MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

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Thad
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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Sun Aug 06, 2017 1:31 pm

Eegah's a beloved classic episode, but it's one of those where I think people forget just how much of the movie is spent on nothing happening in-between the good parts.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby zaratustra » Sun Aug 06, 2017 3:19 pm

Mothra wrote:Finished the new series - overall it was okay, but not amazing. Glad it's back, and the team has potential, but yeah, way too rapid-fire and forced, with not enough recurring bits that span across the movie. Would be interested to hear what a newcomer to the series would think.

Movie selection, at least, was awesome.


I've seen, maybe, three episodes of the original series? Does it count?

It has its ups and downs. Cry Wilderness, Starcrash, Yongary, Wizards of the Lost Kingdom I and At the Earth's Core are great. Stuff like The Christmas That Almost Wasn't is bad in a way that's not really entertaining, just lame.

Don't really care about running gags - the one in Earth's Core about the protagonist being constantly hungry is just "eh".

Most of the intermission stuff is forgettable except for the final song number of Yongary.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Mothra » Sun Aug 06, 2017 4:31 pm

zaratustra wrote:I've seen, maybe, three episodes of the original series? Does it count?

It has its ups and downs. Cry Wilderness, Starcrash, Yongary, Wizards of the Lost Kingdom I and At the Earth's Core are great. Stuff like The Christmas That Almost Wasn't is bad in a way that's not really entertaining, just lame.

Don't really care about running gags - the one in Earth's Core about the protagonist being constantly hungry is just "eh".

Most of the intermission stuff is forgettable except for the final song number of Yongary.

Yeah, agreed. I'd say the lack of running narratives and jokes was my biggest letdown. Stuff like Soultaker or Space Mutiny or Time Chasers was full of them, as Mike and the bots built up a story around the various crappy characters and reinforced it throughout the movie.

Hoping they get back to that kind of semi-consistent running narrative comedy, rather than just one-off riffs all the time.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Brentai » Sun Aug 06, 2017 5:42 pm

Honestly the original series, as Thad sorta noted above, benefits a lot from rose-tinted glasses. It had as many problems as the new series but you probably only remember the really good bits, and forget that this was something you literally watched late at night to help you fall asleep.

They do try to do running jokes in the new series but a lot of them are almost non-sequiturs. It took me almost the entirety of Wizards of the Lost Kingdom to figure out that "Krabby" was supposed to be the bad guy's hat, and I have no idea where the hell the baby fetish jokes in The Christmas that Almost Wasn't came from, nor do I want to. The best running gag was probably CAPSULE! and they had the sense to mostly localize that around the one scene where it makes sense.

This stuff definitely has a learning curve though. Even RiffTrax started rough, and that's after they had been already doing this for about a decade.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Mothra » Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:39 pm

I dunno, I'd say the humor level of the current series is around the Joel/Beaulieu/Conniff/Mallon/Murphy-era, which makes sense, considering Joel's the one driving it. The Mike/Pehl/Chaplin/Corbett/Murphy/Jones-era ones had an understandably different tone, and for lack of a better way to describe it, I'd say "more willing to be mean-spirited." That's not really Joel's style, which is cool, but I tend to find it a lot less funny than embracing the shlock and pushing forward that "these people are being tortured by this shitty movie" angle:

https://youtu.be/Hb83lQwJzJw?t=1h18m41s

https://youtu.be/tKYk0eFbtVg?t=52m53s

A lot of the riffs are like pointing out plot holes, playing characters' dumb logic for a laugh, stuff like that.

I think I'd need to go back to some of the Joel-era stuff to get re-calibrated.

That said, I've said before how much I adored the Cinematic Titanic ep The Alien Factor, which was Joel/Pehl/Conniff/Beaulieu/Weinstein, a mix of early and late MST3K writers:

https://youtu.be/ksqb8-7dPDI?t=4m37s

So, the latest season has a ton of writers per ep. Maybe too many? It definitely has a "too many cooks in the kitchen" feel, which would be solved by cutting down the number of writers. But, if you cut out the wrong side - the Patton Oswalts, for example - that could be awful.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Brentai » Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:06 pm

Mothra wrote:That's not really Joel's style, which is cool, but I tend to find it a lot less funny than embracing the shlock and pushing forward that "these people are being tortured by this shitty movie" angle:


I'm sure it was a lot funnier in Mike's time but these days I am -- and I think a lot of other people are -- a little desensitized to that sort of thing by a whole cottage industry of AVGN-style over the top "THIS IS BAD AND I AM SAYING THIS IS BAD!" media. If there's one thing the new-series writers deserve massive credit for, it's realizing the position they're in (not that they don't spend a waking moment not pointing out all the ways 2017's situation is different.)

Mothra wrote:So, the latest season has a ton of writers per ep. Maybe too many? It definitely has a "too many cooks in the kitchen" feel, which would be solved by cutting down the number of writers. But, if you cut out the wrong side - the Patton Oswalts, for example - that could be awful.


The pace is one thing, but I think the real problem was that every riff was its own self-contained little bazinga! for at least the first few episodes. You look at the best episodes of Joel/Mike and you usually notice a lot more interaction from the guys in the theater, both with each other and with the movie. They'll chuckle, go "huh" at things, and generally play off of each other. The guys in the new series want to read their lines reallyquickly and wait for their next cue before the next guy hits his. Which is, yeah, a symptom of the pace, but also a symptom of how they seem to be writing and recording. Comic timing is nearly nonexistent. If you reduce the number of writers without addressing that problem, the remaining ones will just expand to fill the available airtime.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Mothra » Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:29 pm

Yep, agreed.

We did get really fucking burnt out on ha ha everything is shit couch hipsters after the 2000's hit.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:29 pm

Brentai wrote:Honestly the original series, as Thad sorta noted above, benefits a lot from rose-tinted glasses. It had as many problems as the new series but you probably only remember the really good bits, and forget that this was something you literally watched late at night to help you fall asleep.


I watched tapes in college where I knew I had sat there and watched the episode because the commercials were edited out, but I had absolutely no recollection of seeing it before.

I've mentioned, on many occasions, that Manos's reputation as the best episode is almost entirely down to the uniqueness of the movie itself, and that it's not actually that good an episode. On the other hand, there are plenty of episodes that I could rattle off that are fucking fantastic beginning-to-end -- off the top of my head, Pod People, Mitchell, Cave Dwellers, Girls Town, Hobgoblins, Final Sacrifice, Merlin's Shop, Outlaw of Gor, Pumaman, Werewolf, Space Mutiny, Laserblast, Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, and I'm going to go ahead and put Cry Wilderness on the list. (I haven't finished season 11. Just finished Loves of Hercules. And for that matter there are good big chunks of the original series I still haven't seen.) That's a pretty good list, but it's also out of 212 episodes. There are a lot of episodes that fall under "good, but with a lot of dead air" (Eegah, Santa Claus, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Gorgo -- really most of the monster movies, since the standard formula is "kill time for the first 75% of the movie and then have the monster show up at the end"), plenty in the good-not-great range (the first 10 or so episodes of season 8), a few that are more memorable for excruciating movies than the quality of the episode around them (Manos, Red Zone Cuba), and some real clunkers (Hamlet, most of season 1). And some just plain aren't as good as you remember them: I remembered Screaming Skull being a great episode entirely based on the host segment where Mike beats Crow with a golf club; I went back and watched it and realized that that host segment is surrounded by a drab, boring movie (and a Gumby short that's pretty good but doesn't especially lend itself to riffing).

What the new season's really done a great job with is pick a wide variety of films. (I've already alluded to the problems with the early Sci-Fi episodes -- black-and-white '50s sci-fi schlock as far as the eye can see.) And yeah, I think going for a more good-natured Joel-style approach than Mike's more acerbic take is the right call, too (and we've still got Rifftrax for the latter). Its growing pains are evident, in the ways you guys have mentioned; too many cooks, too disjointed, too fast, too little individual personality to the riffers, host segments mostly forgettable, etc. But it's off to a much better start than the other two big launches, seasons 1 and 8 (the other most notable change, obviously, is Mike taking over from Joel halfway through season 5, and I'd argue that it took him 7 episodes to hit his stride, though that may be more down to the movie selection than anything; as I mentioned above, Outlaw is one of the all-time greats). They've seen the criticisms and hopefully are primed to adjust if they get another season.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Brentai » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:58 pm

I'm hopeful that this apparent thing of changing hosts every season will bring a lot of freshness to the formula.

And man, movie selection really makes or breaks this show, doesn't it? You can see it perfectly in the new season too, with Wizards of the Lost Kingdom being probably the best ep (a grand fantasy epic that somebody clearly envisioned perfectly in their head but only had a shoestring budget and a passing knowledge of filmmaking to turn it into reality with) and Avalanche being by far the worst (a movie with no real quality or craftmanship issues that was just boring to the very furthest degree). With more and more media history being mined for irony, I wonder sometimes how reliably they'll be able to dredge up the "right" kind of cheesy to keep going with.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:40 am

I liked Avalanche, but it occurs to me that the riffing didn't really have much to do with it. (Though I admired their self-control in getting through a Rock Hudson/Mia Farrow movie and limiting themselves to exactly one gay joke and one Woody Allen joke during the entire duration.)

I like Corman. Dude knows his craft. I'll acknowledge serious pacing issues, but they're the same ones I mentioned above about monster movies; disaster movies are exactly the same formula, spend an hour introducing boring characters and then the last half hour killing them off in (hopefully) satisfying ways.

And in this case, at least he got a good stable of actors to pad out that first hour, whether that's a past-his-prime star (Hudson), a B-lister (Farrow), or a prolific-as-fuck character actor (I don't think I would have ever realized just how much work Steve Franken did if they hadn't picked two Steve Franken movies in a row, but dude racked up 174 IMDb credits).

I enjoyed it and I think it was a good choice, though I see your point about it not necessarily being the best fit for the format.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby zaratustra » Mon Aug 07, 2017 5:00 am

Brentai wrote:I'm hopeful that this apparent thing of changing hosts every season will bring a lot of freshness to the formula.

And man, movie selection really makes or breaks this show, doesn't it? You can see it perfectly in the new season too, with Wizards of the Lost Kingdom being probably the best ep (a grand fantasy epic that somebody clearly envisioned perfectly in their head but only had a shoestring budget and a passing knowledge of filmmaking to turn it into reality with) and Avalanche being by far the worst (a movie with no real quality or craftmanship issues that was just boring to the very furthest degree). With more and more media history being mined for irony, I wonder sometimes how reliably they'll be able to dredge up the "right" kind of cheesy to keep going with.


Notably, Wizards of the Lost Kingdom I is a great episode, and Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II is fucking terrible.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Wed Aug 09, 2017 12:39 am

Got my Complete Cinematic Titanic DVD set in the mail today.

Now I have to figure out what to do with my signed copy of Doomsday Machine. Do they make frames for DVD cases?

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Sun Sep 03, 2017 1:07 am

The soundtrack's up for backers who contributed at $35 or higher.

It appears to be just an incomplete repackaging of the previous Clowns in the Sky sets. (Not just the same songs but the same cuts; "A Clown in the Sky" ends at Joel asking "What do you think, sirs?" and omits Forrester and Frank's response, "It stinks!" just like on the previous album.) Not bad if you didn't already have Clowns in the Sky (or only had one of the two discs, like me), but a bit disappointing if you were expecting anything that wasn't on them -- which you were if you read the description, where Joel said it would include every version of the theme song. (It doesn't; no KTMA or season 10 theme songs, and indeed no songs from season 10 at all; Clowns in the Sky vol 2 was released before season 10.) There is a separate pack that includes the new theme song (opening titles and closing credits versions, plus a couple Paul and Storm covers), which they're using as a promo for a new soundtrack album that's got the songs from season 11 (sold separately).

Also, there's this from another recent update:

Joel wrote:I know everyone's number one questions are, "Joel, what's happening with Netflix? Are they going to make more new episodes? And when?" Those questions came up a bunch during the live tour, so I know they're on everyone’s mind.

