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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S 08 E 14 Riding With Death

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...and believe me, Death does not pony up for gas.

"That Abby. She's some gal!"
Sam Casey

"I'm sending you the worst movie I know: it's called Riding with Death and it sucks on toast!"
Mrs. Forrester

Film watched: Riding With Death, a TV movie compiled from two episodes of the television series Gemini Man.

The Segments

  • Mike regressed back to his days as a teppanyaki chief, leading him cutting like crazy. He soon chops Crow's hand off.

Segment 1

  • Mike and the Bots get a call from Pearl, who is on the front lines with Bobo fighting off enemy robots. Brain Guy is also there, but as a nurse for the two. Mike supports the battle with a baking soda rocket, causing the planet to explode. As punishment, Pearl sends out today's experiment.

Segment 2

  • Servo performs Funky 70s song about Mt. Vesuvius and Emperor Titus. After clarification from Mike and Crow, Servo performs a song about the 50s, back when Emperor Claudius died and the apostles were there.

Segment 3

  • Servo announces that he become a trucker, waxing poetic about the open road, while Mike voices his disgust about Servo's new legs and butt. He continues being a trucker in the theater.

Segment 4

  • Crow emerges as the newest superhero on the block, Turkey Volume Guessing Man, who estimates the volume of objects in turkeys. Mike then tries his hand in turkey volume guessing, leading to Crow breaking down over his identity, but he recovers quickly.

Segment 5

  • Mike and the Bots halfheartedly roleplay as the cast of Riding with Death, complete with a cardboard Abby: "Give it the old college try, Sam!" Back on the Widowmaker, Pearl gets awarded for her war victories.


The Mystery Science Theater 3000 presentation of Riding With Death featured:

  • AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle: Lampshaded.
    Dr. Hale: This can't beeEE! You're DEAD!
    Mike: No, Iii'm nooOT!
    Crow: It can't beEE! You're inviiisiIBLE!
  • Always Someone Better: Mike turns out to be this towards Crow when it comes to the field of guessing how many turkeys it would take to fill a given space.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Observer, again. This time, he's dressed as a female nurse, while calling himself a Red Cross medic. (Of course, no field medic has ever been in a nurse's dress.)
    Pearl: Brain Guy, what the hell is your deal?
    Observer: My race is pacifist and does not believe in war. We only kill out of personal spite.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Pearl sends Mike "Riding with Death" as punishment for seemingly harming Bobo with his baking-soda bomb.
    Pearl: Aw, Nelson, look what you've done. This poor, noble ape is gonna croak and it's all your fault! I'm sending you the worst movie I know. It's called Riding with Death and it sucks on toast!
    • I'll Kill You!: Observer changes his mind when he finds out Bobo just has hunger pains and attempts strangling Bobo.
  • Billions of Buttons: The control panel for the fighter jet.
    Servo: All this and no tape deck?
  • Bluff the Imposter: Lampshaded.
    Mike: (as Hale) Sam, I'm blown to several thousand bits, but I've gotta finish these patent papers!
  • Call-Back:
    • At one point Mike mocks Abby's screams of "SaaaaAAAAM!" by saying "VaaaaAAAAAAANCE!" like Dr. Langer in The Giant Spider Invasion — a movie they'd seen just four episodes previous.
      • Near the end of the third act, just before Denby is arrested, Servo notes "Hey look, a couple of VaaaaAAAAAAANS!"
    • On a related note, Servo even gets in a "JeeeeeEEEEEEEEEeeeeed!" (the Running Gag from The Leech Woman). Crow groans, "Oh, here we go!"
    • During the host segments, Observer claims to be a pacifist during The Siege on the "Camping Planet" — well, a Technical Pacifist: "We only kill out of personal spite." At the end, when Bobo gets distracted and starts singing Asia's "Only Time Will Tell" after playing the solo for Pearl's award ceremony, Brain Guy wordlessly points a pistol at Bobo until he stops.
  • Cardboard Pal: Mike and company have one in the form of Abby in the final segment.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Invoked. Due to Alan Oppenheimer's slight resemblance to Gavin MacLeod at the time, which, being the '70s and all, prompts quite a few Mary Tyler Moore Show jokes.
  • Compilation Movie: Repeatedly mocked. During the end credits, the crew sarcastically voice "Up Next!" network bumpers by accident, then correct themselves, insisting that is is a real released-in-theaters movie.
    Mike:By Mennen!
    • Also:
      Mike: Riding With Death will be right back... (Commercial Break Cliffhanger Fade to Black... then immediately Fade From Black) ...and we're back.
    • Also:
      Servo: Next up: Karen Valentine guest stars on Hec Ramsey- I mean, when you get home from the theater tonight after this fine movie, heh.
    • Also:
      Mike: Okay, switch over to Name of the Game. Oh, wait...
  • Corpsing: Mike can't help but crack up at all the bad dialogue inserts, particularly when Crow makes fun of Ben Murphy's voice-over.
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: Spoofedinvoked; due to the "movie's" name, the guys start referring to the Tripolodine as "Death".
    Crow: (after Abby rigs together a makeshift hammock to keep the Tripolodine from bouncing around too much in the box) Why'd she put Death in a Jolly Jumper?
  • Crazy Enough to Work: During the credits, Crow seems to consider the idea that the movie had an "Executive Story Consultant" unbelievable.
    Crow: An executive story consultant?!
    Servo: (as the consultant) Yes. I advise that you cast the most annoying cracker you can find and slam together two incomprehensible stories!
  • Double Entendre: Mike and the Bots' commentary during the sequence when Buffalo Bill's truck is used to slow down Casey's out-of-control vehicle:
    Sam: Alrighty, I'm coming up on your mudflaps at 67.
    Crow: "Coming up on your mudflaps." People have such cute names for sex.
    Mike: Ma' well-oiled chassis is comin' up on yer backside, now.
    Servo: My rigid grill structure is bearin' down on yer unprotected cargo door.
    Crow: My oft-complimented Peterbilt is rhythmically nudging that sweet honey pot of yours?
    Mike and Servo: Crow!
    Mike: Drained and satisfied, I'm tracin' lazy circles on yer' supercab now.
    Crow: You said I was bad...
    Mike: You inspired me.
    • Then:
    Servo: Now they have to get married.
  • Form-Fitting Wardrobe: The crew have fun with the WTH, Costuming Department?.
    • On Abby:
    Crow: Operation Cameltoe!
    • On Sam:
    Crow: The rare male cameltoe!note 
