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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S03 E19: War of the Colossal Beast

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"Oh, Mr. Natural! I remember him from Zap Comics!"
"To prove how tough this Ford is, we're pitting it against the Amazing Colossal Beast!"

Film watched: War of the Colossal Beast with short Mr. B Natural

What makes Mr. B Natural notorious as the Worst MST3K Short Ever is that Mister B Natural, "the spirit of music" who teaches a young student about the potential future he has if he takes up a musical instrument, is played by a woman. An extremely perky woman. With a voice that could break glass. In a costume that makes absolutely no attempt to obscure her sex. All this makes the short... disturbing. Unless of course you like that sort of thing.

Notably, one of the rewards for backing RiffTrax's Kickstarter for the live riff of Starship Troopers was a new riff of the full 30-minute short, with new jokes and material. Also re-riffed on MST3K in the Gizmoplex by the Mads Kinga and Max during the Season 13 Festival of Shorts.

The episode is available in the Gizmoplex here.

The Segments:

  • Using a chart of food terms, Joel and the 'Bots come up with creative new Mex-American dishes for restaurants.

Segment 1/Invention Exchange

  • Dr. Forrester knows that breakfast is the most important meal, but not everyone wants to come downstairs and eat it, so the Breakfast Bazooka will send it to the stragglers. Similarly, but less healthfully, Joel's created the Between-Meal Mortar to shoot snack cakes over long distances. The crew freaks out when a live Twinkie is sent their way.

Segment 2

  • Joel moderates a debate between Crow and Tom — is Mr. B Natural male or female?

Segment 3

  • Joel's salute to the big-headed man is interrupted by a surprise return visit by Glenn.

Segment 4

  • Joel is James Unguentine KTLA, where he makes several predictions about the future until the 'Bots come to wrangle him.

Segment 5

  • Joel is eating several kinds of bread while the 'Bots stress how bad the film was. A Colorado prisoner has written a fan letter, and Glenn gets to read one as well. Dr. F gives Frank another, heavily-medicated dose of the Breakfast Bazooka.

The MST3K presentation of Mr. B Natural contains examples of:

  • Actor-Inspired Element:The short is directed by Phil Patton.
    Max: I just love the name "Patton": so strong and virile!
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Invoked. Mr. B, who wanders around showing off his/her magic tricks to impressionable teenagers and tries to get them to embrace "music", is the devil.
    Mr. B: And don't be too sure I wasn't in the garden with Mr. and Mrs. Adam!
    Tom: Eh-heh, you were the snake...
    Kinga: She's the devil?
  • Brain Bleach: Kinga is grossed out when Mr. B tells Buzz to "inspect your horn".
  • Callback: To Pod People: "It stinks!"note 
  • Continuity Nod: The Mads' riff of the short continues from the ending of Season 12 where Jonah locks them in the Moon 13 vault.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Used by name, one of the show's many references to the comedy group (The Firesign Theater) that named the tropeinvoked.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    Mr. B: When you reached down to grab that music, to make yourself feel better, you awakened the spirit of music inside you! That's me!
    Servo: (as Buzz) So I'm attracted to guys now?
  • Faux Horrific: Reacting to Mr. B like she's a horror movie monster, like when she unfolds herself from inside of Buzz's locker moments after he closes it.
  • Found Footage Films: Kinga and Max destroyed all the footage of their riff of the short after they escaped the vault, but Crow manages to restore the footage so he can run it in his "Crowdance" film festival.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "A.S.C," a common appearance on credits, means "American Society of Cinematographers" (and this appears next to the name of a cinematographer or director of photography). Joel and Servo have a funnier guess.
    Joel: What does "A.S.C." mean?
    Tom: A sick cookie.
  • Gender Bender: What Joel and the Bots imply Mr. B Natural is.
    • In the official episode guide, Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo) describes this as "Mary Martin syndrome," rants that "a man should not have great legs and boobs," and that this is the kind of thing that "sends well-adjusted young gay men run screaming for the closet."
  • Hartman Hips: Betty Luster, who plays Mr. B., unknowingly (or knowingly?) shows off her hips when laying down on her side at one point, provoking Joel's first comment under Ho Yayinvoked.
  • Ho Yay: Ho... er, Les Yay? No, Ho Yay, technically. Invoked:
    Joel: Mr. B, you're hot!
    Joel: (dreamily) Oh, Mr. B...
  • I Want My Mommy!: A couple of riffs by Servo and Crow depict Buzz, being too freaked out by Mr. B's antics, crying out for his mother.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Shy, awkward Buzz is compared to John Hinckley, attempted assassin of President Ronald Reagan:
    Servo: (as Buzz) Uh... I gotta go finish my letter to Jodie Foster.
    • Max riffs that Buzz has "normal 12-year-old problems" like being attracted to Gadget from Rescue Rangers.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: While Mr. B and Buzz are in his bedroom:
    Mr. B: I've been visiting with an eight-year-old friend of mine... (Crow gasps in horror)
    Servo: (while shuddering) Oh, God. No. No...
  • Monochrome Casting: Highlighted during the dance Buzz plays his trumpet at.
    Joel & the 'Bots: [singing] We're white, we're really, really white...
    Max: 'Victory Dance'? Over what? Forced integration?
  • Satan: If you go with the Alternate Character Interpretationinvoked, Mr. B Natural. He does say he was in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve...
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: Invoked, though the music involved is the high school band rather than actual rock 'n' roll.
    Mr. B: And wait 'til you see the kicks you'll get out of it, Buzz. The glamour of a uniform! The thrill of traveling for a band competition!
    Servo: The all-night coke jags in cheap motels!
  • Running Gags: Stock Riffs:
    Mr. B: (narrating) Wondering what it takes to become part of the group... To really belong...
    All: (sinister whispering) Conform... CONFORM...
  • Shout-Out:
    • Conn LTD, distributor of the short:
    • During the Mads' riff, Max tells Buzz that he'll face "The Wrath of Conn".
    • Crow: "Oh, Mr. Natural! I remember him from Zap Comix!"
    • Joel: "You know, I think Oscar Wilde only wished he was this gay."
    • The striking resemblance of one of the high school students to Rick Astley triggers a quote from "Never Gonna Give You Up" from Max.
  • The Stinger: One of the few episodes where the stinger is from the short rather than the main movie, naturally.
  • Sweet on Polly Oliver: "Mr. B, you're hot!"
  • This Is Gonna Suck:
    • When Mr. B starts interacting with the audience before he even appears on screen, Crow uneasily tells Joel he’s scared.
    • After Mr. B prances away, Tom mutters "I've got a bad feeling..."
  • Viewers Are Geniuses:
    Crow: He played the devil's tritone.note 
  • With Lyrics
    • The marching band:
      All: Come on and buy some crap from us!/You know that you want to!/And the white race will salute you/As you prance and gad about!
    • And again, during the dance:
      All: White, we're white/We're really, really white/We're really, really, really, really whiiiiite...
  • You Can See That, Right?: Invoked during one of Mr. B's interjections:
    Mr. B: Doesn't matter much!?
    Servo: (as Buzz): Mom, Dad, tell me you heard that!
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!:
    Crow: Mr. Servo, you've GOT to be kidding me! Let's assume for the moment that Mr. B Natural IS a man. My heavens! What a confusing message to send to little kids! Already, there's the painful feeling of isolation, the horrible, scarring acne - and Mr. Servo here would have us place a cross-dressing man with a clarinet slap dab in their bedrooms! Why not men in Little Bo Peep costumes with stinky cigars explaining the facts of life to our unsuspecting daughters? I, for one—
    Joel: Mr. Servo, your rebuttal!
    Tom: Yes! Yes! Mr. Crow! I don't think we should stop there! Let's break down ALL the barriers. Hairy men in Spartan costumes holding bake sales on shady boulevards! Naked jock-strap wrestling! Big, wonderful(commercial sign!)