The short answer is, we're still working on it! I wish I could tell you more, but I have a whole phalanx of lawyers parked in my living room waving their hands and mouthing the words, "Not yet," so I guess I'd better not say anything. But of course, I promise that when I'm able to, you will be the first to know.


That...sounds an awful lot like "yes, but I can't say that yet", right? You wouldn't write that if the answer were "no" or "I don't know."

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Sun Oct 22, 2017 12:38 pm

I caught the Mads last night, riffing the Vincent Price "classic" The Tingler. It was fun! If you get a chance to see them, I recommend checking them out.

The event was smaller and felt more intimate than when I saw Cinematic Titanic some years back. They've got a merch table (books and posters) where they hock stuff before and after the show, and I had a chance to chat with them for a bit (and picked up copies of Trace's Silly Rhymes for Belligerent Children and Frank's How to Write Cheesy Movies). They did an audience Q&A after the movie, too.

The riffing...well, you know how MST3K keeps things PG and doesn't make timely political jokes? Well, it's not like that. They say "fuck" a lot and one of the more memorable riffs involved a corpse covered by a sheet and Frank saying, "That sheet makes you look like a Trump supporter." So keep that in mind if you're planning on taking any kids or Republicans.

At any rate, the Mads put on a good show. Keep an eye on that tour schedule on Facebook (because for some reason their website is down) and go see 'em if you get a chance.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Joxam » Sun Oct 22, 2017 5:48 pm

Yeah, Connif is on a weekdaily political radio show I listen to on sirius called Tell Me Everything and he, in his older age, is just completely unashamed of his politics. I have some issues with his Hillary love, but not the overall left bent to his politics and frankly (heyo!) We need more old white liberal men bitching at other old white conservative men.
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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Brentai » Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:14 am

Last time I saw a PG-13 group show with Frank they had to rein him in on several occasions. He just doesn't give a fuck.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:23 am

Was that the MST3K Reunion Show or the Summer Shorts show? I haven't seen Summer Shorts but Reunion went pretty much how you described.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Mothra » Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:02 pm



Apparently this was made for a CD-ROM project that fell through. It's pretty good! Some good stuff around like 7:15 onward.

Also, if anyone hasn't seen em, theses Playstation commercial ones are great too:


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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:29 am

This year's Turkey Day Marathon will stream on YouTube and a few of Shout's streaming channels, starting at noon Eastern / 9 AM Pacific.

The episode lineup is being kept under wraps but they've said they won't be using any episodes that have streamed on a previous Turkey Day. The description refers to "six classic episodes", which presumably means nothing from season 11 (Netflix must still have exclusive streaming rights?).

There'll be new intros by Joel, Jonah, and Felicia. Still no word on season 12, which seems increasingly weird; Netflix is usually pretty quick about news of renewals and cancellations, and we've gotten neither.

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Re: MST3K, Rifftrax, & sundry

Postby Thad » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:36 am

Meanwhile, I still haven't finished season 11, but I'm up through the Wizards episodes.

zaratustra wrote:Notably, Wizards of the Lost Kingdom I is a great episode, and Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II is fucking terrible.


I disagree! Wizards 1 was clearly the superior movie, but I think I laughed more at the riffs on Wizards 2. I found them both enjoyable, for different reasons and in different ways.

I also kinda love that B-movie thing of "we're calling this a sequel to another movie even though it clearly isn't." I get that sequels/franchises pull in more money, but I've gotta wonder what kind of cachet that the "Wizards of the Lost Kingdom" or, say, "Troll" names could have possibly brought to boost their "sequels".

Fun fact: Cyborg (the van Damme movie) was the result of Cannon Films writing a script around sets and costumes they'd already made for Spider-Man and Masters of the Universe 2 before losing the rights to both.

(I love Masters of the Universe, mostly unironically. I believe I've said before that it really is the precursor to the Marvel films in a lot of ways, from the obvious Jack Kirby influence all over it to the post-credits sequel teaser.)

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