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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S 11 E 03 The Time Travelers

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"What a cool-looking title. Hey, let's build a movie around it!"

Kinga Forrester: Now, your experiment today is about bending time. Namely, making seventy minutes feel like forever.
TV's Son of TV's Frank: It's a tale of mutants, androids, and really icky future nookie.

Film Watched: The Time Travelers.

The Segments:

  • Jonah and the bots play a game of Never Did I Ever.

Segment 1

  • Invention Exchange time. Crow, inspired by those silica packets labeled "do not eat" in dry goods, invents Dr. Crow's Edible Old-Time Silica Packets. (They may not actually be edible.) Kinga "invents" Afterlife Alert, for helping deceased seniors contact Emergency Services.note 

Segment 2

  • Crow and Gypsy give everyone a little refresher on Time Portal safety.

Segment 3

  • Jonah introduces some new robot buddies he built: Fixy the maintenance bot, Slappy the home entertainment bot, and Quozy the cooking bot. Crow and Tom Servo destroy them within seconds. It turns out the robots never actually worked. Jonah built them specifically for Tom and Crow to destroy, as their outbursts keep their fluid dynamic systems in running condition.

Segment 4

  • Dr. Varno and Larry stop by the Satellite of Love. Much to Jonah's disappointment, they've apparently become swingin' space bachelors and intergalactic party animals since the events of the movie.

Segment 5

  • Jonah and the bots emerge from the theater and find Crow and Servo's past selves, frozen in time. (Jonah's past self is probably on the toilet.) Kinga announces that this is the 200th episode of Mystery Science Theater, and brings out a cake to celebrate.


Tropes used in this episode:

  • AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle / It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY":
    Technician: Don't worry, I'm keeping our spacemen happy.
    Servo: That's "spa-CHE-m'n".
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Jonah finds the movie to be as awful as anyone, but does admit he's impressed by the movie's use of stage magic for special effects, especially when it's used to detach an android's head. The bots are less impressed, since they assume the filmmakers just removed an actual android's head, which wouldn't be very hard to do.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Steve and Willard point their handguns at each other as they discuss the possibility of arming the androids. "Why are we aiming at each other?"
  • Baby Factory:
    Reena: We've got to be ready for a minor population explosion as soon as we get to the new Earth. Boy, I kinda look forward to that, don't you?
    Servo: Perpetually breeding like a termite queen...
  • Bad Impressionists: Crow's C-3PO impression sounds more like Harvey Korman.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word:
    Steve: You're leaving us here?
    Crow: (as Varno) "Abandoning" is a better word.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: "The first day of school is always so confusing. Nobody knows where their classes are, where their locker is. Did your mom pack your hazmat suit?"
  • Butterfly of Doom:
    Gypsy: Nonono! You changed the past, and now the future is a nuclear wasteland.
    Servo: What? From the 1920s?
    Gypsy: Changing the past always turns the future into a nuclear wasteland. It just does, okay?
  • Butt-Monkey: Danny's already a bit of one in the movie itself, and the riffs take it Up to Eleven with everyone constantly insulting him and trying to get rid of him.
  • Call-Back:
  • The Cameo:
    • Creator Cameo: The crew receives a brief visit from Joel Hodgson and writer Elliot Kalan as Larry and Varno.
    • The film itself also has a cameo from sci-fi scholar Forrest J. Ackerman, which (unlike Ackerman's appearance in Future War) does not go unnoticed.
  • Captain Obvious: "I'm actually traveling through time at the rate of one hour per hour."
  • Comfort Food: When the bots start crying over the android deaths in the film, Jonah offers ice cream to cheer them up.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Jonah tries to point out a genuinely impressive special effect involving an android in the movie. Crow and Tom Servo aren't impressed because they think the android is actually a robot, not a human in a robot costume.
  • Confirmation Bias: Servo calls out Councilman Willard on this:
    Willard: I want to confirm the impossibility of adding passengers to the expedition.
    Servo: Nice job introducing confirmation bias there.
  • Continuity Nod: The guys recognize the film's writer and director Ib Melchior as a co-writer of Reptilicus two episodes earlier.
  • "El Niño" Is Spanish for "The Niño":
    Credit: Music by RICHARD LaSALLE
    Crow: "LaSalle" is French for "the Salle".
  • Eye Scream: When a technician pops an android's eyeballs into its sockets, Jonah and the bots add some screams of pain... which become sighs of relief after the eyes are installed.
  • Fantastic Aesop:
    Crow: The lesson here: always walk into a pitch-black time machine. Because, ponies!
  • Fun with Acronyms: What do you do if you encounter a time portal? It's as easy as T.I.M.E.!
    Gypsy: T.I.M.E. Tell someone. Identify when the portal goes to. Make a plan. And: Enter the portal, comma, not!
    Jonah: Gypsy, that last one is really confusing.
    Crow: You try coming up with something that starts with E, maggot!
  • Fantastically Indifferent: The bots are far less impressed by the movie's use of stage magic to take off an android's head than Jonah is, as they take it entirely at face value.
    Jonah: You guys know how they did that trick, right?
    Crow: Yeah, they demagnetized the android's head. Whoopie-ding.
    Jonah: No! No, no, no, no, no, no! If you notice there's no cuts! The android walks in, lays down, and they take off his head. All in one shot! How'd they do it?!
    Servo: Did they do it by just detaching an android's head?
  • Future Music: "Of all the music that could have survived doomsday, only Esquivel made it?"
  • Girlfriend in Canada: When Danny tells Reena he's engaged back in 1964.
    Danny: Big, tall girl, about six feet. And bright, you should see her eyes flash. And ask her any question [snaps] she'll give you the answer.
    Crow: And she's a millionaire. And she lives in Canada, being a model.
  • Girly Run: Carol runs rather awkwardly in her heels.
    Crow: Jonah, that's what you look like when you run.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: During the final battle, Jonah and the bots decide that they really can't cheer for any side in the fight.
    Crow: So, who are we meant to be rooting for here? The future humans who refuse to share their food with the mutants and are fine with leaving our heroes behind to die?
    Jonah: Or our heroes, who defied the laws of time and space so Danny could get it on with some lady?
    Servo: And then there's the mutants, the poor starving mutants who... [begins crying] tear apart innocent androids who didn't want to fight but were programmed to?!
  • Hard-Work Montage: Complete with a song!
    Servo: Time for the portal-making montage!
    Jonah, Servo, and Crow: Time to to make a portal!
    Gonna make the portal!
    Crow: Only one way to go back in time!
    Jonah, Servo, and Crow: Time to to make a portal!
    Gonna make the portal!
    Jonah: Don't forget about the weird androids
    helping out, future girl, Dr. Varno too!
    Jonah, Servo, and Crow: Gonna make a portal!
    Gonna make a portal!
    Gonna make a portal for you!
  • Hipster:
    Servo: Ehh, hipster scientists with their analogue time machine.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: Briefly touched on, as Crow decides the best thing he should do with a dinosaur is go back to Nazi Germany and go "Hitler-hunting", timeline be damned.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction:
    Gypsy: Crow, here's your scenario. A dinosaur comes through the portal. What do you do?
    Crow: I take great pains not to change the course of history, creating a butterfly effect.
    Gypsy: Good, good.
    Crow: Then I saddle up the dinosaur, ride into Nazi Germany, and we all go Hitler hunting! Yeehaw!
  • Irony: When a disembodied android hand grabs Danny's butt:
    Crow: And that robot was programmed to deal with sexual harassment complaints! Sad, really.
  • Layman's Terms: After Varno summarizes how a teleporter works: "It's like a people TV. It sounds stupid, but I'm just trying to dumb it down for you, Danny."
  • Leave the Camera Running: "Now we have to watch them do all the cleanup. This is before they invented editing."
  • Manchild:
    Servo: Can someone get Danny a Highlights magazine or a bag of chips to occupy him while we do grownup stuff?
  • Match Cut: "Textbook filmmaking. Cut on screwdriver, to other screwdriver."
  • Milestone Celebration: This episode commemorates the 200th experiment. Lampshaded by Kinga, of course—she notes how important it is to celebrate "fake anniversaries" like this one. Disney does it all the time!
  • Misapplied Phlebotinum: Carol uses a fire extinguisher to keep some radioactive future mutants from entering the lab.
