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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S 04 E 19 The Rebel Set

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Films watched: Johnny At The Fair (short) and The Rebel Set

The episode is available on Shout! Factory TV here.

The MST3K presentation of The Rebel Set provides examples of:

  • Berserk Button: For Servo, it's Joel and Crow identifying the actor who plays the conductor as Merritt Stone (he's not, by the way).
  • Boring Yet Practical: During the "layover in Chicago" skit Joel and Servo come up with the expected bizarre and criminal ideas, while Crow draws up a workable itinerary for a walking tour of the city's main attractions.
  • Brick Joke: "I spent that dollar an hour ago!"
    • Also: "So, all this happened because Johnny got lost at the fair?" referring to the episode's short film.
  • Continuity Nod: "Tommy Kirk — assassin!"
    • Also when Tom points out that Leland is played by the star of The Giant Gila Monster:
      Tom Servo: Hey, you know who that is? I'll give you a clue: Sing whenever I sing whenever I sing—
      Crow and Joel: Noooooo!
  • Counterfeit Cash: When George (the actress' estranged son) is looking at the money in his train cabin.
    Joel: Art Linkletter, they all have Art Linkletter on them!
  • Faux Horrific: After being unfazed by the likes of In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter, Servo and Crow are frightened out of their wits by Life's Little Instruction Book.
  • Logic Bomb: Servo suffers one of these when the others counteract his attempts to prove the identity of the conductor in the film (for the record, it's Gene Roth).
    • Your Head A-Splode — again.
    • It's actually a reference to how the crew noticed Merritt Stone's name in several of their films (all of which get referenced in the sketch in question) but none of them could actually spot the recurring face in all of them.
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    • It eventually got to the point where, in the ending bit with the Mads, TV's Frank has been driven to madness trying to figure out who Merritt Stone is.
    • Finally, at long last, let us set the record straight: Merritt Stone appeared in Earth vs. the Spider (as the unfortunate dad killed in the opening scene), Tormented (1960) (as the priest during the ill-fated wedding), and The Magic Sword (as "King"). He also appeared uncredited as a cop in War of the Colossal Beast.
  • Not Bad: During the scene with the slumming couple in the coffee house.
    Heckling Husband: Let's us go on a fool's errand before they throw a butterfly net over us!
    Crow: (as beat poet) Hey, man, that's beautiful!
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "He's NOT! MERRITT! STONE!"
  • Shout-Out: When the struggling writer is at his typewriter, Servo says, "Let's see here ... 'A screaming comes across the sky' ." This is the opening line of Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon.
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  • Train Problem: In the sketch where Joel tries to have the 'Bots write literature that would meet Merritt Stone's approval, Gypsy succeeds by reciting one of these. They also call Tucker's plan "the SAT caper" after hearing the quote on the main film page.

The MST3K treatment of Johnny At The Fair brings us:

  • Beard of Evil: When Johnny enters the Chemical Wonderland...
    Crow: A whiskery man hands him a small package. "The first one's free," he says...
  • Black Comedy: Oh yes! A little boy exploring the World's Fair becomes a full-fledged descent into madness.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: "Oh look, it's the Arc de Full Retreat!"
  • Eldritch Abomination: Tom cheerfully narrates, "Then Johnny transmogrifies! He's a shapeshifter! [Laughs] And he breaks the fourth seal..."
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • When the film shows a foal trying to nurse from another horse, Crow quips, "Oops! Sorry, dad!"
    • And Crow's quip about Johnny and Barbara Ann Scott below.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Joel admonishes the bots for their tendency toward dark humor at the beginning of the short, but doesn't criticize any of the jokes they make... and there are a LOT of them. Nor are any of his own wisecracks any less dark.
    Joel: [watching Johnny riding in a speedboat] Johnny's boat hydroplanes and disintegrates on impact.
  • Ironic Echo: "'Jiminy,' thinks Johnny, 'if only I could get a ride in one of those!'" First said by the narrator when Johnny spots "a heel-o-copter airplane"; later repeated by Crow as Johnny is being snuggled in Barbara Ann Scott's bosom (see also Getting Crap Past the Radar).
  • It Was with You All Along: Mocked:
    Narrator: (Johnny's parents) have looked everywhere... everywhere except one place.
    Crow: Their own hearts.
  • Parental Neglect: Ruthlessly and hilariously implied in the riffing. "Mommy had a little vacation while you were gone!"
  • Sanity Slippage: Part of their interpretation of Johnny's adventure:
    Servo: Johnny feels dark hands pushing him onward. The voices in his head get meaner.


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