Tuesday, August 12, 2014

303 - Pod People

First Broadcast - 10 am Saturday, June 15th 1991
#10 in Mighty Jack's Top 100
Excellence Level: Best in Show
Movie Pain: Medium - Silly as heck, though it drags at points
Riffing: I laughed so hard I wet 'em!
Skits: Perfect

Meet the alien vacuum attachment named Trumpy; who can clean those hard to reach blood stains with his versatile trunk: (Doubles as a kitty play toy)

Before there was Mitchell or Manos, there was Pod People. And like the aforementioned dynamic duo, this experiment is more than just a bad movie heckled by great comics. But a benchmark for what it represents in the MST mythos. The big 3 are pivotal and substantial entities in the development of the show and its standing in comedy/television history. Like the Beatles appearing on Ed Sullivan, it shifted the gears so to speak and put it on a higher plane

What makes Pod People (arguably) the first epic moment in MST history? For one; we are given a classic mess of a movie. A film made by a Director who takes himself far too seriously (read an interview with Juan Piquer and you'll see what I mean), which would be fine, if the flick was up to the task of supporting such gravity. It isn't and because of that J&TB are provided with a broad, chaotic canvass with which to work.

The story bounces all across the map... First we meet these Poachers: They'll stick around long enough for the gang to pop off a few funny shots at hunters. Their sole purpose is to anger the alien into a killing spree. Next; we are introduced to Tommy, who is our star and has an oddly dubbed falsetto voice; "Hmm, what pretentious crap" - Servo". That line is funny because it cuts to the core of the films failings. The little guy and his relationship with Trumpy the alien is a riot and drives this episode -Trump doing magic things, looking for potatoes, Tommy inspiring "Who" and "Kid on the Milk Carton" jokes- these are all enduring moments in the MST canon.

The film then shifts to the singers -lead by Ian Serra, who showed off his own little trumpy in Piquer's movie "Pieces". GAA, I'm Blind just from the thought of that!- This nimrod will give birth to the oft repeated line, "It Stinks". Oh, and lest I forget, Tommy's memorable Grumpy old Uncle rounds out the cast.

The plot? Gawd knows. Why are the aliens here? What's the relationship between Trumpy and the other? And what's the deal with the stars?! None of this is answered but it doesn't really matter because it all provides the impetus for some brilliant humor. The skits: With "Magic Things" happening on the SOL, a couple of absurd and wonderful songs, "Hideous/Idiot Control Now" and "Clowns in the Sky", had me bursting with laughter. ... One of the best -Course, I can't hear cheesy carnival music without crying out in glee, "Trumpy, you can do magic things!"- Pod People earns my first A+ and forever cements MST3K as one of the greatest comedic shows in televised history.

Host Segments
Intro: A reading from Crow's one man show "Robot on the Run". Invention: Joel demonstrates an explosive new chord. The Mads introduce the public domain karaoke machine. Segment 1: The guys sing - "Steady as a goat, flyin' over trout... Hideous control now..." Segment 2: New Age music from Some Guys in Space. Segment 3: The magical world of Trumpy is found on the SOL. End: J&TBs sing about Clowns, and the sky's they inhabit. Stinger: "It stinks!"

MST Hour Segments
part 1: The host offers Pod People as a good example of what you can expect from Deep 13. In segment 2 he wonders just what’s in those pods, confesses to seeing the film a dozen times and rocks out on a guitar as credits roll (once again the crew has to help him up off the floor). part 2: Jack strums a guitar and gives his recap. In the second half he compares Pod with “E.T.” and “Mac and Me” and indulges in more roc n’ roll hijinks as credits roll.

Notable Riffs
"Oh that comb belongs to Keith Richards." - Joel
"Flying over trout?" - "Lyrics by Mrs. Johnson's kindergarten class." - Servo/Crow
"Not a soul for miles." - "I'm not bringing mine." - Tracy/Joel
"See, cheating is hip." - Joel as Brian
"It's a Casio forest." - They parked next to a data stream." - Crow/Joel
"Oh no, I stepped in some Trumpy dumpy!" - Servo
"I'll never forget you, Trumpy." - "The way you callously knocked off 15 people... I'll never forget that; don't ever change, Trumpy." - Tommy/Tom Servo
"Trumpy! You can do magic things!" - "It's called EVIL, kid." - Tommy/Crow
"Looks like a cross between a pig and a bear." - "A pear?" - Hunter/Crow
"Hey, what gives, I'm on the milk carton." - Joel as Tommy
"Tommy can you hear me?" - "Can you feel me near you?" - Molly/Servo
"Delicious kitty... kitty's like a potato, Hmm where do I start, it all looks so good. Little winged potato's. oh mm, this potato's got big ears..." - Crow as Trumpy
"See, the pieces go together." - "Ahh if only this film were so lucky." - Tommy/Joel
"Tommy throw open the door and and say pull." - Crow as Rick
"Tommy where did you spring from?" - "From your loins mommy." - Molly/Joel as Tommy
"The helpless cough of a squirrel with a crushed face; that's what life's all about." - Joel as hunter
"Tommy, now you quit warping time and space this instant!" - Servo as Molly
"And he died as he lived, with his mouth wide open." - Joel on Bill
"Hi, we're the cast from Straw Dogs" - Crow

Riff Explained
"I'm Curly Neal to show you how" - Joel
Spoken while Joel balances the Earth on his fingertips like a basketball. Curly was the master dribbler of the comedic Harlem Globetrotters.

"It's White Fang, and he's stealing those bifocals" - Servo
White Fang was the pie throwing dog on the "Soupy Sales" show. The only part of Fang that was ever seen was his hairy paw (hence the riff). During the "Brain That Wouldn't Die" they do another Fang gag by imitating his voice... "Oh-Raah, Oh-Raah, Oh-Raah"

Pod People is rife with referential riffs... 
Anais Nin: French born author & diarist (1903-77). "...He seeks that rascal everywhere" - Lyric from the musical "The Scarlet Pimpernel". Nia Peeples: Actress, MTV VJ.

Stuff & Nonsense
* Frank Brana (Burt) has acted in well over 100 movies. From a few uncredited roles in Sergio Leone flicks (He was the guy in Frank's gang, smoking a pipe during the auction scene in "Once Upon a Time in the West") to several for the director of "Pod People", Juan Piquer Simon (Pieces, Slugs).

* Piquer is reportedly not happy with this movie as he originally intended a darker theme. The Producers wanted to glom onto "ET's" popularity and forced the 'friendly alien' tone on him.

Available on DVD: Volume 2

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