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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S 05 E 10 The Painted Hills

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Films watched: Body Care and Grooming (short) and The Painted Hills

The short Body Care and Grooming teaches college students of all ages the importance of conformity and obsessive grooming in their dating lives.

The episode available on the MST3K YouTube page here and on Shout! Factory TV here.

The Segments:


  • Crow impersonates Jay Leno, complete with overly large chin and tired jokes about Congress.

Segment 1/Invention Exchange

  • After observing that nothing works harder than the human heart, Dr. Forrester has invented the Cholester-Do-All, a device that he has attached to Frank’s heart. He also has Frank stuffing his face with food to get his heart racing so the device can power various appliances, which sends Frank into cardiac arrest. Joel and the Bots, inspired by subliminal messaging and backwards masking, create Back-Talk, which records gibberish and plays it back as a helpful reminder.

Segment 2

  • Tom and Crow debate on whether each of them think that the woman from the short is more attractive clean or sloppy, respectively.

Segment 3

  • The Bots write term papers about famous bearded guys who resemble the prospector from the movie. Crow’s paper on Rutherford B. Hayes is bad enough to get him held back a year.

Segment 4

  • Having succumbed to gold fever, Tom crushes and melts Crow into an ingot. Joel has to clarify that Crow is only painted gold, and is basically worthless when broken down to his basic components.

Segment 5

  • The bots attempt to analyze Lassie’s crimes and bring her to justice, though it’s shot down when Joel states human laws don’t apply to animals. In Deep 13, Dr. Forrester fails to revive Frank.


The MST3K presentation of The Painted Hills has examples of the following tropes:

  • Anachronism Stew: "Is this the real Old West, or the Roy Rogers Old West where they had electricity and cars?"
  • Artistic License – History: The only things Crow's term paper got right were that Rutherford B. Hayes was a lawyer, served in the Civil War, was President, ended Reconstruction, and eventually died. And to give you an idea about how factually accurate the rest of the paper is, right off the bat, Crow states that Hayes was born to his son.
  • Big Eater: Dr. Forrester's invention, the Cholester-Do-All, is a generator powered by the heavy strain on Frank's heart produced by a constant stream of junk food. There's a massive spread of pastries, potato chips, and pancakes laid out in front of Frank in Segment One.
  • Big "NO!": We get one out of Forrester when he's trying to revive Frank from a heart attack. It peters out when he realizes Joel's watching, and he shrugs and says now he's got to go out and buy a new heart, like it's an auto part.
  • Call-Back: The "Reel Life vs. Real Life" music appears as demo music for the Back-Talk.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Servo dubs the snow-covered Taylor Michael Mc Donald.
  • Death Is Cheap: After failing to revive Frank in the closing segment, Dr. Forrester decides to just go out and get him a new heart. This is despite the fact that Frank has been dead from heart failure for almost two hours at that point.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Invoked after Shep is poisoned — Servo keeps making riffs that Shep's a goner; Crow is deeply offended. Even Joel calls out Servo for going too far in his callous riffs about a dying dog.
  • Intellectual Animal: Discussed. The episode ends on a lengthy "Cavemen vs. Astronauts" Debate over how supposedly Heroic Dog Lassie-as-Shep basically got away with cold-blooded murder, even if it was to avenge Jonathan. Things start getting heated... but then Joel takes a step back and settles things by pointing out that oddly capable though she is, Lassie/Shep is still just a dog, not subject to human morals or mores.
    Joel: Otherwise they'd all be arrested for public nudity.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: The Cholester-Do-All works by harnessing the power of an overworked, cholesterol-clogged heart... which inevitably puts further strain on Frank's heart and kills him yet again.
  • It Runs on Nonsensoleum: Par for the course with the Invention Exchange. This week Dr. Forrester implants a dynamo into Frank's chest and says nothing can generate more power than an already overworked, fat-clogged human heart: introducing the Cholester-Do-All.
  • Mondegreen: While reading the end credits for the movie, Joel and the Bots are surprised to learn that the character whose name they heard as "Pile-on Pete"invoked was actually "Pilot Pete".
  • Never My Fault: After Frank's heart gives out due to Dr. Forrester, who was using it as his own personal generator, running too many appliances at the same time, Dr. Forrester decides to blame Frank.
    Dr. Forrester: Frank, I'd love to revive you, but how can I when I can't run the defibrillator?!
  • Padding: Discussed with the rather lengthy introduction of Pilot Pete, who, in, Crow's words, "comes in, stops the plot cold, and leaves".note  invoked
  • The Pig-Pen: Dr. F was hoping Frank would see would see the short ("Body Care and Grooming"), but he's dead again. The narrator thinks the "young lady" from the introduction to the short is an example, but the guys (especially Crow) don't agree.
  • Running Gag:
  • Sanity Slippage: At one point, Tom straight up melts Crow down to form him into a gold ingot, despite Joel stating that Crow is only painted gold. What's worse, Tom very clearly is armed with a pistol during the entire segment.
    Tom Servo: (manic) Oh, you'd like me to believe that, wouldn't you, Mr. West?!
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Downplayed: after getting fed up with the debate Crow and Tom have with him over Lassie's actions in the filmnote  at the end of the episode, as he throws it over to the Mads, Joel announces he's going to bed.
  • Sdrawkcab Speech: The Back-Talk requires you to know how to say things backwards in order to record subliminal messages for yourself.
  • Shout-Out: The movie's main claim to fame is that it stars Lassie:
    Dr. Forrester: — yes, the dog — as Shep, another dog.
  • Snap Back: Through the simple act of extruding him, Joel restores Crow from his melted down state just in time to resume the film following the commercial break.
  • Squick: Joel and the bots give a collective "Ewwwwwwwwwwwww!" when Pilot Pete says he's as irregular as they come. invoked
  • The Stinger: Another episode where the stinger comes from the short rather than the main film.
  • Subliminal Seduction: Joel invents "Back-Talk", an answering machine that allows anyone to record backwards messages for themselves as subconscious reminders, whether as a daytimer for executives or just a note to self to record Delta.
  • Take That!: Crow's impression of Jay Leno doing The Tonight Show monologue in the opening is all "jokes" about Congress having sex. Panty raids on the rise at colleges? "I didn't know so many members of Congress were going back to school!" Joel warns him he could get sued for defamation? "Well, I'd hire a Congressman to defend me, but they're all out having sex! Sex, ladies and gentlemen...!" He's also got Leno's trademark big chin.
  • They Fight Crime!: Invoked in Body Care and Grooming;
    Servo: Body Care! And Grooming! They're cops!
  • They Killed Kenny Again: Lampshaded by Dr Forrester after the Invention Exchange:
    Dr Forrester: Frank's dead again.
  • Toilet Humor: The crew's use of the name "Pile-on Pete".
  • Unnecessary Makeover: In-universe during the second host segment. Crow and Servo have a debate over whether the girl from the short is more attractive sloppy or clean, with Gypsy moderating and Joel deciding the outcome.
    Crow's argument: I like her sloppy. While her well-groomed — in other words, square — classmates were listening to Pat Boone and Patti Page, she was at the local jazz club, groovin' to Miles, Monk and Coltrane. While her classmates were struggling to make it through an issue of Reader's Digest, she was the only woman on campus who can freely quote Henry Miller. She may be sloppy, but she fits deeply into my idea of paradise.
    Servo's argument: I like her clean, 'cause it just shows that she wants to change the system from within. Sure she's a seething cauldron of passion, but she wears clean underpants, and she knows where her shirt is in the morning. Call her what you will — a Scoop Jackson Democrat or a Jacob Javits Republican — either way, she's the stuff that dreams are made of.
    Joel's verdict: Both of these issues are complex, and there are no easy answers, but Crow's right.
    Servo then argues against Joel's verdict, stating that the subject of cleanliness and grooming is important to him, and proposes a more effective way to resolve the issue: "A spitting contest!"
  • Values Dissonance: Invoked, snarkily following the short's '50s values through to conclusion: "Expressing individualism is just plain wrong," and "good grooming" is about attracting a husband by dressing and looking like everyone else.
    Narrator: You don't seem to be exactly the type to make this guy behave like a human being.
    Joel: (as narrator) You know, to make him grope you and paw at you.
    Narrator: [...] But good grooming is more than clothes-deep.
    Joel: It's being snowy-white.


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