no laugh track. In the TV version of M*A*S*H, they used a laugh track in almost every scene, but not in any operating room scene.

Shelly Winters plays a Shelly Winter-type character
My buddy Mad Max couldn't stand the film:
They spend the first hour or so with "human-interest" sub-plots in an attempt to engage the viewer and develop empathy/concern for the characters. But, in most cases, the more you learn about the characters, the less you like them.

For example, there's a nurs who was more than likely intended to be seen as kindly and maternal, but came across as shrill, bossy, and obnoxious. I croacked out a coughing "Huzzah!" when a burning building fell on her.
He's got a point.

Old flames
The ad-lib nature of the KTMA season is evident by them stepping on each other's lines. Joel steps on Servo, then apologizes. Servo delivers his line, and Joel says "I'm glad I interrupted you." Crow chimes in, "We're beginning to annoy ourselves. Cool."

My favorite riff: "She's an old flame."

The film uses footage of real fires intercut with the acting, which means some of the special effects aren't effects, but actual footage.

The copy of the episode I have includes several spots of distortion that appear to be because of the VCR recording. It doesn't ruin the film, though. The filmmakers did that.

More MST3K after Christmas. If you're nice. Or naughty. Either way, you've been warned.

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