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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S03 E22: Master Ninja

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Film watched: Master Ninja I

MST3K writer Paul Chaplin noted in the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide:

"All told, we covered four hour-long episodes of this show. Of those, two plots involve small towns in America's heartland ruled by vicious, murderous industrialists working hand in hand with El Salvador-style police. Understand, I too have misgivings about unfettered capitalism. I'm just not sure this kind of thing exists. I think it's Hollywood's idea of the Midwest. I may be wrong. If any of our viewers know of places where shopping-mall developers routinely kill until their semi-secret graveyards are filled to bursting, I'd like to hear about it. If you yourself live in a town like that, for God's sake let us know! Maybe MST can help."

The episode is available in the Gizmoplex here.

The Segments:

  • Crow shows off his new muscle car to everyone else.

Segment 1

  • The Mads present gourmet dinner IV fluids for comatose hospital patients. Joel and the Bots present their line of pop-up versions of adult novels, such as Great Expectations, Anna Karenina, and The Plague, but they quickly put a stop to their demonstration before Crow can show off Naked Lunch. Dr. Forrester soon tries to smother Frank.

Segment 2

  • Crow tells Joel and Servo about the Van Patten Project, his conspiracy theory of how the van Patten family is taking over the entertainment industry by getting cast in movies and TV.

Segment 3

  • Servo and Crow are ninjas with their own background themes. They engage in a fight, but Joel jumps into the fray as a typical American. Gypsy also joins... as Gigi.

Segment 4

  • Joel shows off his line of gag nunchucks, which leads to a contest for more ideas.

Segment 5

  • The crew sings the "Master Ninja Theme Song" while Joel reads a letter from the USS Missouri, thanking them for entertainment during the Gulf War. Frank soon smothers Dr. Forrester. The "Master Ninja Theme Song" continues over the credits.

The Mystery Science Theater 3000 presentation of Master Ninja I contains the following tropes:

  • A Cappella: During "Master Ninja Theme Song", Crow beatboxes the drum line, Servo makes wah-wah pedal noises with his mouth, and Gypsy scats.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Well, zoology, more specifically. Joel and the bots keep calling the hamster a gerbil.
  • Artistic License – History:
    (McAllister is remembering the war and his discharge)
    McAllister: "Something about the tranquility..."
    Joel: The tranquility of post-war Japan?
  • Body Double: Very obviously so. The MST3K crew doesn't fail to notice this.
    Crow: It's Lee van Petite!
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: A backward glance from Claude Akins' character is turned into this.
    Joel: You know, say what you want, but Claude Akins has a nice rump.
    Crow: [as Claude Akins] You guys talkin' about my butt? Ah, you crack me up. I've seen your show.
    • Which makes it a meta fourth-wall breaking, as it acknowledges the existence of MST3K as a show that can be watched.
  • Call-Back:
  • Celebrity Resemblance:
    • Okasa is "Queen Latifah", because of the metallic veil on his ninja outfit.
    • Charlie the bald dance club owner looks like recurring fake Special Guest Jack Perkins, then-host of Biography, on A&E.
  • Chorus-Only Song: invoked The song barely has any other lyrics other than its title: "Keep your eyessss upon... the Master Ninja Theme Song!"
  • Compilation Movie: Commented on — Master Ninja I and II are just episodes of a failed '70s TV series glued together and released as a TV movie.
  • Credits Gag: The Master Ninja Theme Song plays again in its entirety over the episode credits in lieu of the usual closing Love Theme.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Crow goes a little nutty and comes up with a convoluted flow chart detailing... THE VAN PATTEN PROJECT!
    Crow: Sitting atop the Van Patten corporate structure — Dick Van Patten, or should I say Don Dick van Vito Patten-Corleone! (Servo gasps) ...His Evil Plan! To place an annoyingly bad actor, preferably one of his own hellish drop, in every B-grade, Made For TV, low-budget film in Hollywood!
    Servo: (Aside Glance) Uh, that would be all of them. Hee-hee-hee!
  • Leitmotif: Parodied in one sketch.
  • MegaCorp:
    Joel: ConHugeCo, welcomes you.
  • Obvious Stunt Double: The guys have a ball with how, whenever the Master is in full mask, it's very obvious that it's not actually Lee Van Cleef.
    Joel: Right, that's Lee, he could barely get into the van!
    Tom: Epilogue, where you always see Lee's gut... and there it is!
  • Pun: The Van Patten Project, instead of the Manhattan Project.
  • Running Gag: Accidentally referring to something that happened in an earlier episode of Master Ninja instead of earlier in the movie (as Master Ninja was re-packaged as a series of movies).
  • Scatting: Gypsy, during the Master Ninja Theme Song. "Ba ba BA ba ba-ba baa!"
  • Tempting Fate:
    Crow: I've got a bad feeling about that knickknack shelf.
  • Title-Only Chorus: Almost, and nearly all chorusinvoked, "but those Van Pattennnn brotherrrrs are so headstrong!" (Beat) "—MasterNinjaThemeSong!" Apart from Joel trying to read a letter over it.
  • The Unintelligible: Timothy van Patten's lack of enunciation annoys the crew, though not up to the Running Gag levels of Master Ninja II.
  • Vorpal Pillow: Attempted by Dr. Forrester on Frank after the invention exchange ends, but he doesn't succeed. Frank, on the other hand, manages to smother Dr. Forrester into brain damage in the final segment.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Invoked by Joel and the Bots, who wondered what happened to Demi Moore halfway through the movie.note 
  • With Lyrics: When Max is chased by the Sheriff:
    Servo: Here come your TV car chase
    It's the TV car... chase theme, hey!
    And your TV car chase
    Your TV car chase... theme, ha!
    TV car chase!
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: How they interpret McAllister's reaction to Max's attempt at a kiai.

— Joel Robinson


Video Example(s):


The Van Patten Project

Crow becomes convinced that the Van Patten family is plotting to takeover the entertainment industry via getting cast in B-movies and crummy TV shows. It's a theory so elaborate and researched, he didn't actually think of coming up with a point to it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / ConspiracyTheorist

Media sources: