Friday, August 31, 2012

MST3K: Episode 903 - The Pumaman

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

Episode 903: The Pumaman

First aired: Sci-Fi Channel on 4 April 1998
Availability: fan copy

Puma? Puma?
Remember the TV show The Greatest American Hero that starred William Katt and Robert Culp?

This kinda reminded me of that.

Only, in The Pumaman, the hero wasn't visited by aliens, exactly. And he didn't lose the instructions to the suit. And Stephen J. Cannell wasn't involved. And there's no Connie Sellecca.

Other than that, and a few other things, they're the same.

Good actor. Bad film.
Okay, a lot of other things. But still. There's the whole guy who kinda got his powers from aliens and looks silly when he flies. Only, in this movie, I don't think it's intentional.

I saw a lot more of The Greatest American Hero than I ever did of The Pumaman. That was on purpose.

I kinda got bored with TGAH in either late first season or early second season, and quit watching it. Didn't take nearly as long with this movie.

The Inca is an Aztec.
That's not to say it's a bad episode, but it is to say it's not one of my favorites.

Blofeld is trying to find The Pumaman by throwing Americans out of windows or something, but an Aztec (should be an Inca) is looking for him too, so he throws a paleontologist (who's an attorney in real life) out a window, but the lawyer unfortunately survives, which means he must be The Pumaman, so Aztec Joe give Pumaman a magic belt that lets him fly like a dork, and they team up to defeat Blofeld, which consists of Pumaman looking silly and seeing in the dark and getting his ass handed to him and Aztec Joe finally beating the bad guys up, then the aliens come back and take a magic ask, and everyone lives happily ever after, except for all the people who got pushed out windows. The end.

I could be wrong about something. It might not have been Donald Pleasence that was having everyone thrown out windows. Maybe it was the Aztec/Inca/Sidekick that was doing all that.

The special effects weren't very special. Of course, that's about par for the course in an MST3K movie.

Thought I can't find a link to any actual interview where this was said, there are reports that Donald Pleasence said this is the worst film he ever did. And he was in Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie as well as Episode 501: Warrior of the Lost World.

Oh, and they spelled his name wrong in the credits.

This episode has lots of good things about it, but it just isn't quite as good as Episode 902: The Phantom Planet.

Of course, that's a tough standard to live up to. This one's okay.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

MST3K: Episode 902 - The Phantom Planet

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

Episode 902: The Phantom Planet

First aired: Sci-Fi Channel on 21 March 1998
Availability: iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon (Volume 8), Rhino (Volume 8/out of print), Best Brains (Volume 8)

It's quilted soft.
Remember that the previous episode was one I hadn't seen before I began this project? And that I thought it was okay but not great?

Well, this episode is one I have seen many, many times. I saw it several times when it aired on MST3K. It aired 13 times, and I'm wondering just how many of those I saw. Several, that's for sure.

Since this episode has been released on video, I own the DVD as well as the iTunes download, so I can fire it up online anytime I like.

Caucasians to the rescure.
And I like.

I really, really like this episode.

Yes, The Phantom Planet is bad, but it's watchably bad.

So bad, it's good.

And beautiful.

Heh. I just love that line from the movie that the co-pilot says:
Every year of my life, I grow more and more convinced that the wisest and the best is to fix our attention on the good and the beautiful, if you just take the time to look at it.
And, yes, M&tB seized on that line and rode it for all it was worth. It's just one of the great really bad scenes from the movie.

Balancing the good and the beautiful
A spaceship disappears, so the space agency sends another space ship to look for it, piloted by a Steve Canyon and the other guy from the La Quinta commercials, but space rocks kill the guy looking for the good and the beautiful, proving he wasn't the wisest and the best, so Steve Canyon lands on an asteroid and breathes the air there, causing him to deflate, so he gets captured by the small people that live there and they put him on trial and sentence him to live there with them, but a bunch of space dogs attack and Steve Canyon helps defeat them, so the little guy that's in love with one of the same women Steve Canyon is all hot over (the other is the Leech Woman) decides to help him escape back to earth, so he's rescued and wonders if it was all a dream, but the La Quinta guy is still dead. The end.

