MST3K Recap: 1106, STARCRASH

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1106

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

Our older readers who were around in ’77 will remember the way Star Wars washed over the culture of the day. You think it’s popular now, folks? Back then, it was everywhere. Toys, clothes, disco music (it was the seventies, after all), everything was Star Wars. And if it wasn’t, it was as close an imitation as they could get (this reviewer has in her collection a promo recording from a radio jingle company for a package called “The Music Force”, complete with R2-like bloops & whistles). And sure as sunrise follows sunset, there came the imitations. Slavish, cargo-cult space operas that panted after the original while simultaneously learning nothing from it. Starcrash is just one such movie.

This week’s cold open has the SOL crew making like college kids and playing spin-the-bottle. A rare appearance of Crow in drag here, as it’s usually Tom that does the honors in that direction. After the show open, the Mads introduce the “band-eat-o”, a food & condiment-covered bandolier based on the salsa-filled sombrero, which is apparently a thing somewhere. Not Mexico, I’m guessing. The SOL crew with BB-Servo, namely Tom’s head on top of you-know-who’s body. Alas, Lucasfilm’s legal team work very quickly, and Tom’s dreams of licensed merchandise are dashed in a matter of seconds.

The movie is, as noted, one of the flock of me-too movies that came after Star Wars, an Italian quickie turned out by someone who hadn’t seen Star Wars but had a copy of the book (true). It involves galactic smuggler Stella Star (yes, really) and her friend Akton who get hired by the Emperor of the Galaxy (Christopher Plummer!) to find out what’s happening with a secret weapon developed by the evil Count Zarth Arn. Also, David Hasselhoff shows up as the emperor’s son.

RELATED ~ BOMB SHELTER Drill #3: Jay and Kevin Get Caught in a STARCRASH

This is cargo-cult film making at its finest: kit-bashed spaceships, corny robots, all the accouterments with nothing to back them up. It’s actually amazing how much this movie resembles an updated version of a standard ’50’s space saga in the Flash Gordon/Rocky Jones mold. The “lived-in” universe of Lucas & McQuarrie is nowhere to be seen. The robots look like they were assembled with erector sets. There is no grounding realism, no universe building to speak of. It faded as quickly as it came, forgotten with a host of others.

A word about the guy who plays Akton, aka the-guy-who-isn’t-William-Kat: you might not be familiar with Marjoe Gortner, but he’s got a fascinating history quite apart from this film. Raised on the faith healing & revival circuit, he became famous as “The world’s youngest preacher” as his family trucked him around all over the place, using him as the principal draw for their “ministry”. He continued in this world until adulthood, when he left in the most spectacular way possible: filming a “stealth” documentary showing him at work and behind the scenes, exposing the faith healing circus for what it was (and, alas, still is). The movie is called Marjoe, and definitely worth a look. He had a bit of a movie career afterwards, but has settled into the background since.

Anyhow. First host segment. Crow has whipped up yet another screenplay to capitalize on ersatz sci-fi quickies, World War Space. It combines equal parts Candyland, space bureaucracy, merchandising, and gibberish. As these things go, it’s no Earth vs Soup, but could probably get legs in modern Hollywood, more’s the pity.

The second host segment has Jonah dressed up as Akton and generally acting like a typical self-absorbed celebrity until it turns out he has no control over his vaunted so-called powers. He immediately falls to pieces and runs off, sobbing, leaving the disappointed ‘bots in his wake.

In the third segment, genius investor Freak Masterstroke (Jerry Seinfeld) comes by Moon 13 to hear the Mads’ pitch for a fly-in drive-in, a lunar theme park, and various other items that get shot down hard. He tells them to turn Jonah & the ‘bots into Apps but flies off before they can secure funding. Hey, maybe they should try Kickstarter. I hear that sometimes works.

After the movie, Jonah gads about as the Count while Crow & Tom relentlessly attack with torpedoes and cheesy catchphrases, leaving the Mads to wonder if they have finally been driven mad. Quoth Kinga: “I don’t even know anymore.”

In  her Planet ComicCon appearance, Felicia Day stated that she considered either Avalanche or The Beast of Hollow Mountain as the worst show of the season, but for my money this one lays over both of them easily. The cheap sets, the Hayden Christensen-level acting, the excruciating writing all combine to form an absolute mess that only serves to remind you of other, better movies you could be watching. No lie folks, this is a toughie to get through. We’re talking Castle of Fu-Manchu tough. But the gang pull us through, bless them. The host segments are a bit uneven this time around, but the riffs keep us going through what could have been an unbearable slog.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck never realized how important perms & leather bikinis were to saving the universe. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.




AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Hits Us Over and Over with Emotion Hammers — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #118

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Episode 422 “World’s End”
Written by Jeffrey Bell
Directed by Billy Gierhart

It’s the season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — and we have got confirmation that the show will be back next season, only on Friday nights (more on that later).

Aida/Ophelia takes crazy to the extreme with her Scorched Earth policy, and it looks very much that Jemma… wait, what just happened? Fitz is still broken a bit, and we have to wait to learn the fate of Philinda. While Coulson and May do get to have a few moments about the bottle and what led to drinking it, we don’t get everything we’d like to see between the two of them.

Plus: the return of the Ghost Rider! Chasing the Darkhold, and all the terrible that comes with it, including the organic body Aida inhabits. Because it comes from a very bad place.

What happens next? Where are our heroes being held? Will this be the introduction of S.W.O.R.D.?

 

Next season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. makes way for Inhumans, which will have an 8-episode running following Once Upon a Time on Friday nights.

The panel: Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Dan Handley, Timothy Harvey

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ROGUES GALLERY #53: Barry is Still Dumb, Supergirl Needs Focus

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This week: it seems that Barry Allen is still not through making dumb decisions. And even though we now know the identity of Savitar, there really doesn’t seem to be any kind of a plan from the writers room. And Supergirl has yet to get out of being about all the lovebird characters and get back to being about … well… Supergirl.

Arrow continues to slide into irrelevancy. Powerless is cancelled, but we have Black Lightning waiting in the wings.

Plus: we’ve decided to weaponize Mr. Townley’s recaps and unleash him on Gotham

Watch a special LIVE edition of episode 53 here on SciFi4Me TV

The panel: Ann Laabs, Jennifer Wise, Jeff Hackworth, Will Tramp, Jason Hunt

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All Hell has Broken Loose on SUPERNATURAL


Season 12, Episode 21 ”There’s Something About Mary”
Written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming
Directed by P.J.Pesce

Aww…Ketch (David Haydn-Jones) got a pet.

Okay, that’s probably the least important thing to happen in this episode. But it’s a very appropriate pet for him. Maybe Crowley (Mark Sheppard) sent it so it would kill him and eat him.

Well, we knew Eileen (Shoshannah Stern) was doomed. She had a bad case of Samlikesme and an “accidentally killed a BMoL” curse at the same time. Still, it was hard to see her go. I love that character and sending a hell-hound after her is particularly cruel. How did she even know to run? She can’t see it. She can’t hear it. Did she see it breaking things around her or footprints on the ground? Did she smell its foul breath or did it actually nip her before she knew it was there? I thought that Mick was going to be the sacrificial lamb of the season but then there was Eileen. I have a feeling they aren’t finished yet.

The British Men of Letters brainwashed Mary (Samantha Smith), and she killed a hunter for them. Since she had vague memories of it she was devastated and made a very reputable attempt to kill herself after grabbing Ketch’s gun. She then begged him to kill her and he didn’t. He told her it would all be over soon. What does he mean by that?

( Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW)

Ketch either engaged in sniping with his ex or flirting. I can’t tell which. She calls him a bastard American when he’s not looking. Maybe she’s being literal. Schoolmarm Hess (Gillian Barber) pits them against each other, telling both of them that the other one can have the American territory when the hunters are killed.

Dean calls Ketch to find out about their mom. The conversation they have would be hilarious if the subject weren’t so serious. Dean who?

The boys are looking for their mom when they get the call about Eileen. They check out the morgue and everything, so they can tell it’s a hellhound, but they also have to see Eileen’s body. Sam is pretty broken up. They call Crowley because it takes a demon to handle a hellhound and he lies and says he knows nothing about it. We know that he gave Ketch the hellhound and is buttering up Dr. Hess.

Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) is still working on getting free. He has a demon working on it, trying to break the bonds that give Crowley control over him. Unfortunately for Crowley, the demon succeeds too well. It turns out that they have reversed the polarities and Crowley is now Lucifer’s sock puppet. Lucifer tests out the theory and that scene IS hilarious. Then he kills Crowley with an angel blade. Not to worry, there’s a rat nearby and no fireworks. The rat trundles after the body so I’m sure Mark Sheppard will return as Crowley.

After receiving a letter from Eileen, saying that she thought she was being spied on and her computer and phone were compromised, Sam and Dean find the honking big microphone that Ketch placed under the table right next to the holster. They should have found it long ago. They use it to lay a trap, pretending that they have a meeting with another hunter.

Lady Bevel (Elizabeth Blackmore) shows up for the meeting, and they kidnap her. Dean’s going to be speaking a little higher now, but they get her. She is insufferable and tells them Mick is dead, and claims Jody is dead too. I don’t believe her about Jody. We haven’t seen it. She tells them Mary slept with Ketch and joined their side.

I don’t know how I let you talk me into driving for Uber, Sam. (Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW)

They get to the bunker to find that Ketch is already there, with armed men. Ketch definitely has the drop on them. Sam and Dean do what I think should be done in that sort of situation, they try to shoot their way out. (It’s not like they are going to be able to reason with them). And they succeed. Sam starts it off, and keeps hold of Lady Bevel the entire time. They clear the room and Dean disarms Ketch. To the relief of Dean and Sam, Mary shows up. They are happy to see her until she gets the drop on them. They aren’t about to shoot her, so she disarms them.

Ketch leaves them there with the doors locked and he’s going to reverse the exhaust fans and turn off the water. Oh, and he leaves Lady Bevel there with them. (I knew they should have changed those locks)

Mary and Ketch drive away. She still looks brainwashed, but I’m not sure.

Lucifer is out, and lord of all he surveys. Got himself some new duds, too.

Sam and Dean are in bad shape and the nephilim and Lucifer aren’t even involved yet. What gets me about what Ketch did is that it is an abominably STUPID way to kill someone. Unless you’re H.H. Holmes and find a sadistic pleasure in watching someone die of suffocation or dehydration it’s far easier to just shoot them. He won’t get to see them die slowly. There’s no reason to make it look like an accident since it would never get investigated. Instead, he gives them two or three days to find a way out.

If Ketch were someone who cared about people, and I’m not saying he is, he has just secured all the people that he might care about-Mary by his side, his ex and Mary’s sons in the bunker which is also a fortress that protects them. If he were planning a coup, he could be back in a couple of days to release them. Just a thought.

Of course, the other reason this is stupid is because the BMoL are going around killing hunters instead of using them to fight the nephilim. They might be missing the Winchesters when they find out Lucifer is on the loose.

Shame on Crowley for lying to Sam and Dean. He deserves to get kicked around a bit.

I’m sure Lady Bevel will cooperate to get out of the bunker. She’s got a kid at home.

I would have a poll on who you think will die, but it might break my heart. The previews show Mary knocking on Jody’s door. (Told you Lady Bevel lied).

Next week, May 18th, there will be two episodes for the season finale, starting at 8pm/7c. Set your recording devices accordingly.

 

Supernatural airs on the CW at 8pm/7c on Thursdays.

 




AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Marks a Return With Whedon Banter — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #117

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Episode 421 “The Return”
Written by Maurisa Tancharoen & Jed Whedon
Directed by Kevin Tancharoen

Our intrepid Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are back in the real world, and it’s not without its hangups. What with Mack still being in the Framework and May trying to shoot Ophelia and Fitz getting in the way and the two of them whisking out BAMF-style and Coulson not wanting to admit he cracked open the bottle and oh, how many robot copies of the Russian are there now?…

But at least it appears that Fitz won’t be the villain of next season (is there a next season?), at least not yet. He again demonstrates just how good a heart he has, even in the face of utter sociopathic murderous rage from his wanna-be girlfriend who suddenly finds that she’s… not? uh-oh. What was that about a woman scorned?…

Next week: the Ghost Rider returns!

