Thursday, May 31, 2012

MST3K: Play MST for Me 2

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

Video: Play MST For Me 2

First released: VHS, Best Brains, 1994
Availability: Best Brains VHS (out of print), Best Brains DVD (Play MSTie For Me Triple Decker)

My favorite selection from this collection.
This is not an episode of MST3K.

It's a video.

Yeah, I know, I said I'm watching all the episoded of MST3K. I didn't say anything about the videos.

Well, how do you think I got to see all the episodes? Taped them myself? Only a crazy person would do that.

The only thing crazier than that would be somebody who paid money or other good and valuable considerations for a copy of the videos that the crazy person recorded off the television. And guess what? I'm not the person that recorded the shows. I'm... just never you mind.

Crow loves Kim.
Anyway, this video was released during the run of the show. It came out in the Spring of 1994, between Season Five and Season Six. At least, that's what the information I've been able to find about the video says. I didn't get my VHS copy in 1994 -- I have it on VHS, I just didn't get it in 1994 -- so I can't say that's when it came out. The copyright date on the video says 1994, so I suspect it was released before the end of Season Six (which ran into March 1995).

Why does this matter? Well, three of the 13 songs on the video are from Season Six. Which means that, if this was released in the Spring of 1994, then those that got the tape right when it came out got an advance look at some Host Segments from the upcoming season.

Play MST for Me contained songs from Seasons Two and Three. Play MSTie For Me 2 contains songs from Seasons Four, Five, and Six:
Here they go a-caroling.
While that list covers much of those three years, there were some that, for some reason, didn't make the cut. These songs from Seasons Four, Five & Six were omitted:
I started to wait on this video until after Season Six, then decided to go ahead. Then I changed my mind and decided to wait. Then I decided to go ahead.

They sing goodbye to Frank when he didn't leave.
That whole back-and-forth happened a lot. In just a few minutes (as I write this), I'm going to schedule it to appear. I may change my mind again before it publishes. If I do, you'll never know, because I'll rewrite these couple of paragraphs. But, if I decide to go ahead and publish them, then you'll get to read all about how torn I was inside about writing this now.

The things I agonize over. Of course, most things are pretty straight-forward. I just don't have 100% certainty that this video came out between Season Five and Season Six. If I find out it came out later, I'll ... well, I don't know what I'll do.

It's so nice when I know everything about what happened. That's most things. At least, being a know-it-all, I like to think that. This project, though, has shown me just how much I don't know about MST3K. I'm working on correcting that.

Up soon... Season Six!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

MST3K: Season 5 wrapup

Did Joel's discomfort with behind-the-scenes dealings cause him to suffer distress, including such symptoms as a Daktari Stool?
I'm watching all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes in order. More about that here and here.

I've completed Season Five, and will hit Season Six soon. But first, let's look back at Season Five of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

This was the year where Joel Hodgson (playing Joel Robinson) left the show and Mike Nelson (playing Mike Nelson) took over as host.

The season was split evenly, with Joel hosting the first 12 episodes, and Mike hosting the last 12. The transition was smooth. Behind the scenes, there was lots of tension and in-fighting between Joel Hodgson and Jim Mallon over the direction of the franchise. Joel decided to leave the project he created rather than let it be torn apart from within.

Into this mess stepped Mike. He had been with the show since it went national, and the transition to his role as subject of Dr. Forrester's experiment was a smooth one.
In Episode 505: The Magic Voyage of Sinbad, Joel gets to see the pyramids.In Episode 518: The Atomic Brain, Mike gets to see the pyramids.
As I mentioned before, I was much more familiar with Mike's tenure than Joel's prior to this project, but quickly became a huge fan of the Joel Robinson character. So much so, that when Mike took over, I still missed Joel. But don't get me wrong, I like Mike. A lot.

From Episode 517: Beginning of the End, Mary Jo gets a wrong number.
One of the biggest differences for me, though, isn't the different styles of Joel and Mike. It's their ages. True, Joel is not quite five years older than Mike, but those five years made enough of a difference in some of the things they reference. Joel mentions more things from my childhood than does Mike. Those few years make a big difference. Mike rarely mentions anything from the 1960s. Joel, on the other hand, was at home there, as was I.

Mary Jo Pehl begins to take on more roles. She's Jan in the Pan from Episode 513: The Brain That Wouldn't Die, Mike's first experiment. She also appears as a trailer park queen who calls Mike on the phone in Episode 517: Beginning of the End. It's a wrong number.

Bridgett Jones plays Nuveena in Episode 524: 12 to the Moon. We'll see her again.

