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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S 10 E 04 Future War

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Film watched: Future War

"There's a moment in this movie which is kind of heartbreaking. There's a brief scene where a television news reporter is doing a live remote stand- up. His cameraman is using a pretend card-board camera; its a taped-up box with a lens apparatus taped to it. That made us sad."
Mary Jo Pehl, The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide

Interesting note of trivia: while Future War was produced and completed in 1994, it never saw a video release til 1999, the same year as the MST3K episode airing, technically making it the most recent experiment of the show's original run from a release date standpoint, beating out even Werewolf. The all-time record was broken by 2013's Atlantic Rim in the revival series.


The episode is available on Shout! Factory TV here.

The Segments:

  • Crow has created a computer program that can determine how many times a lady someone is, based on Lionel Richie's song. Apparently, Mike is eight times a lady.

Segment 1

  • Pearl's new assignment from the Institute of Mad Science is to study the effects of hallucinogenic drugs on the crew. Bobo and Brain Guy provide fitting psychedelic theme music as the crew freaks out in their own ways.

Segment 2

  • Servo has built himself new legs and wants to demonstrate his kickboxing skills. Gypsy obliges him.

Segment 3

  • The crew realizes that in spite of all the torment they endure, Pearl has never once tried to kill them. They call up Pearl to thank her for their continued existence, which forces her to cancel her planned missile strike on the SOL in mid-flight.

Segment 4

  • Crow is Droppy the Water Droplet, national spokesbot for water. He regales Mike and Servo with all the wonderful uses for water, whether they want to hear it or not.

Segment 5

  • Mike gives himself a big fake chin and shows it to the 'Bots, who consider his routine offensive to people with actual big chins. Bobo and Brain Guy announce their plans to leave Pearl and take their acid-rock band on the road, so Pearl gives them an explosive parting gift.

The Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of this movie contains examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Servo reads the title as "Future Wax" before it appears entirely onscreen.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: While Mike is trying to demonstrate Forced Perspective to the (unimpressed) bots, a real giant Tom Servo appears in the theater to frighten them away. (It's in fact the giant Servo puppet used in High School Big Shot, when Servo was fed a Super Serum by Crow.)
  • Blatant Lies: Crow could point out that it isn't the future and there is no war, but "You know me, I don't like to complain."
  • Brick Joke: During Bernhardt's Shirtless Scene:
    Servo: Ladies and gentlemen, Fred Burroughs.
  • Call-Back:
  • Captivity Harmonica: "Well, I suppose one of us has to play harmonica."
  • Character Check: A meta example:
    • Mike channels Comedy Central-era Joel's innocently whimsical prop comedy antics to try and teach the 'Bots about Forced Perspective by holding toy dinosaurs up to the camera in the theater. Which is odd, since Mike wasn't around then, and Joel didn't act that way in Soultaker.
      Mike: Ohh, don't be so sardonic. It's neat.
    • Mike's giant fake chin is a similar bit of prop comedy, a la Joel's Really Really Big Head or the Mads' big noses (also from Fugitive Alien II).
  • The Chick: In the opening segment, Gypsy wants to know if she's "once, twice or three times a lady". She finds out she's 2.7 times a lady, which isn't bad since Gillian Anderson is only 2.9 times a lady. Crow claims the rating machine has determined Mike is 8 times a lady. Mike's not amused.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Culture Equals Costume: Every time the beret-wearing character appears, Mike and the bots either sing something in French (e.g., 'Alouette'), or utter a phrase in French (such as "Vive la Résistance!").
  • Curse Cut Short: When Crow sees the credit for composer Arlan H. Boll, he responds "Yeah, Arlan H.Bollshi—" Mike cuts him off just in time.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Water: Nature's liquid."
  • Dynamic Entry: "It's Super Pope!"
  • Fake Band: Bobo and Brain Guy's Psychedelic Rock duo, Narcotic Casserole.
  • Forced Perspective: Mike uses Crow's toy plastic dinosaurs to explain how some of the effects in the movie were (poorly) done.
  • Fridge Horror/Fridge Logic/Hand Wave: invoked Giant Servo evokes the first from Servo and Crow, the second for the viewer, and the third from Giant Servo himself.
    • Fridge Logic also factors into a riff about the train scene: "Why are we on this train?"
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!:
    Tom Servo: It's Jean-Claude Van Damme!
    Mike: Nah. He's more like Jean-Claude Gosh Darn.
  • Intoxication Ensues: As part of her Mad Science, Pearl doses the robots with hallucinogens, and Mike uses a screen to see what they see. Servo sees the same distorted, gibbering nightmare he sees every day and is basically unaffected, but Crow now sees Mike's Milky Way as a Snickers bar and freaks way the hell out. Crow also sees Mike as a clown, and is surprised to learn that Mike isn't one.
  • I Read That As: In-universe:
    • Before the final letter shows up, Servo reads the title as Future Wax. Which makes about as much sense as the actual title, honestly.
    • When Sister Ann is writing the ABCs on the chalkboard, Servo predicts she's trying to write the word "ass."
      Servo: Ass— asswi— assho—
      Crow: It's not even ass, Servo!
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: Mike jokes that the first cyborg, with the clown white makeup and mullet, was Brain Guy in high school.
  • Ironic Echo Cut: Taking a cue from the movie, Mike and the 'Bots call Pearl to thank her for not killing them, interrupting her attempt to shoot the SoL with a missile. They feel quite betrayed afterward.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: During the Container Maze scene.
    Crow: He's boxed in.
    Mike: Well, I'm card-bored.
    Servo: Shut up, you two.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Mike wears a big, fake chin mocking the cyborg's from the movie. Crow and Servo are unimpressed.
  • Long List:
    Crow: Hello, I'm Droppy The Water Droplet. Did you know that there are literally tens of thousands of uses for water? Here are just a few thousand...
    Mike: Are these in any sort of order, or...
    Crow: Sir, we have a lot of these to get through, so if you'll just hold your water...
  • Memetic Badass: In-Universe, Mike and the Bots seize on an off-hand reference to Fred Burroughs (one of Sister Ann's friends) as the basis for a Running Gag hyping him as a badass. This culminates in a dramatic scene of the Runaway working out in his jail cell, with Crow announcing "Ladies and gentlemen... Fred Burroughs!"
  • MST3K Mantra: After the movie's credits, Mike, and eventually the 'Bots, are all chased out of the theater by a giant Servo... who then reminds the audience "Don't even bother to try and figure it out."
  • No Budget: Invoked a few times by the cast, both in and out of character (see Mary Jo's page quote). The lack of stained glass in the storeroom-turned-"church" caused Servo to snark the district had a loser cardinal.
    Servo: (Sarcasm Mode) Hey, we got flashlights and a dark room: let's make a movie!
  • Nuns Are Funny: Much like Girl's Town, the crew gets a lot of mileage from Ann training to be a nun and the Catholic Church in general.
  • Retirony: After one of the dinosaurs is killed early in the movie.
    Mike: He was three days from retirement! NOOO!
  • Running Gag:
    • "Fred Burroughs!"
    • Ann's sizeable halfway house roommates prompt a lot of fat jokes.
    • The beret-wearing guy, as mentioned above in Culture Equals Costume.
  • Say My Name: "FRED BURROUGHS!"
  • Shout-Out:
    • Crow's Droppy the Water Droplet is very similar to his Willy the Waffle (all based on Coily the Spring Sprite from A Case of Spring Fever.)
    • Brain Guy burns his guitar a la Jimi Hendrix. Bobo takes advantage of the situation to roast some marshmallows over it.
    • The robots mention a woodpecker who blows stuff up with dynamite.
    • There's a quip about MandyPatinkin's concert venue when a bunch of cardboard boxes are shown.
    • (about the currently shirtless Runaway) "Maybe he is Tom of Finland."
  • Sudden Anatomy: When Tom challenges Gypsy to a kickboxing contest, Gypsy manifests a foot (attached to a length of her usual black tubing) and sends him flying.
    Servo: I thought you didn't have legs either!
    Gypsy: Just made it today. Neat, huh?
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: When The Runaway obviously removes his own shirt during the final battle:
    Servo: "My shirt was knocked off. It was knocked off, I swear!"
  • Take That!:
    • When a couple of kids are shown playing Association Football, Mike comments that soccer is the only thing more boring than this film, and that the last thing he wanted to see was soccer in the film.
    • The Bots' lady multiplier is said to have used Sen. Dianne Feinstein as its comparative baseline, since "she's exactly one time a lady."
  • Unfortunate Names: Tom notes that K.Y Lim has unfortunate initials. K-Y is a brand of personal lubricant.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The absurd amount of plaid and flannel in the actors' wardrobe and the technology firmly places Future War in the mid to late 1990's. Even Mike and the Bots call out the amount of plaid in the movie and the episode came out in 1999.


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