Saturday, August 30, 2014

K09 - Phase IV

First Broadcast - 6 pm Sunday, Jan 15 1989

Mutant ants attack. Not a bad episode to get if you're curious to see how it all began and are looking for a solid example of the season. Plus it's the first (available) episode not remade later on. The movies a chore but the guys do a good job of taking it on. Near the start the film drags with endless shots of the insects doing mundane insect activities - and Joel wonders... "How long are these ants going to groom themselves".   Cute and I also thought there was some stellar word play (Servo's "Antstock" riff) and the way they added punchlines to the script got me laughing.

There is some improvisation, which has its problems when they talk over one another, making it difficult to catch the joke. But more often than not the riffing is tighter and sounds like something they worked on and scripted (For example, the "Frau Blucher" riff spoken when a horse whinnies).

The skits are hit and miss. Segment 3 is filler but I liked the Mads opening bit. It fleshes out Dr. F and Larry's characters and how they must answer to a higher power (who has them working on things like "Project Morpheus" - which involves Minnesota wild rice, lol) Of note: (Most) copies of this episode contain a commercial for Joel's stand-up act.

Host Segments
Intro: The Mads need money so they sell Joel's car. Joel tells them that it had $30,000 hidden inside it. Segment 1: The bots don't dig Asimov's robotic laws so they create their own. Segment 2: The guys discuss what they'll do when they get to Earth. Joel is going to turn off the water he left running. Segment 3: A game of "I Spy" and the song "Wipeout" are highlighted on SOL. End: Crow and Gypsy recite a new robotic law. No Stinger: But if I chose one - Scientist tears up lab to kill an ant... "Got it!" he shouts.


Notable Riffs
"Antstock. They tried to have Woodstock but the termites came." - Servo / "The ants ate that house raw." - Joel / "...because it happened to such a small and insignificant form of life." - "Salesmen." - Lesko/Crow / "How do you feel?" - "A little antsy." - Lesko/Servo / "They kind of look like carmeled ants." - Joel / "...doing things ants don't do; communicating..." - "Square Dancing." - Lesko/Servo / "We'll just come back stronger, with ear muffs." - Crow / "How could they know?" - "Maybe Kreskins one of the ants." - Lesko/Joel / "Ahh the wreck room." - Crow /

Stuff and Nonsense
* Kendra is played by Lynne Frederick: Only 19 when Phase IV was filmed; she later married Peter Sellers (and was his wife when he passed away). She died in 1994, at age 44 due to complications from alcoholism.

* The actress who played Mrs. Eldrige was a regular on the Benny Hill show. 

* Director Saul Bass is most noted for his title sequences on films like "Anatomy of a Murder" & "Psycho".

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