MST3K: The Return: The Review



  • Ok, I just finished bingeing all 14 MST3K: The Return episodes, and here's my review.

    Host segments/skits:

    • The songs are good. Jonah's ok as host. (I swear he's almost genetically-engineered to split the difference between Joel and Mike. It's weird.)
    • The Mads are... not as good, frankly. (No complaints with the casting, but the writing just isn't there.) The Mads from the last season (Pearl, Bobo, Observer) are almost the polar opposite of funny.
    • The guest stars are more distracting than funny. (MST3K never needed guest stars before, dammit.)
    • The Invention Exchange is lame. Seriously. It feels like they're doing it just because they feel obligated to. The Sci-Fi episodes didn't have Invention Exchange and it was fine, guys.

    Riffing:

    • Generally very good. Far better than recent RiffTrax releases have been. (I stopped buying those a few years ago because every movie was the same 5 jokes recycled over and over.)
    • Sometimes the jokes are too dense. You can just spend a few seconds watching the movies, guys. It's ok.
    • I'm sure people will disagree, but I like the bits where Tom Servo uses his hoverskirt to fly into the picture and do a visual gag.

    Films:

    • Generally a good selection, none of the films picked are too entertaining on their own to distract from the riffing. (A problem with the original-- guys, Double 007 is already a comedy, it's almost funnier on its own than the MST3K riffing was!) None of them are so awful that they're unwatchable.
    • Reptilicus and Yongary simply do not have the star-power of Godzilla or Gamera, sorry guys. They're barely even a Gorgo.
    • The Doug Maclure selections are great, as a person who's enjoyed those awful movies I liked watching those. (Although I wish they hadn't recycled the Simpsons "you may know me from such films as..." joke. Write your own material!)
    • For some reason they cut-out the ending to The Time Travelers and used some crappy "good" ending. (In the original ending their using the time travel portal while already time traveled caused the universe to implode. At least that's how I interpreted that ending.)
    • Of the 14 movies, I (as a crap movie fan) had already seen 9 of them. So I give them "finding crap movie" props.
    • All the movies are in color. I really hope they don't feel they have to use only color movies. Many of the best episodes of the original MST3K were black-and-white films.

    Misc:

    • I like that Gypsy gets a little theater time, and I like her new voice but... what the hell's in the box she drops in the theater in the first few minutes of the movie and picks back up in the last few minutes? Am I crazy or is that never explained? What's in the box!
    • I like the Skeleton Crew, I thought that was a pretty clever concept.
    • I didn't give the Kickstarter a damned cent and I can still watch it for free at the same time they could. Haha, suckers.

    Summary:

    Generally the feeling is just that it's overproduced and way too many people were involved in the creation. Feels like it was designed-by-committee, which is a stark comparison to the original which, even while Sci-Fi was putting some real budget behind it, felt like a couple amateurs goofing around. It's really disturbing when they use CGI to simulate the puppeteer-powered special effects of the old series.

    That all said, I really enjoyed the 14 episodes and I hope that Netflix springs for a second season. I wouldn't bat an eye if they cut the budget in half because, frankly, a budget cut is exactly what the show needs.



  • Bad entertainment is its own reward, I dislike riffers.



  • Crap, I hope @blakeyrat is back. I kind of ignored the new MST3K thing, but now I think I'll have to look at it... I loved the original, mostly liked the second. But if @blakeyrat mentions it I'll pay attention.



  • I have no idea what MST3K is, but after reading your post I still have zero incentive to find out.


  • Impossible Mission - B

    @Gąska It was a TV show from the 90s about a guy and some robots trapped in a space station, watching bad movies and making fun of them. They just came out with a new version with Felicia Day and Agent Koenig (can't remember the actor's name) as the villains and some d00d I don't know as the helpless protagonist. And yeah, it feels like they're trying too hard.


  • :belt_onion:

    @masonwheeler sounds interesting enough



  • I've only seen two episodes so far, so I can only go comment on that.

    I feel like Tom Servo lost a lot of his personality and is... well, to put it ironically, robotic. The old Servo had a ton of personality and character, no doubt due to Kevin Murphy's voice acting abilities. He's become a shadow of his former self. This might have improved over the course of the 14 episodes, so I'll hold off too much judgement until I've seen them all. I'm not a fan of his floating. I felt like his dependence on Mike or Joel to carry him in and out of the theater was adorable, but that's the least of my issues with him.

    I was wondering the same thing about Gypsy. At first I thought it was a food bag, but realized it can't be that because they didn't use it as such. Although in Reptilicus they did use it as a prop to "catch" the slime. Personally, I could go without Gypsy in the show. Although I held that opinion in the original 10, anyways.

    I also have no idea how Reptilicus ever survived not getting featured in their original 10 seasons. As a MST3K movie I think it is perfect, and an excellent choice for the debut of the return.

    I think, overall, though, they kept the spirit of the show in tact for the most part. Considering it's been friggen 20 years, I think that's a fantastic achievement. I agree there are some technical elements that can be improved, but those are the easy parts. If the show felt like it lost its charm completely, that'd be near impossible to fix.

    I've only seen two invention exchanges. The first one (bubble fan) was lame, but I actually laughed at the turkey carving invention in the second episode.

    I also feel like the host segments are a little rushed. Part of it is probably because there's no commercial breaks, but I feel as though the originals were at least 4 minutes, while these are, at most, 2. I agree about the songs, though. The few I've seen so far are hilarious.



  • So far I've only watched the first installment, but I'm sticking with it because I want my Felicia Day fix (and I think it's great that she's playing a villain for what may be the first time in her life). Liked the song about monsters from every country, and the fact that they included Moon 13 in the list (with its monster being Felicia).

    Choice of movies: Reptilicus has always been one of my guilty pleasures (how can you go wrong with your monster being a fossilized tail dug out of an oil well, fer cryin' out loud). But I would have preferred a different Sidney Pink/Ib Melchior collaboration instead, that being Journey to the Seventh Planet, because, y'know, Uranus jokes.



  • @The_Quiet_One said in MST3K: The Return: The Review:

    Personally, I could go without Gypsy in the show.

    Without Gypsy it's a complete sausage-fest.

    The Sci-Fi episodes had Pearl at least, but in the original 7 seasons there were zero regular female characters other than Magic Voice (gone in the new show) and Gypsy. That's frankly unacceptable. (Also ironic in the show that later on made fun of the film Gorgo for having basically zero female characters, when the bots committed to making a "Girls of Gorgo" calendar before finding out the movie had no women at all in it.)

    There's also no minorities. The original was filmed in Minnesota and had basically zero budget, so it's kind of understandable, but this new version has no excuse. Seriously? You have like 6-7 celeb guest stars, and none of them could be a person of color? (EDIT: the new voice of Servo is black. Huh.)

    That said, I liked the running joke about her strange attraction to Richard Basehart. It was kind of a dumb joke, but they really committed. (If you're new to the series, anytime they make a joke referencing some movie or TV show Richard Basehart was in, Gypsy would duck into the theater and exclaim, "Richard Basehart!?" Also when Croooooow wanted to hurt her feelings, he'd tell her about acting roles Basehart didn't manage to land. And when Gypsy is talking about her ideal family, "Richard Basehart looks over us all!")



  • @da-Doctah said in MST3K: The Return: The Review:

    Choice of movies: Reptilicus has always been one of my guilty pleasures (how can you go wrong with your monster being a fossilized tail dug out of an oil well, fer cryin' out loud). But I would have preferred a different Sidney Pink/Ib Melchior collaboration instead, that being Journey to the Seventh Planet, because, y'know, Uranus jokes.

    I like how the "star power" of that movie was a famous local comedian who's in maybe 10 minutes of the film's run time.

    The two Ib Melchoir movies are Reptilicus and The Time Travelers. Reptilicus is absolute garbage, but frankly The Time Travelers is not a bad film. It's not going to blow you away, but it's pretty entertaining for what it is. They'd have been better off deleting Time Travelers and replacing it with either Angry Red Planet or Journey to the Seventh Planet, as you mention.

    This monster in Angry Red Planet is worth like a million riffs on its own:

    0_1492756796465_The-Angry-Red-Planet.jpg

    (Then again, that horrible red filter they used for the "Mars" scenes renders the film almost unwatchable. So.)

    If they have the budget, and we're sticking to the Ib Melchoir theme, he also wrote the US adaptation of Godzilla Raids Again. It'd be great if they could get the rights to do another Godzilla flick. (But being in black-and-white means they'd probably pass. Sigh.)


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    Having not seen any of the originals, should I start with them or go straight to the return?



  • @Jaloopa Depends on what you have access to.

    If you're on Netflix, they have an excellent "sampler pack" of the original series: https://www.netflix.com/watch/70003577?trackId=13752289&tctx=0%2C0%2C346a98b9929dd4e8054e05f68221d877f1c7f099%3A1ef186f84ffa310fdad27c50337fab59a58b427c

    It's more or less the "top 20" episodes voted by fans. Unfortunately they picked Manos: The Hands of Fate to go first, which is both a horrible movie and a pretty dire MST3K episode. (I think people have it in their head that the "worst" movie MST3K did must logically be the funniest? But even then, Monster A-Go-Go is both a worse movie and a better MST3K episode and it's not on this list at all.)

    If you want just a few samples, try these more modern episodes from Netflix's collection: Future War, Pumaman, Time Chasers, Space Mutiny, Werewolf.

    The official MST3K YouTube channel has a playlist of full episodes here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYy4ZargUluf-iyr4vFpe-xaJ46GEDpBI

    A lot of them don't overlap with the Netflix one, so between YouTube and Netflix you can watch probably 35-40 original MST3K episodes "officially". (Almost every episode is on YouTube on "unofficial" channels. Protip.) My favorite episodes on the YouTube channel is Moon Zero Two and The Brain That Wouldn't Die. Also The Final Sacrifice is almost required watching. Rowsdower! Mitchell is solid, too.

    Please DO NOT watch Manos: The Hands of Fate first, as you'll think the show is unfunny garbage.

    You can also just skip straight to the return. It re-explains the premise pretty well, not that it's very complicated. It's not like the show ever really had a plot line or any continuity, so, not much else matters. (In the words of its own theme song, if you're concerned about stuff like that "you should probably just relax.")

    Note that MST3K: The Return starts with one of those dire guest star bits which was an unfortunate decision. If you're a huge fan of the 1980s Buck Rogers, it might be fun to see Erin Gray again. But ain't nobody needs to see any more Wil Wheaton than they've already seen.



  • Oh also. If you have access to MST3K: The Movie (it's hard to find-- the studio kind of tried to bury it, the DVD's almost always out-of-print, and it's not licensed the same way as the TV show), it's actually really, really good and I'd recommend it. (They're riffing on This Island Earth, which is actually a classic, not at all a bad movie. But it works.)


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @blakeyrat said in MST3K: The Return: The Review:

    Please DO NOT watch Manos: The Hands of Fate first, as you'll think the show is unfunny garbage.

    I started watching the first Netflix one a while back, but didn't know about the puppets and space station bit, so was a bit confused expecting maybe a short intro and then a film being riffed on. I didn't actually make it to the movie part. Maybe I'll try again with a different episode



  • @blakeyrat said in MST3K: The Return: The Review:

    @The_Quiet_One said in MST3K: The Return: The Review:

    Personally, I could go without Gypsy in the show.

    Without Gypsy it's a complete sausage-fest.

    I get that, although even in the show, she was always put in the background anyways. To me she's always been this forgotten character who gets awkwardly included in some of the skits, as though the writers remembered last minute that they have her in the show. I don't know, perhaps if she was a little more involved it'd be better. It's almost the textbook definition of "token girl."

    @blakeyrat said in MST3K: The Return: The Review:

    There's also no minorities. The original was filmed in Minnesota and had basically zero budget, so it's kind of understandable, but this new version has no excuse. Seriously? You have like 6-7 celeb guest stars, and none of them could be a person of color? (EDIT: the new voice of Servo is black. Huh.)

    Yeah, there's no excuse in the new version, especially if they're cycling in and out guest stars. Of course, if they ever have a black actor on the villain's side, we'll never hear the end of it.

    @blakeyrat said in MST3K: The Return: The Review:

    Unfortunately they picked Manos: The Hands of Fate to go first, which is both a horrible movie and a pretty dire MST3K episode. (I think people have it in their head that the "worst" movie MST3K did must logically be the funniest? But even then, Monster A-Go-Go is both a worse movie and a better MST3K episode and it's not on this list at all.) [...] Please DO NOT watch Manos: The Hands of Fate first, as you'll think the show is unfunny garbage.

    Manos is a bad introduction to new watchers, but to be honest, I loved it as an episode. Monster A-Go-Go was definitely better, though.

    For new watchers, I'd rank a lot of the episodes not just on their quality, but in their place for inside jokes and catchphrases which are referenced in the new season. The Final Sacrifice is definitely required watching (they even reference it in one of the new episodes). I'd include Eegah, Squirm (only for the Spring Fever short), The Prince of Space, Wild World of Batwoman, and The Pumaman in that list, too. I know this will get some mixed reactions, but I also liked the Joe Don Baker movies, plus Hobgoblins. I know a lot of people loved this episode, and maybe I should give it another try, but I didn't like I Accuse My Parents at all. I thought it was a yawn fest, but maybe I was just in a bad mood that day.



  • MST3K: The Return: The Review: The Reply

    @blakeyrat said in MST3K: The Return: The Review:

    Ok, I just finished bingeing all 14 MST3K: The Return episodes, and here's my review.

    And here's me saying things to it.

    @blakeyrat said in MST3K: The Return: The Review:

    • The songs are good. Jonah's ok as host. (I swear he's almost genetically-engineered to split the difference between Joel and Mike. It's weird.)

    I haven't thought about Belize this much since Carmen Sandiago.

    • The Mads are... not as good, frankly. (No complaints with the casting, but the writing just isn't there.) The Mads from the last season (Pearl, Bobo, Observer) are almost the polar opposite of funny.

    I've always found all the Mads of every flavor to be pretty much painfully unfunny. But that's the point of them, I suppose. They make the main attraction funnier, like a warm up comedian.

    • The Invention Exchange is lame. Seriously. It feels like they're doing it just because they feel obligated to. The Sci-Fi episodes didn't have Invention Exchange and it was fine, guys.

    Given that every one of those inventions probably has at least three or four iterations on Kickstarter already-- yeah-- the Internet has already taken care of "make fun of stupid inventions".

    Riffing:

    • Generally very good. Far better than recent RiffTrax releases have been. (I stopped buying those a few years ago because every movie was the same 5 jokes recycled over and over.)

    Knock Knock
    who is there?
    Running gag
    running gag who?
    Knock Knock
    who is there?
    Running gag
    running gag who?
    Knock Knock
    who is there?
    Running gag
    running gag who?
    Knock Knock
    who is there?
    Running gag
    running gag who?
    Knock Knock
    who is there?
    Running gag
    running gag who?
    Knock Knock
    who is there?
    Orange
    Orange who?
    RUNNING GAG YOU GLAD I DIDN'T SAY ORANGE?

    • Sometimes the jokes are too dense. You can just spend a few seconds watching the movies, guys. It's ok.

    Too many gags/second is a bad idea. It works well if they're all playing off each other, but when they're all making different jokes, it's whiplash. I don't have time to process the first joke by the time the second one hits-- and not enough time to know if the second joke is an extension of the first before the third one hits, and so forth.

    Moreso since all three voices are still "new" to me, and I don't even know if it's the same person (inb4 ROBOT NOT PEEPLES) saying a second part of their joke, or someone else starting a new one.

    • I'm sure people will disagree, but I like the bits where Tom Servo uses his hoverskirt to fly into the picture and do a visual gag.

    I just love the "but only in the theatre" line right off the bat. "You should really just relax-- but even if you can't WE STILL HAVE THAT NITPICK OF YOURS COVERED YOU PENDANTIC DICKWEED"

    Misc:

    • I like that Gypsy gets a little theater time, and I like her new voice but...

    I assume Gypsy always had a DERP voice because it was some rushed voice they gave her at the last minute, and intertia just took over.

    what the hell's in the box she drops in the theater in the first few minutes of the movie and picks back up in the last few minutes? Am I crazy or is that never explained? What's in the box!

    The box is full of three seashells.

    • I didn't give the Kickstarter a damned cent and I can still watch it for free at the same time they could. Haha, suckers.

    But you wouldn't be able to watch it for free without Kickstarters paying first. :trolleybus: But really, tho, it still boggles me that they need over half-a-million dollars per episode (and presumably more, since the Kickstarter was probably just used as seed funding and to prove interest in the show to network execs). I get that you have to pay for equipment and editors and marketing and everything-- but the idea that you need $500k to make a single episode of a riff show in today's day and age. Give me USD$500k, and I can take 5 years off of work and produce, like 150 episodes. And that includes the time I'll take to masturbate with $100 bills JUST FOR FUN.


  • mod

    @Lorne-Kates said in MST3K: The Return: The Review:

    and I can take 5 years off of work and produce, like 150 episodes

    I am available to reprise my role as a space station captain if you wish ;)



  • @Yamikuronue
    But only for "unfrosted" hundreds?


  • mod

    @izzion My husband's the one who has to take the cash to the bank so, eh, it's all the same to me ;P



  • @Yamikuronue said in MST3K: The Return: The Review:

    @izzion My husband's the one who has to take the cash to the bank so, eh, it's all the same to me ;P

    Because you're busy making people put their pants on, right?


  • sockdevs

    @Lorne-Kates I assume some of that $500k was for licensing rights to the films and that the actual production costs other than that are actually somewhat lower.



  • @Arantor They paid some dude to add a CGI smoke effect to Jonah's prop comedy cannon bit.

    They paid some dude to add CGI to a prop comedy bit.

    They paid him.

    They're paying WAY too many people. They'd have a better and simultaneously cheaper show if they had the same number of production staff of the original in the Sci-Fi years, maybe 20-25 people max. Even ignoring the Kickstarter bullshit credits, the new show has closer to 200 people involved per-episode.

    Less is more when it comes to MST3K.



  • @masonwheeler said in MST3K: The Return: The Review:

    @Gąska It was a TV show from the 90s about a guy and some robots trapped in a space station, watching bad movies and making fun of them. They just came out with a new version with Felicia Day and Agent Koenig (can't remember the actor's name) as the villains and some d00d I don't know as the helpless protagonist. And yeah, it feels like they're trying too hard.

    Patton Oswalt



  • @blakeyrat said in MST3K: The Return: The Review:

    They're paying WAY too many people. They'd have a better and simultaneously cheaper show if they had the same number of production staff of the original in the Sci-Fi years, maybe 20-25 people max. Even ignoring the Kickstarter bullshit credits, the new show has closer to 200 people involved per-episode.

    Less is more when it comes to MST3K.

    Joel seemed really adamant about keeping the "low budget" feel genuine in the first seasons he was actively involved with. I mean, the show started out as public access cable with props he made out of his garage. That's what the show's all about. They are a low budget TV show making fun of low budget movies. As a result, they had ending credits that fit the length of the end theme.

    This season it seems they're trying to keep that feel, but it's not as genuine. They're faking low-budget, and as a result, it looks bad.



  • @The_Quiet_One That's in the show's DNA. Probably the most expensive prop they had EVER was that VW Microbus they painted red and glued garbage cans to to make "warp nacelles".


  • :belt_onion:

    @blakeyrat said in MST3K: The Return: The Review:

    Space Mutiny

    Worth it for Reb Brown alone :heart:


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