  • Gasshole: Pearl and Observer thinks the enemy has unleashed mustard gas on them, but Bobo says he'd just eaten a jar of Plochman's with his knish for lunch.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    Servo: (as Buffalo Bill) Heh, that's my unclean hand!
  • Hayseed Name: When he sees that H.G. Wells got an Original Story credit, Servo says that's not the H. G. Wells, but Hud Gomer Wells
  • Homage: Crow shaking Mike and demanding, "What did you do with that planet, you silly stupid old man?! Someone's going to jail and it's not gonna be me!" was the crew's homage to Jimmy Stewart, who died during the shooting of the episode in 1997.
  • Ho Yay: In-universe, the crew sees something more than just a blossoming bromance between Sam and Buffalo.
    Bill: Sam...
    Crow: (as Bill) Let's move in together.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: Subverted. Bobo ("I'll save you, Lawgiver!") throws Observer onto a live grenade, where it explodes underneath him.
  • Literal-Minded: When asked to sing a song about The '70s, Tom Servo sings a '70s-style disco song about the events of 70-79 AD. He later tries to sing about The '50s... as in a nostalgic "do you remember" song about the events of 50-59 AD.
  • Looping Lines: Called out in-universe. The crew all snicker at the extremely forced, underwritten ADR used to awkwardly shoehorn the two TV episodes together. Made especially obvious by the fact that this is done by looping in the lines while the characters are offscreen, and all the more blatant with Abby, who obviously isn't even in the second episode... that is to say, second half of the movie. "I said that and then clammed up instantly!"
    Driscoll: [offscreen] If you don't show yourself, I'll put you back on the Denby case!
  • Made of Explodium: Lampshaded. The Tripolodine is supposed to be this, but Special Effects Failureinvoked mean it's less than threatening:
    Abby: I don't know how long it takes, but just a couple of drops on a tissue nearly blew this whole room apart!
    Mike: Well, it knocked over a chair.
  • Martial Pacifist: The Observer discloses that his race doesn't believe in war and that they only kill out of "personal spite."
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: The Trope Namer rides again. "What's that, three for you now?" Pearl actually calls him "Destroyer of Worlds" in reference to Oppenheimer/the Bhagavad-Gita.
  • Mondegreen: In-universe: during the climax of the second "half", Jim Stafford says something that the MST crew hears as "New England journalists", which prompts a lively debate over the merits of journalists from all over our fine country.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The baking soda bomb probably wouldn't have been as disastrous had Mike not packed too much baking soda into it (not helped by him suddenly remembering a similar bomb that cost him a job in the past due to someone ratting on him, causing him to grab a giant box of the stuff).
  • Not So Dire: Bobo is groaning apparently in pain in the Widowmaker after Mike blows up the planet they were on, with Pearl thinking he's going to die. But it turns out he's just hungry for a knish. Observer starts strangling him.
  • Overly Long Gag: Driscoll spends several minutes cleaning his glasses, which are filled entirely with over the top squeaking sounds and the occasional "Still dirty!" Achieves Brick Joke status when after speaking to him over a CB radio, Mike has Ben ponder that Driscoll sounds like his glasses are dirty over the radio.
  • Periphery Demographic: Invoked during the movie's end credits:
    Mike: Y'know, for some reason, this movie was a hit with elderly black women and Hispanic lesbians.
  • Potty Failure:
    Crow: (as Buffalo Bill) "I pooped my drawers, I'm so excited!"
  • Product Placement: Arm & Hammer is all over the segment with the baking soda bomb.
  • Punctuated Pounding: "MELL! OW! OUT!"
  • Remember the New Guy?: In the second half, the doctor who shows up to tell Driscoll he's wrong about Denby.
    Crow: And you are...?
    Crow: I hate being badgered by pharmacists!
  • Running Gag:
    • Turkey jokes for Jive Turkey Sam Casey.
    • "Leave Robert Denby alone!" This one was actually carried over into other episodes whose featured movies starred William Sylvester (Gorgo and Devil Doll, in case you were wondering).
      • The doubting doctor trying to get the Properly Paranoid Driscoll to lay off of Robert Denby, and sounding like he's about to burst into tears when Driscoll doesn't.
    • The elusive Robert Denby.
      • "You're so elusive!"
      • "I seek Robert Denby. I need to know why I was considered as elusive as him."
    • Dr. Hale's hilariously inept attempts to convince Sam that he's still in the cargo compartment but doesn't want to be disturbed.
      Servo: Don't come back here, I'm doing, eh heh, naked burpees!
      Mike: (when the truck explodes) Sam, I'm blown to several thousand bits, but I've gotta finish these patent papers!
