The episode: “The Sword and the Dragon,” ep. 617
The riff: Noted by Mike during a quick shot where some soldiers enter the hero’s dwelling and there is a blurry painting in the background that looks like a black man.
The explanation: Sun Ra was a controversial and prolific jazz composer and performer who became well known in the 1950s and 1960s. He was born Herman Poole Blount but legally changed his name to Sun Ra. He espoused some very bizarre opinions and claimed that he was actually of an “angel race” from Saturn. Despite his eccentricities, he is considered a pioneering figure in free jazz, space music and electronic music among others.
Novelty factor: I’d never heard of Sun Ra before. I’m surprised they were inspired to make a riff about him here, just because the image in the back of the scene that inspires the line is only on screen for a few seconds. But that’s MST3k for you.