    Jonah: Wait, why didn't she use that fire extinguisher when there was an actual fire earlier?
    • Later:
    Jonah: You brought that pipe one hundred thousand years into the future, and now you're just going to throw it. Why?
    • When the future humans create a door through solid rock:
    Jonah: Would it have been that much more of a hassle to make the hole a little bigger, so nobody had to duck? Just a thought.
  • Monochrome Casting: "Just checking to ensure all the androids are Caucasian."
  • Must State If You're a Cop: The hard-partying Varno who visits the SOL thinks so.
    Varno: (to Jonah) You guys aren't cops, right? Legally, you have to tell us if you are.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: "Kids these days and their electro-Hawaiian music..."
  • Neologism: Servo coins "and-groin" for one of the scenes in the android factory with workers maintaining the crotches of robot skeletons; when Jonah complains, Servo claims that since they'd already used "area" and "crotch" earlier, he had to come up with something. Crow swiftly follows up by complaining about the "ro-batch" of another skeleton being brought on screen.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX:
    • Lampshaded example in the movie: "Their civil defense system is a pie pan and a paper cup with two bike reflectors?"
    • Jonah's robots all got their start as Imaginext Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Megazord toys.
  • Only a Model: "Nice diorama. Now where's the real rocket?"
  • Padding: invoked When the scientists return to 1964 and find that they're out of phase with normal time:
    von Steiner: It's as if we're existing outside of time, in... Limbo.
    Jonah: As if the film needed padding to reach feature length.
  • Planet of Steves:
    Credit: Screenplay by IB MELCHIOR
    Jonah: Ib Melchior? The man behind Reptilicus?
    Crow: You know there's a million Ib Melchiors. They flooded the movie industry in the 60s with their dope scriptwriting skills.
    Credit: Directed by IB MELCHIOR
    Jonah: This is one of those rare movies where one Ib Melchior worked with another Ib Melchior.
    Servo: Yeah, they tend to stay to themselves, like bull elephants.
  • Product Placement: As the scientists count down, the camera lingers on a wall covered with Bulova brand clocks, their logo clearly displayed. Jonah and the bots repeat "Bulova" after each count.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: Erik von Steiner gets this treatment when he puts on his monocle. "Pish posh, what's this?"
  • Scenery Censor: When the female lead is in a sectioned off section of the spa room that appears to be some kind of standing tanning booth, the bots note how convenient it is that she's just the right height for the two lines of vinyl strapping that demarcate the tanning area to block view of her private bits.
    Servo: I hope in the future all women are the same height, or that screen could be a bit of a problem.
  • The Scrappy: In-Universe, one host segment has Jonah introducing a new line of robots inspired by the androids of the movie. Crow and Tom proceed to smash each one as they're introduced, angry at each one's superiority at their job. Jonah later reveals none of the new bots are actually real/functional and he makes Crow and Servo think they are getting these rivals in order to keep the bots in shape, which they're not happy about, either.
    • Danny, of course, is also universally disparaged by the crew.
    Crow: Can someone please tase Danny for me?
  • Screw Yourself: Upon meeting his frozen-in-time past self, Tom Servo likes what he sees. He starts to kiss himself; fortunately for our sanity, the scene ends before he can get any further.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Skewed Priorities: The three scientists' reactions upon getting stranded a hundred years in the future?
    Servo: (as Steve) Heh heh, goodbye alimony.
    Crow: (as Carol) Do I get paid overtime for traveling over time?
    Jonah: (as von Steiner) From now on, I have one mission: avoiding spoilers.
  • Snub by Omission: At the beginning, when the guys have stepped through the time window and Carol is calling out for them to come back before it closes, Jonah and the bots can't help but notice she calls out for only the two scientists, not Danny. Multiple times.
    Carol: Steve! Erik!
    Servo: Again, NOT Danny!
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Regarding the android construction scene:
    Servo: Is the music we're listening to a little too chipper for the horror we're about to see?
  • Something Else Also Rises: Danny starts making out with his future love interest. Cut to a welding torch in action.
    Servo: Welding! Serving as a powerful metaphor for human coupling! Or in a pinch, industry!
  • Space Clothes: "Cowboy boots with grannie panties and a bra made out of toilet paper? Works for me!"
  • Storyboarding the Apocalypse:
    Servo: Who keeps an armageddon disaster video cued up at all times? Is it a common thing—time travelers needing an orientation of the Earth's demise, huh?
  • Technobabble:
    von Steiner: It's possible. The laser beam cycling had already been accelerated. The portal may still be open!
    Servo: (as von Steiner) I didn't understand a word of what I just said.
  • Take That!: During Reena's rainbow-tinted keyboard/theremin/'90s music visualizer/"lumichord" performance:
    Jonah: Oh no, a Cirque du Soleil broke out!
    Crow: Aaahh run!!
  • That Was Not a Dream: As one android opens its eyes for the first time and looks around:
    Jonah: (as the android) Ugh, hey, Jeana. I had the weirdest dream. I was a creepy head with eyes on a shelf and you were in it oh my God WHERE AM I?
  • Unfortunate Implications: Jonah can't decide if it's admirable that the movie cast a man with actual physical deformities, or offensive that the movie cast him as one of the mutants.note 
  • Visual Gag:
    • Tom Servo tries to pull a very conspicuous lever.
    • In the spa scene, both Tom Servo and Crow try to give Reena a massage, and Jonah has to restrain them.
    • With a herculean effort, Tom Servo lifts the rocket to an upright position.
  • The Voiceless: Joel Hodgson's portrayal of Larry. He spends his whole scene just smiling and nodding.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Servo swiftly points out the "serious he-vage" of Varno's Space Clothes.
  • We're Still Relevant, Dammit!: Invoked by Servo, who makes a Game of Thrones joke and continues in the same breath, "And this show continues to remain relevant."
  • Yandere: The general conclusion when Reena happily responds to Danny's flirting while working in the android factory.
    Jonah: You know, when a beautiful woman of the future really comes on strong and then hands you a tray of eyeballs harvested from her former lovers, maybe you should just stay friends, Danny.
    Servo: Yeah, Danny, you really think she needed help moving a tray of eyeballs three feet? These are warning signs, man, wake up!
  • Your Answer to Everything: When Tom Servo and Crow start crying over all the android deaths in the movie:
    Jonah: Hey, heyheyhey, it's alright, guys. Hey! Who wants ice cream?
    Servo: You monster! You can't fix everything with ice cream! [suddenly calm] But I would like some ice cream.
  • Zeerust:
    Servo: I refuse to believe the future is in SD.


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