And now we get to the end of the preliminary shorts for my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction treatment of Johnny Pez’s Isaac Asimov fanfiction “Safety First”. Right now, we’re in the middle of a short by Ken S Eto arguing that there’s something unfair in science funding decisions being affected mostly by scientists, and he has the fix for that. It depends on choosing whether one is a “mainstream” or a “fringe” researcher.
The long line about moving Venus and renaming the chemical elements and the hole at the North Pole and Yul Brown’s gas and all is a mash-up of a bunch of notorious Usenet cranks from the 90s. Some of them, like Ludwig “Archimedes” Plutonium, were common subjects of MiSTings, although I don’t remember that I ever got at the big guys like that. SU(3) symmetries are from a mathematical construct known as group theory that turns out to describe subatomic particle interactions well.
The sketch about Crow and Tom Servo realizing Dr Forrester’s scheme makes no sense is … eh. The idea is all right, I guess, and the sketch resolves properly. But it has the energy of a sketch where the participants reject the sketch and break out of its logic, like a lot of those sketches the show did in Season Two. A bit of that is fun but too much and you don’t have a premise anymore.
When I first published this, the host sketch had a bunch of casual talk about Dr Forrester being “crazy” and his plan “insane”. I’ve rewritten it some to be less bad. But the skeleton of the premise is still there, baked into the axiom that Dr Forrester is a mad scientist.
> Anybody applies for
> public funding must declare that he or she is mainstream or fringe.
CROW: Must they declare whether they’re he or she?
> Once declared he or she must remain in that group for at least five
TOM: So, uh, they may want to bring something to read while they wait.
> This also applies to the reviewers.
JOEL: So is Roger Ebert mainstream or fringe?
JOEL: Leonard Maltin?
JOEL: Elvis Mitchell?
JOEL: Those guys on the BBC’s "Talking Movies"?
CROW: Mainstream, but they don’t know it yet.
> They must also remain in
> his or her declared group for at least five years.
TOM: Except bathroom breaks.
> A mainstream
> reviewer can only review mainstream proposals
CROW: Plus the new "Star Wars" movie.
> and a fringe reviewer
> can only review fringe proposals.
TOM: What about Groucho Marx’s proposals?
> A declared reviewer can only apply
> for funding from his own group.
TOM: Brother, can you spare a MacArthur grant?
> With the above proposal,
CROW: And a little slice of lime…
> the ideas and concepts of 99% of the
> population will have a chance to be heard.
JOEL: So the theory is human knowledge will advance faster if Andrew Wiles spends more time listening to Archimedes Plutonium.
> The sad thing about the present system
CROW: Is how droopy it makes my cheeks look.
> is that some of the
> fringe ideas and concepts that are posted in the Internet
TOM: Escape to find an audience.
> appear to
> have enormous potentials
JOEL: Oh, they’re just not living up to their potentials.
CROW: I bet they don’t feel challenged in class is why.
> but they are being ignored by the mainstream
> physicists. In the case of Model Mechanics,
TOM: They offer us a way to repair our Micro Machines.
> if it is confirmed, it
> could save the government billions of dollars
JOEL: Oh, like saving money has ever got the government to do something.
> annually by eliminating
> wasteful and pointless government sponsored research projects.
CROW: Freeing up the cash to move Venus out to the orbit of Mars so Earth can have springlike weather forever by renaming all the chemical elements after useful forms of grain making it easier to launch an expedition through the giant hole at the North Pole into the center of the Earth where the aliens have been taking people to reveal how Yul Brown’s gas can cure cancer and find how the universe is a giant Plutonium atom.
> President Clinton, I am writing to appeal to you
TOM: So *that’s* why he’s wearing the bikini top.
> to put a stop
> to this abuse of power by the mainstream physicists
JOEL: See, the physicists pretend they’re talking about how SU(3) symmetries help model pion decay, but they’re really building a big zap ray to take over the world.
