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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S08 E20: Space Mutiny

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Sounds like someone owns himself a DX7 keyboard, huh?

Film watched: Space Mutiny

"I have never seen the show. What people do not seem to understand is that the movie was meant to be a spoof on sci-fi films."
Cisse Cameron, aka Lea

This movie landed almost perfectly in that sweet spot for MSTing material: flawed enough to provide hours of enjoyable riffing, but not a completely unwatchable trainwreck, resulting in one of the most popular episodes. In fact, the Onion AV Club selected this episode for their "Gateways to Geekery" feature as an ideal entry point for newcomers. Mike Nelson and the 'bots had a great time pointing out some cast members' resemblance to certain celebrities, as well as the obvious fact that the actress playing Lea is much older than her character is meant to be (they refer to her as Jansen's "Grandma-daughter").

The copious number of Railing Kills nearly becomes a Drinking Game (and inspires Tom to fill the 'Satellite of Love' with pits and railings), and they also make up numerous fake bodybuilder names for the muscular hero Dave Ryder including Slab Bulkhead, Fridge Largemeat, Bolt van der Huge, Big McLargeHuge, Blast Hardcheese, Smoke Manmuscle, Punch Rockgroin, Roll Fizzlebeef, and Bob Johnson. Kalgan's frequent maniacal laughter is also a source of entertainment, as is the beefy protagonist's oddly screechy battle shouts. Kalgan's red-armored bodyguard ("Lobster Boy") and the death and miraculous "resurrection" of Lt. Lemont round out the riff targets. The only thing Mike and the Bots don't lampshade is the fact that every single "space" shot in the film is simply a clip from Battlestar Galactica, evidently because they didn't know this was the case at the time of filming. They were also unaware that the film was made in South Africa during The Apartheid Era; at one point, Servo jokes that it looks like a Canadian production.

Space Mutiny was released as part of Vol. 4 of the DVD collections by Rhino Entertainment, and was re-released by its successor, Shout! Factory. It is also available through Shout! Factory TV here.

The episode is available in the Gizmoplex here.

The Segments:

  • Crow and Servo complain about outdated encyclopedias that Mike gave to them.

Segment 1

  • Mike gets the two bots new encyclopedias, they still complain though. Pearl, with Bobo and Brain Guy, are still in Roman prison. She asks Mike to help them escape; in exchange, today's movie would be the last one shown to the SOL. She then asks Brain Guy to bring Mike down, but gets mixed results.

Segment 2

  • The Bots engage in a dogfight outside the SOL while Mike tries to relax with tea and music.

Segment 3

  • Crow announces to Mike that he is a Ballerian, because he is. Meanwhile, at the Roman prison, Bobo tells Pearl he has the key to the locks. Problem is, it's inside him.

Segment 4

  • Influenced by the movie, Servo install railings on the SOL. This inconveniences Crow and Mike.

Segment 5

  • The Bots shows their muscles to Mike: Crow has a tiny bicep, while Servo bulks up into bodybuilder shape after doing just one leg press. At the Roman prison, the three escape with the help of Brain Guy's brain, and Mike attempting to hit on Flavia. Bobo steals a cheese wheel, but knocks over an adjacent candle.

The Mystery Science Theater 3000 presentation has examples of:

