tegan

Mystery Science Theater 3000: It Stinks! ūüĎĆ

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We're all nerds here; let us discuss science fiction television shows from a quarter of a century ago.

 

 

So I'm a pretty big MST3K fan, and as part of my ongoing project to get the entire video contents of my harddrive working on my HD box I ended up redownloading the entire series this week and watching it again. I always preferred Mike, but right now I'm going through some of the really early Joel stuff and it's often much better than I remembered it. I've heard a little of Rifftrax, but it feels weirdly more hollow when I can't put goofy robot faces to names and when all of the pop culture jokes are references to things that actually happened in my lifetime.

 

Also as part of my organization efforts, I tracked down scans of the DVD art for every episode that's been officially released and I'm making custom thumbnail art for the rest (which is most of them). It's tough work but oddly soothing.

 

 

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Rifftrax never really clicked with me until recently, for the same reason as you.  But after I went to the live simulcast of them doing Santa Clause vs the Martians (they were live in one city and it was broadcast out to a bunch of theaters).  It was amazingly hilarious!  Since then I've watched a few movies with Rifftrax on, and it works for me now.  I think seeing them together during portions of the live show kind of broke that speedbump of not having a character to identify with. 

 

So yeah, if you have the chance to go see one of their theater simulcasts, I heartily recommend it. 

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Teg, that artwork is great!

 

The cat sat behind me right now is called Torgo.  Scott and I quite like MST3K.

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The Rifftrax/Cinematic Titanic rift has always seemed like a missed opportunity for me. If they could overcome some of their differences, I think both groups could cancel each other's weaknesses out. Mostly, I think the Joel-aligned CT group might have some stronger joke writers among them and the Mike-Aligned Rifftrax crew are stronger performers than a few of the CT folks.

 

EDIT: This is also probably an appropriate place to note my in-game character naming convention: In most RPGs I end up naming my characters "Dirk Steakface," "Big McLargehuge," "Slab Bulkhead" or some other stupid thing inspired by the many names of the hero in Space Mutiny.

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It's Canadian Thanksgiving Turkey Day! Naturally, I celebrated by watching the appropriate MST3K episode:

 

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Always glad to see other fans of this show. I watched it when I was in gradeschool in the early / mid 90s, and I even joined the fan club. I remember getting the news letter and everything. Even sent in a drawing I made of the cast. It's probably the most effort I put into being a fan of something.

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Rifftrax never really clicked with me until recently, for the same reason as you.  But after I went to the live simulcast of them doing Santa Clause vs the Martians (they were live in one city and it was broadcast out to a bunch of theaters).  It was amazingly hilarious!  Since then I've watched a few movies with Rifftrax on, and it works for me now.  I think seeing them together during portions of the live show kind of broke that speedbump of not having a character to identify with. 

 

So yeah, if you have the chance to go see one of their theater simulcasts, I heartily recommend it. 

 

I also saw this, and it was awesome. Tegan, I'm in the same boat as you. I prefer Mike over Joel. Partly because Mike was on the show when I became aware it existed, and also partly because I think there's a combo of him being a stronger performer and the show being more focused on shitty movies and revolving the segments around the shittiness of the movies. I really enjoy RiffTrax. It's an opportunity to watch a movie that's potentially competently made, and still get completely skewered. Basically every movie is completely absurd when you hit a certain point. The first one I watched was The Avengers, and it was totally great.

 

 

Plus I'll follow Kevin Murphy's melodious voice to the ends of the comedy earth.

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So there's that new MST3K season on Netflix. I've only watched a few episodes - the first third of the season - and I really like it. I was expecting it to be bad -- I think I was expecting it to be more mean spirited and ironic in a "too cool for this" sort of way* -- but nope. It has some hits and some misses, on all fronts, but at its core it seems to be coming from the place of earnestness and enthusiasm that the old series did. It's definitely not a show put on by a bunch of midwestern stand up comedians anymore, but everyone involved seems incredibly excited to be there, game for trying new experiments, and not worried that some are going to fail on camera and some are going to land really well.

 

Cry Wilderness, episode 1102, is actually an all-timer for me. (I'm on 1104 right now, so I have a ways to go, but man that episode is a perfect MST3K friendly mixture of stupid animal photography, precocious children with magical amulets, and 1980s muscle-yokels.)

 

What do you all think?

 

 

* I was never as big a fan of the Sci-Fi channel episodes because everyone felt tired and kind of mean during that run, as it went on. I know there are some total classic episodes in that run, but the overall vibe of those years was never quite for me, I guess. I like that the Netflix series is tonally a throwback to seasons 1-5's wide eyed earnestness and dorking around in its setup and host segments, while the in-theater riffing is a lot sharper and more fast paced, which reminds me more of the best parts of the Sci Fi Channel years.

