#26. The Magic Voyage of Sinbad

26. The Magic Voyage of Sinbad (1952) - Season 5, episode 505

"Sir, we may be underwater, but we still have standards."

Plot: A guy named Sinbad (who is not really Sinbad) searches for a magical bird to save his village.
Famous for:  Being one of the greatest episodes of the Joel era. Not to mention my personal favorite of the MST3k Russian fairytales.

"That bear has Hammer Pants on!"

My favorite riff:  If you asked me to name my all-time favorite MST3k riff, this one would have to be up there. It always kills me.

Sinbad: Tell me one thing. Have you got the Bird of Happiness?

Crow: We... uh... have a pretty friendly chicken.

Comments:  It's a tough call picking my favorite Russian fairytale episode between Jack Frost and Sinbad. But in the end, sorry, but I gotta give it to Sinbad. If only because Sinbad came first, and because Sinbad is easily one of the top three or four episodes of the Joel era.  

Oh yeah, and this movie also has absolutely nothing to do with Sinbad, Arabia, the seven seas, genies, lamps, or anything even remotely related to Sinbad.

It's actually the story of a famous Russian musician named Sadko.


"The Magic Voyage of Sinbad" originally came out in 1952, and it was originally the story of Sadko the musician. Who goes sailing the seas in search of the Bluebird of Happiness.

When the movie was brought to America in the early 60s, however, they dubbed it into English, and they gave it a completely new storyline. One that would be much more familiar to the kids in America. And that's how you wind up with the story of Sinbad, the singing Russian sailor who isn't actually Sinbad.  

"Uh, if you find a melody, Sinbad, hop on."

Despite the fact that this movie is goofy as all hell (like all the Russian fairytales), it actually has pretty impressive production values. And it's actually a pretty good movie, too. You could sit and watch this movie unriffed, and you would probably have a pretty good evening. Which I have always said is the key to most of the really good Mystery Science Theater episodes.  

The movies that are fun to watch tend to make the best MST3k episodes.

"Hey, those ships have scoliosis."

"Everyone dresses like Michael Nesmith in this town!"

"Here, quickly. Follow me down the Fallopian Tube."

Combine a fun, goofy movie (that makes no sense whatsoever, but has really good production values), with some of the funniest riffing of its era, and you have this, one of my personal favorite Joel episodes. In fact, when I first started recording episodes on VHS tape (and ranking them) back in the early 90s, The Magic Voyage of Sinbad was only the second episode ever that I awarded the coveted grade of "A+".

The first was Teenagers from Outer Space, which we'll get to much later in the countdown.

"You know, they also have a dog in there with Alan Alda's head. It's pretty neat."

Other personal favorite things about this episode:  Jack Frost gets all the credit for being the really weird Russian fairytale episode, but my god, there are scenes in Sadko Sinbad that have got to be RIGHT up there.

I mean, let's not forget that there's a scene in this movie where Sadko Sinbad goes underwater, he rides on a seahorse, and then he dances with an octopus. All before having a tea party with the Roman god Neptune (who is decidedly neither Russian, nor Arabian, nor Neptune.)

Yeah, tell me that Jack Frost is the only goofy-ass Russian fairytale

"Man, I've done some weird things before, but... wow."

This movie is so weird that I'm shocked it wasn't made in Japan.

"Kill me. KILL ME!"

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