Mystery Science Theater 3000: OVERDRAWN AT THE MEMORY BANK
October 26, 2017 2:50 AM - Season 8, Episode 22 - Subscribe

"Caught in a future world, his only escape is back in time." Raul Julia is Aram Fingal, who lives in a future dystopia and gets in trouble by scrolling up Casablanca at his data entry job. So he's doppled into a baboon--thankfully, not an anteater--but an impish schoolkid loses his body, so he's then-doppled into the world-running computer for safe keeping. He pretends to be Rick from Casablanca, meets his dead mom of whom he asks, "My nuts?" and runs afoul of both computech Apollonia Jones and the CEO of Novicorp. Look, I've seen the movie several times and I'm just as lost as you are. This has gotta be the most nonsensical movie in MST3K's rich history of nonsense. Gloriously silly and yet seems not to even notice. Made for public television, it's another strong contender for Worst Movie They Riffed. It's filled with heaping helpings of made-up future jargon like a kind of sad Nadsat. Get ready everyone, it's Fingal time! In the host segments, Pearl decides to run her own pledge drive and rake in the dollars. This is the end of season eight of Mystery Science Theater 3000. YouTube (1h32m) Premiered November 22, 1997. 26 episodes left.

Satellite News - Mighty Jack's Episode Review - War of the Colossal Fan Guide - Annotated MST3K - TVTropes

Here's Bill Corbett's reflections on the episode from the Satellite News addition to the ACEG:
The real problem here -- rare indeed for our show -- is that the lead character is played by an actor who is actually a very good and highly respected actor: Raul Julia. And the recently deceased Raul Julia, at that. So we spent much of the movie feeling a bit worried that we might be besmirching the late Mr. Julia's reputation. But in the end, we went light on Raul and hard on this extraordinarily dumb movie whose relentless "funny" techno-futuro-jargon was the screenwriting equivalent of water torture. And we felt buoyed by the happy knowledge that Raul's legacy outlived this early career train wreck of a movie (which was shot on horrible cheap-TV-looking video, no less! Not easy on the eyes). The Public Pearl TV sketches were inspired by the weird and disturbing fact that this movie was partially bankrolled by a New York PBS affiliate, WNET. It's in the credits! Look! They can't deny it! Think about that next time your local public televsion station fires up Riverdance again and tries to guilt-trip you into cutting them a big check!
Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt
Rotten Tomatoes (Critics 20%, Viewers 17%) - Wikipedia - TVTropes
IMDB (as "American Playhouse: Overdrawn at the Memory Bank", 1983, 2.1 stars)
"The mind of a computer programmer forced to take a virtual vacation is removed by a totalitarian government and accidentally trapped in the virtual reality simulation. He must find a way out before he expires."
Directed by Douglas Williams. Written by Corinne Jacker, adapted from the short story by John Varley. Starring Raul Julia, Linda Griffiths and Donald Moore.

This movie is based on a short story by John Varley. I've not read the story, but Salvatore of has. Here are his recollections on Google Groups' Usenet interface. (Hurry and read it before Google inevitably kills that service.) More notes are here. The story, by the way, was written in 1976, a couple of years before the Atari VCS/2600.

Some particular notes, in the story the main character is just "Aram," there is no "Fingal." He's wealthy and is "doppeling" for fun. There is no "scrolling up cinemas," it's not a crime. He doppels into a lioness, not a baboon. The doppeling company does lose his body but offers a cash settlement and is not run by an evil, obese CEO. There's very little about Casablanca in it.

This is one of my favorite episodes of all. The goofy jargon is so ridiculous, but the movie makes precious little sense. Don't try to think about it, you'll only be left with more questions.

And remember: Get your monkeys, instantly, at Instant Monkeys Online! (Link from Satellite News.)
posted by JHarris (33 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
At the Rifftrax MST3K reunion show, Bill Corbett tells the story of some friends of his showing a clip of Brain Guy and Pearl singing "When Loving Lovers Love" at his wedding rehearsal dinner, and his in- laws thinking "What is this thing that's marrying into our family!"
posted by wittgenstein at 4:30 AM on October 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

This is another greatly loved episode that kind of bombs for me. YMMV.
posted by wittgenstein at 4:31 AM on October 26, 2017

Sad Nadsat will be the name of my next MeFi account.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:57 AM on October 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am here for this. This is my favorite one.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 5:40 AM on October 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

