Dr. Forrester sends the SOL A Date With Your Family, an educational film about dinner manners served up with a heaping helping of Unfortunate Implications, then doubles down on the '50s Values Dissonance with Red Scare Propaganda Piece Invasion USA.
The MST3K presentation of Invasion U.S.A. contains these tropes:
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot / Epic Fail: Mike's attempt to build his own Robot Buddy (following the lead of his predecessor Joel) results in this. Servo and Crow spit and curse at the seemingly disabled robot ("Dork!" "Weiner!") before it starts up again — "DEE-STROY! DEE-STROY! DEE-STROY!"Servo: SAY IT!
Mike: (sheepishly) I can't build robots.
- All Just a Dream: Referred to in the final host segment. Mike and Tom are disgusted, while Crow claims he Knew It All Along.
- Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: In-universe, the paperboy who goes into the bar and wanders around for a hot second, staring at Vincent and Carla, before finally leaving causes the guys to crack up. It's later used as the stinger.Mike: Now THAT'S a walk-on!
- Big, Stupid Doodoo-Head:Crow: Go away, you big stupid ca-ca-head Russians!
- Black Comedy: Or more accurately, Nuclear Holocaust Comedy.Crow: (as airline pilot) We got a real pretty view of the dust cloud out the right window. It's currently seven thousand degrees in San Francisco...
- Camp Straight: The Arizona rancher character's cowboy outfit stampedes into this trope thanks to Have a Gay Old Time.Crow: I really am a cowboy! I'm not gay!
- Continuity Nod: Mike whistles "Are You Happy in Your Work?" while working on the robot in the opening.
- Chromatic Arrangement: The Robot Buddy Mike attempts to build is blue, which makes sense since Crow is yellow and Tom is red — blue is the logical next step, since it's the third primary color.
- Crush. Kill. Destroy!: Mike's robot has only this in its programming, it seems.
- Extra! Extra! Read All About It!Mike: Now that is a walk-on!
- The '50s: The Mads must have had the '50s on the brain this week: the short, the feature, and Harry Harlow's experiments all come from the nuclear decade.
- Historical In-Joke: Crow becomes the subject of Harry Harlow's infamous experiment involving rhesus monkeys and wire mothers.
- Human Pincushion: Dr. F.'s experiment requires Frank to dress up as a literal pincushion while Forrester stabs him with giant pins. It's "essential".
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Comes back to bite him when he tries to hug Frank.
- Hypocritical Humor: Dr. F. after Crow selects the wire mother instead of him.Dr. Forrester: [quietly] Alright, alright. Let's handle this coolly, dispassionately... It's just that you're so incredibly stupid and wrong. Just so incredibly STUPID. And WRONG!!note
- Marty Stu: The guys are quick to identify Vincent as one. Crow: (Smug Snake) You can all start admiring me now!
- Parental Substitute: Dr. Forrester's experiment tests whether the 'bots will respond to his terry softness or the primal nurturing of a "wire mother", based on psychologist Harry Harlow's studies on rhesus monkeys. Crow turns out to be especially susceptible, though being a robot, he prefers the metal mother instead of the soft, warm one. However, when gently told by Mike the thing is not his mother, Crow pauses, then asks eagerly of Mike, "Are you my mother?"
- Patriotic Fervor: Rampant throughout the movie, and parodied constantly. As Vincent broadcasts a inspiring radio message about the resistance fighters of New York City, Tom, Mike and Crow all begin to hum "America the Beautiful"; after he's found and shot, the Communist soldier immediately launches into another speech of his own about liberating America from capitalist tyranny, and Tom instead hums the "State Anthem of the USSR" while Mike and Crow pantomime marching.
- The Scream: Crow shrieks in primal angst when Mike tries to separate him from his new "mother".
- Small Name, Big Ego: Dr. Forrester is in fine form during this experiment.Dr. Forrester: Uh-buh-buhduh-dudduhFACT: in addition to my huge greatness... I'm quite a guy. Everybody likes me.
- Sophisticated as Hell:Servo: (as Ohman) Pass the beer nuts, you back-assward cracker.Crow: (as Ohman) You know, you only rent cognac...
- Shout-Out: "Now will the dancing Hitlers please get to this side!"
- Spot the Impostor: The Mads riff the scene from the movie.Frank: (paranoid, holding a rifle on Forrester) Who won the World Series?Forrester: (Sarcasm Mode) I did.Frank: ... well, okay.
- Stock Footage:Crow: So, apparently World War III is going to be a lot like World War II!
- Take That!: During the Spot the Imposter scene:Guard: You ever go see the Cubs play?Servo: Yeah, they won. Oops, DAMN!
American patrol: Who goes there?
Crow, panicky: Uh, the Cubs! Studs Terkel! Saul Bellow! Oh, whatever, just shoot 'em!
Servo: This music is like a good Danny Elfman tune.Crow: You mean it doesn't exist?Servo: Boom!
- This one at the very beginning of the Movie:
- Television Geography: Soviet paratroopers are shown landing on a beach supposedly outside Washington, D.C., which is 30+ miles from the Atlantic Ocean.Crow: Ah, the sandy beaches of Dupont Circle.
- Unusual Euphemism: As Carla's boss heads out to start manufacturing tank parts, he asks Carla if she's staying with Vince. Servo's reply:Servo: (as Carla) Vince and I are going to make our own tank parts.
The MST3K presentation of A Date With Your Family contains these tropes:
- Cheating with the Milkman:Narrator: Dad will be home soon. Better tell Mother she's needed in the kitchen.
Servo: ... where the postman eagerly awaits.
- Continuity Nod: When Brother makes the "OK" sign after taking his first bite of dinner.Servo: This stinks!
- Deconstructive Parody: The host segment based on this short has Mike and the Bots taking the narrator's advice. Their attempt to "converse in a refined and dignified manner" turns out to be bland and unspecific.Crow: Say, how about that sporting event? One team emerged the victor, whereas the other, alas, found themselves vanquished.
Gypsy: Ah, but such are the vicissitudes of sport.
Tom: Indeed. You know, the other day, I had the occasion to witness a cultural event. It seemed to point to the foibles of everyday living. Afterwards, I reflected on the stimulating nature of the presentation.
Mike: Recently, I was taken by an article of literature. The author used sentences and paragraphs to express his point of view.
Crow: Oh, that reminds me of a pleasantry I was exposed to recently. An anecdote happened that might be interpreted as whimsical. It provided all parties with a puckish sense of diverting amusement.
- Jabba Table Manners: Devolves into this.Gyspy: Mike, this sucks! Can we just eat?
- Jabba Table Manners: Devolves into this.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance:Servo: (as daughter) Dad, I'm dating a Negro!
- I Have No Son!: A running gag during the "dinner" portion of the short. When the narrator explains that nobody should start eating before Father serves everyone their platesnote ...Mike: Father feigns eating, draws Junior out, then disowns him!Mike: 'Least I have two sons...
- And according to Mike and the bots, the whole family is disowned before the dinner is half over.
- Just Friends: After seeing the title screen, Mike yells out, "Hey, I like my family as a friend!".
- Nuns Are Funny: Invoked during the Dinner and a Show portion of the family's dinner, during the scenes where Brother and Sister are shown talking with no sound.Servo: (As Brother, giving a blow-by-blow account of a fight) So Sister Mary Patrick had him up against the wall and nailed him...Servo: (As Sister, making "unkind comparisons" about someone) Oh, and she was a big nun, with a mustache (Sister makes a gesture across her upper lip) and this huge black habit...