The episode: “Manos, the Hands of Fate,” ep. 424 (Seemed appropriate for my final post)
The riff: Announced in a hushed British accent by Tom as all of The Master’s brides begin to fight in a big, confused melee.
The explanation: This is a reference to a sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus. They did several of these, revolving around the “Batley Townswomen’s Guild,” which would put on dramatic productions of various historical events, including the Battle of Pearl Harbor. Each “reenactment,” though, would simply consist of all the women running at each other and then rolling around on the ground, fighting.
Novelty factor: Nope, nope, nope. I had no idea of the provenance of this final riff.
Thank you all again for reading this blog. It’s been a fun year of deciphering MST3k riffs. If anyone has any further riffs they wish me to look up, simply post them in the “Suggest-a-Riff” section and I’ll do my best to figure it out.
The episode: “The Sinister Urge,” ep. 613
The riff: Inserted incredulously by Crow as dialog after a man talking on the phone says “What? A spot?”
The explanation: Dinah Shore was an American pop singer and actress who achieved unprecedented fame as a solo singer in America’s big band era, the 1940s and 1950s. Later in her career she moved to television acting, including hosting the popular “Dinah Shore Chevy Show” from 1956-1963. A musical variety show, the theme “See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet” lived on for many more years in Chevy advertising.
Novelty factor: I’ve never heard of this woman or her show, but judging from the photos she was one gorgeous lady.
The episode: “Hercules and the Captive Women,” ep. 412
The riff: Corrected by Tom after Crow observes a group of people disembark from a ship on a tropical beach and references the film “The Blue Lagoon.”
The explanation: “Adventures in Paradise” was an ABC television series that aired from 1959-1962, featuring tales of romance and mystery in the Pacific, following Korean War veteran character Troy. It drew on the autobiographical stories of James A. Michener and his family sagas, which described various areas of the Pacific in great detail.
Novelty factor: Definitely never heard of a show like this before, although it’s interesting to note that re-runs ran on the USA network between 1984-1988. So there were no re-runs for 22 years and then it was on TV for another four years? Huh.
The episode: “Being from Another Planet,” ep. 405
The riff: Asked by Tom as a bevy of reporters swoop forward and an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus is opened with great fanfare.
The explanation: Tom is mocking a famous television failure: “The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vault” program that was broadcast in 1986. Geraldo Rivera, then a famous investigative journalist, was the host for the live two-hour special, which received heavy promotion and hype in the days leading up to its broadcast. For two hours, Rivera told audiences of the treasures he hoped to find inside; everything from gold to dead bodies. When the “vault” was finally opened, only a few empty bottles were found, which Rivera speculated might have contained “bathtub gin.” The let-down of the empty vault went on to be widely satirized and seriously hurt Geraldo’s credibility as a serious journalist.
Novelty factor: I’ve always loved this story–it’s just so silly. It’s hard to believe someone could have planned a two-hour live program without ensuring there was anything in the vault first.
The episode: “The Beatniks,” ep. 415
The riff: Exclaimed by Tom as one of the beatniks switches off the television set a man is watching.
The explanation: “She’s the Sheriff” was the name of a fairly short-lived NBC sitcom from 1987-1989. It starred TV star Suzanne Somers inbetween her better known roles in “Three’s Company” and “Step by Step,” which filled most of the 1980s and 1990s. Somers plays a character whose husband unexpectedly dies, leaving her to raise two children. To support them, she steps into his former role of the town sheriff. It was canceled pretty quickly.
Novelty factor: I’m not sure, but I don’t feel like I’ve ever heard of this show before. I used to watch “Step by Step” all the time in the 1990’s though, so I certainly know Somers.
The episode: “Jack Frost,” ep. 813
The riff: Labeled by Tom as a haggard witch with a pointy nose comes stumbling out of her living house, which is on chicken legs. She’s clearly based on the Slavic myth of Baba Yaga.
The explanation: Al Lewis was an American character actor best known for his role as Grandpa Munster on “The Munsters.” He looks just like this lady, with his pointy nose and crazy hair. On the show, he was a vaguely vampiric character, another oddball among many in the Munster family. Later in Lewis’ career, he became a political activist and also opened an Italian restaurant in New York, where he often appeared in costume.
Novelty factor: I always enjoyed “Munsters” reruns as a kid, but I didn’t actually know the actor who played Grandpa. I had a good laugh when I realized the comparison they were making.
The episode: “Master Ninja I,” ep. 322
The riff: Spoken in a low voice by Joel as ninja Lee Van Cleef (a good guy in this film) clashes with three ninjas in head-to-toe black in a very dark room.
The explanation: All the black silhouettes (besides looking like an early version of that scene from Kill Bill: Part 1) have a very modern dance feel to them, hence the reference to Martha Graham. She was a choreographer with vast, sweeping influence over the whole of modern dance in a career that stretched for more than 70 years. The Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance still performs today.
Novelty factor: Never heard of her, actually, but that’s not too surprising as my knowledge of the world of dance is just about zip.