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Ever since one Mr. Thomas Edison invented the motion picture as we know it today, there have been bad movies. The creation of the 'talkie' only made things worse, opening the floodgates for hordes of awful writers and magnifying the faults of bad actors. The only defense against this constant onslaught of mass-produced idiocy? Ridicule. Yes, making fun of the movie; sarcasm as self-defense. But while people had been making fun of bad movies for ages, it was Mystery Science Theatre 3000 that elevated it to an art form. Thanks to Joel, Mike and company, a terrible movie can now be (in its own way) more fun than a good one. Incorrigible smart-alecks like myself are no longer constantly elbowed and told to shut up when we notice that a movie is awful. Well, not as much. The "No Talking" signs in movie houses have become totally meaningless (though the invention of the cell phone played a part in this as well). Being a pop-culture junkie is no longer the earmark of a loser: any and all useless knowledge of movies, TV and music can know be used as ammunition to combat the "Manos: The Hands of Fate"s of the world. Okay, there's absolutely no way to combat Manos, but any other movie is now safe for public consumption. It's true that the show itself may have become a bit stale in its last years; the host segments certainly seemed to lose their sting as the cast continued to change. The 'plot' behind the imprisonment of Mike, Crow and Tom Servo on the Satellite of Love became increasingly twisted and confusing, but that was never really the important thing. What mattered were the gags, the hard work and dedication that went into the week-long process of watching a bad movie over and over to unearth the proper way to mock it really showed on air. And it was this work ethic -- the unfailing desire to get it all just right, to make it as funny as it could possibly be -- that would inspire countless viewers for the show's eleven-year run, and untold decades afterwards. Hollywood has given us lots of garbage over the years, and now, thanks to these pioneers, we have a way to fight back. Viva La Revolucion!
This, fellow men, in the finest work of art ever made by humans. The off-beat but promising concept of two humanlike robots and their human friend riffing bad movies quickly blossoms into the funniest show ever made. From the sheer quirk factor, (the genius host segments, the seriously weird movies,) the raw entertainment value, ( the jaw-droppingly hilarious jokes tossed at the worst movies so bad they make fun of themselves, jokes so funny you'll be spitting whatever you happen to be drinking from your nose,) and the timeless quality, (I have 60 episodes on DVD and have vigorously watched and re-watched them, and honestly can't wait to finish my collection.) Manos, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Space Mutiny, Merlin's Shop, Boggy Creek, Prince of Space, Final Justice, Revenge of the Creature, Jack Frost, Riding with Death, Invasion of the Nepture Men, Horror of Party Beach, and so, so, so, so, so, so, so many more of the funniest gems you've ever seen and will ever see. Why anyone would want to get rid of this perfect show is so mind-boggling in its evil that I grow nauseous thinking of it. For a time, I couldn't sleep unless I had seen a Mystery Science Theater before I went to bed. ( Okay, that is pretty pathetic, and I've grown out of that seeing as how I've loved the show since I was little. But still...my love remains undiminished.....) This show is a bastion of good taste and raw hilarity against a storm of lame and overrated sitcoms, (coughFriendscough) We've got movie sign!
Living every pop-culture enthusiast's dream of talking back at the
industry's bottom-of-the-barrel refuse, at least those samples they could
get their fingers on, the marooned janitor Joel Robinson (Joel Hodgson)
his bots Tom Servo (first Josh Weinstein, then Kevin Murphy) and Crow T.
Robot (Trace Beaulieu, later Bill Corbett) have, at least in the minds of
their countless fans, been elevated to an almost Christ-like status of
brilliantly witty, film-savvy martyrs. Forced to watch atrociously bad
after atrociously bad movie, which they survive only through the use of
their own biting and above all highly educated and sophisticated wit, they
are identification figures for all of us suffering wannabe critics. From
lowbrow to the esoteric, no opportunity for a cutting remark is missed by
these lovable rascals, who practically invented this new way of reviewing
film. It's the dissatisfied moviegoer's commentary track, an option that
should, in my opinion, be included on the DVD releases of pretty much all
major blockbusters released today. After all, wouldn't we Mysties just
for an MST3K treatment of the Bay/Bruckheimer movies or Lucas' prequel
trilogy? I'd like to think so.