> and to initiate a
> program that utilizes the ideas and concepts of all our citizens.
CROW: Except Errol. He doesn’t know what the heck he’s doing.
JOEL: This is such a sincere guy.
TOM: I bet the Great Pumpkin appears in him some Halloween.
> Ken H. Seto
TOM: Maybe the H stands for "Hoppy" instead?
JOEL: Or "Handy." He must be good with tools to have all those model mechanics.
CROW: I bet it stands for "hep," like he’s a real hep cat.
TOM: Oh, wait, we’re done.
[ ALL exit. ]
[ 1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5.. 6.. ]
[ SOL DESK. JOEL reads a comic book; CROW and TOM approach. ]
TOM: Joel? We need to have a talk.
JOEL: [ Looking up ] What’s wrong, my fair-haired young wards?
TOM: We’ve been doing some serious, hard thinking.
CROW: And we’ve concluded this whole scenario just doesn’t make sense.
JOEL: Stuff from Usenet never makes sense. It’s nothing personal.
CROW: No, we mean *here*. This satellite. That we have to watch lousy movies and read dumb rants and all that as part of a scheme to take over the world.
TOM: It just doesn’t hold water. Even if the mads find a movie so bad it leaves people helpless, he can’t *force* people to watch it unless he’s already taken over the world —
CROW: And if he already did *that*, he doesn’t need to make people watch bad movies so he can take over the world.
TOM: Plus, two of his experimental subjects are robots —
CROW: Astoundingly clever and witty robots, to be sure —
TOM: But there just aren’t that many thinking robots on Earth, and almost none in positions of power.
CROW: So the best he could do is find out how to make *you* crack, and from what we know of humans, which isn’t a lot, aren’t many folks like you on Earth. What crushes you may not even bug the average person.
TOM: Plus, why a satellite? He could keep us just as isolated and beyond all hope of rescue just by putting us on UPN. It’s a big expense and bother and there’s no way it’s worth it.
CROW: It’s illogical, it’s implausible, it’s contrived — it makes no sense, and all we want…
TOM: We want… we want you to tell us the *truth*.
CROW: Or else we’ll have to figure it out from our own, and, to be perfectly honest …
TOM: We’re likely to settle down on some hairbrained scheme even sillier than reality is.
JOEL: Well… guys, Doctor Forrester is a *mad* scientist. Not the angry type. I mean the type that’s no longer interested in what could ever possibly happen. Of course his scheme won’t work.
CROW: And TV’s Frank?
JOEL: He’s training to *be* mad. He can’t argue that their scheme won’t work until he passes his qualifiers and candidacy exam and presents a mad thesis proposal.
TOM: So not only does their plan to torment us fail every time they try —
JOEL: Even if they succeeded on us, they’d be setting themselves up for a bigger failure.
CROW: I feel kind of sorry for them now.
TOM: Yeah! Joel, we ought to send them a cake or something.
MAGIC VOICE: Commercial Sign in five seconds.
JOEL: I’ll get the Makery Bakery. We’ll be right back.
[ JOEL taps COMMERCIAL SIGN. ]
[ COMMERCIALS ]
[ to continue … ]
2 thoughts on “MiSTed: Safety First (part 4 of 16)”
JOEL: Elvis Mitchell?
Did you catch the World News Now when Mike and the bots riffed the proceedings with comments like Tom’s repeated “So THIs is news?!?” (Not the “Little Golden Robot Awards” episode, that was a different episode)
Not only did I catch it, but that was almost the Mystery Science Theater 3000 offing I saw, as opposed to heard about as something I was sure to love. I’d never had a cable package with Comedy Central on it before the movie came out and publicity for that started ramping up. All I’d ever seen otherwise was the first half of Santa Claus Versus The Martians, from being home that one weekend when the Mystery Science Theater Hour was running in syndication. And the occasional clip from some show talking about this weird new kind of TV show.