From Episode 508: Operation Double 007: "It's a herd of Miss Kittys!"
We also saw the demise of the Invention Exchange. Well, that's not true. We really didn't see it. And that's what did it in.

Joel was the gadget guy. Mike wasn't. They kept it up for a bit, but after a few episodes, it deteriorated into a one-sided thing, with only one or the other actually doing an invention. The last actual invention was Dr. Forrester's Mace Mousse from Episode 522: Teen-Age Crime Wave. Yes, Mike had a rocket pack, but it was for an actual escape attempt. He used the Invention Exchange as a cover when it went horribly wrong.

Some of the inventions over the years were funny. Some weren't. I suppose I'll miss them. I didn't really remember them from before, since when the show aired, I didn't see many of the Joel episodes. But, having seen them now, I'll miss them a little.

Season Five started strong, lulled slightly (from excellent to very good), then got the shock of the change from Joel to Mike, settled back down to very good again, then finished excellent.

Season Six will be starting soon. Here, at least. And we'll get to it soon. It'll be Mike's first full season as the experiment subject. And, it'll have more shows that I'd previously seen than other seasons.

I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

MST3K: Episode 524 - 12 to the Moon

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

Episode 524: 12 to the Moon

First aired: Comedy Central on 5 February 1994
Availability: Fan Copy

Why 12? Why not?
If I told you that 12 to the Moon was the best film that Mystery Science Theater 3000 ever included in an episode, what would you think?

You'd think I was a liar or just plain crazy. Either would be right.

So I won't tell you that. I'll let you come to that conclusion on your own. And, if you do, then you're either a liar or just plain crazy.

Oh, it's not the worst movie they did. But it's definitely a bad one.

It's directed by David Bradley, who also directed Madmen of Mandoras. You may know that film under another title. They added some footage and repackaged it as They Saved Hitler's Brain. I'm sure that tells you all you want to know about The Talented Mr. Bradley.
The moon is for lovers.It's also dangerous.
But, there's more to the talent behind this film. Writer Fred Gebhardt also wrote The Phantom Planet. And three of the stars of this movie also appeared in The Phantom Planet: Richard Weber, Anthony Dexter, and Francis X. Bushman. We'll get to that film in Season Nine.

For now, let's look at this steaming pile of move.

Giant steps are what you take, walking on the moon. I hope my legs don't break, walking on the moon.
The International Space Something Something launches a rocket to the moon piloted by Stewpot from South Pacific and a crew of stereotypes from across the globe and a puppy and some kitties and some monkeys and other critters but they encounter dangers along the way such as caramel popcorn asteroids, but they get through it all just fine and return to their lawn furniture scattered about the 4800 square foot capsule and make it to the moon safe and sound where all twelve go for a walk and discover there's air inside the caves, along with quicksand and steam, and some of them even survive the exploration of the surface, but then beings who live in Moon Valley sent a text message written in Roswell language to the ship and told them they were dangerous and to return to earth but leave the cats, so they did, but they had trouble trying to get away, so the Jewish guy and his son-of-a-Nazi friend sacrifice themselves to help the ship escape, and everybody is saved, except for those that died. Oh, and the cats. The end.

Can't we all just get along? Before we die horribly in a rocket explosion on the moon?We find out that the Moon People are fascinated with pussy. (Yes, those are cats.)
It's bad film, as you can tell, in the "future as it used to be" mold. Rockets that look like rockets when they blast off, then turn into Buck Rogers rockets with more fins than a 1959 Cadillac. Space ship interiors about the size of the top floor of the Texas School Book Depository. Space suits that wouldn't protect you from a fart, much less the vacuum of space.
Mike Nelson was in the Tea Party from way back.Frank likes the idea of Dr. Forrester roasting ... in hell!
Yes, it's perfect for MST3K. And the riffing is nearly perfect. But there's more to this episode than the riffing and the movie. A lot more.

There are a couple of throw-away sketches, like Mike attending a tea party thrown by Gypsy. It doesn't go well. There's the roast of Dr. Forrester that starts mean then goes downhill. And, there's the tennis match with the Bots.
You could say the short film is the star.Or, you could say the star of the short film is the star.
But, the highlight has to be the short film. Design for Dreaming is a short film by General Motors, featuring Tad (Thelma) Tadlock as a woman whisked away to the 1956 GM Motorama where she is amazed by all the great cars and the appliances in GM subsidiary (in 1956) Frigidaire's Kitchen of the Future.
Nuveena invites Mike to come away with her.Mike rejects Nuveena after she uses the Bots as kitchen appliances.
The woman from the short film is given a name during a Host Segment. Nuveena appears on the SOL and invites Mike to go with her to the world of the future. He agrees, but changes his mind after getting fed up with all of her quirks, like having to sing to communicate and thinking every machine (Tom, Crow, Gypsy) is a kitchen appliance.

