krpalmer: (mst3k)
krpalmer ([personal profile] krpalmer) wrote2011-12-04 01:25 pm
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MST3K 913: Quest of the Delta Knights

Moving on to the final episode of the penultimate season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, I've reached "Quest of the Delta Knights." ("Well, better than Quest of the Delta Burkes, I suppose.") It somehow stands out a little to me for taking place in a vague sort of "medieval" setting as opposed to a perhaps more familiar "barbarian" one, and what with all the jabs the series made at "Renaissance festivals" over the years, there's plenty of strangeness to look for and find...

After an opening in which the "hail-damaged" Crow is briefly replaced by a shuddering, smoking "loaner Crow" ("Hey guys are there things that are happening?" "To have said goodbye to things."), Pearl Forrester gets upset that Mike isn't suffering despite all the effort she puts into it and resolves to change places (and outfits) with him. With the aid of "Brain Guy" the Observer, this is soon managed, and Pearl enters the theatre in between the opening and a "host segment"; whether it's "Pearl Forrester" or just "Best Brain" Mary Jo Pehl "riffing" is a bit of a question, but not an important one. We learn that the vaguely defined medieval land is suffering under oppression, but that the secret society of the "Delta Knights" stand in some fashion against it, except for the fact that the oppressors are hunting for the Knights and not caring who they go through to find them... in any case, a sort of medieval convoy is attacked ("Take care of my leather mug... insult people from the suburbs...") and a youth sees his mother killed in front of him before being taken into slavery.

After finding a buyer for him at the auction becomes problematic, the strangely bearded ("He stuck his face in dryer lint.") beggar Baydool, played by David Warner, who's appeared in better-respected movies ("In it for the money, folks.") offers an insultingly minimal sum, collects the youth, and frees him to also beg while learning in secret. (This has a suspicious resemblance to the beginning of Robert A. Heinlein's SF juvenile "Citizen of the Galaxy.") The youth Travis (or "Tee") eventually finds a trap door hidden in the dirt floor of their hovel, and Baydool reveals he's a member of the Delta Knights, pledged to lead mankind into a renaissance. ("We'll open the door to neutron bombs, infotainment, and snacks.") A vague sort of prophecy establishes "Tee" to be of great importance to this endeavour, and he and Baydool begin questing for a map to the lost secrets of Archimedes (who's shown in a flashback dying at the hands of the Romans, not that far off the generally accepted version, except for his secrets coming from Atlantis). Unfortunately, Baydool is captured by the evil Lord Vultare, also played by David Warner ("David Warner, you are under arrest by order of David Warner!"). Using the bizarre recognition passphrases of the Delta Knights, a sort of "danger sense," and a peashooter firing knockout darts, "Tee" manages to free Baydool only for his mentor to be shot full of arrows in the escape.

Making his way to the inn he was supposed to have gone to in the first place, "Tee" runs into the artist Leonardo, who just happens to be from Vinci along with being a Delta Knight. Falling in with the busty serving girl Thena ("There's a midget under her dress pushing up." "Lucky midget. Midgets get everything!"), the two Knights escape the forces of Lord Vultare ("The Vikings in this movie don't vike very well.") only to be caught by a bizarre collection of "forest people." ("So the Ewoks grew up to be big, stupid men?" "Put a sock in it, Legolas.") It's revealed the former slave Thena is actually "Athena," princess of the forest people, and she sends the two Knights on their way to the lost storehouse of Archimedes. Delving into the Earth ("Hey, Gollum. How's it going, man?"), they discover the storehouse at last along with a model aircraft ("So da Vinci was a moron who stole all his ideas?") and a powerful sort of "crystal weapon"; unfortunately, Lord Vultare was right behind them. ("These Delta Knights are taken captive like three times a day!") He starts to activate the weapon and it gets out of hand even as "Tee" is setting explosives at the entrance to the storehouse tunnels ("Tee pities the fool who gets in his way."); things end in a big explosion even as Thena shows up to help the two Knights out. This apparent (yet somehow all too familiar in this kind of story) failure of the Delta Knight mission is shrugged off by "Tee" with the declaration that mankind wasn't ready for the knowledge, and anyway he can make decisions of this magnitude by himself because he's the one in the prophecy. Leonardo is annoyed but eventually goes along with it. ("Aah, go paint an enigmatic woman." "That night, Leonardo spiralled into a spaghetti and chianti haze.")

As I've just said, the conclusion of the movie could probably be picked apart (really, most of it could), but in the context of Mystery Science Theater that may just add to the amusement. I do sort of find myself comparing it to the "Joel episodes" just past and thinking there are more "riffs" memorable all by themselves. There's also an amusing "Aire on a Delta Knight" performed by a group of Tom Servos (including a "Lady Servo") in one of the host segments.