    • Driscoll's filthy, filthy glasses, which the character spends several minutes continuously scrubbing while talking to Sam over the radio. "Man, I can practically hear the filth on his glasses!"
    • The '70s references come fast and furious, especially Sam's being "mellow".
      "Her codename: Muskrat Suzie!"
      "What would Toni Tennille do?"
    • Alan Oppenheimer's resemblance to Gavin MacLeod leads to a few Mary Tyler Moore references when Hale is onscreen.
      Mike (as Sue Ann Nivens, when Hale shoots at Sam): Oh, Murray... dear, sweet, homicidal Murray.
    • Referring to Cupcake by other pastry names. "Profiterole has a black heart."
      Crow: Bear Claw, no!
      Mike: Cupcake, get Twinkie the Kid and Fruit Pie the Magician!
      Crow: The day is yours Cupcake, we shall meet again!... You will rule the world, Emperor Cupcake!
    • The idea that Sam is only accidentally turning invisible while checking his watch.
      Crow (as Sam): It's quarter to three now— (Sam turns invisible) D'oh!
    • Several times Abby whimpers "Sam" and Tom says, "You made the pants too long." (It's a reference to an early Barbra Streisand novelty song.)
    • Buffalo Bill being a racist hick. One riff has him as a member of a posse comitatus.
      Crow: See, crackers and hicks can get along.
    • Abby's Stock Footage appearance in the second half makes the crew constantly wonder where the hell she's supposed to be.
      Crow: Mike? Did the ozone layer finally give out...?!
      • The fact that it's only a second or two of footage being run backwards and forwards gives her a weird, dazed appearance as well:
        Mike: (as Abby) IiI've beEn drRugGed...!
  • Shown Their Work: Tom Servo's songs on "The '70s" and "The '50s" recount the actual events of AD 50-79, including namechecking Saint Paul and the Emperor Titus, as well the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: "I'm Ben Murphy."
  • Squick: Invoked. Mike and the Bots express their displeasure when Sam and Buffalo Bill first meet.
    Sam: You know I'm right on your back door, buddy.
    Crow: Ewwww.
    Bill: Well, you can keep the Black Barts off my mudflaps.
    All: (disgusted noises)
  • Someone Else's Problem: Mike's initial response to Mrs. Forrester and Bobo fighting in a WWII-esque battle scene is an unenthusiastic "...and?"
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    Sam: How you ridin' back there, Doctor?
    Mike: (as Hale) I'm not in a helicopter!
  • Talkative Loon: Mike and the Bots' impressions of Buffalo Bill, turning his super-enthusiastic Good Ol' Boy talk into gibberish.
  • They Called Me Mad!: Pearl called the Satellite of Love to send a distraction against a robot army, so Mike prepares a baking soda bomb. But when he remembers how he was persecuted in his youth over similar pranks, he starts muttering bitterly about it, and ends up way overfilling the bomb, leading to the planet itself being destroyed.
  • This Is a Work of Fiction: Servo seems to consider it a blessing when the disclaimer pops up in the credits.
    Mike: All characters depicted are...really stupid and disgusting.
    Servo: Any similarities to actual persons would be really sad.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The moment Buffalo Bill is introduced singing comically badly, without Jim Stafford even in frame yet, Mike and Crow give little muted reactions of disappointment.
    Crow: Oh, my —
    Mike: Ohhh. No.
  • Toilet Humor: Turns out it's not mustard gas - just Bobo after eating a whole jar of mustard.
  • Un-Entendre: While watching a mechanical readout click upward. 67... 68...
    Tom: Hey, my favorite number!
    Mike: ...70?
    Tom: Yeah, I love 70.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Inspired by a multitude of references to turkeys in the film (okay, one or two), Crow takes up the mantle of Turkey Volume Guessing Man! ...who is able to instinctively calculate how many turkeys could fit in a given space, i.e. express something's volume in units of turkey. Sadly this power isn't useful at all, but finds it's a great way to wallow in being a '90s Anti-Hero with a Traumatic Superpower Awakening, which attracts babes. He's very disappointed to learn that Mike can do it too... until he latches onto the idea of Super Team of turkey guessers.
    Crow: Up, up, and whoooosh!
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Crow gets pissed after Mike Nelson blows up his third planet.
  • With Lyrics: Mike and the bots sing some of the credits names to the instrumental tune heard in the end credits.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The plot of the first half of the movie is how Sam has to get a truck from Torrance to Long Beach, a trip that normally takes roughly 20 minutes in real life.
    Mike: So they have thirteen hours to drive from Torrance to Long Beach?


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