The panel: Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt

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MST3K Recap: 1104, Avalanche

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1104

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

There’s just something about some movies that just screams “Made For TV”. Maybe it’s the roll-call of special guest–er, featured players. Or the way an expensive production still manages to look cheap as hell. Remarkably, this week’s experiment Avalanche was actually made for theatrical release: were it not for some gratuitious-bordering-on-desperate-nudity one would never guess.

We open as usual on The SOL, where the bots are busy workshopping their version of Mad Men. Quisp gets name checked; someone check and see if Tarantino has been ghostwriting for the series. Afterwards, we find out a bit more about Kingachrome, Forrester’s liquid video format. Jonah demonstrates the Mouth Vacuum, which works exactly how you think it does. Unfortunately, there seems to be a problem with the filters… The Mads, meanwhile, have created a computer that takes any phrase and turns it into a movie title with appropriate font and everything. Turns out “A Lighthearted Neil Simon Project” is the perfect title for a balls-to-the-wall action movie. Who knew?

Avalanche (1978) was written & directed by Corey Allen (no relation to Irwen, surprisingly), and spends two thirds of the movie introducing this week’s gues–sorry, there I go again. Introducing the characters and banging them against each other in various overly dramatic ways. David Shelby (a very tired Rock Hudson) is building a fabulous ski resort in…I don’t know, the Rockies somewhere. Among the guests are his ex-wife Caroline (Mia Farrow) and Nick (Robert Forster), the requisite doomsayer who wants them to close the beach–er, shut down the resort. Also in attendance are Shelby’s mother (Jeanette Nolan doing her Berthe-from-Pippin bit), various reporters, alleged celebrity athletes and so on and so on. When the avalanche does finally get around to happening, things do noticeably pick up, even if a majority of characters seem to suffer from Spontaneous Common Sense Failure. In the end, the place is a wreck, and Mia takes the big yellow taxi out of Rock’s life for good, off to hook up with Woody Allen and star in some decent films for a change.

In the first host segment, the ‘bots have got Rock Hudson Fever, Jonah patiently explains to them why 70’s style, what-kind-of-man-reads-Playboy types are not romantic role models. Especially when they’re wearing yellow plaids. “He [Hudson] doesn’t know what women want, and he doesn’t care,” proclaims Tom. Ah, dear, sweet, innocent Tom. Righter than you know.

In the second one, the SOL crew is playing Marco Polo while Kinga frets over her imminent visit from Neville LaRoy (Neil Patrick Harris), a “celebrity space magician” with whom she’s been having a long distance relationship for some time. His spaceship arrives, and they sing a funny-sad paean to online-only relationships. The song’s pretty good, very 80’s ballad, and even Max gets a look in for a verse. It’s interesting to note that this is the second time a Kinga-focused segment has dipped into pathos. It seems to be developing into a thing, if it’s not too early to say so. Also, turns out Felicia Day can sing. So that’s cool.

In the third segment, Jonah & the bots have a Very Serious Talk with us about the dangers of bad-on-purpose “hybrid” B-movies (Sharktopus, Piranhaconda, Sharknado and so on). They’re on it, though: they’ve decided to come up with as many bad B-movie titles as they can and lay claim to them, ensuring they never fall into the wrong hands (looking at you, The Asylum). So if you were wanting to create a monster opus named Lemonado, Pugslide, or Three-Toed Blitzsloth, you might as well forget it.

After the movie, Gypsy comes out and entertains the SOL crew with a lounge act, and also a slightly disturbing body hanging down from her neck hose. Still, she’s got a pretty good act. Personally, I think she’s ready for the Admiral Lounge at the Akron Holiday Inn. And the Mads agree.

Overall a good one. More time seems to be getting invested in giving the Moon 13 folks character depth and backstories. It’s a bit different than what we’re used to, but not in a bad way. This viewer is looking forward to seeing where they take us, actually. Another good song, even if it is a bit of a downer towards the end. One funny note: when watching the weekly batch of thank-you credits scroll by, this viewer noted not one but two Drforester’s in the list. Also a goodly number of real, actual doctors. Not a surprise, really: this has always been a show that appealed to smart folks.

Avalanche is an opus of high-budget corn from Roger Corman, who as always manages to make the most expensive production look cheap. In an earlier review yours truly read while gathering material, someone lamented the fact that it had never got the MST3K treatment. Well, all I can say is, they sure called that one.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck went skiing once; it wasn’t nearly this interesting. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.

 

 




AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Is Back in the Real World, and Yikes! — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #116

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Episode 420 “Farewell, Cruel World”
Written by Brent Fletcher
Directed by Vincent Misiano

Back to our regular programming as the gang gathers in the post-convention bunker to discuss the latest really tough to watch episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — and not because it was badly written, but because there was plenty of emotionally-charged scenes that really worked. It’s a really solid episode with a lot of moments that build to a few gut-wrenching final minutes. As we predicted, Fitz looks like he’s going to have some … issues. And our intrepid heroes inside the Framework will have to live with the knowledge that they’re not “real” in the traditional sense, but then what are they?

And now that most of the team is out of the Framework, what does it mean for everyone? How does Fitz cope with the monster he became inside? How does everyone process Mack’s decision? What will happen to PhilLinda?

The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt

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From Planet Comicon 2017: LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN Episode 115 Live

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Episode 419 “All the Madame’s Men”
Written by James C. Oliver & Sharla Oliver
Directed by Billy Gierhart

Live from Planet Comicon 2017!

The gang takes time to discuss Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the episode where Daisy uses her powers without pain, May becomes a traitor to Hydra, and Coulson goes on television to claim his place as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

https://youtu.be/k2V2IkNRm9c

 

The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Dan Handley, Sam Sentman, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt

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ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: Live From PLANET COMICON! (Well, Sort Of)

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We didn’t just livestream from Planet Comicon, we also recorded this week’s Zombpocalypse Now in front of a LIVE audience! Listen!

Dustin: Well, we, as usual, said we were going to talk about one thing last week, and here we are, talking about something else.

Timothy: We did, and we are. We said we were going to talk about the last three episodes of Santa Clarita Diet, but instead…

Dustin: We recorded an episode in front of a live audience at Planet Comicon!

Timothy: … just like the last few years. Like the last, what, three years?

Dustin: I am trying to make this sound exciting. You are not helping.

Timothy: It was fun.

Dustin: It was. It was also kind of a greatest hits episode, where we talk about The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, and Santa Clarita Diet, and take questions from the audience. Who were awesome.

