krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Getting back to watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes in advance of the next official DVD collection coming out, I've headed all the way back to the first season. "The Slime People" ("The Slime People, the story of Hollywood in the early days.") features lots of scenes set in fog or mist or smoke or whatever, and that almost seems to have an effect on my comprehension of its story. First, though, it's yet another chapter in the adventures of "Commando Cody and the Radar Men from the Moon"...

Following the previous chapter's cliffhanger, now we do see Cody and his sidekick bail out of their car right before it collides and goes off a cliff. ("Oh, great! That was on my Mastercard!") Unfazed by this setback, the two thugs hired by a radar man from the moon drop a tiny atomic bomb ("Some call it the Baby Boy.") from a light plane ("You know, a Cessna Skyhawk is usually your best choice for bombardiering missions.") to make a volcano erupt ("Krakatoa: East of Java." "Fentonville: East of Muncie.") and touch off stock footage of floods. With that out of the way, Cody and his sidekick move on to tracking down the diner pointed out by a conveniently dropped matchbook ("Crooks are always dropping obvious clues like that. It's really a desperate cry for help."), only to have the thugs walk in right after them and a fistfight break out. ("Right in the kidney beans!" "Right in the creamed corn!" "Right in the Salisbury steak!") Cody is pummelled into submission, but his sidekick, after being taken hostage, manages to bail out of another car and escape. Using his rocket pack to fly off in pursuit, Cody tracks down the thugs ("You know, there's nothing like being in a gun fight with six hundred pounds of high-test nitro rocket fuel on your back."), but just when it seems he has them, he gets hit by a tossed rock and falls off the edge of a cliff... given that Cody is still wearing his rocket pack, it somehow seems easy enough to predict what we're going to see next time.

As for the movie itself, it begins with Tom Gregory flying his light plane through fog into Los Angeles and landing at a deserted airfield. ("LAX just isn't the same any more. Not since Braniff moved out.") He happens to meet up with Professor Galbraith and his two daughters, Lisa and Bonnie, and it's explained with the help of a film reel of TV news but not much in the way of special effects that the slime people have risen from the sea and surrounded the evacuated Los Angeles with a wall of fog. The foursome meet up with the separated-from-his-unit Marine Cal Johnson, and then it's time to flee the slime people themselves. They then run across Norman Tolliver, who we first see carrying a goat. ("Don't point that goat at me; it might go off.") Norman might be crazy or might just not believe in the slime people; he doesn't seem to do a whole lot in the story before being killed off. Then, though, holed up in a butcher shop as they are, the survivors find that ordinary table salt can do something to the fog barrier, although whether they really need it to destroy the barrier's generator and render the slime people quite vulnerable to falling down isn't quite clear to me either.

At first, this episode seemed lively and full of "riffs" for a first-season episode (the inevitable qualifier, I suppose), but things did seem to slow down partway through the movie, with the quips not registering on me quite as much. Then, the fog really closed in, and it got that much harder to tell what was going on, particularly because I was watching a computer encoding rather than even a DVD made by fans from a videotape. Things did seem to pick up again by the end, though. There was some speculation right in the official episode guide itself that the movie might have made for a fine episode later on in the series's development, but I don't quite seem to have my own opinion on that; perhaps that might help me accept what we do have, though.

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