The Big Picture: Mystery Science Theater 3000

dkyros

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I feel that by the time this show is over a year old it will have called everything weird, which is just another way of saying that nothing is weird. I predict next that people, movies, the airplane, two manned bicycles, and the long line for the womens bathroom at sporting events will be weird. I say this out of love for the show, not spite.

Besides that I loved MST3K. My friend and I almost died one late night from laughing soo hard at "The day the Earth Froze"
 

AvsJoe

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May 28, 2009
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I just missed it.

I was born in 1988, and I didn't get specialty channels on my cable package until '98 or '99. And they were Canadian specialty channels (Comedy Network vs Comedy Central, Teletoon vs The Cartoon Network, etc). By the time I had access to Sci-Fi and Comedy Central, the show had run its course. I did manage to see the movie recently and I do watch clips on the Interblag on occasion, but I regret never having the chance to watch this show.

I also missed a ton of other good shows for this very reason, like the early to late nineties wacky MTV shows like Beavis and Butthead or classic gems like Ren and Stimpy (I have since seen reruns of both but I would have enjoyed them a lot more when I was the target audience).
 

3rd rung

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Not sure if anyone brought this up already I did not see it but you can get a huge number of MST3k on netflix.com that where I watch them now. And this was one of the first shows my whole family would sit down and watch together, those are some great memories
 

Dimbo_Sama

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Mar 20, 2009
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If you think it's hard trying to find it in America, spare a thought for those of us who live in Ireland. Never aired once, and no one knows what it is.

And MST3K fandom is one of the most annoyingly difficult things to get help from.
Tried to find a general consensus on what the best episode to show to a new comer would be, as I was planning on showing it to my girlfriend and it's impossible. Because everyone says that every episode is brilliant! FUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!
 

PixelJunk

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I love this show. It single handedly got me enamored into bad movie watching and thus the superhuman ability to willingly watch them. The MST3K treatment is one of my greatest talents. "Next to dwarf tossing of course." Most people cite movies like Citizen Kane or Metropolis as things to aspire to and be inspired by. But I say NEIN! Manos the Hands of Fate is my standard for films and Torgo my muse.
 

sarahvait

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Nov 6, 2008
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ewhac said:
Warning: Wall-O-Text ahead.

ChristovR said:
I started a friend off with Manos: The Hands of Fate, and Santa Clause Conquers the Martians. Those ones seemed to work out well as now she often asks to watch more ever since.
Oooo. I'm glad it worked out well, but I still think Manos doesn't really work as an introduction. I've actually been thinking about this today a little bit (read: far too much), and I think I can explain why. (I'm speaking to the established fan base here.)

If you consider nearly all the films screened in the Mystery Science Theater before Manos, they were all bad of course, but they all had a certain quality of bad. Consider Bert I. Gordon's works, for example. The stories were goofy and the effects weak. But even so, there was a certain level of professionalism in the films. The cinematography was competent (if simplistic), the lighting was [em]occasionally[/em] moody, and the acting, if wooden, was earnest. People were genuinely trying, and it showed.

The same can also be said of many of Roger Corman's works. Teenage Caveman, though ludicrous, shows us a young Robert Vaughn who can really deliver the work; and Viking Women and The Sea Serpent, while even more ludicrous, had some actual worthy moments.

Likewise, the Japanese monster movies enjoyed a certain minimum level of competence and craft. Despite the use of models, you really could get the idea that Godzilla was smashing up Tokyo, and people were actually upset about it. Even the Fugitive Alien films had many of the elements that define Japanese cinematography of that period (dramatic zooms being an obvious example).

And so, with nearly four seasons worth of bad movies under their belt, you started to get a sense of what you could expect in a bad movie. Even the much derided Ed Wood Jr. managed to achieve (for brief moments, anyway) a basic level of filmcraft: At least one person who could act. Competent cinematography and lighting -- you could see everything, and it would be in focus. At least one interesting or engaging moment. At least one interesting idea in the story. You started to get comfortable with this model of what constituted a Bad Movie.

...And then... Manos.

Manos fits none of the models. Just when you think you've grokked the Bad Movie, Manos comes out of nowhere (Waco, TX) and establishes an entirely new class of Bad Movie -- a class you thought could not possibly exist. A class that leaves you sitting agape at the screen, unable to formulate any question more complex than "How?" or "Why?" It's not that Manos breaks the rules. Manos was completely oblivious that there [em]were[/em] any rules.

