MST3K Club Basics & Scheduling
May 26, 2015 11:12 AM - Subscribe

This post describes how to join our weekly MST3K Club showings of Mystery Science Theater 3000, technical details of the show, and some minor related bits of weirdness.

--- How to view the show ---
At the moment (5/26/2015), MST3K Club meets Thursdays at 9 PM Eastern time, at the address: This address may change in the future depending on randomly-arising situations and reasons.

sync-video is not a streaming site. Instead, it is a means to synchronize YouTube videos among multiple viewers, while supplying a text chat room to hang out in while watching. This system is attractive legally, to me, because we don't actually distribute episodes ourselves, we just all individually watch already-existing videos on YouTube, and because if it played our voices too . We are helped in this by the readily availability of most Mystery Science Theater episodes on that site. Anyway, that is the idea. Sometimes it works better than others.

sync-video's player is Flash-based, the synchronization magic pretty much relies on it, which makes watching with us mobile-unfriendly. That said, people have reported some success logging in with an iPad for the chatroom, and watching the video on YouTube on another mobile device. (If the episode is on YouTube, a link will be in the episode post.) If done this way, you will have to manually synchronize your episode with the rest of us. Say you need to sync up in the chat room and I will supply time codes to tell you exactly where we are in the movie, so you can scrub forward. That said, viewing on iOS and other Flash-unfriendly platforms is kind of problematic because sync-video doesn't expect it and it seems to make the system wonky, so if you can come in on a platform using Flash that would be the best. (Flash is one of of the great causalities of Adobe's long march towards suckification, not yet up to Acrobat/Adobe Reader levels, but it's starting to get there. Still, it's currently an integral part of our best option.)

There are other potential issues with YouTube. It's possible for some viewers to be region-locked out, or not be able to watch due to embedding settings, depending on what crazy flags the uploader decided to set on his video. It is not a perfect solution, the whole thing is basically a hack held together with gum and spit. If you lean too hard on it it will fall apart, either technically or legally, so please, please, don't kick the walls if you can help it.

Once in a while an episode is not findable on YouTube. In these cases, sync-video also supports Vimeo and self-hosted files. Both of these have their own issues. Because of them we so far have had to skip one episode in our run, 213 GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER. We hope to return to it sometime in the future, if the planets align, although notably it is not one of the show's best.

--- Show structure ---
The custom is, some time before the episode's scheduled time I will air what we call a pre-roll. This is often a shuffled playlist of MST3K shorts, but sometimes contains other things, like MST3K specials, RiffTrax best-of compilations, episodes of Film Crew (a project Mike, Kevin and Bill did before RiffTrax), and other related things. One week we showed Brad Neely's Wizard People Dear Reader. If it's on YouTube then generally it's fair game.

We try to get the actual show going a few minutes after the dot of 9 o'clock, to allow late-comers a bit of time to shuffle in. Episodes of MST3K typically last an hour and 40 minutes. After the show the pre-roll content resumes, or sometimes I might have something else to watch, depending on circumstance, but most people file out pretty quickly. In the past we've shown the movie twice, back-to-back, but that was time and energy consuming, and the move to a 9 PM showtime seems to have aligned with the schedules of most of our regulars.

It is worth saying that there is nothing about this setup that prevents others from using the same system to view episodes at different times. All MST3K Club really is is me setting a time and place to meet, and putting effort into trying to keep everyone's computers lined up and generally showing the same thing at the same time, for the reason that MST3K gets exponentially better the more people you see it with. We pretend a bit in order to help give the whole rickety scaffold an illusory sense of permanence, because that helps herd everyone into the same temporal corral, but really there is nothing "official" about any of this. If you wanted to hold your own showings at other times, you can do exactly what I'm doing.

--- Associated lore ---
Who is rodneylives?
That is me. "rodneylives" is a name I go by in a few places, especially on Twitter.

Is it okay to riff along?
Yes! This is strongly encouraged. An advantage (THE advantage really) of using a chat window is that there is no danger of drowning out the show. Riff away! Of course it is difficult to keep up with the episode in real-time, but then most of us are off by a few seconds anyway because sync-video isn't perfect at keeping us lined up.

Why did rodneylives say something like "11:30" "11:35" "11:40", etc?
Those are sync codes. One of the viewers is viewing on YouTube and has asked to sync up. I am calling aloud (well, in the chat) where the movie is, at the moment the movie hits that time on my screen, to help them scrub to approximately the right place so as to be seeing the same thing the rest of us are seeing.

Why did someone say "Time?"
It's a desultory custom we've adopted, a passive way to see how far off you are from the others in synchronization. The idea is, when the episode shows the famous "Spaghetti Ball" with the show's logo hanging out in space, at the moment that dips all the way out to black, someone may say "Time". That way, other people can observe how far their video is off from the others and possibly take corrective measures, like reloading the page if need be.

Who is Eudora?
1. She is our projectionist, a woodland fairy by species, and a former maintainer of mail servers. Imagine her tangled up in film strung everywhere when the show messes up, like the Swedish Chef in The Muppet Movie -- it's entertaining and distracting to think about when I'm trying to get things working again. Think of her as our "Magic Voice," a ubiquitous presence of dubious reality.
2. Eudora is a whimsical running gag I made up to have something extra to talk and joke about at those frequent times when the show breaks.

What are experience points?
Sometimes I jokingly award experience points to viewers after the movie concludes, like they were D&D monsters. This is a sum of points, usually some number in the thousands like 3,800 or something, which is then evenly split between all the people present when the movie concludes. You are then free to add them to your personal score and track your "experience level," or not. You can use this table to track your "MSTie" level, or this one to track your "sufferer" level, or this one to track your understanding of Mad Science. Or invent your own character class and enter it here. This has all the importance of the host awarding points on Who's Line Is It Anyway?, that is to say, none. There is no actual reason to do this. You are free to not add anything to anything. You don't technically need to watch our show either. Live your live how you see fit, absent simple human pleasures. Become a machine, a mindless drone awaiting instruction from outside. It seems to be where our civilization is heading, after all, so why not beat everyone else to the finish line?
posted by JHarris (10 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Further breaking news --

We are not having a show this week either, because after a lot of effort it turns out that I can make it to IRDC US after all, the International Roguelike Developers Conference. I'll be on the bus during the time we usually watch. The bus *does* have wifi, but I don't think it's best to rely on it. We'll pick up with DADDY-O next week.
posted by JHarris at 8:02 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Bummer, dude. I mean, great for you, but I'm going through serious withdrawal here!
posted by valkane at 9:08 AM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Have fun, John. I look forward to starting up again next week.
posted by wittgenstein at 11:05 AM on May 28, 2015

C'mon man, I haven't riffed in weeks! I'm afraid something is gonna break, you know, something is gonna break inside of me! Like something that can't be fixed. Like, something that matters.

Shit is building up, yo.

Okay, I've slammed several shots of Joel's Theme Song (seasons 1-5), and youtube autoloaded Red Zone Cuba. And I'm scared! I'm scared, man!

I can feel it. I can feel it coming up out of me, and I don't want that, man. I DON'T WANT THAT! I don't want........ Oh shi.......


Well, I feel better. Cya next week.
posted by valkane at 7:10 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

I get my fix via Club MST3k and working my way through each season to get my Certificate of Deep Hurting. Again.

Here's a remix of the Love Theme to get us all through these difficult times.

It's good to be among friends.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 8:52 AM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is great! I probably won't be able to participate in real time (I'm in England), but I'd love to follow along if/when I can. Also, if we come across an episode that makes a joke about an amulet, can you please let me know? I've been trying to find this one for decades now. Thanks!
posted by iamkimiam at 10:03 AM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

That's great iamkimiam! The Fanfare posts are not Club-specific, MST3K Club is just an adjunct to the posts. But feel free to drop by our shows if you're awake at... oh... 2 in the morning?! We've had earlier shows in the past, but it consumes a lot of time for me to run multiple shows. Of course, if you -- or anyone else! -- wanted to host your own shows I certainly wouldn't mind....

Episodes having to do with an amulet? Possibilities that come to mind strictly from memory....
THE DAY THE EARTH FROZE -- Contains the Sampo, although it's represented as a big golden machine.
THE MAGIC SWORD -- General magical shenanigans.
OUTLAW -- It was a ring that transports our dubious hero Cabot to the world of Gor.
QUEST OF THE DELTA KNIGHTS -- Was there an amulet thing in their search for Archimedes or whoever's vault-thing?
DEATHSTALKER AND THE WARRIORS FROM HELL -- I don't think it has an amulet, but it's the kind of thing that might and I forgot about it, y'know.
SOULTAKER -- The titular guys transport souls in these little ring thingies that are kind of like amulets.
MERLIN'S SHOP OF MYSTICAL WONDERS -- The closest thing here is "the book," but there might have been some amulet thing in the first half of the movie.
posted by JHarris at 12:18 AM on October 24, 2015

It has been brought to my attention, after months of shows, that the URL in the post is actually wrong. It should read:

Alas, there's no way to change the main part of the post to reflect this. The right URL is listed in every MST Club post anyway....
posted by JHarris at 11:17 PM on December 12, 2015

And we're changing the location of our shows! The NEW site for our episodes (at the same time, 9 PM US Eastern time on Thursdays) is at:
posted by JHarris at 12:14 AM on January 7, 2016

Okay, just so everybody knows, I'm blogging these things here:

and here:

in fact, there's video of a previous riff session here:
Colonial Belle + MST3K
posted by valkane at 2:12 PM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

« Older FanFare Twitter Account?...   |  Criterion on Hulu... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments