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Radar Secret Service

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520 - Radar Secret Service
Air Date December 18, 1993
Movie Director Sam Newfield
Year 1950
Cast John Howard, Adele Jergens, Tom Neal, Myrna Dell, Ralph Byrd, Sid Melton
Short Last Clear Chance
Short Director Robert Carlisle
Year 1959
Cast William Boyett, Harold Agee, Mrs. Harold Agee, Tim Bosworth, Bill Agee, Christine Lynch
Preceded by 519 - Outlaw
Followed by 521 - Santa Claus

"Gary Burghoff goes undercover!"

"That would explain his career for the last 10 years."

  — Crow and Mike

The Short


Friendly Patrolman Hal Jackson (Boyett) visits the Dixon family to instruct their youngest son, Alan (Bosworth), in the art of safe and courteous driving. He relates many grisly tales of various young drivers, his main advice being to pay attention, but Alan's older brother Frank Jr. (Bill Agee) isn't listening, and drives with his girlfriend Betty (Lynch) into the path of an oncoming train while turning around and waving at the car behind him.


  • Patrolman Hal utters the amazing line: "I thought this would be a good time to come by and tell you a few of the facts of life about driving, before you get started."
  • The most memorable dialogue, though, is probably the engineer at the train crash, who says ruefully "Why don't they look, Ralph. Tell me, why don't they look?" This line is referenced in the next episode, Santa Claus, and later in The Skydivers and The Deadly Mantis.
  • The film supposedly concentrates on accidents at level crossings because it was financed by Union Pacific. [1]

The Movie


The superlatively dull story of how radar prevented a truckload of atomic material from being stolen.

1950: Communists and atomic power are on everyone's mind. Behold radar. In this film universe, radar is omnipresent and nearly omnipotent - it can find minerals underground, detect schools of fish underwater, perhaps even spy on smoochers! - all from thousands of miles away. "Worship radar at the church of your choice!"


Radar Secret Service

Lila, a woman of a certain age (30? 60?) enters a cafe (cleverly named "Cafe"). She learns from waitress Marge, her "plant", about "arriving U238" and alerts her gangster boyfriend Mickey (the despicable "Tom Dewey" from The Brute Man) to arrange for him to steal it. Michael, her other suitor/gangster and Mickey's doppelganger, will buy it from Mickey and sell it to foreigners.

"Radar Secret Service - (RSS)" is on the job. "Mr. Hamilton", the boss, is informed of the U238 headed for the local power plant. (Just how useful would uranium be at a non-nuclear power plant?) RSS is to safeguard it by tracking it. Radar, we observe repeatedly, can send to HQ what the ignorant might consider "television" pictures of any remote location where a radar beam can reach. How? By using stock footage of microwave antennas and a patrol car with a large, putatively impressive radar device of some kind on the roof. We never learn what the car device does.

RSS locates the U238 truck on the highway. When it passes through a tunnel, hidden from radar, it is hijacked by Mickey's men. It emerges from the tunnel and turns off the road unexpectedly, so Mr. Hamilton radios agents Bill and dim-witted comedy-relief Static, who are in the patrol car, to investigate.

Mickey is waiting just off the highway for the truck. The gangsters dump the original drivers just as RSS Bill and Static arrive on the scene. Blackie, one of Mickey's men and also waitress Marge's boyfriend, battles Bill, rather half-heartedly. The truck gets away and arrives at Mickey's country hideout while Blackie is nabbed by the cops.

Mickey meets Michael at Lila's love nest to arrange for delivery and secure a down payment for the U238. They agree Mickey will deliver the stuff to Michael's yacht. Oddly, despite having almost exactly the same name and looking almost identical, Mickey and Michael do not trust each other. Of course, they are competing for Lila's attentions.


Radar Secret Service

Back at RSS HQ, Static has acquired a photo of Marge from Blackie's "little black book": The agents go looking for her in a montage of cafes. When they find her, Bill tells her he is a friend of Blackie's. Marge, suspicious, calls Blackie's colleague and learns Blackie's been nabbed. Bill copies down the telephone number and vamooses.

An agent from RSS tails Marge to Mickey's place. She confronts Mickey about springing her beau. Mickey is not very interested, but he is concerned Blackie will talk to the authorities. "What if they sweat him and he sings?" he asks, which happens to be the chorus to a number in a Radar Secret Service musical I am working on.

Mickey sends a car with some U238 off to meet Michael's yacht. RSS spots the car and radios the plate number to Bill in radar car OX3. They intercept the criminal's partial shipment.

Marge leaves and Benson, one of Mickey's boys, arrives. He and Bill have at it. Bill gets knocked out, Benson departs, and Marge enters. Bill wakes and persuades Marge to work with the cops for Blackie's benefit.

Mickey sends out a decoy car; the rest of the material is moved to the yacht while RSS sends out a toy radar helicopter and notifies OX3 to look for the car with the U238. In a double cross, the decoy car has been sabotaged by Mickey, and it flips, rolls over and turns into a Ford. The other truck departs for Michael's yacht but is spotted by the helicopter, which flies at an altitude of twenty feet at all times. (The helicopter footage is especially riveting. And there's no shortage of it, either. If you get my drift.) The gangsters pull off the road to make the drop and get paid, while the helicopter lands unseen and somehow unheard one hundred feet away. Michael's men arrive to pick up the stuff. In a counter-double cross, Michael is not only not going to pay Mickey, he is going to have him taken care of - permanently.

The RSS men arrive and a skirmish ensues. Mickey, wounded by Michael's henchmen, escapes in a car.

As Lila and Michael are just about to depart her flat, Mickey arrives, bleeding, gun drawn, eager for revenge. Will Lila and Michael pay for their treachery? Will the U238 be recovered?

What with the bad print, the unrelenting grayness and the remarkably similar period clothing, it's difficult on first viewing to distinguish amongst the two criminal factions and the radar guys. During a fistfight between one of the cops and a gangster, the Brains insert hilarious self-aware dialog into the mouths of the characters: Character A: "I'm dull!" Character B: "I"m way duller!" Character A (demandingly) : "Who am ?!" Character B (desperately): "I - I don't know!"

Sid Melton was tried and convicted at Nuremberg for the part he played in this movie.

CAUTION: Ingredients include kettle drums, rice cookers, golden grahams, beach balls, bobbers, stainless steel truffles, silver almond cookies, toilet tank floats, Swedish meatballs, and other round things, and way too much Sid Melton. It's like a 90 minute long Commando Cody episode.


  • Early in the film, the officer called "Static" wistfully mentions re: RADAR that "...Dick Tracy used it years before it was invented." This is presumably an in-joke since the actor playing Static is Ralph Byrd, who had played Tracy in several films throughout the 1930s and 40s. He would soon return to the role in 1950 for television.

The Episode

Host Segments


Mike performs Crow’s maintenance checkup

Prologue: Mike performs Crow’s maintenance checkup, but has no idea what he's doing. The result: Crow becomes Arnold Horshack.

Segment One (Invention Exchange): Mike has an escape plan: tear up everything aboard the SOL made of fabric (including Gypsy’s bra, Crow’s Underoos and pants from The Killer Shrews, and Tom Servo's pantyhose) and tie the scraps together to make a very long rope. He might be a bit delusional. The Mads present Hypno-Helio-Static-Stasis (containing X-4), a device which slows down movies and fills them with "subliminal poopie".

Segment Two: Based on the tragic short, Trooper Tom presents the playlet "Why Don’t They Look?" Dryer lint is more dangerous than one imagines!

The Bots simulate Mike's high school reunion

Segment Three: The Bots simulate Mike’s 10-year high school reunion, based on what they found in Mike's yearbook. The theme: "Hungry Like the Wolf". Segment Four: Mike and Crow have built the Quinn Martin Nature Preserve so old actors have a place to go when they’re no longer useful. Servo eventually recognizes that the Hypno-Helio-Static-Stasis is taking effect on them.

Trooper Tom

Segment Five: The Mads are foiled by Ecstato-Euphoro-Fun (with patented Hinder 90), a device which takes a B movie and turns it into a "Yippee movie"! Frank eventually falls under Hinder 90's spell.

Stinger: The hysterical French maid shouts, "Thank you!"

Obscure References

  • "... I hear the robin sing..."

This is from the song performed by John Cleese's character at the beginning of Monty Python's "Archaeology Today" sketch.

Tom is correct that Sam Newfield directed "I Accuse My Parents", but "Jungle Goddess" was directed by Lewis D. Collins. Tom MAY have been confusing it with "Lost Continent", another Newfield film.

  • "Gary Burghoff goes undercover!" "That would explain his career for the past ten years!"

Actor Gary Burghoff portrayed Corporal Radar O'Reilly in the movie & TV series M*A*S*H.

  • "Don't cry out loud..."

From the song "Don't Cry Out Loud" by Melissa Manchester.

  • "Hey, my 'Advocate' is here!"

A reference to the gay-oriented magazine The Advocate.

  • "Stop the near-insanity!"

Mike is paraphrasing fitness guru Susan Powter.

  • "Jack Kevorkian throws a tailgate party."

Jack Kevorkian is a famous proponent of doctor-assisted suicide.

  • MST3K 520 Promos01:02

    MST3K 520 Promos

    "Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry, NO!"

A reference to the 1974 movie Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry.

  • "Kill da wabbit, kill da wabbit..."

A line sung by Elmer Fudd in the 1957 cartoon What's Opera, Doc?.

  • "'The Powers That Be' is on!"

The Powers That Be was a short-lived 1990s sitcom on NBC that centered on a U.S. senator & his family in Washington.

  • "Oh, would you look at that!  Billy Joe McAllister is down there."

"Ode to Billy Joe" was a hit country song in 1967 about a boy who commits suicide by jumping off a bridge (and a family's rather banal reaction to the news).

Video Release



Commercially released on DVD by Shout! Factory in March 2015 as part of Mystery Science Theater 3000 - XXXII, a 4-DVD set along with Space Travelers, Hercules, and San Francisco International.

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