Mystery Science Theater 3000: A Turkey Day Retrospective | Lighttrain

In the not too distant future (next Sunday A.D to be exact), there was a guy named Gavin, not too different from you or me. He conducted aboard the Lighttrain tracks, chatting about movie knacks. He had a good time sharing on his thoughts, then Turkey Day came so he had to review a single name… Mystery Science Theater 3000 of course! For this Thanksgiving season, allow me to talk about MST3K, as the fans dub it, and remember my standout episodes and my memories of such. Without further ado, let’s get this turkey stuffed!

The series was the love child of Joel Hodgson, a former entertainer who created the show for the newly formed Comedy Channel. It starred Joel basically playing as himself in personality; a dry witted, soft spoken janitor whom is shot up into the cosmos and forced by a mad scientist and wannabe world dominator to endure a bevy of cheesy sci-fi films. To keep him company as well as his sanity, Joel creates robot companions, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot, to riff on each terrible flick with him.

One thing that drew me into the show in the first place was its concept. I love how creative and interesting it is on the surface, escalating depending on how absolutely bonkers the features they watch are. And you better believe they’re insane! The films they sit through and riff on are fascinating on their own level as well; some are entertainingly bizarre, some are hilariously low budget, and others are just plain rotten. You never know what you are going to get, nor whether the plot is going to go. It’s fun to laugh along with your own friends and imagine how these movies, which you may only vision in your dreams, be real.

The format is simple, but it works. A silhouette of Joel, Tom Servo, and Crow lounging in cinema chairs with their backs to the viewers and eyes on the backdropped rolling film. The jokes they crack are faster than a round of bullets, coming one after the other every 4 or 5 seconds. Since MST3K aired primarily throughout the 90s, some gags can be seen as dated, but often the deliveries from the characters still keep it funny. And even if a joke doesn’t land a belly laugh, maybe the next one will. They don’t drag forward with a dead remark, they simply move on to what they have next. I honestly don’t think the format of MST3K earns enough praise, because this ease ranks high with ageless brilliance. I know, a show about a janitor and two robots who make fun of drive-in trash? To others, that idea could sound stupid or odd, but the first class writing, timing, and enthusiasm serves (Servos, anyone?) as an amusing treat.

From Chinese spies, a strange goat-man, disembodied heads, lemon zesters of destruction, and Steves, the crew has certainly seen a wide range of stinkers. But which episode remain favorites? A classic installment, as well as the highest rated on IMDB, is Manos: The Hands of Fate, a movie that has been regarded as one of the worst. For a first time viewer of MST3K, this is a high quality candidate in my eyes. Some additional staples of the series include The Castle of Fu Manchu, Santa Clause Conquers the Martians, and Operation Double 007. I would love to hear about your favorite episodes of the show in the comments section after the post!

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Even though my praises thread deep in this retrospective look, there is a bit I feel I should mention. Not a problem at all, but a, uh… preference, I suppose. Since they watch the full flick in each episode, as shown in Manos they can be rather lengthy. So the novelty of “riffing at terrible shlockbusters” wears off after the first hour at best. And MST3K isn’t very bingable in the slightest; the hundreds of episodes, the sheer volume of each one, the overwhelming mind-numbing contents of them as well. It makes me shudder at the thought of back-to-back viewings! But when I do pop on an episode every once in a while I’m pleasantly entertained.

In conclusion, MST3K has left a big impact on me as a whole. If it weren’t for Joel and the robot’s screenings, I may have never developed my adoration and intrigue of B-movie at all. It ranks as one of my absolute favorites in TV land as of today; a fond relic of Saturday evenings and tearing terrible flicks to shreds with my own companies. It has a top notch apartment in my heart, where it will continue to live for years to come. Need I say more?

OVERALL RATING: 9.5/10 ~ RECOMMENDATION: 8/10

Thank you bunches for tuning in, hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, have some cornbread for me if possible, and I’ll catch you again in December. Over and out.

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Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

NEXT WEEK | Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure Review… Party On, Dudes!

3 thoughts on “Mystery Science Theater 3000: A Turkey Day Retrospective | Lighttrain

  1. Oh, just make it stop. I never could watch this thing for more than five minutes. Joel is SO not funny. And, his robots? The muppets are funnier. That being said, all of what I viewed reminds me of The Buggles. There is a clear influence, here:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_Killed_the_Radio_Star
    Released when I was 13.

    Cute poem. Happy early birthday! I still love all of your drawings. You have a wonderful talent and attention to detail.

    Food references…I did a double take on “movie knacks.” At first glance, I read “movie snacks.” LOL! Then, there’s stuffed turkey, “cheesy” sci-fi, amusing “treat”, “lemon” zesters and, finally, cornbread.

    Hope your Thanksgiving was grand.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, that’s alright! As I mentioned in the post, it’s definitely not for everyone. But the people who do like it tend to really enjoy it. My Thanksgiving was kind of dull. Good to see some of my wider family, though! I also tried Jello Salad for the first time… always a first for everything, right. How was yours?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Busy! My turkey cooking became a battle. Long, frustrating story. Turkey turned out well after a couple of false starts and removal of smoke alarm batteries. I have two crock pots going right now for bone broth. Way too much turkey left over. I ordered a 10 lbs turkey and was given a nearly 16 lbs one. TOO MUCH GOBBLE. There was only three of us eating. Looks like there will be some frozen stuff…

        Hmpf. Jello. Just as bad as marshmallow. They are both too thin to chew and to thick to swallow.

        Liked by 2 people

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