Mystery Science Theater 3000: REPTILICUS
April 14, 2017 1:50 AM - Season 11, Episode 1 - Subscribe

"INVINCIBLE... INDESTRUCTABLE! What was this awesome BEAST born fifty million years out of time?" Miners find some leathery tissue deep in a mine which grows into a monster and attacks Copenhagen, not a city built to withstand monster attack, with deadly cartoon slime. Also, a goofy handyman in overalls sticks his hand in an electric eel tank apparently just so he could make faces to the camera. A fine example of cinema! MST3K is back! With it comes new mads (Kinga and Max), a new host (Jonah Ray), higher production values, fancy interstitials, a skeleton band, a remix of Mighty Science Theater and the Wild Rebels cereal song at the end, and a long listing of Kickstarter backers at the end which doesn't even get out of the As in this episode. Episode 1101 is on Netflix. Premiered TODAY, April 14th, 2017.

Episode 1101 REPTILICUS

At this moment there are no fansite links for this episode. This may actually be the first.

Movie:
Rotten Tomatoes (Critics 25%, Viewers 34%) - Wikipedia
IMDB (1961, 4.1 stars)
"After copper miners discover part of the frozen tail of a prehistoric monster in Lapland, scientists inadvertently bring it back to life."
Directed by Sidney W. Pink. Written by Sidney W. Pink and Ib Melchior. Starring Bent Mejding, Asbjørn Andersen and Povl Wøldike.
posted by JHarris (106 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Huh, further examination reveals that the above may refer to the wrong version of the movie. There was an English version with some of the same production staff and a lot of similarity released the following year. (Details are on Wikizilla.) This movie looks like it was dubbed in at least one place however, so maybe it's a translation of the original?
posted by JHarris at 2:08 AM on April 14


No, it seems like the version shown is the 1962 version. The IMDB, oddly, doesn't have separate pages for the versions, although some roles are identified by version.
posted by JHarris at 2:12 AM on April 14


I just want to tell you all: good luck. We're all counting on you.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:26 AM on April 14 [4 favorites]


As someone who backed the Kickstarter, I'm well satisfied with the result. I had a couple of worries while waiting for these to be released. First, that it just wouldn't be funny. Well, I watched this first episode by myself when it was released to backers last weekend. As a general rule, I find that I'm less likely to laugh out loud at things that I'm watching alone, but in the course of the show I did it four or five times. So, that's one concern set by the wayside.

My other fear was the new episodes wouldn't feel like the old MST3K. The original series had such an odd, quick-yet-meandering tone. It often seemed like the ramshackle nature of the sets and props extended to the performances, too: everything was weirdly low-key and conversational, as well as goofy and weird. It's been long enough since the original series that I wasn't sure they could catch that lightning in a bottle a second time.

Again, I needn't have worried. The new show is very definitely the product of the same sensibility that gave us the old one. Some of the new little production touches, like using (I think) stop-motion for the new door sequence, seem entirely in keeping with the original aesthetic.

"Reptilicus" was a pretty great choice for a first outing, too. What an odd film.
posted by Ipsifendus at 5:04 AM on April 14 [3 favorites]


I read somewhere that the original European version had Reptilicus actually using its stumpy little wings to fly. Apparently the "flying" FX made the creature look even more like a busted marionette, so the American producers who repackaged the movie stateside edited all of that out but added the (equally fake) acid-spit FX, which were not part of the original filmmakers' intent at all.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:39 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


I am really looking forward to going through all of these with you weirdos.
posted by Think_Long at 6:42 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


One page said that the Danish version actually gives Mikkelson (Peterson in the US version, the electric eel guy) a musical number. I'm glad our version is lacking it, but I admit I'm morbidly curious.
posted by JHarris at 7:57 AM on April 14 [3 favorites]


Some of the new little production touches, like using (I think) stop-motion for the new door sequence, seem entirely in keeping with the original aesthetic.

Not to mention the Supermarionation-inspired puppets manning the Gizmonic Institute control room, and the overall Thunderbirds feel of the model sets. MST3K never revisited the Andersons' films after the KTMAs, but it's always been there in the show's DNA.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:19 AM on April 14 [4 favorites]


I am so impossibly stoked right now. Fourteen new MST3K episodes! Going to spend the entire weekend in front of the television.

Between MST3K and Breath of the Wild, popular culture hasn't shined this bright in ages.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:58 AM on April 14 [2 favorites]


I was reminded of Mike's first episode (513 - The Brain That Wouldn't Die). Even though Mike had been around for years, there was still some time required for him to really settle in. Jonah feels the same to me. A couple of times they seemed to have had pacing problems - there was some dead air during the opening film titles where I saw easy joke chances, later there were some times when they were just machine-gunning jokes that could have used some time to breathe.

I also thought Jonah seemed to combine the Mike and Joel vibes in a way I'm having a hard time verbalizing.

It was good, I think it will get better.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:27 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Notes on 1101, from a hardcore and demanding MSTie:
  • The long intro is weird. It's fun to watch once but I hope it's condensed for later episodes, and also that they're not trying to build an overarching plot into this, which brings up frustrated memories from Season 8. I did like the expanded information on Gizmonic Institute, which was one of my favorite little lore bits from the old show.
  • Riffing ranged from show-average to good. It was odd, though, hearing They Might Be Giants and Barenaked Ladies references in there. I think the show's references have stepped one level geekier than before?
  • Multiple times I thought some of the references were a bit rushed, like they were either speaking quickly or maybe even were time compressed to fit. At least one person on Twitter mentioned it too, but said they calm down by 1103.
  • Interesting choice to make Gypsy hang from the ceiling, and show up a couple of times in the theater. Giving her an actual woman's voice is one of the best changes -- Mallon's performance as Gypsy had its charm, but it's nice to get another woman in on the main cast.
  • I'm generally in favor of the new interstitials, they look good while still maintaining references to the old spaghetti ball bumpers. They seem to be using them even to provide some lore to the viewer. I see the skeleton band as the new season's version of MST Classic's Mole Men, Gerry and Sylvia.
  • Overall it's an interesting start. The bot voice changes were a little jarring (they always have been) but not insurmountable.
I notice the thumbnail of the second episode has Brain Guy and Bobo in it! I've also heard that the Mister Sinus guys co-wrote episode 9! No sign of introduced-in-interview new bot Waverly yet.

MST3K Club notes:
I tested rabb.it with ckape last night and it seemed to work well, so we are still on track to watch this Saturday night at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT, at -- please note different site than usual! -- https://www.rabb.it/rodneylives. You may want to create an account at rabb.it ahead of time (it may, or may not, mean your name shows up in chat), or install Chrome or download and run Chrome Portable in the event we have to move to Plan B.
posted by JHarris at 9:31 AM on April 14 [7 favorites]


I don't know - they dropped plenty of Firesign Theatre and Monty Python refs in the past, that's pretty geeky.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:37 AM on April 14 [2 favorites]


Interesting take on the show's importance from Noel Murray: "Netflix’s Mystery Science 3000 Revival is as Funny (and Necessary) as the Original".
posted by Ipsifendus at 9:50 AM on April 14 [4 favorites]


It was odd, though, hearing They Might Be Giants and Barenaked Ladies references in there.

I seem to recall there being an "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" name-drop in at least one classic episode, and I suspect that BNL might have been a bit too "new" (their only top 10 hit dropped a few months [Sept 1998] before the last Sci-Fi Channel season aired [April 1999].) to pop up on the Brains' riff radar. Hearing the last 20 years' worth of pop culture riffs in an honest-to-Dobbs new MST3K episode (even after loyally watching and supporting Rifftrax lo these 10+ years) is kind of a thrill.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:08 AM on April 14 [4 favorites]


I've only been able to watch half of this so far, but I like it.
posted by drezdn at 10:30 AM on April 14


"The island of Sodor! No!"
posted by drezdn at 10:59 AM on April 14 [4 favorites]


"Reporticus Shuttupicus."



I cried laughing.
posted by Faintdreams at 11:47 AM on April 14 [5 favorites]


“Brigadier General Military Industrial Complex, this is Miss Doctor Woman”
posted by Ipsifendus at 12:14 PM on April 14 [14 favorites]


Sharing effects shots between two movies would explain the whole the-monster-is-in-a-different-movie thing.

I did double-check and Peterson is played by the comic actor Max describes in the intro as being the only notable person in the film, which I had suspected because the role felt kind of like Richard Pryor in Superman III.

I see in the end they just rotated the SOL 90 degrees. In one of the backer updates Joel had talked about wanting to have the rear end with the theater horizontal because they were doing the movies in widescreen HD now, but the concepts he was showing had the front end vertical, which to my eye just ended up making it look more phallic and I think this works better. I do enjoy the new door sequence, although the bridge set itself seems a bit flat.

FYI, the leader of Skeleton Crew (and singer of the updated MST3K love theme) is Har Mar Superstar.
posted by ckape at 12:20 PM on April 14 [4 favorites]


Overall... yes, loved the intro, then the first ten minutes were a bit flat of the film was a bit flat... but then it was great from there on in. As always some riffs hit, some miss, some are obviously bang-on references to things I've never heard of, and some made me cry and laugh until my head hurts. I only hope the rest of the series is as good this, and I'm already looking forward to Starcrash ( it's worth watching the unriffed version by the way ).
posted by DancingYear at 1:26 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Chrysostom hit on something I was thinking too; Jonah seems like Dad/Teacher to the bots, but also a bit darker in a Mike way at the same time.

I'm watching the episodes out of order. The Loves of Hercules is a recommended episode.
posted by wittgenstein at 1:48 PM on April 14


You know what else is on Netflix? Look out, it's MST3K riffs Stranger Things (for 2½ minutes).
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:33 PM on April 14 [10 favorites]


Definitely a successful start for someone (me) who very much wants the show to succeed. But also, it very definitely feels like a start--I agree with several of the criticisms I've seen here and elsewhere, that the riffing feels a little forced and frantic, which spoils the illusion of spontaneity, and that there's not enough differentiation in voice and personality to easily distinguish the riffers. I thought the Every Country Has a Monster song was fantastic--I know it's written by Paul and Storm but it especially reminded me of Tally Hall. One other thing that jumps out to me (effects shots notwithstanding) is how good the print looks compared to the usual in the past.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:04 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


I might do more posts in short order, as I watch them. I'm anxious to get into 1102, but am in a place without great internet right now.
posted by JHarris at 3:18 PM on April 14


Why don't we do one episode a day, like we did with Kimmy Schmidt? That'll let us space things out a bit.

Also while I do like the new countdown sequence it bugs me a little that if you look at the things that are unfolding, it does seem to show us how/where Jonah eats, which is contrary to the theme song!
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:46 PM on April 14 [5 favorites]


"A fire in an aquarium? Eh, that'll sort itself out."
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:11 PM on April 14 [5 favorites]


Okay pretty much everything I'm not the biggest fan of looks to come down to them having a pretty decent budget instead of shoestringing it. I'm not begrudging them it, for sure, but I feel like there's not so much the heart of previous seasons in the host segments. (Also not a huge fan of flying Servo.)

The riffs were definitely up to snuff, however.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:42 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Loved their reference to The Great Race at the end.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 5:44 PM on April 14


"Back then, diversity was more about height and shoe color."
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:13 PM on April 14 [5 favorites]


Is the Carval stuff product placement?
posted by drezdn at 6:53 PM on April 14


“The ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ Revival is Kind of a Miracle,” Jason Bailey, Flavorwire, 14 April 2017

P.S. Although I'll disagree that the exposition at the beginning is "poorly delivered." Wheaton and Grey gave the performances as directed I'm sure.

P.P.S. That fake handheld effect on the Mads is infuriating.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:27 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


"A fire in an aquarium? Eh, that'll sort itself out."

"...at a Sea Parks?"
posted by jason_steakums at 8:10 PM on April 14 [6 favorites]


> Is the Carval stuff product placement?

Huh. I didn't think so, but I didn't think it was in Archer, either.

Overall, I liked it. I kinda winced at the amount of geek cred that they recruited, but it all seems like a pretty good fit. I don't think I ever would have picked Har Mar Superstar, but pretty good. Oswalt just slides right in as a new Tv's Frank, and I have no doubt that he was a fan. Jonah Ray seems like a nice comfortable balance between Joel and Mike, and its nice that they've gone back to some of the standards of the early days, like the invention exchanges. I've skipped around and haven't been watching closely (because that's how I watch 'em!), but there does seem to be a continuous story-line, but it doesn't dominate the episodes. I like the breaks and title cards, even though its in Netflix. Crow feels just right, Servo I'm still getting used to. I'm glad it all worked out.
posted by lkc at 8:20 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm liking Jonah and Crow's voices but Servo's is so different that it's going to take me awhile. I'm not a fan of him flying- it doesn't really add anything so far, and it just feels gimmicky.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:31 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Make sure you print up a dot matrix banner with your feelings about Tom's voice.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:44 PM on April 14 [6 favorites]


Really digging the music. So many good things can be said about it and its new role in the show.

Oh, and I'm also not so much on board with Tom's voice yet, even though I think it's awesome that there's an African American cast member now. 2013 Baron Vaughn standup routine.
posted by christopherious at 10:05 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


I was skeptical, but I really liked this. It felt right.

And the riffing was mostly decent-to-good, but did give me a genuine spit take. With whiskey, which isn't super fun.
posted by figurant at 11:45 PM on April 14


It'll be a while before I see these, but do they deal with how the bots got from their little apartment with Mike to being part of the experiments again? The original series finale was so weirdly sweet, with Mike and the bots continuing to live together and watch bad movies BY CHOICE, and the only thing about the new show that distresses me is the idea that Mike's now working some cruddy day-job without his snarky robot pals to come home to.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:05 AM on April 15 [3 favorites]


I just want to state that it is referred to as the MST3K Love Theme.

Don't tell me about this yet... as I was about to put this on this morning, my son woke up and has ceded control of the TV to watch Voltron...
I watched the MST3K Stranger Things 2 minute trailer earlier this week, I am a bit bummed that they didn't choose it as their first episode.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:36 AM on April 15


The opening is a bit clunky, but they have to thread a pretty fine needle of introducing a new set of hosts, rebooting the show, and not pissing off the fans who want it to be good.

The bits with Erin Grey and Wil Wheaton reminded me a lot of the sequence of Pod People that introduced the singer. "Good? He's the BEST." (You know, the moment that introduced "It stinks!") I feel like it had to be intentional.

My favorite thing about the movie is they bring in the yokel as comic relief but the guy who fucks everything up and gets a bunch of people killed is the workaholic scientist.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:14 AM on April 15 [8 favorites]


Pretty solid start, but it's on Cry Wilderness, the second episode of the new season, where they really hit gold. Welcome back!
posted by porn in the woods at 7:34 AM on April 15 [4 favorites]


This isn't very good, IMO. There are some decent jokes while the movie is on, but everything else... I mean, that was never the point of MST3K, but it's just REALLY bad.
posted by codacorolla at 7:56 AM on April 15


I just want to state that it is referred to as the MST3K Love Theme.

The Love Theme is the opening song. Mighty Science Theater is the closing credits song. I thought the closing credits song was the Love Theme for a while, mostly because Mighty Science Theater was uncredited for so long.
posted by JHarris at 8:54 AM on April 15


Alright, through 2 now... the voices wrong distracted me, but after two episodes it works. Reptilicus was a good start, and the rap which sounded an awful lot like G Love and Special Sauce's I-76 was fantastic.

Also, the commercial break cuts are fantastic.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:00 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


I think they've recaptured the homemade aesthetic, so I'm really pleased with that. The rhythm seemed a little off to me at times, like they were making jokes in parallel, and non of the crew was actually listening to each other. All expected from a new cast.

Anyway, I'm really happy about this. I hope they do another season, maybe with a new female host. Lately I've been thinking Jackie Kashian would be an awesome snarky presence.
posted by Think_Long at 9:08 AM on April 15 [3 favorites]


I'm glad the commercial breaks are still in. But the video engineer who hates change in me misses the stark difference between the movie's 24 frames per second and the rest of the show being shot at 60 fps interlaced.* I need to see the MST3K movie to see if I feel the same about it.

* If you want to talk fractional rates let's take it to MeMail
posted by infinitewindow at 9:16 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


I watched this last night and, having seen the Danish version a couple of times, I definitely noticed some differences.

Dirch Passer as the janitor - he was like the Danish Jerry Lewis and a massive, huge, immense superstar in Denmark - and his musical number with the electric eel was nowhere to be found! WHYYYYYYY was that not included in the English-languaged version?

Secondly, my favourite line was changed: the farmer looking sadly at a half-devoured cow said "She was my favourite cow" in the Danish version. TRAVESTY that it became "it ate 14 cows" in English.

My partner was howling at the line "it's been spotted in farm country near the coast" - because (as my partner said) - that is the entirely of Denmark.

We had fun.
posted by kariebookish at 9:18 AM on April 15 [13 favorites]


They had me at "Did somebody say cartilaginous?"
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 9:28 AM on April 15 [3 favorites]


I think they've recaptured the homemade aesthetic, so I'm really pleased with that.

I think part of what throws me off about the new sets is that they're 2017 homemade rather than 1989 homemade. Not a bad thing, just different from what I'm used to.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:24 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


HIS MUSICAL NUMBER WAS WITH THE EEL? This is starting to approach must-see category.

Anyway, to remind everyone:

We're watching this tonight at 9 PM Eastern time, 6 PM Pacific, at https://www.rabb.it/rodneylives. I've not updated the Club FAQ yet because there's still some uncertainty about showtimes and places in light of the use of rabb.it. The usual time will probably become two hours before the classic show (Thursdays at 7 PM ET/4 PM Pacific), which itself may move to rabb.it for a while so we don't have to change sites.

I'm about to go to rabb.it right now to watch 1102 and work on its post if anyone's around.
posted by JHarris at 11:39 AM on April 15


the only thing about the new show that distresses me is the idea that Mike's now working some cruddy day-job without his snarky robot pals to come home to.

I feel like this falls firmly into "you should really just relax" territory, but my headcanon is Gizmonic Institute spent the intervening years recreating Joel's groundbreaking advancements in robotics.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:13 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


This is the only Dirch Passer Reptilicus song I can find. The refrain is a bunch of little girls and this nightwatch hillbilly singing "Reptilicus" in Sunday dresses. I'm curious where this fits in the continuity - before or after Reptilicus has melted half of copenhagen with its acid spit?

