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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S04 E24 Manos: The Hands of Fate

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...not in so many words.

Dig this, mes amis: Your "average Joe" has never seen a film like today's experiment. Your "average person" on the street has not even begun to conceptualize the horror which is your experiment today, Mr. "Joel Average". I give to you: "Manos": The Hands of Fate.
Dr. Forrester

Films watched: Hired! (Part 2) and Manos: The Hands of Fate

When the crew at Best Brains discovered Manos, they thought about not riffing the film at first, as the crew considered the film too strange. Eventually, the group decided to go through with it under the idea that they must expose the world to Manos. It has since become one of the show's most famous episodes.

The episode is available in the Gizmoplex here, and on Shout! Factory here.

The Segments:

  • Joel reprogrammed the Bots to praise him all the time. He soon has second thoughts after feeling hollow from the compliments.

Segment 1

  • The Bots return to their normal selves after some adjustments. The Mads present the Chocolate Bunny Guillotine, with Frank as the executioner. Joel meanwhile presents the Cartuner, a device that merges bland comics into funnier gestalts.

Segment 2

  • Joel attempts a driving sketch with Gypsy, Crow and Servo. Despite tears and suffering, the two bots try to continue performing, but their unprofessionalism causes Gypsy to walk off. Frank calls up to apologize for the film, but is greeted by a disgusted Joel.

Segment 3

  • Influenced by Torgo's thighs, Joel and the Bots speculate on their own exaggerated features.

Segment 4

  • Joel comes up to the bridge dressed as the Master. Servo criticizes his costume and Crow, dressed as a hellhound, joins in. Dr. Forrester also calls the SOL apologizing for the film.

Segment 5

  • The Bots attempt to cheer Joel up by reenacting the lingerie brawl from Manos. The Mads get their pizza from Torgo's Pizza, with horrible results.

The Mystery Science Theater 3000 presentation of Hired (Part 2) contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Captain Obvious:
    Mr. Warren: Sales are the most important part of this business.
    Servo: Seeing as how we're salesmen and all.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Mr. Warren's father is treated as a combination of drunk, senile, and just plain deranged.
    Servo: (after the first time Mr. Warren's father swats at some (unseen) gnats) He's having an episode!
    Joel: (after the second time Mr. Warren's father swats at some gnats) Ah! Flying elves are back!
  • I Have Your Wife: A suggested selling technique.
    Joel: Now, if you wanna see your daughter again you'll do as I.....
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: The Trope Namer.
    Tom: Hired! 2: Electric Boogaloo.
  • Previously onů: As the short was broken up into two segments, this trope was given a minor spoof.
    Crow: Previously on Hired!
  • Shout-Out: Servo confuses third and fifth placement when Mr. Warren is listing tips at the end of the short.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: At the start of the next day at the dealership, as Mr. Warren is addressing his employees.
    Joel (as Mr. Warren): We're gonna have leadership the way my old man taught me. YOU, put a handkerchief on your head! YOU, swat at imaginary elves! YOU, rock on the porch all night!
  • Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer: Servo and Crow took issue with Mr. Warren rebuking a salesman's technique despite it ultimately being successful.