  • Adaptational Wimp: An unintentional example: most of the scene where the Southern Sun and Space Pirates fight was edited out for time. As such, it seems like all that happens is the pirates attack, then the Southern Sun shoots a few missiles and they are all destroyed. In the original cut, they fight for a couple minutes or so before winning.
  • Analogy Backfire: When Dave chews out Lea and wishes her father could control her as well as he does this ship:
    Crow: You mean have a mutiny on me?
  • And This Is for...: After Kalgan attacks Lea during the climax:
    Servo: (as Kalgan) That's for not knowing anything about ancient dentistry!
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The Romans have taken away Observer's brain, and they're tormenting Bobo by withholding plates of yummy mutton. Meanwhile, Pearl broke a nail.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Parodied: "Slab Squatthrust!" "Reef Blastbody!" "Big McLargehuge!" The defining Running Gag of the episode, and also a bit of a Call-Back to Twelve to the Moon, where they gave similar nicknames to that movie's hero, although here it's taken to the next level. This running gag proved so popular that when Mike, Kevin and Bill re-riffed this movie under RiffTrax, they continued it there.
    Crow: Slate Fistcrunch!
    Mike: Buff Hardback!
    Servo: Bob Johnson! Oh, wait...
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: "That scene really makes me think... about how much better a root canal would be than this movie!"
    • Later on, after Kalgan's defeat results in a fiery explosion, Mike remarks, "Wish we had some marshmallows, you know... then we could stuff them in our eyes and ears and never have to see or hear this stupid movie!"
  • Bait-and-Switch Comparison: During an Enforcers chase scene:
    Mike: Hey, you know, a lot of people have compared this scene to the climactic chariot scene from Ben-Hur.
    Servo: Oh, really?
    Mike: Yeah, they usually say, "Ben-Hur was really good. This movie totally sucked."
  • Brain Bleach:
    • Lea's seduction of pudgy, balding middle-aged guard Joseph, culminating in Mike and the bots screaming when he takes off his pants.
      Crow: This is supposed to be an ipecac, right?
    • Her 'sexy' dancing during the club scene can also count.
      Servo: Ugh! She's presenting like a mandrill!
      Mike: I'd rather get a table-dance from Trent Lott.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs:
    David: Listen, lady!
    Lea: Doctor!
    David: —Doctor!
    Crow: [as David] Doctor-lady!
  • Brick Joke: Sherri's birthday party.
    • The payoff of the joke is seeing a woman sitting on a stool, apparently completely nude because of the camera angle and her hair obscuring most of her outfit.
      Servo: Alright, Sherri's birthday party! Finally!
      Mike: She's nude!!
      Crow: Totally nude.
    • In the opening credits, Mike comments on the editors of the film, saying that it had been "Passed from editor and editor in a desperate attempt to save it." Evidently they had failed, as a character killed in a scene is found alive, literally in the next scene of the movie, albeit in the background. Servo doesn't hesitate to point this out.
  • Call-Back:
  • Canada, Eh?: Servo (incorrectly) attributes the film's pseudo-American-ness to this. As mentioned on the film's non-recap page, it was actually made in South Africa (though in his defence, the country is never mentioned in the credits).
    Tom: Well, one thing this movie does well is tossing Canadians around!
    Mike: ...Canadians?
    Tom: Oh, come on, Mike! This movie's ripe with the stench of back bacon!
  • Cannot Talk to Women: Mike tries a pickup line on Flavia to distract her but ends up an unintelligible mess. Added humor by the fact Flavia is played by Mike's real-life wife.
  • Celebrity Resemblance
    Crow: Sting, Debbie Reynolds, and God.
    Crow: Phil Collins and Morgan Fairchild, no!
    Mike: Oh no! The death of Rick Springfield!
  • Comically Missing the Point: Mike points out they could have used the escape rockets to... escape.
    Servo: What's he on about... oh! You mean... to escape from here!
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: When the mutineers assault a dissenter just before killing him, Crow says "Rip his band uniform. Then he'll have to pay for it!". Servo then snarks, "Then they'll give him books so they can dump them."
  • Credits Gag: After Bobo knocks over the candle, the sound of roaring flames can be heard over the credits.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Bobo is tortured by having a delicious looking roast mutton waved in front of his face, just out of reach.
  • Dissimile: This exchange during one of the Enforcer chases:
    Mike: You know, a lot of people have compared this scene to the climactic chariot scene in Ben-Hur.
    Crow: Yeah?
    Mike: Yeah, they say, "Ben-Hur was really good. This movie totally sucks!"
  • The '80s: During the end credits, Mike and the bots mock the generic Hair Metal-style soundtrack. Then the bots point out how Mike grew up during the Eighties, and accuse him of being responsible for the movie.
    Crow: Mike, this is your music done by your people, so I blame you for this entire movie.
    • Doubles as Hypocritical Humor since the film came out in 1988: The same year MST3K did, so the Bots really don't have any place to talk (not that logic is in play to begin, since they also hold Mike responsible for ending the 1970's).
  • Extreme Omnivore: Bobo's plan for escape is to cough up a key he swallowed and open their locks. Pearl assumes he lifted a key off a guard, but Bobo says that he's swallowed so many things over the years that a key is bound to be in there somewhere. He proceeds to cough up a number of non-food items.
    (after Bobo has coughed up a hairpin)
    Observer: (panicked) He swallowed a woman! HE SWALLOWED A WOMAN!!
    Bobo: I did not, Brain Guy. I swallowed a wig.
  • Eye Awaken: The former Trope Namer ("And His Eyes Open"). Lampshaded when the camera lingers on a seemingly-dead Kalgan for a little too long before he opens his eyes.
    Servo: And, his eyes open.
    Crow: An-n-n-nd his eyes open.
    Mike: His eyes open.
    Servo: Eyes open.
    Crow: Eyes open.
    Mike: His EYES open.
    Crow: Come ON!
    (Kalgan's eyes open)
    Servo: (as Kalgan) ...I'm sitting in something wet.
  • Funny Background Event: Watch Observer in the background having his hands argue with each other.
  • Groin Attack: Ryder punches a mook in the junk and then shoots him there with a laser pistol, prompting Mike to riff "Ow! Why do you hate my groin so much?!"
  • Historical In-Joke: Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds manages to let Bobo start a fire in Ancient Rome while trying to free Pearl. (Emperor Nero was holding a violin recital shortly beforehand.)
  • Historical Longevity Joke: In the opening, Mike whips out his encyclopedia set from high school so Crow and Tom Servo can research ancient Rome. But the bots instead complain that the encyclopedia is out-of-date:
    Mike: Oh, come on, they're not that old. They're fine.
    Servo: Oh yeah? It mentions the lightbulb as a "charming theory."
    Crow: Yeah! And Congress is spelled with an "f." What is it, Congreff?
    Mike: Well, I used them when I was a kid. They seemed fine then.
    Crow: The periodic table has three elements in it, Mike!
    Servo: There's a volume for the letter epsilon.
    Crow: There's a mailing address for Macchu Pichu.
    Servo: It's got a picture of Stonehenge!
    Mike: So?
    Servo: Under construction?!
  • Hope Spot: After realizing they screwed up with the escape pods, Tom points out that there's still one last pod. Crow dashes it when he reveals Gypsy has it... and she's Coming in Hot.
  • Hurricane of Puns: When one of the Ballerians approaches Alex Jansen, we get a bunch of Santa jokes in a row:
    Servo: Ho-ho, ho.
    Mike: Finally, Christmas comes to Santa!
    Crow: Er, Mrs. Kringle and I have an understanding.
    Servo: Er, it's basically over between us...
    Mike: Want to see me shake like a bowl full of jelly?
    Crow: (aroused) Ho-ho-ho, ho, ho-o-o...
    Servo: Someone DID leave a cookie out for me!
    Mike: I am a right jolly old elf!
    Crow: Let me just check you twice, here...
  • I Have Many Names: With the exception of Bob Johnson, most of these names follow a very strict formula. Supercut here.
  • I "Uh" You, Too: One host segment has Crow and Servo engage in a dogfight outside the ship, which they decide to end with a mutual high speed suicide landing:
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Relentlessly mocked.
    Crow: Here's a little free advice for the mutineers: JUST STOP AND AIM, YOU IDIOTS!
    Servo: Why is he so impossible to hit? How can they keep missing this slow, giant white thing?
    Mike: Y'know, they shouldn't have set their phasers to "Miss".
  • Lightning Bruiser: Conceptually expressed by such names as Bolt Vanderhuge and Thick McRunfast.
  • Literal Genie: What Observer's become in the second host segement because the guards took his brain away, foiling Pearl's plans for him to teleport Mike down to help them escape. She tells him to bring Mike down note , send Mike down note , and bring Mike down here note .
  • Literal Metaphor: During the final battle:
    Crow: Wow! I am on the edge of my seat! *beat* I should probably scoot back a little; I'd be more comfortable.
    Mike: Yeah, you've got a lot more room back there.
  • Long List: The many nicknames for David Ryder.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Servo and Crow invoke this because, well, they're robots.
    Crow: (on the radio) Oooo! Ahhh! Ee! Ow! Servo, you just ripped a hole in my torso! Wheee!
    Servo: (on the radio) Ohhh! Ahhh! Too late for me, hee hee! I just took a laser blast to the dome! Wahoo! Haha!
  • Memetic Mutation: Invoked with the many names of David Ryder. Remix available here.
  • Metaphorgotten: During Crow and Servo's dogfight:
    Crow: Eat death, Servo!
    Servo: Eat munchy, crunchy, chocolaty cocoa death, Crow!
    Crow: Enjoy a nice serving of brown betty with... death... but mostly eat death!
  • Mundane Made Awesome: When the film tries to pass off a chase using slow moving motorized carts as something akin to the speeder chase from Return of the Jedi, the crew make fun of it.
    Crow: Put your helmet on, we'll be reaching speeds of 3!
  • No OSHA Compliance: Parodied. Tom puts up a bunch of railings on the bridge specifically to avert this, but he puts up so many that it's counterproductive. He then also decides that it's pointless to have so many railings without having things for the railings to protect people from, so he has some traps installed too, including a deep moat that Mike falls into, and a spinning spike rail that takes out Crow.
  • Nostalgia Filter: The '70s were better than The '80s.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: We get to see a brief shot of Crow and Servo in their ships at the beginning of the dogfight and another as they're about to crash-land, but none of the bombastic fighting overheard for the bulk of the segment.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: When the Southern Sun crew lead the Bellarians to their quarters.
    Mike: So we've got some Benedictine monks in the floorboards, unfortunately. We have set some traps with fresh bread and brandy, though.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Again, during the dogfight:
    Crow: Ow! Servo, you just blew a hole through my torso! WHEEEE!
    Servo: Too late for me! Looks like I just took a laser shot to the dome! WAHOOO!
  • Overly-Long Gag: The aforementioned many names of David Ryder.
  • Running Gag:
    • The various nicknames for David Ryder, as Mike and the Bots occasionally just shout out random dumb, action-y names for the doofus-y hero.
    • Trope Namer for Railing Kill, for good reason.
    • The crew get a lot of mileage from Kalgan sounding like Calgon, the detergent/water softener.
    • Kalgan's face is tight: "C'mon skull, pop out of my head!"
    • Lea is old. When this movie was featured on RiffTrax years later, they make a point of not mentioning her appearance or age beyond a single joke specifically about how they're not mentioning her appearance or age.
    • Commander Jansen is Santa Claus.
    • Doing a Bride of Frankenstein-style hiss whenever Flight Lt. Lemont appears.
    • David hits the gym: "Aw, man, there's a sale on Power Bars!"
      • "When do I lift some weights?"
      • "Can I get a spot?"
    • Sherri's birthday card, and, eventually, Sherri's birthday party.
    • Kalgan's surprisingly jubilant attitude and enthusiasm for ancient dentistry.
    • Comments on the Bellerians' incredibly skinny supermodel bodies.
    • Capt. Devers is either Sting or the Energizer battery pitchman, Jacko.
    • Lt. Lemont's apparent gender-bending & resurrection powers.
      Crow: [as Devers] I think it's very nice of you to give that dead woman another chance.
    • David's warrior yell: "RAAAAAAAAAAGH!!" [Stops to carefully climb out of the 3-mph go-cart.]
    • "Oh, we're going to [X], I must saay!" Referencing Martin Short's SCTV & Saturday Night Live character Ed Grimley, who had hair similar to the guy in question.
    • How huge the ship's engine room/basement is.
      Tom Servo: Does this basement make the spaceship kind of bottom-heavy?
    • Pink-skinned Lobster Boy.
    • "C'mon, move! Move! Move! Move! Move..."
  • Santa Claus: The commander has a big white beard. Wearing a big sparkly festive winter muumuu only adds to the Christmassy image.
    Commander Jansen: [annoyed, glaring at his daughter Lea] Lea...
    Tom: You're getting a lump of coaaaaaaaal...
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: In response to one of Ryder's screams, Mike riffs in falsetto, "He stole my purse!"
  • Series Continuity Error: Big-haired Bridge Bunny Flight Lt. Lemont knows too much, so Kalgan kills her. In the cut of the movie the show uses, about a minute later, she's back at her console like nothing happened.
    Mike: [starts to do another hiss, then abruptly stops] Hey, she's dead!
    Servo: [sputtering] Wait a minute!
    Mike: She died!
