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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S 05 E 13 The Brain That Wouldnt Die

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"These people will be exploring issues that are teens' issues." note 

Film watched: The Brain That Wouldn't Die

This episode is notable for being Mike Nelson's first turn as host. The movie itself also happened to be what clip was seen in the intro during the latter half of season 5 and all of season 6; specifically, Jan in the Pan smiling.

The episode is available on the MST3K YouTube page here.

Editors, please keep this article neutral on the Joel vs. Mike thing. We don't want this turning into a Flame War.


The Segments:

  • As the new meat on the Satellite, Mike gets trained on riffing by the Bots. He calls Crow Tom and Gypsy calls him Mr. Nielson.

Segment 1

  • Mike shows off his first invention, the Gutter-Bumber-Chute, but Forrester isn't impressed. He shows off his Dreambuster, a device that produces sounds specifically calibrated to pop the balloons of small children. Mike is still clueless about the Invention Exchange, Movie Sign and carrying Servo to the theater, but he learns.

Segment 2

  • In a hard-hat area of the bridge, Mike's trying to escape by gaining control of the SOL. He finds numerous sandwiches, Servo's extra heads, copies of the Picardian and gets foam sprayed. Crow and Servo get worried about being left alone on the Satellite, but Mike says that he's not going to ditch them.

Segment 3

  • Mike and the Bots present their ideas of headwear for Jan in the Pan. Among them are a bowling bag, a crown, a Chianti hat, a crown roast, Newton balls and a lazy Susan.

Segment 4

  • After thinking over the film's messages about trust, Crow and Servo encourage Mike to tell them an embarrassing secret, claiming that he can trust them not to judge him too harshly. Mike then proceeds to tell them about the time he suffered from Potty Failure while on a walk-a-thon when he was young, after which the Bots immediately make fun of him.

Segment 5

  • Crow and Servo introduce Mike to the letter readings, but they're interrupted by a call from Jan in the Pan, who has a much better outlook on life after the movie and even enjoys jokes about her condition, to an extent. Dr. Forrester ends the experiment by trying to decapitate Frank with a chainsaw.

The Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming:
    • Newcomer Mike is variously addressed as "Mr. Nielsen" (by Gypsy), "Mark" (Crow), "Mitch" (Dr. Forrester), and "Marv" (Forrester again). When Mike corrects Crow, Crow dismisses, "Whatever."
    • Mike himself offends Crow by calling him "Tom" at one point.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Servo is impressed Mike gives the first riff, and it's pretty good.
    Servo: Right out of the gate!
  • Adults Dressed as Children: Frank dresses like a schoolboy, complete with all-day sucker, to help demonstrate Dr. Forrester's "Dreambuster".
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Discussed.
    Crow: Doesn't she need lungs (to speak)?
    Servo: No, she's got neck juice!
  • Berserk Button: Mike, in order to distinguish himself as a rebel, waits at least 10-15 seconds before answering Dr. Forrester's call. As it turns out, Dr. Forrester does not like to be left waiting...
    Dr. Forrester: Ah, Mr. Nelson. Mr. "El Relax-o". That's nice. Maybe I should make you do your INVENTION EXCHANGE FIRST! FIRST, YOU HEAR ME?! FIRST!
  • Brick Joke: Two episodes ago Frank had a gigantic lollipop, and when Dr. Forrester tried to psychically make his head explode, Frank hit Forrester over the head with the lollipop, shattering it. In this episode, Frank has an identical lollipop, and this time Forrester snatches it and breaks it over Frank's head.
  • Brown Note: Dr. Forrester's "Dreambuster" produces a high-pitched noise designed specifically to pop party balloons from a distance, thereby tormenting the children holding them.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: During the opening scene in the operating room.
    Mike: Just a normal Tuesday for Cher.
  • Call-Back: When Kurt walks armless.
    Servo: MITCHELL!!
  • Church of Happyology: During one of the host segments, Mike claims to have "achieved a state of Clear."
  • Continuity Nod:
    • While trying to escape, Mike finds several of Tom's old heads.
    • When reassuring the Bots that he won't leave without them, he notes that there are no more boxes marked "Hamdingers" on the ship, alluding to Joel's escape in the prior episode.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Invoked in segment 4.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Mike waiting to answer when Dr. Forrester calls, demonstrating he will resist at every opportunity. It only takes him 'til the second segment for him to desperately try to escape, unlike Joel's acceptance of his situation. There's also the second host segment, where Mike immediately attempts to gain control of the satellite. Not so that he can escape, but so that he and the bots can escape.
  • Foreshadowing: One of the films used in Mike's training gets riffed properly in season 6: The Beast of Yucca Flats.
  • Hand Wave: Crow reveals why Servo can't enter the theater himself and must be carried in—there's an air grate that fouls Servo's hoverskirt. Mike apologizes to a grumbling Servo for leaving him outside.
  • Here We Go Again!: When Dr. Forrester decides he wants to make his own disembodied head in a pan, TV's Frank shrugs and says "Oh well, here we go again!" as Forrester revs up a chainsaw.
  • Hey, That's My Line!: Leading into the first commercial break:
    Servo: And we'll be right back.
    Mike: Isn't that my line?
    Servo: Don't push it.
  • His Name Is...: Parodied during Kurt's death scene.
    Mike (as Kurt): The money's in the...-
  • Hurricane of Puns: Kurt gets an arm yanked off (his good arm, no less), and the "arm" jokes fly thick and furious.
    Mike: I guess you'd call that A Farewell to Arms.
    Crow!Kurt: I'll bet you've got your one-armed jokes all ready, don't you, Jan?!
    Mike: And, ironically, he collapses into an armchair.
  • Hypocritical Humor: While demonstrating his "dream-buster" during the invention exchange, Dr. Forrester begins to describe its technological properties before stopping himself saying, "Well, it would take a scientist to explain. Just watch."
  • I Ate WHAT?!: While we never find out what was being sprayed from the "pressurized cheese line", Mike and the Bots are disgusted when Gypsy chimes in:
    Gypsy: Guys! Guys! That's not chee-eese!
    Mike: [later, back in the theater] ...Well if it's not cheese, what is it?
  • I Have My Ways: They have a field day with this one.
    Dr. Cortner: I've got to find (Jan) a body.
    Kurt: How are you going to go about getting one? [Cortner turns and walks off, Kurt seizes his arm] Bill, how will you do it!?
    Cortner: There are ways.
    Servo: [Evil Laugh, with a side of Large Ham]
    Cortner: [after shaking off Kurt's hand] There are ways.
    Mike: Lots of... ways, many... ways... Did I mention there are ways?
    [as Cortner is leaving the lab, he turns around and looks back briefly]
    Crow: Ways.
  • Inappropriate Hunger: Servo makes a joke about this while the father-and-son doctor duo are digging around in a patient's torso, complete with gross squelching noises:
    Servo: [as Cortner's father] This reminds me, son—did you make your stroganoff for dinner tonight?
  • Inherently Funny Words: “Gutter bumbershoot! Gutter bumbershoot!”
  • Late to the Realization:
    • Late in the movie, after Bill convinces Doris to come to his house (where he plans to kill her so Jan can have a new body), Mike riffs, "You know, I don't like this guy anymore. That's it," and when he serves up the drugged cocktail, Crow says, "You know, this guy's kinda evil?"
    • On a meta-level, after the experiment is over, Mike realizes that being trapped in space with two robots "kinda bites". The bots quickly affirm this is the correct attitude.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: In addition to introducing Mike as host and a reworked opening theme, this episode debuted the newer, more visually impressive door sequence that would be used for the rest of the show's run.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Mike's first invention exchange: the Gutter Bumbershoot. It's an umbrella with gutters. The Bots are actually impressed with it while Forrester is cheesed off at how excited they are.
  • Plug 'n' Play Friends: Subverted. Crow and Tom convince Mike to open up to them by sharing a particularly embarrassing Potty Failure episode from his childhood... and then they mock him mercilessly for it.
    • Also played straight-ish earlier, when Tom and Crow break down crying while watching Mike try (and fail miserably) to get control of the Satellite of Love, because they're afraid that Mike might leave them, too. Mike promises that he's looking for a way for all of them to escape.
  • Rearrange the Song:
    • "So they conked him on the noggin and they shot him into space..."
    • "Get... me... dooowwwn!"
    • "Now keep in mind Mike can't control when the movies begin or end / so he'll try to keep his sanity with the help of his robot friends."
  • Running Gag:
    • Jan's "neck juice" and the Fan Nicknameinvoked Jan in the Pan.
    • When Dr. Cortner's suddenly in a close-up shot filmed against a blank background that doesn't match the previous scene:
      Tom: [as Dr. Cortner] Help me, I'm in another dimension, aaaAAAA—! ...Hey, at least there's some cocktails in this dimension. Thank you!
  • Sanity Slippage: Dr. Forrester noticeably becomes more insane from this episode onwards.
  • Schmuck Bait: Mike realizes too late that the Bots begging for him to tell them an embarrassing story from his past as a "bonding exercise" was an obvious ruse.
  • Selective Enforcement: When "Jan in the Pan" calls Mike and the Bots, she cracks a bunch of jokes about her condition as a disembodied head, to show that she's gotten over her earlier angst. Crow and Tom Servo chime in with their own jokes, and she laughs along. Then Mike makes a joke ("So, when you were in that fire... did you make your own gravy?"), and Jan immediately gets offended and cuts the call short.
  • Sexophone: Prompts several comments from Mike and the 'Bots.
    Servo: [as Radio DJ] It's a sleazy morning out there. You're listening to K-PORN, Holmes and Reems in the morning… sleazy, slutty music all morning long. Here's one from Skinny and the Sweat Beads.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sick and Wrong: When Bill starts amorously feeling a dance hall girl's neck to see if it's the right size, the crew groan in disgust til Mike blurts angrily, "This is sick!"
  • Society Marches On: The Igor's indecisiveness makes Servo quip, "Bill Clinton in the Oval Office!" The episode was released at a time when Clinton was perceived as a waffler, a criticism he shed during his second term.
  • Special Effects Failure: invoked Upon Mike seeing the monster turn around whilst carrying Doris:
    Mike: Look at that. The mask is just tied in the back!
    Servo: Eh, it's nothing we haven't seen before, Mike.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: During a close-up of a dying, bloody Kurt slumped against the wall.
    Servo: The Ropers: The Final Episode.
  • Take That!:
    Servo: Bill Clinton in the Oval Office.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: After the experiment, Mike states that being forced to watch bad movies with two wisecracking robots while trapped in space by mad scientists "kinda bites". Crow approves: "You're startin' to catch on, kemo sabe!"
  • Title Drop: Jokingly done by Tom in the movie's first scene. ("Look at this brain. See, it won't die!") At the very end, Crow sees the title "The Head That Wouldn't Die" in the end credits, and corrects, "You mean, The Brain That Wouldn't Die."
  • Training from Hell: Tom and Crow apparently put New Meat Mike through a crash movie-riffing course in the period between Mitchell and the start of this episode, involving watching The Beast of Yucca Flats and Night of the Lepus.
  • Wangst: invoked Another running gag has Mike and the Bots' complaints towards Jan in the Pan's whining. They even cheered when Dr. Cortner tapes her mouth shut.
  • Waxing Lyrical: When Jan in the Pan demonstrates her telepathic link with the Closet Monster, Tom riffs "Why, you're a freak, a super-freak! You're super-freaky!"
  • What an Idiot!: invoked Near the film's end, Servo notes that Dr. Cortner opening the monster's closet would been the stupid thing he would do.
  • Wire Dilemma: Part of Mike's first escape attempt by gaining control of the inertia system:
    Servo: You have to cut the big red cable!
    Mike: Which one? There's about twenty.
    Servo: Uh... the green one.

“I told you… you should have let me die. Hee hee hee!”
Jan "in the Pan" Compton


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