Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1102
Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
The second episode in a series is kind of a special one. Where the first establishes characters and sets up the story, the second is generally a “normal” episode, the first sign of what we can expect to get on a regular basis. There’s a little more establishment going on here and there, but overall we’re in our groove and rolling along.
Episode 2 of the reboot introduces a couple of ideas and fleshes out the world we’ve been given. It also brings back a few old friends, so that’s a pleasant extra. First up, we have Gypsy working on the ship, with a little slapstick involving falling tools. Then, Jonah gets sucked into a pneumatic tube and deposited in his old ship, there to re-create the show open. This is explained by saying Kinga’s technology doesn’t work for recording. This makes less sense the more you think about it. I know, I know, it’s just a show and et cetera et cetera, but really would it have killed them to just do the intro without having to work up an explanation for it?
The invention exchange is odd enough: a turkey with a theremin embedded in it. This invention really feels like someone pulled a couple of words out of a hat, but what the heck it’s only the second episode. The Mads take the premise that the Carvel “Santa Claus” ice cream cake is really just their “Fudgie the Whale” cake turned sideways and redecorated, and use it to create an even dozen themed cakes, all with the same basic shape. It’s pretty amusing, and fortunately they keep it moving fast enough that it doesn’t get old.
The experiment is Cry Wilderness, a really rather bad “Bigfoot” movie. It’s about a boy who goes to visit his father in the woods, because Bigfoot came to him and warned him that he (that is, the father) was in great danger. Somehow he manages to hitch his way all the way up to the woods and almost immediately stumble on his dad and his Faithful Indian Companion(tm). There follows a lot of wandering around, arguing with authority figures, oddly inappropriate laughter, half-baked pseudo-native mysticism that Disney would find insensitive, and important lessons learned about love, friendship, and all the usual things you get in these kinds of movies. Oh, and there’s a tiger that escaped from a circus. In the end, everyone is all right, mystical things happen, and Bigfoot books it for the mountains to avoid the possibility of a sequel.
The first host segment has Crow & Tom as a couple of adorably vicious raccoons who systematically trash the SOL after the manner of the ones who do the same to the father’s cabin in the movie. It’s a surprisingly long scene in the movie, and this reviewer would not have wanted to be on the cleanup crew afterwards. Naturally, the ‘bots take it just that little extra bit further, all while Jonah fake-laughs himself silly.
In the second host segment, Jonah uses a laser-cut model to try to break down the movie for the ‘bots. Specifically, why this mess got made in the first place. This reviewer cannot vouch for Jonah’s explanation, but it’s certainly as plausible as anything. Incidentally, it seems that laser-cut wood props are going to be making a regular appearance in the new series. They are very nicely done, this reviewer will admit, but perhaps don’t have quite the charm of the hand-drawn flash cards from the old days.
The third segment takes us to Moon 13, where the Mads are stressing out over Jonah’s persistent sanity. Suddenly a ship comes into range, and–surprise! It’s Pearl (Mary Jo Pehl), with Bobo & Brain Guy (Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, respectively) in tow. This was a welcome sight, even if everyone looks a little…off-ish. Kevin Murphy’s Bobo in particular seems to have actually gone backwards a bit as far as the prosthetics are concerned. Of course he always looked a little cheesy, but this is some full-on Time of the Apes stuff, right here. Things get a bit awkward in the family relations department, and the henchbeings exchange some knowing comments about the Forrester way of doing things. We also meet Synthia, Pearl’s clone she left behind to keep Kinga company (Rebecca Hanson, who also does the voice of Gypsy). Those of us who were wondering who the Pearl lookalike in the first episode was now have our answer. There’s also a bit where Kinga complains about the difficulty of keeping continuity with the old season, and how she should have just “rebooted” everything. This is funny, but it’s also intriguing: just how much control does she have over the world of the show? Maybe this will be explored in greater detail later.
After the movie, Crow makes like the mystical Indian spirit guide in an attempt to get Max to hand over control of Jonah’s ship. Naturally, Kinga shows up and shuts down that action toot suite. Max pushes the button, and another episode is in the can.
So, a pretty good second episode, all things considered. Some things I’m not terribly over the moon about (the opening sequence explanation, for one), but it’s nice to see some of the old crew come by, even if it’s only a once-in-a-while kind of thing. It will be interesting to see what they do with the Synthia character. Last week she was just a background figure, so perhaps this signals bringing her to the forefront more. I guess we’ll find out.
As the credits roll, we find ourselves wondering where the character development is going to go as the season progresses. Will we see more of the new characters? How often do the old gang stop by? Is Max really right about shows not hitting their stride until around-about the fifth episode? Only time will tell.
What do you think, sirs?
Kelly Luck once had Bigfoot show up at her school to warn her that her father was in danger, but it turned out to be a 419 scam. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.