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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S04 E21: Monster a-Go Go

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Monster a-Go Go? I thought this was going to be Munster Go Home!

"I recall this episode as being the first time we decided explicitly to write sketches having nothing to do with the movie. Really, we had no choice. (...A)ny topic that is about something (that is, any topic that exhibits "topicness") cannot, by definition, have anything to do with this movie."
Paul Chaplin, The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide

Films watched: Circus on Ice (short) and Monster a-Go Go

Best Brains regards Monster a Go-Go as one of the worst movies they ever riffed on. It even gets an aside reference in their treatment of Manos: The Hands of Fate, implying that as bad as that movie was, this one might still be even worse.

Circus on Ice is a short about the 40th Annual Carnival of the Toronto Skating Club.

The episode is available on Shout! Factory TV here.


The Segments:

  • The Bots open a cheese making operation on the bridge.

Segment 1

  • For this invention exchange, the winner gets to watch the movie of their choice. If the Bots win, Local Hero; if they don't, Monster a-Go Go. The Mads present Johnny Longtorso, an action figure with all parts sold separately. The Bots show off their line of non-violent action figures: Action Oxford (Edward de Vere), a tapeworm and athlete Wilma Rudolph. Since Frank is the judge, the Bots lose and have to watch Monster A-Go Go

Segment 2

  • Gypsy tells Crow she doesn't "get" him, but Crow can't figure out what she means by that. Gypsy can't quite explain it either, even after several attempts at clarification where Crow lists some of his more bizarre tendencies and qualities. Eventually Crow gets annoyed, and leaves. Servo enters a few seconds later. Gypsy tells Servo she doesn't get him; he responds with "Nobody does; I'm the wind, baby!"

Segment 3

  • Joel and Servo play keep-away with Crow. He soon catches the ball, but Joel and Servo continue playing with another ball. Crow keeps the ball for a little while in the theater.

Segment 4

  • Crow and Servo ask Joel about the "Piña Colada Song" and the ensuing problems.