John Varley is a terrific author and an ace worldbuilder. I'm bummed that his Hollywood career foundered on the shoals of this movie and Millenium. I wonder if he's happy with getting MST3K'd as a consolation prize?
posted by whuppy at 5:47 AM on October 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Mom, 'my nuts?
posted by cottoncandybeard at 6:23 AM on October 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

I disagree that this movie is nonsensical, if you follow its internal logic it pretty much makes sense, its just DUMB and terrible. This is absolutely one of my top 10 episodes, the host segments all destroy.
posted by hobgadling at 6:48 AM on October 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

So we've reached the end of season 8! Just two seasons of 13 episodes each are left. As usual, MST Club is having a showing Thursday night (tonight) at 9 PM Eastern time, 6 PM Pacific time, and of course with various adjustments for other zones. (Mountain: 7 PM, Central: 8 PM, UK: 1 AM I think, yikes. I wish there was a time that satisfied everyone, but that's just the internet being a worldwide thing for you.) As usual, there will be some extra weird and/or funny things to watch before and probably after the show.

Our showing will again be at
posted by JHarris at 6:50 AM on October 26, 2017

I hope I don't bungle or bobble the Fingal dopple!
posted by SansPoint at 6:57 AM on October 26, 2017 [6 favorites]

hobgadling, I can make sense even of Monster A-Go-Go with enough viewings (except, of course, the ending, aka "screw you, the movie's over!"), but there are bits in this movie that I still scratch my head at. Like, why does the "fat man" (the movie's own name for him, by the way) confront Raul/Fingal/Rick in his little Casablanca standoff? Why does it matter to us that Rick gets shot? Why does Fingal pal around and confide in the fictional Casablanca people? Why does Apollonia Jones appear like a goddess with poison ivy over her naughty bits? Why is it, to use the riff, Children of the Damned Day at the brain institute? Flavo-fibes, seriously? Why do they mention Fingal doing all these things when he doesn't do a damn thing on-screen to merit it, except yell out "I'M INTERFACED!" excitedly?

I'm not the only one on this, right? 'My nuts?
posted by JHarris at 7:00 AM on October 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

This movie is more fun if you think of it as a prequel to Street Fighter and this is why M. Bison is so ['my] nuts.
posted by Servo5678 at 7:27 AM on October 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

I think this is the only MST3K movie that I originally saw in its unriffed state. Somehow it got recommended to me as a little known, but interesting sci-fi film, and I got the DVD from netflix. I sort of enjoyed it, probably because I came to it with that framing, but it's way better when riffed.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:51 AM on October 26, 2017

I would like to note that, as a person working in front of a computer in an office who may or may not be watching YouTube most of the day, We are All Aram Fingal Now.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 8:15 AM on October 26, 2017 [5 favorites]

Ut! Your supervisor caught you watching cat videos! It's two weeks compulsory baboon time for you.
posted by JHarris at 9:07 AM on October 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

JHarris: Baboon time? I can't afford that. I'll have to dopple as a lousy, filthy anteater.
posted by SansPoint at 9:09 AM on October 26, 2017 [7 favorites]

This one is rough. I think I like it better in theory.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:37 AM on October 26, 2017

Do we have any thoughts on doing Cinematic Titanic?
posted by Chrysostom at 10:38 AM on October 26, 2017

"Overdrawn" holds a special place of dishonor for me because it was WNET's second attempt at a SF movie for TV and the first, "The Lathe of Heaven" three years earlier, was not just one of my favorite pieces of the genre, it introduced me to one of my favorite authors, Ursula K. Leguin. So the level of disappointment was truly subterranean.

Of course, much could be said of Raul Julia's tragically short acting career, but his performance as Gomez Addams in the Addams Family movies stood out. It's obvious that Charles Addams never intended his characters to have a life outside of the single panel comics, especially the incongruously named Gomez. After the TV series where the perfectly off-kilter comic actor John Astin was 100% Addams but only 50% Gomez (a smart move for the time when the cartoon world was also highlighting a Mexican stereotype character named 'Go Go Gomez'), Julia astonished me by nailing the performance even better. Still, one wonders if the MST3K revival will ever get its hands on "Street Fighter".
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:49 PM on October 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

It looks like I got the link wrong for the episode. Try this.
posted by JHarris at 6:30 PM on October 26, 2017

Taking my older son to see Trace & Frank live tomorrow, will report back.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:32 PM on October 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

