(MIKE NELSON, in a black beret, is standing near the command console with a huge, fire-engine red doghouse bass. CROW T. ROBOT, in similar headgear, is seated on a makeshift drum riser behind the kit from the crew's "Sidehackin'" video. GYPSY, in bright red lipstick (or tubing, or whatever) holds a tambourine in her mouth, which she shakes up and down as MIKE begins to mime a funky and very familiar riff. On the downbeat, TOM SERVO sashays into view sporting an ash-blonde fall, hoverskirt a-twitch, and lip-syncing to the throaty warble of Miss Nancy Sinatra.)

ladies and gentlemen, the Femme-Tones!

TOM: "You keep sayin', you've got somethin' for me..."

(CROW taps out a rhythm on the snare)

TOM: "Somethin' you call love, but confess..."

(GYPSY's tambourine jangles as her head bobs in time)

TOM: "You've been a-messin', where you shouldna' been a-messin'..."

(MIKE, still slapping out the bottom and really into it now, starts spinning the bass on its end)

TOM: "And now someone else is gettin' all yer best..."

(MIKE, a little too into it, loses his grip on the bass and trips over the body. He topples to the floor as the instrument's neck drops like a hammer toward CROW's drum set.)

TOM: "These boots are made for walkin'..."

(The bass' head plows into the kick drum and tips most of the kit over backwards. CROW screams as he is pinned beneath it; meanwhile, the snare stand up-ends the high-hat and sends it hurtling toward an unsuspecting GYPSY.)

TOM: "And that's just what they'll do..."

(The high-hat beans GYPSY squarely in the back of the head, knocking her out cold. She falls forward and hits the rear edge of TOM's hoverskirt, flipping him straight up into the air.)

TOM: "One a' these days these b--" AIIIIEEEEIIIIIGH! (plummets end-over-end to the deck, shrieking like a girl)

(CAMBOT stops the music. In the sudden quiet of the SOL's bridge, COMMERCIAL SIGN begins to flash. MIKE's hand appears above the console, then his face; TOM's wig sits askew on top of MIKE's head.)

MIKE: Uhhhh...we'll be right back. (an anonymous groan comes from the BG as he hits the button)

[STATION BREAK: Penn Jillette extols Comedy Central's exciting line-up of Benny Hill reruns, Teutonic youths exhort the manifold virtues of freshness, and an unnamed singer ruptures a gonad in an alcohol-related boating accident -- all mastered at a minimum of two VUs above actual programming and three above the comfort level of the human ear.]


(The CREW have just finished tidying up, and the blame-laying portion of the program is well under way. The Deep 13 call light is flashing, unheeded.)

TOM: ...great big fat way-to-go for ya. How many times do I have to tell you mouth-breathers not to improvise?
CROW: Don't look at me, Femme-Bot! Nobody asked if I wanted to do a Pop-Culture Reality Exercise in the first place!
TOM: Oh, it's all about you, isn't it?
MIKE: Come on, Tom, this was just a big excuse for you to prance around in your little outfit anyway.
TOM: And...? Your point is what, exactly? (notices call light) Wake up, skin muppet -- Sonny and Cher are calling.
MIKE: What, the Mads? Isn't it a little early in the week for those guys? (slaps the button)

just try not to hate

[INT DEEP 13.]

(DR. CLAYTON FORRESTER stands at the console; a couple of construction workers bustle around behind him. A skeleton with a spitcurl suspiciously similar to that of TV'S FRANK is strapped with various tubes and wires into a nearby adjustable bed. The lab is bathed in an eerie, pulsating neon-green glow.)

DR. F: Holà, Brasil 66. I'd like to direct your attention, for a moment, to the chaos surrounding me. You see, Frank had a little accident during a reactor test, and now I have to have the entire level aired out and a new lead lining installed before Friday. In other words...I'm mad at the world, and I'm ready to share. So brace yourselves for another choice morsel of hate from the minds of Nine Inch Nails. It's called "March of the Pigs" -- and it's not about pigs, or about marching. It is about pain. Eat it raw, Ding-A-Lings. (pushes the button, smirking spitefully)


(Buzzer and lights)


[DOOR SEQUENCE: 6...5...4...3...2...1...]

(Red screen with black half-circle at the bottom, jump-cut to solid red screen)
MIKE: March of the Rothkos!

(Trent, off-camera: "Start the tape...somebody?")
CROW: "Watch out for snakes!"

(Chris Vrenna behind drumkit, wearing click-track earphone)
TOM: (as Chris) Nothing Records, please hold....
CROW: Hey, what's with the Walkman?
MIKE: It's probably telling him how lucky he is to be a Beta.

hands up!

(Trent saunters to microphone, arms above head)
TOM: (Jennifer Saunders voice) "Eight a.m. -- get up, kick ass. Well, sweetie, looks like I'm one step ahead already."
MIKE: (as Trent) Yeah, if I were a chick, I'd be all over me right now.
CROW: Well, don't let that stop you.
MIKE: You had to say that, didn't you? It's out there now!

(Robin Finck turns toward camera from partial crouch in BG)
MIKE: (as Robin) Damn nylon tights....
CROW: Hey, pour a little bleach down that drain, can't ya?

(Trent bounces up and down for several seconds)
MIKE: This one has a long windup, doesn't he?...

("step - right - up!" Trent suddenly slings microphone stand)
TOM: ...whoa, and there's the pitch!
CROW: Good thing he's standing in his Circle of Safety.
TOM: Another wild one like that, and it'll be a Circle of Dust.
MIKE: Leave them out of this. This isn't rec.music.industrial, ya know.

mom! make him quit it!

(Camera pans left, Danny Lohner and James Woolley suddenly appear in frame)
MIKE: Hey, where did these guys come from?

("don't like the look of it..." Trent snarls)
CROW: I dunno, but this guy looks pretty pissed off about it.

("take the skin and peel it back..." Trent wiggles fingers at camera)
TOM: (as Trent) Does this bug you? I'm not touching you...does this bug you?

("now doesn't it make you feel better?")
TOM: (Cindy Wilson voice) "I say now doesn't that make you feel a whooole lot bettah?"
MIKE: (Fred Schneider voice) "Let's dance this mess around!"
CROW: Over already? Hey, this wasn't that bad...

(onscreen slamming resumes)
CROW: ...it's worse.
MIKE: Oh, I got my wish!
TOM: Waitaminnit -- how do you know about that?
MIKE: (pause) I just do.

(Makeup artist Tina Montalbano does a quick touchup)
CROW: (teenage gothgrrrl voice) Omigawd! Trent's having my fantasy about him!
MIKE: (Foster Brooks voice) "Ehhhhh, siss on you, pister. Go back off in yer own jackyard."

(Trent stumbles over Danny)
CROW: "And I ain' been drinkin'!"
TOM: Whoa, Trent! First day on the new legs?

crash of the moons

(Trent stumbles into Robin)
CROW: (Bugs Bunny voice) "Pardon me... 'scuse me... 'scuse me... pardon me...."

(Trent adjusts himself, extensively)
CROW: It's Onan the Barbarian!
MIKE: And all of a sudden this is a Divinyls video!
TOM: He loves himself. He wants you to love him.
MIKE: (to Crow) I told you you should've kept your mouth shut back there!
CROW: Oh, it's always my fault, isn't it?

(Trent stumbles, again)
MIKE: Anybody else get the feeling this guy could trip over a breath of fresh air?
CROW: Yeah, he's like a bull in a CD shop.

(Danny glances around, looking somewhat dazed)
MIKE: (as Danny) "Just one video. Just one tour." What was I thinkin'?

("i wanna watch it come down..." Trent walks upstage and takes a swipe at James' keyboard)
CROW: (whiny adolescent boy voice) Mr. Hoge, I don' wanna march in front'a Trent anymore.
MIKE: (grim monotonal adult voice) You have to march in front of Trent, Buzz.
CROW: But what if he pushes me?
MIKE: He won't.
CROW: What if he throws somethin' at me?
MIKE: He won't.
CROW: What if he tries to handle my instrument?
MIKE: Shut up and play.

don't make eye contact, he'll think you're challenging him

(Stagehand brings back microphone, then races out of camera range)
TOM: (as stagehand, to himself) Okay, set it down carefully...don't startle him...RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!

("all the pigs are all lined up..." Trent huddles over mic)
MIKE: (as Trent) You're the only one who understands me, Mr. Microphone.

(Trent tugs at black mesh sleeves)
TOM: Well. That's a new way to wear your tights.
MIKE: But y'know, you still get the baggies by lunchtime. I hate that.
CROW: How would you know?
MIKE: (pause) I just do.

("now they can all sleep soundly...and everything is all right.")
TOM: (C-3PO voice) "That's not very reassuring."

(Trent knocks over mic stand; Chris watches wearily from BG)
CROW: Trent relieves the pressures of stardom by beating up the one thing in the room that's skinnier than he is.
MIKE: (as Chris) We can't have nice things, can we?
TOM: I got your nice thing right here, pal -- it's time to get going. (all rise to leave)

[REVERSE DOOR SEQUENCE: 6...5...4...3...2...1...]


(MIKE and 'BOTS arrive at the command console, visibly stunned.)

MIKE: Gee, that was...uh...well.
CROW: Short.
MIKE: Huh?
CROW: Short. A lot shorter than usual, anyway.
MIKE: Uh, what I mean to say is, it was...different. Yeah. I mean...it had...guts. Yeah. (warming to the subject and trying hard to be positive) I mean, it took artistic integrity to do something like that. To make a music video flaunting the very artifice of music videos, to at once co-opt and kick to the curb the self-conscious anti-style of MTV, to thrust a finger in the face of the slick commercial ethos dictating that whoever dies with the best production values wins --

do not look directly into electron gun with remaining eye

TOM: Oh, get off it, Mike, it was a steaming hunk of puerile pomo gibberish! Artistic integrity, my big red hinder! They weren't making a statement, they were just too lit up to do a retake! (becoming increasingly agitated) What is this one-camera-one-take conceit anyway, other than a sloppy, disingenuous up-the-establishment pose that's every bit as empty and meaningless as the conventions it mocks?

(MIKE and CROW are no longer looking at TOM but straight at CAMBOT, the single camera that records everything on the bridge in one continuous take....)

TOM: (on a roll) Shall we then applaud carelessness as spontaneity? Lack of skill as low-fi punk solidarity? Giggling disregard for professional standards as a self-aware admonition to remember that it's "just a show"? Or -- (finally realizes that no one is listening, and a beat later realizes why)

CROW: I thought it was pretty good, myself.
TOM: Y'know, it did have a certain naïve charm....
MIKE: Yeah, it's like...well...what do you think, sirs?

[INT DEEP 13.]

(DR. F favors the SOL's crew with a big, self-satisfied grin. A miraculously reincorporated FRANK stands next to him, slack-jawed and looking pretty zoned out himself.)

DR. F: I think that's one for our side, vidiots. Now if you'll excuse me, Frank here has an appointment with napalm. Until next time.... (puts an arm around FRANK's shoulders and leads him off screen left) Frank, my friend, I think we need to have a serious talk about your job. (both leave the frame; DR. F speaks next line from off-camera) The button, Frank.

(FRANK walks back into frame, reaches for the button, hesitates, then leans over the console into the camera.)

FRANK: (in a hoarse whisper) Help me....
DR. F: (off-camera) Pain, Frank.

(FRANK winces, brushes away a tear, and pushes the button.)




-- kt (with thanks to steph nahas)

you have 
been watching...

ONE?! HA HAAAAA!?: Mystery Science Theater 3000, its
characters and situations are © Best Brains Inc. Nine Inch Nails and
"march of the pigs" are © Nothing/TVT/Interscope Records. All rights
reserved. All slights deserved. Keep well. Stay in touch. And never,
EVER play Doom with guys named Mike. Not even on a dare. This
has been a public service announcement from KTLA.

Enjoy our good-natured ribbing! Catch these Mystery Nine Inch Theater 3000 reruns, now in syndication (and don't forget to set your VCR -- oh, there are no return links, either, so you'll just have to suck it up and use the "back" key):

push the button, frank

hope and vaseline -- hnv@nin.net