Segment 5

  • After the conclusion of the film, Joel tries to cheer up Servo and Crow by dubbing them a happy king and his jester, Sir Giggles von Laughsalot. They break down, but soon feel better after thinking of a good thing about the movie.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Author Appeal: Kevin Murphy's favorite film, Local Hero, is offered if Joel and the Bots win the action figure contest.
  • Black Comedy: Joel gets dark in the short: "There's nothing sadder than a gut-shot fawn." "Women are torn apart like fresh bread!"
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Momentinvoked:
    • This is one of the few episodes where none of the host segments have anything to do with the film. As the quote at the beginning of the page explains, the team chose to do this because having host segments related to the movie would be implying that the movie actually had a plot.
    • Servo and Crow's odd little tune, "Hum, de hee hee hee, hoo-ah, hoo-ah."
  • Blatant Lies:
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The bots show their line of non-violent action figures to the Mads, Action Oxford, Olympian Wilma Rudolph and a tapeworm.
  • Call-Back: Joel declares Servo "a happy king" while pretending to play a trumpet, a Shout-Out to Mr. B Natural.
  • Court Jester: Crow (reluctantly) as Sir Giggles von Laughsalot, in a hat with bells on it and the signature wand topped with a tiny version of his own head. Which talks.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: Joel tries to cheer the bots by asking them to point out something positive about the movie. Crow states that you couldn't hear the dialogue, while Servo points out nobody involved in this mess ever went on to work on anything else.note 
  • Designated Hero: Invoked by Joel when the Circus On Ice short say the soldiers "bravely" shot a dragon to death.
    Joel: Bravely?! That thing was grazing!
  • invokedDude, Not Funny!: Joel freaks out when Servo quips "Well, it looks like he died in the state of sin."
  • Emergency Broadcast: Parodied when it's revealed that there was no monster:
    Servo: This has been a test. Had this been an actual movie, you would have been entertained.
  • Fridge Logic:
    • Invoked by Crow and Servo when they try to have Joel explain the lyrics of Rupert Holmes' song "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)." When Joel tells them Holmes just wrote a song about a popular 1970's fad (personal ads), the 'bots pipe up about "Timothy" being about cannibalism. When Joel replies that the song's Timothy was a duck, note  they go into full investigative mode.
      Tom: Wha—wait a minute, let's review here.
      Crow: Huh? A duck?!
      (Tom and Crow huddle.)
      Tom: So it's down in a coal mine..."hungry as hell", "Gee, that leg looks swell"...
    • During the film:
      Narrator: No doubt, this was the capsule Douglas rode in.
      (Joel and the 'bots giggle loudly.)
      Servo: Douglas was pear-shaped, very short, and stood the whole way.
  • Gag Boobs: "Oh, they decided to go to Shakey's."
  • Genius Bonus: Invoked: Crow is built on UNIX and can support a variety of operating systems, which was a very nerdy joke for prime time in its day.
  • Hell Is That Noise: During one portion, the soundtrack makes a strange warping sound, causing Crow to shout "Stop it!" louder and louder. The moment it cuts out he instantly flips back to normal with a chirpy "Thank you!"
  • Heroic BSoD: Both Crow and Tom Servo at the end, despite Joel's best efforts.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: The film recalls some very specific traumas for Crow and Servo at the end, that, being robots, they couldn't have possibly experienced, so presumably they belong to Joel. Of course, inflicting his own formative traumas on the 'Bots isn't exactly good parenting either...
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: In a scene featuring a man walking into a clearing with a briefcase.
    Crow: Now THERE'S a man out standing in his field!
  • Joker Jury: To judge which action figure is truly the best of the Exchange, Frank opts to act as a fair and impartial judge.
    Dr. F: ...Frank?
    Frank: (instantly, in a flat monotone) We won.
    Dr. F: (without hesitating) You LOSE.
  • Mini Mook: Little Crow chimes in with "Yeah!" when J&TB fire back at the Mads at the end.
  • Mondegreen Gag: Due to the movie's very poor sound quality:
    Col. Connors "...and why should it be radioactive?"
    Tom Servo: "Washington's radioactive?"
  • Moral Event Horizon: invoked Gypsy feels the Mads crossed this, screaming "Evil! YOU ARE EVIL! EVIIIIIIIIIIIIIL!!!!" after they introduce Johnny Longtorso, an action figure where every limb is sold separately. Forrester and Frank are more than pleased at this reaction.
  • Oddly Small Organization: Lampshaded:
    Joel: Oh, this is when NASA was just a car and a helicopter, right.
  • One Game for the Price of Two: Johnny Longtorso, the man who comes in pieces!
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Even Joel and the bots seem stunned by the "phone ringing noise" scene, with Joel simply muttering "unbelievable" and Tom just bursting out laughing.
  • The Pollyanna: Crow fails to become this at the start. Joel attempts this after the experiment is over — and succeeds.
  • Revenue-Enhancing Devices: Exaggerated with the "Johnny Longtorso" figure, which has each individual piece of the figure, even each bolt, sold separately.
  • Running Gag:
  • Sanity Slippage: Crow's (and later Tom's) little song ("hum dee-dee-dee-dee, hoowah hoowah") might be an indication that the film has broken their minds.
  • Scatting: Crow's odd little song: "Hum de de hee hee — hoowa, hoowa."
  • Shout-Out:
    • Joel and the 'Bots reference a famous ad for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups during the intro to "Circus on Ice".
      Joel: Hey, you got your circus on my ice!
      Crow: You got your ice in my circus!
      Servo: Two bad things that go worse together!
    • When there's a shot from the monster's point of view, Crow mimics the "ki ki ki ma ma ma" motif from Friday the 13th films.
    • The Coke bottle from The Gods Must Be Crazy is referenced during the scene where the military is searching the field.
    • The crew hums Ride of the Valkyries when a helicopter flies over the capsule crash site, a shoutout to the helicopter attack scene from Apocalypse Now. They transition into the theme from M*A*S*H when it lands, which causes Crow to sob, "It's beautiful!"
    • Forrester mockingly telling Joel he's going to give "just a little spittle" on Joel's face is a reference to Dune (1984).
    • Monty Python's Story Time sketch is referred to while some of the characters are looking through some logbooks.
    • "B.O.~!!!" was from the old Lifebuoy radio ads.
    • "He said 'garp' and then he said 'good' and then he died."
  • Special Effects Failure: Invoked. The crew can't believe it when the movie somehow can't even find an actual phone ringing to dub in and just have someone make the sound with their mouth.
    Servo: (as scientist) Yes, I made that phone noise!
  • Squick: Invoked as Gypsy's reaction to Crow's action figure, Woodscrew Tapeworm. Servo, on the other hand, is amazed.
  • Suckiness Is Painful: Tom and Crow were so upset at the movie, that the metaphor for its badness had to be done in paragraphs. And they are in tears as they say it.
    Tom: Joel, it's this movie. It was really depressing! It was like being a little kid and eating dinner at your Aunt Ruth's apartment in the summer, and it's hot in there and she's got a local Christian radio station on, and there's nothing to do or look at 'cause all she's got in the apartment are Good Housekeeping magazines and linen doilies!
    Crow: Yeah! And then they send you out to play with the strange neighbor kids and they're all big and their skin is pink and they have big pores and a big eighth grader makes you look at really upsetting pictures, so you go back inside and you sit down and they're all just talking with these big pauses in their conversations and you can hear the clock ticking on the wall!
    Tom: Yeah! Yeah, and so you dig into your seat cushion and you find a really old peanut, and you're so bored you eat it! And then you just feel bad and a little sick, and then you think you're about to go! But-but then Aunt Ruth takes out a photo album filled with black-and-white photos of kids with squinty eyes and they're supposed to be your uncles and aunts or something, and then your parents force you to look at them!
  • Take That!:
    Joel: Hey, wait; I think you have page 29 of the script on your shoe!
    • The infamous ending prompted one of the few instances in the entirety of the show of one of the bots flat out booing the film. It only comes second to the infamous Downer Ending of Manos: The Hands of Fate Debbie becoming one of the Master's wives, where the entire crew booed.
    • One of the host segments is entirely devoted to bashing the kitsch song "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)." It's clearly the result of one of the writers having thought these things for a while.
      • Similarly, towards the end of the segment, after Joel explains that Rupert Holmes only made the song because of (at the time) contemporary popular trends, Crow calls to attention that Rupert Holmes also wrote "Timothy", asking when in the world cannibalism was popular.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Everyone. During the opening credits, no less.
    Joel: You know what, guys, I have a feeling that this is gonna be a tough one.
    Crow: Now, it might not be too bad!
    Tom: No, I think Joel's right; this one has 'stinkburger' written all over it.
    Crow: Come on; you can't tell just from the credits!
    Joel: No, no, it's a feeling I have; my gut instinct's telling me this is gonna hurt real bad.
    Crow: Joel, it's not healthy to have such a negative attitude right out of the gate.
    Tom: It's just common sense, Crow; there's a feeling of incompetence already in the air here.
    Joel: Yeah, we might as well face up to it.
    Crow: Well, I refuse to give in so soon; I'm gonna riff away like it's nobody's business... I-I can't think of anything now, but...
  • Unwinnable by Design: Points for trying, but the moment Dr. Forrester revealed that Frank was to be the judge for their action figure contest, it should've been obvious to Joel that he and the bots were going to lose no matter what.
    Dr. Forrester: Frank?
    Frank: We won.
    Dr. Forrester: You lose.
  • What Could Have Been: invoked Servo sighs at seeing the title: "Aw, I thought this was going to be Munster Go Home!".
  • With Lyrics: Tom Servo gets in a hysterical one during the scene with the two figure skaters dressed as cotton candy in Circus on Ice, singing along to the background music—
    Narrator: And no circus is complete without pink candy floss! (the skaters begin to dance in sync to jaunty music)
    Servo: These two girls, they make quite a pair
    They, both come from your worst nightmare
    They, will haunt your soul forever
    And now, when you see pink,
    You're gonna think; "we're doomed!"
    They, are agents of Satan...
    Joel: (cracking up) Stop it, Tom.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!:
    • Uttered verbatim by Crow when Forrester says TV Frank will be the "unbiased" judge of their action figure contest.
    • Joel groans, "Unbelievable!" when an obviously fake phone ring made by a human voice is dubbed in one scene.