krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Getting back to the "Joel years" of Mystery Science Theater 3000, I've reached "The Human Duplicators." It might have been one of the episodes I have left to rewatch now more through simple accident than the feeling something about it was worth "saving for later," but that doesn't mean there weren't some surprises to the full experience...

The episode itself starts with Joel asking the robots how they would redesign themselves; after Gypsy and Crow have described their ideas, Tom Servo produces a series of concept drawings, from "Tank Rambo" and "Ron Cellwall" to "Moist Servo." ("Oh, that's me, except I'm moist.") It was something I'd been remembering, but couldn't think of where to find it. The "Invention Exchange" has an odd feeling of padding to me as Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank break down in helpless laughter at the mere thought of their invention, the "William Conrad Fridge Alarm"; I kept thinking of the "official blooper reel" I've seen as a DVD extra. Joel's "Beanie Chopper" is more fun, even if it doesn't make him "go through the roof" as Crow had been hoping.

As for the movie itself, it begins with a sort of underdone model spaceship ("Attack of the Christmas ornament from the sixties.") that the enormous Richard Kiel, more clean-cut than in "Eegah," "beams down" from (I happened to note that this movie was made shortly before Star Trek began). He invites himself into the palatial (yet eclectically and oddly decorated, and with a full dungeon) home of Professor Dornheimer, and after being pleasant to the professor's blind niece Lisa ("It's the blind leading the bland.") informs him he'll be providing assistance to create androids. With that, scientists start breaking into their own research centres (even if the top-security complexes look rather like motels) and collecting electronics components even as they get shot in the back.

After Joel challenges the robots to make model spaceships using common household objects that look as good as the one in the movie (Gypsy has a bundle of oddments, Tom has a "spaceship" you could also use "as a rock salt scoop," Crow has constructed a scale replica of the Satellite of Love if apparently not the actual model, and Joel has put together surplus Crow parts), the secret agent-type Glenn Martin, assisted by his Brooklyn-accented girlfriend Gale Wilson and his superior Austin Welles, played by Hugh Beaumont of "Leave it to Beaver" fame, starts investigating. After some inconclusive preliminaries (and Tom duplicating himself, putting the fact that his head is a small gumball machine to very good use), Glenn sneaks in and witnesses the terrifying duplication process for himself only to be captured ("Where's that enigmatic little smile now, mister?") and duplicated. An excuse is found to keep the original alive, though, even as the duplicate goes on his own raid for components only to get an arm caught and broken off in a security door.

Hugh Beaumont visits the Satellite of Love once more, once again played by Mike Nelson, but this time amping up the "cranky" edge Joel and the bots thought they could see in the movie. Something about that left me with an odd awareness of the full-blown "Joel partisans" and their negative interpretations of Mike. Back in the movie, anyway, Richard Kiel as Dr. Kolos is admitting he doesn't want to duplicate Lisa even as Glenn gets her to find his secret agent coin with hidden bar-sawing wire. ("He's flossing the bars?") As the duplicate Professor Dornheimer informs Dr. Kolos that the more ruthless duplicates are taking charge of things now and unleashes a whole pack of identical duplicate manservants on him, Glenn (eventually) gets out of the dungeon and, with some not-quite-clear instructions from the original Professor Dornheimer, unleashes a convenient ray device on the duplicates that turns them against each other and makes them smash their actually quite fragile heads to pieces. The one-armed duplicate Glenn returns to battle the duplicate Professor Dornheimer, and everything wraps up without the real Glenn having to do too much. Dr. Kolos admits that he, too, is an android ("Well, I didn't think they piled human stuff that high.") and returns to space ("Transport safely, Dick!" "I wonder if that tickles." "I bet it does.") to stoically face punishment for failure. Back on the Satellite of Love, Crow and Tom make the dramatic admission that they, too, are robots; Joel already knew. The "host segments" might have appealed the most to me about this episode, although things do manage to build up throughout the movie; I wound up sort of intrigued at the blend of "invaders from space" and "secret agents."

Date: 2012-08-13 12:50 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] thrush
I had totally forgotten about this movie/episode until about half way through your description, then I was like 'Oh yeah ... I have seen this!'.

I read a lot about this one on line before I finally got to see it, but I guess it didn't make much of an impression on me once I finally did. I do recall the Secret Lab/Motels being pretty funny. ^_^

Personally, I always love seeing various cast & crew take on guest spots like the Beaumont visit in this episode. To me, having seen Mike play so many silly walk-on roles over the years adds another dimension to his performance as "Mike" later in the series. But then, I enjoy both hosts greatly.

Date: 2012-08-15 12:07 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] thrush
When I think "James Bond Rip-Offs" what comes to mind is Secret Agent Super Dragon and Agent for H.A.R.M.. I quite enjoy both of those, but what else am I missing? ^_^

Date: 2012-08-15 01:46 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] thrush
Cool, thanks! I can't believe I forgot about Operation Double 007! >_(\ But I haven't yet seen Danger!! Death Ray. Mighty Jack, I suppose, is James Bond-ish, but I guess the team element makes it seem different to me.

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