Monday, November 23, 2015

Meet the New Mad of MST3K, Dr. Codex!

Yes, the rumors are true, and getting five and a half million dollars for a new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 just got a lot eaiser.

Internet goddess and NYT best-seller Felicia Day will be the new nemesis for Jonah Ray and Crow and Servo 2.0. While many of us in the Whedonverse already know the greatness that is Felicia, apparently Joel wasn't quite familiar with her, He knew her from The Guild and Dr. Horrible, but never met her.
Then, as he recalled in his latest update:

(About) 6 or 8 weeks ago at the Salt Lake ComicCon. I got a message from my booking agent, saying "Did you know Felicia Day really wants to meet you?" Interesting. So we met in the green room that afternoon, and she was funny and sweet. She's kind of a goof, but there's also this manic side to her that will let her do "crazy"

Felicia also said in Facebook that she was a big fan of the show with her brother. Anyway, Joel asked via Twitter if she'd be interested in the reboot, and she, well, seemed to be interested....A LOT!
We're still not sure how Kinga (Felicia's role) is Clayton Forrester's daughter unless this is something from before the experiments began. Apparently, according to the latest video, Kinga hopes the show will help her take over whatever she wants to take over. Bad movies won't force people to beg for mercy as long as Sharknado and Transformer movies will be made. Just as long as she's not someone Jonah (Ray) dated, it'll be fine.

The latest update also gives info about the new voices for Crow and Tom Servo, who'll be played respectively by Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn. Joel said he wanted them not to sound like the previous versions of the bots but provide their own take. This is what Joel was talking about when he had hoped the show would go through four or five versions if it stayed on the air. Fans would choose their own "golden age" while respecting what we have now. That's why I had the alternate history a while back.

So, fans are hoping to hit the halfway point by Turkey Day aka Thanksgiving. With Felicia joining, that should be a cinch. She should get fans from Buffy, Dollhouse, The Guild and Dr. Horrible (especially that, since Neil Patick Harris is also a MSTie). Let's hope for the best this week.
Of course, the Kickstarter site for #BringBackMST3K is

Update: here's the video from YouTube, and yeah, Felicia has left Charlie and Codex far, far behind.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Total Riff-Off 3: Monster Beats Man Again

Behold the famous jungle master, Richard Terry, finding what he thinks is the legendary Brazilian bigfoot, the mapinguari.
Or he gives us a story about how he thinks he'll find a monstrous beast, but finds something a whole lot less.
This is the third annual Total Riff-Off, where Rifftrax mocks nature shows from the National Geographic Channel. Considering the channel was recently bought by Rupert Murdoch, Man V. Monster is now Fox's perfect idea of a nature show, promising some big monster and delivering something not so threatening. It's just like its news channels.
But enough of the political humor....

This time, Terry's in Brazil, looking for the mapinguari, who reportedly attacked people at a local village. What he winds up finding are a wild pig, a poisonous snake, a big anteater, and finally this hairy sloth. The show naturally exaggerates how much danger the guy is, but the Rifftrax crew see right through it. It's too bad this wasn't part of NatGeo Wild, along with a second hour mocking some of the other shows.

Anyway, it's not quite as weird as the previous two MvM shows that Rifftrax has shown, but still very funny.
So here's some of the riffs:

Terry tries to climb down a gorge to cross a raging river
Mike:  Meanwhile, there's a family of chupacabras ten feel away just shaking their heads

Terry says the locals captured a wild pig
Bill:  he's quoting the border guards who detained Randy Quaid.

After mistaking howler monkeys for the mapinguari, he says "It's another dead end"
Bill:  Man v. Monster summed up in four words

One of the locals describe how smelly and violent the monster was
Kevin:  It was Wolverine sculpted out of limburger cheese

Terry heads into a forest looking for a tree to climb.
Kevin:  He travels to exotic places to get great footage of himself.

There's also riffs on Burt Reynolds, Nick Nolte (again), Guns and Roses, the Property Brothers and a pizza mascot.

The latest Total Riff-Off is available at the Rifftrax website.

Monday, November 16, 2015

In A Not-Too-Alternative Future, What If MST3K Still Existed?