Timothy: It’s always a great time talking to other fans of these shows we love to hate to love. To hate. To love.

Dustin: It is complicated. But this show isn’t. And you can actually hear the audience! Sort of. Mostly.

Timothy: And every time you tapped on the table. All the times you tapped on the table.

Dustin: I… do that, yes. It’s a thing I do. That table was loud. It’s not my fault.

Timothy: And you can hear it all its glory. We had a good time out there, and we hope you have a good time listening to it.

Mindy: Oh! Hey! Hi! And rate and comment on our podcast and all our other podcasts on iTunes and Podcasts.com! 

Dustin: Where the hell have you been? 

Mindy: Working the floor, getting interviews and SO MUCH MORE! Check out all our great Planet Comicon Coverage! Here at SciFi4Me!

 




MST3K Recap: 1103, Time Travelers

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1103

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

The world of Riffing has always had a close relationship with the sci-fi genre. Even before the original MST3K moved to the Sci-Fi Channel (as it was known back then), a sizable proportion of its targets fitted comfortably within that genre. There just seems to be so much in the way of raw material to work with when cinematic flights of fancy go awry. This week’s episode is a fine example from the “Deep Message” subgenre, which follows the rules of time travel fiction lock-step and with zero surprises.

The show opens with Jonah and the gang playing a game of “Never Have I Ever”, with the ‘bots cheerfully taking it into a whole weird area, like they do. One show open later, the SOL crew introduces Crow’s invention for the week: edible silicone packets, which unfortunately need to be packed with a single non-edible one to keep them fresh. You can pretty much see where this is going. The Mads return with “Afterlife Alert”, for dead people who require post-mortem assistance. Fans who watched last week’s episode may find Max’s alert necklace rather on the familiar side. A cute one, but quick. And then it’s movie sign.

This go-round is The Time Travelers (1964), in which a group of scientists (and the electrician sent to shut down their excess power) discover they “window to the future” they created is actually a door. Naturally, they all wind up wandering through and getting lost, and naturally the door closes behind them. It’s your usual post-apocalyptic hellscape with a race of elites constantly fighting off mutants and so on. This bunch are getting ready to blast off for a new world, taking their robots (who look like Trumpy from Pod People got lucky while on Earth) with them. Naturally there’s intrigue, dirty secrets, the race against time to get back to their own time and so on. The ending screams “we ran out of ideas” and doesn’t even try to justify itself. One feature of note is the use of stage magic techniques as F/X work. This appears not to have been done not out of necessity, as elaborate tricks are used to create effects that could easily have been reproduced with a simple edit. Nevertheless, it does make the movie stand out, inasmuch as it stands out at all.

In the first host segment, the SOL crew has a time portal drill. Gypsy lectures them on the basics of portal encounters, including the important (if confusing) “Enter the portal, not”. It is also firmly established that meddling with the future always results in a nuclear wasteland. It just appears to be one of those things.

In the second segment, Jonah introduces a new series of ‘bots to the SOL, only to have each in turn be violently destroyed by Crow & Tom. This goes on for a while, until the sudden (but inevitable) reveal that the new ‘bots are phonies, made to be destroyed in the first place. Just a quick bit of slapstick, but it does remind this viewer that this series is meant to introduce us to a new ‘bot by the name of Waverly, which we have yet to see. One wonders how he’ll get along with the others, and when we’ll get to find out.

Lastly, the SOL gets a visit from Dr. Varno from the movie and his friend “Larry” (Joel Hodgson himself, making his first unmasked on-camera appearance this series). They’ve given up science in favor of the 24-hour party lifestyle. Jonah, believe it or not, turns down their invitation to join them, and they belt off to Betelgeuse to hit a rave. Sadly, “Larry” doesn’t speak a word during the whole bit, but it’s nice to at least see him.

After the movie, the gang returns to the crew cabin to find they have somehow reproduced the ending to the movie. It gets weird fast. Kinga proclaims this to be the 200th episode of MST3K, which Max helpfully points out is only if you count the episodes they personally had nothing to do with. It’s a bit silly, but this reviewer must admit she has a fondness for meta humor.

So that’s three down, 11 to go. The episodes seem to be gaining popularity, and passing muster with old & new fans alike. When Felicia Day was at Planet Comicon this last weekend (hence the delay in this recap, sorry), this reviewer noted many fans bringing paraphernalia related to the show (t-shirts and so on). No word yet on numbers, but at this early date, the “feel” is positive. This reviewer is optimistic that a second season is not an unreasonable wish at all.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck is constructing a time portal so she can go back to the past and tell herself not to bother with trombone lessons. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.




Norman Can’t Cut THE CORD in BATES MOTEL Series Finale


Season 5, Episode 10  “The Cord”
Written by Kerry Ehrin and Carlton Cuse
Directed by Tucker Gates

[All images courtesy A&E/Cate Cameron]

Here at the end of all things Bates Motel, “The Cord” features a series of events that, at least within the context of everything that’s come before on this show, can be thought of as a “happy” ending.

If you consider a carjacking, a near-death beatdown, and two fatal shootings happy.

 RELATED ~ Review – Bates Motel Season 5 Episode 9  “Visiting Hours”

Alex, Norman, and Norma

We join Romero (Nestor Carbonell) and Norman (Freddie Highmore) on the road, continuing their midnight “Take Your Stepfather to Your Mother’s Corpse” field trip. Police station receptionist turned unwilling driver Regina (Aliyah O’Brian) begs Romero not to kill her. He obliges after the unhappy trio turns off the road towards Norma’s shallow grave. Romero “frees” Regina to walk back to the highway in freezing temperatures and sets off with Norman through the woods.

Mother is still controlling Norman (and in her mind, the situation). “Norman isn’t here … you can’t touch him.” Even digging through the snow with bare hands Mother can’t resist taunting Romero before asking for help. “It would go faster if you help me.”

Being the vengeance-crazed, sleep-deprived, and grief-stricken widower that he is, OF COURSE Romero tucks his gun away and pitches in. Norman briefly overpowers his stepfather before Romero beats him bloody.

Norman sets the final tragedy in motion – killing Romero next to Norma’s corpse.

