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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S05E14: "Teen-Age Strangler"

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Films watched: Is This Love? (short) and Teen-Age Strangler

The Segments:


  • Mike attempts to call his grandma to help him get back to Earth. Calling long distance from space and answering machines hinder his plan.

Segment 1/Invention Exchange

  • In order to get Frank to give him some privacy, Dr. Forrester straps him into the Frank-N-Forcer: a bouncing seat suspended over a bed of nails. Mike and the Bots create the Waiter-Baiter: a giant waving arm that attracts waiters so restaurant patrons don’t have to.

Segment 2

  • Mike and the Bots ponder the nature of the question “What is Love?”, mostly in terms of celebrities.

Segment 3

  • Crow and Tom are gang members on the blacktop, ready to engage in a rumble. Mike kills the mood by attempting to have the two gangs settle their differences.

Segment 4

  • The bots trick Mike into wearing a pair of glasses that are wired to a device that makes him act like Mikey, the nasal-voiced dweeb from the movie. Mike eventually sees through the trick and puts the glasses on Crow instead.

Segment 5

  • Mike, portraying a school custodian, sings the tender ballad “I’m a Janitor”. In Deep 13, Frank makes himself sick bouncing along to the song.


The MST3K presentation of Teen Age Strangler contains examples of these tropes:

  • Ambiguous Syntax: Tom makes it clear when he sees the title card.
    Tom: So is it about a teenager who strangles, or someone who strangles teenagers? Answer 
  • Brick Joke: Servo asks, "Where's Waldo?" during the short. When Mikey first appears onscreen, Mike states, "I think we found Waldo!"
  • Call-Back:
  • Celebrity Resemblance:
  • Advertisement:
  • Clothing Reflects Personality: Invoked. In one of the host segments, Crow and Servo coax Mike to wear a pair of thick glasses wired to make him talk and act like Mikey from the film, only to go back to normal after removing the glasses. And then he puts them on Crow...
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In one scene, Jimmy lays on his bed while lifting his legs in the air. Mike and the bots wonder why he's in the stirrups position, and immediately follow it up with "Push!" comments.
  • Dull Surprise: A girl learns of another murder with an unemotional "Oh, no!":
    Crow: (flat and unemotional) It wasn't me who was murdered, was it?
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Crow's plan to use the special glasses he invented to make Mike act just like Mikey whenever he wears them backfire when Mike puts the glasses on Crow, thinking he would look good wearing them.
  • Hollywood Darkness:
    Mike: This film was filmed in Blue Vision.
  • Large Ham: Hoo boy... Who isn't a large ham in this movie? Even Mike gets caught up in this ham-fest.
  • Running Gag: Mike and the bots keep lampshading moments of Ho Yayinvoked they detect throughout the movie.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The unerringly wholesome folk performance in the diner has Mike and the Bots calling out for requests from punk favorites such as The Cramps and the Buzzcocks.
    • When a victim enters a shower, Servo snarks, "Oh, let me guess..." then makes staccato violin sounds a la Psycho.
  • Whoopee Cushion: The bots make farting noises when two characters sit down on chairs.

The MST3K presentation of Is This Love? contains examples of these tropes:

  • Continuity Nod: At one point while Peggy and Joe are cuddling in the car Crow quips, "Watch out for snakes!"
  • Dawson Casting: Made into a Running Gag invoked. Liz's actress, Lynne Gorman, was 37 at the time of filming.
    Crow: Oof, geez, how many times was SHE held back?
    Liz: Hi, Peg.
    Mike: (as Peggy) "Hi, Mom."
  • Felony Misdemeanor:
    • Drinking in a dorm? Expulsion. And somehow Liz thought even that was too lenient of a punishment.
      Mike: (innocently) Drinking in college? I've never heard of that...
      Crow: Never!
    • A Brick Joke later on:
      Crow: Giving gifts in a dorm — punishable by expulsion.


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