Monday, August 13, 2012

MST3K: Episode 814 - Riding with Death

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

Episode 814: Riding with Death

First aired: Sci-Fi Channel on 19 July 1997
Availability: fan copy

Starring Ben Murphy.
Hey, remember that TV show with Ben Murphy where he was invisible and such?

Sure you do. It was called Gemini Man, and it was Ben Murphy's first series after Alias Smith and Jones went off.

Oh, wait. There was Griff, with Lorne Greene. Ben Murphy was in that. So, his second then. But, I don't think they aired all the episodes of Gemini Man before they canceled it. So, maybe not even his second, since only half the episodes aired.

You remember the show then, right?


Katherine Crawford's biggest part.
That's okay. I kinda don't remember it, either. I mean, I sorta think I remember it. Like I remember it was on and maybe read it about in the Fall Preview issue of TV Guide that year. But I didn't watch it. I'm not sure when it aired, but I was probably working that night. It was the fall of 1976, and I was working nights then.

So, I have an excuse for not watching it. You? If you were around then, the only excuse you'd have would be that it was a bad show and you didn't want to waste your time watching a bad show.

Come to think of it, your excuse is better than mine. I want to use yours. The whole plot of the show is bad, so it's no wonder it was canceled.

Ed Nelson is the villain.
However, the entertainment industry being what it is, they didn't let a silly thing like a bad TV show that the network wouldn't even air all its episodes keep them from realize there was an audience out there, whether there was an audience out there or not. If you follow me.

So, they took a couple of episodes that had the same guest star, who was a singer that had some hits in the 1970s, patched them together with a little bit of additional dialog dubbed in to create a kind of continuity, gave it a different title, and they had them a hit movie.

Except, well, it wasn't really a hit. It wasn't really good. In fact, it was bad.

How bad? Bad enough to be used as fodder for MST3K.

It's the '70s. Which means Jim Stafford and a CB radio.
The singer they used? Jim Stafford.

Which makes a lot of sense, since he's a comic country singer, and nothing says science-fiction secret agent guest star quite like comic country singer. Really. Nothing.

I can't fault Jim Stafford, though. He had a few cross-over hits -- including Swamp Witch, Spiders and Snakes, My Girl Bill, Wildwood Weed -- in the 1970s, but never had a major country music hit. Anyway, he makes more sense in the guest role than, say, Ray Stevens.

Anyway, about the movie.

Bill wrote a song or two.
Ben Murphy had an accident and can turn invisible because his watch changes his DNA or something, but he can't stay invisible too long or he'll get stuck like that, so he becomes a secret agent working for Heywood Floyd from 2001 who suddenly grows a mustache in the middle of things, and gets help from Miss Camel Toe and over-the-road trucker Jim Stafford when transporting a secret formula 2000 miles across southern California, only the scientist is sabotaging the mission and wants to blow stuff up, but they figure it all out and stop him, but there's still an hour left, so Ben Murphy gets a job trying to catch a Ed Nelson who wants to blow up a race car that Jim Stafford is driving, but Jim Stafford's girlfriend is in on the plot, but they manage to save the day by turning invisible for 20 seconds and Jim Stafford moves to Branson and lives happily ever after. The end.

Bad movie. Good riffing. And some fun songs in the Host Segments. Bill Corbett offered up his first few songs, and they were great.

A good, fun episode.

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