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I grew up in IL and went to college in the Twin Cities, so hearing that there's less of a Midwestern sensibility to the show is kind of disappointing. I hadn't really planned on watching them in part because I thought this (lack of Minnesota jokes) would be true, but I was hoping someone would say otherwise.

I am glad they're good though. Watching MST3K with my dad was a formative comedic experience and a lack of jokes about Perkins makes me sad.

tangentially related unpopular opinion

the presence of Patton Oswalt & Wil Wheaton really turned me off of even wanting to try it in the first place because they represent all my least favorite nerd culture impulses.

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21 minutes ago, jennegatron said:

I grew up in IL and went to college in the Twin Cities, so hearing that there's less of a Midwestern sensibility to the show is kind of disappointing. I hadn't really planned on watching them in part because I thought this (lack of Minnesota jokes) would be true, but I was hoping someone would say otherwise.

I am glad they're good though. Watching MST3K with my dad was a formative comedic experience and a lack of jokes about Perkins makes me sad.

tangentially related unpopular opinion

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the presence of Patton Oswalt & Wil Wheaton really turned me off of even wanting to try it in the first place because they represent all my least favorite nerd culture impulses.

 

 

For whatever it's worth, as a counterpoint to some of the weirder casting, Gypsy is now played by a woman comic from the Midwest instead of one of the producers doing a voice. 

 

Wil Wheaton only has a couple lines in the first episode as a enthusiastic idiot and he plays them well, and I think Patton Oswalt does a legit good job in his role (the angry brooding nerd persona isn't at all a part of his character here), but I know why you'd want to stay away!

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I do very much hope these new episodes bring people joy the way the original run did : ), and am glad to hear you like it thus far Jake!

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I skipped the first episode mainly due to an aversion to Wil Wheaton, which may be petty, but hey: it's my leisure time. Now that I know I don't hate the show I'll probably go back and catch up. As for Oswalt, while he may similarly represent an uncomfortable celebrity nerd culture, he's (unlike Wheaton) also a genuinely talented entertainer who doesn't bring that persona with him in his performance. TBH, he's the only member of the non-puppet cast who never misses a comedic beat and has already completely inhabited his goofy character.

 

Anyway. I've only seen 1102, and enjoyed it. I liked it more than I like most Mike episodes. Honestly, if this season has better than a 60% success rate then it's about par for the course for MST3K seasons; it's always been a hit-and-miss show for me.

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I've only watched the first episode so far, and it's exactly what I wanted but didn't think would get. The host segments were great. :tup:

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[EDIT: link to previous thread removed now Jake has merged it. It was called "Watch Out For Snakes! A Mystery Science Theater 3000 Thread"]

 

I also slag it off here, but I think I was mixing it up with Rifftrax in my head because I don't think I've ever seen one over an old B-movie. I have one 1999 season and the new season on Netflix, I might give it a go.

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1 hour ago, Ben X said:

There's another MST3K thread here: 

 

I also slag it off here, but I think I was mixing it up with Rifftrax in my head because I don't think I've ever seen one over an old B-movie. I have one 1999 season and the new season on Netflix, I might give it a go.

It may grate on you tremendously, not sure. MST3K is at its best when it's goofing around "with" the movie more than ironically scorning it. I think Rifftrax can get more mean/"tired of this" at its worst points, which is less fun for me. I don't need to spend two hours of my life being told what I'm watching is uh bad actually (especially when it's a legit good modern movie).

 

the 1999 season on Netflix is actually a compilation of 20 fan-picked episodes from the original 89-99 ten season run. 

 

I recommend just just jumping into the new season at this point though, and going back to the old stuff if you like it at all. I also kind of recommend starting with the second new episode, Cry Wilderness. 

 

 

 

Also I have merged our MST threads and accidentally kept my title because I did the merge backwards. Wrong thread title. 

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Welp, I wasn't mixed up: I lasted about 20 seconds into the watching of the movie and turned it off because it was intensely irritating in the same way Rifftrax is.

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I have not historically liked watching MST3k in a non-group setting. Thanks to this thread (or... the one Jake made, anyway) I'm watching the new season. I am enjoying it much more than I expected! I'm on the third episode right now.

 

THANKS JAKE.

 

Also: re: Wil Wheaton, he's like, really only barely in the first episode. That said, I agree with Jake. Start with Cry Wilderness. Much better intro movie/riffing.

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After re-watching the Fast and Furious movies with Giant Bomb East commentary (Film & 40s podcast) and seeing this topic, I decided to give Mystery Science Theater ago. I wasn't that into the first episode of the new season. I think I prefer the more organic friends-on-a-couch dialogue type commentary of Film & 40s to the pre-written single-line quips of MST, which is not a criticism towards MST because that is clearly their thing, just my personal preference. I might still check the second episode, because I do enjoy stupid, bad movies.

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You might want to watch some older MST episodes. They're more organic than the new season (still pre-prepped but they're recorded in a far more laid back way). If Netflix has Mitchell, maybe, that's a good example ep. 

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I've only watched the second episode ("Cry Wilderness") but thought it was just as funny as any of the old episodes I've seen. I've seen a bunch old MST3K, mainly back when it was on TV, but definitely not anywhere close to all of it, so I'm not as well-versed as many. This one felt more rapid fire in terms of jokes than the ones I remember; not sure how accurate that is. I thought it worked well, enough, as MST jokes are always pretty hit-or-miss, so having more darts to throw at the wall seems reasonable.

 

I was never all that crazy about the skits, but I liked them even less here. Having people whose faces I already know from things that aren't MST itself felt distracting for reasons I can't really articulate; I don't know that that's a fair criticism. I think that since the skits already delight in their kitschiness and artificiality, having an element of professional gloss in the form of "real" actors created a disconnect that was jarring for me.

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Now that MST3K is such a bullet-proof cult-nerd darling the "let's put on a show" late night movie host aspect feels even less honest than when they were in movie theaters. Also, while MST3K always had and still has a full staff of writers, Joel Hodgson was a prop comic and Mike Nelson was a humor columnist for newspapers, and their skits always felt like personal reflections of that. Jonah Ray's comedy doesn't seem like it dovetails into the form quite as naturally. It feels like someone trying to perform someone else's style of comedy, and ends up feeling a bit precious because of it.

 

I only saw Reptilicus so far, and even though I was all set to be super cynical, I can't deny it's about as funny as it ever was (definitely agree about it always being hit or miss). There's just two things I wish were different (that later episodes may address)

 

1. I wish they'd continue making super obscure jokes about exhibits at the Minneapolis Zoo and shit like that.

2. I wish they wouldn't step on lines in the movie so much. Old MST3K gave a much better appearance of being off the cuff, while this they had a habit of making a joke about a line reading DURING THE LINE READING.

 

I am happy that they mostly kept it tween-friendly, despite the fact that on Netflix they can go as blue as they'd like.

 

EDIT: I just double checked and Wikipedia doesn't mention Mike Nelson ever wrote newspaper humor columns. I don't know where I heard that.

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55 minutes ago, Chris said:

This one felt more rapid fire in terms of jokes than the ones I remember; not sure how accurate that is. I thought it worked well, enough, as MST jokes are always pretty hit-or-miss, so having more darts to throw at the wall seems reasonable.

 

I think the problem I've found with this style of joking is that it never lets up, and so it just feels very writerly. There's a huge lack of any comedic timing in the first two episodes that I watched. They just say the line they've written, and then move on to the next line they've written. Scenes don't even develop enough to let the audience kind of see what's going on before there'e a gag. I feel as if this perhaps they cut out a quarter of the jokes, they could let the whole thing breathe a bit, which would make the whole reboot seem more confident. Also, I cannot in any way discern between any of the three characters, I remember the original MST3K having the robots play against the human host, which lead to different style jokes. 

 

Oh while I was typing this @Patrick R said a few of the same things.

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1 minute ago, RubixsQube said:

 

 Also, I cannot in any way discern between any of the three characters, I remember the original MST3K having the robots play against the human host, which lead to different style jokes. 

 

Oh while I was typing this @Patrick R said a few of the same things.

 

But you said something I forgot! I know new robots would have been a hard sell, but the new voices feel like a weird Twilight Zone between new characters and the old ones, and my brain can't quite handle it. Wish they just had Jonah build all new characters, so the comics voicing them could feel comfortable making them their own.

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16 minutes ago, Patrick R said:

 

But you said something I forgot! I know new robots would have been a hard sell, but the new voices feel like a weird Twilight Zone between new characters and the old ones, and my brain can't quite handle it. Wish they just had Jonah build all new characters, so the comics voicing them could feel comfortable making them their own.

 

Yeah, it sounds like someone doing a passable Crow impersonation and then a dude talking. I agree with you, but man, I don't think they could have gotten away with changing the robots too much, because nerds hate change to things they like. 

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