The film stock is dreadful -- there is more grain in this film than an Iowa wheat farm. The cinematography would embarrass Zapruder. If anything is in focus, or indeed in frame, it's almost certainly a total accident. The audio is abominable. Apparently they couldn't afford synced sound, so they recorded the audio dubs after the fact, and it is [em]obvious[/em] this is what happened. The story is merely uninteresting where it is not almost maliciously tedious, and the "twist" at the end is not so much clever as it is a handful of fertilizer to the face.

With the possible exception of one, none of the performers in the film can be said to be an actor, or even clinically alive. Nobody moves or speaks with any urgency or sense of internal purpose. They seem like automata, jerking into motion just long enough to speak their line for that moment, then grinding to a halt. The one exception I might grant is to John Reynolds (Torgo), if for no other reason than he seemed to put some thought and effort into the character -- crazed, delusional, psychotic thought, to be sure, but he put some work in to it.

Manos, tragically, does not stand alone in its class (Attack of the The Eye Creatures is in there), but it stands at its apex (or nadir). And this is why I feel Manos should not be viewed too early in the MST3K collection. Yes, Manos is bad. But until you've had an introduction and grounding in the subtle art of the Bad Movie, it is impossible to know and appreciate just [em]how[/em] bad it truly is.
In regards to Torgo, it might not have been that he was trying at all. As I understand it, Torgo was supposed to be some kind of satyr or something. So John Reynolds wore these weird leg riggings during the movie to give his legs this goat-like look through his pants. It's a bit hard to see them because of the movie seats sillouette at the bottom of the screen (and also for some reason I never realized his legs looked funny until I started looking for it), but you can catch them during the infamous "Torgo Walk" scene.


The thing is, Reynolds was wearing the leg braces backwards, and no one bothered to correct him on it. It was extremely painful for him to the point that he doped himself up on painkillers, which are probably responsible for his weird performance. The braces ended up permanently screwing up his kneecaps, and he was in chronic pain for the rest of his life. It's speculated that the knee problems were part of or the main reason why he committed suicide later by blowing his brains out with a shotgun. @[email protected]
 

PhiMed

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Nov 26, 2008
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rsvp42 said:
PhiMed said:
This is easily the most overrated show in the history of television, and it has been a major contributor to the "I'm artsy because I shit on other people's art" movement in the U.S. The IABISOOPA movement is, as we all know, the most annoying cultural shift since the initiation of the gradual eradication of scripted television in favor of reality diarrhea.
But they were never trying to be artsy, they just wanted to make fun of crappy movies. And make no mistake: these are BAD movies. Really bad. The jokes (slow as they may have been in some episodes) actually made watching them bearable. If there is some nameable movement in America all about denigrating art, MST3K is not to blame for its spread.You have no eye for sarcasm and no sense of humor. The fact that you think I believe there is an actual movement called IABISOOPA is just mind-boggling. I believe I understand why you find MST3K amusing.
 

rsvp42

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PhiMed said:
rsvp42 said:
PhiMed said:
This is easily the most overrated show in the history of television, and it has been a major contributor to the "I'm artsy because I shit on other people's art" movement in the U.S. The IABISOOPA movement is, as we all know, the most annoying cultural shift since the initiation of the gradual eradication of scripted television in favor of reality diarrhea.
But they were never trying to be artsy, they just wanted to make fun of crappy movies. And make no mistake: these are BAD movies. Really bad. The jokes (slow as they may have been in some episodes) actually made watching them bearable. If there is some nameable movement in America all about denigrating art, MST3K is not to blame for its spread.You have no eye for sarcasm and no sense of humor. The fact that you think I believe there is an actual movement called IABISOOPA is just mind-boggling. I believe I understand why you find MST3K amusing.
You are a confusing person. If your original post was sarcastic, then you need to learn the concept of a deft touch because that was too heavy-handed. And no, I don't believe in that movement you made up, which is why I said "IF there is some nameable movement." I was entertaining the notion that you put forth, not supporting it.

Not to mention your last sentence there, which would lead me to believe you DON'T like MST3K, therefore your first post wasn't sarcastic? So yeah, I'm a little confused where you're coming from here.
 

Necromancer1991

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I've seen bits and pieces of the show, I need to dig up the Hands of Fate episode, overall it's a good series and I do wish the DVDs were easier to find
 

Monshroud

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Jul 29, 2009
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My two favorite episodes are probably "Gamara" and "Attack of the Eye People"

Gamara was the first episode I remember seeing and it cracked me up.
Attack of the Eye People is great because there is a Rick Roll in it, and the side routine of "They Just Didn't Care!"
 

Nemu

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Oct 14, 2009
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God I miss this show.


Totally agree with Bob, this was the BEST show ever made. Hands down. Gonna date myself here, but I have 41 vhs tapes filled with episodes (only missing a handful of eps across the 10 seasons/KTMA eps)--I was one of the folks who kept the tapes circulating.

I've seen Rifftrax (et al), but it's just not the same... =/
 

masticina

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Jan 19, 2011
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Oh yes I remember hearing from it thinking "Really and that is funny?"

So I found Manos the Hands of Fates special much beloved treatment. Trust me that movie is the worst piece of crap I seen in a long time. The Riffs, the Riffs they are so good!

It makes the whole movie so enjoyable :) And awoke in me that love for movies that just are not that good..but damn are you laughing.

Ah of course Manos was one of the best MST3K's, some movies are bad because well they flow so slow. Or things happen so fast that it is unclear what happens to who. These yeah get decent riffs but not magnificant ones.

And of course the audio track indeed later made for The Room :)

Oh my god..
 

PixelJunk

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Jun 28, 2010
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He also happened to be a heroin addict among other things. Poor guy never got a break in the industry. I believe he did Torgo out of desperation.

*edit*

To the Torgo comment above.

Stupid quote button....
 

Eccles

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Dec 11, 2009
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I remember when my dad first suggested we watch one of these episodes as a family. My mother rolled her eyes and said they were stupid, but still watched. My sister wanted to see, go bored and left. I was mesmerized, entertained and genuinely liked the puppets more than the people. The episode was "Pod People", and I reflect on that moment fondly.
 

fembot1005

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Feb 16, 2011
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Redd the Sock said:
I first got into MSTs through an odd source: fanfiction. Back when authors didn't have the world's thinnest skin, you could see bad fics getting riffed and some (I'm sure) wrote crap just to be riffed (never look up the Sailor Moon fanfic "Artimis' Lover" if you value your sanity). I just had to watch the show. The movies often didn't quite resonate, but the shorts are great, and Mr B Natural still haunts my nightmares.

A correction and addition though:

As of now and counting upcoming releases, around half of MST3K has hit DVD in one form or another. Not exactly a small number. Not perfect, but pretty good given what they have to deal with.

There's one more outlet I understand missing. There's a Canadian version called This Movie Sucks currently being aired on a few chanels. (It sadly seems to have been short lived, but re-runs are still on) Canada's smartassed puppet Ed the Sock (my avatar) riffs on the films with semi-professional cosplayer Liana K (wife to Ed's puppeteer and voice) and comedian Ron Sparks. The jokes are cruder and more mean spirited (Ed's the kind of guy to point out the first death in Killer Shrews was predictable due to the character being black) but it's been a good substitute. Still on and potentialy savable. Check your local Canadian listings or Movieola in Canada on Saturday nights around midnight.
This Movie Sucks is awesome! I love that show they are hilarious, even better than MST3K for the jokes but the production is way more cheap but that just makes it more funny IMO.
 

Tohru_Readman

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Sep 14, 2009
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One of the downsides to living in the UK, I missed out on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Got a multi-region dvd player so I many have to pick up a few dvds.

It was nice to get a insight on one of your favourite shows. Thanks Bob.
 

dmcc85

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Feb 18, 2010
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ewhac said:
dmcc85 said:
who is "the button" and what is "frank"¿?
Oh, now you're just taunting.

"Frank" is Frank Conniff, a/k/a TV's Frank, assistant-slash-flunky to Dr. Clayton Forrester (Trace Beaulieu). At the end of each episode, Dr. Forrester would order, "Push the button, Frank." Frank punched an unspecified button on the console, which would kill the video link to the Satellite of Love and end the episode.
i see you answered my question, but i do not understand a word of what you're trying to tell me.
what show in what country on what planet are you talking about?
oh... and in what time-dimension did/does/will it take place?