Mystery Science Theater 3000 season 12, episode 4: The Day Time Ended


My hopes The Gauntlet wouldn’t use another movie as boring as Lords of the Deep went unanswered as Mystery Science Theater 3000 goes against “The Day Time Ended”.

The invention exchange on this episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 starts with Jonah presenting Fortune Meals which basically serves the same purpose as fortune cookies but is now presented in something more appetizing than a stale cookie.

Kinga presents Spray On Mustard Gas allegedly meant to better dispense condiments on hot dogs but eventually is revealed to be an excuse to douse Max in actual mustard gas.

As we get the movie sign, we are introduced to “The Day Time Ended”.  There’s no real way to describe this movie mostly because it’s an incomprehensible mess.  As Jonah and the robots point out during one of their breaks, they keep introducing concepts but fail to do anything interesting with them much less create a coherent narrative.  Allegedly, it’s about a family living in the desert fighting off aliens but the aliens present so little actual threat I hesitate to even call that the plot.

It’s worth noting though “The Day Time Ended” certainly has the most accomplished cast out this season’s experiments so far.

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Jim Davis leads the cast as the grandfather of the family, Grant.  Davis worked steadily in Hollywood for close to 40 years in mostly minor roles.  In the last few years of his life, however, he achieved the mainstream fame that eluded him his entire career when he was cast as family patriarch Jock Ewing on the highly popular prime-time soap opera Dallas.  Davis would star in “The Day Time Ended” during this success but it would end up being one of his final film roles as he would die from multiple myeloma just five months after the film was released.

Dorothy Malone plays Grant’s wife Ana.  Malone is perhaps the most successful actress to be featured in an experiment this season with a career that spanned about 50 years.  During that time she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Written in the Wind in 1956 and later served as the lead actress on Peyton Place from 1964 to 1968.

Christopher Mitchum plays the couple’s son-in-law Richard whom Crow hilariously describes as “bargain bin Mark Hamill”, though with how little screen time he actually shares with the cast, he might as well be in a different though the equally boring movie.  The guy leaves to go to work five minutes in and doesn’t get back to the rest of the family until the very end.  Mitchum led a mostly unremarkable career and is probably better known for who he’s related to. Not only is he the son of screen legend Robert Mitchum, but he’s also the former father-in-law to Casper Van Dien (best known as Johnny Rico from Starship Troopers).

Anyway, the movie starts with a family settling into a new house out in the desert but find it ransacked.  Nothing else of note happens for the next twenty minutes or so besides the granddaughter Jenny encountering a glowing green pyramid.

Things threaten to get interesting when Grant and Ana spot some UFOs in the sky, which they react to with mostly dull surprise.

From this point on, the family from time to time get attacked half-heartedly by various cheap looking aliens (most of them are polite enough to knock first) only for most of the problems to solve themselves before it can even be established as a threat.  Occasionally they’ll be accosted by a tiny spaceship that the riffers frequently point out resembles a Betamax or some low rent Harryhausen puppets but it never amounts to anything.

Eventually, they just hunker down in various places around the property until morning comes. When they come outside they find they’ve been transported to thousands of years into the future (I think) with a bunch of vehicles have been left abandoned around them.  The family winds up getting separated from each other into two groups.

Just in case you’re thinking this could lead to something eventful, think again.  One group make their way to an alien civilization after about five minutes to find the rest of the family already waiting for them.  The daughter explains that everything is going to be fine now but won’t explain why just saying the inhabitants are these beings far too advanced for their imaginations to perceive.  Basically a science fiction version of “it’s magic, we don’t have to explain it.”

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As the experiment wraps up, Kinga and Max get a surprise visitor.  Their visitor is none other than Dr. Forrester’s first assistant Dr. Laurence Erhardt (Mystery Science Theater 3000 alum J. Elvis Weinstein).  He has come to spread the ashes of the deceased Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank, which is a tad depressing to hear but no matter.  While Erhardt is there, Kinga asks if he can give her a hint about her mother’s identity but he point blank says it’s Kim Cattrall.

Up next, the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew take on the Lee Majors movie Killer Fish.