Wednesday, November 24, 2010

MST3K: Mitchell


The mere mention of the name is enough to send fans of MST3K in to fits of delight.


It’s a legendary episode for a couple of reasons. This is the last episode where Joel was the star. During the course of the film Joel makes his escape and the Mads are forced to find a replacement which ends up being Mike Nelson. It’s the changing of the guard literally since not only was host changed but also the slow of the show with the style becoming bit more relaxed.

The other reason this episode is legendary it sparked very angry words from the film’s star, Joe Don Baker, who threatened bodily harm to anyone from the show if he met them. Clearly the boys and girls behind the show hit a nerve in someone without a sense of humor.

Truth be told I like the film without the ribbing. It’s an okay, if over done action film that on its own terms is a good thriller. Of course its full of scenes that are ripe for silliness and the film is often unintentionally funny, partly through the overdone direction and partly because of Baker’s acting style. I like Joe Don Baker but at the same time I’ll be the first person to say that there is a reason that he disappeared from Hollywood after brief success in the original Walking Tall. He’s an actor who needs to be kept under control or else he ends up coming off as a clown. Here he walks that fine line, often falling over it.

In a really weird aside several years ago I walked into the office of one of the attorney’s who worked at my day job and found it was littered with posters of films of every sort. One of them was a huge one for Mitchell. Harvey asked me what I was looking at and I said "Mitchell. I didn’t know anyone else really knew about that film". Harvey sighed," I should know about it my dad produced it". I later found out that Harvey’s dad (Benjamin Melniker) is a big time producer who’s been behind many of the biggest hits of the last several decades, particularly all of the Batman movies.

The plot of the film has Mitchell, a gruff sloppy cop, smelling something is wrong when he ends up at the scene of a shooting at the home of John Saxon. This gets him into even more trouble with his bosses who don't really like him. They assign him to watch a a mid-level crime boss and it all spins out from there.

Actually the film as shown to Joel and the boys is awful. Its so cut up that even though I've seen the film several times over the years, I can't follow whats going on.

However thats not really the point, the jokes are.The episode is hysterical . It has some of the best jokes in the entire series, beginning with the song Joel and the bots sing during Mitchell's opening credits. It continues onward through to the final fade out.


In all honestly the jokes are such that that it's completely understandable that Joe Don Baker got pissed off over the ribbing he took in it. Joel and the boys are are rather merciless...and right on target in making fun of the film. Of course they were so successful at doing it that some jokes continued on into other episodes of the show such as people just saying...


The host segments are equally funny as the film. The plot of the episode has the Mads (Dr Forrester and TV's Frank) being audited by the Mad Scientist association. In order to help them get ready they bring in Mike as temporary. When they plan to kill Mike, Gypsy thinks they are going to kill Joel. Gypsy then makes plans to get Joel off the Satellite of Love. She's successful and the Mads send Mike up to the Satellite to take Joel's place. Its a great transition and it was a move that forever split fans of the show into those who love Mike and those who prefer Joel.

Currently out on a single DVD this is one of the best ways to try the series. Worth tracking down.