1103. The Time Travelers (1964)

Lol, I shouldn’t comment after working 15 hours!

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It’s always nice to see a time travel story that doesn’t try to pull any preserving the integrity of the timeline nonsense. Though this one has a rather pessimistic tone. Perhaps it was a bellwether for the later downbeat science fiction movies of the late 1960s and 1970s (Soylent Green, Logan’s Run, the Planet of the Apes series, etc.). By the standards of movies that get screened on MST3K, this is a reasonably competent affair with halfway decent production values. Though I do question the nightmarish design of the androids.

One weak point is the occasional heavy-handed pontificating. This sort of thing is common in science fiction movies of the time, but that doesn’t make it welcome. There is also a narrative flaw in the final act. They return to the present day outside the university building. Yet they don’t encounter anyone prior to arriving at the laboratory where they discover that everything around them is going at a slower rate of time. Even accounting for the possibility that it’s on a weekend, it stretches credulity that wouldn’t at least run into one closed door which, due to the differing rates of time flow, they would be unable to open.

Riffing-wise, this one gets interesting during the climactic battle, where Servo gets upset over the androids getting ripped apart. For some fans, this was when Servo started feeling like Servo. It’s certainly true that being emotionally vulnerable has been one of his key personality traits.

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This is definitely one of my season 11 favorites. Of course, I knew MST3K was in good hands with the very first season 11 episode, Reptillicus, but this is where Jonah and the bots really seem to hit their riffing stride. They are off and running from here.

We also get some great host segments that let the bots be themselves. They come together to defeat a common enemy when threatened (Jonah’s new bots), but show their own distinct personalities when confronted with time displaced and frozen versions of themselves. I also like the segment with Jonah’s new bots as a contrast to when Mike tried to build new bots in his first season. Mike was entirely incompetent at the task, while Jonah simply chose not to build functioning bots, seeming to know how Crow and Tom would respond. This comes after the “never have I ever” game where the bots just trash Jonah for being human. These segments show the new dynamic that Jonah has with the bots, making that relationship different from either Joel or Mike.

Speaking of Joel, we also get a Joel cameo (that is not Ardy) in a host segment, even though he has no lines. Although I watched season 11 several times in a row when it first came out, and had a rewatch in the run-up to season 13, I haven’t revisited most of these episodes nearly enough. Reptilicus and Carnival Magic are usually my go to episodes of the season, but this reminds me how much I like The Time Travelers.

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