The MST3K presentation of War of the Colossal Beast contains examples of:

  • Breaking the Reviewer's Wall: Glenn Manning is, once again, a real colossal man who appeared in the original The Amazing Colossal Man, is now colossal enough to stand outside the SOL and talk to them in space, and apparently hasn't aged at all since 1957. But it's just a show.invoked
  • Continuity Nod: Actual colossal man Glenn Manning from The Amazing Colossal Man is back to discuss how he was replaced in the sequel.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Servo declares that Glenn picking up a bus full of students on a field trip is an argument against school busing.
    Crow: What, if you bus your kids, they might get picked up by a giant?
    Servo: Well, you never know.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: During the invention exchange, Joel's demonstration of the Between-Meal Mortar goes awry when a "live" Twinkie bounces back towards him and the Bots. Joel tries diving on it, but the trio end up Covered in Gunge anyway when it goes off.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: "James Unguentine, KTLA" and his ludicrous predictions are a spoof of the similarly absurd (deliberately so) predictions of The Amazing Criswell, a close friend of the notorious Ed Wood himself. "KTLA Predicts!" is a direct reference to the "Criswell Predicts!" segment from Wood's magnum opus Plan 9 from Outer Space.
  • Place Worse Than Death: When Major Barret informs Joyce "There's no place in the civilized world for a creature that big," Servo quips "...So we're sending him to Cleveland."
  • Running Gag: Cast members in the Jeep are portrayed as singing "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" with a Gabriel García Márquez twist:
    All: One Hundred Years of Solitude
    One hundred years of solitude
    Take one down, pass it around
    99 years of solitude
  • Sequel Hook: Toward the end Joel gets worried that the movie will have Glenn just walk away, leading to another sequel. Luckily, things don't turn out that way.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Tom jokes that Paul Westerberg's name is listed in the credits as the film's editor.
    • Not only does the "KTLA predicts" sketch reference the Amazing Criswell, but Joel's ranting eventually devolves into references to Zager and Evans' "In The Year 2525", then a disjointed monologue adapted from the text on Dr. Bronner's soap labels ("Dilute! Dilute! OK!"). The stuff about "Vaseline, oil, butter or cream" and "juicy lemon pulp" is a double entendre, since it comes from Bronner's instructions to use his soap as a birth control method.
  • Special Guest: Mike Nelson reprises the role of Lieutenant Colonel Glenn Manning to chat about the supposed behind-the-scenes politics that led to his being replaced by a different colossal man in the sequel to his movie.
  • Take That!: To John Steinbeck, since Swanson vaguely looks like him.
    Servo: (as Swanson, after the Mexican policeman confirms his name) No, actually, it's Steinbeck. I was up in Salinas pretending I was poor.
  • Technicolor Death: When the film suddenly shifts to color during the final scene of Glenn's suicide via electrocution.
    Crow: He got shocked back to Oz!