krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
It's back to rewatching some of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes that I first saw on official DVDs and may not have seen many times because of that. After two episodes in a row from the fourth season featuring Joel, I've returned to the ninth season and a Mike episode, "The Phantom Planet." To begin with, an admission: after titles like "The Phantom Planet" and "Attack of the Giant Leeches" (or "Attack of the The Eye Creatures") and "Revenge of the Creature," I can sort of understand why a certain subset of people might have issues with the titles of the new Star Wars movies...

Not that I find "suspicious parallels" in "The Phantom Planet" or anything. After a pretentious opening voiceover ("Somehow, the answer to all his questions is big white guys in jumpsuits,") in the year 1980 ("Oh, our old future,") the two-person rocket Pegasus III is destroyed before the opening credits and the two-person rocket Pegasus IV is dispatched from the moon ("Honey, get your moon model out of the living room...") to investigate. The copilot is also given to pretentious statements, specifically "You know, Captain, every year of my life I grow more and more convinced that the wisest and best is to fix our attention on the good and the beautiful... if you just take the time to look at it." However, while trying to repair clumpy meteor damage ("Honey Bunches of Death") and shove his unconscious captain back inside after the shower picks up again, he's zapped by a meteor himself and drifts off into space reciting the Lord's Prayer. All of this manages to inspire in part two different "host segments," in which Tom Servo attempts to fix his attention on "the good and the beautiful" and Mike takes a space walk of his own. Following up from the chronologically previous episode "The Projected Man," Pearl Forrester and her two minions are unpacking in Castle Forrester and preparing to rule the world, which appears to be setting up a general theme for the ninth season.

However, the movie has barely begun. The surviving astronaut, Frank Chapman ("Chapstick Chapman") winds up on the lumpy asteroid (which inspires some "fried chicken" "riffs") that seems to have caused all the trouble. Tumbling out of Pegasus IV ("Spaz-tronaut,") he encounters tiny people and then shrinks down to their size, his Air Force surplus high-altitude survival suit not shrinking with him. Although he puts up a good fight (defending himself "With courage and nudeness!"), he winds up captured and sentenced to live among the Ratonites for the rest of his life. Encouraged to choose between two women, one traumatised into muteness, he manages to offend another man but winds up sparing his life in a "combat rod" engagement, after which everything is just about fine until the Solarites, people in particularly ridiculous costumes that inspire a lot of "dog" "riffs," attack in flaming spaceships. (For some reason, the sounds those spaceships make leave me with the faintest impression of TIE fighters...) One previously captured Solarite breaks out, but proves not quite as impressive as was suggested before. With that taken care of and the mute woman traumatised back into speech, Chapman can at last return to his space suit and use its Earth oxygen to inflate himself ("So people are just balloons?") in time to be picked up by his own rescue rocket, with the less impressive name "Rocketship three-eight-zero." All in all, I seemed find the episode surprisingly enjoyable in a non-pretentious way.

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