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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S11 E12: Carnival Magic

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"Hey, title, don't go away. We just got to know you!"

Kinga Forrester: Well, your experiment today is a grimy little tale of a talking ape and the Worst Show on Earth.

Movie watched: Carnival Magic.

The Segments:

  • Tom Servo is in the middle of delivering his TOM Talk—a TED Talk, but with even more gibberish than usual.

Segment 1

  • Kinga asks Jonah to marry her—and makes it perfectly clear that she won't take "No" for an answer. Max is crushed. And then it's Invention Exchange time. Jonah and the bots invent Yeasta Pet—pet yeast colonies in the form of bread dough. Kinga invents Flavor Sweat, a sports beverage that changes the taste of your sweat after you drink it.

Segment 2

  • The SOL crew reenact the carnival show from the movie. Crow is Alexander, the talking chimp who never says anything funny or interesting. And Jonah is Markov the Magnificent, and also Incredibly Petty and Condescending.

Segment 3

  • Trooper Servo and Trooper Crow exchange increasingly silly police radio jargon.

Segment 4

  • P.T. Mindslap, proprietor of the Great Space Circus Show, drops by the SOL, attempting to recruit Jonah and the bots to the most dubious show in space.

Segment 5

  • Jonah and the bots watch a parade. Kinga and Max provide running commentary.

The MST3K treatment provides examples of:

