Tuesday, January 31, 2012

MST3K: Episode 207 - Wild Rebels

I have decided to watch all of the episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I started with the first show aired, and am slowly working my way through them all. More about that can be found here and here.

Episode 207: Wild Rebels

First aired: The Comedy Channel on 17 November 1990
Availability: Amazon (Volume 9), Rhino (Volume 9/out of print), MST3KVideos.com

Joel chats with Gypsy
This episode is hard to find. Very hard to find. It's never been released as a solo episode, but was part of the Volume 9 multi-pack. Volume 9 is out of print, though one of those four (not this one) is available for sale as a solo episode. You can find the episode at fan sites, as well as from Amazon sellers. See the links above.

This is another episode that I had never seen before I began my task to watch all the episodes. Most of the other commercial releases from Season One and Season Two were shows that I had seen on Netflix or iTunes. Not so with this one. That's because Volume 9 is hard-to-find.

Yes, I own it -- I own all the commercially-released episodes -- but actually had never popped this particular DVD into a player.

The biggest thing about this episode is: Tom Servo gets his old head back. After two episodes looking like Kid of Kid N' Play, he's the lovable bubblehead we want him to be.

Bank robbery. Useless information: it's either 1965 or 1971, based on the calendar.
Gypsy has a larger role than normal. According to The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, they felt bad that the only female character had displayed a limited vocabulary and was performed by a man. They emphasized the story that most of her processing power was running the higher functions of the ship. Which doesn't fit the storyline that Joel built her after he was sent into space. Yes, I know: it's just a show, I should really just relax.

Joel is wearing his teal jumpsuit. And he's got one of those beatnik goatee things going. He looks kinda like Maynard G. Krebs.

This episode's film is a biker movie. After Episode 202: The Side Hackers, I wasn't looking forward to another bike movie. This wasn't quite the same. No rape-murder, at least. Just several plain old murders, which is much, much better.

This celluloid masterpiece stars Steve Alaimo, who was best known as host of the Dick Clark-produced Where the Action Is in the mid-late 1960s.
"Free Bird!"Steve Alaimo's crooning affects Tom Servo.
It also has an actor that appeared in a holiday classic. The biker called "Fats" is played by Jeff Gillen. You may remember him best as Santa Claus in A Christmas Story.
Jeff Gillen as "Fats"Jeff Gillen as "Santa"
Lots to make fun of in this film. The chase scene after the bank robbery involved tires squealing on a dirt road in the swamp. Maybe it was, as Tom Servo said, the Squealing Swamp. Which is better than the Fire Swamp. No ROUSes, at least. Unless you count the characters Banjo and Fats.

There is a scene where -- and I'm not sure if this is the lighting or the coloring of the film, or if it's an actual goof -- the hero's car changes color in the middle of the race.
One colorAnother color
Oh, the plot of the movie? Yes, it had one. A group of bikers decide to knock over a bank, and use a washed-up stock car racer (who sings and plays guitar) as getaway driver, but what they don't know is that he's actually working undercover for the police. Side plot involves the slutty girlfriend of the bikers -- they were taught to share -- falls for the driver/singer. Things go badly.

This episode is an okay one. Not a great one, but not a bad one.

Oh, and this episode didn't have a stinger. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide says it has one (Steve Alaimo dancing in the biker bar), but neither my DVD copy nor my iTunes copy has one.

Monday, January 30, 2012

MST3K: Episode 206 - Ring Of Terror

I'm watching all of the episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, from start to finish. More about that can be found here and here.

Episode 206: Ring Of Terror

First aired: The Comedy Channel on 3 November 1990
Availability: iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon DVD (Volume 11), Rhino (Volume 11/out of print), Best Brains (Volume 11)

"Movie Sign!" ... Not!
This one is dark. Literally. It's hard to see. The blue/purple tinting is really evident, but it actually helps. Without the tinting, you'd never be able to see the shadows of Joel & the Bots.

It's hard to see for another reason: the DVD of the episode is out of print. Oh, it is available from a variety of sources, as you can see from the listing above. It's available fo streaming from iTunes and Amazon. It is part of a four-pack (Volume 11) that's out of print, and though Rhino no longer has the pack, Amazon and Best Brains do. Additionally, the episodes in the four-pack are still in stock at MST3K.com. See the links above, if you want to add this episode to your collection.

This episode opens with a joke played on Joel by the Bots: They do a fake "Movie Sign," and we get to see Joel use the tube to the theater. Not sure when that was installed. I never noticed him using it before.

