★★★ I've been enjoying catching up with Mystery Science Theater 3000, a zany show that should have been right in my wheelhouse in high school and college, yet, for some reason, never interested me until now.
This particular episode opens with a new invention. Joel has come up with a new guitar chord in the style of Eddy Van Halen. It's so powerful, in fact, it causes the guitar to explode.
The scientists, in turn, have invented a new karaoke machine that only plays public domain songs. It's a really funny gag, as was the little infomercial they do about this new miracle product, "You know the kids today with their loud music, hula hoops and fax machines..."
Of course, this is MST3K and Joel and the robots must eventually sit down to watch a bad movie. In this case, it's Pod People, a 1983 Spanish science fiction film that's been dubbed into English. It's clearly inspired by the success of E.T. but from its posterized opening credits (that appear to have scenes from a different film altogether), to the unintelligible plotting, Pod People isn't even in the same solar system as Spielberg's classic.
Though it's clearly a low budget movie, Pod People must've had an enormous amount of money set aside for smoke machines. There is fog inexplicably everywhere in the film, which gives us the great line delivered from the front row, "Even the movie The Fog didn't have this much fog!"
Joel and the robots add in a few visual gags, as well as their wit, using their silhouettes' movement for a few laughs this time around.
The plot of Pod People is all over the place. We go from following hunters in the forest, to listening to some singers in a recording studio, and then meeting a little kid who loves science.
The singers and hunters all end up at the kid's house after a strange object crashes into the forest releasing an alien and a few alien eggs. One egg hatches, and the baby alien is named Trumpy.
Trumpy looks like a cross between Alf and a costumed alien from Star Trek. He doesn't speak but the MST3K crew gives him a few lines in a silly British accent which made me laugh.
Joel and company are at the top of their game here. The comedic writing and timing is really good this time around, and there are a number of running gags including Smucker's Raspberry Jam and McCloud.
Pod People may be a bad movie, but it does have one redeeming scene where the kid's room furniture starts dancing around in a stop motion moment that is mystifyingly hilarious.
For me, there was also an unintentional laugh that came from the closing credits, where we see the name of one of MST3K's writers, Bridget Jones.
Upon further investigation, it turns out that Jones has had quite the writing career with MST3K, being credited with writing 139 episodes, as well as acting in a number of them. She is also married to MST3K's Mike Nelson. I wonder if she resents Helen Fielding's famous Jones character as much as Office Space's Michael Bolton does his more famously named counterpart. And that's not to mention my poor wife, who now shares a name with a famous Scottish singer who one day dreamed a dream on Britain's Got Talent.
But no matter your name, Mystery Science Theatre 3000: Pod People is now streaming on Netflix and is certainly worth a watch.