  • The Ace: The riffers joke about Markov's ultra-competence and role in the plot as a fountain of endless wisdom.
    Markov: I can't stop death.
    Crow: Thank you! Finally, Markov's admitting something he can't do.
  • Alan Smithee: "Al Adamson is the name Alan Smithee uses when he doesn't want his name on a film."
  • The Alcoholic: Lots of jokes about Stony Martin's drinking.
    Crow: And what, pray tell, is a syrup-covered case of Rolling Rock?
    Tom Servo: Stony Martin's breakfast.
  • All There in the Script: The mysterious guy in the purple jumpsuit is named in the end credits: Matt Claude Van Damme.
  • Advertisement:
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Kinga orders Jonah to marry her in order to have a wedding episode as a ratings-boosting stunt (despite Max pointing out that streamed programs don't appear in the Nielsen ratings anyway), or else she'll cut off his air supply.
  • And Starring: Jonah and the bots note the special billing in the opening credits, "Introducing Missy O'Shea (The Girl In The Car)," and start obsessing over her character.
    Crow: Guys, let's not jump to any conclusions. Sure, she's a girl in a car, but is she The Girl In The Car?
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Jonah and the bots spend much of the movie making fun of Bud's baseball cap. Then Bud stops wearing the cap and lets her hair down, and shows up in her next scene wearing an ill-fitting strapless dress.
    Crow: Oh, well now I miss the baseball cap.
  • The Cameo: Mark Hamill in the role of P.T. Mindslap, ringmaster of a space-traveling circus.
  • Celebrity Resemblance:
    Kurt: Did anyone recognize you?
    Tom Servo: (as Kim) One guy called me Amy Adams, and I didn't correct him.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Jonah and the bots point out that, if you cast a talking chimp in your movie, it defeats the point if the chimp spends the whole movie muttering under his breath.
  • Dissimile: "He's like MacGyver, if MacGyver just had to pick up some keys."
  • Deep-Fried Whatever: "Kittens! Get your deep-fried, chocolate covered kittens!"
  • Designated Hero:
    Tom Servo: Again, Alex isn't funny or cute, just terrifyingly clear in his desire to cause harm.
  • Dull Surprise:
    Crow: I've seen mannequins have livelier conversations than this.
  • Double Standard:
    Crow: So, Jonah, he's endangered the lives of two people just now.
    Jonah: Yeah, but he's an ape, so it's cute.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    Jonah: (as Markov) Actually, I was about to commit seppuku, but I guess that can wait.
  • Easily Impressed: Jonah and the bots react with over-the-top amazement at Alex the chimp performing simple tasks, like sweeping the floor.
  • Establishing Shot: Over halfway through the movie, after yet another establishing shot of the carnival:
    Crow: Hey, did you guys realize this thing takes place at a carnival?
    Jonah: Oh, I thought it was a Sad Factory.
  • Five Stages of Grief: After Markov says that training Alex was the only thing that kept him going after his wife died: "What stage of grief is chimp play?"
  • Free-Range Children: The riffers note that there are a lot of unattended kids at this carnival.
  • Fruit Cart: Alex drives a vehicle through a produce cart, and Jonah lampshades it:
    Jonah: It wouldn't be a car chase if it didn't affect the life of a local farmer and his family.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: P.T. Mindslap tries to buy Jonah and the bots to exploit them in his circus. Kinga refuses, saying that she's the only one allowed to exploit them.
  • I Reject Your Reality: During the credits, Tom Servo and Crow spin a very involved tale of Elvin Feltner's movies after Carnival Magic—only to admit immediately that none of these movies are real. Then...
    Crow: I don't even think Carnival Magic was real, and we just watched it.
    Jonah: That's a good point. Did we really watch a movie just now?
  • Large Ham: Mark HAMill puts on a bib and cuts off a HUGE slice of ham as P.T. Mindslap.
  • Manchurian Agent: When Markov hypnotizes an audience volunteer into bending a steel bar, Crow jokes that he also activated the man's secret agent programming.
    Crow: Yes... Must kill top official...
    Tom Servo: No, all I said is your name is Gus.
    Crow: Sorry... my bad...
  • Move Along, Nothing to See Here: During the parade sketch, the footage of Jonah briefly gets mixed with footage of some other guy in a purple jumpsuit, on the SOL. Kinga tells us to pay him no heed.
    Kinga: Ooh, please ignore that, since you didn't see anything, because it doesn't exist.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Tom Servo and Crow run through the various sequels: 2Magic 2Carnival, Carnival Magic 3: Return of the Girl in the Car, and Carnival Magic Begins.
  • Out of Focus: "Wasn't there a talking chimp in this movie at one point?"
  • Police Code for Everything: In the movie, the rural police make up goofy codes in the scene where Alex steals a car. They first call it a "ghost car" (that being a runaway car with no driver, which to be fair IS a real if unofficial term), then calling it a "King Kong in progress" (that being an ape kidnapping a beautiful girl). Crow and Servo latch onto this and crank it up to eleven: they call in that there's "a Carnival Magic" in progress, then explain that it stands for the entire production history of Carnival Magic. Then they spend the next host segment making up police codes for increasingly bizarre scenes from the movie.
    Crow: Yeah, a Mid-Life Frosted Flakes Creepout. That's a weird old guy in a hairpiece bothering a bunch of tigers.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Upon seeing a man in a cowboy hat holding a kitten, Crow decides he's the "lowest-rent Bond villain I've ever seen."
  • Running Gag:
    • "Sweet freedom!" the riffers say, every time Alex walks out a building or tent.
    • "Markov?" "Polov!"
  • Shared Universe: In-Universe the bots claim there is an entire Carnival Magic universe comprised of prequels, sequels, spinoffs and a reboot. Hilariously, Jonah actually believes them for a while.
  • Super Gullible: Jonah completely buys the bots' yarn about Carnival Magic's multiple sequels and longevity, not questioning them at all until they stretch it even further to include "Trailer Park Productions", a film studio built around filming in trailer parks. He also refers to himself as an "easy mark" for PT Mindslap's scam during the carnival song.
    Jonah: Guys, are any of these movies real?
    Servo: Of COURSE not, Jonah.
    Crow: Yeah, I don't even think Carnival Magic was real and we just watched it.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: "Yes, the weak point of so many illegal labs: an unlocked screen door."
  • Take Our Word for It: P.T. Mindslap's circus, featuring amazing sights and death-defying stunts... performed entirely on a darkened stage. Everyone figures out pretty quickly that there aren't actually any performers, just P.T. Mindslap himself describing the performance.
  • Tempting Fate:
    Jonah: Now that Alex has been given a second chance at life, I hope he does something truly meaningful with it, and just doesn't go back to the carnival. Uhh, he went back to the carnie.
  • Theme Mobile: "To the Carniemobile!"
  • Vague Age: Jonah and the bots point out they have no idea how old Bud/Ellen is supposed to be because of her baseball cap.
  • Vindicated by Cable: Joked about In-Universe.
    Crow: And it gets buried in a vault for years until a mad scientist makes a TV show where they force poor jerks to watch it, thus giving it a second life its makers never truly intended.
    Tom: Yeah, exactly, Carnival Magic.
    • So obscure that before Mystery Science Theater 3000 it didn't have a page on TV Tropes. It really was literally lost in a vault; a copy was discovered in 2009.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The riffers turn the final scene into this, explaining that Stony Martin became Alabama's senator, Markov was arrested, etc.