Joel is back to wearing the teal jumpsuit. They should have changed the lyrics to the song. I know: it's just a show, I should really just relax.

In the Invention Exchange, Frank does Frank (Dennis Hopper) from Blue Velvet. If you've never seen that film, you probably won't get the joke. And, while watching the movie would help you get the joke, I can't say that it's worth it. Unless you want to see something you'll never, ever forget. Ever.

Dr. Forrester's invention is great: it's a life-size game of Operation, using Frank as Cavity Sam. Funny stuff. My favorite Host Segment was the autopsy of the Hoover vacuum cleaner. I'm not a fan of autopsy humor, but this was well done.

42-year-old George Mather plays 23-year-old Lewis Moffit.
The bad part about great Invention Exchange or Host Segments is that they often coincide with a really bad movie. Not just bad. Not just MST3K bad, but poke sharp implements into my eyeballs bad. That's this movie.

The plot of the movie is enough to fill a five-minute short. If you filmed it twice. Here it is: a college student has to steal a ring from a corpse, but a cat distracts him, his coat gets caught on something, then he gets scared and dies. Really. That's the plot.

There was a Twilight Zone episode, The Grave, with a similar plot and ending that aired a year before this movie was made. I'm not suggesting that this movie stole the plot from the Twilight Zone. The Twilight Zone episode is an old west retelling of "The Path Through the Cemetery," a short story by Leonard Q. Ross. There are a lot of similarities between Ross' tale and this one.

The payoff: Lewis' coat is caught, and he dies of fright. The end.
The college students are 40 years old. Well, the actors are. The characters are 20. They're played by people that are 40.

Joel & the Bots make fun of this during a Host Segment, where they do a promo for a college: The Old School. When I was younger, I would have thought that was funny. Now, I'm thinking that's where I'd like to go if I decide to pick up some additional courses.

They reversed the order of things on this episode. After the movie, Joel was happy that things went so quickly. That's when the Mads surprised him with a short film: The Phantom Creeps, Chapter 3. That was evil.

Frank makes up for it -- sort of -- with his song at the end of the show: "If Chauffeurs Ruled the World." That almost makes watching an episode of The Phantom Creeps worth it.

Hoover autopsyFrank sings!
I liked the riffing in the movie and the short. Had the picture quality been better, it would have helped things. The movie and short wouldn't have been any better, quality-wise, but you could at least see how bad they were. Instead, I had to hear how bad they were.

They were bad. And that's good.

Friday, January 27, 2012

MST3K: Episode 205 - Rocket Attack U.S.A.

I'm watching all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes, beginning with the beginning. More about that can be found here and here.

Episode 205: Rocket Attack U.S.A.

First aired: The Comedy Channel on 27 October 1990
Availability: MST3KVideos.com

Tom Servo gets a haircut.
This is another episode that's never been made available commercially. Unless you saw it when it aired on The Comedy Channel or Comedy Central, or obtain a fan copy of a recording of one of those broadcasts, you're out of luck.

My recording seems to be from 1992. During the closing credits, the Penn Gillette voice-over mentions the debut of The A List, which, I believe, was in 1992. The Comedy Central logo is the one from 1991-1993.

The color is slightly washed-out, but the audio is okay. The washed-out look makes the poor quality of both the short and the movie even more noticeable.

The Mads' invention: Table Water Polo
The Mads' Tank Tops and Joel's Mirth Mortar both appear in the opening theme, as does another scene from this episode.

Tom Servo gets a haircut. That skinny hed doesn't look good at all. I want the bubble back! Paul Chaplin, writing in The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, says the change was intended to be a temporary change from the start. Other sources say that the Comedy Channel suits has received complaints that Servo's head was blocking the movie and the change was to fix that. For what it's worth, Chaplin wasn't on staff during Season Two; he joined the writing staff in Season Three.

I love the Mads' Invention Exchange Table Water Polo. I'd play that! And the final segment was fun. But the first two Host Segments seem to go on and on. And on. And on.

"Fresh, delicious, tree-ripened girl!"
During the third Host Segment, Joel says his character's last name for the first time. The credits have listed "Joel Robinson" as the character's name since Season Two began, but this is the first mentioning of the name during the show.

He gives his name to a visitor to the Satellite of Love, a Russian comedian stranded in space with two robots. Mike Nelson plays the guy trapped in space. This means that Mike has appeared in four of five Season Two episode so far.