Great, really bad, film. The Host Segment reminded me of something from way back. Back in Episode K17: Time of the Apes, Joel Hodgson had an out-of-town commitment and was unable to film that episode, so they had the story go that the Bots had locked him outside the Satellite of Love. And, they used a doll ... excuse me, action figure ... to represent that. This episode had Mike outside the ship, and wound up representing him with an action figure.
Joel floats outside the Satellite of Love in Episode K17.Mike floats outside the Satellite of Love in Episode 902.
Now, it's actually a take-off of the scene were the La Quinta guy floats off in space. But, I couldn't help but think of that episode from the KTMA Season.

The bits with Pearl were pretty good. She so much wants to be hated and despised, much like her son, and finally succeeds, although by accident.

Fun, fun movie. Okay Host Segments, but, fun, fun movie.

This episode is one of my favorites.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

MST3K: Episode 901 - The Projected Man

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

Episode 901: The Projected Man

First aired: Sci-Fi Channel on 14 March 1998
Availability: fan copy

Projected at a skewed ratio
Mystery Science Theater 3000 was on the air nationally from November 18, 1989 - January 31, 2004. The last 4 years and change were reruns. Of the 14 years plus that it aired, Mike Nelson was host for 10 years (5½ seasons, and 4 years plus of reruns). So, it makes sense that when I began this project, I'd be more familiar with Mike's episodes than with Joel's.

It also makes sense that I'd have seen all of the Mike episodes. However, there were some I never saw. This is one of those.

Despite the fact that the show aired for nearly 6 years after this episode first aired, the episode as only broadcast eight times. Every time was on a weekend, and, though I can't confirm that I was traveling during all five weekends those eight broadcasts happened, it's quite likely.

Last season, he was The Great Vorelli; this season, he's a British Harvey Dent.
Getting a fan copy and watching it made this one a treat. Sort of.

It's an okay episode, but not a great episode. The movie is, well, almost watchable. It's not a good movie, but it's not an awful movie. It's not much worse than some of the Quatermass films TCM would carry.

Again, that's not to say this was a good film. MST3K could have done some Quatermass films and been well within their rights to do so.

The Great Vorelli develops a laser-powered transporter (like on Star Trek) but gets his funding cut so he transports himself with the help of girl that likes to run around in her underwear, but she screws it up and he ends up looking like Harvey Dent and starts killing people, but his friends stop him before he gets to the Pink Floyd power station to steal all the power and so he dies. The end.
Kinda looks like the cover of Pink Floyd's Animals doesn't it?Her qualifications to assist in a major experiment? Blue underwear.
I'm not sure why this episode didn't tickle my fancy quite like other episodes. The fact that it was one of my "missing" episodes kinda filled me with anticipation. Maybe I set my sights too high.

Oh, the riffing if good, but not great. I did laugh ... okay, chuckle ... a bit, and I thought that some of the Host Segments were funny, and some were just kinda silly.

I didn't hate this episode, but it's not one of my favorites. Maybe after I see it a few more times, I'll have a better view of it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

MST3K: MST Poopie II

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

Video: MST Poopie II

First released: VHS, Best Brains, 1997
Availability: Best Brains VHS (out of print), Amazon (Volume 10), Amazon (Volume 10.2), Rhino (Volume 10/out of print), Rhino (Volume 10.2/out of print), Best Brains (Volume 10.2)

Poopie number two.
Yeah, we're supposed to be covering episodes of MST3K, and this isn't an episode. But, it's something the MST3K fans might like. And, this video was released during the original run of MST3K.

At the end of Season Eight, Best Brains released their second Poopie! tape. It contained bloopers from Season Seven, the short, final season on Comedy Central, and Season Eight, the first, and longest, season on the Sci-Fi Channel. It would be the only Poopie tape to feature any Sci-Fi Channel bloopers. There was no Poopie III.

