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Recap: Mystery Science Theater 3000 S 03 E 21 Santa Claus Conquers The Martians

Custume designer?

Film watched: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

This was the first Christmas Episode of the comedy series. It became a holiday staple on the Comedy Central cable channel in the years following its 1991 premiere, helping it become one of the series' most popular episodes and introduced the film to a new generation in the form of younger MSTies.

Some of the original cast of MST3K would later form Cinematic Titanic and took a second go at the film seventeen years later, this time the full length version. Mike Nelson's RiffTrax would later riff it on Dec. 5, 2013 in a live show.

The Segments

Prologue
  • Crow and Servo are looking over catalogs, and things they want for Christmas. Servo wants a inflatable bathtub pillow, Gypsy wants a pony and Crow wants to decide who lives and who dies.

Segment 1
  • The Mads present the "Wish Squisher", a machine that turns cool gifts into a boring gifts. Joel and the Bots present their line of Misfit Toys; toaster dolls, Road House the Board Game, an Easy Bake foundry and Mr. Mashed Potato Head.

Segment 2
  • Joel, Crow and Servo sing the soon to be classic "Let Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas".

Segment 3
  • Crow and Servo freak out after discuses this week's film. Joel cheers them up by bringing stacks of Christmas tapes.

Segment 4
  • Joel and the Bots present their essays on Christmas. Crow's essay is about the economics of Santa and his elves. Servo's essay is about Santa visiting the Satellite, but goes violent. Joel's essay is about 70s office Christmas parties, full of alcohol and sexism. Gyspsy provides a Nativity scene.

Segment 5
  • Joel and the Bots sing "Angels We Have Heard on High", and receive their stocking gifts. Joel receives a letter of a Coast Guard officer sending seasons greetings. The Mads exchange gifts; Dr. Forrester gets a watch band, but Frank gets a copy of Final Exit.


The episode has examples of:

  • A God Am I: Crow's Christmas wish is to decide who lives and who dies.
  • Asia Takes Over The World: Crow concludes his essay with this, alongside Technology Marches On and Fridge Logic.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas / Crowning Music of Awesome / Lyrical Dissonance / Notable Original Music
    • "Open up your heart and let the Patrick Swayze Christmas in / We'll gather at the Road House with our Next of Kin..."
      Joel: (beat) Okay, I think we need a time out. (drags Crow off to punish him)
      • On a sidenote, someone played this song for Patrick Swayze during a radio show a few years after the episode aired. He loved it.
  • Badass Santa: Throughout the episode, Joel and the 'Bots imply that Santa is carrying a gun while kidnapped by Martians and that he would be Killed In Action in Vietnam.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
    • Tom Servo's "A Child's Christmas in Space" essay, which begins innocently but quickly becomes a rant about how Santa Claus and his reindeer would explode in outer space. Full monologue here.
    • While riffing the "climactic" battle:
    Tom: Hilarity, guys. Not since the pie fight scene in The Great Race!
    Crow: Not since the mudslide scene in McLintock!!
    Joel: Not since the wagon race scene in The Hallelujah Trail!
    Crow: Not since the chess-playing scene in The Seventh Seal!
    Tom: Not since the orgy scene in Calig...u...la...
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In-Universe example: During a shot of the Martian ship in space, Servo riffs, "You know, if they cancel Battlestar Galactica, I'm gonna kill myself." Joel quickly puts up a hand to shut him up.note 
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: When Mrs. Claus gets excited over a news crew visiting the North Pole:
    Tom Servo: When she thinks of the mass media, she touches herself.
  • "Gift of the Magi" Plot: Dr. Forrester and Frank, being evil, invert this horribly. Frank gets a watch band for Dr. Forrester, at the expense of stealing and selling the watch it's for. Forrester, in turn, has been secretly drawing blood from Frank and used money from the plasma to buy Frank Final Exit, a controversial book about assisted suicide.
    Frank: Oh, Henry!
  • Hollywood Giftwrap: Dr Forrester's invention exchange.
  • Long List: Joel tricks Frank into sending up a whole bag of VHS tapes of Christmas specials and movies, and lists off several choice titles.
  • My New Gift Is Lame: "Weaponized" by the Mads in their invention, the Wish Squisher, which turns great gifts into this trope.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder:
    Wernher von Green: Who wouldn't give everything to bring Santa back to our children?
    Tom Servo: Oh, me!
    Joel: (raises hand) Uh, me.
    Crow: Over here! (whistles)
  • Running Gag:
    • Pia Zadora and her Golden Globe, beginning with "Will you buy me a Golden Globe?"
    • In the Cinematic Titanic version, Joel quips that they thought Pia Zadora being in this was pretty funny, but now he can't remember why.
  • Shout-Out:
  • The Seventies: Joel's essay on the Christmas office party of that decade.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Everything in Tom's stocking consists of items that, since his arms don't work (something addressed at multiple times), he can't possibly use.