The Official and Most Rifftastic Mystery Science Theater 3000 Thread

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by cooleddie74, Jun 8, 2015.

  1. Redfern

    Redfern Commodore Commodore

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    While we're eagerly waiting for the Turkey Day marathon of new episodes, I thought we could spend some of that time with a bit of retrospective speculation.

    As most of us know, one of Joel Hodgson's real like hobbies was building robot sculptures from cast off products. It was that craft that resulted in the memorable 'Bot puppets that are so intrinsic to the series.

    But what if Joel had taken a different path? What if he were a fan of Jim Henson's creations (maybe he is, who knows?) and decided to sculpt "critters" instead?

    Funny enough, I can imagine a scenario in which Joel Robinson is accompanied not by 'Bots in the theater, but diminutive "aliens". Instead of using parts that control when "the movie begins and ends", a pair of curious rapscallion "Martians" (or whatever) crash into the SoL, damaging what minimal control Joel may have had. Because their saucer is wrecked, they too are now trapped upon the station and try to make the best of the situation, joining Joel to watch the movies, curious about human behavior.

    I can see such a format unfolding much the way the actual show progressed. The "invention exchange" could have remained. AS they would be equally "innocent" of "normal" personal interaction, the alien pair could pull maybe of the same stunts. One could maintain the "worldly" and "naive" dynamic between the two and having a slight reverence for Joel as he is the first human they personally encountered.

    The one element of which I'm unsure is Gypsy. Somehow, I just don't see her as an alien, one that integrates herself with the station to sustain its function. maybe she'd maintain a robot, one which was more cognitive before our "Mutt & Jeff" Martians crash into the craft and afterwards is left a bit "addled", focusing iher remaining processing resources upon things like life support and whatnot.

    Okay, here's my question. If Crow and Servo were "organic" puppets, how might you imagine them?
     
  2. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    That might be an interesting "Mirror, Mirror" type scenario for them to do from time to time.
     
  3. cooleddie74

    cooleddie74 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    "The Last of the Wild Horses" is a pretty mundane and unremarkable movie to riff save for the Mirror Universe take on the MST3K characters and actually placing Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank inside the movie theater for once.

    The execution was pretty brilliant for a weekly comedy series. To this day it's one of the strongest of the Mike-era episode ideas.
     
  4. Gepard

    Gepard Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Just finished Mac and Me and I gotta say, this is the MST3K I was hoping for with the reboot. Everyone is so much more comfortable in thier roles and the riffing and joke delivery are really relaxed. Plus there's way more interaction between the Jonah & the Bots and the Mads, which was something I was hoping they'd improve on this season. Really enjoying it so far.
     
  5. The Nth Doctor

    The Nth Doctor Infinite Possibilities... Premium Member

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    Looking forward to the new season but I probably won't be able to watch anything until Saturday at the earliest.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I'm two episodes in at the moment. Mac and Me wasn't half as bad as its reputation. The aliens were hideous, but I kinda got used to them after a while. The story wasn't too bad, though it had a dumb beginning and some bizarre twists. And it gets points for inclusiveness -- having the lead character's disability treated fairly matter-of-factly and actually casting a lead actor with the same condition.

    But, man, Atlantic Rim lives down to The Asylum's reputation. The plot was totally incoherent, the characters were reprehensible, the writers didn't seem to understand that military personnel are trained to follow orders rather than ignoring them, and half the time it seemed like they just pointed the camera at the actors and had them boringly ad-lib in character. And the treatment of the female lead was so sexist that it felt like the movie was written in the 1950s. It did have two moments I actually liked, though:
    When the obnoxious hothead hero insisted on being let out of lockup to help defend the base, the MP nicely put him in his place by reminding him there were other skilled professionals there; and when the cartoony, eye-patched bad guy was threatening to shoot the admiral and counting down, the admiral got in a good line with "Never hesitate."

    It's odd that they don't show the movie credits anymore. On the old show, they almost always showed the full credits to the movies, sometimes even doing long discussions in the theater while the end credits rolled. I had the impression that they had to show the credits, contractually speaking. Now, they're completely cutting out both the opening and closing credits, showing nothing but the title. I'm surprised they're able to do that.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2018
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The third movie this season, Lords of the Deep, is a mediocre Roger Corman knockoff of The Abyss, pretty unremarkable save for Bradford Dillman's extremely hammy acting. The fourth, Charles Band's The Day Time Ended, is a real mess. It's like the effects team came up with a bunch of unrelated sequences they wanted to animate, so they threw together a script about a time warp causing random unrelated things to happen to a family in the desert. Even Batman v Superman had a more coherent plot.

    Episode 5, Killer Fish, was pretty good -- not the movie (a run-of-the-mill piranha disaster movie with Lee Majors and a cast of moderately well-known late-'70s actors), but the episode around it. Surprisingly, they're making increasing use of M. Waverly and Growler, the Jonah-built robots that were used last season as just one-shot gag characters to illustrate Crow and Servo's hostility toward adding new bots and screwing up the dynamic. Those two started out the season making brief cameos in the theater and providing musical accompaniment for one or two host segments, but by episode 5, they feel like proper (albeit secondary) members of the ensemble, getting recurring bits in the theater and being part of a rather fun host segment. They also provide the music (and Gypsy the vocals, mostly) for something I've rarely seen before, a full song performed in the theater during the movie.

    EDIT: Okay, I finished the marathon. The last film is Ator, the Fighting Eagle, the prequel to the second Ator movie which opened MST3K season 3 under the home-video title Cave Dwellers. A pretty ordinary Italian sword-and-sandal flick and Conan the Barbarian knockoff, but with a couple of nice host segments and a better ending segment than the first season had.

    By the way, I noticed in the end credits that Mythbusters' Tory Belleci is one of the model-builders for the miniature sequences.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
  8. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Kang, now with ridges Premium Member

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    Star Trek note: The mom in The Day Time Ended is played by Marcy Lafferty, Chief DiFalco in TMP and Mrs William Shatner number 2 in real life.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    And I can't believe I didn't realize that. I looked at the Wikipedia entry on the film before watching it and skimmed the cast list, but I didn't notice her name there -- perhaps because it was in the red color used for a link with no article attached, and I tend to subconsciously gloss over those. I kept looking at her and thinking she was pretty attractive, and she did seem mildly familiar to me, but I figured that was because she reminded me of a woman I know in real life.
     
  10. cooleddie74

    cooleddie74 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    So what's the prevailing opinion thus far on Season 12? Better than 11? Not quite as good but still entertaining? A disappointment for some reason or another?

    Have you guys seen enough yet to be able to formulate an opinion? The second seasons of both the Joel and Mike years were definitely improvements over the first ones, both in quality and in the chemistry between the characters.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I'd say moderately better. The Kinga/Max stuff was the weak part of season 11 for me, and their material this season was better, or at least less annoying. Having a single unified throughline across the whole 6 episodes gave their scenes more focus, though I still think their material is a bit undercooked for performers of Day and Oswalt's caliber. (Then again, it probably has to be, since they're probably so busy that they can only spare a day or so to shoot all their scenes for a season.)

    As I mentioned, I do like how they're expanding the roles of the new supporting characters -- not just Growler and M. Waverly on the SoL, but Synthia in Moon 13. In some ways, Synthia was the standout of the Mads' arc this year.

    The movie riffing was solid, and I think they relied less on the presumably-CGI sight gags of Servo's and Crow's silhouettes interacting physically with the movie, though there were a few bits here and there. I still don't like Baron Vaughn's Servo as much as Kevin Murphy's, but I'm still learning to recognize their voices anyway and tell which riffs come from whom. The movie selection is a pretty good mix ranging from mediocre to amazingly awful. They're all SF/fantasy this season except Killer Fish, I guess; deadly-animal-swarm movies often have an SF element to them, but I wouldn't say this one did, beyond the usual unrealistic, exaggerated portrayal of piranha feeding-frenzy behavior.
     
  12. Gepard

    Gepard Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Definitely better, with some kinks still to work out. On the technical side, the puppeteering is still pretty bad, as Crow's eyes frequently don't move and his mouth rarely works in proper synch with his words. Plus the bots express very little personality with how they move; there's none of the way Trace would lean Crow forward or back on certain vocal inflections, or the silly way Kevin would spin Servo into and out of scenes depending on the character's mood.

    On the writing side, the three main characters still feel undifferentiated. As someone pointed out elsewhere, it used to be that Crow would get sarcastic riffs, Servo would get intellectual riffs, and Joel/Mike was a referee who moderated between them. In the new show, all the characters get all kinds nds of riffs and comments, and nobody reacts to other characters comments all that often. It feels formless.

    I'm also not a fan of the new Gypsy. They wanted to make her less potentially offensive by having her played by an actual, you know, woman – which I get – but in the process they took away her goofy voice and weird obsessions (Richard Basehart!), then forgot to replace them with anything. She's a bore.