Now for the development of the series: The KTMA years were still pretty sketchy and mostly unscripted, but did nevertheless successfully create the foundation of the show, firmly establishing its format. Though many of its episodes were forgettable, there were some true standout moments. One of these was their treatment of Sandy Frank's `Fugitive Alien' series, which would be repeated and perfected in MST3K's third season. The official first season was still not quite up to the quality we're so used to now, but it provided the show with some of its most memorable host segments and catch phrases, namely Servo's romantic infatuation with the ship's water cooler and `Hi-Keeba!'
Season two to six represents the shows golden years, wonderfully covering many of the `Gamera' and `Godzilla' films, other Sandy Frank abominations like `Time of the Apes', many ambitious Bert I. Gordon and Roger Corman misfires, the Italian `Hercules' series and, of course, Hal Warren's classic `Manos: The Hands of Fate', still the most infamous of all MST3K movies (the wonderful Torgo became a memorable recurring character throughout the show).
In the middle of the fifth season Joel Hodgson left the show and was replaced by the equally great Mike Nelson, who served as head writer all through the series. With the change of the host also came a change of the shows tone. Joel was an exceedingly amiable, pleasant fellow - a great balance to the scathingly sardonic Crow and pompous, overeducated Servo. Mike was still likable, but generally favored a much darker brand of humor. Thus, by the end of the 8th season, the show had become far less jovial in their treatment of the films, some comments being downright spiteful (for instance, the Canada song in `The Final Sacrifice').
As for the villainous mad scientists, Dr. Forrester (again, Trace Beaulieu) and his assistant TV's Frank (Frank Coniff) were later replaced by Dr. Forrester's mother (the positively Dawn Frenchian Mary Jo Pehl) and her assistants, Professor Bobo (again, Kevin Murphy) and Observer (again, Bill Corbett). Needless to say, it was not really a worthy replacement, and the quality of the host segments decreased considerably. Nevertheless, MST3K still produced some incredibly funny episodes, on par with (if not superior to) the best of their early work. `Puma Man', `Space Mutiny', `Overdrawn at the Memory Bank' and `Prince of Space' are unarguable classic episodes I would not want to live without.
All in all, an absolutely amazing show of quite consistent quality.
Simple concept, brilliantly executed. Three little shadows aiming poisonous barbs at unintentionally hilarious films, most of them 1950s-era sci-fi and horror turkeys. "I Accuse My Parents," "The Giant Gila Monster," "The Girl In Lovers' Lane," "Teenage Strangler," the list of my personal favorites could go on and on. The shows with Joel Hodgson were especially well-done, and one hopes that we will hear again from this very funny fellow. For unclear reasons, only the recent shows from the sci-fi channel run (the shows from the comedy channel run were far superior) are being re-run. One wishes that one of the myriad of cable and/or satellite channels would re-run the classic shows we know and love. Also, a nice set of DVD releases (unlike the cheap, single show DVDs which have been produced) would be welcomed.
I feel that I am at a loss of words to describe how much I truly adore this show. It is pure genius and pure delight. I remember my first ever encounter with MST3K: It was five years ago and the featured movie of the episode was Hobgoblins. I had heard about the show but had never really had an interest in seeing it. I came across it channel surfing and decided to watch it for awhile. At that moment, I was forever hooked. Since then, I have seen every Sci-Fi era episode and roughly half of the show's Comedy Central days. I have been exposed to some of the worst movies in history, and I have loved every minute of it. When I found out that the show was ending its run of original episodes in 1999, I was devastated. Fortunately, Sci-Fi has kept re-runs of MST3K going every Saturday. My only complaint is that its not on enough. Rhino has made the wise decision to release select episodes of MST3K from the Comedy Central era on video and DVD, making the show readily available to a new generation of fans. Hopefully, someday every episode of the show's prestigious run will be released for human consumption, or at least it will go into wide syndication like many beloved TV classics. Until then, tune into the Sci-Fi channel every Saturday morning and witness a true work of genius in progress.
