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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S06 E12: The Starfighters

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The Sean Penn story!

"So basically, according to themselves, the Air Force is a bunch of leather-faced, not-so-bright, heavy-drinking, dull-witted speed freaks who poop in their pants and can't make it with women. Right? Am I right?"
Tom Servo

Film watched: The Starfighters

The episode is available in the Gizmoplex here.

The Segments:

  • Crow shows off his state-of-the-art 1994 computer, and is trying to connect to the Information Superhighway. He unfortunately keeps getting error messages, getting enraged to the point where Mike and Servo have to restrain him.

Segment 1

  • Crow still can't connect to the Information Superhighway, and tech support isn't answering his calls. The Mads try to show off their new Cranial Ports to Mike and the 'Bots, but they show off their new condiment: "Cowboy Mike's Own Original Red-Hot Ricochet (BANG) Barbecue Sauce". It's claimed to be mighty bold, but a taste test from Dr. Forrester notes that it's not bold at all.

Segment 2

  • Crow and Servo reenact the midair refueling scenes from the movie. As they do so, tech support finally connects. Crow tries to answer, but since he's unable to speak at the moment, they hang up on him, leaving him in anguish.

Segment 3

  • Servo and Crow, dressed as Air Force generals, give Mike a thorough debriefing. And by "debriefing", we mean they strip his underwear off. Through his jumpsuit somehow.

Segment 4

  • The United Servo Academy Men's Chorus, conducted by Vice Brigadier Thomas "Bullhead" Servo, perform the United Servo Academy Men's Chorus Hymn. Mike, acting as host, is pleased with the performance, until the Chorus launches into a Bawdy Song.

Segment 5

  • Crow finally connects to the Information Superhighway as Mike reads a letter from a group of people who put an effigy of Servo as their Christmas tree topper. While he plays Boogers with someone named "Frodo", Crow finds that his new friend "jumped his booger" before logging off. The Mads, still neurally connected to one another, finally get to properly show off their Cranial Ports. Dr. F psychically wills Frank to push the button, but is soon disgusted as Frank thinks some nasty thoughts.

