Tuesday, April 11, 2017

MST3K Returns Friday! A Look Back Part 1: The Classics

It is pretty amazing that one of the smartest television ideas/written shows is returning this Friday with new episodes on Netflix. Mystery Science Theater 3000 gets a full reboot on the streaming service starting April 14th.
Original creator Joel Hodgson did a crowd sourcing campaign to get the Satellite of Love back in the stratosphere to be tormented by bad movies and it was wildly successful. For those not aware of the original show, the gimmick was bad movies (really bad movies) would play and a human with two robot sidekicks would make quick fire sarcastic retorts, 70's cultural references and intelligent quips. The humor was all over the map, from fart jokes to grand sociological statements.

That may sound like high praise, but the show clearly took a lot from the great Monty Python in that they played up to their audience, always expecting them to be smart enough to get the jokes, they did win a Peabody after all.

There is also a direct musical connection (not including the countless musical references during the shows themselves) as Joel mentioned in past interviews that he got the idea for the look of the main scenes from an insert picture on Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

Over the last year, we've had some extra time on our hands and the show we've watched the most without question is MST3K, they are constantly funny and immensely re-watchable. Thanks to the amazing fans there are tons of episodes online.

To commemorate the return of the show we wanted to take some time on RtBE to talk up our favorites. These posts are not meant to be comprehensive, you can go to other sites for more info as the internet is full of them. We are however dedicating two posts it, which will highlight 10 episodes total. Today we will focus on The Classic Episodes, tomorrow our Personal Favorite's. Click that read more below to dive into Part 1: The Classics

MST3K ran for ten full seasons, had two human hosts a few robot voices and a couple of evil scientists keeping them all supplied with the crappiest in crap films. Every fan has their favorites (we will get to ours tomorrow) but it is hard to argue with these episodes as being the touchstones that all fans know well.

We will address them from oldest to newest and will post a version of episode, but these are taken down from youtube often. If the embedded link is dead just click on the episode title as we will link to the Club page where people constantly update versions. Let's start back with the Season 3 opener...

Cave Dwellers:
Boob Poke
The first Sand and Sandal...well uh, you can't say Epic, but genre film that the crew tackled. The movie on it's own is preposterous so many silly things to even bring up (a fucking glider and hand grenades!?!?) but the lack of dialog and over-acting makes it ripe for riffing and the fellas give it a good spanking.

From the handrail jokes to the invisible armies, this one never ceases to be amusing. The show would go on to do lots of these types of films (the Hercules series, Sword and the Dragon, Quest For the Delta Knights and many more). Another cool thing about this one is the uhh, star(?!) of the film Miles O'Keefe loved MST3K's take on the silly movie and even asked them for a copy. Miles O'Cool indeed.

Favorite Riffs:
"It is everything and nothing." Uh, could you be a little more vague?


Tolkien couldn't follow this plot.

Manos: The Hands of Fate
The Master Approves This List

Perhaps the most famous of all the episodes is this steaming hunk of Texas wanna be horror movie. It is doubtful anyone would have ever heard of this film if not for MST3K who found it and crafted this episode. Torgo must be seen to be believed, the whole film is a mess, but it is not the worst movie of all time, or even the worst the MST3K ever did (Monster A Go-Go takes that crown). but it is the one people know the best.

From the off screen voices, to the Mad Scientists both apologizing, to the creepy child bride ending, it is almost as if the movie was written made by a fertilizer salesman...oh wait, it was. Perfect for MST3K.

Favorite Riffs:  

The black and red Moses of soul

I can't help but wonder what this cast party was like.

Repeating a kids insults back at him...that's low copper
Ahh Mitchell, the mid point of the series in every way and yet also a high point. Joe Don Baker, unlike Miles O'Keefe was NOT happy with the abuse he took from the crew on this one. All the jokes on his slovenly behalf are on point and perfect. The show may have been based/founded on horrible 50's and 60's monster movies (Gamera, The Killer Shrews, Night Of The Blood Beast) but the gang LOVED ripping their own era, picking extra sharp on films from the 70's and Mitchell is MST3K at their peak.

Besides being funny from the opening scene, this episode is special because it facilitated the change of hosts on screen. Behind the scenes Joel was leaving and head writer Mike Nelson was taking his place, Mitchell is Joel's last film and started the big question for old fans, who ya' with? Joel or Mike? I am split down the middle. I got into the show during it's initial run when Mike Nelson was already hosting. In retrospect watching them recently we really love Joel's mannerisms and laid back attitude while Mike and his bots seemed to have more rapid fire jokes ready. We can't choose, we love them both and in Mitchell you get both. Oh and there is no debate as to the shows best Mad Scientist combo, Dr. Forrester & TV's Frank take the cake.

Favorite Riffs:
"But I'm not a salesman; I'm the chubby blue line."

Sorry about the porn, there's a Kilgore Trout piece in there....

Well, she was gonna smell like beer sooner or later.

Space Mutiny:
Santa, Billy Idol, A Dead Girl & Smoke ManMuscle

Ah Sci Fi cheesy sometimes just seems so easy...to make fun of. Space Mutiny was made in 1988 but the only way you might know that are the hairdo's. The special effects look straight out of a high school AV clubs first project, and the dialog is laughable at best, painful at worst. This one is a non stop riot fest and actually the highest rated episode on the Club site.

Perhaps more than most episodes the crew nail so many jokes that result in viewers laughing out loud. None more so than the amazing list of names made up for our...uuh, hero? Santa gets his fair share as well. This one is a winner all around is the show on top of it's game. If people are brand new to the MST3K, this a good place to start to get a sense of what it does best.

Favorite Riffs:
Very nice of you to give that dead woman another chance, sir.

I don't know if this helps, but... ho, ho, ho.

All the nicknames

The Final Sacrifice:
Canada! Fuckin' Ehh?!

The crew really don't hate any of these films, though some are painful to sit through (Looking at you The Wild World of Batwoman) and the venom leaks out a little bit. In truth they love them all because these turkeys allow the show to exist in the first place. Some episodes you can feel the extra love for and The Final Sacrifice seems to be the perfect fit for tender, loving, yet complete shredding, via funny riffs (20% centered around Larry Csonka).

Maybe it is the sense that Canadian's 8th graders scribbled some drawings on the back of a Trapper Keeper and somehow got that crazy idea crafted into a so-called film, or perhaps it is the grizzled Ron Anderson who reminds me so much of Rowlf from the Muppets. The truth probably comes down to the loving chemistry of leads Troy McGreggor and Zap Rowsdower who really should have their own spin off by now. One of the best, silliest episodes where everyone involved is trying so hard you gotta just smile...and insult them.

Favorite Riffs:
You know, this has the bacon-y stink of Canada all over it.

I can't wait till they start the internet.

Well, it was a pretty good cult, but Hockey season is starting and all...

Feel free to post classic episodes we missed but that is a solid set of five, the most well known and some of the funniest episodes the crew ever did. We have our own personal top five which we will get to tomorrow, so now, if you would, push the button....

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