#30. Wild Rebels

30. Wild Rebels (1967) - Season 2, episode 207

"Banjo, stop playing yourself!"

Plot: A biker gang hires a famous race car driver to help them pull off a string of robberies.
Famous for: Being what I consider the first really funny MST3k episode

"Uh, Rod, we need a few more people nibbling on me here. Come on over."

My favorite riff:  The riff I always remember from this episode is the one where the old cop explains to Rod that the bikers are "smart", because they always manage to outsmart the police. And then it keeps coming up as a running gag throughout the rest of the movie. It's one of my favorite examples of how MST3k can create callback jokes and running gags just out of one memorable line.

Cop: They're smart. They know we can spot their motorcycles before a robbery, so now they're gonna switch to a car.
Tom Servo: Yeah, cars are harder to see.

Rod: How come you don't arrest them?
Cop: Well, like I said, they're smart. They get rid of their guns after each job.
Tom Servo: Oh look, THEY'RE JUST REALLY SMART, okay?

And then there's this amazing scene towards the end of the movie. Where the cops set up a roadblock, and the bad guys just drive around it and go down a different (unblocked) road. Even the MST3k guys laugh at this moment, because it's so stupid.

Joel: You know, we really should have blocked the other road too. What were we thinking?
Tom and Crow: (giggling)

Wild Rebels holds a special place on my favorite episodes countdown. The reason it is so special is because it is the earliest MST3k episode to crack my Top Fifty. 

Wild Rebels was the seventh episode of the second season. And in my opinion it was the first time they finally pulled off a great MST3k episode. Prior to this episode, I think the greatness of MST3k was mostly just in theory. It was a fun idea, but they were still trying to figure out their riffing balance, their humor, and their formula.

With Wild Rebels, I feel like they finally crossed that threshold. They finally produced their first masterpiece.

"Yikes, looks like Banjo exploded. There's biker shrapnel everywhere."

The reason this episode stands out to me, and why so many of the other early episodes don't, is because Wild Rebels is actually a pretty good movie. Even without the riffing, you could probably sit down and watch it, and you would probably have a pretty good time. It isn't that painful to sit through. And to me, that was one of the keys when it came to perfecting a show like Mystery Science Theater. You don't necessarily want to pick the WORST, or the most unwatchable, movies. Every so often you want to throw a fun one in there as well. Because remember, the theme song of the show didn't say "We'll send him terrible movies." The theme song said "We'll send him cheesy movies." The goal of the show was NEVER to pick the worst movies of all time. They never even pretended that.

In any case, take the fact that Wild Rebels is actually a fun, watchable (yet cheesy) movie, and combine it with some of the best riffing of the first two seasons, and voila. There you have it. The first really good episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

"I really like you, but we could never wash our clothes in the same load."

Wild Rebels is a little slower paced than some of the later seasons, which is why I doubt it will ever show up in anyone's top ten or top twenty favorite episodes. But if you want a really good example of the point where MST3k crossed over from "a goofy little public access show" to "this awesome new hit on Comedy Central", this is probably that episode.

Cop: We'd like you to work with us, Rod.
Joel:  It's called Operation Weaselsnitch.

Other personal favorite things about this episode:  This is one of those things that is impossible to capture in print, but I LOVE the little squeaking noises they make whenever Linda walks across the screen in her tight pants. That's one of those things that will always crack me up, that sound effect.

Banjo: You stay away from her. Mama's like a virgin goddess.
Crow:  Well... sorta.


Back to Mario's Top 50 MST3k Episodes