As the revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000 revival  is poised to hit its first goal of $2 Million, let's take a look at what he said during his second update on Kickstarter:

If MST3K hadn't gotten canceled fifteen years ago, it’s possible we could have had 4 or 5 hosts by now, and it would be just like Doctor Who: even if you had "your Doctor," you'd still be able to appreciate the different flavors that each new Host or Mad or robot added to the show. It's part of what makes a show like Doctor Who or SNL last. I’m a Tom Baker fan myself, and no one is funnier than Dan Aykroyd. (To me.)
When I first left MST3K and Mike took over as host, some of you said you were done watching – not because he was bad, but because he was different. Then, once the shock wore off, a lot of you realized he brought something new and great to the job. Many of you even liked his episodes better! And when Kevin took over as Tom Servo, there was hate mail, but for many of you he became the definitive Servo! I could go on.
So yeah, we've been through this before, and I get it. Different can be scary, especially if you really loved the old seasons. But just think: if you had never given Mike or Kevin or Bill or Frank or Mary Jo a chance in their roles, you'd have almost 100 fewer episodes of MST3K to enjoy today. I'm not asking you to like the next cast better than the last one, but I hope you'll give them a chance, and see what they can do.
Then, when their time is up, I hope you'll give the next cast a chance too.
So, let’s speculate how (and maybe when)  there would have been changes of the guard at MST if it stayed on the air on SyFy.
It’s safe to say they’d never run out of bad films. We can assume real gems like Hideous Sun Demon, The Bermuda Triangle, Supersonic Man, ROTOR, Braniac, Rock and Roll Nightmare, Birdemic,  and Death Promise would have been experiments on the show.

First, how long would Mike Nelson stay on the Satellite of Love? Let’s say he stays until 2004, or about ten years aboard the ship. The Nanites are still busy maintaining the ship and keeping it up-to-date.
On the final episode of season 15, where they take on The Day The World Ended, Pearl tries to kill Mike because she’s got nothing better to do. Bobo and the Observer try to stop her, but she tries to kill them. So, the Observer uses his brain power that’s boosted thanks to his brain soaking in Red Bull. He zaps Mike to safety, or actually next to Nuveena. They spend the rest of their lives in that Designs for Dreaming short. It also blows up Observer's brain, so he's just a chalky-looking alien.  Pearl, though, is zapped into the Satellite of Love, which means she has to endure the bad movies Bobo and Observer give her.

MARY JO PEHL:  2004-2008

The picture is from the "Quest of the Delta Knights" episode.
During Pearl’s time, she’s angry at this new situation, and tries to find ways to take control of the SOL. Naturally, she’s very hostile towards Crow and Servo, but this changes in time, and they all try to plot against Bobo and Observer, It also looks like Bobo is the dominant mad scientist, while Observer slowly regains his intellect but not all of his powers.
This continues until she starts to feel strange. The bots claim she’s having conversations with her son Clayton, but only she is there. It turns out she absorbed Clayton when he was a star baby, and now Pearl starts looking like her son. At one point, Trace Beaulieu cameos as Pearl. Eventually, she has an extra head that looks like her son, and they actually riff in a segment in the season 19 finale. The two-headed Forrester, though, is able to take control of the SOL and land it. They and the bots chase after Bobo and Observer, and that’s the end.
Or is it? 

COLE AND JANET:  2008-2011

A couple, played by Rifftrax vets Cole Stratton and Janet Varney, go inside the SOL and accidentally launch it into space. Bobo and Observer get back, but don’t mention what happened to Pearl or the bots. However, Servo and Crow suddenly show up in the third episode, thinking Cole and Janet need a little help in the riffing (or the bots feel threatened). Bobo and Observer show the lousy movies because, mainly, it’s all they know. They do give Cole and Janet satellite TV and a modest salary in exchange for doing the experiments, and they readily agree because it sure beats getting a job. They also happen to be fans of movie mocking. There’s also romance, which really worries the bots because they’re afraid they may have to babysit eventually. 
There is a 20th anniversary show, where they re-riff the first episode, The Crawling Eye. We find out Pearl got rid of the second head, and it’s being used for scientific experiments and displayed a la Futurama. As for her, a shadowy group keep her contained, fearing what she’ll do next. Actually, she’s back to her old self, but the group just likes to lock people away. The staff includes a guy who looks suspiciously like Dr. Ehrhardt, who says he never liked Pearl. The 20th season also includes cameos from Joel, and even Mike and Bridget, who’s had enough of their “Design for Dreaming”. They do mention they created something new called Rifftrax. The bots say it’ll never work…without them. Then Mike introduces the bots to Kevin and Bill. 

They continue until 2011 when that shadowy group is revealed as CORPS, which includes a soldier named Rikk.  It takes over and ends the experiment. Cole and Janet decide (or are forcefully encouraged) to join CORPS, while Bobo and the Observer are taken somewhere.  As for Crow and Servo, they’re turned off, and placed on a shelf. However, unknown hands take them, and the person says, “Don’t worry, I’ll take you to Joel. He’ll know what to do.” This is signaled as SyFy’s decision to close MST for good, but a massive social media campaign changes its mind, sort of.

RIKK WOLF:  2012-2015

They try a new version called “Cinematic Titanic” in 2012, but the pilot doesn’t work. So, since SyFy only has the rights to the title of the show, it tries something completely different: it changes the premise to a soldier trapped in a zombie invasion, and finding an abandoned movie theater. Yep, it’s Incognito Cinema Warriors with Rikk Wolf of CORPS, Johnny Cylon and Topsybot 5000. SyFy figures changing the show and adding an edge would create new interest. After all, if Comedy Central could continue The Man Show without  Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel, then MST3K with new people would be the same thing, right?

Well, yes and no. The MST fans give Rikk and his bots a fair chance, but after two and a half years, and lots of cast changes and premise changes (especially who would be their nemesis), the show ends with the zombies breaking through. Some of them look familiar, like Joel, Mike, TV's Frank, the bots….and Pearl. However, they just wanted to go inside and see the movie.  Rikk, Cylon and Topsybot sneak out, but the theater is suddenly blown to pieces by a rogue CORPS squadron. Rikk joins them, and the show ends the way it began.

Suddenly a shadowy figure says, “For the past two and a half years, you had been watching a show that pretended to be Mystery Science Theater 3000. Mark my words, there will come a day where the true experiment will return. I am the new Dr. Forrester, and I will be your master, driving you insane through bad movies. It will work this time. I will not fail…ah, who am I kidding? Sharknado and that movie about a Werewolf Whale prove you can take anything. Some of you even made bad movies so you could mock them. Still, you want the real thing, and I will give it to you. Just be patient. I just need the right subject…and those bots.”

Then another shadowy figure appears, with a big box.
The screen goes black, but a hashtag appears:  #BringBacktheRealMST3K. 

So, that's how MST3K would have survived if there were plenty of TV executives who get it. Now, other fans would have had different ideas on who would have hosted after Mike Nelson, but I based my choices on Rifftrax and ICWXP. You're welcome to suggest who'd be better. 

Oh, and Joel has confirmed that Jonah Ray will likely be the next captain of the Satellite of Love now that three episodes are guaranteed. Apparently they met at the Nerdist podcast, and they talked about MST3K. Apparently Jonah won the job after he did an impression of Joel pretending to be him, and getting to know each other. Anyway, his TV name will be "Jonah Heston", and theoretically, this is what he'll be doing next year:

Hopefully,  he'll be part of the Turkey Day marathon next week. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Help Bring Back MST3K, Thanks to Kickstarter!

Well, if it worked for Veronica Mars and Reading Rainbow...

Earlier today, Joel Hodgson announced that he's now got all the t's crossed and such and can start a Kickstarter campaign to revive the first great cable TV show that didn't include sports highlights or Pat Buchanan complaining, Mystery Science Theater 3000!!!

In his Kickstarter page, he explains why now is the time to revive this classic show. The obvious reason is we miss the show, and so does Joel. That's why we had Cinematic Titanic and Incognito Cinema Warriors XP, and have Rifftrax (now with selected MST3K episodes). The legal tangles have been straightened out, and the project lives.

The plan is to raise at least two million dollars for three episodes, but if five and a half million dollars are raised, we'll have 12 episodes, or the same length of the first season.
There's lots of rewards, of course, named after classic phrases from the show, like "We've Got Movie Sign", "Poster-a-Go-Go", "Mr. Blu-Natural", and "The Big McLargeHuge". Specifically, people can get a free download of the first episode or the whole season, shirts, coffee cups, a producer's credit (for those in the one percent, and not necessarily in income) and even seeing the show in a theater,

So, if you think you can take over the world through bad movies, despite the fact Sharknado didn't make humanity burn itself down (and neither did Jem and the Holograms aka Two and Out), just give cash to the return of MST3K. You can always claim you're responsible.
The real hope is that a cable outlet or Netflix/Amazon Prime picks up the show. A lot has changed in 15 years, and it just might happen.

For more info, head to

UPDATE: Joel Hodgson had an "Ask Me Anything" event on Reddit, and revealed some interesting things:

The new episodes will likely center on movies made in the 1970's and 80's but later releases are possible

They've already chosen a new host, who will be revealed soon

The new show will be "quaint", compared to, say, Guardians of the Galaxy

His choice for a "Desert Isle Flick" would be A Hard's Day Night

The show will be filmed in Los Angeles, although the talent and staff will be from several places around the country.

The new targets, er, movies will be excellent prints. Too bad the script and acting won't be.

He compares the show to Doctor Who, in that it has a chance to reboot and reinvent itself. That's why the new episodes will include (we're not sure how) Dr. Forrester's offspring. Maybe cloned or something, but that's what he'll be. The old MST continuity will be part of the new show, just like Doctor Who, actually,. Oh, and Joel's favorite Doctor is Tom Baker.

