Tuesday, January 3, 2012

MST3K: Episode 101 - The Crawling Eye

In December, I began the task of watching all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. More about that can be found here and here.

In December, I covered the KTMA season (Season Zero), in which the format developed into something quite recognizable ... and quite good. Now, as the new year is underway, so is the new season of MST3K. At least, insofar as the whole "watch them all" project.

Episode 101: The Crawling Eye

First aired: The Comedy Channel on 28 November 1989
Availability: iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon (Volume 17), Shout Factory (Volume 17), Best Brains (Volume 17)

The first episode isn't the first episode after all. We covered that last time.

"It's so hard to find a spot I haven't hit."
The new-look Mads? I like them. I really like Dr. Erhardt, who I never saw during the show's run -- remember, I came in late and saw mostly Mike episodes. This exchange from the Invention Exchange shows one of the reasons I like Dr. Erhardt so much:
DR. FORRESTER: When's the last time you saw a dog sweat? Larry?


DR. FORRESTER: Exactly! And why is that?

DR. ERHARDT: Dogs don't sweat.
I had to hit "pause" just so I could finish laughing.

Joel plays Amazing Grace and Whole Lotta Love
I also loved Joel's leaf-blower bagpipes from the Invention Exchange. That's a prop for which I have a whole lotta love.

Some background on Deep 13 was provided. Joel suggests that the Mads were kicked out of Gizmonic Institute for shooting him into space. They deny that, saying they simply moved to Deep 13. Joel mentions that it's in the sub-basement of Gizmonic Institute, and he had to clean up a flubber spill there once, and that the place is "incredibly radioactive."

Of course, Joel slaps the table since there's no button. When the crew enters the theater, Tom Servo enters on his own. In the previous episode, Joel carried him. Of course, since this episode may have been filmed first (it's 101 while the previous episode was 102), maybe ... never mind. Anyway, Servo entered under his own power for the first movie segment, and Joel carried him in subsequent movie segment entrances.
Tom enters under his own powerJoel carries Tom
The movie was hard to follow, in part because the sound was horrible. The Mads mentioned this fact when they were getting ready to send the movie up to Joel. They weren't kidding. I could have used some closed captioning on this. Though how they'd pull that off -- movie soundtrack and riffing soundtrack at the same time -- I have no idea.

Though this movie is nearly as bad as the Sandy Frank films from the KTMA season, there are no hot Japanese she-villains. There is the lovely Janet Munro, though. She's British and the heroine, but that's close enough.

The riffing degenerates into a series of eye puns towards the end, when the Crawling Eyes (*SPOILER* there's more than one) finally appear.

A Whole Lotta GypsyGypsy from KTMA
Oh, and we met Gypsy for the first time (other than the opening credits). She's one big robot. And we hear her first Richard Basehart reference. (*SPOILER*) The answer to the question "What's two plus two?" is "Richard Basehart."

I didn't say it made sense.

Everything I've read indicates that they began scripting -- or seriously scripting -- the riffs in Season One, as opposed to the more ad-libbed fare of Season Zero/KTMA. Even so, they stepped on each other's lines a few times. I wonder if the following the script is still something they're getting used to, or if they're still throwing in ad-libs.

Joel, Josh, and Trace do play well off each other. They've had a year to practice, so that shouldn't be an issue. Still, the dynamic of Joel, Josh, and Trace is a very good one. I'm more familiar with the Mike, Kevin, and Bill team, so it's interesting seeing a different crew doing the same thing.

One other thing: Joel is referred to simply as "Joel." No last name. The credits mention him by his real name, Joel Hodgson. His character's name isn't listed in the credits. I'm not sure when the character became "Joel Robinson," but that'll play out soon enough.


  1. Good stuff. I haven't gotten the chance to break out The Crawling Eye, though I have it on DVD. I think the earliest one I've seen had TV's Frank. It wasn't Catalina Caper but it was earlier in Season Two. They had a series of flashback host segments from season one - Tom's voice sounds really weird to me.

    I think you'll like the Joel eps, especially when they hit their stride. There's something endearing about him, even when he's freaking out.

  2. I'm already enjoying Joel. Last year, when I found there were many MST3K episodes available on Netflix streaming, I began watching them. Most I had seen (mostly Mike episodes). But, when I realized just how many I hadn't seen, including most of the Joel episodes, I thought I'd try to find all I could. That's when I stumbled across the whole MSTie Underground.

    I've since obtained a copy of every episode (most recorded over-the-air or from cable). All the episodes that are currently available for purchase, I've purchased. The out-of-print episodes, I'm awaiting them to come available again and will buy them when that happens. Some have already come back into production, and I've bought all of them. Some are only available via iTunes, and I've bought those.

    I would say I need a hobby, but I think I've got one.


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