    Still, I like the new season a lot. Jonah is funny and enjoyable in the lead and I'm really liking the overall sense of humor they have for the host segments this time around. Hopefully if we get more seasons the actors will continue to grow into the roles.
     
  13. The Nth Doctor

    The Nth Doctor Infinite Possibilities... Premium Member

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    I've watched four of the movies so far and I'm largely enjoying it. Mac and Me has been far the most fun to riff against and our fearless heroes were in full form. Atlantic Rim was pure awfulness and even the riff factor couldn't save that one because the dialog alone made my brain bleed. Lords of the Deep just felt flat all around and was barely memorable.

    However, I actually quite enjoyed The Day Time Ended on its own. Yeah, the effects were all over the place, but I really enjoyed the silly shenanigans and attempts at far-out science-fiction. Honestly, my only real complaint about the film was the sudden ending and the blasé attitude among the characters that they were flung into the far future with no means of seeing anyone they knew ever again. Oh, and Richard is suddenly with them because he needed to be there for the happy ending! The whole thing felt like it was a set-up for a sequel but I guess that wasn't even the intention? Oh, well, I had a lot of fun watching it and so did the crew.
     
  14. RPOW0614

    RPOW0614 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Great season. Currently re-watching.

    The movies: All wonderfully horrible
    The Bots: Doing a great job and I love the in jokes about film making.
    Jonah: Liked him on Nerdist, love him on the SOL. Filling the jumpsuit nicely.
    The Mads: I already liked both Patton and Felicia before they became Mads. Felicia is having a blast chewing up the scenery as Kinga. The Gauntlet! (ridiculous hand wave)
    Gypsy: Not loving her. I liked old Gypsy. But she does usually get in a good line as she delivers the "package". I still laugh about old Gypsy playing the lyre during a Hercules movie break.
    New Bots: Okay, jury still out. Don't hate them but the piano playing bot reminds me of "Rowlf the Dog" from the Muppets a little too much.

    My general feeling is they are far more comfortable in their roles than they were last year. This year after getting a full season under their belts and a bus tour around America to promote the new season (saw them in Boston) they seem to really be enjoying themselves. I am also loving hearing current pop culture references pop up in the show.
    "Show me what you got!"
     
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  15. cooleddie74

    cooleddie74 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, the new Gypsy is probably my least-favorite part of the revived MST3K, hands down. The voice. The changed personality. I don't really mind so much that she's now suspended from the ceiling of the SoL because with her design she should be able to slink along the superstructure of the vessel and hang down or pop up from any location as she's doing her work to keep the essential functions of the ship operating, but the new way she's portrayed just irritates me.

    She lost her warm, lovable personality in the new Netflix episodes and while it's not a huge loss to the show it's definitely a loss. I miss the simple-minded Gypsy who idolized Richard Baseheart.
     
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  16. The Nth Doctor

    The Nth Doctor Infinite Possibilities... Premium Member

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    I never cared for Gypsy in the first place so I haven't really noticed the change. The rest are great, especially Patton Oswalt and Felicia Day chewing up the scenery every second they're on screen. They're clearly reveling the whole experience. :D
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't mind how Gypsy has evolved. Metatextually, it's good to have an actual female presence on the SoL, even if it's a background character. Textually, it makes sense for her character. The original Gypsy was dimwitted because her brain was dedicated to running the SoL's higher functions, so there was little capacity left for cognition. We saw an early episode where Joel shut down life support so he could have a heart-to-heart with Gypsy, and she was much more articulate then. And over the years, her mental clarity improved, presumably as Joel tinkered and reworked the ship's higher functions so they didn't put so much of a burden on Gypsy. And that freed her up to mature and develop. (Perhaps after Joel left, she was smart enough to further modify the ship's systems on her own.) And there's no telling what's happened in the years between the original SoL's crash on Earth and the current status quo -- we have no idea how the bots and the SoL got back up into space, and some have even questioned whether the bots are the same ones that we last saw living in Mike's apartment riffing on The Crawling Eye.
     
  18. Redfern

    Redfern Commodore Commodore

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    We do know during that final scene of the original series, freed from running the station, Gypsy's cognition apparently expanded enough to develop a multi billion dollar corporation (GypCorp, I think) and offered Mike and the 'Bots "in on the deal". Of course they blew their golden opportunity.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Since when was expanded cognition necessary to run a huge corporation? ;) All too often, the reverse seems to be true.
     
  20. Gepard

    Gepard Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ConGypsCo. (I remember because my brother wrote an entire faux corporate mission statement and bio for it after the original series finale.)