'How Do Animals Learn?' Well, as long as they learn to taste good, I don't really care.
  — Crow T. Robot

The Short: Century 21 Calling


An informational short featuring two enthusiastic teens who witness the amazing phone of the future! They marvel at the ground-breaking, state-of-the-art features such as call waiting, call conferencing, and touch-tone dialing.


The Movie


The Space Children

A glowing, pulsating brain-like alien creature teleports to Earth (witnessed only by two boys) and establishes base camp in a cave on the beach near a military rocket launch site. It communicates telepathically with the children of the engineers and technicians involved in constructing and flying the latest in Cold War technology, an orbiting H-bomb platform to be launched atop a "six-stage" rocket. With 12-year-old Bud Brewster as "the leader" (he can immobilize people, prevent them from speaking, etc, with the blob's help), the kids start willingly doing the alien's bidding as the adults try to figure out what's happening.

The blob is powerful. When an enraged, drunken stepfather (Russell Johnson) chasing after his wife's kid makes ready to assault the boy with a three-foot branch, the blob kills him. When Hank Johnson (Jackie Coogan) discovers the existence of the blob in the cave, his "mind is taken away" and he winds up in the hospital. When technician Dave Brewster tries to tell his bosses what is going on, his son Bud (who has walked through base security) shows up and prevents him from writing or speaking.

The Episode

Host Segments

  • Prologue Servo starts a kissing booth on the SOL to raise enough money to open his own chain of kissing booths. Mike requests a "dry, perfunctory grandma kiss," but complains that it's a little too aunt-like.

    The new phone system

  • Segment 1 Pearl sets up a network of telephones for each person on the SOL and down in the castle so everyone can communicate more efficiently via a conference call. The resulting chaos urges Pearl to make Mike and the 'Bots watch the informational short Century 21 Calling... to teach them "how easy the phone of the future is!"
  • Segment 2 Mike gaily portrays the peppy kid in the short to an apathetic Crow and Servo. They decide to stop Mike the only way they know how: by hitting him with a wrecking ball.
  • Segment 3 While Mike and the 'Bots experiment with a model rocket on the SOL, things kind of blow up in Mike's face due to a slight miscommunication. Meanwhile down in the castle, Bobo gets prepped for the first launch of Pearl's very own fledgling space program.


  • Segment 4 Crow forces Mike and Servo to view his new "Fashion Means Coogan" line of lingerie.
  • Epilogue The "holy blob" from the movie visits the SOL to coax Servo out of getting rid of the nuclear weapon he bought at an estate sale. Down in the castle, Pearl and Brain Guy successfully launch the rocket—without Bobo in it.

MST3K cast

Regular cast

Guest cast

Obscure References

Host Segment 1

  • "Dial *69."
In times before caller ID, *69 (pronounced: "star sixty-nine") was a code that a person could punch into their touch-tone phone that would tell them the time and the phone number of the last call they received.
  • "Hello." "Hello." "Hello."
The opening to the popular barbershop ballad, "Hello My Baby" by Ida Emerson and Joseph E. Howard. It was often sung by The Three Stooges when they would introduce themselves.

Short: Century 21 Calling

  • "They want their little gold jacket back."
Century 21 Real Estate is a real estate company whose employees wear gold jackets as part of their marketing campaign.
  • "Look! It's Pearl Jam!"
Pearl Jam is a rock group that hails from Seattle, the city where this short takes place.
  • "Is the kid in a Jack Nicklaus cult or what?"
Jack Nicklaus is considered by many to be one of the greatest golfers of all time.
  • "Oh boy! Our first visit to Pat Boone World!"
Pat Boone was a commercially successful singer of pop tunes in the 1950s. He was well-known for taking songs recorded by African-American artists and re-recording them with alterations that would be considered more palatable to mainstream Caucasian listeners, thus earning a reputation as a symbol for bland "white-ness". He later went on to become an actor and motivational speaker, and eventually became notorious for his arch-conservative political views.
  • "Let's start Microsoft here!"
A riff on the fact that Microsoft headquarters is located in Redmond, Washington which is actually considered part of the Seattle metropolitan area. However, Microsoft was actually founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • "Did Leni Riefenstahl direct this?"
Leni Riefenstahl was a female film director and actress who filmed propaganda movies for Hitler during Nazi Germany. She also pioneered a few film techniques that especially had to do with background and location shots, hence Crow’s comment on all the different shots of buildings and landscapes. Perhaps also a slide riff on the German-looking kid and the Gifts from Germany store.
  • "Celebrating Pride Week at the fair."
Pride Week is an annual event held in Toronto, Ontario, but observed in many parts of the United States as well. It celebrates the homosexual lifestyle and advocates diversity. A major headliner of Pride Week is the Pride Parade which is what’s being referred to in this riff and the subsequent comments.
  • Servo's beeping
Near the end of the woman's lecture and right before the close of the short, Servo beeps a short tune. This is the theme for Maxwell House. The blinking tubes here are reminiscent of the percolating coffee.
  • "Sounds like something from Side Five of 'Sandinista!'"
"Sandinista!" was a three-disc album by The Clash.
  • "...at the Annie Sprinkle show"
Annie Sprinkle is a performance artist known for the bizarre sexual content of her work. The riff comes from the lines "you can see it all."
  • "Someday you will ache like I ache!"
Crow sings the chorus to the song Doll Parts by Hole.

Movie Act I

  • "It's Linda Hunt!"
This riff is referring to Linda Hunt’s role as Billy Kwan, a male dwarf in the 1982 film The Year of Living Dangerously.
  • "Bugsy Siegel and his family arrive to start Las Vegas."
Bugsy Siegel was an American gangster who is widely credited with founding Las Vegas and building the first casinos there.
  • "Wow. There’s a selkie stuck in the oil slick."
A selkie is a mythical creature that can transform from seal to human by shedding its skin. It can also revert to seal form by putting the skin back on.
  • "Driving on the beach with my kids in the car…"
A reference to a The Cure song called "Killing an Arab" in which the real lyrics are: "Standing on a beach with a gun in my hand…" The song refers to a classic book called The Stranger by Albert Camus in which the main character shoots and kills an Arab man.
  • "Grendel? You home?"
Grendel is the main antagonist in the ancient Anglo-Saxon novel Beowulf written sometime around the year 800 AD. Grendel is a terrible monster that lives in a cave with his mother and emerges only to terrorize a small community of warriors nearby. He is dispatched by the hero of the story, Beowulf, after the protagonist follows Grendel into the heart of his cavern home.
  • "Looks like they're having lunch with Smaug."
This refers to the cave-dwelling dragon that Bilbo Baggins confronted in J.R.R. Tolkein's fantasy novel The Hobbit.
  • "Lord of the Flies action figures!"
William Golding’s 1954 classic novel Lord of the Flies chronicles the lives of a group of children stranded on a deserted island. The children quickly devolve into following their basest instincts to survive on the island, including greed and murder.
  • "Say, have any of you said the darnedest thing lately?"
Kids Say the Darnedest Things was a feature of Art Linkletter's House Party from 1952-1969 on CBS, books by Linkletter, and later, a revival TV series hosted by Bill Cosby in the late 1990s. It consisted of young children (from when they’re old enough to talk intelligently but before they’re old enough to have accumulated life experience, a sense of restraint, or knowledge of how the world works) being asked questions and encouraged to respond with the first thought that occurred to them.
  • "Yes. I will take money from my dad's wallet and send it to Soupy Sales."
Soupy Sales (1926–2009) is a comedian who hosted an extremely popular children’s show called Lunch with Soupy Sales that ran from the early 1950s through the 60s. On New Year’s Day in 1965, Soupy admits in his autobiography that he encouraged children to take money from their parents and send it to him so he could take a vacation to Puerto Rico.
  • "Niels Bohr is using the toaster."
Niels Bohr (1885-1962) was a Danish-born theoretical physicist who was one of the primary developers of quantum mechanics. Later in his life he worked with Americans on the Manhattan Project.
  • "It’s Uncle Fester in shorts!"
Jackie Coogan (1914-1984), the actor here, is best remembered for his role as Uncle Fester on the 1960s television show The Addams Family. Mike and the ‘Bots make numerous references to this throughout the rest of the movie.
  • Servo humming Gilligan’s Island theme
The actor who plays the abusive, dipso-maniacal live-in boyfriend here, Russell Johnson, is best known for his role as The Professor on the mid-1960s sit-com Gilligan's Island.

Movie Act II

  • "Must be having Gilligan flashbacks"
In Gilligan’s Island, the Professor was always creating ingenious devices, usually out of coconuts (see later coconut-related riff), that promised to, in some way or another, get everyone off the island. Inevitably, clumsy Gilligan would inadvertently destroy the device somehow, frustrating the Professor.
  • "He's going to use his coconut-powered spanking machine on me!"
As stated in the previous riff, the Professor was always creating devices out of the only widely-available resource on the island: coconuts. So Crow’s riff is blending Russell Johnson’s two roles as the deadbeat dad in the movie and the Professor on Gilligan's Island.
  • "Imagine having your butt whooped by 'and the rest.'"
Yet another riff off Gilligan’s Island. In the first season of the show, Mary Ann and the Professor were only mentioned in the opening lyrics as "the rest." The lyrics were rewritten for subsequent seasons to include all of the characters.
  • "I need you to get a message to Mr. Howell."
Thurston Howell the III and his wife "Lovey" were the millionaires who were shipwrecked on Gilligan's Island.
  • "This blob is mine, kids gave this blob to me..."
Spoof of the chorus to Pat Boone's 1960 single The Exodus Song. The original chorus is "This land is mine, God gave this land to me."
  • "Oppenheimer took my stapler."
Robert Oppenheimer was an American physicist who was deeply involved in the Manhattan Project, the code name for the project that created the first nuclear bombs.
  • "Put a light bulb under his tongue!"
One of Uncle Fester’s trademark gags on The Addams Family was the ability to illuminate light bulbs by putting them in his mouth.

Movie Act III

  • "Come on, Minoxidil, kick in!"

Minoxidil is the primary active ingredient in Rogaine, a topical solution that treats baldness.

  • "I think I just got the bends from that analogy."

Decompression sickness, commonly known as "the bends," is a condition resulting from a very sudden change in pressure on the body. It is often experienced by divers who fail to surface properly from deep underwater.

  • "Bud...Weis...Er!"

Slogan from the wildly successful 1995 Budweiser commercial, in which three frogs croak the name Budweiser phonetically.

  • "At least we got powdered orange drink out of all this hoo-ha."

A reference to Tang, a powdered, orange-flavored drink produced by General Foods Corporation. In 1965, NASA astronauts used the drink during the Gemini space missions and that fact became an integral part of Tang's marketing campaign.

  • "She's been asked so many times by Seinfeld."

References comedian Jerry Seinfeld's romantic relationship with Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss who was 17 years old when they started dating while Seinfeld was in his late thirties at the time.

  • "Mandatory toques and back bacon!"

A toque is a type of cold-weather hat. Back bacon is a cut of bacon that comes from the back of a pig. It is very lean and tastes more like ham than traditional bacon. Toques and back bacon are both widely associated with Canadian life.

Memorable Quotes

Century 21 Calling (short)

[In the opening credits, we see: Century 21 Calling.]
Mike: Oh! They want their little gold jacket back.
[A monorail is moving through Seattle over the opening credits]
Crow: Oh, these monorail designers - they have a one-track mind.
Mike: Why do you lash out like that?
Crow: I don't know.
[Shot of the Space Needle over a soundtrack of organ music.]
Servo: The only bathroom in the fair is up there.
Crow: Well, I'm glad to know the future has CONSTANT ORGAN MUSIC!
[Nerdy guy pauses a moment to look at marquee with ladies' legs.]
Crow [as nerdy girl]: Oh, come on! You're gay and you know it!
[Mike notices a sign that says "Gifts From Germany."]
Mike: Gifts From Germany? What's that? Braunschweiger, cars with heaters that don't work, and identification papers?
[At the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, we see a science exhibit entitled How Do Animals Learn?]
Crow [as Man]: "How Do Animals Learn?" Well, as long as they learn to taste good, I don't really care.
[A lady at the How Do Animals Learn? exhibit thrusts a bird into the face of a nerdy kid at the fair.]
Mike [as lady]: Here, you're a geek. Why don't you bite the head off this bird?
Bell Woman: ...All you'll have to do is give the telephone company a list of the numbers you dial most frequently. The electronic brain's memory will do the rest.
[The blond-haired, blue-eyed couple look at each other in excitement.]
Crow [as nerdy guy]: The Führer will like that!
[A little girl phones her grandmother.]
Grandma: Hello?
Little Girl: Hello, Grandma?
Crow [as little girl]: Where's my money?
[A Bell Telephone representative talks about future features as a video runs to demonstrate them.]
Bell Woman: [voiceover] Want someone else on the line?
Servo [as Customer]: No.
Bell Woman: [voiceover] That's easy, too. Flip the switch button, then dial a code number and the number you want, and… presto!
Mike: Well, andante, maybe.
Crow [as Bell Woman]: Soon you'll have all your friends hanging up on you and dreading your calls.
[In a promotional film from Bell Telephone, we see two dogs on a well-manicured lawn.]
Bell Woman: [voiceover] It may even be possible to call and water the lawn during that dry spell when you are many miles away on vacation.
[The sprinklers are then turned on by telephone operated remote control, and the dogs run away.]
Crow: Yeah, how do you like it when the lawn piddles on you?!
Mike: ...And in the future there will still be a two dollar surcharge for using this service despite the technology having proliferated EVERYWHERE ON THE PLANET!

The Space Children (movie)

Crow: Remind me to never be a child.
[Outside the cave, the kids stare at a shaft of light descending from the sky.]
Crow [as Bud]: [mesmerized] Yes — I will take money from my dad's wallet and send it to Soupy Sales.
[Tim flees from his violent, drunken stepfather (played by Russell Johnson), but is finally caught.]
Crow: Whooh. Imagine having your butt whooped by "And The Rest"!
[As her children pass along commands from the blob rock, Anne tries to comprehend what's happening.]
Anne Brewster: How does it tell you, and why?
Bud: I don't think you'd understand.
[Anne lets go of her son in disgust and turns away.]
Mike [as Anne]: Oh, I'll just go wish myself into the cornfield.
[Project head Dr. Wahrman confronts Brewster about the space blob.]
Dr. Wahrman: And what does it look like?
Crow [as Brewster]: Well, it's got a good personality…

Video releases

A home video release of this episode is not currently forthcoming. However, the host segments are available on the Satellite Dishes disc included in Volume XXXIX.

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