During the segment, the Hexfield Viewer finally gets a working opening. The window shade is gone, and the lens-opening makes it's debut. The first time the lens-opening happens is used in the show's opening theme, beginning with this episode.

Flying into Russia
Another "Hai Kiba!" (or is it "Hi Keeba?") reference. No pratfall, but a quickly grabbing of one character by another.

We get the return of "Oh, I'd hate to shoot a butt like that!" That's the first time since Josh left. In fact, the last time, I think, was in a Commando Cody short.

There are some scenes where Joel & the Bots do the 2001 chorus, and it took me a minute to get it. At first, I thought it was just a ghostly wailing, and I looked for a ghostly character. Then, I figured it was simply referring to the dark setting. Then, it hit me: the monolith! I felt so stupid.

The plot of the movie? American agents fly a small plane into the Soviet Union after Sputnik orbits the earth. They want to find if the Soviet Union learned all they needed to know to defeat the United States. They did. And, after an overthrow of the Soviet government by even more evil communists, they do. The left-leaning political leanings of Joel, in particular, are evident by the skits.

Overall, though, a good episode, but not a great episode.

Oh, and something new began with this episode. It features the first stinger: the blind man saying, "Help me."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cartoon of the Day: Sit, Newt, Sit!

I thought this was funny.

[Direct link: Chuck Assay]

I used to work in Jacksonville. Them folks don't like other folks coming to town to tell them to sit down and shut up. If the crowd is actually people from Jacksonville, I expect they'll cheer, boo, or whatever, if they feel like it. If they are a bunch of transplants or college kids, they'll follow meekly along.

Florida isn't a southern state, except by accident of geography. Jacksonville, though, is a southern city. Or it was last time I was there.

So, are you going to watch the debate tonight?

MST3K: Episode 204 - Catalina Caper

I've decided to watch all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes from the beginning. More about that can be found here and here.

Episode 204: Catalina Caper

First aired: The Comedy Channel on 13 October 1990
Availability: Amazon (Volume 1), Rhino (Volume 1/out of print), MST3KVideos.com

"Jacques Cousteau meets the Pink Panther"
This was one of the first episodes released on DVD. It was part of the first multi-pack DVD sets, following the first 10 single DVD releases. The set is no longer available commercially. It was also the first of the MST3K episodes to have the rights to the movie expire, and, therefore, the first one to have to come out of rotation.

This episode is one that I didn't see when it first aired, or in reruns. I never saw it until it came out on DVD. Netflix had it on disc once, but no longer. This one is hard to find.

When I first saw it -- before I began this whole "watch 'em all in order" project -- I was mildly amused by it. Since, at the time, I was still used to the later crew -- Mike, Kevin, Bill, & Mary Jo -- it was a different experience. Watching it now, after two years of the original crew (KTMA and Season One), I'm able to see it without the shock of a different cast.

Tom Servo sings "Creepy Girl"
In this episode, Joel has gone back to a red jumpsuit, after three episodes in a teal outfit. I didn't understand the move to teal, since the opening song mentions that he's "just another face in a red jumpsuit," so the change back to red makes sense.

It's a movie form the 1960s. And the first Host Segment during the film featured Joel telling the Bots about the '60s. He pretty much nailed it. Joel and I are around the same age (he's 19 months younger), so he remembers pretty much the same stuff I remember.

Kevin has his first feature segment. Tom Servo sings a song called "Creepy Girl." It's hilarious. I hadn't seen it before. But it's great.
Yes, that's Little Richard

Little Richard is in the film. Really. Like the Bots said, he's the only talent in the film. Naturally, his backing band is the Pat Boone Orchestra. Not really. But it could be. Could have been worse; we could have had Richard Dreyfuss singing "Hey Little Goldfish" to a dolphin.

The movie is a light-hearted affair about a robbery in Catalina. Of course, with a title like Catalina Caper, you'd figure that, right. There is a lot of eye candy in the film.

This is the first comedy the crew has attempted. Which means it's funny when it isn't funny and they point out how unfunny the funny is. The film actually has a plot: there's a theft of a priceless artwork, a double-cross, and a bunch of teens dancing on the beach. What the teens dancing on the beach have to do with the main plot isn't clear, but it doesn't matter; it's the point, I think.

"They're standing four abreast."
This isn't a great episode, but a good one. It's certainly not a bad episode. Not an episode with lots of laugh out-loud funny bits, but there are a few chuckles.

