Favorite Clu Gulager experiment: "San Francisco International" or "Master Ninja I"?

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

0 voters

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I had to vote for ol’ Lee

I HAD TO!!

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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).

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Winner takes on Greydon Clark’s Uninvited.

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At large, you can see him in a pretty well made Project Greenlight movie called Feast.

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He actually plays a pretty clever character in SFI. He’s the stupid criminal in MNI.

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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.

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Yeah, I should have made it clear that I love both of these episodes, which was why picking one was difficult.

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It’s definitely a tricky choice! But it’s a fun predicament, that.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Hey, what about Riding With Death, where they go on “Clu Gulager Alert?” Or was that Code Name: Diamond Head?

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I think that was The Touch of Satan due to how pure 70s it was.

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There’a also the “If Clu Gulager isn’t in this, it’ll be very wrong!” riff from Riding With Death!

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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.

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I voted for San Francisco International. It’s in my Top 5. I have a great affinity for law enforcement men.

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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.

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Master Ninja usually holds my interest more. Sometimes, the impenetrable 70’s-ness of San Francisco International just leaves me cold.

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