Turning away from the dazed Norman, Romero completely loses any composure he had left at the sight of  Norma’s frozen corpse, vacant open eyes staring upwards. “I’m going to get you out of here … I’m sorry I couldn’t help you.” He doesn’t notice Norman staggering to his feet. Norman has Romero’s gun in an instant and shoots his nemesis.

Before his joins Norma in death, Romero says words that doom Norman. “You killed your own mother. You can’t hide from it.” Romero’s death seems to snap Norman back to himself. Mother appears. She’s bathed in a golden light as she tells Norman, “I have to leave you now. There’s nothing for me to protect you from. Goodbye, Norman.”

What follows is a fascinating jumble of images. Norman lies in the snow next to Norma and dreams. He opens his eyes on a golden morning and tells his mother, “I just had the most horrible dream.” Norman gets out of bed, running through the house to find Norma. She’s in the kitchen making breakfast. Norma gently tells her son, “you just have to learn to wake up from them.”

We see Norman lying in the snow between the corpses of Romero and Norma. He asks his mother, “Am I still dreaming?” As Norman thinks he’s driving to White Pine Bay with Norma to start a new life, we see a bloody, beaten Norman driving through the night.

Dylan can’t NOT try to save Norman from himself. Even if it kills him.

Norman gently tucks Norma’s corpse into her bed and hurries to prepare the hotel for opening. He’s back at the beginning of their lives at the Bates Motel.

A new start means a time to repair frayed family ties. Norman calls his brother. He knows Norma and Dylan (Max Theriot) fought terribly, but he’d like to invite his brother to dinner. “We’re at the new house with the motel. I miss you and our mother does, too.” Norman doesn’t understand why Dylan’s asking him about someone named Romero.

Dylan

By the time Norman calls his brother, Dylan already put in a full day’s work. His day started with a tense discussion with Sheriff Greene (Brooke Smith) regarding Norman’s inadvertent jailbreak, moved on to a quick stop to pick up an illegal handgun from his old pot farm coworker Remo (Ian Tracey) before ending the day with a shot of liquid reflection (aka alcohol).

Dylan is surprised Norman called him, relieved he’s alive – then crestfallen as he realizes Norman has retreated into a fantasy world where Norma is still alive. He agrees to come to dinner.

Mother … isn’t herself today.

Norman and Dylan

Before entering the Bates House, Dylan takes care of a few loose ends. He warns away the mother (blonde) with two young sons (one named Dylan) whom Norman checked into the motel. Then he makes a heartbreaking call to Emma (Olivia Cooke).

She begs him not to do this – he has a child, responsibilities, a life beyond Norman. “I know I have a child. Do I have a wife?” Emma doesn’t answer that one, nor does she respond to his I Love You. She won’t give him that final goodbye.

Now to dinner. Norman has done a remarkable job cleaning up the place and removing all the crime scene tape. He’s also dressed Norma in a lovely skirt and sweater combo and seated her at the head of the table; her makeup, smearing and running down her face, does ruin the effect.

Dylan refuses to play along with Norman’s delusion. Norman hustles his brother into the dining room. “We can talk over dinner. Just sit here by Mother.” The sight of Norma’s corpse prompts a fairly normal reaction out of Dylan – he vomits.

As the illusion begins to unravel, Norman clings to it. If he just keeps pretending hard enough, everything will be as it was. He counters Dylan’s insistence that he live in the “real world.” “In a prison for the criminally insane?” Dylan doesn’t want that; as he explains to his brother, he wants a lot of things that will never happen. “I want you to be happy. I want you to be well … I want Mom to be alive again.” This is (I believe) the first time Dylan has called Norma “Mom,” and it’s one of the most heartbreaking moments in all of Bates Motel.

For a moment, it seems like Norman will go with his brother and rejoin the “real world.” But Norman picks up a long kitchen knife, sadly tells Dylan, “I just want to be with her, ” and commits suicide by brother (aka the “Kill the Ones You Love” trope).

“Thank You.” Norman lies bleeding to death cradled in a weeping Dylan’s arms. In his mind, he is running through the forest, joyfully reunited with his one true love – a smiling, loving Norma.

********

We see Dylan sitting on the house porch steps; he watches the police take Norman and Norma’s bodies away.

“Dream a Little Dream of Me” plays as we see the future in sunlight. A man and woman buy the Bates Motel. As Remo told Dylan earlier, the legalization of marijuana in Oregon has transformed the secret pot farms into booming artisanal weed growers. Maybe these two can make the place a success.

Emma leads a Katie through a crowd of people. They meet up with Dylan. He scoops up Katie in his arms. Are they still together, or now former partners who put their child first? I suspect the later even if I hope for the former.

In the sunlit graveyard, the audience makes the final pilgrimage to Norma’s headstone. Next to her name and testimonial is a simple inscription. NORMAN.  Together with Mother, today and always.

 

Psycho Notes

~ Norman liked the “cord between our hearts” line he cribbed from Jane Eyre and quoted to Norma in the very first episode of Bates Motel (“First You Dream, Then You Die”), he used it for Norma’s headstone (as seen in The Convergence of the Twain and the series finale.

~ Norman ends up killing his mother and her lover in both Psycho (simultaneous poisoning) and Bates Motel (carbon monoxide poisoning and gunshot spaced two years apart).

~ Norman worried about being committed to “a prison for the criminally insane.” Ed Gein was sent to the Wisconsin Central State Hospital for the Insane before being transferred to the  Mendota Mental Health Institute, where he died in 1984.

~ Dylan’s “drink & think” bar features the 2016 song “Magi Bullet” by the band My Morning Jacket; ironic in the light of the magic bullet that saves his life at episode’s end.

~ At the Bates home, classic easy listening of the 50’s & 60’s hold sway – on vinyl of course.

  • “Que Sera Sera” – sung by Doris Day. The actress also starred in Alfred Hitchock’s 1956 movie The Man Who Knew Too Much.
  • “You Belong to Me” (1952) by Pee Wee King, Chilton Price and Redd Stewart; first recorded by Joni James, most popular version recorded by Jo Stafford.
  • “Dream a Little Dream of Me” (1931) by Fabian Andre and Wilbur Schwandt, lyrics by Gus Kahn. Covered many, many times, including a version by Doris Day.

 

Sadly, Bates Motel is no longer airing on A&E Network.