In The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, Mike Nelson -- the MST3K Head Writer, not the character played by Lloyd Bridges in Sea Hunt -- says that by the time they had watched this film for the last time, they hated it, even more than they hated The Side Hackers.

They get in a "Hai Kiba" (or is it "Hi Keeba?") in this one, but not during a pratfall. It makes an appearance during a dance scene.

Trace (as Crow) does a couple of Robin Williams impressions. He's pretty good at it, actually.

On, and a catchphrase appears to have graduated to the next level. The "By this time my lungs were aching for air" riff -- said in the style of Lloyd Bridges of Sea Hunt fame -- was attempted twice, but each time was cut off by the others. The riff is no longer the joke; the saying of the riff is now the joke.

Joel says "MSTies" during the final segment. It's the earliest episode in which I recall him using that term to refer to fans of MST3K.

One other thing... during the Invention Exchange, the Mads introduce their "Tank Tops" ... made from real tanks! And Joel shows the Tickle Bazooka with the Mirth Mortar. We'll see those again.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

MST3K: Episode 203 - Jungle Goddess

I am attempting to watch all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes in order. More about that can be found here and here.

Episode 203: Jungle Goddess

First aired: The Comedy Channel on 6 October 1990
Availability: MST3KVideos.com

For the 6th time in the last 8 episodes, we're encountering one that's never been available commerically. Most of Season One and Season Two are or have been available on DVD. We're just in a stretch of mostly never-released episodes.

Remote-controlled circular saw
The copy I have is from a broadcast on Comedy Central. That's based on the original Comedy Central logo in the corner. That means it's from 1991, 1992, or 1993. There is no Penn Gillette voice-over at the end, which indicates it's from late 1991 (after the change to Comedy Central and before Gillette began his announcing duties), or late 1993 (after Gillette was no longer the announcer). Of course, it could be that there was simply no voice-over, which means it's anywhere in that 2-year stretch.

My copy has a problem with the sound. By the end of the episode, the sound is slightly out-of-sync with the picture. It isn't noticeable unti a little over half-way through, and then, just barely so. By the end of the episode, though, there's no question that the picture and sound are not quite in sync.

The quality of the image isn't bad. That's a little hard to tell, since the image quality of both the movie and the short are terrible. But, during the Host Segments, the picture is much clearer, though obviously a recording from a broadcast.

The Invention Exchange features a gag I had never seen before: Joel did a remote-control circular saw gag. Not sure how he did, or would have done, that live. Funny, though.

Bad Robot
After getting used to Josh Weinstein as Tom Servo, I'm now getting used to Kevin Murphy (again) as the voice of Tom Servo.

For the first time since the Commando Cody film broke, we have a short film. This is part 1 of 12 of The Phantom Creeps., starring Bela Lugosi.

Why the way, Kevin does the best Bela Lugosi imitation. Or maybe it's Joel. Bela Lugosi does a pretty good one, too, by the way.

The short features the stupidest looking robot ever. Well, excluding Buck Rogers and other 1970s TV shows. But those were meant for kids. This is meant to scare adults. It doesn't.

The Great White Hunters of the film
They do another Yul Brynner reference in the short. When the mad doctor (Bela Lugosi) and his driver pick up a hitchhiker, they run off the road shortly afterwards. Doctor/Bela and the driver survive, but not the hitchhiker. That's when they say "I'm dead now. Don't hitchhike."

This is also the short film where Lugosi utters the line, "How fortunate. This simplifies everything!" We'll hear that line again.

On to the movie. It's bad. Really bad. No, really. It's bad. The image quality is horrible, and the sound is bad. It's not the recording of the episode, because, as I mentioned, the host segments look and sound just fine.

Mike Nelson appears in another skit. This time, he's a Great White Hunter, based on the George Reeves character in the movie, coming to visit the Satellite of Love. That's three straight episodes where he makes an appearance. Looks like the promotion came with screen time.

"Looks like they all just got out of the shower." "Yeah, and they're on a snipe hunt.""It's Ginger and Mary Ann!"
I began watching the show regularly after Mike took over. But I had seen some of the episodes with Joel. One thing I remember from the Mike years was Pearl Forrester (Dr. Forrester's mom) calling Crow by the name "Art." I knew his name was Crow T. Robot, so I just figured it was a gag where Pearl didn't know his name and they quit bothering to try to correct her. Not so.

At the end of this episode, there's a sitcom skit, and when they finish, Joel does introductions like Jackie Gleason did at the end of his show. He introduces "Art Crow" and "Sheila MacGypsy" in the manner Gleason introduced Art Carney ("Ed Norton") and Sheila MacRae (the 3rd and final "Alice Kramden").

In a later episode, this will be referenced again when ... well, if you don't know the story, we'll cover it when we get to it.

Good riffing throughout. This is the classic MST3K crew: Joel, Trace/Crow, and Kevin/Tom. Though more changes in the cast will come, for the next few seasons, this will be the cast. Not the cast I was used to, but the one I'm used to now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

MST3K: Episode 202 - The Side Hackers

I'm watching all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes in order. More about that can be found here and here.

Episode 202: The Side Hackers

First aired: The Comedy Channel on 29 September 1990
Availability: Amazon (Volume 3), Rhino (Volume 3/out of print), MST3KVideos.com

Jerry (R) and Sylvia (L) get the Mads ready
This is one of those that used to be available, but no longer. The Side Hackers (or The Sidehackers) was part of a three-movie four-pack (the other disc was a collection of short subjects, not an MST3K episode). The collection is out of print, but the other two movies have since been released as single episode discs, leading me to believe the rights to this movie expired, and that's what caused the four-pack to be removed from sale. I don't know that, just making a guess, but that would explain it.

I have the Rhino four-pack, and have ripped the episode out to iTunes, so I can watch it whenever I want. I don't want to very often, because, well, this isn't a good film. And, it's not one of their better efforts with the riffing.

Cambot joins the fun
This is also the movie that was responsible for ... well, let's call it a "learning experience." Here's what happened. The MST3K writing team previewed a portion of a film before making the decision to include it in the show. Note, "a portion of a film" means "not the entire film."

After selecting it, when the writers watched it to riff it, they were shocked by the brutal rape/murder scene. I've seen those scenes. They aren't something you'd want or expect to see on a show airing on a comedy network. The problem was, the rape/murder was a major plot point of the film. They could have made several cuts to omit the most graphic and disturbing (not the same thing, in this instance) images, and still get across the point that the girlfriend was raped and murdered. But, the easiest thing to do was to cut several minutes out of the film and have Crow utter the line, "For those of you playing along at home, Rita is dead."

"J.C" (Mike Nelson, R) and "Cooch" (Frank Conniff)
According to The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, after this episode, they never gave the green light to a film without watching the whole film first.

The plot of the film isn't actually sidehacking, which, by the way, is a real sport -- the first world championship was in 1980, 11 years after this film was released. No, the plot of the film is the battle between J.C. and Rommel. Sidehacking is simply a background part. It could have been Tiddlywinks or Lawn Darts or Mumblety-peg.

The movie begins light-hearted enough. Racing and laughing everyone's having a blast. Yes, it's all fun and games until the rape and murder.

And, for the second show in a row, the hero dies at the end. Such a depressing film. I'm not saying the film shouldn't have been shot, but it should have been left for dead afterwards. Not a good film.

"Hai Kiba!"
Meanwhile, in Deep 13... We briefly saw Jerry and Sylvia, the Mole People in the last episode. This episode, they appear again, applying makeup to the Mads. It looks like the Mole People are running the camera and such for the Mads for their communication with Joel. In Season One, Drs. Forrester and Erhardt used some little joystick control to run the camera themselves.

And, on the Satellite of Love... Cambot gets into the action.

We've seen Tom Servo and Crow riff the movies. We even saw Gypsy make a brief appearance in the theater, though she didn't riff the film. And, while Cambot has been there the whole time -- that's how we can see Joel & the Bots doing Joel & the Bots stuff -- he's been an observer only.

Until now.

J&tB make music
Cambot puts up some on-screen graphics in the style of ESPN of that era: the musical note, the image sizing in to leave a right and bottom border that was filled with updates. Joel acknowledges the riff on the movie.

Mike Nelson appears again, this time as J.C. from the movie, along with Cooch, played by Frank Conniff. They finally figured out how to close the screen on the hexfield viewer.

"Hai Kiba!" (or "Hi Keeba") makes another appearance during the fight between J.C. and Rommel. It's shouted by Crow when Rommel flips J.C. during their fight. The phrase is from Episode 104 - Women of the Prehistoric Planet.

Oh, there's music in this episode. Lots of music. In fact, two of the Host Segments are made up of musical numbers. We'll see more and more of this to come.

As I mentioned earlier, this isn't my favorite episode. Mostly, because of the movie. It's a bad movie, and an unpleasant movie. J&tB make it better, but that's a relative term. You can only polish a turd so much.

