In The Not-Too-Distant Future…

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Garrett Stiger

Garrett is an entertainment professional living in the Los Angeles area. In his free time, he's a shark hunter, Jedi Knight, Kaiju wrangler and dog owner. He also edits and contributes to movie discussions at 3byThree.

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53 Responses

  1. Avatar InMD
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    I’ll admit I’m skeptical about the reboot but I’ll give it a chance. Letting it stay a weird cult show that people vaguely remember from the days before cable matured feels more right to me. Still, who am I to deny a new generation their riffage?

    My favorite episode is actually from the Mike Nelson era, that being the Final Sacrifice. Rowsdower….Report

    • Avatar Garrett Stiger in reply to InMD
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      I think – *hope* – you’ll be pleased with the reboot. Final Sacrifice is spectacular, one of my favorites as well!

      “So Rowsdower…is that a stupid name or…?”Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to InMD
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      I’m hopeful, largely because the people involved are just about perfect for the job. The original creator along with a bunch of younger pop culture / comedy nerds. The fact that the reboot was not done by a studio executive mining their archived IP for something they could use and then headed up by somebody with “star power” to get it off the ground seems like it gave it the best chance of success.

      I’m looking forward to checking it out.Report

      • The new cast is really good – from the riffers to the mads. And you’re right, it’s nice that this is coming from the source so-to-speak and not some executive meeting room.Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to Garrett Stiger
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          My wife and I watched the first episode last night (I too was lucky enough to marry a fan) and we enjoyed it a lot. My main worry was that I wouldn’t like Jonah but he plays it perfectly. In retrospect I was scared they’d make it snarky and mean spirited. To me one of the great things about MST3K is you can tell that under all the mockery there’s a certain appreciation for the noble failure in the films they watch.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Garrett Stiger
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          The new cast is really good – from the riffers to the mads.

          I’ve only seen two episodes, but Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt are absolutely perfect, and have weirdly managed to recapture almost exactly the Clayton/Frank dynamic. There’s a particularly funny scene at the start of the second episode where Max repeatedly fails at correctly saying a declaration he’s making, and Kinga just keeps side-glancing at him, annoyed, in that way that only Felicia Day can do.

          And Jonah has the same sort of personality as Joel, except, well, not quite as asleep. I always preferred Mike, but if we *were* going to get Joel 2.0, this one seems pretty good.

          I also like that the show is back to being aware it’s a TV show.

          The inventions exchanges, as always, are completely dumb and pointless, but whatever. I guess we need an excuse to interact with the mads.

          So in some ways it’s almost the early days of MST3k.

          But what I’m glad they *didn’t* bring back from there were the really obscure B movie (And even lower) references. There’s a difference between ‘Genius Bonus’ and ‘No one understands a quarter of the jokes because normal people haven’t watched hundreds of really bad movies for fun’.Report

          • Avatar Garrett Stiger in reply to DavidTC
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            Patton plays that moment really well!

            I’m liking Jonah quite a lot. And yeah, as much as I love Joel, his sleepiness was always a liability.

            I’m now four episodes in, and while I haven’t enjoyed all the host segments as consistently as those in the first episode, they’re pretty brief. The ones in the original series really tended to drag.Report

    • Avatar jason in reply to InMD
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      Glad someone mentioned this. That’s my favorite episode, too.Report

  2. Avatar Derek Stanley
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    You had me at MST3K…Report

  3. Avatar Kimmi
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    Did you catch the Patton Oswalt parody on Archer?Report

  4. Avatar Burt Likko
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    When I was in high school, there was Movie Macabre featuring a buxom Cassandra Petersen as “Elvira, the Mistress of the Dark,” lounging about offering snark in bumpers to usually pretty stinky horror flicks. That set me up nicely to discover MST3K in law school and it became a regular weekly blow-off-steam event.

    The thing about Movie Macabre was that there wasn’t opportunity for Elvira to crack her jokes in real-time while the movie was playing. The bumpers would sometimes cut back to scenes to remind the viewer what she was joking about, but it isn’t nearly as effective as Joel and the bots making the joke while the scene is playing out. That allows for a lot more jokes in a lot less time, and thus humor on MST3K could snowball to great effect.

    I’m happy to see it’s coming back.Report

  5. Avatar LeeEsq
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    I remember MST3K from high school. Good times man, good times. I think I first saw it in it’s Comedy Central Incarnation.Report

  6. Avatar Pinky
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    My favorite line from the show was during a movie scene that was so bad one of the robots said “Cut!”.Report

    • Avatar Garrett Stiger in reply to Pinky
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      So good! I love the bots, especially when they and the host talk to the movie like it’s a pet. A dark, wide shot wherein we can’t really see or hear anything – “Come here, movie! Here, boy!” Or an unlikable character is killed off – “Oh! …Well, thank you, movie!”Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Garrett Stiger
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        “Well. He actually killed the dog.” — House of Cards Catty Comment Section.
        (Much less disturbing than Breaking Bad Catty Comment Section, which tends to devolve into “they’re doing way way too much work to make ricin. That’s entirely too much purification…” and other such cheery thoughts)Report

  7. Avatar LeeEsq
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    It’s really hilarious.Report

  8. Avatar greginak
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    They have really captured the goof ball charm of the original series and the riffing of the movies is sharp. I’ve been a huge fan since way back in season 3 and enjoyed the more recent incarnations of Rifftrax and Cinematic Titanic. I’m not really surprised they have done a good job with it, but you never know with this kind of thing. But so far, two episodes is, they hit the nail square on the head. They have some great movies for riffing coming up also which should be even better.Report

  9. Avatar pillsy
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    Watched the first episode last night with my wife (who is, if anything, a bigger fan of the original than me), and loved it. The riffs were great, and the interstitial sketches ranged from inoffensive to really funny (the “monster rap”), but they also found a real gem of an awful movie to mock. Reptillicus would be pretty damned hilarious even without Jonah[1] and the robots.

    [1] Gonna be a bit before I’m totally used to him, but he has just the right sort of charm for the role.Report

  10. Avatar DensityDuck
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    A discussion on Twitter made me think about the impact MST3K has had on popular concepts of film appreciation.

    And I don’t think it’s actually been good, despite the legitimate humor found in riffing.

    Because what it’s done is made us focus more on the bad movies than on the good ones. A movie that’s a solid piece of entertainment, well-made by competent people who enjoy their craft, will get less traction than a real stinker that gives everyone the opportunity to deploy their choicest riffs.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck
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      I think that this helps the pinky-extended crowd have an excuse to watch the crap that the rest of us enjoy so much.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
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        Except I don’t think we enjoy it, even. Like, is “The Room” funny because it’s inherently funny, or is it fun-to-make-fun-of-funny? Or is it even one of those things like Tom Green, where it’s only funny because everyone laughs? And is all of this actually better than something like “Major League”?Report

    • Avatar gregiank in reply to DensityDuck
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      Umm huh….Bad movies get no where close to the attention big budget flicks get. There is a reason stuff low budget indy movies are low budget with crappy fx.

      One thing about movie riffing is that you have to like a lot of different genres. I used to riff movies with a bunch folks on line for years. Most of the flicks were odd niche genres like martial arts flicks or ultra low budget sci fi or real oddities from the 60’s and 70’s and lots of D grade trash cinema. Part of riffing is that it is fun another part is that it’s fun to have people to watch weird stuff with, movies that would not see the light of day without riffing very often.

      The Room is an honestly terrible movie. It’s funny on its own and funnier with funny friends. And The Room is a masterpiece compared to a lot of low budget and weird movies out there. If you think it’s the worst movie ever or that Ed Wood is the worst director ever, then you don’t really know how much bad stuff is out there.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to gregiank
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        I’m not talking about big budget flicks. I’m talking about middle-level things, stuff that is neither part of the Disney Entertainment Group Master Plan nor utter garbage like Birdemic. Stuff that might actually be enjoyable to watch without being a Grand Cinematic Event.

        Which, incidentally, maybe that’s another reason why so much of the comedy on TV these days is this single-cam thing. (Cop stories were already there.) It’s because the people making stuff these days know that for movies, the middle is over. Either you’re making stuff on YouTube with a camcorder, or you’re over $200-million budget and half your cast is computer-generated badgers. But everyone learned how to Make Movies, and a single-cam TV comedy is basically a short film, so that’s how it goes.Report

        • Avatar gregiank in reply to DensityDuck
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          I’m not sure what kind of bad movies you are referring to. Even mid level movies have budgets that are many times the size of indy or real low budget film makers. There is less middle due to the big studies wanting giant cash machines. But the low budget flicks from now and in the past almost always go unnoticed by the main stream. A small handful of bad flicks have become notorious which is often teh result of things like Rifftrax and even more the bad movie web sites. I heard of The Room or Miami Connection through bad movie web sites and riffing friends well before they become more noticed in the larger culture. There is a large sub culture of movie fan web sites for every genre and niche out there.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to gregiank
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            A friend of mine observed that the rise of the block buster and the global market for movies led to the decline of what he calls mid-level Hollywood movies. These were things that had more of a budget, shine, and start power than an Independent movie but less so than a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster or epic. The Judge with Robert Downer, Jr. is a recent example. Hollywood made a lot of these movies up until the early aughts. They weren’t going for winning awards or getting the most money like a Summer blockbuster but turning out something that adults could enjoy at movies.Report

            • Avatar gregiank in reply to LeeEsq
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              There is some truth to that. Also mid budget movies, especially prestige stuff, rarely bring huge returns. Big budget, world wide releases are much more likely to bring huge returns which is what the movie business wants. Big budget movies, like superhero flix, are much more likely to have a lot of other money making tie in’s like video games, toys, etc. So one big budget movie can bring money in other ways while mid level movies are less likely to have those same options.Report

            • Avatar InMD in reply to LeeEsq
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              This is exactly right. It isn’t MST3K that killed middle tier films, it’s the international market. Character driven movies, especially comedies with any level of sophistication are the hardest to translate. The overhead on movies is huge if you’re going to use A list actors. Studios produce films most likely to get a big return, which in practice means something that’s going to do well in China.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to InMD
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                Everybody understands good guy fights bad guy, romance, sex, and slapstick. A lot of drama and comedy are culturally specific. Movies as diverse as Crossing Delancy, the Deer Hunter, Airplane, and the entire John Hughes corpus are not going to translate well.Report

              • Avatar James K in reply to LeeEsq
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                @leeesq

                You can see the distinction, even in very old media. It’s easy to make versions of The Iliad and The Odyssey that kids can read, but when I studied The Wasps and The Frogs at high school, I needed a page of annotations to help explain to me the digs at public figures that had been dead for 2000 years, and the wordplay that had been laboriously translated from Ancient Greek.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to James K
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                James,
                We’re lucky we get half the humor. Shakespeare’s digs at contemporary figures are the LEAST translatable part of his work.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq
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                Airplane had a few specific jokes that don’t work well, but still work.
                (coffee and men. you know the one).

                Never seen Sex is Zero? You really ought to. School Rumble too.
                John Hughes has some pretty universal stuff in his portfolio.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to InMD
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                InMD,
                Well, it’s obvious you havent’ seen many international comedies.
                Sex is Zero, Zero Motivation — comedies often translate surprisingly well.

                What doesn’t translate is Wordplay (Kolya was oh-my-god I’m missing so damn much, and that was a drama) — although 7 Deadly Sins tries, and mostly succeeds with completely freewheeling translations.

                It’s even odds that you could get Arrested Development to translate (and Simpsons is hella sophisticated, and the japanese LOVE it).Report

            • Avatar j r in reply to LeeEsq
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              My guess is that the rise of the blockbuster had a lot of causes. One very obvious one, at least to me, was the overall decline in the movie theater experience that was happening through the ’90s and early 2000s, which also happened to coincide with pretty significant increases in ticket prices, at least in New York. This meant that if I was going to drop $12 on a ticket, it was going to be for something that I wanted to see on the big screen. I watch movies like The Judge, but I’m not likely to go the theater for it.

              Another reason might be demographic. A lot of those character driven movies were made for the Boomer generation and at some point the purchasing power shifted to teenagers and parents of younger kids.

              And then there is the idea, which I’ve seen in various forms from various people, that there used to be A movies – that had big studio backing, scripts from top screenwriters or adopted from popular novels, and the big movie stars – and B movies, which were low-budget genre movies, starring folks either trying to break into acting or actors on the backside of their careers. As special effects got better and filmmakers like Spielberg and Lucas came into their own, Hollywood elevated the B movie, giving it bigger budgets, which in turn attracted the A-list talent.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to gregiank
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        greg,
        And then there’s the videogames….
        The one with a Flying Ninja head shooting lasers out of its eyes.
        Or the tokyo tower ending.Report

    • Avatar Garrett Stiger in reply to DensityDuck
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      I bristle at some forms of criticism that seem to have taken a cue from Mystery Science Theater. “Everything Wrong with…,” etc. Having said that, this kinda reminds me of Jaws. (Most things do, it’s my favorite movie.) It’s been blamed for giving rise to big, mindless blockbusters, but Jaws itself is pretty masterful. If only every tentpole movie were as good as it. I feel the same way about MST3K and those that followed in its footsteps.Report

  11. Avatar Kimmi
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    Watch World’s Greatest Dad

    I almost can’t bring myself to write a review about the movie, because it would be so entirely meta.Report

  12. Avatar James K
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    I’ve never seen MST3K before, I’m not sure it ever screened here, but I look forward to watching the new series on Netflix.Report

  13. Avatar Jaybird
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    I distinctly remember the episode dedicated to “The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies”.

    That was likely the most horrible movie they’d ever done.
    I laughed a handful of times, but mostly I was surprised that a show that normally felt like it took only 20 minutes or so felt like it took 3 hours.

    If I were to recommend any episodes, I’d recommend either “The Thing That Couldn’t Die” (a downright awesome movie in its own right) or “The Mole People”. Just good, quality, 1950’s sci-fi made on a tight budget with excellent snark on top of it.Report

    • Avatar pillsy in reply to Jaybird
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      For us, it was probably The Castle of Fu Manchu, which was impossibly dire even with the riffing. I’m not sure we were actually able to finish it.

      You mentioned the “spark” that animates The Room else-thread, and The Castle of Fu Manchu was utterly sparkless. It featured Christopher Lee in yellowface as Fu Manchu, which is the sort of thing that might seem kind of offensive in a movie that wasn’t so ennervatingly terrible that it can’t even generate that level of emotion.Report

  14. Avatar Kimmi
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    So, um, I’m pretty sure this is one of those things created by either the worst agent in Hollywood, or the best agent in Hollywood (depends on who you ask). Described as “Patton Oswalt in Space.” (See Bojack Horseman for another.)
    And my friend got to suggest some of the movie titles that actually made it in, so we’re definitely watching.

    In other TV News, can I get everyone to boycott Gotham? Their art is just rampant thievery.
    What the hell is the Cathedral of Learning doing in Gotham???!???Report

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