The inside joke is that Michael J. Nelson is married to Bridgett Jones, who played Nuveena.

Lots of funny. Both a short and a feature that offer visions of the future that just didn't happen. Everything clicked.

I hope this one gets released on video soon. My fan copy is of good quality, but I would love to have a commercial release. This is a good episode. Season Five ended on a very high note.

Monday, May 28, 2012

MST3K: Episode 523 - Village of the Giants

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

Episode 523: Village of the Giants

First aired: Comedy Central on 22 January 1994
Availability: Fan Copy

Not exactly how H. G. Wells imagined it.
A bunch of teens grow to large proportions. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, throw in the kid from The Music Man -- you may have seen him in other stuff -- and you have ... a really bad movie.

Maybe it's the source material. This film claims to be inspired by H. G. Wells' The Food of the Gods but I think they just made that up. In The Food of the Gods, a scientist develops a growth formula and creates giant chickens. In Village of the Giants, it's a bunch of ducks that grow large. Totally different plot.

More proof? In The Food of the Gods, the stuff gets away from the scientist and other stuff starts growing. It's also given to some children, and they grow large. In Village of the Giants, the stuff gets away, and other stuff starts growing, and some teen ingest the stuff and grow large. Plus, and Beau Bridges is involved! Totally different.

Funny thing, though. Bert I. Gordon, who made this film, did a straight version of The Food of the Gods in 1976. This one was actually a little closer to the plot than the '76 version, in some respects. Which doesn't say how good this movie is, it says how bad the other movie is.
Frank gets fired. But, he gets a going-away dinner.Dr. Forrester interviews Torgo as Frank's replacement.
How bad is this one?

Tom Servo: "Mom?"
A little kid genius who looks just like Opie Cunningham accidentally creates some goop that makes things grow, and one of the locals who's hot for the kid's big sister decides it can be used to grow big animals for food, but some troublemaking teens led by Beau Bridges who are passing through town find out about it and decide to grow big themselves and take over the town but the genius kid develops some smoke that puts things back to normal so they shrink the teens back to normal and then the teens leave but run into some midgets who are looking for the growth stuff. The end.

Despite it being a bad movie, it does have a couple of things going for it: giant boobies. Lots and lots of giant boobies. Acres and acres of giant boobies.
This movie has giant boobies!Lots of giant boobies!
Did I mention the giant boobies?

Chuck Connor's kid hangs from the bosom of a 25-year-old teen.
And, no, I'm not a perv by looking at a bunch of teenage girls boobies. The youngest actress to play one of the giant boobie teens was 21 when the movie was made. That's only slightly creepy, given my age.

It's a watchable film, but not quite as fun as other films by The Notorious B.I.G.

His '50s movies were better.

Still, this isn't nearly as bad as lots of other MST3K movies. Just not quite as much fun as Bert I. Gordon's other films.

The Host Segments are fun. Dr. Forrester fires Frank -- actually, he assigned Frank to fire Frank -- as part of cutbacks. Then he goes out and starts interviewing replacements. Dr. Forrester hires Torgo -- now known as TV's Torgo -- to take the job.

Mike sings The Greatest Frank of Them All because he'll miss Frank. Of course, at the end of the episode, they change the meaning by dedicating the episode to the recently-deceased Frank Zappa.
A good, fun episode. It's never been released on video, and only fan copies of the episode are available. MGM owns it, so there's the whole rights thing to deal with. Not that it's impossible, but I'm not holding my breath.

Memorial Day 2012

Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Department of Defense
Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Department of Defense
Remember those that gave all for you.

Friday, May 25, 2012

How I spent my Nielsen Diary money

You know the Nielsen ratings? That company that counts what the top TV shows -- among other things -- are?

They have households that they use all the time. From what I understand, these households have equipment in their homes that report every day the viewing habits of those households.

Then, they have the diaries. That's where people write down in a book what they watch. Those aren't the same families from week to week. But, in my lifetime, I've participated in three of those. Well, sort of.

The first Nielsen Diary I saw was one where my parents' house was chosen one week. I was a teen then, and I remember the diary was sort of filled out and returned late.

As an adult, I've participated in two surveys. One several years ago, and one within the last month. For participating in the survey, they enclose some cash. Not a lot, but a few dollars. Sequentially-numbered small bills, in my case.