Real blood usually stops the filming.
This video is kinda hard to find. I say that because there are two versions. The original, longer version is nearly 30 minutes long, but was only released on VHS. The shorter version is around 15 minutes long, and is available as an extra on the Volume 10 DVD Pack (and on the Volume 10.2 DVD Pack).

There's not really a whole lot to say about it. The first blooper tape, MST Poopie!, was just over 30 minutes, but contained screw-ups, flubs, and bloopers from six seasons. That was 98 episodes. Poopie II, however, is nearly as long, but only represents two seasons and 29 episodes (remember, there were two versions of the first episode in Season Seven), plus segments from marathons.

Screw-ups from hawking a blooper reel can wind up on the next blooper reel
Keep in mind that I'm not that big a fan of blooper reels. The first Poopie! tape seemed to be a little forced. It was almost like they were just throwing stuff in there. This one, with not even a third of the number of shows from which to pick flubs, seems even more forced.

I hate to say it, but the long version isn't as good as the short version. And, for that very reason. Only the best of the bloopers were included in the short version. The longer version doesn't give you anything more, other than more of the same.

If you're a fan of blooper reels, then perhaps you'd like it more than I did.

That's not to say there weren't some funny moments, but how many times can you watch two performers look at each other and laugh?
Even robots can blow their lines and cause a reshoot.Watching performers laugh at each other.
Still, it did make me smile.

Before Season Nine aired, they would release MST Poopie! on Rhino VHS. They'd later include it in DVD packs.

No such life for Poopie II. Rhino never released it on VHS; it was only available from the Fan Club. There is the abridged version, as I mentioned, that was released as an extra feature on a DVD pack.

If you're wanting to get a full collection of all the MST3K releases, then you'll want to include this in the mix. Otherwise, the version in Volume 10/10.2 is an adequate representation of the bloopers from the later years.

Friday, August 24, 2012

MST3K: Season 8 Wrap-up

Season Eight introduced us to Krankor in Prince of Space.
I'm watching all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes in order. More about that here and here.

Season Eight was a blast!

Having seen so many of the episodes of Season Eight so many times, I had a hard time trying to imagine what it was like for fans of the show going into the season.

I mean, yeah, I had certainly seen the show before. But, keep in mind, that the Sci-Fi years consisted of three seasons totaling 48 episodes. These episodes were run and rerun over seven years. So, the show actually aired nationally for 14 seasons, with the 48 Sci-Fi episodes making up half. Compare that to the 128 Comedy Channel/Comedy Central episodes that make up the first half.

Overdrawn at the Memory Bank? Or Eating Raul?
What those numbers mean is that each of the Sci-Fi episodes had a pretty good chance of being seen by a lot of people. More so than the Comedy Channel/Comedy Central ones.

Anyway, after the great build-up over the first couple of years, MST3K took off in Season Three, kept the momentum through Season Four, then hit fans with the loss of Joel in the middle of Season Five.

Though Mike stepped in as smooth as, or smoother than, anyone ever had or could replace the creator/star of the show, that had to concern fans if it could be kept up. Season Six went great, but Season Seven was only six episodes long, the movie was not a hit, and the show was canceled.

There were a couple of good things about this Roger Corman flick.
The return of MST3K via the Sci-Fi Channel had to have folks worried. I don't think I even thought about it.

There was no reason to worry, though. Even though another one of the founding cast had left -- taking the character of Dr. Clayton Deborah Susan Forrester away and putting the future of Crow T. Robot in doubt -- the show went on, and went well.

Bill Corbett stepped into the role of Crow. Sure, there's some difference between Bill's Crow and Trace's Crow, but there's a lot of Crow T. Robot in each.

The Deadly Mantis waves hello.
With that backdrop, Season Eight was an unqualified success.

The Sci-Fi Channel brought a slew of sci-fi classics to the catalog, beginning with Episode 801: Revenge of the Creature.

We got to see some other great episodes like Episode 810: The Giant Spider Invasion, Episode 816: Prince of Space, Episode 819: Invasion of the Neptune Men, Episode 821: Time Chasers, and Episode 822: Overdrawn at the Memory Bank. It's no coincidence that most of those I mentioned are at the end of the season. Season Eight started good, and stayed good as the weeks went on, ending on as high a note as ever.