The MST3K presentation of The Starfighters provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Invoked. A few scattered references to Robert Dornan and his post-acting life — at the time, Bob was a very conservative member of the House of Representatives and a '96 Presidential hopeful, and had become best known for often making scandalous, inflammatory comments in public life (including outing a fellow Republican).
    Servo: [seeing Dornan's credit] What, couldn't they get Rush Limbaugh?
  • Bang, Bang, BANG: Cowboy Mike's Red-Hot Ricochet Barbecue Sauce is so bold and authentic that gunshots keep whistling and ricocheting and knocking Mike and the 'Bots hats off during the Invention Exchange.
  • Bawdy Song: The United Servo Academy Men's Chorus begin an impromptu round of Mademoiselle from Armentières. For those who don't know the song, it's a World War 1 tale of a French innkeeper's daughter and two German soldiers.
  • Big "NO!": Crow, when tech support hangs up on him.
  • Call-Back:
    • The source of a number of references in future experiments, like humming the jazzy music whenever a plane is seen flying, mentions of the "poopie suit," and the use of the word "refueling" as a synonym for any long, dull scene.
    • "Shut up, Iris!"
    • "Watch out for snakes!"
    • The Mads' Brain Ports verses the crew's BBQ Sauce could technically be considered an Invention Exchange, which officially ended as a regular feature in Season 5's Outlaw and eventually returns in Season 11.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: The movie's attempts at comic relief all fall flat.
    Crow: I wanna kick this movie in the groin, and snag on it, and give it a power sit-up!
  • Continuity Nod: The United Servo Academy Men's Chorus is apparently made up of the same Servo-clones introduced in The Human Duplicators, seldom seen but apparently running around the Satellite until the end of the series.
  • Cowboy: Cowboy Mike and the 'Bots dress up in giant foam cowboy hats and put on over-the-top cowboy accents as they parody commercials about "real" cowboys talking up bottled hot sauces and salsas.
  • Didn't We Use This Joke Already?: There's so much sexual humor that when the movie has another refueling scene after a long absence, everyone is left struggling for an angle they haven't exploited yet.
    Mike: I'm at a loss — now, we've done promiscuity entendres?
    Servo: Check.
    Crow: Uh, "cuddling in the afterglow"?
    Servo: Check.
    Mike: Uhhh, multiple-partner allusions.
    Servo: Mmmmgot it.
    Crow: Uhhhhhh, premature-ejaculation innuendo?
    Servo: Yeeeep.
    Mike: Gas station jokes!
    Servo: Been there.
    Crow: Impotence!
    Servo: Oh, yeah.
    Mike: Uh, one-night-stand stuff?
    Servo: It's all covered!
    Mike: [disappointed] ...Okay, let's just WATCH, then.
    Servo: [coming up with a NEW one] C'mon. Refueling is a natural, beautiful thing. Nothing to be ashamed about.
    • Fortunately (because the scene is still going on) they come up with a whole new source of riffs in the form of drug references.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In the theater they gleefully exploit the sexual connotations of the refueling process for all their riffing potential. In a later host segment Crow and Servo re-enact the refueling scene in a rather disturbing fashion. Servo even gives a small "Whoa!" with an odd mixture of surprise and embarrassed pleasure. It gets a minor Call-Back when Servo, looking at a picture of himself as the star atop a Christmas tree, remarks, "I bet that's a weird feeling."
  • Everything Is Online: ...except Crow, who spends the entire episode trying and failing to set up his internet connection.
  • Exposition Dump: There's a big chunk of it early in the movie, but it doesn't leave much of an impression:
    Mike: Okay, everyone set with the premise of the movie? Some kind of plane thing or something?
  • Filler: Frank Conniff admitted in the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide that the only reason they chose The Starfighters for the show is that they were desperate for enough episodes to fill the season and there were no better movies available to them at the time. Despite this the episode is the source of a number of Callbacks and Running Gags, including the catchy theme song and serendipitous appearance of "poopie!" in the movie, making it a modest fan favorite.
  • Flyover Country: The love interest is from Iowa. The Minnesotans/Wisconsinites enjoy poking fun at their fellow Midwesterner's stereotypical Iowan upbringing ("Ohh, so that means she's stupid." "Servo!"), job in agriculture ("Yes, a corn de-tasseler!"), and accent:
    Crow: IO-WAY!
  • For Inconvenience, Press "1": A running gag as Crow tries to get his brand-new computer working. By Finagle's Law, he finally reaches an operator while he's busy with his beak stuck up Tom's hoverskirt.
  • Gonk: Exaggerated for comic effect. The way the crew talks about the cast of the movie, you'd think they were Elephant Man-level grotesques. It's more that they're universally paunchy, weathered, and old before their time.
    Servo: It's about your face, sir. It's too lumpy.
    Mike: I'll take your elephant mask for you, sir.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The crew had used the term "poopie" to mean "Oh, Crap!" for yearsinvoked, so it was a delightful coincidence when Starfighters employed it as well.
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: During the lengthy refueling scenes, photographed in (ahem) intimate detail, they make so many joking allusions that they eventually run out.
  • Insistent Terminology: Mike's barbecue sauce is bold.
    Tom: It's miiiighty bold! How bold is it? It's bold enough to bulldog your taste buds and hogtie your tongue!
    Crow: That's how bold this stuff is, ya little priss-ant! I say it's BOOOOOLLLD!
  • Large Ham: Mike and the 'bots pull out all the stops while advertising "COWBOY MIKE'S OWN ORIGINAL RED-HOT RIC-O-CHET [BANG!] BBQ SAUCE!! IT'S BOLD!!!"
    Cowboy Mike: C'mon, steak, you want some?!
    • Dr. Forrester is disappointed that... it's not all that bold.
  • Lyric Swap: The crew sing "Poopie Suit!" and hum along to the tune of trumpet king Al Hirt's "Sugar Lips".note 
  • Me's a Crowd: The United Servo Academy Men's Chorus is made up of Tom conducting his many Servos — rarely seen but apparently always running around the ship between The Human Duplicators and the Season 10 series finale. The MST3K Mantra is, as alwaysinvoked, in full effect.
  • Mistaken for Dying: During the "making out in the convertible" scene, one of the two female characters sits there without moving and with her eyes facing downward. Mike riffs: "My God — she's dead!"
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Cranial ports < BBQ sauce.
    Frank: But Clay, do you think it might be... bold?
  • Padding: Invoked:
    Mike: I think there's more nothing in this film than any we've ever seen.
  • Running Gag:
    • The ongoing Double Entendres concerning the numerous "refueling" sequences. At one point they even joke about the fact that they've done every joke they can think of about them. (And then Crow comes up with a new riff anyway.)
    • Riffs about how ugly many of the faces are.
      Mike: Is your face odd, misshapen? Join the Air Force!
    • Once the "poopie suit" gets mentioned, Mike and Bots run with the gag. Bonus points for the theme song: "Flying high in the blue, free to do, number two, poop-oop-ee-doo!"
      • Bonus points for the fact that MST3K had been using "Poopie!" as an Unusual Euphemism from long before the film was riffed.
    • "That was a great scene," after anything but.
    • Crow trying to reach tech support.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: The MST3K team were computer geeks and early adopters of the internet and it shows:
    • Crow boasts about his then-state-of-the-artinvoked 90mhz Pentium PC, with 32 MB RAM, 4x CD-ROM, Soundblaster 16 sound card with a 28.8k baud modem.
    • They know exactly how much MS-DOS sucked:
      Tom: Looking for UART@Fx1050", what does that mean?
      Crow: I don't know! I must have configured my COM ports incorrectly!
    • Also a nice reminder of the days when we hadn't quite settled on what the Internet should be called given the massive array of protocols back then (HTTP not being as big as it is now) and a lot of people latched onto the clumsy term "information superhighway" coined by Al Gore. It's buzzwordy!
    • And when Crow finally does get online, his running commentary is said to indicate that he has logged onto Prodigy (the self-contained online service, not the ISP it later converted to). On the other hand, Crow being invited to a game of Boogers (a four-player Ataxx clone) implied he was also on the ImagiNation Network, also a self-contained online service and not "the Internet", per se. But it's worth it when it involves a game called Boogers.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: When rescuing a pilot who screwed up and had to eject over the desert:
    Mike: Yes, we have a visual ID on Numbnuts...
    Crow: At ease, Lieutenant Loser!
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "...bringing you hot munitions and cool jazz." Also leading to a Funny Moment as the pilots practice bombing the absolute shit out of the desert while muzak plays:
    Crow: We're gonna bomb 'em back to the Jazz Age!
  • Take That!: During one of the bombing scenes, one of the guys mentions, "I hope they blow up Blossom."
  • That Poor Cat:
    Mike: Don't laugh — they've got a kitten in that bomb. [mewls like a trapped cat]
  • Toilet Humor: After the poopie suit gets mentioned, the 'bots go on a long string of scatological humor.
    Servo: [singing along] Don't crap in your hand,
    crap in your poopie suit!
    You'll feel relief,
    filling your briefs!
  • Troll: Crow's Boogers partner "Frodo" "jumps his booger" and logs off mid-game, implying that he's one of them.