Monday, January 23, 2012

MST3K: Episode 201 - Rocketship X-M

I'm watching all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes in order. More about that can be found here and here.

Episode 201: Rocketship X-M

First aired: The Comedy Channel on 22 September 1990
Availability: MST3KVideos.com

And so Season Two begins. This episode isn't available commercially, and never has been. It's a good one, though.

Cambot gets a new look and Joel gets a new jumpsuit
The opening song lyrics don't change, though the visuals do. They still refer to Joel as "another face in a red jumpsuit," and in the opening, that's what he's wearing. Some of the time. Later in the opening, he's wearing a different-colored jumpsuit. Teal or something.

Cambot looks different. This is the third version of Cambot during the life of the show.

In the KTMA season, he was separate from the camera. In Season One, he was integrated into the camera, and looked a lot like the KTMA Gypsy. Now, in Season Two, he looks more like a camera.

This episode is also where, during the opening credits, Cambot's image is shown in the mirror. It'll be a mirror image from here on out, though he does make a couple of more changes in appearance along the way.

The bridge of the Satellite of Love has a new look. They have Joel putting the finishing touches on Tom Servo's new voice. As he tweaks it, the are references to Dick Tufeld's Robot B-9 from Lost In Space, Douglas Rain's HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Jackie Vernon's Frosty the Snowman, finishing with a voice that has a hint of the Mighty Voice that Josh used. But, it was a different voice.

Frank replaces the "missing" Dr. Erhardt.
We also get to meet Frank for the first time -- other than his being in the opening theme -- and he makes an impression. He's not Josh ... but he is Frank. I immediately like the character.

Late in the episode, Michael J. Nelson makes his first on-screen appearance (his voice had been heard in Episode 104 - Women of the Prehistoric Planet). Of course, he'll be wearing a dress.

The movie itself is bad. Bad science, bad plot, bad special effects, bad writing, and even some bad acting. But good riffing. Very good riffing.

Despite how bad the movie is, I counted up the number of times I've seen the actual film, the non-MST3K version. The number I came up with was 27. Seriously, 27 times. That's not because it's a good movie. It's not. But, it's one of those silly Men In Space movies from the 1950s. I loved those when I was a kid. If I saw it when I was a kid, I can watch a bad sci-fi movie again and again. Note: "when I was a kid."

"Oh look, it looks like an Al Jaffee Mad Magazine fold in."
Oh, and, I've seen this MST3K episode a few times, too. This was one of the first non-commercial releases I obtained.

In years past, I saw mostly Mike-hosted shows when the show was on the air, though I did also see some Joel-hosted shows. When I began obtaining episodes of MST3K, I got what was commercially available. It was later that I stumbled onto the whole MSTiverse of swapping episodes that aren't commercially available.

As much as I loved this movie as a kid -- hey, I was young and stupid -- I love this episode of MST3K that trashes the movie. This seems to be the perfect MST3K movie. And some of the riffs had me laughing out loud.

"Valaria" isn't quite as hot as she seemed in Robot Holocaust, for some reason
One in particular involved the death of a character. Yes, that's horrible. But it was Noah Berry, Jr.'s Maj. William Corrigan, who went on and on about Texas. When the Martians encountered the astronauts and attacked them with large boulders, one hit Corrigan, killing him. Servo, fed up with the character's constant Texas-talk, chimed in, "They got rocks that big in Texas?" I still laugh when I hear that.

Oh, one final though about this episode. It shows the advantage to watching episodes in order. When I first saw this episode, and I saw Mike's Valaria, I had no idea who the character was supposed to be. Now, having seen Episode 110: Robot Holocaust, I get it.

This is Mike's first on-camera appearance. He'll make a lot more before he takes over the host role from Joel in Season Five.

A couple of other things begin with this episode. Joel finally gets a last name.
Joel's character finally gets a last name.
In the KTMA season, he went by Joel Hodgson, because it was his name. In Season One, he was referred to simply as "Joel" and his character didn't appear in the credits, though Joel Hodgson did. In this episode, the "Joel" character finally appears in the credits, with the last name "Robinson" ... the same name as the Lost In Space family.

Two other things begin here. The term "Shadowrama" makes its debut. Also, the phrase "Keep Circulating The Tapes" appears in the closing credits.
"Keep Circulating The Tapes"
Some people still do. Although they aren't tapes any more. Most are DVDs. And that's how I got this episode.