krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Returning all the way to the first season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, I've taken in "Moon Zero Two." Once more bringing colour to the first season after the cheap 1980s adventures of "Robot Holocaust," this movie is set in the groovy 1960s flush of the Space Age. As Crow notes during the first season tradition of trying to name a "good thing" and a "bad thing" about the movie for a "RAM chip," though, "grooviness" can go both ways...

In another 1960s touch, the movie opens with animated credits featuring a theme song with a bellowing "Moon... Zero Two!" chorus (Joel gets up and starts dancing up a storm for part of it) and an astronaut and a cosmonaut chasing each other around the Moon, knocking down each other's flags, until everyone else arrives in a flurry of rocket ships and they get overwhelmed by a Moon city. It's reminiscent of "Catalina Caper." Then, it's on to live action and the "Moon Zero Two" spaceship itself, which is just a Lunar Module with an extra piece in between the two stages on the outside and has a sort of "cut-rate 2001" quality to it inside. The very high-foreheaded Bill Kemp, first man on Mars, and his accented flight engineer Karminski are retrieving broken satellites for a living ("Looks like a little orbiting ice machine."), and after the futuristic-garbed Clem sees Kemp getting out of the shower he's recruited by the bald, bearded, and monocled (which seems to make him automatically suspicious) J.J. Hubbard to redirect an asteroid of pure sapphire (which I suppose is a change from it being gold, uranium, or diamond) down to the Moon. With that done, Kemp overcomes Hubbard's minions in a brawl with the artificial gravity turned off (the film slows down and the futuristic-garbed dancing girls of the Moon bar get that much more bizarre) and heads off with Clem to try and find her brother, travelling by "Moon bug." ("And so they set out in the wiener car in search of the giant kielbasa." "Looks like they're kind of crawling out of the Tupperware orange.") It turns out that Clem's brother is a skeleton inside his space suit and colour-coded adversaries are attacking, but Kemp manages to take care of all of them ("Well, you got lime green! Just lemon yellow and raspberry red to go.") and he and Clem make it back despite having to drive through unfiltered sunlight with no cooling (Clem strips down to her futuristic underwear). They then discover that Hubbard is connected to the murder of Clem's brother and, despite going back out into space at gunpoint to guide the sapphire asteroid in, turn the tables on Hubbard and wind up with the crashed sapphire.

As I've picked up on before, this "late first season" episode did give me an impression the "riff density" has increased from the beginning of the season to something approaching that of the later seasons, but the quips could still do with polishing. The movie, though, seems to have just enough "cheesiness" (which may be appropriate enough given it involves the Moon) to lift things up a bit. I also happened to take slight note of how, while the movie might well inspire "gloomy Space Age maunderings" (it manages to reference Neil Armstrong being first on the Moon), Kemp himself complains how they've made it to Mars and Venus but don't seem interested in going any further. The "host segments" feel sort of underdone compared to what would follow, but did inspire a thought or two of how much Trace Beaulieu's Dr. Forrester voice changed over the course of the series.

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