Far too many haters have posted, so I thought I might bring a little
enlightenment to the discussion.
MST3K is simply one of the greatest success stories in the history of television. Why? Location. This show was created by a group (but primarily by Joel) of
standup comedians tired of life on the road. So do they move to LA and beg for writing gigs on other people's shows like most comics have? No. They created their own jobs --- IN MINNEAPOLIS! (And how many of you in LA right now wish that you could have stayed home and made a career there? I work in TV & Film .... I know. I almost moved there myself before landing in SF.)
And did these guys wait for a big network to pluck them from obscurity, install them in a fabulous Hollywood soundstage and give them a giant budget to
create a pilot no one would ever see, but they could use it on their reel to get the next breakfast cereal commercial audition? NO. They built the show from
scratch at a local TV station, honed an affordable concept over time, then
proceeded to produce a nationally cablecast, critically praised television series from a warehouse in a Midwestern suburb for 10 YEARS! They made it work!
They didn't sell out! They did what THEY wanted to do --- AND MADE A LIVING!
What have you done? Where's your show?
So, fan of the show or not, please respect what has been accomplished here. I personally think the show rates right up there with the Simpsons for jokes-per- minute. And the host segments are mostly "Good-Bad". (Especially classic bits like Joel as father-figure, making the Bots cry when he frightens them by reading excerpts from "Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten" as a scary bedtime story. "Joel .... Make it stop!") But I have to admit that, having grown up in the Midwest, I probably got some of the local jokes that seem to cause you coastal people fits.
But have we land-locked masses complained for the past 90 years when only
New York and LA are represented in every single film and television series?
Yes, Joel created the show and those of us who caught the series from the
beginning will always like his shows better than Mike's. (I still can't watch M*A* S*H reruns post-Trapper John. I mean, did anyone think Mike Ferrell was
funny? And I was just a kid at the time of the change. And what about the
Darren switch on Bewitched?) But MST3K is not for everyone. It was never
intended to be. If you don't like it, just walk away. Leave this little gem to those of us who do get it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
''May have spoilers'' With this show around, it's easy to bear such horrible movies such as the ''Invasion of the Neptune Men, Future War or Touch of Satan.'' I stumbled on this one Saturday morining and have been hooked since. I love the characters (so obnoxcius yet so lovable and funny). OK they baically make crude of the movies sent to them by this psi woman Pearl Forrester who hates them and makes them watch almost unberable movies just ot torture them. It's a shame this show ended. Not even the Simpsons can compete with this.
At first glance, a cheap puppet show that makes fun of movies. But look deeper and discover a wealth of satire, pop culture references and a sparkling wit. A must-see for anyone who refuses to tolerate the mediocrity that blights so much of the entertainment industry.
This stuff cracks me up every time I watch it. I've been watching for about
5 years now and I still choke on Oreos when I'm watching.
Lots of comments flipped out there that are vague or obtuse and you just laugh at the sarcastic wit that comes at you a mile a minute.
I still have a fondness for the "Joel" shows but Mike has a take no these movies that's just as funny. And the robots, in the SOL theater or deck are great too. I REALLY miss Dr. Forester!!
Not much else for me to say about this series except that it is my
favorite show. Anyone who has stayed up way past midnight watching and
heckling bad (REALLY bad) movies with friends will appreciate the humor of
Admittedly, MST3K isn't for everyone (alas, one man's idea of genius is another man's utter crap), but if you give it a try (and have a warped sense of humor) you just might like it.
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