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Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders

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1003 - Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders
Air Date September 18, 1999
MST3K Director Michael J Nelson
Running Time 90 Min
Movie Director Kenneth J. Berton
Year 1996
Cast Ernest Borgnine
George Milan
Bunny Summers
John Terrence
Preceded by 1002 - Girl in Gold Boots
Followed by 1004 - Future War

Look, my reviews have destroyed whole cities!
  — Servo, as Cooper

Remember to believe in magic...or I'll KILL YOU!!
  — Crow, as Merlin

The Movie



Merlin himself

Although the opening segment implies that Merlin's magical interventions in people's lives are intended to have abenign effect, in practice this proves to be far from the case.

The first story focuses on a married couple, Jonathan and Madeline Cooper. Jonathan is a respected, though obnoxious columnist, and Madeline is desperate for a baby, as she and Jonathan have been unable to conceive. The couple visit the store, where Jonathan berates Merlin and threatens to write a negative article in the newspaper that will cause his readers to avoid the store. Merlin loans Jonathan his spell book as proof that he is actually the legendary wizard. Jonathan takes the book home and begins to toy with several of the spells.


The Evil Monkey from Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders

Jonathan becomes convinced of the book's authenticity when an unsuccessful spell to summon a spirit results in him having a vision of Satan and causing Jonathan to breathe fire. Jonathan quickly grows excited and becomes obsessed with the book's powers, but begins to dramatically age due to the rapid depletion of one's life force required to cast the spells. Jonathan attempts to transform his pet cat into a mystical servant, but it becomes demonic and proceeds to attack him. Using the spell from earlier, Jonathan breathes fire and burns the cat alive. By then, Jonathan has aged so severely that his hair is white and receded. Jonathan retrieves the book's rejuvenation spell and proceeds to create the required potion. He takes a sample of Madeline's blood and adds it to the mixture. Jonathan drinks the potion, but the spell backfires: Jonathan regresses into infancy. Madeline happily decides to raise her former husband as her own child.

In the second story, which bears a very close resemblance to Stephen King's short story The Monkey, a thief steals a Cymbal-Banging-Monkey Toy from Merlin's Shop, and sells it to a novelty store, where it is quickly bought as a present for a young boy. Every time the monkeys cymbals are struck, a nearby living thing dies. The boy's father takes the monkey and attempts to bury it, but it finds its way back into the boys house. But before the monkey's cymbals are struck again, Merlin shows up and takes the toy back to his shop.. [1]


  • The film's second storyline involving the demonic toy monkey were just re-used scenes from the director's previous 1984 film The Devil's Gift which, in turn, seems to have been heavily based on the short story "The Monkey" by Stephen King, though it does not give any form of credit to King.  (the film's original ending, in which Merlin sadly does NOT come to the rescue, can be seen here.)
  • The old cartoon that the kid is watching is called Balloon Land, made in 1935.
  • The anime movie seen in this film is The Adventures of Ultraman.

The Episode

Host Segments

  • Merlinhost

    Bobo on the SOL

    Prologue: The gang on the SOL are into 1920s college pranks. Mike is swallowing goldfish; Servo is stuck in a phone booth with a bunch of other hims; and Crow is flag-pole sitting.
  • Segment One: Pearl receives orders from the Institute of Mad Science for an experiment, which is to give Servo complete power and authority over the others. Before Pearl can even finish her hypothesis, Servo has made himself autocratic ruler of the SOL. However, Pearl adds a variant to the experiment: fire ants in the test subject's underwear, which causes Servo to return his power to Mike.
  • Segment Two: Servo and Crow review each other. Things degenerate and both are panned.

    "Give me your cookies, good people, and I will NOT have you killed!"


  • Segment Three: Servo, using a bogus magic book, accidentally turns Mike into an adult baby but Mike doesn't realize it. Mike makes a present for Servo, and asks him to 'do the honours', leaving Servo to scream 'NO!!' and flee.
  • Segment Four: Mike & the Bots browse through the series of Ernest Borgnine children’s books, which is a bit disturbing.
  • Segment Five: Pearl sends an evil monkey up to the SOL: Bobo; back in Castle Forrester, Brain Guy is trying to "accidentally" knock Bobo into a paper bag.
  • Stinger: ROCK AND ROLL MAR-TIAN![1]


  • Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders was the third episode produced for Season 10 but, due to a last-minute legal snafu, it went unaired until after the official series finale, Diabolik.
  • According to Mary Jo Pehl, there were two choices for "The Stinger": the "ROCK N' ROLL MARTIAN" scene and the mean psychic lady yelling "MY GOD, DAVID!." They chose the first one because to them; instead of the kid singing "Rock N' Roll Martian" it sounded more like "F***ing Old Martian."

Obscure References

  • "Is there any cheaper vodka than Popov?"

​ Yeah, there is: Royal Gate vodka.

  • "Larry 'Bud' Melman in drag!"

Larry "Bud" Melman was a character played by Calvert DeForest on Late Night with David Letterman.

  • "Oh wait, this was my spec script for 'The Rookies!'"

The Rookies was an ABC police drama, which aired from 1972 to 1976.

  • "(gasp) Leon Russell!"

​Leon Russell is a pianist and session musician, who has an uncanny resemblance to Merlin.

  • "Meow, meow...Safe! Meow, meow..VERY safe!"
Mr. Cooper force-feeding his cat Miffy prompts Servo to reference the scene from Marathon Man where the escaped Nazi dentist "Szell the White Angel" forcibly drills a hole into main protagonist Thomas Levy's tooth. All the while Szell asks him the disturbing question: "Is it safe? Is it very safe?"
  • "He was drawn by Dave Berg!"
Cartoonist Dave Berg is best remembered for "The Lighter Side Of...", a regular feature in Mad magazine.
  • "Riff Raff at home."
Riff Raff is a character from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
  • "I'm gonna break things off with Nimue."
Nimue is another name for the Lady of the Lake in the Arthurian legends.
  • "So I'm *not* getting the Intellivision?!"
The Intellivision was an early home video game console.
  • "Killdozer!"
Killdozer is a short story by Theodore Sturgeon about a bulldozer that develops a violent mind of its own. In 1974, it was adapted as a made-for-TV movie. It would later provide the name for an 80s-90s noise rock band and a real life rampage in 2004 by Marvin Heemeyer.
  • "I got Tang and Bugles!"
Tang is a nasty powdered orange-flavored drink made by Kraft Foods and marketed in the 60's as "what the astronauts drink". Bugles are a corn snack made by General Mills.
  • "I'm gonna buy an Ann Jillian poster."
Ann Jillian is an actress who was a popular sex symbol during the early 1980s.
  • "They just got 'Barb Wire' at Blockbuster!"
Barb Wire was a 1996 action film starring Pamela Anderson which Gramercy Pictures chose to promote over Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.
  • "What are you doing Dave?"
A quote by the HAL-9000 computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey whose unblinking eye resembles the evil toy monkey's blank stare.
  • "In the fields of barley...duh duh the fields of gold."
A very offbeat version of the Sting song 'Fields of Gold'.
  • "This guy took his life, as lovers often do."
Reference to the song "Vincent" (often known by its introductory line, "Starry, starry night...") by Don McLean, as prompted by the phrase "On a starry night..."

Memorable Quotes

Pearl [introducing the movie]: I invite you to suffer through today's movie. It's called Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders, and it's a delightful Bambi romp through a flowery fairy land of happy, harmless, fru-fru family fun for the whole family of all ages ... or IS IT!? Taste the rainbow of fruit pain!
[a bolt of lightning knocks the power out]
Grandpa: Uh-oh!
Crow [as Grandpa]: We better eat all the ice cream!
[In the dark sky, a single star flares brightly before going dim again]
Servo [as the star][straining] Twinkle! [grunts] That's all I got.
[Young Nicholas and his mother await the mysterious introduction to Merlin at his shop, where a fog creeps slowly across the floor.]
Mike: Merlin sends in his trained flatulence to scout the room.
Cooper[snidely] Allow me to introduce myself.
Servo [as Cooper]: I'm Bob Jackass.
[Cooper and Madeline proceed to leave Merlin's shop after his warning Cooper about using any of the spells in his spellbook]
Servo [as Cooper]: Look, my reviews have destroyed whole cities!
[Cooper has inadvertently given himself "dragon's breath" as a side effect of a summoning spell, and subsequently set his basement on fire.]
Mike: Clearly, Merlin has brought good into the world!
[Novice magician Cooper is force-feeding a potion to his cat Miffy with a dropper.]
Servo [as Miffy]: Meow, meow... safe! Meow, meow... very safe!
[Aged with magic use, Cooper infuses his cat with an evil spirit and then fire-breathes on it to stop its attacks.]
Servo [as Madeline]: Honey? You okay down there?
Mike [as Cooper]: Well, I got old and roasted the cat alive with my breath, but I'm fine!
[Merlin's wife Zurella orders him to retrieve the evil cymbal-monkey toy.]
Merlin: Don't I get a kiss?
Zurella: You'll get a lot more than that if you don't get out there and find that thing! Now, go!
Mike: So, she threatened him with sex?
[David's son is watching a Japanese cartoon on TV.]
Mike: Why, here's something else Satan created: Japanimation!
Servo: It's the anime version of Peter Rabbit.
[David is attempting to escape from a crack in the earth created by the evil toy monkey.]
David: God help me!
Servo [as God]: Sorry, Unitarian. According to you, I'm in the butterflies and the sun, and I'm just a vague, benevolent force. [muttering] You're on your own.
Crow [as Merlin]: I'm going to hit the mystical can.
. . .
Crow [as Merlin]: Remember to believe in magic... or I'll kill you.
Mike [as Merlin, who is standing still nodding to himself while looking around the room]: I did a good job painting this room
Crow: And so, Billy, the little boy who looks just like you, went through terrible, irredeemable grief!
Servo [as the kid]: No, Grandpa Borgnine, leave light and hope for me! Please!
Crow [as Grandpa Borgnine]: Get out from behind that cushion, Billy! It gets worse!
[Merlin is giving Cooper sage advice.]
Merlin: Heed my words....
Mike [as Merlin]: ...munch my shorts....
[Cooper is "reviewing" Merlin's shop.]
Cooper: Do you know who I am? I am the supreme being!
Servo: Clapton?
Cooper: I chew places like this up and spit them into the toilet.
Mike[laughs] Why?
[Merlin is practically purring to Madeline.]
Merlin: Ohh, Mrs. Cooper...
Mike [as Merlin]: fine!
[A burglar alarm goes off, as a seedy looking man runs off into the alley.]
Crow : Merlin was a thieving crack head, who fenced VCR's to feed his habit.
[A kid looks at the front of Merlin's shop as the movie goes into slow motion.]
Servo [as the Kid][slowly] Loooooooook, mommmmmmmy!
[Cooper is grinning at Merlin's expense.]
Cooper: You really think you are Merlin, don't you?
Crow [as Cooper]: My cheek-lines disagree.
[Grandpa, played by Ernest Borgnine, has just finished telling his grandson the awful Merlin story that he wrote for TV]
Crow [as Grandpa]: I have another script called Chinatown, but I don't like it as much.

Video Release

    Commercially released on DVD by Rhino Entertainment in March 2004 as part of The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Volume 5, a 4-DVD set with Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues…, Time Chasers and The Touch of Satan.
  • The DVD features an introduction with Michael J. Nelson, as well as an interview with Mike and Kevin Murphy recorded especially for this release. The interview is an overview of MST3K history, with a minor nod to what the pair were doing after the show ended, and was applauded by fans for being the first major newly created extra Rhino included.
  • The DVD was also a frequent cause for debate and complaint by fans as the video appears to be darker than the broadcast version of episode. The best example is the fact that the Shadowrama is totally lost in opening credits for the movie.


  1. Satellite News

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