    Servo: [in disbelief] Wow!
    Crow: "I think it's very nice of you to give that dead woman another chance."
  • Shout-Out:
  • Soft Water: Subtly done. In a parody of how many railing kills are in this movie, Servo installs railings all over the ship. The sketch ends with Mike tripping over one and falling into a pit. He lets out a good scream on the way down, before we hear him hit water at the end of the fall. He's presumably unharmed.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The booming main theme plays as MacPhearson walks over to Kalgan.
    Servo: Does his entrance really warrant the "dun-dudda-dun-dun-dun"?
    Crow: Nope.
    • "Music that means-means-means nothing at all-all-all ba ba ba boom-boom-boom..."
  • Spell My Name With An S: The protagonist is known and credited as Dave Ryder, but in-universe his ID checks out as "David Rider".
  • Stealth Pun:
    • One of the names in the opening credits is "Vincent G. Cox".
      Crow: His nickname is "Tiny".
    • A Bellarian seductively comes up to Jansen:
      Servo: Ho ho, ho.
  • Stomach of Holding: While Pearl, Brain Guy, and Bobo are in the Roman prison, Bobo tries to regurgitate a key so they can escape. Pearl is initially pleased with his ingenuity, thinking he has stolen a guard's key and swallowed it, until Bobo admits that he's swallowed so many things over the years, there's bound to be a key in there somewhere, and proceeds to cough up a variety of random items, much to Pearl's disgust.
    Pearl: Ugh. Do I want to get free that badly?
  • Story Arc: The end of the Roman times arc, though the SOL will continue to Time Travel through the next episode.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: During the credits, Crow and Servo give one to Mike and The '80s in general.
    Crow: You and your eighties!
    Servo: Your precious eighties!
    Crow: You know, it wouldda continued to be The '70s if not for you!
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Invoked:
    Devers: Sir, we both know there's only one man here who's capable of combat. A man who's had the training, physically and mentally.
    Commander Jansen: [reluctantly agreeing] All right...
    Crow: (as Jansen) Fetch me my warrior muumuu!
  • This Is Gonna Suck: When Ryder runs from his crashed spacecraft repeatedly shouting "It's gonna blow!", Tom chimes in "If the first ten minutes are any indication, this movie's gonna blow!"
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Observer isn't exactly a genius when he's separated from his brain.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The guard who gives Observer his brain back. Thanks to him, Pearl, Bobo and Observer escape and Bobo accidentally knocks over a candle that results in Rome burning.
  • Voice Clip Song: "We Put Our Faith In Blast Hardcheese"
  • What Happened to Mike Down?
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Mike's reaction to MacPherson's gruesome demise: "And our brave hero roasts the disabled man!"
  • While Rome Burns: Quite literally, as Callipygeas does his violin recital while Rome is burning thanks to Bobo.
  • Who's on First?: Pearl demanding Observer "bring Mike down" leads to a Hurricane of Puns, thanks to Observer's brain being taken away.
    • Mike gets a pillow case full of goose down. (In this case the order was to "send" Mike down.)
    • Mike gets insulted (thus, 'brought down').
      Pearl: I want you to bring Mike Down right here!
      Observer: Dahhh, okay Nice Lady.
    • A rather befuddled CPA named Mike Down is teleported from his modern-era 401K meeting to the Mad's Roman-era dungeon. Pearl bonks Brain Guy harmlessly on the head with a guard's sword for the trouble... Brain Guy did manage to send the movie with no problem, though.
  • Worth It: Crow and Servo destroy the Satellite of Love's escape pods after the film inspires them to have a space battle; when Mike chews them out, this trope is their response.
  • You Know I'm Black, Right?: Parodied with newly-dead Lt. Lemont and the white-haired second-in-command catching himself in midsentence.
    Mike: [as Devers] Okay, look alive, everyb— oohh, sorry, Susan.
    Crow: [snickering under his breath, still in disbelief] She's dead!
  • Younger Than They Look:
    • Lea in general, thanks to the poor makeup job done on the actress.
      Servo: (as Kalgan) "We have your mother!"
      Mike: (on Lea's dancing) Don't you just hate it when the chaperones try to dance with the kids?
      Crow: (on Lea's dancing) Whoa mama! ...Or grandmama.
    • And one riff on the ship's second-in-command Devers, who either has white or very light blond hair but still doesn't look older than Lea:
      Jansen: Can you remember when you were that young?
      Servo: (as Devers) ...I am that young.