The support line call at the end is one of my favorite end-credits riffs. And they really nail the Midwest PBS station pledge drive vibe, only thing missing is some Whovian answering the phone while wearing a Tom Baker / Fourth Doctor scarf.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:05 PM on October 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

when I was in Toronto I visited the shooting location for this, it's a weird mall-type thing that seems unique to Canada where it's in the middle of downtown but connected to subways and tunnels to other mall towers cause it;s so cold half of the year.
posted by The Whelk at 11:05 PM on October 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

I've been to plenty of spaces like that in Minnesota, to the extent that when I have the dreams I'm wandering around in one it's only occasionally a nightmare.
posted by ckape at 12:00 AM on October 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Taking my older son to see Trace & Frank live tomorrow, will report back.

Good for you! I saw 'em in Minneapolis and it was *chef kiss*

"Overdrawn" holds a special place of dishonor for me because it was WNET's second attempt at a SF movie for TV and the first, "The Lathe of Heaven" three years earlier, was not just one of my favorite pieces of the genre, it introduced me to one of my favorite authors, Ursula K. Leguin. So the level of disappointment was truly subterranean.

Holy crap, "Lathe of Heaven" was a WNET production?!? No wonder it's been sitting in my Netflix "pending" list with a date of "unknown" for so long.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 1:41 AM on October 27, 2017

If you get a choice, go to Trace and Frank doing Glen or Glenda. They've done that one so often they don't even use a script, and it's great. They take questions afterward, so think about what you want to ask ahead of time.
posted by wittgenstein at 6:06 AM on October 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

My reading noted there was a third WNET sci-fi movie, based on a compilation of Kurt Vonnegut stories and called Between Time And Timbuktu.
posted by JHarris at 7:05 AM on October 27, 2017

Oh, to address the possibility of doing Cinematic Titanic--

MST3K falls into a unique place when it comes to community internet showings because so many episodes are on YouTube, and its fandom has a strong tradition of video sharing ("Keep circulating the tapes"). I've been able to supply personal copies of episodes once in a while when something hasn't been on YouTube, but this has been thankfully rare. Meanwhile, every Cinematic Titanic DVD begins with a heartfelt plea not to distribute copies of episodes, so I feel bad about downloading them. The episodes we've shown as part of pre- and post-roll have all either been ripped from personal, bought-and-paid-for DVD copies or are among the few CT movies on YouTube. These are much the same reasons we don't show more Rifftrax; I have many more RTs purchased and ready to run than CTs, but still just a fraction of everything they offer. CT and RT are both more suitable for occasional use, like in the Christmas marathon or surprise filler.

If any of these things show up on Netflix that might be a useful edge case, since we do have a way to share Netflix streams.
posted by JHarris at 7:23 AM on October 27, 2017

Yeah, I saw Trace and Frank live about six months ago - they did the Chuck Connors movie "Walk The Dark Street." Tonight is a surprise, so we'll see.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:26 AM on October 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

When they were here, they did Vincent Price in The Tingler the second night, which I didn't see, but which I expect would be hysterical. They said that one they had only done a few times, so maybe that will be the one you see. Report back afterwards!
posted by wittgenstein at 8:42 AM on October 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

It was the 1959 William Castle absurdity, The Tingler (with Vincent Price!).

They were good, my son had a lot of fun.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:28 PM on October 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Mom, you forgot your spoon!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 9:47 AM on October 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

I kind of like Overdrawn at the Memory Bank sans MST3K. It being Canadian it would pop frequently on late night TV here in the 80s and being an insomniac in my teen years I'd invariably watch it. The film is produced by a guy named Robert Lantos who is one of the legendary figures of Canadian film (for good and bad reasons). He's produced films by David Cronenberg, Sarah Polley and Atom Egoyan. He produced some of our best known films and often likes to remind you of that. In anycase, Overdrawn is likely not a film of which he has many positive memories. Easily his worst film of his long career but what a film! The cast couldn't be more Cancon (with the exception of Raul Julia of course): Linda Griffiths, Maury Chaykin, Gary Farmer, Bunty Webb, Jackie Burroughs (geez so many of them are gone now)... Production design by frequent Cronenberg collaborator Carol Spier. Its not very good but I love this film.

"I am a wonderful baboon!" Yes, Raul you are.
posted by Ashwagandha at 10:58 AM on October 31, 2017 [3 favorites]

Maury Chaykin of Wargames, as I like to think of him.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:02 PM on October 31, 2017

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