Wednesday, August 13, 2014

305 - Stranded in Space

First Broadcast - 10 am Saturday, June 29 1991
Excellence Level: Bronze
Movie Pain: Medium - Very dry
Riffing: Chuckle-Fest at best
Skits: Fair - they lack a certain spark and liveliness

Welcome to Ward E - This weeks experiment is the pilot for a failed TV show called the "Stranger" (1973). In it, the guy who played Zephram Cochran in the original "Star Trek" series (Glenn Corbett) gets into all kinds of 'not so interesting' adventures on an evil parallel earth.

I'm not sure why Best Brains chose such a laboriously dull movie to pick on, because there's not a lot to work with here. Now the guys -being the pro's they are- do connect on many riffs: Crow milks the "Silence of the Lambs" jokes with hysterical results and the quips fly during the Earth ships shaky decent and there's a funny running gag where the gang get up to leave during what would have been commercial breaks... only to have to sit back down when they discover the pains not quite over yet.

Still, with a film as dry and barren as this... well, they do their level best. But it's a tough nut to crack and not every joke is a knockout. The Host segments are low key and didn't do a whole lot for me. Joel acting like the villain in the movie, lacked zip (compare it to his lively turn as the baddie on 007) and overall the skits feel kind of awkward and uncertain in terms of delivery and timing (though the game of one-upmanship between the Mads and Sol crew, with the bang! flags was fun). Therefore the Bronze is the highest award I can give it.

Host Segments
Intro: Joel's shooting gallery. Invention: In a show of one-upmanship, the Mads and the Crew of the SoL square off in a battle of the "Bang" flag. Segment 1: Tom and Crow argue over their collectible TV show trading cards. Segment 2: Joel and the bot bake cookies and discuss their visions of Ward E. Segment 3: Joel makes like Dr. Evil (with Tibby the turtle) and barks orders. End: Joel and Crow make a television pitch. Dr. F offers Frank a raise. Stinger: Striker gets slapped.

Notable Riffs
* "I had Jello today..." - Joel as Dr. Revere
* "They shot my spare turtlenecks!" - Joel
"Hey, they're in the Brady house." - Joel
"Look out here comes Jan, everybody scatter!" - Joel
"I'm here to put the lotion on his skin." - Crow
"Mike, how about a nice thick juicy..." - "Seizure" - Neil/Crow
"Wow! Do you realize how many TV series would be wiped out if this room blew up?" - Servo
* "Yes, Yes, It worked! I'm gonna score on an interplanetary scale!" - Crow as Neil
* "Yeah who needs a honeymoon, man... woa." - Joel as Mike
* "I don't want to hurt you." - "I just want to spread you on toast." - Neil/Servo
* "There's nothing worth recording or even remembering." - "Except the Beatles." - Old Guy/Joel
* "Boy is this great I gotta place to live and a brand new Dad!" - Joel
* "...toothless warriors..." - "Get dentures!" - Dylan/Joel
"My name is Luka I live on the second floor." - Joel as Betina
* "Physically, you're in better condition than we could have hoped. But emotionally..." - "You'll always be a little girl. - Dr. Revere/Joel
* "It's like a dream!" - "A made for T.V. dream" - Neil/Joel
* "You have lovely skin... Hikeeba! Gotta go!" - Crow as our hero karate chops baddie
* "Man is this ever great, I’ve got a place to live and a brand new dad!" - Joel

Riff Explained 
"Audrey Farber?" - Crow 
In Ward E Dr. Revere is questioned about Beinta Cook and Crow adds the name Audrey Farber. This refers to a comedy sketch -"Nick Danger, 3rd Eye"- by the Firesign Theater. Audrey is Nick's old college flame who also goes by the names Susan Underhill, Betty Jo Bialoxi... though everyone knows her as Nancy. Which in turn is a reference to a lyric in the Beatles song "Rocky Raccoon"

Stuff & Nonsense
* Psycho, Beaver Cleaver and MST?
Virginia Gregg played the woman who leads Benedict to Ward E. Virginia is also one of the 3 people who provided the voice of "Mother" in Hitchcock's Psycho.

Mother was created by Robert Dawn, who also did makeup on the show Leave it to Beaver. Jerry Mathers (The Beav himself) said that Robert let him help age Mothers skull (by putting yellow and brown lines on it, then rubbing them off) and build that beautiful head of hair. Quote: "Every chance I (Mathers) got, I would run to the makeup lab and help Dawn glue the hair on the skull for "Psycho".

* Listen closely: At the end of the film, when a character introduces himself as Tom Nelson. You can hear Servo faintly say... Mike Nelson.

* The character of Tom Nelson was played by Buck Young. Buck did a lot of TV work (He was Sgt. Whipple in the first season of "Gomer Pyle") and was Det. Aldridge in "Mitchell". Young was married to the Queen of the Western, actress "Peggy Stewart"

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