MST3K Review: Mighty Jack (314)
By Matt Jones Saturday, 24 Mar 2007

The Movie – GOOD

Okay, so I will admit it. The first time I watched this episode, I fell asleep to it. Actually, same thing with the second time. And the third…in fact, I believe I slept through this episode the first 10 or so times I watched it. The plot is so freaking confusing that your brain just decides to avoid thinking about it and pass out instead.

Mighty Jack was actually two episodes of a Japanese television show of the same name thrown together to make a “full length” film. This was the technique used often by Sandy Frank, who would become legend during Season 3 of MST3K. What makes this so unreasonably hard to follow is the editing process. Mighty Jack basically contains the first and last episode of the television series together, which means we see the start and the end, but have NO IDEA what happened in the middle. Frankly, after seeing the bookends, I’m not all that interested in the middle, unless it was dubbed like it was here.

So, “plot”. The first half of the episode has the following plot: An organization known as Q is stirring up discontent across the globe, threatening peace as we know it. Mighty Jack is the secret government organization created to stop Q’s efforts. Mighty Jack is also the name of the airplane piloted by that organization that can go underwater (creating untold confusion). Somewhere in Paris, one Mr. Harold Atari is kidnapped, apparently by the agents of Q. The Colonel heading Mighty Jack is contacted to exchange Mighty Jack (the ship) for Mr. Atari’s life. Atari, being held on an island, finds out that there is a secret wave emitter in his suit, which was given to him by that Colonel, and attempts to contact Mighty Jack (the organization), who is out searching for him. Meanwhile, there are spies within Mighty Jack (the group) working for Q, who fail to do their job and are subsequently blown up by swallowing capsules (or something). Also meanwhile, Mr. Atari is questioned by Q through the means of a box he is put in that has blinding lights. Of course, he outsmarts that plan for a time by simply keeping his eyes closed…yeah, this whole movie is silly, and it’s only the first half! Eventually, Mighty Jack rescues Atari, they blow up the island he was staying on (for about five minutes) and it’s revealed that Mr. Atari is actually Major Harold Atari, new leader of Mighty Jack (the group).

Whew, okay, now the second half! Apparently, Q has discovered a way to freeze water molecules so that they can not be melted (in other words, they made hard ice that doesn’t melt). Because there are two scientists working on this, Mighty Jack (the group) goes to investigate, but both scientists say they had their research stolen from them! Who’s lying, or are they both telling the truth? And what’s with the mysterious reporter who wants to know more about the crew of Mighty Jack? (hint: he’s working for Q) And what’s with Manuel Peres, some guy who works with the third world but saves one of the members of Mighty Jack from being robbed? (hint: he’s working for Q) And what’s with the German son of one of the scientists (who is Japanese) who’s work was stolen from him? (hint: yeah, you know) Eventually, it looks like Mighty Jack has been beaten, but some members save the day, Mighty Jack (the ship) finds Q’s headquarters and blows it up, and the leader of Q (with a funny cat and a goofy laugh) ends up shooting himself.

So, the plot is ridiculous and predicatable, the dubbing is hilariously bad, and you need to watch this about twenty times before you can even come close to understanding this jarbled mess. All the makings of a “Good” to me!

The Host Segments:

Starts off with a “faced” moment: the crew (Joel, Tom Servo and Crow) all pretend as if they’ve hit some sort of meteor and the ship is going to die and all that, but they’re just kidding.

Invention Exchange: I probably should have mentioned this in the “Guidelines” post (and will edit it so it does), but when Joel was on the show, they did “invention exchanges” under the premise that Joel and the sceintists in Deep 13 were inventors, so it’s a competition to discuss what they’ve invented. In reality, it was a way for Joel to showcase his props that he made when he was a stand-up comedian, and it was a time killer, which was what they needed back then. Eventually, Joel stopped being the real brains behind most of them, and when he left the show, they pretty much slowly stopped doing them. Anyhow, this week had two pretty funny ones:

Deep 13 Invention: The Formal Flipper. Dress shoes with flippers on it, for the spy who wears a suit under his wet suit, but needs fancy feet to fit in with high society. Kinda scary at the ends as it shows Dr. Forrestor sporting the Formal Flipper for the ladies.

Satellite of Love Invention: Earmuffs that look like ears! Keeps your ears warm in the winter without matting your hair down like hats or making you look dorky with regular earmuffs. Comes in all shapes and colors. Even has Vulcan ear muffs for the Star Trek convention in Anchorage, Alaska! Joel’s not wearing any…or is he? [wink]

Other segments include the Bots’ Mighty Jack dog food commercial (good), the Bots trying to torture Joel with a device that would blind him if he opened his eyes (very funny stuff, “Boy, is he smart!”), Joel pitching underwater movie ideas by putting an aquarium in front of the camera (silly but good), and the final song of “Slow the Plot Down”, where they do a shanty about the film and forget exactly what happened.

Overall, good host segments, though I don’t really care for the plot shanty at the end, but I’m usually asleep by then.

The Riffs

Oh lord, do I love this episode’s riffing. It’s hard to explain. If you wanted to see an episode that was almost entirely esoteric, this is the one to watch. They bring up politics (Jesse Ventura when he was a mayor!, Orrin Hatch, Rush Limbaugh, JFK), music (Karen Carpenter, Elvis Costello) and everything in between. It just bounces around so much because the whole plot bounces around so much. This show also exemplifies the way I like MST3K to riff on foreign films: they stick to making fun of what is shown them, not going off on the society that created the film (that type of humor would be shown during the Sci Fi era, seasons 8 thru 10). I mean, the film itself is silly enough not to get into how Japan is “messed up”.

Not only that, but this episode does an excellent job of getting onto a riff roll, where they make fun of one thing or talk about one topic, and then hit that for three or four jokes in the next two minutes. They do something with Q in the beginning where the narrator does nothing but ramble on about Q. They get into something about toast somehow, they do a Rush Limbaugh joke in the first half, then bring him back around in the second half, they talk about Patriot missiles (it was around 1992 at the time, so it makes sense). They really start getting on a roll and really do a good job. They also have some riffs that are callbacks from previous episodes, really adding to the hilarity if you’ve been keeping up with the show.

All in all, this is a quintessential episode that very few MSTies talk about. For all the hoopla that Manos gets, that is an episode that shows what MST3K is about. This episode is what fans of the show should talk about. It brings together everything that was strong about the show and really nails it. Classic episode for true MST3K fans.

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