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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S05 E20: Radar Secret Service

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Look at the dead cows under that tower!

Films watched: Last Clear Chance (short) and Radar Secret Service

Dr. Forrester makes much of Radar Secret Service containing "Hypno-Helio-Static-Stasis" — which basically translates into lots of padding and boring, identical men in boring, identical suits.

The Segments:

  • Mike performs some routine maintenance on Crow, but things go awry when he triggers an Arnold Horshack mechanism.

Segment 1

  • Mike has tied various articles of clothing to make a Bedsheet Ladder back down to Earth, which Crow objects to when his Underroos are involved. Dr. Forrester enlists Dr. Felix Frankenkeisternote  to give a presentation on Hypno-Helio-Static-Stasis, which contains X-4.

Segment 2

  • State trooper Tom has words of advice to share about how dangerous sandwiches, lint traps, hot plates, and mad scientists can be. Train engineer Crow wants to know why doesn't anyone look.

Segment 3

  • To help stave off the Hypno-Helio-Static-Stasis, the 'Bots host the Class of '83 reunion and role-play Mike's old school buddies. It's rather awkward, but their hearts were in the right place.

Segment 4

  • Mike and Crow run a project idea by Servo: the Quinn Martin nature preserve, where old character actors can roam free in their own habitat. Tom believes that the symptoms are just getting worse.

Segment 5

  • Mike and the 'Bots have produced a cure for Hypno-Helio-Static-Stasis: Ecstato-Euphoro Fun, with patented Hinder-90! It turns B-movies into "yippee"-movies! Dr. Forrester tries to explain his failure to Frank, who can only laugh from all the butt references, infecting Dr. F with the same giddiness.


The Mystery Science Theater 3000 presentation of Radar Secret Service includes examples of:

  • Bedsheet Ladder: Mike attempts to escape by fashioning one of these (long enough to reach from the SOL to Earth) from the Bots' unmentionables.
    Gypsy: (gasping) MY BRA!
    Servo: My pantyhose! — I-I mean, uh, what are those?
  • Berserk Button:
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Duck Season, Rabbit Season: Mike performs the old "is not"/"is too" switcheroo on TV's Frank in the final host segment when he and the Bots explain they survived the movie's interminable dullness thanks to "Ecstato-Euphoro-Fun" with "patented Hinder 90", which Frank insists doesn't even exist.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Crow's underwear collection has come up before. Mike using one pair of Underoos in his bedsheet ladder turns out to be his Berserk Button.
  • Herr Doktor: Frank as Dr. Felix Frankenkeister. Ja, jaaa...
  • Hurricane of Puns: When the film shows a back of a car.
    Mike: Hey, Freddy Fender!
    Crow: Otto Preminger!
    Servo: James Carville!
    Mike: Harrison Ford!
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Frank, forgetting he's supposed to be Dr. Frankenkeister.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: TV's Fra — er, Dr. Felix Frankenkeister. The good doctor sports an obviously fake beard (what looks like a felt cutout) while explaining "Hypno-Helio Static Stasis". At one point, he can be seen taking off his beard to scratch at his chin and then struggle to put it back on while Dr. F taunts the crew.
  • Running Gag:
    • The movie is black and white, so the cars are huge.
      Mike: The house I grew up in was smaller than this car.
    • "...thanks to radar!"
    • (whispered) "Radar!"
    • Singing Classic Rock Driving Songs veeerrryy slowwwlly during the many shots of cars gradually making their way across the screen.
    • Mike and the 'Bots discuss Welcome Back, Kotter trivia all through the experiment after Crow "becomes" Arnold Horshack during the opening segment.
    • Calling out advertising slogans for various round objects ("Round things; 90% off round things") when the Radar Secret Service's radar car is on screen.
    • "Oh, those Golden Grahams!"
    • Jokes about how the various characters are indistinguishable from each other, leaving Mike and the Bots confused ("I thought that woman was supposed to be that woman!")
      Mike: (during brawl between cop and mobster) I'm dull!
      Servo: No, I'm way duller!
      Mike: Oh, okay — name my character!
      Servo: Gee, um, duh — I can't!
      Mike: See! See! Now, which one of us is the good guy?
      Servo: I don't know, I don't know! Who am I?!?
  • Sanity Slippage: Crow, big time. After Mike puts Crow's torn Underoos in his net, he starts chanting, "Panties! Panties!", then giggles like a little girl and coos, "I got 'em! Hee hee hee!"
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Due to the increasingly vast breadth of nothing happening on-screen, Mike, Tom and Crow all begin to chat with each other instead of cracking jokes — Kotter trivia is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Shout-Out: Upon seeing the title, Mike and the Bots quip that it's a spy film starring Gary Burghoff.
  • Sick and Wrong: Gypsy comments, "This is wrong" while Mike applies underwear to Crow to keep him calm, as Crow giddily says, "Keep 'em coming!"
  • Stock Footage:
    Mike: Duplicate shots, with radar. Yes, thanks to radar, we only needed to shoot three scenes!
  • Techno Babble: "Hypno-Helio Static Stasis" is utterly meaningless. "Ecstato-Euphoro Fun" less so, apart from "Patented Hinder-90".
  • Unusual Euphemism: As mobster Moran's girl blows him off while Michael, the mastermind of the heist, promises to pick her up that evening,
    Crow: (as Michael) It's not the radar, it's the size of the amplitude — if you know what I mean.
  • Use Your Head: Crow tries this on The Mads' button... and his right eye pops out for all his troubles.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The fate of Sid Melton's character (if there was one) is not shown in the MST3K edit. Crow has his own theory:
    Crow: (as the gangsters load boxes of atomic material in a truck) Each box contains a piece of Sid Melton.
  • With Catlike Tread: Mike mocks the fact that the radar chopper, whilst trailing the mobsters and their loot, flies extremely low to the ground. Specifically, less than 30 feet above the road and almost certainly visible in their rearview mirrors. "You know, it's more like Radar Obvious Service."
  • With Lyrics: The rising violin for scenes of quote-unquote intrigue: "(bummm) Oh, those Golden Grahams! (bumm) Oh, those Golden Grahams! (bummm) Oh those Golden Grahams!"

The Mystery Science Theater 3000 presentation of Last Clear Chance contains examples of:

  • Ambiguously Gay:
    Mike: (as Alan) Hey, my Advocate is here!
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Mike and the bots' parody PSA of the short doubles down on the stiff, awkward dialogue milking horror from the mundane, with Tom dressed up as Trooper Hal and Mike pantomiming blithely waving and laughing at someone offscreen.
    "Trooper Tom Servo": Listen, brother. Nearly forty percent of all accidents represent, uh, nearly half of all accidents. But who cares, have fun with your lint trap. Nothing will happen to you. It'll happen to "the other guy."
    Mike: [throws lint on his face and screams in mock agony] AAAAAGGGH!
    Crow: [dressed as a train engineer] Why don't they...
    Mike: [throws more lint on his other eye and screams again] AAAAAGHHH!
    Crow: Why don't they look.
  • Berserk Button: Tom Servo (as Trooper Tom) has just about had enough of the idiotic general public.
    Tom: Why do I even bother with the brainless gibbons in this stinking hole of a town? Well I wash my hands of it! Pahhh!
  • Black Comedy:
    Crow: (as cop) Could you identify this bucketful of your brother?
  • Car Fu: After a near-miss by an inattentive driver:
    Servo: (as pedestrian who looks vaguely like Henry Kissinger) Ach, Mister President, please watch where you're going!
    Crow: (as motorist) Whoa, I almost ran over Kissinger! I'll have to go back.
  • Celebrity Resemblance:
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    Trooper Hal: Maybe a man will do these things a hundred times in perfect safety.
    Servo: So the odds are pretty good!
    Trooper Hal: A parked car that suddenly pulls out without looking — it’s always sudden, of course, and always surprising.
    Mike: But never dull.
  • Cryptically Unhelpful Answer:
    Trooper Hal: Now where did that train come from?
    Crow: The station?
  • Despair Event Horizon: Mike and the Bots joke that the cop’s heavy-handed speech about fatal accidents drives the whole family to tears.
    Mike: Would you please, please, just leave?
  • Distracted by the Sexy: "Forty percent of all accidents are caused by women's hinders." "Rrr!"
  • Doom Magnet:
    Trooper Hal: 40% of all highway accidents involve a car that has already stopped.
    Mike: Driven by this guy.
  • Epic Fail:
    Tom: Oh, I know you're just going to eat that sandwich a little bit. With a little bit of mayo, and a little bit of hard salami.
    Mike: [stabs himself in the eye with half of a sandwich] AAAAAGGH!!
    Crow: Why don't they look?
  • Exact Words: Trooper Hal spends the entire short talking about how minor distractions can lead to fatal accidents. When the big accident does happen, it's because the driver was doing something so insanely dangerous that even someone who'd never seen a car before would know better. Naturally, the gang can't help but point it out.
    Servo: [as Frank, Jr.] Hey, the cop never said anything about doing intensely stupid things!
  • Eye Scream: During the "Why Don't They Look" sketch, Mike's character "accidentally" shoves the corner of a sandwich, a strip of lint, and a hotplate into his eye. Trooper Tom warns that "Oh sure, you can have a lot of fun with Mad Scientists! Until someone loses an eye!"
  • Failed a Spot Check: With footage of a train barreling past the camera:
    Trooper Hal: It seems impossible that anyone could fail to see or hear a train in motion.
    Servo: What train?
  • HA HA HA—No:
    Frank, Jr: (joking) I surrender, Hal, I give up! What’s the charge?
    Crow: (as Trooper Hal) Ha ha—! Manslaughter.
  • Hitler Cam: A very low-angle shot of a Washington DC police officer prompts Tom to call him “Garganto-cop”.
  • Identifying the Body: The short ends with Frank Jr. failing to watch the road and dying in a collision with a moving train. His brother Alan saw the accident and is obviously distraught, and Trooper Hal tries to comfort him. Then Crow decides to inject some Black Comedy into the scene:
    Crow: (as Trooper Hal) Could you identify this bucketful of your brother?
  • If You Die, I Call Your Stuff: Just before the kid becomes street pizza, Servo calls out "Can I have your room?".
  • Literal-Minded: Tom sees a railroad crossing “RR” sign, and reads it as “Rrrrrrrrr!”
  • Mundane Horror: The riffs push the already fairly morbid short into Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane horror territory, with Trooper Hal as some kind of terrifying Grim Reaper figure from beyond the veil.