Maybe the next Jurassic Park will have an interstitial with the Okee Dokee brothers?
posted by Think_Long at 1:16 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


I don't think I ever would have picked Har Mar Superstar, but pretty good. Oswalt just slides right in as a new Tv's Frank

Funny thing is, this isn't even the first time they've shared the screen.

That fake handheld effect on the Mads is infuriating.

That didn't bother me as much as the fact that they shot the Mads in an unvarying medium shot. Back in the day, some of the shots in Deep 13 would be from a higher camera angle, and occasionally an actor would get right up into the camera. I hope they start playing around with blocking and camera angles a bit more.

But that's my only problem. MST3K is back, and life is good.
posted by MrBadExample at 1:59 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Just finished watching 1102 CRY WILDERNESS. I think it's going to be a personal favorite, up there with Pod People and Space Mutiny, although it'll take time to tell for sure.
posted by JHarris at 2:00 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


So many choice riffs in Cry Wilderness! The Michael McDonald "What a Fool Believes" bit towards the end is the hardest I've laughed all year.

Halfway through The Time Travelers, pretty solid.
posted by porn in the woods at 2:40 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Is the Carval stuff product placement?

Not in the paid sense, but Carvel's Twitter made the most of it anyway.

This morning, I saw that MST3K Producer/Kickstarter guru Ivan Askwith commented on the MST3K Revival League Facebook page (ON EDIT: I can't link the comment, since it's a private group, but click the link to join if you want to.) that he was literally floored when he saw the Carvel tweet, because he never expected that the subjects of the show's jokes and riffs would be game to play along on social media. It's a whole new world for MST3K, in terms of the reach their humor now has.
posted by Strange Interlude at 2:46 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


I've been telling myself that I'm going to watch only one episode per week old-school style (I could swear I had read somewhere that they were actually going to be releasing it like that even on Netflix) but I'm not sure I'll be able to hold to that. On the other hand, there are actually still plenty of original episodes I haven't seen either, so maybe I'll get cracking on those.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 3:25 PM on April 15


I've been telling myself that I'm going to watch only one episode per week old-school style (I could swear I had read somewhere that they were actually going to be releasing it like that even on Netflix) but I'm not sure I'll be able to hold to that.

Yep, same here. Just started episode five myself.

I am beyond satisfied with nearly everything about the new show. The only thing I could do without are the celebrity one-off guest appearances. It's awesome that so many famous people love MST3k and wanted to be involved, but most of the bits just don't click.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 3:34 PM on April 15


Well, we're still going to be taking a more measured pace with posts I think, if just because I have other things to do than make MST posts heh. I'm doing the classic show and Last Week Tonight too. That said, 1102's post is halfway ready to go up.

Episode 1101 viewing on rabb.it in about two hours.
posted by JHarris at 3:49 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Nine Things You Need To Know About The New MST3K, including where the Skeleton Crew comes from and why there are station breaks.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:06 PM on April 15 [9 favorites]


Watched 1101 with the kids tonight, they liked it.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:31 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Well, I thought it was good.
posted by valkane at 7:36 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


I was very disappointed in the duck, duck, goose riff. I hope someone was fired for that blunder.
posted by ckape at 7:37 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


I did think that, as a Minnesotan, Joel should have had that riff end in "grey duck."
posted by Chrysostom at 7:42 PM on April 15


My only issue so far is that I'm having a hard time telling the robots' voices apart during the movie(s).
Jonah's I can pick out pretty well, but the New Tom and the New Crow haven't sorted themselves out in my brain yet. Trace and Bill and Kevin have pretty distinctive voices and those are the ones that soothe my jangled nerves and provide nostalgic bliss when watching the show.
Hampton and Barron?
GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 11:51 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Favorite 1101 jokes anyone?

"Now you're Mister filing cabinet!"
posted by Think_Long at 12:41 PM on April 16 [11 favorites]


"The Danish Army: Cheaper than extras, and not as busy."
posted by ob1quixote at 1:45 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


To bad this isn't available on Netflix in the Netherlands :-(
posted by Pendragon at 3:54 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


"YES IB MELCHIOR THAT IS MY HUMAN NAME."
posted by Servo5678 at 5:57 PM on April 16 [9 favorites]


THIS IS SO GOOD, YOU GUYS.

Some of the stuff in this episode is a bit "look at our budget!", but I can forgive it. It's MST3K, the cast has good chemistry, and the jokes are funny.

The kaiju song absolutely slayed me. And I loved the little "Jonah... I'm not the original Servo" bit, too.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:32 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


. I'm not a fan of him flying- it doesn't really add anything so far, and it just feels gimmicky.

I mean, yes, true, but I took that to be The Joke, in a Daleks/r2d2/ Robocop fashion. Pointless flying is a new-version staple, sadly.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:58 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


"YES IB MELCHIOR THAT IS MY HUMAN NAME."

Out of curiosity from having seen his name pop up again as the director of 1103: Time Travelers, (and a nagging sense of familiarity) I looked up Ib Melchior. I'd forgotten that he was also the writer of the short story "The Racer" (adapted into Death Race 2000), screenwriter of Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and the creator of the "Space Family Robinson" concept that Irwin Allen "borrowed" for Lost in Space.

(Also, given the second-hand derivation of the name "Joel Robinson", perhaps Melchior can be considered another one of MST3K many creative and spiritual godfathers.)
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:52 AM on April 17 [3 favorites]


. I'm not a fan of him flying- it doesn't really add anything so far, and it just feels gimmicky.

I mean, yes, true, but I took that to be The Joke, in a Daleks/r2d2/ Robocop fashion. Pointless flying is a new-version staple, sadly.


Then again, it's MST3K; There is literally no part of this show (Shadowrama? Door sequence? Robot puppets?) that doesn't qualify as a gimmick of some kind. I look at Tom's flying ability as a new tool in MST3K's box for riffing onscreen images. He's like a floating mouse pointer for drawing your attention to details you might have missed, or setting up a visual joke ("Pink Floyd, Animals") that wouldn't have been possible previously. (Also, it lets Tom kiss all the pretty ladies [and gentlemen], regardless of where they are onscreen.)
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:01 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


Ok so this was my favorite riff:

"Doctor Dalby? No, these are just his glasses. Dr. Dalby was much taller."

But I feel like this format of joke is very familiar. Is it referencing something? It feels like a Police Squad/Naked Gun kind of joke or something I'd hear on Angie Tribeca.
posted by obtuser at 7:53 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


Tom Servo flying pays off big in a particular moment in The Time Travelers.

Overall I've been very pleasantly surprised; I backed the kickstarter mostly out of past loyalty, but neither Rifftrax nor Cinematic Titanic outings had the same total-package magic the old show did for me (plenty of laughs, but just not as much there there), and I didn't expect the return to recapture it. I love being proved wrong!
posted by Drastic at 8:37 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


"Doctor Dalby? No, these are just his glasses. Dr. Dalby was much taller."

This was one of dozens of jokes that bore the unmistakable signature of new head writer Elliott Kalan (formerly of The Daily Show): An outer layer of corny dad-jokiness concealing a deep vein of verbal wit and conceptual absurdism. As a loyal listener of The Flop House Podcast (which Kalan co-hosts), I've heard him throw out plenty of comparable zingers totally off-the-cuff.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:45 AM on April 17 [4 favorites]


Elliot Kalan of the Hogsbottom Three?
posted by drezdn at 9:21 AM on April 17 [4 favorites]


In the Joel interview he says that they haven't worked in shorts yet because in the past they'd use them to pad out episodes... I would think, aside from contractual reasons, Netflix would be fine with them doing stand alone shorts episodes.
posted by drezdn at 9:24 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


neither Rifftrax nor Cinematic Titanic outings had the same total-package magic the old show did for me (plenty of laughs, but just not as much there there)
Rifftrax never clicked with me, I think because straight-up riffing with no context feels a little too snarky/mean-spirited to me. Cinematic Titanic retained a little more of the "watching bad movies your TV friends" feel thanks to the theater silhouettes, but the riffing still felt like it was sort of for-its-own-sake.

The MST3K "guy trapped by mad scientists and forced to watch bad movies in space with his robot friends, so what choice do they have but riff on the movies?" framing device is somehow the thing that makes the whole thing greater than the sum of its parts for me... probably because I grew up without cable, and therefore was subjected to the local UHF channels' weekday reruns (Rat Patrol - in color!) and weekend monster movies (holy crap! There's Reptilicus right in WLVI's old promo), which I too often watched because there was no alternative.

I still have a fondness for the earlier episodes with Joel where he'd recap the show's premise at the top of every episode (after the credits) because it's a reminder that late night TV used to be weird -- especially when you couldn't just google "What the hell is this show I just found with this guy and two robots making of fun of monster movies?"

Cry Wilderness was fantastic. Bang!
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 9:58 AM on April 17 [9 favorites]


I would think, aside from contractual reasons, Netflix would be fine with them doing stand alone shorts episodes.

Makes me wonder if their little cross-promotion with Stranger Things was a test run to prove that standalone shorts would be funny enough to be worth doing.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:27 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


The MST3K "guy trapped by mad scientists and forced to watch bad movies in space with his robot friends, so what choice do they have but riff on the movies?" framing device is somehow the thing that makes the whole thing greater than the sum of its parts for me

I have said this to friends and family for years and they don't get it. "It's all just riffs, so what does the framing device matter?" As much as I like Rifftrax and Cinematic Titanic, I need J&TB at the bottom of the screen in their seats to make the whole thing click for me.
posted by Servo5678 at 11:10 AM on April 17 [3 favorites]


Makes me wonder if their little cross-promotion with Stranger Things was a test run to prove that standalone shorts would be funny enough to be worth doing.

Shout TV lets you watch many of the original shorts separately and they definitely work on their own. I suppose they'd have to come up with a framing device, but it could be something as simple as "The original shorts were popular and Kinga wants this to be popular so..."

It really makes me curious what constraints Netflix puts on shows and why, because most shows come in within a minute or two of a certain run time (Like Masters of None is usually somewhere in the twenties, while MST3K is usually and hour and a half). Unless they plan on airing them later, it seems like episode length should be able to be completely arbitrary on Netflix.
posted by drezdn at 11:50 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


It's a lot more arbitrary than on TV, but I wouldn't say COMPLETELY arbitrary. It costs more to shoot more footage, you have to pay people for longer. Plus, people have to block out a certain amount of time to watch. My wife and I can burn through a couple of 40-minute shows a night, or a drama and a comedy, or it feels like eight episodes of Brooklyn Nine-nine. But a ninety-minute episode, you really have to be prepared for. The last couple of seasons of Sherlock really struggled, I think, because it couldn't figure out how to adequately fill its long running time. Longmire has the freedom to run 57-minute episodes, but they feel so much draggier than the 40-minute ones.

TV writers know their beats in the 22 or 43 minute world. Netflix shows that stick to that model don't suffer from the experience.
posted by rikschell at 12:28 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]


It seems like generally people are writing for Netflix the way they'd write for a broadcast show, and then when they go over they just don't have to worry about making tough cuts.

In the specific case of MST3K, I think they wanted to keep the structure of previous seasons as much as possible. I mean they even kept the commercial breaks.

From the interviews I've seen with Joel about it, he seems to take the position that it's already asking a lot of people to sit through a 90 minute show and he's wary of pushing it further.
posted by ckape at 1:02 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Speaking of beats, I do love the faux commercial bumpers, which I saw Joel describe somewhere as both a "love tap" to longtime fans and a device to help break up the pace during the show's long running time. I find myself wishing that they'd actually show just one or two vintage TV ads per bumper, maybe from around the same year as the movie being riffed. I love that there's at least one late 80's/early 90's episode kicking around YouTube with its ads left in tact.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 1:05 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]


The first time I saw one of the interstitials, I was a little confused why they bothered. But as I kept watching, I started to really enjoy them. They just feel "right", even though I rarely watch TV that has ads any more. (Basically just Walking Dead and Better Call Saul.) Joel's intuition was dead-on, they make the 90-minute comedy format work a lot better than it would without the breaks.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:17 PM on April 17 [6 favorites]


I like using the interstitials for "I'll take a break from watching at the next interstitial/host segment." Usually I end up continuing on, but it's nice to have them.
posted by drezdn at 3:42 PM on April 17 [4 favorites]



Tom Servo flying pays off big in a particular moment in The Time Travelers.


There's also a Servo flying goof in Hercules that I thought was funny.
posted by drezdn at 5:29 AM on April 18


I'd also like to take a moment, from the few episodes we've seen so far, to appreciate Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt's performances as the new mads. In a way they're a little more competent than Dr. F and Frank were in that they have actual henchmen, but they also seem a bit less evil than the old poopies were. Part of it might be that Jonah, while trapped in space, isn't trapped on the SOL this time, he performs in the opening sequence, apparently every time.

Of course, as Frank explained once, "We're basically evil, yes, but a lot of what goes on around here is good-natured ribbing!" The show thrives on a kind of convivial relationship between the Evil OverUnderUberlords and proletarian test subjects. Joel's relationship with the Mads was always congenial, almost like his character had a stake in the thing. Toward the end of Frank's run Mike and company expressed even some affection for good ol' TV's Frank when he ascended into Second Banana Heaven. And of course there were those bits in the Sci-Fi run where Mike went out to visit with Pearl on the Widowmaker ("It's getting a bit cold." "I hear it's going to get down to about absolute zero.") and just chat about why she's so evil.
posted by JHarris at 6:14 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


Well, I'm up to episode 8 and THEY DID IT! THEY ABSOLUTELY PUT THE LIGHTNING IN THE BOTTLE AGAIN! THESE ARE ALL REALLY GOOD TO AMAZEBALLS!

I'm so relieved. I was really afraid it would suck. BUT IT DOESN'T! ITS GOOD!
posted by valkane at 8:52 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


In a way they're a little more competent than Dr. F and Frank were in that they have actual henchmen, but they also seem a bit less evil than the old poopies were.

For one thing, Kinga isn't as murder-happy as Dr. F is. How many times did he kill Frank over the course of the show? She's also more of a people-pleaser, mainly concerned with the popularity and marketability of the show and Moon 13's research than with actual world domination per se.
(Although I haven't gotten far enough to know why they're loading that big important-looking thing with the liquid movie canisters. Doomsday device?)
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:58 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


At the point where I am, I assume that's just the thing they'll be sending to Netflix to cash in on MST3K. I hope Netflix's servers have a liquid input port!

(I've always loved the crazy weird backstory to MST3K, and am generally happy Season 11 pours that on in spades.)
posted by JHarris at 11:50 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


(I've always loved the crazy weird backstory to MST3K, and am generally happy Season 11 pours that on in spades.)

My girlfriend asked me to briefly explain the new backstory in season 11 and I don't think she was happy that my explanation began, "Well, in the not-too-distant future..."
posted by Servo5678 at 12:53 PM on April 18 [8 favorites]


Technically a spoiler for episode 2, but this isn't exactly a plot-heavy series, so hopefully the mods will be kind so long as I give an appropriately-long preface to my comment: Jonah says something in the second episode about Kinga's liquid TV technology not being good for recordings. So I don't think that's what Gypsy is hauling when she pops into the theater? But I might have understood Jonah's line incorrectly and he was actually saying that the liquid TV can't be used for multiple playbacks.

I haven't watched the whole season yet, at any rate, so maybe the Secret of the Payloads will be revealed later.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:06 PM on April 18


I think the issue is more that you can't splice liquid TV together so they have to record the open live each time, but really I'm just trying to relax.
posted by ckape at 2:37 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]


It only now occurred to me that the liquid video technology is a play on "streaming video," which is appropriate for a show that just started airing on Netflix.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:32 AM on April 19 [7 favorites]


Oh, god, of course!

I think the issue is more that you can't splice liquid TV together so they have to record the open live each time, but really I'm just trying to relax.

That's a good explanation, actually. It might even be what was said in the episode, and I just misremembered.

And, well, I'd be happy to just relax, but they're the ones who brought it up in the first place. :P
posted by tobascodagama at 7:05 AM on April 19


The liquid video concept allows the creative team to handwave away some creative liberties. There's an episode coming up where Ardy ("Movie in the hole!") explains that he accidentally spilled some of the movie which is why there's a scene edited out of the cut that Jonah and the bots watch. He also wonders if "some Reptilicus residue" got into the movie tank because that movie shares a long, talky-type section with Reptilicus. Then there's the moment in Episode 12 where... ah, but maybe that would be saying too much.
posted by Servo5678 at 8:12 AM on April 19 [4 favorites]


Joel talked some about the liquid concept on the post-premiere Q&A that backers could watch. You might find more there.

Sorry, I'm totally allergic to watching that kind of stuff, so I had to turn it off.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:31 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


The liquid video concept allows the creative team to handwave away some creative liberties.

I've also noticed the liquid effect being used in a couple of host segs to "cover" an edit-splice between two different takes. To preserve some of the low-budget spontaneity/jankiness of the original show, they only did a handful of takes for each host seg; I like to think that the liquid TV device lets them have the best of both worlds, in terms of getting the best pieces of a limited number of takes.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:29 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


Oh! I thought of one more thing! I guess they settled my question of whether or not Jonah Ray could play dixieland jazz.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:05 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


There are some roles you do your best to portray, and then there are the roles that seize actors by way of demonic possession, and drag them helplessly into allowing them to exist and be as they always have been, and always will be.

Tom Servo and Crow, ladies and gentlemen.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:14 PM on April 23 [3 favorites]


The edit splices bug me, mostly because they're such a common feature of the shittier variety of "Hello Youtube I'm here to ramble at the camera for twenty minutes" videos and that's where my brain goes when I see it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:45 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]




It was the post about "Every Country Has a Monster" song over on the blue that alerted me to this - and to the choice of Reptilicus as a first episode. I have...a bit of a personal history with that; it was on one of the "Saturday Monster Matinee" shows that my local TV channel did sometime when I was like six years old, and I remember that it scared the bejesus out of me. So I've always kind of avoided it because I remembered having been scared.

But this was MST3K, so I figured maybe my perspective was a little skewed. And I watched this, and...holy crap, I was scared of THAT?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:18 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


"Why Mystery Science Theater 3000 still matters"q with Tom Power, CBC Radio, 07 June 2017
posted by ob1quixote at 10:44 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


« Older The Expanse: The Monster and t...   |  Podcast: Reply All: # 94 Obfus... Newer »

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