It's also possible the old crew, from Joel to Trace and Mike, could make cameos in the new episodes. Again, nothing is certain.

He also compares the show to going to a haunted house on the edge of town with your funny friends. It works best if you don't know what's in there."

The next DVD set is coming December first.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Rifftrax: Death Promise or The Guy With the Lousy Kung Fu

This may be a few days late, but I wanted to give my two cents on how the Rifftrax gang completed its martial arts trilogy (the others being Miami Connection and Fists of Fury) with what could be the worst kung fu movie ever made in America...or Earth for that matter,

It's about a Brooklyn guy named Charley who lives with his dad, an ex-boxer, at a run down apartment in Brooklyn. Every once in a while, the power and water get turned off, or someone sets fire to the building, by idiots who have no idea who sent them to do that.
Actually, it's thanks to a cabal of slum lords that include a judge, a Tony Soprano-wannabe, some guy with a beard and an African-American businessman . They're led by an evil guy named Alden  who has a cane to show how evil he is. They want to tear down Charley's building so they can get rich building something else. They may be behind the sudden death of his dad.

This starts him on his "death promise", where he is trained by a martial arts teacher in Japan or just outside New York City. The lessons are odd, to say the least. Afterwards, he comes up with some pretty severe ways to knock off the slum lords that he probably didn't learn from the teacher.

The final confrontation would upset any kung fu fan. Not only do Alden's henchmen show their limited kung fu skills (mainly posing and screeching), but the real villain's reveal makes no damn sense--and the final battle is even worse.
But that's to be expected from a kung fu movie born to be Rifftrax fodder.

On to the riffs:

"Directed by Robert Warmflash"
Bill:  C'mon, just make it "Bob Completely-Fake-Name"

The slum lords plan to bribe Roman into moving
Mike:  So, step one, offer old boxer money, step two, profit?

Charlie screams "Oh my God" in the distance
Bill:  He either discovered his dead dad, or got a Nintendo 64

The slum lords discuss what they'll do with the money they'll get by knocking down slums
Bill:  Let's run over a hobo for fun.

Jake finds his boss Albano killed by being on the other side of an archery target--and Jake accidentally killed him
Mike: Shot through the heart, Jake, and you're to blame?

Jackson gets killed by a bag of rats that he usually uses to get the tenants out.
Kevin:  Got this idea for a book I read sophomore year.

Charley and his friends fight Alden's henchmen, who know nothing about kung fu but sure can scream.
Kevin:  He's fighting an Axl Rose vocal track

There's also riffs on Donald Trump, Bruce Lee, In Living Color, David Mamet, Abe Vigoda and Sugar Ray.
By the way, there was a topless scene, but it was cut out of this version, According to one website, it had featured some "very interesting"-looking breasts. Just as well, since the actress spends the rest of her role being pushed around by a jerk.

While we're on the horn, here's a clip from the really strange short that was part of October's Rifftrax Live show, "Measuring Man". It's about as weird as people say:

Of course, MM's costume is a little too similar to Superman, but back in the 70s you could get away with this. That doesn't mean you should, of course. It's available here at the Rifftrax website.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mystery Rifftrax Theater 3000

Eat your heart out, Clayton Forrester.
You had dreams of taking over the world after driving all of mankind insane through showing horrible movies.
It was a plan doomed to fail, since mankind keeps making these crimes against cinema. Hello, Jem and the Holograms.
Still, you would never have guessed there would be something called Rifftrax, which went you one better when it came to mocking movies, or even this:

Mike Nelson, the Pope of Rifftrax, made the announcement Monday afternoon:

It plans to offer a new movie every Monday with new introductions by Mike, and call it MST3K Mondays.
What's interesting is that the first two selections, "Pumaman" and "Final Sacrifice" are from the Sci-Fi Channel days, However, Jeff Whitton, press guy for Rifftrax, says it'll also be showing Joel Hodgson episodes, with the first one on November 9th.

Also, fans can download MST3K episodes. Vimeo already offers that option for 80 episodes for a modest fee, but the two shows Rifftrax is offering are not in Vimeo. Amazon, Hulu and Shout Factory, meanwhile, also have MST3K shows but they are only streaming video. So, it should be interesting which episodes Rifftrax can get. It would be incredible if they get episodes not even on DVD, like "It Conquered the World."
Update: word from the Rifftrax comments board  confirm the offer is being done with the help of Shout Factory. They have ten titles confirmed, and more may be coming.

The point is, of course, is to introduce a new generation to the beauty that is insulting movies you wish weren't made. Again, hello, Hotel Transylvania 2 and Pan.
They might get confused by the silhouettes, but not for long.

Rifftrax's new MST3K page can be found here. Of course, fans can still get other mocked b-movies, and mp3 riffs elsewhere on the website.