Keith Palmer (krpalmer) wrote,
Keith Palmer
krpalmer

MST3K 415: The Beatniks

After a pause in which I rewatched the new official release of "The Crawling Eye," I'm back to commenting on Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. (One thing interesting about that official release, though, was a new interview with Joel Hodgson commenting on "getting started"; he happened to mention that they hadn't quite finished building the Satellite of Love set before they had to start taping, which seems to explain at last not only why the walls don't have clutter on them during the first season, but why Joel slaps the table at "movie sign!" in the first few episodes before buttons for him to hit get installed.) In any case, it's on to the fourth season and a movie that doesn't quite offer what its title gets our heroes interested in...

Before that, though, it's another instalment of "General Hospital" (after the one that appeared with "Manhunt in Space"), one featuring a dinner party of some sort. Something about the blurry "kinescope" quality of the segment seems to keep me from figuring out just why the "riffs" dwell on the get-together being tense and unpleasant ("Here's to the most depressing party I've ever been to."), but I suppose it's over soon enough. As for "The Beatniks" itself, it opens with the extremely clean-cut gang leader Eddie Crane holding up a liquor store and rear-ending the car of an older gentleman who wanted a push; after that, though, he gets discovered singing to a jukebox by the very same gentleman he had just collided with. With impressive speed (and with people in the movie itself commenting on that speed), Eddie is dressed in a suit, romancing the assistant who helped get him that suit, and singing what seems just about the most "establishment" music possible for when the movie was made to a television and young theatre audience that nevertheless eats it up. ("He's like a singing weatherman.") However, Eddie's old gang continues to cause trouble, trashing his hotel room for him and then starting late-night troubles at a bar that culminate in Mooney, the one gang member with somewhat long and unkempt hair and who's memorable in a "completely over the top" way, killing the bartender in some fashion. Things sort of spiral out of control from there, and in between trying to hold a recording session Eddie must battle Mooney and then at last face the music. ("Oh, if any real beatniks come by it's going to be really embarrassing.")

I suppose this wasn't a particularly "quotable" episode for me, but as I've often thought of late it seemed to add up to something over its length. It did start off with an opening "host segment" that had Joel taking advantage of Tom Servo and Crow's inoperable hands to keep winning "rock, paper, scissors" against them and slapping them on their wrists; I found myself thinking of my sometimes uneasy feeling that the first season and a half or so of Mike's episodes could have the characters being "casually cruel" to each other. Then, as it turned out, Gypsy comes to the rescue ("Gypsy crushes Joel!"), which somehow seems to me to be an early example of her transition from "big, dumb, almost inarticulate mascot" (explained away after a while as being due to her "running the higher functions" of the Satellite) to "motherly." There's also an amusing discussion of how to tell you're not a beatnik (the people in the movie, of course, aren't) and Tom Servo's own rise to and fall from singing stardom, with the "lo-fi" nature of the show shown with the "spinning newspapers" in between vignettes being spun on sticks by Joel.
Tags: mst3k, mst3k episode
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