KTMA 15. Superdome (1978)

With the host segments this time out, we’re seeing another practice that would be implemented later in the series: the flashback device we’d later see in action in The Hellcats.

In the case of The Hellcats, the flashback host segments were necessary due to most of the writing team being out of town around that time. Not sure why such flashback host segments were used for this KTMA episode, but I presume that it was for a similar reason.

Perhaps the most interesting legacy of this episode is how the fanbase came through for MST3K.

For years, the closing host segment of this episode was missing. Many folks, myself included, presumed that this would always be the case, that this host segment would be lost to time, that it would be unlikely for a fan-recorded copy of the final sketch to miraculously surface and complete the digital archives.


Against all odds, one fan in Minnesota came forward with a VHS copy of the missing host segment in 2004! And believe it or not, it was apparently the person who sent in the first piece of fan artwork in that closing host segment. Her father recorded over the rest of the episode with family stuff, but fortunately, that missing piece of the puzzle remained intact on her tape and in her possession!

It just goes to show that with the MST3Kverse, the most inexplicable things CAN happen!


I had fun reading your analysis and enjoyment. And I can’t disagree that Season Zero lacks the polish and development of later seasons. But…

The difference here is that KTMA was all improv. The Comedy Channel insisted on more polish, so the revamped show in Season One was scripted. Mike was brought in to run the writers room. And they started watching the the movie, writing riffs ahead of time, and organizing a script with time codes. (Part of the reason Josh left the show was that he was frustrated by this because he liked improv and felt the script diminished the experience. Ironically, when he grew up, he ended up doing script work, including being brought in to punch up others’ scripts.)

So they’re not stepping over each other’s lines because they’re not lines. They’re talking over each other because they’re doing the whole thing live.

There’s a point at the end of the first Gamera movie where Gamera is about to be trapped by Z Plan.

Spoiler for a riff

Joel says “Wait, watch this… But his bosses… … Didn’t like him… … … So they… Shot him into space.”

It’s clear from that riff that he’d seen the movie up through the ending prior to this, but also that he very much did not remember the timing. He kept pausing and stretching out the riff because the scene took considerably longer than he’d remembered. Which would not have happened if they’d been using time codes on the monitor.

Which also means you’re right about the other thing I quoted. They likely did get caught up in the movie. And probably were trying to avoid talking over the dialog. And maybe felt less pressure to riff when the movie was entertaining on its own. A mix of everything, perhaps. But it’s interesting to see. As you say, it comes out a lot differently here where they’re improvising everything and going with the flow of the moment than when they have a dedicated writers room looking for every riff opportunity in advance.

Of course, you also see as the Comedy Channel era progresses that it takes a while for them to get the feel of just how much they can comfortably riff. Even scripted, the first season or two had, looking back, a very low riff density compared to Season Three and beyond.


Ah, that’s right, good call!

And that does make a world of difference, all the difference. I’m more in favor of a scripted show, but really, that they could accomplish what they accomplished in an improv vein? That’s CRAZY impressive.

Important distinction to make here, and much appreciated!

I’m glad that you bring this all up, because that brings me back to one curious moment from the episode that I wanted to address but forgot to.

There’s this one scene where Joel flat-out says that he just can’t come up with anything to riff about, and he asks the Bots in turn if they’re in a similar boat. It feels like you’re seeing all those elements you’re talking about (as well as the actual content/context of the movie) coalescing into THAT exact juncture. I need to make tracks throughout the rest of the KTMA era because my memories are all admitted hazy, but I’d be interested to see if they had anything else like that in the episodes.

Mmhmm. It was very much an evolutionary process (and to this day, you still see them learning, growing, developing, and evolving). And to see that evolution unfold is something remarkable, watching them try to find their grooves and acquire THE rhythm for this jazz.


I knew that the early episodes of KTMA were improv, I didn’t realize that they all were–or at least I didn’t realize the later episodes were still just improv. I thought they had gone to at least some scripting by the end of the season.


Maybe. I don’t know for sure.

I did notice that just about any time you had two riffers talking over each other, it was Josh doing the interrupting. He was 18 that year, I believe.


And let’s not forget…


… Ed Nelson himself, the elusive Robert Denby surfaces in this episode!


@Spotty_Boots. You said this is one of your favorites?


Ed Nelson from night of the blood beast where everyone’s name was Steve


This movie is a Trophy Case of identifiable faces. A who’s who of popular sensations whose time came and went along with their fame.


Hands down the best KTMA episode, to me. Can’t wait for tonight’s re-watch, if YouTube’s lawyers have left it as-is.


Could easily be wrong but wasn’t San Francisco Intentional made for TV? And would you count the Master Ninjas?


SFI was a pilot for a TV series (although they didn’t keep Pernell in the show).


I don’t count the Master Ninjas because they were movies made out of episodes of a teevee show, they weren’t a made for teevee movie.


Watching Janssen try and sound lovey-dovey, I reach into the future for the perfect riff from the RT pork short:

“YOUR VOICE NEEDS OIL!!” :fuelpump:

Just watching this one.

Wow, a much worse movie than I expected for a made-for-TV thing. Ludicrous plot, meaningless subplots.

The romance stuff; did the screenwriter flip through a copy of How To Pick Up Girls/Boys? The seduction of David Janssen by the hit woman; hoo-boy. She’s so obviously a honey trap (if maybe not obviously a murderous honey trap) that it’s ludicrous.

The supposedly professional assassin telling somebody she’s the killer? (And not making sure her phone isn’t bugged?) David Janssen reacting to the news that his new girlfriend is a murderer with as much emotion as if he found a piece of lint on his tie?

Pretty good riffing, although sometimes they just say what’s happening or say something random. (Joel even asks “Why are you singing Black Dog?”) Then admitting during one scene that they don’t have anything funny to say. Crow has the best riffs, I think.

As to whether the fictional-but-expected-to-win Cougars or the equally-fictional-but-expected-to-lose-but-the-gangsters-want-them-to-win Rangers are victorious. Number One, who cares? Number Two, in any sane universe of movie making wouldn’t it be inevitable that the Cougars would win so that the evil criminals lose the huge bet?


I almost forgot to mention the most astonishing thing about this movie. The casual throwaway line about how the team has too many black players??? Who put in that bit of casual racism? Combined with the stereotypical jive-talkin’ (“Brother man!”) black characters . . . wow. Just wow.


The best made for tv movie they did was and is Code Name: Diamond Head

I mean they really took advantage of the Hawaiian locations!*

*They did not

I have to re-watch this one (Superdome) as I barely remember it