Sunday, August 04, 2013

MST3K 30-Day Challenge

Yes, it's a meme, and I'm going to do it wrong -- I don't have the patience to stick each answer into a separate post and dole them out over a month (even though that would do nice things for my post count).

"MST3K," of course, is the 1990s puppet cable show Mystery Science Theater 3000, in which a guy (well, two guys in succession) and his robots made fun of bad (and often SFFnal) movies. It's solidly in my fandom, which I'm coming to think more often is congruent with comedy than it is with "science fiction" or other genre terms. But that could easily shift tomorrow. (For instance, I might have to start watching Doctor Who for the first time in twenty-plus years just to see if they let Capaldi swear the way he's so good at.)

Anyway: the meme.

Day 1: First episode?
Season 5, Episode 15 -- Alien from L.A. The cable system where The Wife and I lived in the '90s didn't have Comedy Central, but my in-laws home (just a town over) did. So I watched this on one of the very many Sunday afternoons we spent there, because I'd heard good things about it. (And felt guilty because I didn't get as much manuscript-reading done that day.)

Day 2: Joel or Mike? Why?

My take on the great divide is that Joel is cooler and Mike is funnier. Some people like one, some the other.

Also: I saw Mike episodes first (and, still, more or them), and the style of the show got more dense as time went on: the Mike episodes just have more jokes, more references, and more complicated joke-references. (E.g.: "Peter Fonda is Richard Petty in the Marcel Marceau story!" from Riding With Death.) I love that kind of joke-on-a-joke structure.

Day 3: How did you get into the show?
I watched it religiously (maybe obsessively) once it moved to the Sci-Fi Channel in 1997 -- taped pretty much all of the episodes on seasons 8-10, and watched them every week.

I did get some of the episodes available on video then, but didn't go whole-hog into collecting them all, which is unusual for my obsessions -- I'm a real completest.

Day 4: Favorite episode?
Tough to narrow that down, but I'd say 820: Space Mutiny. It's a bad movie that's often funny inadvertently, populated with mediocre actors who struggle to overcome less-than-mediocre material, and the jokes are sharp and specific, with some good running gags.

Ask me tomorrow, though, and I might say Riding With Death or Werewolf or Overdrawn at the Memory Bank or Time Chasers or Pod People or Mitchell or Master Ninja I.

Day 5: How many episodes would you say you’ve seen?
At least 80 -- possibly 90 or 100, since some of the titles are bland in that old-horror-movie way, and I'm not sure exactly which crawling thing or what terrors I did see. I'm still watching episodes new to me -- mostly Joel episodes.

I've also seen all of the shorts, since I could watch them on my iPad on the train. I may end up watching all of the episodes the same way, but each one takes more than one leg of my commute. 

Day 6: Least favorite episode? Why?
I have Red Zone Cuba on VHS and I think I watched it once -- as I recall, it was just a dull movie that they couldn't bring any life to.

Day 7: Do you own any merchandise?
I've got nearly all of the DVD box sets (missing the really rare ones and the one that just came out), and a "Greetings from the Satellite of Love" T-Shirt.

(Mildly amusing story: a guy asked me in a supermarket the other week if that shirt had something to do with the Velvet Underground -- the source of the SoL's name -- and I had to tell him it was for an obscure TV show.)

Day 8: Cinematic Titanic or RiffTrax?
I've seen a few RiffTrax -- Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny is a particularly amazing piece of work. (And I use those words precisely.) I like their shorts, and might end up buying more of them to watch on trains (see above).

I haven't yet gotten any Cinematic Titanic pieces, purely because I've already got enough to keep me busy for a long time.

I do miss the silhouettes and the inter-movie skits; MST3K had a larger gestalt than just "watching movies with commentary." 

Day 9: Fave fan site?
I get my regular MST3K fix from Fuck Yeah, MST3K! (There are a lot of video posts there, which I tend to save for a binge once a week or so.)

Day 10: Have a favorite season/station it was on?
I only watched it "live" for the last three seasons, so I can only choose from the Sci-Fi era. And there's great episodes each of those three years, but I'd lean towards Season 8, because it was the longest and there was a lot of energy from the new channel.

Day 11: Have you gotten any friends into the show?
Friends, no. My twelve-year-old son (whom I call Thing 2 here), yes. We've watched a lot of episodes together, and it was the five Gamera movies, Werewolf, and the two Master Ninjas that made him a fan.

Day 12: Follow any of the Brains on Facebook/Twitter? Who makes you laugh the hardest?
I follow and have retweeted Bill Corbett. (Possibly others, but I remember him, because the thing I RT'd was the excellent "The frenemy of my frenemy is my frfrend.")

Day 13: Quick! Without cheating, list as many cast members as you can!
Joe Hodgson as Joel Robinson
Mike Nelson as himself, more or less
Trace Beaulieu (Dr. Forrester and Crow I)
Frank Conniff (TV's Frank)
Mary Jo Pehl (Mrs. Forrester)
Bill Corbett (Crow II and Brain Guy)
Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo II and Professor Bobo)
J. Elvis Weinstein (Tom Servo I)
and whats-his-name the producer who did Gypsy most of the time
didn't Patrick Brantseg do Gypsy for a while?

Day 14: Any riffs that struck a chord with you?
"Every male of any species has the biological urge to panty raid." from Horror of Party Beach

(Subject to variation by day.) 

Day 15: Favorite quote?
Isn't that the same as the last question?

OK, how about the long and very funny "and he wakes up" sequence at the end of Space Mutiny?

Day 16: Have you met any of the Brains?
Nope. I hate meeting people, especially famous ones. They'd have no reason to want to meet me, and what can I say to them they haven't heard a million times?

Day 17: Have you been to any live shows?

Day 18: Favorite SOL character?
I guess Tom Servo edges out Crow, since he has more of an edge in the inter-movie sequences. (Cf. "Tom, I don't get you." "Nobody does -- I'm the wind, baby!")

Day 19: Favorite Mad?
Oddly (given that I like the Mike-era best), it has to be TV's Frank. He's one of the great comedy second bananas, up there with Marty Feldman's Igor and Hey, Abbott.

Day 20: Least favorite character?
Professor Bobo usually just led to poop-flinging and butt-showing (and some general bad-hygiene) jokes; I don't dislike the character, but he wasn't as strong a character as Pearl or "Brain Guy". 

Day 21: Last episode you watched?
I think it actually was Alien from L.A., which I watched with Thing 2 a couple of weeks ago. So this is very circular right at this moment.

Day 22: Manos: Bad or the Worst?
I haven't watched that one in a while, but I remember it as a really horrible movie that was well-riffed.

Day 23: One-word opinion on Joel?

Day 24: One-word opinion on Mike?

Day 25: One-word opinion on J. Elvis’s Servo?
Can't do it in one: Nipple Nipple Tweak Tweak Fly Fly Fly!

Day 26: One-word opinion on Kevin’s Servo?

Day 27: One-word opinion on Trace’s Crow?

Day 28: One-word opinion on Bill’s Crow?

Day 29: Something you can’t look at without thinking of MST3K?
Um, a shelf of my DVD collection? There's nothing in the real world that consistently makes me think of MST3K.

(However, a lot of things in the real world make me think of LEGO City Undercover, mostly because I spent 6 months or so playing that game.)

Day 30: Why do you love MST3K?
It's not just funny, but it's funny commentary on something else, in a way that seems live. I like that connection, and the difficulty of fitting jokes into something that already exists in a way that adds to the original without just drowning out the original story.

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