12/15/06

413 Manhunt in Space

(1956, SciFi-Television, b&w), with:

General Hospital
(1963, Drama-Soap Opera, b&w)

The gay nightlife!

Rating: **1/2

In a nutshell:

Short: Various patients and hospital staff members pine for one another.
Film: Rocky Jones and his pal Winky hunt space pirates in their invisible ship.

Short Summary:

Nursferatu consults with Dr. Taciturn.In General Hospital, taciturn doctors and worry-lined nurses stalk the halls of General Hospital, planning awkward engagement parties and diagnosing hiatal hernias. The worried hernia patient and the awkward engagement planner seem to be in love with the same taciturn doctor, but it’s hard to tell between the fuzzy sound and the constant organ music.

Film Summary:

In Manhunt in Space, a supply ship sails across a two-dimensional sky to United Planets Outpost, Casa 7. Suddenly, space pirates attack! The pilot and a random space honey named Vena foolishly invite them on board, only to be taken captive. They momentarily regain the advantage with some deadly space seltzer water, but the notorious pirate Rinkman foils them and steals their cargo. He leaves them adrift in their disabled spaceship to slowly starve to death.

Vena’s boyfriend, a beefy space ranger named Rocky Jones, anxiously awaits her call back on earth while his partner, the wispy and embarrassingly named Winky, rambles on about all the women he dates and how much he enjoys “the gay nightlife.” Thankfully an official-type person interrupts and sends them to track down the missing cargo ships. Before they leave, Rocky visits an aged scientist to pick up a secret invention (a glowing vacuum tube that makes spaceships cold enough to turn invisible) and a prepubescent sidekick (Bobby).

Rocky and Winky easily avoid Rinkman’s booby-trapped decoy ship and rescue Vena. They quickly figure out the location of the pirates’ hideout (it’s the one asteroid in the universe with impenetrable defense shields), drop Vena and Bobby off on Casa 7, and go pirate hunting.

Meanwhile, Rinkman’s in a lot of trouble with his evil, low-cut commander Cleolantra. He apologizes and promises to catch Rocky for her. Imagine his surprise when Rocky lands his invisible ship right on his secret base. They easily catch Rocky and lock him up. Rocky just as easily escapes and leaves before the amorous Cleolantra can come to whisk him away.

Rinkman conspires with the Casa 7 communications officer, Ken, to disable their defenses and take over the base. The pirates interrupt Bobby’s space homework and space lullaby to take him prisoner, along with the other three or four residents of the space station.

Ken catches Rocky and locks him in his own invisible spaceship. Rocky escapes, rescues his friends, captures the pirates, and brings the defenses back on line to fend off Cleolantra’s invading goons. They fly back to earth with a hold full of prisoners while Winky continues to ramble about the gay nightlife.

Introduction:

Do these pants make my butt look big?Joel and the ‘Bots have snacks while they debate color vs. black and white. They realize Tom is colorblind when he identifies everything as red.

Host Segment One:

Crow tearfully accepts Tom as his friend in spite of his disability. “Oh, Tom,” he sobs, “It wouldn’t have mattered to me!” The Mads have invented beanbag pants, which is basically a pair of large beanbag chairs sewn to the seats of their trousers. They sit down and talk about art. Joel has invented recycled paper clothing. Gypsy dresses in newspaper. Crow has a paper towel suit to pick up spills. Tom wears a flash paper dress, for those times when he needs to make a quick change. His dress goes up in flames, burning away to nothing almost instantly.

Host Segment Two:

Dr. Tom delivers the bad news to his patient, Crow; his gown is open at the back, and everyone can see his butt. Crow breaks down at the news, and Tom comforts him. Nurse Gypsy sees them together, flies into a jealous rage, and passes out after seeing Crow’s butt. Joel refuses to participate in their soap opera game, but Cambot’s melodramatic organ stings won’t leave him alone.

Host Segment Three:

Joel and the ‘Bots discuss the “space” modifier from the movie, where the word “space” is applied to the front of nearly every noun, i.e. space lunch, space kid, space mathematics, etc.

Host Segment Four:

Confused about the character named Ken, Crow confuses Manhunt in Space with Fugitive Alien. Winky calls them up on the Hexfield Viewscreen, claiming to be whooping it up with space honeys in his invisible spaceship. They call his mom and discover that he’s actually calling from a basement in Wisconsin.

Host Segment Five:

Joel has made Crow into an electric guitar and Tom into an amplifier. He plays while reading a letter. Down in Deep 13, Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank cannot get up off of their beanbag pants. Frank rambles on and on about his artistic soul and his former job at Arby’s while Dr. Forrester throws things at the button.

Stinger:

Ken carefully looks both ways before throwing a balsa wood chair.

Thoughts:

The very picture of virility.I’m glad I never have to get treatment at General Hospital. Those people are so depressed and absorbed in themselves and each other, it’s a wonder they see any patients at all. I suppose I’d know what’s going on if I had watched it every day since the sixties, but a) I’m not that old, and b) I’ve never been the slightest bit interested in the fictional medical community’s amorous shenanigans. If you’re really interested in character names and relationships, you should read this episode’s entry in The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide (actually, you should do that anyway). Though she attempts to portray herself otherwise, Mary Jo Pehl seems to be something of a soap opera geek, and is well informed about the intricacies of the plot.

Rocky Jones, Space Ranger! is the kind of name that seems out of place without an exclamation point behind it. In contrast, Winky is the kind of name that is best whispered to your coworkers over the top of the water cooler, accompanied by a naughty giggle. He’s not really heartthrob material, either in name or physique. Why the producers chose this particular actor to play an irresistible Adonis named “Winky” may be one of the deepest and most insoluble mysteries of the universe. At least the apple-cheeked sidekick wasn’t all that shrill, and was very quickly sidelined.

The host segments are top-notch. Tom’s “disability” is handled well, and the Mads are always delightfully pretentious when they try to be avant-garde. The space modifier sketch and the guitar and amp sketch were both straightforward and amusing. The organ stings and the shameless melodrama of the soap opera sketch were really funny, and I could hardly stop laughing while Winky shouted down Joel and the ‘Bots about all of his women, insisting that he was in an invisible space ship in spite of the cleaning chemicals on the basement wall beside him.

Though I could scarcely hear the dialogue in General Hospital, the satellite crew’s commentary come out loud and clear, mostly commenting on the somber garb of the hospital staff, such as, “here comes Nurse-feratu” (Crow). While the taciturn doctor tries to explain a hiatal hernia to his smitten patient, Tom says, “Let me punch you in the sternum to simulate pain.” In the movie, Tom compares the bad planet special effects to a piece of breakfast cereal, the MST3K logo, and several other things. A great deal is made of the phallic two-dimensional spaceships. Though mostly funny, the movie segments tend to slow down at times. At one point in the non-action Crow resorts to saying, “Your pockets are speaking to you; they’re trying to tell you something,” while Ken’s pocket flaps stir in the breeze. Though the short is incomprehensible to anyone without previous General Hospital experience, the movie’s actually kind of fun, and the satellite crew riffed it pretty well. Combine that with two excellent host segments, this episode is worth at least one viewing.