Tuesday, January 10, 2012

MST3K: Episode 107 - Robot Monster

I have decided to watch all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes that are available, as well as those that aren't. More about that can be found here and here.

Episode 107: Robot Monster

First aired: The Comedy Channel on 23 December 1989
Availability: iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon (Volume 19 Collector's Edition), Shout Factory (Volume 19 Collector's Edition), Best Brains (Volume 19 Autographed Collector's Edition)

Ro-Man, the Robot Monster
This one is a classic. The feature film. More about that in a bit.

Joel, again in his house robe, again does an abbreviated explanation of the plot in the opening. He finishes with an Alfred Hitchcock imitation during the opening.

Joel and the Bots' irritation at another Commando Cody episode rings true. In The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide it says they grew to hate those particular shorts. It's starting to show.

During the short, they repeated the "Oh, I hate to shoot a butt like that" riff. Still funny. Oh, and Josh sneezed during the first short. It seemed real. They covered well.

I suppose if I had to watch so many Commando Cody shorts as many times as the MST3K staff did, I'd hate them, too. But I don't have to, and I don't hate them. I see them as comedy fodder for J&tB.

This episode has more interaction from Cambot than previous episodes. Though we don't see Cambot, we see Cambot interact during two skits. And not the normal, "Move it in closer, Cambot" kind of reaction.
Cambot at KTMACambot from Season One is a reworked KTMA Gypsy
During the discussion on science after the Commando Cody shorts, first Servo, then Crow, and finally Cambot explode their heads over Joel's assertion that bumblebees can't fly, but do. Later, during the surrealism discussion, Cambot gets into the act.
Cambot's logic circuits failCambot gets into the surrealism discussion
The feature film, Robot Monster, is a classic. Not as in "the film is wonderful" but as in "this film is SO bad..." Oh, there are rumors that the producer/director of the film, Phil Tucker, was so despondent over the movie's reception that he tried to commit suicide by shooting himself, but missed (presumably because he was so incompetent). It's true he attempted suicide, but for reason unrelated to the reception of the film.

The film's main antagonist, Ro-Man Extension XJ-2 (his friends call him "Ro-Man"), is a gorilla in the diving helmet, and is one of the oddest-looking creatures I've ever seen. Of course, if you shoot a film in 4 days on a budget of $16,000 then you're gonna take what you can get.

I'm wondering how the sales pitch for this movie went:
Really good lizard glue
"There's this kid, see? And he gets stuck by lightning, causing two lizards with dinosaur parts glued on them to fight. We'll use really good lizard glue so the parts don't fall off, see?

Then the kid wakes up and his pants legs are missing. Oh, and so are all the people on the earth, except for his immediate family and some science guy.

You see, all the people are dead because of a Robot Monster that's actually a gorilla except for his head, which is a diving helmet. And the gorilla-guy uses a bubble machine to talk to the head gorilla-deep sea diver of his planet, see? And he wants all the rest of the people on the earth dead or his plan to kill everybody on earth will fail.

"Cue the deus ex machina"
Then the gorilla-bot falls in love with the kid's older sister, so he doesn't want to kill her. She's like all hot and such.

The big boss gorilla-helmet-guy isn't happy with his horny henchman, so me makes him kill the little boy with the missing pants leg.

Then, the Robot Monster is killed by remote control by the boss gorilla-helmet-guy. By lightning. Naturally, that makes the lizardsauruses fight again. Then the kid wakes up with his pants legs back. It was all a dream, see? Oh, and then at the end, the gorilla-robot guy walks out of the cave three times without walking back in.

We'll make millions!"
Okay, maybe that's not exactly how the sales pitch went, but if it had, it'd have been closer to the truth than whatever was actually said.

"An Armageddon weddin'"
At least they didn't go with the "it was all a dream" ending to the movie. That would've really sucked. Oh, wait.

The 3rd Host Segment, about surrealism, seems to be rework of from Episode K11 - Humanoid Woman. That means that all the in-movie host-segments from that KTMA episode have now appeared in Season One: Playing tag showed up in Episode 105 - The Corpse Vanishes; Servo hitting on the blender reappeared in Episode 103 - The Mad Monster; the surrealism discussion was reworked for this episode.

Again, I'm not being critical of the reuse of skits. It's actually a tribute to the quality of the work during the KTMA season. The crew mentioned in The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide that they didn't think the KTMA season was very good. It may not have been as good as the cable seasons, but it wasn't bad.

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