Now I just have to make sure I have properly allowed for the time difference between California and Undisclosed Desert Location™ and that the new episodes are actually all available on Netflix for your streaming pleasure…
My initial thoughts on the overall aesthetic and the first movie choice still stand, so I won’t reiterate here, except to update a couple of observations now that I have seen a few more episodes.
The riff pacing picked back up to former levels after the first episode, although the jokes remain somewhat less obscure. This isn’t necessarily bad, as long as they are funny, but one thing that gives the old episodes some extra rewatchability for me is catching a joke or two that I didn’t get before, but suddenly makes sense. That’s a quibble, it certainly doesn’t rise to the level of a complaint. And to my great relief and increased enjoyment, after four full episodes I still haven’t heard a single partisan political joke, which seems like it must be a sign of the Apocalypse these days.
The origin story was not repeated, so clearly it was just meant to start new viewers off right. And we’ve seen Kinga and TVs Son of TVs Frank a lot more since that first episode, which makes me happy. The Invention Exchange doesn’t seem to be holding up well, which seems to hark back to when they first gave it up under Mike’s tenure because it was such a Joel thing. He may just e the only one who can really pull it off, since it originated in his stand-up act years before MST3K. Also I still think flying Tom Servo looks stupid. A new bit I do like is Jonah getting sucked out of the SOL (that’s the Satellite of Love to the uninitiated) weekly to reenact the opening credits over the current week’s offerings, nothing huge, but it’s a cute way to introduce each week’s film.
Speaking of the films, they have picked a very nice, balanced mix of movies from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. Not a single black and white movie in the bunch, and nothing from the ’50s which disappoints me as those were usually my favorite episodes [Correction: The Beast of Hollow Mountain was made in 1956, although it is in color]. At the same time though, given how long it has been since the original premiered, today’s college students are even farther removed from some of the 60’s movies than I was from the 50’s ones at that age. It’s a good mix of genre fare as well, some straight SF, a couple of monster movies, failed family films, bad fantasy, an honest-to-goodness disaster flick and even one peplum. No one type of movie or era predominates and there is some prime dreck here. In fact it has been all I can do to keep from jumping straight to Starcrash given how inappropriately much I love that godawful piece of crap. I am watching in order and I still have to get through Beast of Hollow Mountain first.
So far I have seen:
Reptilicus – Denmark’s only kaiju. Mostly discussed already here. This is one of the rare films where the need to cut to fit a 90 minute running time (including host segments and bumper) actually improved the flow as it cut from a dull travelogue and nightclub segment that could be excised intact without disturbing the flow or coherence of the rest of the movie.
Best bit: Jonah rapping Every Country has a Monster.
Cry Wilderness – I loathe bad family adventure films. Hell, I don’t even like good family adventure films. Especially the ones that involve mythical monsters. Any movie that by dint of it’s subject matter starts making me have painful flashbacks to To Catch a Yeti can pretty much go commit indecencies upon itself. Still Jonah and the bots manage to wring a lot of humor from the proceedings. It’s a good episode, well done, just one that I had a hard time getting into specifically because of my own feeling about movies like this. I have no affection for them, not even ironically.
It’s nice to catch a glimpse of Mary Jo Pehl as Grandma Pearl in this one. Interestingly the young lady who now provides the voice of Gypsy, Rebecca Hanson, looks and sounds so much like Mary Jo that I got through the first episode before I realized that it is an entirely different actress. The writers have not failed to spot the resemblance, and have also cast her as Synthia, Forrester minion and Pearl clone who works for Kinga in Moon 13.
Best bit – a joke about pseudobulbar affect, which they then immediately ruin by explaining it (“that disease that makes you laugh inappropriately”), then make funny again when they all start to laugh inappropriately.
The Time Travellers – Rather interesting bit of ’60s SF that actually thinks through many of the implications of its ideas and has a darkly bittersweet ending that must have actually been pretty surprising to your average early ’60s moviegoer. Bright and colorful and weird. The guys get plenty of fodder out of this one. Odious Comic Relief ™ Danny (Steve Franken) will immediately reappear in the very next episode as half of the mandatory disaster movie beta-couple-only-one-of-whom-can-survive. He makes it, Grandma, not so much.
This is also the 200th episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, so there is cake in Moon 13. Unless this is a reboot, in which case it is only episode 3.
Best bit: The women’s spa. Charmingly cheerful cheesecake nudity that still manages to placate the Hays office.
Avalanche – Possibly not the dullest disaster movie ever made by a real studio and released to theaters. I mean, anything’s possible, right? Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow have the least on-screen chemistry of any screen couple in the history of ever in this notorious Corman knock-off that made its budget back on sale of the foreign and TV rights before it ever started filming (which is a good thing given that it tanked in theaters). So dull that I, the queen of disaster movie fans, fell asleep right as the avalanche finally started taking people out when it turned up at B-Fest a couple of years ago. Makes a great subject for riffing, although I am slightly saddened by the fact that all timing cuts here seem to be taken from the developing doomed characters bits, which I think are the second funniest part of any disaster movie.
Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog fans will be squeeing over this episode’s special guest and musical number. Although, damn, Patton Oswald is such a bad singer it actually kind of stops being funny.
Best Bit – Normally I’d have to go with Tom and Servo flying drones around the theater that just happen to conveniently cover the (1970s PG) onscreen nudity (incidentally the closest this show has come so far to being not-family-friendly and there’s not a thing there I would stop my kids from watching, YMMV of course) and that is a pretty darn good gag. But this is Avalanche and no matter how many times I have seen it, nothing in the world ever makes me giggle more gleefully than watching Grandma die when her ambulance skids on the ice (conveniently ejecting Mia Farrow from a door unharmed), goes over the side of a bridge, falls down a rocky ravine, lands in the icy river below, and then, explodes!
Well, that is all I’ve managed to sneak in so far, TDY roommates or not, but I am really excited to finally be able to talk openly about the new season and I’d love to discuss your thoughts in the comments!