krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
The most interesting thing about the movie in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Fire Maidens of Outer Space" ("Fire Maidens really grip the road!") might be the English accents a number of its astronaut characters have; otherwise, it might well be dismissed as just another in the string of "rocketing to another habitable world" movies the series featured. That dismissive conclusion might be easier to come by, though, because of the little story told in the episode's "host segments," one that ends up spilling into the movie itself...

Things start off with Joel impressing the importance of good posture on his robot friends, with Tom Servo modelling in silhouette. After Crow's own attempt at it, his shadow stays behind on the screen, only to become a jet-black version of himself that advances on Cambot... Things pick up after the commercial break with Joel getting Cambot back into working order and Crow hanging around with his new, whispering friend "Timmy," and after the "Invention Exchange" it's off to the movie. There, an international British-American expedition is being prepared to go to the "thirteenth moon of Jupiter"; eventually, it blasts off with the use of V2 stock footage. ("We have A&E documentary.")

When the bland sexism of the men of science gets to Tom, he and Joel start tossing double entendres at each other; Timmy offers some whispered suggestions to Crow that aren't quite fit for broadcast. The five astronauts evade a meteor shower (most of the controls of the ship are handed using two levers in a housing), and after a lengthy journey they land ("Reversing the film, sir.") on the thoroughly bucolic thirteenth moon. ("Jupiter, America's dairyland!") Tramping through the forested fields, the astronauts eventually manage to save a blonde woman in a short toga from a rather lightly made-up "monster"; two of them, Luther Blair and Captain Larson, get escorted into an inner sanctum. ("Oh, wait a minute. This is a Star Trek set!")

Joel then elaborates on the control setup of the rocket with the "Twin Screw Universal Controller"; Timmy gets Crow in trouble and then alters reality itself by banging into the levers. Back in the movie, Luther and Captain Larson are getting an explanation from the lone man on the moon Prasus that they've reached "New Atlantis." Prasus has a flock of "daughters" all in short togas with 1950s-style hairdos ("They all look like waitresses at Caesar's Palace."); they put on a lengthy dance number while the drugged wine the two astronauts have been plied with takes effect. In the meantime, the three astronauts left outside have marched back to their rocket to wait. Hestia, who'd been rescued by the astronauts, suggestively romances Luther, and as things drag on Timmy starts creeping into and popping up in the theatre and pestering Tom. When Tom loses his temper, Timmy drags him away, and Joel and Crow charge out to the rescue...

Gummed to the wall of the Satellite of Love's bridge, Tom pleads for Crow to kill him; when Crow retorts he's busy grappling with Timmy, Tom asks for a sandwich instead. Then, Joel emerges with his best Sigourney Weaver in Aliens impression, grabbing Timmy with a broom and jettisoning him into space. Everyone returns to the movie, where the three astronauts left outside, after an inconclusive encounter with the monster ("You fellows seen a barbecued mime back there?"), have managed to spy on the walled compound of the "Fire Maidens" and worked out with little trouble how to get into it. Hestia has plied Prasus with the drugged wine, but the other "Fire Maidens" decide to sacrifice her for that; even as they also capture the trio of astronauts and start another lengthy dance ("When Slumber Parties Go Bad." "Oh, no, not liturgical dance, no!") Luther has (after much wall-tapping) figured out (by accident) how to escape. He frees Captain Larson and they find their gun belts behind a wall tapestry ("Oh, Plot Convenience Playhouse presents." "What plot?"), then head to the rescue. In the meantime, the monster has made it into the compound through the opening the three astronauts left and killed Prasus; although it's bulletproof, Luther manages to knock it into the ritual flames with a "gas grenade" (thrown straight at Hestia, tied up on the sacrificial altar...) All of a sudden, all the "Fire Maidens" have made up with her, and Prasus's death is more or less shrugged off with the promise of more expeditions from Earth with more male astronauts on board. Our heroes by default blast off for home with Hestia on board as the other "Fire Maidens" wave. ("G'bye, thanks for the Valium...") Things conclude with Timmy now down in "Deep 13," if not to the complete joy of "TV's Frank..."

"Timmy," of course, is the black-painted Crow puppet used to stand out better in the "chroma-key" generated "shadowramma" movie sequences. Looking back on the episode, I can imagine the "Best Brains" joking with each other about "Crow's evil twin" beforehand, although of course things could have been altogether different. I suppose I have wondered if "Timmy" could have used pupils for his solid black Ping-Pong ball eyes, though. He does, in any case, add something to an episode where the "riffing" keeps bringing up how tedious and padded everything is.

July 2017

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