345. NASA’s a sucker for any Very Large Array salesman.”

The episode:The Incredible Melting Man,” ep. 704

The riff: Sarcastically riffed by Mike as a very complicated-looking network of dishes and piping attached to a building is shown.

The explanation: The Very Large Array is a huge sequence of 27 separate large-scale radio transmitters/telescopes in the New Mexico desert that together function as one large receiver. It was built in the mid-1970s to aid in research into the mysteries of the universe, including radio galaxies, black holes, pulsars and quasars. In 2011 and 2012, the technology of the dishes was exponentially upgraded and the name was changed to the Karl Guthe Jansky Very Large Array in honor of the pioneering father of radio astronomy. It has been featured in many sci-fi movies such as “Contact,” where it was erroneously implied to be involved in the search for extra terrestrial intelligence.

Novelty factor: I’ve always chuckled at this riff. My inner sci-fi nerd knows all about the Very Large Array, although I was unaware it had been renamed.

286. “Global warming is a big ruse by some liberal, Pablum-puking liberals!”

The episode:The Incredible Melting Man,” ep. 704

The riff: Yelled angrily by Crow at the screen while solar flares are shown, roaring up off the surface of our star.

The explanation: Crow is mocking Morton Downey, Jr., a right-wing radio and television host famous for “The Morton Downey, Jr. Show” in the late 1980s. Downey was a provocateur who liked to pick fights, and “pablum-puking liberal” was one of his best-known catchphrases. Pablum, meanwhile, is a processed cereal for infants that has been made since 1931. Because it is very bland an inoffensive, the word has subsequently developed a double meaning as “bland, mushy, unappetizing or infantile.”

Novelty factor: Context-wise, you get what he’s saying, but I didn’t know who Morton Downey, Jr. was OR what Pablum was before this.


104. “The Gin Game!”

The episode:The Incredible Melting Man,” ep. 704

The riff: Exclaimed by Crow as an elderly couple trades good-natured ribbing as they drive deserted roads in the middle of the night: Of note: In a show filled with bizarre people, these are two of the weirdest folks to get screen-time in an MST3k episode.

The explanation: This seems to be a fairly obscure theater reference to a show of the same name, “The Gin Game,” from 1976. The minimalist drama stars only two people, an elderly couple who meet at a nursing home for senior citizens. It is so named because the long conversations they engage in take place as the pair of seniors battle in consecutive games of gin rummy.

Novelty factor: Totally new to me! Sounds like an absolutely riveting premise.