Friday, December 21, 2012

MST3k Season One, Episode Nine: Project Moonbase!

This episode's experiment is "Project Moon Base," a 1953 movie which had a script co-written by Robert A. Heinlein! The film starred Donna Martell (who had earlier been in Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff, and later guested in an episode of Men Into Space), Hayden Rorke (best known for his later role as Dr. Bellows on I Dream of Jeannie, he had also been in Francis Goes to the Races and When Worlds Collide, and guested in episodes of The Line Ranger, The Adventures of Superman Thriller, The Twilight Zone, Mister Ed, and The New Adventures of Wonder Woman), Ross Ford (he had guested in episodes of Adventures of Superman, The Lone Ranger, and My Living Doll) , Larry Johns, Herb Jacobs, Barbara Morrison, Ernestine Barrier, James Craven, John Hedloe, Peter Adams, Robert Karnes, John Straub, Charles Keane, John Tomecko and Robert Paltz. The same sets, costumes, and so on were also used for Cat-Women On The Moon, which was filmed more or less at the same time!

projectmoonbase_posterAs usual, the show opens in the control room of the Satellite of Love, where Joel is drying off the bots after they've just been cleaned -- they're all in robes -- and Joel sets up the premise of the show before commercial sign. After the commercial, Joel has is playing Pictionary with the bots when the Mads call for the invention exchange. Joel's invented a new way to juggle water, and first he sticks a turkey baster in Crow's mouth and sends him off-stage, and then Joel's got two ping-pong paddles whose surfaces repel water, so he tells Crow to shoot a jet of water at Joel, but Crow ends up splattering Joel with water instead. A second attempt is arced better, and then Joel does, indeed, appear to be juggling water between the two paddles! The Mads aren't impressive, and their invention is a combination of Etch-A-Sketch and Ant Farms, which they call the Insect-a-Sketch. This enables them to control the ants in the ant farm to dig tunnels to make a drawing. Joel thinks it could bruise a child's tender psyche, to which the Mads respond, "Thank you!" They then introduce the movie to Joel, but first, a double-dip of Commando Cody!

So, it's movie sign, to Joel and the Bots' dismay! The first of the two Cody chapters feature jokes about George Wallace before his gubernatorial days (different George Wallace)  and Clayton Moore before his Lone Ranger days (same Clayton Moore, I've been wondering when they'd notice that), jokes about other people whose names appear in the opening credits, lots of added dialogue for the onscreen characters making them appear very silly, Joel does commentary like it's a football game, the usual casino gag when the moon base is shown (since it looks like ancient Rome), Tom makes like a car salesman in one scene, Crow asks Joel if mechanics fight better than scientists during a fight scene in a garage, Joel picks up cut outs of "Pow!" "Biff!" and the like during the same fight scene, a bunch of tool puns made during the same fight (i.e., "He wrenched his back!" "He socketed him!" "He's hammered!"), Underoos, Dominos Pizza, skeet shooting, Crow jokes about the size of the bombs Cody drops on the bad guys while Joel questions if Cody should be allowed to do that... and then, the chapter's over!

projectmoonbase_lc8But they go right into the next chapter, and Tom sings a silly Commando Cody song during the credits, and Joel takes over after a few verses, and then it's Crow's turn! The jokes made during Chapter Eight are based on The FBI, a series of gags about how a rented truck was paid for by the bad guys that degenerates into a Players Club commercial, Tom does the "Atlantic City" gag (same as the "Niagara Falls" gag -- "Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch.."), Joel gets out of his seat when a shot makes it look like Cody's going to crash into him, The Wizard Of Oz (I think they missed the usual Oz reference last episode), the Osmond Brothers, Stuckey's, Cleveland, flight attendant announcements, Wisconsin Dells, flatulence, Don Knotts, Sea Hunt, Sonic restaurants, Super Mario Brothers, flatulence again, jokes about the plywood construction on a moon tank, road trips, Dukes of Hazzard, and then we hit the cliffhanger, and time for the first break!

So, in the control room, Tom is playing Commando Cody, with a bronze-colored version of the helmet, and Joel "flying" him around. Tom even has a rocket pack! Joel starts to get impatient with Tom wanting to continue playing. And then, Crow shows up dressed as the villain of the serial, but he can't get into it, and wants to be Cody for a whole. Next thing you know, Crow and Tom start to fight, but are saved by commercial sign!

projectmoonbase_lc2Then, it's time for the movie, and as they walk into the theater, Joel promises Crow that next time, he'll get to be Cody. As the credits roll, Joel mimes playing the violin, and there's the usual riffing on names in the credits, although not too much this time. There's an opening crawl that Tom starts to read, but then he veers away from the text and instead of telling what the predicted future in the movie was supposed to be, he talks about real stuff instead, then he's back to the script again. After this, jokes are made about Inspector 12 (who Joel says checks his underwear), Bob Newhart, Bob Hope, Car 54, Where Are You?, fondue sets, some silly added dialogue, knock knock jokes, phone bills, Shaft, cheerleading, Warner Brothers, land shark (from Saturday Night Live), Joel tries to wave off smoke from a cigarette someone's smoking on-screen, We Built This City on Rock and Roll, Tom notices that Hayden Rorke is there, and calls out "It's Dr. Bellows!", Joel tries to offer an on-screen character a light of their cigarette, Gomer Pyle, donut wrappers, flatulation, a bunch of gags are made adding extra alliteration to what's being said onscreen, and then it's time for a break!

projectmoonbase_lc3During the break, there's a slide show of sorts mocking the various length of ties worn by characters in the movie so far. Then, we get a look at Joel and the Bots, with their own "futuristic" ties, with Tom wearing one that looks to be several yards long, Joel's tie is rather starched (or has something stiff in it) so simulate the effects of zero gravity, and Crow's tie automatically dabs soup off of one's lips. Next, Tom's back in a new tie, which automatically lengthens with the change in tie fashions... and then it's movie sign!

projectmoonbase_lc4During this segment of the film, gags are made based on Frisbees, batteries, playground balls (those three gags are made after a character shows a model of a space station, rocket ship, and moon, respectively), Joel holds up cards that he claims are cue cards for the characters on screen, who seem hesitant in delivering their lines at one point; Crow mocks one woman journalist incessantly, Crow calls someone a dickweed for possibly the first time in the series, comments are made about the impracticality of the spaceshits the astronauts wear (t-shirts and hotpants -- even the men), Canada Dry, Bob and Doug McKenzie, Taco Bell's old "Run for the Border" ads, Buddy Ebsen, Crow comments that the inside of a space station looks like Deep 13, Joel makes porn music sounds when a spaceship docks with the station, when someone onscreen says they're disembarking Joel and the bots start barking, M.C. Escher, game shows, View-Master, they do the battery and Frisbee gag again, pinball machines, Duracell batteries, lots of fun is poked at the meaningless lights and gauges, there are jokes about a character impersonating someone else (although they use standard Nazi spy in the US stuff), The Elephant Man, Wild Kingdom, aerobics, and it's time for a break!

projectmoonbase_lc5Back in the control room, Joel and the bots do a mock commercial for "Spacom," because space command in the movie was labeled "Spacom." In their commercial, Spacom is sort of a flubber type of thing that changes color constantly. Joel does the demonstrations as the bots do the voiceover sales pitches, incorporating lines from a whole bunch of other commercials.

projectmoonbase_lc6Returning to the movie, gags are based on the models again, flatulence (the fourth fart joke this episode, followed shortly by the fifth one), vacation slide shows, Frisbees again, Subway, the Flying Wallendas, fashion shows, salt and pepper shakers, Night of 1,000 Stars, models (like the spaceship model, not fashion models), HBO, diving competitions, Jacques Cousteau, Get Back, circus music, GI Joe, Howard Johnson's, Love Connection, marital aids, Pong, dunk tanks, Wells Fargo, baseball commentaries, beekeeping, V2 rockets, V8 Juice, Cat Women on the Moon, and Rubik's Cube.

projectmoonbase_lc7Back in the control room, Joel thanks the viewers for their cards and letters, and then Crow comes in (standing on the ceiling) with one in his hand, which Crow reads, and then Tom comes in (also on the ceiling) and reads his own letter, and finally, it's Joel's turn to read his own letter, and then Tom gives the Fan Club address. Joel asks the Mads when they'll get color movies, but they tell him if he wants color to ask Ted Turner... and then Dr. Forrester pushes the button, ending the episode.

Wow, what a boring movie -- kind of hard to believe Heinlein had anything to do with it, as deadly dull as it is! Even the fight scenes were boring! So far as the gags in this episode go, they were running a bit slow this episode, and I guess because of the length of the movie and the two Cody chapters, there wasn't much time for skits between segments of the movie, which is kind of disappointing.

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