I filled out the diary. But, I suspect they don't get a lot like me doing it. You see, we don't have cable, and we don't have satellite. And, we never watch anything live over the air. Most of our TV watching is via the Internet.

Turns out, though, that they do account for that. If you watch something from, say, Hulu, Netflix, or iTunes, they want to know that, too. But only if you watch it on your TV. They don't want you to count what you watch on your computer screen.

No problem. I don't watch anything on the computer. Everything I watch is on the TV, although it's from the Internet.

Watching TV via Hulu Plus.
So, I wrote down all the shows we watched. In Plain Sight. Psych. Grimm. Eureka. Bones. House. Castle. Supernatural...

Okay, you can tell that Wife has her shows among those that we watch. I recorded all of our watching, not just what I watched.

But, during the week we kept the Nielsen Diary, we watched nothing live. Everything was by a streaming source. Well, except for some movies I had on DVD. But, the TV watching? Every bit of it from the Internet.

I really enjoy the way we watch TV. There's always something on, and we let the TV work around our schedule.

I don't know how many diaries they get back every week where all the viewing is via Internet. But, that week, we got our say in the survey.

Oh, yeah. The money. How I spent it?

I bought some Cokes.

MST3K: Episode 522 - Teen-Age Crime Wave

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

Episode 522: Teen-Age Crime Wave

First aired: Comedy Central on 15 January 1994
Availability: Fan Copy

Don't cry. Don't raise your eye. It's only Teen-Age Crime Wave.
This episode is the first of five consecutive episodes that haven't been released on home video. And, it's part of a stretch where 8 of 10 episodes haven't been released on video. Five of the last six episodes of Season Five and three of the first four episodes of Season Six have never been released on video.

Of the national seasons, this is the longest stretch like that so far. The only stretch that's longer is in Season Eight.

My copy is, of course, a fan copy. I got mine from It's a good quality recording. I'm hoping, though, that this one gets released on video. But, since Sony owns the rights, it's not likely to be released anytime soon. I hope that changes. It's a pretty good episode.

I had never seen the movie before I saw it on MST3K. Even then, I missed this episode during its 10 airings on Comedy Central. Only one of those came at a time where I would have been able to have seen it, and I didn't see it then. So, until I got this episode as part of this "watch 'em all" project, I had never seen it. And, if fan copies weren't available, I wouldn't have been able to see it then.
What's a Bad Girls In Prison film without a shower scene?Or a cat fight?
At first, I thought it was going to be a typical Bad Girls In Prison kind of movie. You got your shower scene. You got your cat fight. You got your bad girl and your good girl who shouldn't really be in prison.

About 15 or 20 minutes into it, though, it becomes a jailbreak movie with the criminals holding a farm family hostage. Not exactly the feel-good hit of the summer. Still, not an awful film, just a bad one.

Mace Mousse.
Bad Girl Blonde Chick picks up Doughy Guy in a bar, then leads him to where Hoodlum Boyfriend and Sidekick beat up Doughy Guy and rob him, but the cops come and arrest Bad Girl Blonde Chick and Good Girl Brunette Chick, who get sentenced to juvy, but Hoodlum Boyfriend breaks them out during transport and kills Cop in the process, upsetting Good Girl Brunette, but the Teen-Age Criminals take her along anyway, and then they stop at a farm house and hold the elderly couple hostage while awaiting Other Hoodlum Friend who gets killed before he gets to the farm house, so the Teen-Age Criminals conclude their Crime Wave by getting caught, so everybody lives happily ever after, except for the criminals who would go to jail and the Bad Girl Blonde Chick who got killed at the end. The end.

The Invention Exchange is still around during this episode. Dr. Forrester's Mace Mousse is funny, and before the episode is over, we get to see it again. And again. And again. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide says that the episode ran short, so they had to pad it out. They redid the gag from Episode 307: Daddy-O, sort of. That's the one where the button wouldn't stay pushed. In this one, the credits would start, then they'd cut back to Frank getting Mace Moussed by Dr. Forrester. Then the button would get pushed and the cycle began again. Still funny.
That's not LOX (Liquid Oxygen) in the tank. A salute to Doughy Guys everywhere.
The escape attempt by Mike & the Bots was humorous. Crow using lox instead of LOX foiled that one.

Oh, and no Doughy Guy would leave out the Host Segment where they saluted Doughy Guys. So I won't.

Funny episode. The movie started and ended with a bang, kinda slowed down in the middle, but that's movies for ya.