Wednesday, June 18, 2014
"Keep Circulating the Tapes"
Any fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 knows those words are the command that spread the word about the comedy series that pitted a man and his robots trapped in space against really bad movies, educational shorts or movie serials. It was part of the closing credits for the first four years of the show, before The Comedy Channel/Comedy Central was much easier to get on cable.
Sure, doing such a thing would be costly, inclujding the price of the VCR, tapes and postage. Still, for many people, it was the only way to see Gamera, Jungle Goddess, and even Manos riffed to oblivion.
Now, tape trading has been replaced by a click of the mouse. Most episodes of Cinematic Titanic, featuring the original MST3K cast plus TV's Frank Conniff and Mary Jo Pehl (aka Dr. Forrester's mom), is available on Amazon video. Some Rifftrax movies are also available on Amazon Video or on the site itself. This, of course, includes fully-riffed bad movies and mp3 riffs on more recent movies including The Wizard of Oz and the Harry Potter series.
Most recently, Rifftrax has added some titles to iTunes, including Ghosthouse, Birdemic and The Guy From Harlem, for rent or download. That's along with the 76 MST3K titles also available on iTunes.
So instant gratification is better in our modern times, right?
Well, maybe. Aside from trying to get MST3K videos through the mail, I also traded tapes of wrestling shows that weren't the WWF. It was the only way I could see Owen Hart and Japanese wrestling (with ads, of course). I even traded with a guy from Canada to get episodes of Buffy for the first season and a half. The sense of anticipation made tape trading exciting. Now, it's all YouTube, Vimeo, and sometimes file trading. Rifftrax is starting to get wise that people may be making illegal copies of their stuff to give to others. That's why the gang says if someone got a Rifftrax mp3 or movie illegally, it would be nice to pay for it now.
So, maybe it's not a good idea to "keep circulating the tapes" anymore, for several reasons...money especially. Besides, why trade tapes when you're a mouse click away from an MST3K episode you haven't seen in years?
However, if there's an episode or special that's not available anywhere, not even YouTube, that could be an exception. I still have both versions of MST3K, the Home Game, which was The Day The World Ended. You can't find that on YouTube anymore, but CheesyFlix still has it. Getting it this way is a good idea, but since it was never released commercially, circulating these tapes would be OK...if you have them.
Come to think of it, circulating the VHS tape "MST3K Last Dance" which showed footage of the last show from 1999 would also be acceptable...since YouTube and CheesyFlix don't have it either.