Mixed up zombie? Or just an incredibly strange creature?
One side effect of the Sci-Fi Channel catalog: Not as many episodes have been released on video. At lease, not as high a percentage.

Of the 128 Comedy Channel/Comedy Central episodes, 80 have been released at one time or another. That's nearly 65%. But, of the 48 Sci-Fi episodes, only 24, or 50%, have been released on video.

The catalog isn't as easy to release for one reason or another. Don't know if it's the rights-holder thinking they're sitting on a gold mine that will start producing one day, or if they want to respect the integrity of the product.

Something fishy is going on.
Of the 24 Sci-Fi episodes that haven't been released, Season Eight accounted for 13 of them. That's more than any other season, and more than Season Nine and Season Ten combined.

Despite not having official video releases, it's possible to obtain fan copies. I did.

I'm glad I did, too. Now, I have fan copies of some episodes that have been released on video. But, I also have the DVD. And the VHS. And the iTunes version. And, maybe even the Amazon Instant Video version. Or, at least, I have those various versions if they made those various versions.

I can't wait for the rest of Season Eight to be released. I'm always hopeful that they will be released. I'll be first in line to get them.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

MST3K: Episode 822 - Overdrawn at the Memory Bank

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

Episode 822: Overdrawn at the Memory Bank

First aired: Sci-Fi Channel on 6 December 1997
Availability: Amazon DVD (Volume 4), Rhino (Volume 4/out of print)

The name says it all.
Remember when I mentioned that I had seen Episode 821: Time Chasers many, many times? Well, I've seen this episode many, many times, too. It aired 11 times from 1997-2002. I saw it several of those.

How bad of a movie is this? It's bad. Wicked, naughty, bad. It needs to be spanked.

It was made by a Canadian company, financed by a public TV station in New York, and based on a story by John Varley -- and if that doesn't say quality, my name isn't Morgan Fairchild.

"Never show a good movie in the middle of your crappy one."
Okay, sure, the movie stars Raúl Juliá -- yes, the same Raúl Juliá who won Emmy and Golden Globe awards -- so you'd think it can't be all bad.

You'd be wrong.

Oh, and I'm not even counting the fact that not only does it look like it was recorded on videotape, it actually was recorded on videotape.

Puerto Rican data processor Aram Fingal is bored with his job so he spends the work day watching movies like Casablanca (which sounds like good work if you can get it), but his bosses don't like that, so they send him to get doppled, which involves brain surgery and virtual reality and, apparently, a monkey, but some kid interferes and his body gets lost, which causes bad press for the company he works for, so they extend his reality, but he creates his own reality involving Casablanca, but the 80s Hair Chick who was in charge of him decides to help, so Fingal wins the battle of virtual wits with the bad guy at the company, and sends Casablanca to everybody's screen. The end.
"Come ... as you are ... to my mall ... to my atrium."Not sure what this scene was all about, but it had a nearly-naked chick.I can't tell if those are iPads or Galaxy Tabs.
Lots of good riffing in this really bad movie. And some fun Host Segments.

Observer and Pearl sing "When Loving Lovers Love."
I didn't care for bit about the loose monkey that terrorized Mike, but the Public Pearl TV parts were fantastic.

They nailed the whole PBS fundraising shows. The phone banks -- staffed by Ortega -- were standing by ready to take your pledge. Pearl and Observer sing their duet, "When Loving Lovers Love," which was an instant classic.

Pearl's Host Segments more than made up for the lame monkey-Mike bits. I thought the PBS parts were the highlight of the show, maybe even of the season.

Despite how bad this movie was, I still have a soft spot for it. They seemed to appreciate the movie Casablanca, which is one of my favorite films.

They ended Season Eight on a high note.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

MST3K: Episode 821 - Time Chasers

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

Episode 821: Time Chasers

First aired: Sci-Fi Channel on 22 November 1997
Availability: Amazon DVD (Volume 5), Rhino (Volume 5/out of print)

It's all about the chase. Just ask Wile E. Coyote.
Some of the episodes of MST3K I didn't see until I began this project to watch them all. Some, though, I had seen a lot.

This episode is one that I saw a lot.

It aired 10 times during the Sci-Fi Channel years of MST3K. I must have seem them all.

Sure, I also own the out-of-print DVD pack, but I saw this episode a lot of times before I bought that.

Though I can't say that I've seen this episode more than any other episode, I also can't say that I've seen any episode more than this one.

Chin Guy, Bob Evil, Underling, and Toni Tennille Girl.
Now, to be clear, I didn't see this one so much because I loved this episode. I saw it so much because I loved watching MST3K and it aired 10 times, and because my schedule during those years allowed me watch the show.

But, yeah, this is a good episode.

Notice that I didn't say that Time Chasers is a good movie. It's not. It's a bad movie, but it's a watchably bad movie.

They almost have a serviceable plot. They didn't have the budget to back up what they tried. Perhaps if they had scaled it back a little, to something within budget.

Still, I've seen a whole lot worse movies. I've paid good money to see worse movies. I didn't know those movies were going to be that bad, of course.
Crow travels back in time to stop Mike from getting a temp job.Mike's brother Eddie winds up on the Satellite of Love.
What's exactly is wrong with the movie? Let's start with the plot.

Some dude with a chin invents a time machine made from a Cessna and a Commodore computer, so he shows it to a dude from an evil corporation and a reporter that looks like Toni Tennille, who are both duly impressed so much that one falls in love with him -- fortunately for Chin Guy, it's Toni Tennille Girl -- and the other tells his boss who comes to see it for himself, but since he runs an evil corporation, he ends up destroying civilization in 50 years, so Chin Guy goes back to stop himself, but Toni Tennille gets killed and is shocked to find it was her body the police found, or something, and then Bob Evil takes them all back to the Battle of Hubbardton and get the British and American troops after them, and Bob Evil drops his Uzi and the plane drops on him, and everything gets fixed except for the underling from MegaEvilCorp who has a really bad day, so Chin Guy erases his floppy disks with the secret to time travel and then picks up Toni Tennille in the produce aisle and they live happily ever after. The end.

Chin Guy from the past, Toni Tennille Girl from the past, and Chin Guy from the future watch the Battle of Hubbardton unfold.
It's really better than it sounds. Of course, it would have to be. And just because it's a time travel movie doesn't mean it stole anything from Back to the Future because Back to the Future used a DeLorean while Time Chasers used a plane. Plus, Chin Guy's mom didn't try to hit on him like Michael J. Fox's mom did. And, no Chuck Berry songs.

Then again, David Giancola is no Steven Spielberg. Of course, these days, Steven Spielberg is no Steven Spielberg.

I didn't hate this movie. In fact, I actually kinda like it more not that I know that the guy that made the movie didn't get all upset over Mike & the Bots riffing on it. He actually enjoyed them riffing his movie.

Oh, the pain! The pain!
I have said about other films that they might not have been the best movie that MST3K did. I'm not certain that this isn't the best movie MST3K did. It's one of the better ones, flawed as it is.

Maybe it's just that I've seen this episode so much that I kinda got used to it.

Oh, and there's more than just the movie. The Host Segments are pretty fun. Mike and Pearl sitting and chatting is quite a departure. It hints as the same relationship the Wolf and the Sheepdog have in those Warner Bros. cartoons.

There is the silly Lost In Space skit, where Tom turns into The Robot and Crow turns into Dr. Smith. That was kinda silly and kinda funny.

The skits where Crow goes back in time to stop Mike from getting the temp job that landed him on the Satellite of Love, then goes back to undo that, was funny. While I didn't laugh so much at Mike's brother Eddie, I did appreciate that Crow actually cared enough about Mike to try to stop the circumstances that landed him on the SoL, then rescued him from death in the new timeline.

It's an episode I don't think I'll ever get tired of watching.