Three marooned astronauts. Only 55 minutes left to rescue them. While the whole world watches and waits... Space Travelers.
After spending several months in an orbiting lab, three astronauts prepare to return to earth only to find their rockets wont fire. After initially thinking they might have to abandon them in orbit, NASA decides to launch a daring rescue. Their plans are complicated by a Hurricane headed towards the launch site and a shrinking air supply in the astronauts capsule.
Once known as Marooned, I think this may be the biggest budgeted movie to air on MST3k. It stars Gregory Peck, Gene Hackman, Richard Crenna, David Janssen, James Franciscus and many others, and was actually a big movie released to theatres upon its first release. I can't find much on it, but my dad worked in the local theatre at the time and according to him, it was pulled shortly after release due to one of them NASA disasters or whatever... He may be thinking of a different movie, but there were so many of those disasters that it wouldn't suprise me, and it would greatly explain why the movie got relatively "lost" until Film Ventures picked it up and renamed it. Either way, this is the only movie in the MST3k canon to win an Oscar.
This episode is the first one I distinctly recall seeing. I remember seeing this one and thinking "Oh my god this show is brilliant!" I blame my uncle, who sat me down and forced me to watch it... Little does he know he created a monster.
Personal bias aside, it really is an incredible episode. They seem very relaxed in their riffing style and form, and they honestly seem to be enjoying themselves all around. I think the episodes are best when the movies are just not-painful enough that it allows the jokes to be generally lighthearted. This one is a great example, as you can hear them joking and just having a grand old time as they go to and from the host segments.
I don't recall if they've done this before, but the mads' sign-off is a classic bit that I still do whenever I get the chance.
Oh, and the one line I very distinctly remember loving the very first time I saw this one came when the parts of the ship were dropping off as they blasted out of the atmosphere... "I hope they didn't need that." That always had me roaring.
Favourite line: "I made this thing out of clay. I think it's a duck."