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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S11E08 "The Loves of Hercules"

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"A Greco-Romantic comedy!"

Kinga Forrester: Your experiment is a pecs-and-princesses epic starring Jayne Mansfield, Jayne Mansfield's husband, and the rest of Jayne Mansfield.
TV's Son of TV's Frank: It stinks like feta cheese!
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Film Featured: The Loves of Hercules.

The Segments:

Prologue
  • Jonah and the bots are binge-watching Wings.

Segment 1

  • Invention Exchange time. The bots invent the Fried Turkey Dunk Tank, which combines a carnival dunk tank with a turkey fryer. Kinga invents the Mexican Jumping Bean-Bag Chair, but Max ruins the prototype when he tries to disinfect it.

Segment 2

  • Inspired by the movie's Trial By Axe Throwing, the bots tie Jonah to a wall and throw things at him to determine his guilt for various minor annoyances.

Segment 3

  • Tom Servo and Crow argue over who the real monsters are: the hydras, or the adventurers who kill them?

Segment 4

  • Jonah and the bots pretend to be Deianera's serving girls...and then Jonah's new robot buddy M. Waverly arrives, dressed as a Greek soldier. The other bots do not appreciate Jonah's attempt to add a new face to the cast.
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Segment 5

  • An impromptu angelic choir breaks out.


Tropes featured in the episode:

  • Adaptational Wimp: There's quite a few riffs about how this Hercules mostly just seems like a reasonably buff guy rather than an inhumanly strong demigod. Making it weirder is that Mr. Universe winner Mickey Hargitay is likely one of the most genuinely strong people to play the role.
  • Angst? What Angst?: invoked They note that Herc is awfully quick to pursue new romance, considering it's only been a few days since his wife died.
    Servo: (as Herc, singing joyfully) I miss my dead wife!
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    Jonah: See that pink smoke? Nowadays, all this would just be done in CGI, which I feel is cold and sterile.
    Crow: Yeah, you don't get the warmth of these shots of incompetent people trying their very hardest.
    Jonah: Right.
  • Call-Back:
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    • "Any fruit to declare?"
    • "Calgon, take me away!"
    • The riffers may have caught onto Kinga's stealing her Invention Exchange ideas from their riffs, but she's not done stealing just yet — the Mexican Jumping Bean Bag Chair was an idea from a second season episode.
  • invokedCelebrity Resemblance: Several for Mickey Hargitay's decent resemblance to Eddie Vedder.
  • Cherubic Choir: Jonah and the bots sing a triumphant but wordless theme over the last scene. Then it persists into the last host segment, and the Mads join in from Moon 13, becoming increasingly cacophonic as it goes on, until it ends with Max shrieking atonally as he hits the button. Kinga's got some pipes, though.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Queen Deianira strips behind a shoulder-high curtain, Crow and Tom Servo both find ways to peek around the curtain. Afterwards, without a trace of irony, Crow complains that the view was terrible, because, "She wasn't even wearing underwear."
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In the first host segment, Jonah eats RAM Chips brand potato chips, a nod to the very early seasons, when Joel would feed the bots literal RAM chips as their reward for sharing one good thing and one bad thing about the movie they just watched.
      • Later, Jonah is eating Grown Man Bowl Cuts cereal straight from the box, from Cry Wilderness.
    • And speaking of early seasons — not one episode after being called out for basing her inventions on Jonah and the 'Bots' riffs, she advances to stealing inventions from Joel — the Mexican Jumping Bean Bag Chair was his planned invention for Rocket Attack USA (until Gypsy ate it).
  • Cousin Oliver / The Scrappy: In-universe, "M. Waverly," a new robot that interrupts a host segment to crack stale jokes. Crow and Tom Servo take an immediate dislike to him, and smash him to pieces just off-camera.
    Servo: This isn't some sitcom that needs a new kid when the old kid grows up! You can't Raven-Symoné us!
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: In a nod to the movie's ax-throwing trial by ordeal, the bots tie Jonah to a wall (or rather tie a wall to Jonah, since he can still walk around with it on his back) and launch various stuff at him, tailored to his crimes, from a tiny catapult, in what Tom calls "a little bit of high-concept fun we're calling People's Throwing Court."
  • Gag Boobs:
    • Jayne Mansfield being... well, Jayne Mansfield, it's only natural that this gets brought up a couple of times.
      (Deianira screams as a wild bull charges at her)
      Crow: He's gonna bounce straight off you!
      Servo: Russ Meyer presents Ferdinand the Bull as you've never seen him!
    • This is probably what Kinga was going for when introducing the film (see the page quote). She also makes a (ahem) questionable hand gesture, but that may not be entirely intentional.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: When Hercules' final opponent turns out to be a barely-foreshadowed Bigfoot-looking monster, rather than Licos, Jonah quips, "I must have fallen asleep in Greek mythology the day they talked about Sasquatch."
  • Hollywood Tactics: As Hercules attacks the hydra: "Attacking from the side is too safe. I'll go to the front, where the mouths are!"
  • I Resemble That Remark!: People's Throwing Court again.
    Servo: For the crime of poorly impersonating Tom Jones, even when we beg you to stop...
    Jonah: Oh, come on, is it that [sings] unuuusual to want to talk like Tom Jones?
    Crow and Servo: Guilty!
  • Knife-Throwing Act: Deianera's trial by ordeal consists of tying her to a wall and seeing if Hercules can cut the ropes with a set of throwing axes without hurting her. Leading the robots to call it a trial by carnie trick.
  • Let's Meet the Meat: Discussed briefly in the invention exchange; Jonah is worried that seeing a turkey carcass on a dunk tank platform is an unsettling degree of anthropomorphism, "like when they have a barbecue restaurant sign, and it has a happy pig on it?" Servo and Crow try to encourage Jonah by making him imagine that the turkey is insulting him. That just weirds him out further and makes him more reluctant to "kill" the turkey.
  • Loony Laws:
    Crow: For the crime of not wanting to have cold spaghetti thrown at you...
    Jonah: That's a crime? That's ridiculous!
    [Beat.]
    Crow: ...Guilty! [flings cold spaghetti at Jonah] Sooo incredibly guilty.
    Servo: It's insane how guilty you are!
  • Loud of War: Jonah and the Bots' angelic chorus continues after the end of the film, and the Mads and Skeleton Crew try to outdo them in the final scene.
  • Mondegreen: Jonah mishears "Themis" as "tennis", and guesses that the Trial of Themis must be Wimbledon.
  • Morton's Fork: People's Throwing Court:
    Crow: If something hits you, you're guilty. If it doesn't hit you, you're still probably guilty.
  • Mythology Gag: The chips Jonah's eating is "Ram Chips". Back in the first season and the KTMA era, Joel would give the bots RAM Chips for saying one good thing and one bad thing about the movie.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When Kinga reveals that Max's germaphobe attitude killed their Mexican Jumping Bean Bag Chair, he realizes what he's done & cries out in despair. Kinga tells him to just throw it away.
  • Never My Fault: As Hercules prepares to free Deianera via Knife-Throwing Act, he declares that the gods will guide his throws.
    Hercules: If they're righteous gods, I must succeed.
    Servo: (as Herc) So if I kill her, it's not my fault.
  • Obvious Stunt Double: They point out Jayne Mansfield's clearly male stunt double when the queen is bucked off her horse.
  • Ow, My Body Part!: "Oh, my stomach-back!"
  • Prop Recycling: invoked Crow pretends to be a merchant selling brass wares: "We've got that one fruit bowl that's in every scene!"
  • Real-Life Relative: It's noted that Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay are surprisingly awkward kissers considering they were actually married at the time. note 
    Servo: So, these two are married in real life, and this is how they kiss?
    Crow: She's laying eggs inside of him right now.
  • Running Gag:
    • Hercules has tiny nipples.
    • Singing Pearl Jam songs based on Herc's Celebrity Resemblance invoked to Eddie Vedder.
    • Stock riffs:
      • Whenever a character in the film commands another to "Speak!", Jonah and the bots respond in unison with "Arf!"
      • "It's like a Thomas Kinkade painting — horrible..."
  • Shout-Out:
  • Skyward Scream: Max's reaction upon realizing that he killed the moth larvae and ruined Kinga's invention.
    Max: Nooooo! Noooooo! What have I done?! Whyyyyyyy?
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Herc lifts a huge wooden wheel over his head. Crow quips, "Uh, Herc, you know you can just roll that, right?"
  • Special Effect Failure: invoked Jonah and the bots mock the Hydra model for being so stiff and immobile, specifically noting when Herc has to crawl underneath its claws before it can "attack" him.
  • Terrifying Pet Store Rat: When Herc squares off against the bull, there's a close-up to show how enraged it looks... which it doesn't, instead seeming very placid and sweet.
    Crow: Oh, yeah, [he's] got murder in his big, dewy eyes.
  • Throwing the Fight: After Herc "kills" a rampaging bull:
    Jonah: (as Herc, to the bull) Good job, Elmer. She bought it. We'll split the money later.
  • Visual Gag: Servo hovers over to get a good, close look at Herc's mighty chest. Herc accidentally swats him away.
  • With Catlike Tread: "Hey, guys, this is a sneak attack. Maybe cool it with the singing, guys."
  • Worst Aid: "Uh, maybe call a doctor. I don't think rubbing water on his forehead is going to do anything to close the gaping chest wound."
  • Worst. Whatever. Ever!: After one of the tree-men in the Forest of Death kills Hippolyta, Crow calls it, "Worst Burning Man, ever."



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