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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S11 E14: At the Earth's Core

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"'Edgar Rice Burroughs'—they're really trying to spread the blame around."

Kinga Forrester: And Jonah, in your final remaining hours of freedom, I give you a magnificent feast of ill-fitting creature suits, Anglo-American semi-racism, and Doug McClure.
TV's Son of TV's Frank: It's actually kind of fun.

Film featured: At the Earth's Core.

The Segments:

  • Jonah has a bachelor heart-to-heart with Crow and Tom Servo. Jonah also introduces the new robot buddy he designed: Growler, who plays the piano and is impossible not to get along with. Servo and Crow hate him anyway.

Segment 1

  • Kinga speaks with the Manager of the Observer Hive Mind to ensure she has enough guests for her wedding. And then it's Invention Exchange time. Jonah and the bots invent Permanent Temporary Tattoos. Max invents the Rip Taylor Urn Cannon, a confetti cannon that uses cremated ashes instead of confetti, but Kinga stops him from testing it. She thinks that Max might actually be trying to ruin the wedding.

Segment 2

  • Inspired by the movie's Victorian setting, Jonah gives the bots steampunk makeovers.

Segment 3

  • Crow dresses up as a Mahar. His telepathy doesn't work as well as he hopes.

Segment 4

  • Doug McClure (Joel McHale) drops by Moon 13, searching for beautiful women in the Moon's core. He winds up giving Max some bro-tastic advice about wooing Kinga. Max learns that he should sow chaos, and pilot a giant (preferably phallic) piece of machinery.

Segment 5

  • The wedding finally arrives. Pearl Forrester shows up at the last minute to stop the wedding. Failing that as she showed up too early, she reconciles with her granddaughter and helps out with the ceremony. When the time comes to exchange vows, Jonah hesitates—and that's when Max releases Reptilicus Metallicus, the robot snake in the ceiling, to eat Jonah. Kinga is so pissed at this turn of events. Tom Servo and Crow, saddened by Jonah's death, promise to treat Growler just like they would have treated Jonah (starting by borrowing his stuff without asking).

Tropes featured:

  • Actor Allusion: In a remarkable show of restraint, Jonah and the bots only make two references to Peter Cushing in his role as Governor Tarkin; they also call him "The Doctor Who nobody wants to cosplay as."
    • Notably, the Tarkin references are essentially using Cushing's character voice from this film to do Tarkin's lines — in an odd way, they're complimenting him on his acting in both roles.
    • Also, his acting here isn't far removed from his approach to the non-canonical Doctor, making the reference that much funnier.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: At the film's end, there's a joke about how the heroes are drilling downward to get back to the Earth's surface. While the film is vague on the details, this actually is accurate to the original Pellucidar stories, which posit the underground world as being on the other side of the Earth's crust with reversed gravity.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Not aliens per se, but the Pellucidan natives and the visiting Englishmen have no trouble understanding eachother. Remarkably, this goes wholly uncommented-on by Jonah and the bots.
  • Attention Whore: Pearl shows up to interrupt the ceremony (she thought it was the "Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace" stage); Kinga accuses her of doing it just to draw attention to herself.
  • Berate and Switch:
    • Gypsy's steampunk dress:
      Gypsy: This is uncomfortable, and impractical, and I love it.
    • Pearl at the wedding:
      Pearl Forrester: Kinga Clayton Forrester, you cruel Bridezilla! You'd destroy anyone to get what you want! [starts crying] ...And I've never been prouder!
  • Bridezilla: Kinga, in spades.
    Kinga Forrester: Jonah J. Heston, it is the God-given right of every American woman to become a North Korean dictator on her wedding day!
  • Call-Back:
  • The Cameo: Joel McHale, as Doug McClure, drops by Moon 13 to give Max some advice about wooing Kinga.
  • Captain Ersatz: Jonah builds another new robot, Growler, and outright says that he's basically Rowlf from The Muppets.
  • Compensating for Something: When a giant drill appears: "The launching of the S.S. Overcompensateus."
  • Composite Character: In-Universe the bots admit to Jonah that while they do actually like him, they were hoping their new human companion would have been more of a perfect mix between Joel and Mike (they imagined this person being like T.J. Miller).
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Convection, Schmonvection: "I'm wearing my flame-retardant vest!"
  • Creator Cameo: Paul Chaplin, writer for seasons 3-11, shows up as the head of the Observer Hive Mind.
  • Designated Hero: invoked
    Tom Servo: Being a chivalrous gentleman, David traps his fellow slaves with their captors, in a room full of lava. Nice.
    Crow: That felt good! Abandoning my friends, woo.
    • Later:
    Tom Servo: So now everyone's more badass than David?
  • Did Not Think This Through: Max obviously did not expect Reptilicus Metallicus to eat Jonah.
  • Deus ex Machina: The riffers note the fortuitous arrival of a random fire-breathing lizard: "Deus ex salamander!"
  • Droste Image: One of the bumpers in this episode is about The Bumper, including a picture of itself.
  • Dude, Not Funny!:
    Doc: Oh, they're so excitable. Like all foreigners.
    Jonah, Tom Servo, and Crow: Whoa!
  • Eagleland: "Got it, Americans are dumb."
  • Eye Catch: A bumper about the bumper, complete with a picture of itself:
    Max: The bumper is the segment you're watching now! It's designed to evoke the feeling of a commercial break... while not taking itself too seriously! You're watching MST3K: Moon 13, the Moon!
  • Finale Credits: Instead of the MST moon logo, the credits play over a unknown figure going on a spacewalk outside the SOL. And the last song played is a unique Synth-Pop mix of the opening theme tune.
  • Freud Was Right: All over the place in the movie, from the giant drill to the pillars the Mahars insist on tying everyone to. For instance, after the drill's initial false start:
    Dr. Perry: Going in again.
    Tom: [as the Doctor] Think of England...
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": Max invents a funeral urn confetti cannon:
    Max: But who says funerals can't be as exciting as weddings? Turn your loved one's memorial into a party zone with the Rip Taylor Urn Cannon! It puts the "fun" in "funeral" and the "R.I.P." in "Rip Taylor."
  • Funny Background Event: While the manager of the Observer Hive Mind is talking, the Observer behind him keeps getting bored and fidgeting with his own brain.
  • Gaslighting: "I was just thinking: What if this wasn't a movie, but David was just gaming his uncle with Alzheimers?"
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Urged along by the questionable advice of Doug McClure, Max unleashes Reptilicus Metallicus on Jonah during the wedding, hoping to remove the competition for Kinga's affection and impress her with his initiative. Instead, unsurprisingly, Kinga is furious with Max for not only ruining her wedding but also murdering their test subject.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: "At this point in history, the Secret Service was operated by the Keystone Cops."
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: At 5'5", Felicia Day isn't tiny exactly, but with lanky old Jonah (all 6'5" of him) standing next to her in the final scene, the trope is in pretty clear effect.
  • I'm a Humanitarian:
    Doc: I don't know what it is they're giving us to eat. Perhaps it's just as well.
    Tom Servo: If you have to ask, it's people. It's always people.
