Sit back and let me tell you a tale of my childhood.
No, wait! Come back!
When I was in high school, our theatre department put on a production of Little Shop of Horrors, and I was cast as the voice of Audrey II. I loved it. But as we were rehearsing, I learned that the Broadway musical was based on an older movie, one that actually had a young Jack Nicholson in it. I was intrigued and, since I worked at the public library at the time, I was able to track down a VHS tape of said movie.
It was bizarre. So very awful. The plant didn’t have a deep, soulful voice. Instead, it was squeaky and whiny when it was small. At one point, the plant hypnotizes Seymour to get him to bring it victims. Seymour does so, bringing in a prostitute who he accidentally kills by flipping a rock onto her head (because he didn’t have a coin to flip). When I went to the next rehearsal and told our director that I had watched the original and thought it was awful, she said, “Yeah, it’s like something you’d see on Mystery Science Theater 3000, right?”
And my exact words were, “What is that?”
With that one question, my life was irrevocably changed. She told me about this show on Comedy Central, where guys would watch bad movies and mock them. As she described it, I realized that I had flipped past this show a couple of times but never watched it. So I remedied that and instantly became hooked. I started obsessively recording every episode I could onto VHS tapes. When Thanksgiving rolled around, I would insist on tying up the family’s VCR so I could bulk up my collection of episodes with the yearly Turkey Day marathons.
When I went away to college, I introduced as many of my friends to the wonder that is MST3K with weekly showings of my favorite episodes. I dubbed my dorm room “The Official MST3K Headquarters” for my college (I didn’t find it funny when the guys across the hall from me declared themselves “The Unofficial MST3K Headquarters”). When they released MST3K: The Movie, a number of those friends and I wanted to attend the official premiere in Minneapolis, but we had to settle for the second showing in a packed hometown movie theater. I even looked up TV Frank’s phone number and called him out of the blue to pitch a movie idea to him. Not the wisest thing I’ve ever done. Sorry, Frank.
In more recent years, as they’ve released the original episodes on DVD, I’ve snapped up every set. Plus I have these guys watching over me in my man cave:
There are a bunch of reasons why I love this show. For starters, the original show was shot in Minnesota. The actors and writers were all from Minnesota. As a result, there were numerous jokes that referred to cities in Minnesota or poked gentle fun at the citizens of Minnesota. But it wasn’t just the Minnesota references. They snuck in a lot of really smart jokes about obscure topics (my personal favorites were the numerous theology jokes, such as the time they made a reference to Martin Luther nailing up the 95 Theses or poking fun at the Calvinist belief in predestination). As Joel Hodgson, the creator of the series, put it in an interview once, they never worried about if enough people would get the jokes. They knew that the right people would get them. It felt good when I was one of those “right people.” Plus there was something subversive about watching these movies. They weren’t supposed to be funny, but with the commentary, they became hilarious.
So why am I reminiscing about this right now? Because MST3K is back, baby!
If you’ve been paying attention, Joel Hodgson went to Kickstarter about a year ago to raise funds to reboot the series. When I learned of this, I immediately went to my wife and asked, “So how much money can I throw at this before I get into trouble?” We set a limit, and that’s what I donated.
Well, last night, as part of my backer rewards, I was able to watch the premiere episode of the new episodes. Now I can’t say too much about what I saw. Joel asked me not to:
Five days till the next season of MST3K on Netflix. Backers, let me know what you thought of the pilot episode! Without revealing deets. pic.twitter.com/BGvl7ahCDI
— Joel Hodgson (@JoelGHodgson) April 9, 2017
And who am I to disobey Joel?
Anyway, without going into “deets,” there’s a new host, new voices for the ‘bots, new villains to carry on the Forrester traditions of forcing bad movies on poor victims. The feel of the show was spot on. The host segments were great too. There were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments that kept me hooked. There was even a knock at Minnesota, which just made my day.
I’m especially looking forward to seeing how Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt work together as the new mads. When I learned that they were going to be on the project, I knew this was going to be fun.
Basically, If you’re a longtime fan, you’ll be pleased. And I’m really hoping that we’ll see future seasons of this down the road. There are a lot really bad movies out there that deserve to be mocked relentlessly by a guy with his robot companions. It’d be a crime to let those movie go untouched.
Really, this was one of the best birthday presents a guy could get. New episodes of my all-time favorite TV show. What’s not to love?
Now I can’t wait for the rest of the episodes to hit Netflix this Friday. MOVIE SIGN!