    Tom: [during the sketch] Hi. I'm Trooper Tom Servo. I've seen it all, stared into the gapin' maw of death, and I'm here to remind you of the horror that lurks everywhere.
  • One-Hour Work Week:
    Crow: Doesn’t anybody do any chores on this farm?
  • The Paranoiac: The trooper warns to always be aware at train crossings, and Tom decides to take it a few steps further.
    Servo: Don’t trust anyone! Turn your back on hope and love!
  • Running Gag:
    • "Why don't they look?", during the second host segment and throughout the feature, and which would go on to be one of the Mike era's go-to recurring riffs.
  • Sanity Slippage
    Trooper Hal: DON'T tell me that you were speeding a LITTLE, only BREAKING the law a LITTLE...
    Servo: Uh, oh...
    Trooper Hal: ...only doing something a LITTLE bit wrong, save THAT for somebody else, BROTHER!
    Trooper Hal: Because I've seen too many "litte bit" follies...
    Servo: He's a bad cop on the loose!
  • Shame If Something Happened:
    Mike: (as Mrs. Dixon) I thought we were all paid up.
    Servo: (as Trooper Hal) Gonna need another fifty. Real shame if something happened to this land...
  • Shout-Out:
  • Spoof Aesop: Right at the beginning of the short:
    Mike: Never let this happen to you. Don’t make the mistake these people made. Don’t die.
    • And then at the end:
      Mike: Never wave while driving.
      Crow: Never look backwards while driving forwards.
      Servo: Never, under any circumstances, drive with your butt cheeks.
  • The Social Darwinist:
    Trooper Hal: Hard as it is to believe, there are many accidents where the driver ran past three warning signs, and straight into the side of a moving train.
    Mike: Ahh, good riddance, I say.
    Trooper Hal: [later] But if you paid no attention to the signs, didn’t look, and didn’t listen...
    Servo: Then you deserve to die.
  • The Talk:
    Trooper Hal: I thought this would be a good time to come by and tell you a few of the facts of life about driving, before you get started.
    Mike: You see, when a man loves a car very much, you recline the seat back...
  • Too Dumb to Live: Frank and his girl looking backwards to wave at his brother as they approach a railroad crossing:
    Servo: [as Frank, Jr.] Hey, the cop never said anything about doing intensely stupid things!
  • Totally Radical: Hotplates are "boss" and "cool".
  • Trivially Obvious:
    Trooper Hal: Most people who’ve lived through an accident involving a train, say —
    Servo: “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaugh!” That’s what they say.
  • The Un-Twist invoked
    Crow: I have a feeling one of these characters is about to see their own intestines.
  • Truth in Television: Not the obvious part of "an incoming train is dangerous", but rather Mike's joke that trains are "blameless, holy creatures". The fact is, even if the driver applies the brakes the instant they see you, a freight train at speed cannot stop before it hits you. The train really is blameless.
    • Even the title of the short reflects this, as it refers to a common law rule that, in an accident between two parties, the party with the "last clear chance" to prevent or avoid the accident bears some responsibility, even if the other party was ultimately at fault. In any collision between car and train, the car had the last clear chance to avoid the accident.
  • Values Dissonance: Invoked, as a montage of traffic signs leads the Bots to offer their own examples.
    Crow: "All Nude Girls".
    Servo: "Whites Only".
  • Visual Pun: When portraying the mournful engineer with a pencil mustache, Crow balances a literal pencil on his beak, black and sharpened at both ends.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: After the outburst from the cop, Crow and Tom do their own epilogue, claiming that the police force fired the cop ages ago, disavow everything he did in the movie and set up strict rules for cops going to farms.
  • With Lyrics: Mike and the Bots sing along with the music from the end credits as they walk out of the theater.
    Mike: People are dead, people are dying every day...
    Servo: They’re dead, they’re dead, they’re diddloodoo
    dead, they’re dead, they’re dead, they’re doodloodeedoopdee dead!
    Everyone: They’re dead, they’re dead, they’re dead...
  • Women Drivers: When Hal warns about the dangers of distracted driving, using footage of a woman reading a map instead of paying attention to the road, Mike concludes that woman drivers are the real danger.