 




POWERLESS Gets Trapped in “Emergency Punch-Up”

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Season 1, Episode 9: “Emergency Punch-Up”
Written by Lillian Yu
Directed by Linda Mendoza

[All photos courtesy NBC Universal]

Score one for the viewers! We actually get the episode we were promised this week!

Ron (Ron Funches) is watching a new documentary on Dr. Psycho (which paints him in more of a favorable light.) Everyone thinks it’s bunk, but Ron thinks the documentary producers are correct and that Dr. Psycho is an innocent man.

Van (Alan Tudyk), meanwhile, is telling the staff about the upcoming corporate retreat in Coast City. Emily (Vanessa Hudgens) has been planning it and has plenty of fun in store for everyone.

If there is ever a Van Wayne action figure, I want him in this white suit.

Everyone leaves…except for Emily’s team, who has to wait for Dorothy (Dorothy Schock), to make sure the elder lady makes it to the retreat. Suddenly an alarm goes off! Dr. Psycho is attacking Charm City. The explanatory news caster tells us that everyone must shelter in place for at least the next 12 hours until the gas dissipates. The building is put in lockdown and Emily’s team is trapped at work.

Emily is worried about Dorothy, not to worry though, Dorothy is shown to be at the retreat, they stayed behind for nothing.

Since they are trapped, Emily decides to turn the office into a faux island retreat with a Tiki bar…and not much else, so the team just sits around and drinks. They play a game of Desert Island Companion, which only upsets Teddy (Danny Pudi) after Ron says he’d rather have Jackie (Christina Kirk) as a companion than him.

They bet Teddy that he can’t hit a trash can with a tiki torch. He throws, misses and hits a window, breaking it and letting in the white gas. The team quickly retreats into the lab, which can be sealed off easily.

Party Time!

Unfortunately, all the gas masks and hazard suits are outside the lab, having been appropriated for the party. Also, they are a man short, since Van had two writers helping him with jokes and speeches and the joke guy got left out in the gas, so he’s probably dead.

Emily uses the resources they do have in the lab to make a makeshift hazmat suit so she can venture out to get the masks.

Ron is ready to go.

And it turns out the joke writer wasn’t dead, the gas just made him super angry. He attacks Emily and breaches her makeshift helmet. She takes a breath of the gas and is consequently … not well. She’s mad and sick of having to babysit her team. She throws away the masks.

They receive a timely report on TV that the gas will eventually kill those exposed to it unless they are treated within a few hours. Jackie rallies the troop and tells them they need to get Emily back into the lab.

They put together another makeshift hazmat suit and Ron goes out to retrieve Emily. Emily attacks him and he fails and is pulled back to he lab. Van gives a rousing speech — from his speech writer — and they try a new tactic. They start singing Karaoke. Emily loves Karaoke and she comes back into the room singing and then collapses.

Later, the team do a post-mortem on the whole situation and take Emily out for a night of Karaoke.

A happy Emily is a good Emily.

Analysis:

I really liked this episode, which might be one of the best episodes of the series so far. It wasn’t over complicated; it stuck to one story instead of trying to shoe horn a “b” plot into the story. Hey, Powerless writers! More of this, please. Follow Lillian Yu’s lead and write them like this one.

So if Emily is the team’s baby sitter, is Jackie Emily’s watcher?

How is the gang not super mad at Dorothy for sneaking out of the building and making them get stuck in the building? They were kinda mad at the wrong person.

The team should some ingenuity in making those makeshift hazmat suits. That’s right, we get an episode that really shows that they can be MacGyver type geniuses when they need to be (or when the script tells them they can be).

The DC Universe references in this episode were sparse, just Dr. Psycho and Wonder Woman. I think this really helped out the episode.

Next week, we get to do what ever we want…or do we? It’s “No Consequence Day”!

Powerless airs Thursday at 8:30/7:30 Central on NBC. It can also be found on Hulu, Amazon, and NBC.com. For more information, visit the official website.

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VISITING HOURS at BATES MOTEL – Emma Says Goodbye, Romero Says Hello


Season 5, Episode 9  “Visiting Hours”
Written by Scott Kosar
Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi

[All images courtesy A&E/Cate Cameron]

Despite a little bit of filler in the RomeroWatch story, “Visiting Hours” brought this season’s three parallel storylines (Dylan & Emma, Romeo, and Norma/n) together with plenty of heartbreak all around. Emma says goodbye to a mother she barely knew while Romero adds to his lengthy list of felonies on his way to a reunion with his stepson Norman.

 RELATED ~ Review – Bates Motel Season 5 Episode 8  “The Body”

“Visiting Hours” opens with a snippy Mother (Vera Farmiga) grudgingly putting up with the indignities of being booked for multiple counts of murder in the 1st Degree. Electronic fingerprinting, mug shot — so undignified!  Over at the Bates place, Sheriff Greene (Brooke Smith) oversees a mass of crime scene techs sweeping over the grounds.

Even if Mother refuses to talk, there’s plenty of physical evidence being collected.  A deputy’s discovery of the suitcase belonging to Emma’s mother is one-upped by a tech discovering Chick’s (Ryan Hurst) body slumped over his typewriter in the basement. Poor Chick; he died as he lived — an unpublished writer.

Dylan (Max Theirot) is stunned to see Emma (Olivia Cooke) pulling into the parking lot of the King’s Motel. He embraces her tightly as Emma explains, “I want to be here to help you with this.” Her concern turns to shock as Dylan breaks the news of her mother’s death; he knows Norman is responsible.

After all they’ve been through, realizing the truth about Norman may break their relationship. Even as Emma reassures Dylan that “it’s not your fault,” her emotions rapidly shift to vengeance. She doesn’t want to hear Dylan say anything supporting Norman. At this point, Emma swears she’ll kill him herself (though she will have to get in line behind Alex Romero, of course).

In the contest of “who has the worse family member?” I’d give Dylan the edge.

Unfortunately for Norman, Mother’s strategy for resolving the “pickle” they’re in amounts to declaring “I didn’t do it – so Not Guilty!” She’s not as thrilled by Julia Ramos’ (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) news that even with a best-case scenario, a Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity verdict will land Norman in a mental institution for life. To Mother, physical death or life in a mental institution mean the same thing: hell. Mother puts her Norman act into overdrive, telling her attorney, “everyone has multiple personalities, Julia.”

