Friday, August 15, 2014

410 - Hercules Against the Moonmen

First Broadcast - 10 am Saturday, Aug 22 1992
Excellence Level: Sub-Par
Movie Pain: Medium - Goofball in all phases
Riffing: Induced mostly smiles
Skits: Ditto

I can be pretty tough on this show and the reason for this lies in the lap of the "BBI". They raised the bar, they set these high standards. They gave me something funnier, sharper and richer than what I receive from most television comedies. So when they flounder, even just a little bit, it bugs me. And this episode bugs me a lot. Why? Because much of the riff work on "Moonmen" is lazy, repetitive and well, rather dumb. Now, dumb is fine, I think dumb can be funny, but it can't sustain an entire episode on its own and that's the problem. There's little variety or depth. It's almost as if they didn't have the energy to bring their A-Game.

Old standbys are drug out like the, "So n' So, NO!" gag. These quips are more effective when doled out in small quantities. Here though -during an early fight scene- Both Servo, then Crow shout out a couple within a few seconds of each other. On other occasions they'll use a slight wisp of a riff and stretch it till it snaps... J&TB spotting celebrities in the crowd, or the "Little Caesar" lines -The best? One Roman after another piles on Deriks and each one says "Pizza, Pizza!"- both are funny at first, yet so overdone that it gets real old, real fast.

That's what I mean by lazy, instead of tackling the goofball nature of the story -as they did so brilliantly in "The Magic Voyage of Sinbad"- they do what anyone of us could do. Fill up time with cheap & easy quips, and dang it, J&TB are better than this.

Still, does every show have to be brilliant? In a word - Yes! I expect more from these guys. If I didn't I'd be content to sit in my easy chair and zone out on sitcom garbage like "Who's The Boss" for hours. That's not to say that "Moonmen" doesn't have some very funny stuff, or that it ever descends too far into prime-time sitcom stupidity. There are several funny moments, such as... when the movies soundtrack swells with soap opera-like music, and Joel says in hushed tones, "Will Leona win the heart of Hercules?" There's also a great sight gag where Hercules spills his drink on J&TB. The quip about "Change for an 8 year old" is sharp and I did get a kick out of our buffed up bots trying out new names for themselves. But these are the exceptions to the rule.

"Herc" is sorely lacking that keen edge of brilliance that you find in "the classics" and without that all we're left with is silly without much substance. Am I being too tough on this experiment? Perhaps, but it's only because I know they are made of better stuff than this.

Host Segments
Intro: The Bots leave home, but it doesn't last long. Invention: Joel does the "Super Freak Out". The Mads speak of "Deep Hurting" and sand. Segment 1: Boobie-trap illusion. Segment 2: The Bots are scrawny and get new tough guy names. Buut, Tom's are pretty lame. Segment 3:The Pants song. End: Joel explains why Steve Reeves wasn't in the picture and Crow breaks Gypsy's heart. Dr. F can't figure out why "Deep Hurting" didn't work. Stinger: Old guy gets spiked

MST Hour Segments
Part 1: The host jokes around as he holds a moon globe. Later, he reveals his dream about his inner white horse. Credits roll and Jack has a crewmember bring him a pillow so he can nap on the set. Part 2: Perkins recaps our “Historically and cosmically confused epic”. Seg 2 has Jack remembering his childhood as he holds a bucket full of sand. Credits: Jack does a sand dance and takes a nasty fall.

Notable Riffs
"Hey, you got change for an 8 year old?" - Joel
"Jim Henson's Exodus babies" - Joel
"Ah, early Disney employees" - Crow
"Is that my puddle?" - Crow
"Well, time for my Snickers" - Joel as Herc
"Oh no, Archie just flushed" - Servo
"Trumpy you're angry" - Joel
"Looks like the movie's equipped with air bags" - Servo
"This man is missing a nipple" - Crow
"Now cough" - Crow as Deriks
"Good one, Hercu-loser" - Joel
"Gumby, NO!" - Crow
"It's the woman in the dunes" - Crow
"Behold; The only thing greater than yourselves!" - Servo
"Your fired! Clean out your dress" - Joel as the Queen
"Does that make me Mrs. Master of the Earth?" - Joel
"...he escaped from the trap you set for him" - "He chewed his leg off" - Moon Man/Joel
"But, you're not the princess" - "Well you're not Steve Reeves" - Herc/Joel
"Oh wait, he can bend steel but he can't break through a net?" - Crow
"Gee, I wish I had my shirt on, my nips are burning!" - Joel as Herc
"Ah don't make me laugh Woodsy Owl" - Servo

Riff Explained 
"I am the mighty Favog" - Crow
Believe it or not, Jim Henson worked for Saturday Night Live when it first aired (1975). He created the "Land of Gorch". Which was a smoke filled area populated by foul mouthed muppets. The mighty Favog was a statue and the creatures spiritual leader. I hated this skit and apparently so did the cast. In fact they disliked it so much that while Henson was in England, they burned down the Gorch set! Favog and his ilk were quickly banished from SNL but Jim Henson moved on to create a muppet empire.

Deeep hurting?
This line from the host segments references a commercial for muscle ache product... "Mentholatum Deep Heating". In the ad a deep voiced announcer would talk about the soothing relief of “Deeeep Heating”, as these same words would light up in red in the background.

Stuff and Nonsense 
It's all a lie! Alan Steel isn't Alan Steel, he's body builder Sergio Ciani. And he's not even playing Hercules, but Italian strong man Maciste!  U.S. distributors changed it all to appeal to American audiences. MST would later cover another from this series when they riffed on "Colossus and the Headhunters"  in season 6.

BTW, Maciste doesn't mean "My Cheese Steak" (ROTF) either; it's the Italian form of the word "Machismo"

Available on DVD. Collection Volume 7

< Previous * Next >