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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S08 E11: parts: the clonus horror

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Apparently E. E. Cummings wrote it!

Film watched: parts: the clonus horror

Reportedly, director Robert Fiveson wasn't too thrilled about getting MSTed until he saw the riffing of the scene where smoke seems to be emanating from Richard's nether regions as he shares a post-coital campfire cuddle with Lena:

Mike: (as Richard) I should go a little easier next time!
Tom: Only you can prevent groin fires.
Crow: She really was on top of Old Smokey, huh?

He was also very thankful when he was alerted by MSTies that Michael Bay's The Island was a ripoff of his film, which resulted in a very generous out-of-court settlement.

The episode is available in the Gizmoplex here.

The Segments:

  • For the first time in his life, Mike has decided to grow a mustache. The 'Bots are initially supportive of him, but quickly turns to mockery.

Segment 1

  • Mike shaves his mustache, which prompts the 'Bots to give him more flack. On the Camping Planet, Pearl, Bobo, and Brain Guy are woken from their slumber by Buddy, Darlene, and Scooter, a trio of omnipotent Space Children who've run away from home. Lost and starving, they deem Pearl their new "grandma" and her lackeys their new "uncles". Pearl refuses to humor their delusions, prompting the kids to demonstrate that they're stronger than Brain Guy by making the Mads punch themselves in the face. On the SOL, Mike decides that the kids could be his and the 'Bots ticket to freedom, so he tries to persuade the kids not to send them whatever film Pearl has cued up for them today. Unfortunately, Crow and Servo's conflicting advice about child-rearing results in his attempt pitifully failing.

Segment 2

  • As the 'Bots predicted, Pearl and Brain Guy are stuck slurping juice boxes and playing Candy Land with Darlene and Buddy while Bobo plays catch with Scooter. Playtime doesn't go well for the Mads at all, as their patience and tolerance for pain is constantly tested by the tykes' omnipotent temper tantrums.

Segment 3

  • Having reached the end of her rope as the Space Children enjoy snack time, Pearl begs Mike and the 'Bots to provide some entertainment for them. After relishing the feeling of being in control, the SOL puts on a public TV children's show. At first, it's a nice and soothing affair which entrances the omnipotent kids, but it soon turns into a wacky and incomprehensible Mexican TV children's show with dancing and glittery spandex, making the tykes cry.

Segment 4

  • The Mads spend some time giving the Space Children "that talk". Each of them do so by drawing from their own lives, with Pearl reflecting on her long string of failed relationships, Brain Guy waxing poetic about love and romance before dismissing it as a waste of time, and Bobo describing the outlandish acts associated with the mating rituals of ape-men.

Segment 5

  • Crow shows off the new nose job he got to impersonate Lena, which Mike just can't look away from. On the Camping Planet, the Mads have finally gotten the Space Children tucked into their sleeping bags for a nap. Servo recites a beautiful poem to soothe the omnipotent tykes, but it unfortunately comes with a raucous oompah accompaniment, making the children cry again.

The Mystery Science Theater 3000 presentation of parts: the clonus horror has examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Director Robert S. Fiveson loved the riffing, finding the "smoking crotch" gag particularly hilarious.
  • Alliterative Name: Children's show Satellite of Love is hosted by Crow the Cow, and Tommy the Timid Tuna.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: As Richard reads through a bunch of secret files, Mike lists off a number of different conspiracies: black helicopters, Roswell, Area 51, Waco, and... the formula for Coca-Cola.
  • Brain Bleach:
    • Old Richard's son getting out of the pool and walking his wet, speedoed batch right in front of the waist-high camera didn't do Mike and the Bots any favors. invoked
      Mike: No... no, don—AUGH! We found it, this is the horror!
      Servo: Gah, stop it! What've we ever done to you?
    • When both Richards pull up their shirts to reveal they have the same birthmark, Mike and the 'bots scream.
      Mike: As if this movie wasn't horrible enough!
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: After Servo's "lullaby" wakes up the Space Children, Pearl threatens Mike and the bots with "a John Agar film festival".
  • Cowboy Cop: Spoofed; over a shot of Clone-Richard running through sterile white hallways: "He's a nurse's aide, who doesn't play by the rules!"
  • Credits Gag: As the credits roll, Mike and the 'bots do Biography riffs about the cast and crew, including Peter Graves himself.
    "Peter Graves, the underpaid, underrated, incredibly handsome host of Biography tonight on... Biography."
  • Creepy Child: The Evil Space Children who cause trouble for Pearl and the gang.
  • Downer Ending: Discussed when it becomes abundantly clear that's where this movie is going.
    Crow: Y'know, this doesn't look like it's headed towards a happy ending.
    Mike: Y'know, any ending would make me happier than I've ever been.
    Crow: That's true.
  • Even More Omnipotent: Despite Observer's powers, the Space Children easily overpower him and force him, Pearl, and Bobo to start punching themselves in their faces.
    Observer: It's true, Pearl! They have powers far greater than my own.
  • Excited Kids' Show Host:
    • Mike Nelson, in one of the skits, dons a sequined silver tank top and shorts, dances around, and babbles in Gratuitous Spanish. "Signal de cine!"
    • Earlier in the skit, Crow and Servo did this in a more traditional way. "Today we learned A and 3! Today we learned A and 3!"
  • Funny Background Event: In one of the host segments, Bobo is given a Groin Attack in the background.
  • Groin Attack: Bobo is on the receiving end of one in every host segment barring the first. "Tante Bobo needs to go see Uncle Reconstructive Urologist."
  • Humble Goal: As Richard is breaking into the Clonus records and going through the files there.
    Mike: "Just going to change my nutritional chart to include more pop!"
  • Informed Attractiveness: It's all subjective, but Mike, Crow and Servo seem to agree that Clone-Richard isn't an especially handsome fella.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: When Richard sees a beer can at the edge of a stream and makes his way towards it:
    Mike: (as if needing to use a toilet) I gotta get to the can...
    Tom: D'OH!!
  • Long List: When Mike tries to riff the credits, he has trouble reading all the listed names:
    Mike: And then, co-producer Michael Lee, and Carolyn Haber, and... (speaking faster) Michael Lee, and Paul Berkowitz and Joe Gianonne, and Robert Cummings, and Michael Laan—Lacoe, and some other guys and Harley (mispronounced "Harvey") Pence...
    Servo: Er, I-I'll take it, Mike.
  • Master of the Mixed Message: Mike, trying to take in Servo and Crow's suggestions as he tries to convince the Space Children not to send them the movie.
    Mike: Okay, uh... hi, kids. You know, we've always been there for you, working so hard to provide for your future, so don't you dare send us a movie, or it'll be the belt for you! ...What I mean is, we'll give you Beanie Babies and a hundred dollars and cake and stuff if you don't send us the movie. Unless you were planning to do the opposite of what we say, in which case, please send us the movie... unless you were planning to do the opposite of the opposite of what we say, in which case we'll take away your cake and your hundred dollars and WE'LL TEAR UP YOUR BEANIE BABIES...!, we love you?
  • Match Cut: During the ending of the movie, while Jeff Knight is having his post-election conference and voicing his thoughts on human rights, the camera cuts to the body bags of Clonus's harvested clones, with Mike lampshading the movie's subtle plot reveals making use of this trope...
    (A closeup of George, the clone from the beginning of the movie, who is now missing an eye.)
    Mike: (realizing) Ahhhhh...
    (cut to George Walker back at the press conference, with the camera focused on his eye patch)
    Mike: Get it?
  • Metaphorgotten: Pearl tries to give Darlene The Talk: "If he wants to dance, he's gonna have to pay the band. If he wants to paint the house, he's gonna have to buy the enamel. And the primer. And you still might want to consider aluminum siding."
    Space Child: Grandma Pearl, I don't know what you're talking about.
    Pearl: [pats her arm] I'm not sure I do, either, darling. [Beat] But if he wants to sod the lawn—
  • Mondegreen Gag:
    • After Richard and Lena first met and Clonus personnel separates them:
      Dr. Jameson: What's going on?
      Dr. Nelson: Two control clones met accidentally.
      Crow: Control plumbs?
    • When Jeff Knight's men captures Rick, and Richard calls out for his son:
      Richard: Richard!
      Mike: Rigid?
      Richard: Leave him alone! Richard!
      Crow: Ribbit? Frigid?
  • Perpetual Frowner: Clone-Richard. Lampshaded, as he is recaptured.
  • Promotion to Parent: The Mads get saddled with the Space Children and are forced to raise/babysit/live in terror of them in this episode.
  • Reality Warper: The Evil Space Children.
  • Rooting for the Empire: In-Universe, as Clone Richard is ambushed back at Clonus and kicked in the stomach.
    Crow: And they expect the audience to feel bad about this, I guess?
  • Rousing Lullaby: After a long day of supervising a trio of rowdy, omnipotent Space Children, Pearl Forrester has finally convinced the Space Kids to go to bed. Tom Servo offers to read a soothing poem to help them fall asleep—then to accompany his poem, he plays some loud oompah band music. Naturally, this wakes the Space Kids right up, which was Servo's goal in the first place.
  • Running Gag: Lots:
    • Every time characters in the film mention "America", Servo sings "ToDAY!" à la the Neil Diamond song "America".
    • Scooter the Space Child constantly hitting Bobo in the groin.
    • Gags about Lena's nose.
    • Bang "Ow." Bang "Ow!" Bang "Ow." Bang, ricocheting noises "Ow."
    • References to Peter Graves' role as the host of Biography.
    • References to Dick Sargent's role as the Other Darrin
      Crow: Dick Sargent... Didn't he play Dick York on Bewitched?
    • One scientist with a mustache is "Dr. Super Mario Brother."
    • "Parts: the X Horror"
    • A brief one: The guys are greatly amused by Clone-George's Mathematician's Answer ("I'm going to America!" "That's great, when?" "Later on!") and keep the joke going for a little while.
      Richard: [to Lena} Where do you live?
      Mike (as Lena): Later on.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sibling Rivalry: As the Knight brothers fight:
    Servo: "Boys, not in the house."
    Crow: Y'know, this is about a lot more than super-secret government clone projects.
    • Also referenced in regards to Peter Graves's real-life brother James Arness (of Gunsmoke fame).
      Servo: [as Peter Graves] "James Arness: Ugly and Stupid". Tonight on Biography.
  • Sliding Scale of Parent-Shaming in Fiction: The SOL crew's attempts at negotiating with the Space Children mock the flaws of three styles of parenting: passive-aggressive guilt-slinging to sensitivity/bribery to not even trying to understand the next generation, just hitting them where they seem to live.
    Mike: How about guilt and shame? They worked on me.
    Crow: No no no! Mike, kids are fragile, but they need structure. Be firm but fair. Then offer them money.
    Servo: Ahh, just tell them we'll take away their pagers and their big pants and I don't know what.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: To try to put the Space Children down for a bit, Servo composes a beautiful lullaby...set to a bombastic march.
  • Smoking Hot Sex:
Tom Servo: WOW, she really WAS on top of Ol' Smokey!
Crow: [as Smokey the Bear] Only you can prevent crotch fires.
  • Stop Hitting Yourself: One of the first things the Space Children do to retaliate against Pearl, Bobo, and Brain Guy is make them punch themselves in the face.
  • Story Arc: The coming of the Space Children. Pearl will spend the next episode dropping them off with their parents, leaving Bobo and Observer unattended until the end of the episode after that.
  • Stunned Silence: Mike's reaction to Crow's nosejob at the end of the movie.
  • Take That!:
    • In the film, when Clone Richard goes in the "Confessional" booth and asks it what the letters on the beer can he found — "M-I-L-W-A-U-K-E-E" — spell...
    Servo: (robotic voice) IT SPELLS TWO-NINETY-NINE A CASE.
    • And again, when Clone Richard is still researching the topic:
    Mike: This might the most interest anyone has ever shown in Milwaukee.
    • When the Knight brothers discuss Clonus:
    Jeff: You saw the tape?
    Original-Richard: Yeah, and it's scary.
    Crow: Adam Sandler's in it.
  • The Talk: The Evil Space Children ask The Question, treating us to a montage of the villains' attempts to explain the Facts of Life. Brain Guy's response is a surprisingly poetic exploration of love, before he dismisses the emotion as unnecessary; Pearl begins a rambling, bitter, Metaphorgotten story about her own failed relationships and purely transactional view of love; and Bobo's advice is... questionable, given it deals with ape-man mating rituals. "You're gonna get kicked in the face, that's always part of it... grab one leg and hold on tight!"
  • Talk Like a Pirate: Mike and the 'Bots start doing pirate impressions when the end of the movie reveals the face of George Walker, who happens to be wearing an eyepatch.
  • The Un-Favorite:
    • Mike and the Bots joke that Clone-Richard sees Original-Richard as his father and is this to him.
      "Can you wipe me, Clone Daddy?"
    • During the Biography gag during the end credits, they eventually turn James Arness into this. "Peter Graves' mother could be heard to say that she loved her son Peter Graves very much; however, she loathed James Arness and cursed the day that her womb had been blighted with such a creature!"
  • What Cliffhanger: In the MST3K version of the movie, Jeff Knight is having his brother enthused for refusing to tell the current whereabouts of Richard's clone and the tape on the Clonus complex when he and his men are interrupted by someone arriving off camera (Mike: "Oh, shoot, Mom's home!"), and the show cuts to commercial, returning afterwards with Rick entering the house (Servo: "Sure!") and getting assaulted by Jeff's men.

Rick: Sure.