This interview with her client compels Julia to visit Dylan and Emma. She begs Dylan to attend the preliminary hearing. Given the amount of evidence gathered by the state and what’s she heard and seen from her client, Julia needs Dylan to be at the preliminary hearing. Dylan is Norman’s connection to humanity; she needs all the help she can get putting Norman’s illness front and center.

Mother may have to destroy Norman in order to save him.

Emma goes to White Pine Bay’s only funeral home. She arranges for a less expensive cremation for the mother she had no relationship with in life and will now never have a chance to know. Emma’s stoic act breaks down when she makes her pilgrimage to Norma’s headstone. Emma cries openly by Norma’s headstone. “I’m so sorry, Norma. I miss you.”

At least she chooses a memorable spot to disperse her mother’s ashes. In sight of majestic snow-capped mountains, Emma shakes the ashes free while “Crimson and Clover” reverberates around her.

Dylan, prompted by the photos of his mother and brother, attends Norman’s preliminary hearing. He avoids the front row seat reserved for him by Julia Ramos and sits in the back row. Both he and Madeline Loomis (Isabelle McNally) leave the courtroom after hearing the matter of fact descriptions of the gruesome deaths of Joe Blackwell, Audrey Ellis, and Sam Loomis.

Madeline angrily asks Dylan, “How did he trick you your whole life? You knew. How can you live with yourself?” She was only fooled for a couple of weeks, although the whole “giving you my dead mother’s clothes” bit should’ve been a gigantic red GET AWAY FROM NORMAN flag.

That overconfident smirk? Norman is still sleeping.

By the light of the most annoying neon sign ever, Emma and Dylan tell each other about their respective days spend attending hearings and dispersing ashes. Guys, I know that that incessantly flashing neon light represents the hell you’re going through right now, but please — those pieces of fabric hanging over the window are called curtains and they were invented to help you get some sleep.

The next morning Emma bids a sad goodbye to her husband, but does not proceed straight out of Crazytown. She stops at the White Pine Bay jail to visit Norman. As the visit proceeds Emma sees how completely the Norman she knew (or thought she knew) has vanished into Mother. Mother’s Norman act works about as well on Emma as it did on Julia — which is to say, not well at all. “It’s me, Norman. Your Norman, your friend.” Emma sadly asks “Can I talk to Norman?” Mother smirks: “He’s sleeping.” Tears welling in her eyes, Emma asks Mother to “tell him I miss him.”

Look at Norman. So harmless. Wouldn’t hurt a fly.

RomeroWatch

After a meandering conversation with a fellow gas station customer regarding differences between the 1968 and 1968 Dodge Fury models, a stop at Maggie’s (Jillian Fargey) house to use her computer and refuse her tempting offer to flee to a life on the lam in Montana, former Sheriff Romero is ready for his final act of suicidal vengeance.

Alex makes an after-hours visit to the White Pine Bay jail. He adds to his long list of felonies by taking the receptionist hostage, rounding up every deputy in the building, shooting one in the shoulder. Romero tops off the crime spree by taking Norman and the thoroughly terrified receptionist off on a field trip. Norman stammeringly demands to know, “What do you want from us, Alex?”

“You’re going to take me to her body.”

And we’re off to the Bates Motel finale!

 

Psycho Notes

~ Even in sleepy White Pine Bay, digital fingerprinting is putting the ink pad out to pasture.

~ Ever wonder why TV (and real life) crime scene techs wear those DuPont Tyvek suits at crime scenes? Here’s your answer!

~ I looked into why a tech told Sheriff Greene “the pulp’s still fresh” while collecting samples from Norma’s bed. I’m very grateful Bates Motel didn’t go into detail on how that pulp got there.

~ Norman’s journey through the Oregon criminal justice system is tracking pretty accurately with Ed Gein’s journey to a mental institution.

***Somebody snuck in a very deep reference to the infamous true crime case that inspired Robert Bloch to write Psycho. The judge at Norman’s hearing, the Hon. Sybil Meredith Gollmar; the judge at Ed Gein’s hearing? Judge Robert Howard Gollmar.

~ This week’s swingin’ 60’s Hit Parade includes

  • “Call Me Irresponsible” – Bobby Darin version
  • “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” – Beach Boys
  • “Crimson and Clover” – Tommy James and the Shondells

 

The final episode of Bates Motel, “The Cord,” airs Monday April 24 on A&E at 8/9 Central.




AGENTS OF HYDRA Gives Us Fits About Fitz — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #114

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Episode 418 “No Regrets”
Written by Paul Zbyszewski
Directed by Eric Laneuville

Finally, the introduction of Dad… and Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) is starting to lose a little of that self-assured swagger he’s been sporting in the Framework. Is Madame Hydra (Mallory Jansen) telling him everything? Or is she manipulating her lover at the same time she’s digging her claws into the rest of everyone’s world?

It’s clear that the elder Fitz (David O’Hara) has had a profound impact on his son’s upbringing and resulting character and personality, and it’s also clear why the “real” Fitz doesn’t want to have anything to do with the man. The lovable Leo Fitz is a product of his mother’s influence, and it remains to be seen what happens when the team gets out of the Framework and Fitz has to confront his memories of this twisted version of himself.

Likewise with Mack (Henry Simmons), who’s going to eventually have to give up the idea of being with his daughter Hope (Jordan Rivera). And though Jemma (Elizabeth Henstridge) is affected by that one relatively happy tableau, she’s still keenly aware that this is all just a digital make-believe world. Jemma faces a crisis of conscience, of a sort, complicated by the fact that Mace (Jason O’Mara) and Ward (Brett Dalton) don’t buy her story.

May (Ming-Na Wen) also faces a crisis of conscience when faced with the notion that Hydra will brainwash and kill people to keep them compliant. In the face of her failure at Baharain, her failure at Cambridge, and the way Daisy (Chloe Bennet) has been trying to get through to her, maybe — just maybe — there are things finally not adding up. Unless 1 + 1 = terrigenesis and a lot of whoopins…

Props to O’Mara for his very solid performance this week. His life in the Framework as the Patriot is worthy of song.

SciFi4Me 20% Off at HumanCharger. Use coupon code scifi4me during checkout. Expires 12/31/2017.

