Wednesday, August 31, 2016
TV's Frank: The Man and His Movies In New Book
For five years and 109 episodes, TV's Frank Conniff was the loyal lackey on Mystery Science Theater 3000 to insane scientist Clayton Forrester: the punching bag, the guinea pig, the eternal victim to Forrester's delusional plans to take over the world so his mother will finally love him (which was equally delusional)
Yet, when Frank was taken away by Torgo the White (or maybe Magic Jack Perkins in disguise), Dr. F was totally lost without him. The movie version is proof of that.
That's how important Frank was. He went on to write for a teenage witch and riff more movies through Cinematic Titanic. He's now got a podcast with fellow Mad Trace Beaulieu, and also was in the MST3K Reunion show that will be Rifftrax's biggest seller when it's available in two weeks.
So, what could be left...except write a book?
Twenty Five Mystery Science Theater 3000 Films That Changed My Life In No Way Whatsoever is a very long title for a short book, but he goes into detail about his life on MST3K, gets in some comments about politics like he does on Twitter, and tries to remember movies he may or may not have seen as a kid.
And sometimes he talks about the movies he had to see before they were accepted as experiments for the show. Of course, he recalls how Sidehackers forced the staff to see all of the movie rather than first first half hour. However, he also wonders if Catalina Caper would have been a better beach movie if there was more Little Richard. He compares Gilligan's Island to Vietnam while trying to discuss The Beatniks, and thinks Attack of the the Eye Creatures should be on trial (and not just because of those pervy Army guys).
He also makes a good argument about how we should praise Ed Wood for his movies, not to bury him, only because he tried to make movies (and unlike that Eye Creatures movie, he really did care).
However, he also apologizes (again) for exposing the world to Manos, the Hands of Fate, and suspects that maybe George W. Bush was the closest thing we had to President Torgo.
After each chapter, there's a special note from the Federal Bureau of Incoherence which explains some of the references to those too young or old to remember them. That even includes explaining a long-forgotten Disney musical about a family who has their own band, and their last name is NOT Partridge. Clearly, we need such an organization to explain other references to people who may not understand...especially with the current presidential election.
It's interesting that the list of movies Frank chose are almost all episodes during the Joel Hodgson era. The exceptions are The Brain That Wouldn't Die and Red Zone Cuba. Naturally, Frank doesn't talk too much about the movies, but he wonders why The Beast With Two Heads didn't get riffed by MST3K..or why the Oscars didn't even nominate it for anything, It's too bad he didn't get deeper in his final season, especially his last episode, Samson vs. the Vampire Women.
This isn't the first time Frank has tried to write essays on MST3K movies. In the Episode Guide, he looked at several movies including Time of the Apes, which was also examined in this book. In the Episode Guide, he talked about the "time code" incident where the movie seemed to have more endings than the last Lord of the Rings movie. In his book, he talked more about how funny talking animals are on TV and the movies, and how Ronald Reagan may have wound up doing that if he didn't go into politics. Apparently the trauma from the "time code incident"is still too painful. The "TV's Frank Pix" columns are very funny and are worth looking for.
Til then, this book is a great look inside TV's Frank from his career on MST3K to his views on movies, politics and everything else. If only there was a fake autobiography by Clayton Forrester on how he ruled the world after he ruined everyone's self-worth through bad movies. Of course, he would write it the day before the first experiment back in 1988, and none of it happened, but it would be a great read.
Your move, Mr. Beaulieu.