We’ve Got Movie Sign! MST3K’s Mads Riff on ‘Raiders’

Veterans of the “little Minnesotan puppet show” Mystery Science Theater 3000 Trace Beaulieu (Crow and Dr. Clayton Forrester) and Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank) have been cracking on movies, good and bad, professionally for nearly 30 years. Along with their co-host Carolina Hidalgo, their current project is the podcast Movie Sign with The Mads, where they discuss a movie they’ve seen recently. Sometimes, it’s a classic, and sometimes it’s just something somebody picked for the episode; they’ve done more than 35 episodes since 2016. This session, on Sunday afternoon, actually a live-recorded episode of the podcast, started on topic for Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The guests were a few minutes late, and described their experience in the service hallways of the Hyatt as being similar to the opening chase scene from Raiders. “There was a big rolling ball,” Beaulieu said. “That was me,” Conniff cracked.

And the quick jokes just kept on rolling. Hidalgo started with a brief recap of how the film got made, and the longstanding working relationship between Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Spielberg wanted to do an American take on James Bond, and Lucas shared his idea for the adventuring archaeologist. “And that was Howard the Duck,” Beaulieu snarked.

Now they’ve got Indiana Jones on paper, and Hidalgo steered the conversation to the casting process, noting that originally, Tom Selleck had been considered. “Thank god it was Harrison Ford,” Conniff said. “Because then we wouldn’t have had a good Magnum, PI,” Beaulieu added.

Though the podcast format, usually done over Skype, didn’t usually include questions, the audience couldn’t restrain themselves. One audience member asked how Beaulieu came up with the voice for Crow, which she noted, sounds a lot like his own voice. “It’s a higher register,” he explained, “Because I was 30 years younger. Now my voice comes from my testicles.” Conniff added that Beaulieu had actually read for some big-time voice-acting parts, including Jar Jar Binks. “Did everybody hear that bullet Trace dodged?” Conniff asked.

Fans turned the conversation back to everyone’s favorite topic: bad movies. What are some of the movies they want to feature on upcoming episodes of Movie Sign, or just bad movies they’d recommend? Conniff’s picks were Valley of the Dolls, The Oscar (a 1966 film starring Stephen Boyd) and then he asked, “And have you heard of this thing called Road House?” Hidalgo said she loved Hackers, and had tried (unsuccessfully so far) to get Conniff and Beaulieu to watch it for an episode of the podcast. Beaulieu recommended Killing Season, mentioning its main selling points: John Travolta with a bad Serbian accent. “It’s deliciously awful,” he said, smiling.

Archives of the Movie Sign with The Mads are available online and through all the popular podcast platforms. Conniff and Beaulieu are also touring as The Mads Are Back!, and the complete tour schedule is online at themadsareback.com

Author of the article

Jessica spends her days advising college radio, magazine and newspaper staffs, and balances the rest of her time binge-watching TV and binge-reading nonfiction.