The Mystery Science Theater 3000 presentation of Manos contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Sort of. Torgo has really big prosthetic knees for no apparent reason. The reason was originally a satyr but the silhouettes of the bots made it impossible to see his hooves. Counts as a downplayed example because it's never explained WHY he is a satyr or why being a satyr would make him have big knees.
    • Though it turns out this is an urban legend, as seen in the original Blu-ray, he wears just regular shoes.
  • Air Quotes: When introducing Manos to the SOL crew, Dr. Forrester makes several air finger quotes, mocking the title being "Manos" The Hands of Fate.
  • Ambiguously Bi: When Torgo delivers the pizza, he briefly attempts to grope Frank the same way he touched Margaret and The Master's wives.
  • Aside Glance: Torgo's quick and abrupt close-ups during his early scenes are treated as this trope in action, since he appears to be glancing at the audience over the couple's bickering.
    Servo: Oh, these two.
  • Body Horror: Joel and the 'bots offer better examples than "big knees".
    Joel: On my face, no nose! Not even nostrils! Think how scary that would be!
  • Brick Joke: Torgo forgot the drinks in his car when he delivers the pizza at the end of the episode. He leaves to get them. Eight episodes later, he finally returns with their drinks.
  • Character Filibuster: During one of the film's long driving sequences, Servo spends over a minute riffing rapid-fire in a female college student's voice:
    "So, so, I told Gary that I was going on this vacation, so he goes, 'Well, then I'm goin' hunting with Jeff next weekend.' Well, that's when we were at Nye'snote , and then Lou sang 'Fernando', and then Gary—oh, he sings so good. You should meet Jeff sometime. Do you like Barry Manilow songs? I know the farmers need rain, but when it's damp like this, my hair just explodes—just ex-puh-lodes! Oooh, I'm feelin' kinda gassy; McNuggets, y'know, they make me so gassy, all that grease and all. It really helps if you drink eight to ten glasses of water a day; did you know that? Sometimes I drink five; sometimes I drink nine just to make up for the other three I didn't drink. Oh, coffee and diet drinks don't count either. Y'know, this is pretty country, isn't it? Y'know, it's really kind of a blessing in disguise that I didn't get accepted to college, yeah. You know, I'm gonna have to revise my twenty-year plan, but—oh, did I tell you about my twenty-year plan? Okay, well, okay, listen here. In year one, this is the year when I'm going to take off those extra seven pounds—you know, that's equal to seven pounds of butter, huh-huh! So it's like I'm wearing seven pounds of butter, ha-ha! And, uh—oh, oh, where was I? Oh, oh, yeah. So my aunt and uncle here, they celebrated their twentieth anniversary, and my uncle wanted to sing, uh, 'Sunrise, Sunset'—he wanted me to sing that, and I haven't sung that since Cindy's wedding, and, well, she never thanked me for that—well, I'm still—uh, well, y'know, she's probably really busy and all, but..."
  • Continuity Nod: During one of the host segments, the Bots break down sobbing, and Joel tries to lift their spirits:
    Joel: Come on, you guys, stay frosty! We survived Monster a-Go Go, we can survive this!
  • Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: During the scene where Margaret undresses for bed, Joel covers the Bots' eyes to shield them from what's on screen.
    Joel: Shame on you, Dr. Forrester. Have you no sense of decency?
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    Torgo: "There is no way out of here. It'll be dark soon. There is no way out of here."
    Joel (as Torgo): "It'll be dark soon."
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Both of the Mads feel compelled to apologize to Joel and the Bots for making them watch this. Rather odd, since the show's entire premise (and the Mads' goal) is to find a movie that will drive people insane... but once you've seen the movie, you understand.
  • Excuse Plot: Referenced; during the scene where The Master's various harem members fight each other, Tom observes this is probably the main reason why the film was made.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: The Master does this — and the MST crew give it a perfectly-timed riff.
    Tom: PULL my finger!!
  • Gross Gum Gag: The riffers make several jokes portraying The Master's house as a particularly unpleasant hotel. They reinterpret Torgo as the busboy, and quip that he left chewed-up pieces of gum on the guests' pillows (instead of mints).
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky:
  • Leave the Camera Running: Background variant: Cambot accidentally keeps the "Manos" driving footage going when Officer Gypsy had "pulled over" Joel and the bots during the driving sketch.
  • Merging Machine: Joel's "Cartuner" invention, which "takes stodgy, ambiguous cartoons like Mark Trail and mixes them with stiflingly unfunny cartoons like Blondie, puts 'em together, and makes 'em funny!"
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • Servo mocks the film's attempt to employ this trope:
      Servo: (as Margaret) Ambiguity is scary!
    • In the segments themselves, viewers never find out what kept Torgo's Pizza warm for two hours and made the Mads throw up at the end.note 
      Torgo: (as the Mads retch) They always do that.
  • Not So Stoic: As in Lost Continent, typically laid back Joel is driven to scream "DO SOMETHING!" during one particularly interminable Leave the Camera Running scene.
  • Off with His Head!: The Mads' invention is a "chocolate bunny guillotine".
    Dr. Forrester: You have stolen painted eggs in a time of famine. Off with her head, Frank!
    Servo: (sobbing) What about the pardon from Fanny Farmer?
    Crow: His only crime was BEING BORN DELICIOUS!
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Upbeat, friendly, nice guy Joel loses his patience during one endless scene's awkward silence, and demands that the cast-
  • Running Gag: In the beginning when the movie takes a long time to get its plot in motion: "So.... Manos, The Hands of Fate".
    • Making fun of the strange way Torgo talks.
  • Say My Name: The title is spoken loudly and in anguish after just a brief exposure to the film.
  • Shout-Out:
    • During one of the skits, there's a subtle parody of It's a Wonderful Life when Frank, after apologizing for the awfulness of the film, encourages Joel, Tom, and Crow to keep playing.note 
    • Before that, Tom and Crow briefly channel Bill Paxton when they call the film "a bug hunt" and cry, "Game over, man! Game over!"
    • Obviously Mike's interaction with Torgo when they get to the Valley Lodge reminded the Brains of the hotel scene in This is Spın̈al Tap, since they quote the desk clerk's "I'm just as God made me" in Torgo's voice.
    • Crow showing off his knowledge of Lerner and Loewe.
      Michael: Where did this place come from? It wasn't here a few minutes ago.
      Crow: Maybe it's Brigadoon.
    • Servo calling the painting of The Master "A Frank Frazetta of Frank Zappa".
  • Snuff Film: Crow is convinced the Mads sent them a snuff film while watching the opening of the film. Joel reassures him the Mads would never send them a snuff film.note 
  • Spit Take: "You know, it's been two hours but this pizza's still pretty warm!"
    "Torgo": They always do that.
  • Squick: In-Universe, Joel and the Bots were not happy to see little Debbie dressed as a wife.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Early in the film, Crow makes a prediction:
    Crow: Joel, this is going to turn into a snuff film!
    Joel: Oh, the Mads wouldn't do this. This is not a snuff film, I guarantee it.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back!: The episode begins with Joel having installed "protocol modules" in the Bots to make them believe everything Joel says or does is brilliant. Their incessant sucking up forces Joel to remove the modules during the first break.


Video Example(s):


MST3K: Cartuner

Joel invents a device that generates funny crossovers of unfunny Sunday funnies.

How well does it match the trope?

4.92 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / MergingMachine

Media sources: