krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
I've opened up the latest official set of Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. In starting into it, though, I may well have had the feeling mixed in somewhere that I was getting another one of the "coconut candies" out of the way first by watching an episode not just from the first season of the series, but one of the slower, duller movies from that season... Still, it's easy enough to say that even the early episodes on cable deserve preservation.

After a somewhat low-key opening that starts with the mad scientists Dr. Clayton Forrester and Dr. Laurence Erhardt and then has Joel alone on the Satellite of Love, we get the second chapter of the "Commando Cody and the Radar Men from the Moon" serial. ("It's Pumpkinboy again!") It's shown that Commando Cody did indeed dive out of the way of the ray gun blast before it was fired at the end of the last chapter, and he makes good his getaway to his rocket, where he decides to turn around and head back to the moon men stronghold to retrieve their full-sized ray gun. Walking under a pale sky, wearing a leather coat over a shirt and tie (and quite possibly no gloves at all), Cody pumps nitrous oxide into the air system of the stronghold. However, the moon men manage to find emergency oxygen and are able to get into another fistfight with Cody. He emerges woozy but triumphant, though, and with the help of one of his rocket's crew carries the ray gun into the rugged hills. A tank of sorts ("I didn't know they had plywood on the moon.") crewed by moon men in the space suits from Destination Moon is sent after them, though, and they have to abandon the ray gun and flee into a cave. The moon men ray-gun the cliffside until highly liquid molten rock pours in on the heroic duo, though...

"Mad Monster," one of the oldest movies shown on the series and pretty much showing it with its hissing soundtrack and sometimes indistinct picture, opens with the dapper and well-dressed Dr. Cameron injecting his simple-minded and thick-chested gardener Pedro with a serum derived from a coyote. ("Acme Coyote Transfuser.") Triumphant in transforming Pedro into a hirsute wolfman ("Now he's his own best friend."), Dr. Cameron addresses the transparent forms of the scientists who called him mad, giving a hint as to just when the movie was made by talking about the usefulness of an army of wolfmen against the nation's enemies. They continue to repeat the same accusations they made against him before, though. ("You'd think if it was his imagination they'd at least be afraid of him.") The wolfman Pedro is sent out into the "swamp set," where he mauls (off-screen) a little girl playing with her ball before bed; Dr. Cameron then returns Pedro to human and drives him to one of his adversaries, who he manages to get to complete the transformation to be mauled to death.

The heroic reporter Tom Gregory is disturbed by the death of one of his (older) friends, and as he seems to have some sort of prior romantic entanglement with Dr. Cameron's somehow prim-voiced daughter Lenora Cameron, it's not that long before he's starting to poke around. With Pedro beginning to transform without needing the injection, though, Dr. Cameron manages to kill off another one of his adversaries just by asking him to drive his gardener into town. At around the time that Pedro returns to Dr. Cameron's mansion and Lenora learns the terrible truth, though, a convenient bolt of lightning strikes a lab bench and starts a fire. Dr. Cameron is caught by Pedro and strangled (in silhouette), and Tom and Lenora just manage to escape into the storm as the whole mansion caves in on the "mad monster." ("Mad Monster meltdown.") At the end of the episode, Dr. Forrester and Dr. Erhardt are both in irascible mourning for the loss of a fellow mad scientist.

The early "riffing" in this episode, while it certainly had its moments, seemed as sparse as ever, and both Josh Weinstein's Tom Servo and Joel sound somehow unexcited most of the time. It's also possible that compared to "The Crawling Eye" and "The Robot versus the Aztec Mummy," the monster and the movie just aren't as interesting on their own merits. Even so, having said that leaves the thought open that things can only pick up for the rest of the set.

July 2017

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