Mystery Science Theater 3000: TIME CHASERS
October 18, 2017 3:55 AM - Season 8, Episode 21 - Subscribe

aka Tangents. "His Mission is to Save the Future. But Time Waits For No Man...." A guy invents a time machine in his airplane, but a huge corporation plans on misusing it. Yeah, it's kind of like if Michael Moore made Back To The Future. Wow, evil corporations, huh? You can always turn to them when you need a good villain. I am not pointing this out to subvert it; they are a power for evil in our world, a blight upon the land. Anyway, this is a pretty darn decent episode. Thankfully all that Roman Times stuff is over with, and for the last couple of episodes of Season 8 the show was free to just drift out in space (well, that and a public television station, we'll get into that next week). Mike and Pearl have a nice little talk in the Widowmaker! It's nice to see neighbors get along, even when one of them is a mad scientist and the other is her hapless movie-watching victim. Also, in the movie segments, a couple of segments have the big brother of Mike (the character), Eddie, in the theater, played by Mike (the actor), who is rather less congenial than Mike (the character). Er, you understood that, right? Observer gets in a visual riff during the credits! And at the end there's a spare Crow hanging out in Minnesota who is never mentioned again. Next week is the last episode of Season 8. Episode 821 TIME CHASERS does not appear to be on YouTube. Premiered November 22, 1997. 27 episodes left.

Episode 821 TIME CHASERS
Satellite News - Mighty Jack's Episode Review - War of the Colossal Fan Guide - TVTropes

Paul Chaplin's entry in the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, Satellite News addendum:
The nice people who made this movie found out we were doing it and were very excited. We even talked to the guy who played GenCorp underling, Matthew Paul, on the phone, and got a definite sense that the whole project was undertaken by a group of well-adjusted people. That is certainly not true of most of our movies, and they're to be commended. And truth be told -- and remember, I'm only saying this in order to be polite -- this really isn't a horrible film.
There being a corporate exec in the film, we had at least one ISO 9001 certification joke. Banners proclaiming such certification have been springing up around this strange land, this Eden Prairie industrial park world that Best Brains calls home; we've been curious about what it actually is. Turns out Company A can pay a good deal of money to have another company certify that Company A in fact does what it says it does.
That's ISO 9001 certification. So there are ISO 9001 certifiers running around out there, and that's exactly the sort of job I suspect is the real substance of the American Growth Machine. Don't get me started.
Paul links to the people who made Time Chasers, Edgewoood Studios.

Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt (with information from director David Giancola himself!)
Rotten Tomatoes (Critics N/A, Viewers 18%) - Wikipedia - TVTropes
IMDB (1994, 2.3 stars)
"An inventor comes up with a time machine, but must prevent its abuse at the hands of an evil C.E.O."
Directed and written by David Giancola. Starring Matthew Bruch, Bonnie Pritchard and Peter Harrington.

If I make take the floor for a moment? Thank you.

When you get down the history of Hollywood, the tendency is to weight it by money spent and earned. When you get around to spending hundreds of millions of dollars on movies, you reach a level of content, of professionalism of production, of effects quality, of set design and construction, of a whole bunch of other things, than your standard ambitious bunch of guys won't be able to match. (Or, I should say, you could end up with that, which makes it hilarious when you don't, when you spend that much cash and make a Batman & Robin, or a Transformers, manifestly unsuitable results for the investment.)

There is a tendency, once those movies started to dominate the marketplace, to view anything made for an un-obscene number of dollars as automatically laughable, like these guys shouldn't even have shown up at the ballpark. Put yer highly-expensive big boy pants on.

I think this attitude is terrible. It does result, sometimes, in guys reaching beyond their grasp, trying to look like a big production when they clearly aren't. And you know, sometimes that's funny.

But what I'm trying to say is, it's not a derisive kind of funny. It's the kind of movie I wish I had the opportunity to make. If I had the spare resources and free time and a vision in my head that wouldn't go away, I'd take a crack at it too, and I wouldn't even care that much if a puppet show made fun of it in the end.

I pick this movie as the one to go into for this because the word is that Edgewood Studios, the makers of Time Chasers, found out that Best Brains would be riffing their movie, and not too long after it was made; IMDB says it was released in 1994, and the episode appeared on the Sci-Fi Channel in 1997. So, the makers of the movie had a reunion get-together to watch the movie as it aired on Sci-Fi. According to (I seem to remember) an intro by Mike Nelson on the MST3K Time Chasers DVD, the room got very quiet once the episode began and, as the director mentioned, "took it a bit too seriously." The joy went out of it as Mike and the bots did what they do. That is understandable, I think. Mike was kind of sheepish when he reported the fact.

I don't think moviemaking should be left as the sole province of the gigantic ConHugeCos lumbering across out national landscape. Outfits like The Asylum made some pretty laughable stuff sometimes, but they're living the dream, and that is what the world is about. In fact, I have come to view these people as being more "real" moviemakers than the huge synergistic conglomerates composing half their shots on computers, and color-grading everything to a bland orange and teal. (I don't CARE how much it "pops," it makes all the movies look the same and it makes me yearn for honest greens, yellows, purples and browns, dammit!)

MST3K once mocked a movie by Edgewood Studios. And yet, because they licensed their movie out to be part of first Rhino then Shout Factory's series of episode collections, they have gotten a nice extra little income from their earnestly-made little film. Daddy-O notes it was the broadcast rights sale to the Sci-Fi Channel that put the movie in the black. And they didn't stop at Time Chasers, they kept at it. IMDB lists 23 productions to their credit so far, and they've made hundreds of commercials. After a recent lull of five years, they're about to release their 24th, Axcellerator, also directed by David Giancola.

They've been at this for 23 years now. That right there is a happy story. Best Brains themselves only made new episodes of MST3K for a couple of years after this one aired then sputtered along for for 15 years until selling the show to Shout Factory and its recent creator-approved, Kickstarted-backed, Netflix-powered revival. Score a victory for David Giancola and Edgewood Studios. I'm glad you guys are still with us.

Whatever went down between Best Brains and Edgewood Studios, it didn't stop Edgewood from agreeing to let Rifftrax riff their film again, live on stage, in 2016.
posted by JHarris (11 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The RiffTrax version is also very funny and worth watching.

The only riff from this one that springs to mind immediately is "Your butt looks great in the future!"

And - "You'll have to take my word for it - we can't afford to show it."
posted by wittgenstein at 9:56 AM on October 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I recently watched the Giancola-directed, Edgewood-produced, Rutland-filmed Icebreaker (one of approximately 3.8 billion films about terrorists taking over a ski lodge). It was very much like Time Chasers—earnest, often dull, unpredictable at times, and cringingly clumsy with its comedy at times—except that they somehow landed Sean Astin and Stacy Keach…and BRUCE CAMPBELL as the villain.

I recommend it to everybody reading this, both for the Giancola/Edgewood factor and the fact that Bruce Campbell's character is actually pretty interestingly written, and you can tell Bruce was making an effort.

IIRC Bruce mentions this shoot in one of his books, though I don't think it's one I've read because I have no idea what he says about it.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 12:03 PM on October 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I was in New England a few years ago, and a highlight of the trip was driving by Castleton.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:19 PM on October 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Icebreaker has also been riffed by Rifftrax, and was available via Amazon Prime last time I checked.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 1:59 PM on October 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

The locations for this film are the best. The future is some dressed-up mall food court! The big executive's desk appears to be in a stairwell for no reason! Nobody will be seated during the display of second-unit footage from some historical re-enactors!

Also the most elaborate action piece is the hero crashing a car because he doesn't know how to drive. A bold choice for a US film, where we've constructed the entire country around the automobile.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:40 PM on October 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


I actualLy kind of like the movie qua movie as just a goofy thing some friends did over a summer? Like why I like Hobgoblins cause everyone seems to be having a good time?

This season has a lot of hits does t it?
posted by The Whelk at 11:43 PM on October 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, and there are a lot of good episodes next season too I notice.

Okay here's the usual stuff:
Every week, on Thursday, MST Club shows that week's episode over the internet via the good graces of YouTube. This week's show is, again, at 9 PM Eastern Time, 6 PM Pacific Time, at This is one of those weeks where YouTube is a bust however, so we might have to find it on another site. (We have the DVD of this episode somewhere kicking around actually, but what a hassle streaming that is.) There are, of course, alternate plans in case this doesn't work out.

And here's the unusual stuff:
I've been wondering if this is the best day and time overall for the Club? It might be late in the game to make timing changes, but it'd be good, if there's a better time for people, if people would speak up about when they're most available? I'm always looking to make MST Club more accessible for folk.
posted by JHarris at 1:23 AM on October 19, 2017

I'm excited for this one. I have a friend who lived in Rutland, Vermont when this was filmed and appears as an extra in one of the future scenes.
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 8:08 AM on October 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Well, here's one vote for changing the day of MST3K Club... I went out earlier today after a poor night's sleep, got home a couple hours before the scheduled showtime (remember I'm in the Pacific Timezone), dozed off and slept through it all... in fact, I think I'll go right back to zzzzzzz...
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:10 PM on October 19, 2017

There is a tendency, once those movies started to dominate the marketplace, to view anything made for an un-obscene number of dollars as automatically laughable, like these guys shouldn't even have shown up at the ballpark. Put yer highly-expensive big boy pants on.

I'm reminded of one film made on such a small budget that a music video from the soundtrack that recreated one scene from the movie ended up costing more because the music video was in color. The author-insert character in that one kept lamenting that he wasn't even supposed to be here today. (His budget, backed by a stack of questionably obtained and maxed out credit cards, was so thin that he originally intended to play the author insert himself, but then realized he didn't have the acting chops to pull off the masses of dialog he'd written, and gave himself a second insert, who had almost no lines at all.)
posted by radwolf76 at 7:23 AM on October 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Surely the first time a Time Chasers/Clerks parallel has been drawn.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:53 AM on October 23, 2017

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