  • I'm Thinking It Over!: Even though Kinga's made it clear she'll kill Jonah if he doesn't marry her, during the wedding he still hesitates for an awkwardly long time before saying "I do." In fact, he never actually answers, because he hesitates until Max interrupts.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: After Max almost fires off his Rip Taylor Urn Cannon:
    Kinga: Are you trying to ruin my big day?
    Max: Maybe.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Max, filled with jealous rage and bad advice from Doug McClure, unleashes Reptilicus Metallicus to attack Jonah in the middle of the wedding.
  • Musicalis Interruptus: Pearl starts to sing "When Loving Lovers Love", but Kinga cuts her off.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Max's reaction after releasing Reptilicus Metallicus:
    Max: Uh... this did not... go the way I thought it would.
  • Padding: invoked The detailed launch sequence at the beginning was clearly meant to be Technology Porn. But the riffers just get bored.
    Crow: Alright, we're impressed! Let's go!
  • Running Gag:
    • The guys start imitating Cushing's high-pitched, perpetually flabbergasted English accent the moment he first speaks, and don't stop until the movie is over.
    • Beefy leading man David/actor Doug McClure can't stop thinking about eating and talking about food: pot pies, pizza, cornish game hens, and wings, wings, wings. He constantly brings up going out to lunch and waxes lyrical on menu options with everyone, whether they're listening or not.
    • Stock riffs: "They tampered in God's domain."
    • Kermit the Frog impressions for the Mahars, because of their neck frills.
  • The Scrappy: Jonah's new robot Growler is, like M. Waverly, treated in-universe like an unwelcome Cousin Oliver, but out of respect to Jonah the bots seem to have warmed up to him by the end of the episode.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Crow takes offense at Perry's remark.
    Dr. Perry: My goodness, how enormous. Why, the largest remains we ever discovered have never indicated a size much greater than that attained by an ordinary crow!
    Crow: (offended) Ah, that's it. I'm leaving. (starts to leave the theater, but Jonah pulls him back into his seat)
  • Series Fauxnale: It was out of the showrunners' hands whether or not there would be a season 12.note  So this episode ends with Jonah seemingly dying, leaving Kinga's entire experiment in jeopardy without a test subject.
  • Shaky P.O.V. Cam: "They strapped a GoPro to a golden retriever for this scene."
  • Shoot the Money: invoked
    Jonah: They obviously spent a lot of money on this. So settle in, you guys, this might take a while.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Doug McClure (the one who drops by Moon 13) encourages Max to "Show her your guns." He wears a dress shirt with torn-off sleeves because, "My arms would not fit in it."
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: When some surprisingly gentle music plays over a fight: "What a nice, mellow fight scene. You know, this music works great for both wrestling and a relaxing massage."
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Pearl shows up just before the wedding ceremony starts:
    Pearl Forrester: Stop that wedding! [...] Oh, I thought this was the "If there is any reason they should not be joined" part. I don't have a reason, but I figured I'd come up with something.
  • Special Effect Failure: invoked
    • When the back-projection of the monster is particularly visible: "They're getting chased by a giant monster... movie."
    • "So this was before IMDb, when you could just lie about having special effects experience."
    • Upon seeing the monster from the gladiator fight: "A Roomba has better mobility than this thing!"
  • Stag Party:
    Jonah: Technically, this movie's part of my bachelor party.
    Tom Servo: What happens in the theater, stays in the theater, bro.
  • Steampunk: Inspired by the movie's Victorian setting, Jonah gives all the bots steampunk makeovers. The modifications don't do anything practical, Crow can barely stand up, and Tom Servo is in pain and also probably stoned from the smoke filling his globe, but everyone insists that this is the coolest thing ever.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: "No one ever escapes from the Mahar city. But getting into it? Super easy!"
  • Take That!: As the slaves are being led away: "Back to the warehouse."
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Although she does sound pissed.
    Kinga: I am SO PISSED at you right now! [stomps off like a preschooler]
  • [Trope Name]: The wedding vows:
    Brain Guy: (reading from script) Do you, victim's name here, take Kinga to be your overlord and master...
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The hunter-gatherer Pellucidan natives seem completely unfazed by the bizarre Victorian Englishmen that just showed up in their world one day. Jonah and the bots somehow completely fail to comment on this.
  • Wedding Episode: The episode opens with Kinga making last-minute wedding preparations, and ends with the ceremony itself.
  • With Catlike Tread:
    Crow: (shouting) BE QUIET OR YOU'LL WAKE THEM UP!
  • With Friends Like These...: Out of respect for their friend's unfortunate death, the bots decide to treat Growler like they would treat Jonah... which includes making fun of him and taking his stuff without asking.
  • With Lyrics: The SOL crew sing along with the music in the opening credits, turning it into a chipper song about iron smelting.