Mystery Science Theater 3000: RIDING WITH DEATH
August 31, 2017 12:26 AM - Season 8, Episode 14 - Subscribe

"An Unforgettable Excursion Into Adventure." Two stories with little in common except that they deal with the adventures of a secret agent guy who can become invisible, stitched together from the 70s show Gemini Man. Why a guy who can become invisible is called Gemini Man escapes me. Another popular episode among fan reviewers, the most amazing thing about it is that TV's Frank wasn't on hand to select it. I like to think his spirit (having temporarily escaped his body) hovers over the episode. Lots of riffs on the actors (especially lead Ben Murphy) and their other roles. Sketches are weird but fun, including Mike as a teppanyaki chef and Crow as Turkey Volume Guessing Man. Promos - YouTube (1h30m) Premiered July 19, 1997.

Episode 814 RIDING WITH DEATH
Satellite News - Mighty Jack's Episode Review - War of the Colossal Fan Guide - TVTropes

Kevin tells us his memories of the movie in his entry for the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide:
While we were shooting this episode, a crew from Gold Coast Productions was at our studio, shooting a behind-the-scenes special. Bill Corbett was dressed in his Observer makeup as a nurse, all day long. As a result, many viewers might come away with the impression that Bill is a cross-dressing albino. This is very, very true.
During the production of the behind-the-scenes special, the producers made the mistake of giving us home video cameras to document our true selves at work. I think you will see us as we are, a bunch of bizarre, hammy, blathering fools who somehow have barely enough wits about us to cobble together a puppet show in a reasonable amount of time.
As for the movie Riding with Death, I could go on for hours on how annoyingly inept this thing was. Looking over the Encyclopedia of Prime Time TV, it becomes apparent that casting Ben Murphy was the kiss of death for a series, and yet he managed to work for years without anyone becoming suspect. And Jim Stafford, I'm told, was once named one of the ten best dressed men in America, giving additional weight to my argument that the 1970s was the most shameful era in fashion perhaps in the history of Civilization, with the possible exception of the Elizabethan era when men wore panty hose and puffy shorts in public.
Movie
Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt
Rotten Tomatoes (Critics N/A, Viewers 0%!) - Wikipedia (as "Gemini Man") - TVTropes (as "Gemini Man")
IMDB (1978, 1.8 stars)
"Dimwitted, meaty guy foils criminals by turning invisible."
Directed by Alan J. Levi and Doug McDougall. Created for television by Leslie Stevens, Harve Bennett and Steven Bochco. Written by Frank Telford and Leslie Stevens. Supposedly from a novel by H.G. Wells, I guess in the sense that a guy can turn invisible. Starring Ben Murphy, Katherine Crawford and Richard Dysart.

Notes:
The IMDB informs us that Ben Murphy is still alive and kicking. I hope he didn't take the guys' riffs too personally.

The show Gemini Man had just a pilot and 11 episodes, only five of which made it to air. The second episode in this movie is from the unaired batch.
posted by JHarris (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not doing DragonCon this year so I'll be on-hand as usual tonight (Thursday) to guide you all down the river Styx (because you're Riding With Death, you see). The main show begins at 9 PM Eastern time, 6 PM Pacific, and will be at https://cytu.be/r/Metafilter_MST3KClub.
posted by JHarris at 12:29 AM on August 31


That Abby is some gal.
posted by Servo5678 at 8:13 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Sam, you're as elusive as Robert Denby!

This is one of my favorite episodes.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:25 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


I miss you guys.
posted by valkane at 8:21 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Give it the old college try, valkane!
posted by Chrysostom at 10:40 PM on August 31


One wonder whatever happened to whoever decided that these two particular episodes should be paired together with the title Riding with Death. I'd guess they must be one of the producers of The New Detectives, where every episode is two cases with a thin thematic connection, expressed in an interstitial voice-over that goes something like "But not every murder involves a van. In Bumblefuck, Louisiana, one murder involved a can, which is a word that sounds like 'van'."
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:48 AM on September 1 [1 favorite]


What's been happening, valkane? Would it help a bit if we moved the showings around a bit?

Here's the YouTube Potluck log for last night:
posted by JHarris at 7:16 AM on September 1


Turkey Volume Guessing Man is another favorite sketch from the Sci Fi era. But, you have to wonder about the writer's room. How in the world did the idea for that sketch arise?
posted by wittgenstein at 7:02 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


The MST writers at the time were basically comedy geniuses. And it's not just the idea of Turkey Volume Guessing Man (which was inspired, indirectly, by people calling others "Turkey" in the movie, I think), it's how far they went with their premise: Crow admitting it's not a particularly useful power, but "women are drawn to me," etc. And even his TVGM uniform. Basically, they were willing to go all in on a joke, and it paid off.
posted by JHarris at 12:12 PM on September 2


They were really firing on all cylinders around this time.
posted by wittgenstein at 2:24 PM on September 2


So, I foolishly read the Wikipedia page for Gemini Man and have learned that the whole reason for the female lead watching from secret cameras was to cover up the fact that she had been written out of the show between the two episodes used in the "movie".

Also, somehow they ended up making a Gemini Man record with four audio drama episodes, which made the invisibility effects even cheaper.

1 2 3 4
posted by ckape at 12:59 AM on September 4


For many, many years now, my husband and I have used "Denby?" as a texting shorthand for "arghhh I have a question right now why are you not replying to my texts???"

So elusive.
posted by acanthous at 10:22 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


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