krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Having already commented on "Master Ninja I," I was able to watch one episode from the latest official Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD set taking a holiday from jotting down "riffs" that might sweeten a description. Given the next episode in the set was "Master Ninja II," though, I suppose I did wonder a little about taking two doses in rapid suggestion of Lee Van Cleef and Timothy Van Patten riding around in a van (with a gerbil) through the mid-1980s, reflecting not just that time's interest in Japan but also a possible urge to "domesticate" it... Of course, according to the official episode arrangement these episodes would have been separated only by the gruelling "The Castle of Fu Manchu," so maybe I can't complain there.

Things start off with Tim's character Max Keller, who I gather is supposed to be a young heartthrob, producing a dirt bike from the back of his van and entering a motocross race. ("Nothing like enjoying nature on a screaming crotch rocket.") In the process he meets up with the young racer Carrie Brown, who happens to be a union organizer at a probably Northwest cannery, and of course the management is using any and all means to thwart her. Tim gets to make the (mumbly) speeches that sway the workers to Carrie's side ("He's speaking in tongues!") in between helping Lee's character John McAllister, "the only Occidental American ever to become a ninja," make a getaway on his dirt bike ("Thank you, crotch-rocketed friend."); Lee reveals the secret ninja technique of feigning death to save everyone at the midpoint of the episode...

...And then Tim is flying an ultralight ("Timothy Van Patten is Sky King.") and managing to pluck another young woman from a runaway sports car; Lee catches her as she drops from the strut she's clinging from, and as a reward they get invited to the get-together of Alicia Clayton's senator father. A possibly English agent who just happens to be played by George Lazenby himself ("I used to be Bond. James Bond. Now I'm in movies. Bad movies.") is also there, but in the course of a commercial break a band of possibly European terrorists have stormed the party (with the aid of the waiters) and taken a bunch of people including Alicia hostage. Lee is enlisted to aid George, but just to remind us that Lee has a recurring nemesis stunt coordinator Sho Kosugi attacks him in a hotel room donnybrook. Escaping from that scuffle no worse for wear, Lee helps George scale the wall of the palatial Hollywood compound where the hostages are being held; Tim in the meantime has jumped on his ultralight again and flown in (provoking an anguished flashback to "Cave Dwellers" from our heroes), where he generally makes himself of assistance rescuing everyone. Lee and Tim, though, must continue searching for Lee's daughter; given that the TV series these "movies" were put together from only ran for a season, though, I have the suspicion there was no resolution, just a lot more pretty girls for Tim to smooch along the way and a lot more ninja battles for Lee (or, at least, his ninja-masked stand-in).

I'm tempted to think back to my previous impression of the first "Master Ninja" outing and conclude this episode was fun in a "lower keyed" sort of way, the "host segments" adding to this with such diversions as the robots creating their own custom vans, Crow becoming "General Timothy Van Patten," and Tom Servo deciding on appropriate pets for TV detectives (and Charles Darwin). There's also a period "Invention Exchange" when our heroes create the self-contained if not quite perfect environment "Gerbilsphere II"; the mad scientists are a bit more timeless with their conveyor belt buffet, admitting the "I Love Lucy" reference along the way.

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