The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt

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MST3K Returns: The Not-Too-Distant-Future is Here

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1101

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
From the not-too-distant past:
There was a cow-town puppet show
That nobody thought would last (lalala)…

It’s been almost 30 years since the first MST3K experiment (“Invaders from the Deep”) flashed on Minnesota TV screens as a way to kill a couple of hours on local channel KTMA. From November 1988 to August of 1999, Mystery Science Theater 3000 bounced from local UHF to basic cable, from comedy to sci-fi. It introduced “riffing” to the popular lexicon and as a pastime of choice for media-weary viewers tired of a landscape saturated by mediocrity. Nearly everyone involved with the show has carried on riffing duty in one form or another, but no one ever really expected the show that started it all would come back.

But come back it did, and hard. On the back of one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever, fourteen new episodes were filmed and subsequently snapped up by Netflix, who knew a good thing when they saw it. So now, a new generation gets to strap in and enjoy bad movies turned into genuine entertainment.

If you are reading this, the entire season of MST3K, Season 11, has been released en masse by Netflix. However, your faithful reviewer remembers a time when Saturday was MST3K night, gathering with the other oddball students in the senior dorm to catch the new episode. For that reason, we’ll be watching–and recapping–one episode per week. As somebody once said, it’s too nice a job to rush.

So let’s get started: Gizmonics employee Jonah Heston (comedian Jonah Ray following the tradition of keeping his first name) is hauling some meteors back to earth when he gets a distress call from the dark side of the moon. It quickly turns out the call was a trap: he is captured and promptly bundled into a tube which deposits him unceremoniously on the Satellite of Love, still amazingly intact. This is all done to a new, rather jazzy rendition of the classic theme, giving us our first look at the new villains and the rather elaborate sets that have been put together.

The same old ‘bots are still on board: Crow (Hampton Yount), Tom Servo (Baron Vaughn), and Gypsy (Rebecca Hanson). The latter has had the biggest change: apart from anything else she’s now voiced by an actual female, and is much more lucid. Also, she lives in the ceiling, so that’s cool.

The villains this time around are eerily familiar: Kinga Forrester (Felicia Day) is apparently the daughter of original “mad” Dr. Clayton Forrester (Trace Beaulieu), determined to restart her father’s (and grandmother’s) experiment in search of selling the brand to Disney for scads of money. At her side is Max, aka “TV’s Son of TV’s Frank” (Patton Oswalt), who looks just too much like Frank Conniff to be believed.

One surprise this viewer was not expecting was the resurrection of the invention exchange. In fact, the first one out of the gate is something that’s not only quite doable, but looks to be really neat. This reviewer expects to see 3-D printer/CNC plans for it on Thingiverse and elsewhere in very short order, in fact. Since the inventions were always Joel Hodgson’s “thing”, we’re likely in for more of the same.

The first movie out of the gate is Reptilicus (1961), a Danish-American production in the Giant-Monster-Tromps-All-Over-Everything-While-Scientists-Flail-Around-Helplessly genre, an old favorite. After going through a door sequence that is extremely impressive (they really have upped their model game), we come out into the theater for the movie, and the riffing begins.

The title monster is discovered when an oil drilling team accidentally pulls up a section of the beast’s tail. When typically careless movie scientists allow the specimen to thaw, they find to their shock it regenerates itself entirely. They waste a lot of time shambling around stumbling into failure after failure before determining their best bet is to kill it with poison. Unfortuantely, there is one loose bit left behind that begins to regenerate, because of course there is.

The riffing is about par for the course, with the riffs being more or less interchangeable between the characters. One feels they will find their comic voices as the season progresses. There seems to be a lot more in the way of music-based riffs, short bursts of lyrics and so forth. This is by no means a bad thing, just one of the few things that struck this viewer as distinct from the previous iterations.

Despite the online, commercial-free venue of the new season, Hodgson put in “bumpers” where the commercial breaks would normally go. These feature the “Skeleton Crew”, the live-ish band that are seen at the opening of the show as well. Hodgson has explained that he has a certain affection for those moments, and feels they help retain the feel of the original shows.

Also true to the original series, there are three “host segments” interspersed throughout the movie. In the first one, Jonah explains (by means of a rather catchy rap number) how the idea of giant and/or scary monsters can be found all over the world. Some very clever lyrics here, and it fits very well with the tradition of creative and funny songs in the history of the show.

In the second segment, Crow takes one of Tom’s arms and regenerates a bunch more Toms (all one-armed themselves, natch). It’s a bit of a running gag across the series that Tom keeps duplicating himself, so this would appear to be a nod to that. It’s short, but amusing, though a couple more of the “mutant” versions would have been nice.

The third segment has the crew reading viewer letters. This is interesting, as that was generally saved for after the movie up til now. Only a couple of notes this time around, understandably, but no doubt there will be more to follow.

Post-movie, Gypsy goes Kaiju on a model Copenhagen while Kinga & Max plot the future.

So, off to an interesting start. It feels very much like coming home for this longtime viewer, though there are some serious questions about continuity. First of all, we have the Satellite of Love, bots included, but the last we heard the SOL had crashed and the robots had settled on Earth. Also, if Kinga and Max are both descended from the original villains Dr. Clay & Frank, then that raises all kinds of questions, particularly since Frank ascended to Second Banana Heaven before taking a job as a Soultaker (it’s a long story). Hodgson & co are being extremely coy about how they intend to resolve the various continuity questions, or whether they intend to address them at all. We’ll just have to see.

There are some nice surprises among the cast and crew. Trek fans will be delighted at the beginning by a familiar face among the Gizmonics personnel. Longtime Best Brains wardrobe mistress Beez McKeever is back on the crew, doing what she does best. Series veterans Paul Chaplin & Mary Jo Pehl are also involved, with rumors of other MST3K alumni to follow. And then there’s that “Movie in the hole!” guy…doesn’t his voice sound familiar?

Altogether, it’s a pretty strong start to a new generation of the show. As I mentioned in my previous writeup, MST3K has always been a show that adapted over time, and because of this managed to stay enjoyable and entertaining for a very long time indeed. There’s a lot new here (Tom’s voice particularly is rather different to this old fan’s ears), but it is in the main familiar enough that it should take longtime fans back with relative ease, as well as introducing a whole generation of new ones.

Kelly Luck is old enough to remember when “Keep Circulating the Tapes” was still a thing. As indeed were tapes. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.

What do you think, sirs?