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.

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