krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
It's been a while since I commented on a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, although since getting back from vacation I did polish off the latest official DVD set by rewatching "The Magic Voyage of Sinbad." From there, I stayed in the fifth season but stepped to its second half, entering the "Mike episodes" with "Teenage Crime Wave." It's another slice of 1950s exploitation built around hysteria over juvenile delinquency, but that of course only begins to describe it...

The apparently teenaged, short-haired, shiny-shirted Terry Marsh hangs out in a bar lamenting how she's been stood up, attracting the attention of a middle-aged and ample-figured guy. ("Excuse me, are you the only woman in this bar?" "Looking for Mister Blandbar.") Terry lures this "doughy guy" out into the night, where her delinquent companions Mike Denton and Al assault and batter him as Jane Koberly, who was just supposed to be going on a date, watches in horror. ("At this point it's more of a teenage crime ripple.") Terry and Jane are arrested and, as Jane didn't name names and her parents are very upset over her having become involved with juvenile delinquency ("I'm afraid you're going down kitten, hard." "Message from the governor: you're grounded."), she gets sent to juvenile hall along with the already previously incarcerated Terry.

After a brief flurry of "young women in prison" exploitation ("Facts of Life goes to Alcatraz!"), Terry and Jane are being driven to their more secure facility when Mike speeds to their assistance, shooting the policeman driver and beating up the matron escort. The two delinquents and their more or less unwilling companion ("Thelma, Louise, and Steve.") decide to hide out for a while and storm the country farmhouse of Tom and Sarah Grant. ("Come on in! I was just not talking to my wife." "I gotta say, this isn't anything like the time we had the Symbionese Liberation Army over.") A nicotine-deprived Mike gets increasingly worked up, Jane helps Sarah with the housework, Tom reads aloud from the Bible, and Terry makes her outfit that much more revealing ("I enjoy my sleaziness.") to flirt with Tom and Sarah's military veteran yet somehow not that effective son Ben. Finally, after a neighbour trying to help has been shot and stashed in the root cellar, Al tries to run the police cordon only to be shot as well, and Tom gets shot but not killed straight off as the delinquents make a run for it with the rest of the Grants as hostages. ("Well, now it's officially a wave!") Driving straight from an apparently Midwestern sort of area to the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, Mike and Terry make a last stand. Terry is gunned down, but Ben, despite being shot, manages to overpower Mike, who doesn't take Terry's death that well. ("Oh, go on, let it all out. Have a teenage cry-wave.")

There is amusement to be found in a big chunk of the "crime wave" amounting to holing up in a farm house ("A single set for the last hour!"), but it just might be more intuitively grasped than spelled out by the "riffing." (As well, I did sort of get the impression that, while the quips are entertaining enough, a lot of them don't stand out on their own.) The "host segments," though, are pretty entertaining, starting with Mike and the bots attempting to escape only to find that instead of their rocket pack being filled with "LOX the liquid oxygen," it has "lox the fish product" and Dr. Forrester blasting TV's Frank with his new line of designer "Mace Mousse." From there, we're treated to a tribute to "doughy guys," the lox being put to good use after all in a deli that makes a great number of references to previous Mystery Science Theater movies, a mocking "commercial" for "Mystos" (MSTings, just getting on a roll online then, would continue to make mocking references to Mintos for years), Mike being able to read some of the first fan letters specifically addressed to him, and Frank donning a grey superhero outfit to become "Doughy Man." ("Steak is my ally. Butter does my bidding.") He's then blasted with Mace Mousse over and over again as the credits start and stop rolling, in a sort of "filling the last few necessary minutes" ploy similar to "Daddy-O."

September 2017

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