I was reflecting on the fact that Mr. Gulager was in two episodes and was weighing which one I like better. One similarity is that both SF International and Clu’s episode of The Master were pilots for TV series that would have short runs.
Master Ninja I was made in the '80s, as seen in its take on the ninja fad, but in most other ways it looks and feels like a product of the '70s. And SF International just oozes '70s with its earth tones and laid-back feeling.
In SF international Clu is the epitome of laid back (the scene with the made-for-TV hippie is one of my favorites in all of MST), while in Master Ninja I he’s an evil land developer or something. I like laid back Clu better.
In Master Ninja I we also get the episode with the old-timey movie dancer, which doesn’t seem that memorable to me. On the whole, I like SF International better as an episode of MST3K. What do you think?
Pick your Clu Gulager episode
- San Francisco International
- Master Ninja I
I had to vote for ol’ Lee
I HAD TO!!
I loved him in San Francisco International. The way he handled the hippie situation was way cool. He’s one of my favorite 70’s character actors. (After Monte Markham).
Winner takes on Greydon Clark’s Uninvited.
At large, you can see him in a pretty well made Project Greenlight movie called Feast.
He actually plays a pretty clever character in SFI. He’s the stupid criminal in MNI.
Love both of these, but I have to give it to San Francisco International by a slight margin.
The riffs on Timothy Van Patten and Lee Van Cleef are great, and that “movie” has some fun A-Team vibes/energy which gives the gang a lot to work with, but it feels like San Francisco International does so much more with the gang serving up great jokes on all the juggled subplots.
Yeah, I should have made it clear that I love both of these episodes, which was why picking one was difficult.
It’s definitely a tricky choice! But it’s a fun predicament, that.
Both are great episodes, for sure. Have to give the edge to San Francisco International. The whole sequence where he has to deal with the Made-For-TV Hippie vs. Mr. Diet-Gum thing is legitimately awesome.
it’s good the question was based on clu gulager, because if it came down to child plane thief vs hamster van passenger i’m not sure if i could choose.
I chose San Francisco International because I was laughing hilariously at the riffs throughout, which I wasn’t doing during Master Ninja I (though there were some good ones in there). In fact, SFI is my third favorite MST3K episode overall whereas MN1 doesn’t even make the list.
So SFI, hands down!
I got to meet his son Tom once. He was a really nice guy. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him about his dad though.
Hey, what about Riding With Death, where they go on “Clu Gulager Alert?” Or was that Code Name: Diamond Head?
I think that was The Touch of Satan due to how pure 70s it was.
There’a also the “If Clu Gulager isn’t in this, it’ll be very wrong!” riff from Riding With Death!
I’ll grant you that SFIA has the best riff about his name, as the opening credits appear.
But apart from that it’s gotta’ be Master Ninja. I like him better as a bad guy, albeit one who’s not very bright-- in the best made-for-TV tradition.
I voted for San Francisco International. It’s in my Top 5. I have a great affinity for law enforcement men.
San Francisco International for me. Both are great examples of a 70’s-80’s TV genre that I hope they give another chance in MST3k. Sadly, the 4:3 aspect ratio seems to be unfairly maligned these days.
Master Ninja usually holds my interest more. Sometimes, the impenetrable 70’s-ness of San Francisco International just leaves me cold.