So this November is the 50th anniversary of a grand tradition in Science Fiction, one that many of you are probably familiar with, and I know our dear Erin is (don't mention Matt Smith), but we're not here to talk about that one today.
This November it will be 25 years since another institution, probably as near and dear to my heart as Doctor Who if not a little nearer and dearer, premiered in the wilds of a tiny independent station in Minnesota. November 24, 1988 was the premier of the first episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Twenty-five years ago Joel Robinson was launched into space by a couple of mad scientists, and staved off insanity by cannibalizing parts of his ship to build robots that helped him ridicule bad films. The worst of the worst of films.
Eleven years later, nearly 200 episodes, and a feature film later, the show called it quits, with Mike Nelson (replacing Joel) finally escaping to Earth with the bots Tom Servo and Crow T Robot, where they passed their time... watching bad movies. The influence of the show can still be felt today, with many semi-famous internet critics making a decent living off of web shows inspired by the antics on the Satellite of Love. Not everyone was a fan, though. The star of Mitchell, Joe Don Baker actually threatened the creators of MST3k, and various other directors/actors involved have expressed butthurt at being ridiculed by them.
The show resonates the most with me, though, due to my complete inability to take anything seriously. I cannot sit through anything without cracking a joke. I've stood before judges and barely dodged contempt charges because I couldn't shut my mouth. I've almost been removed from training classes because I couldn't stop asking blatantly humorous questions and derailing the class.
Why am I bringing this up today? Well, I just got back from seeing Rifftrax Live. Rifftrax is Mike Nelson, Tom Servo, and Crow T Robot from the later years of the show (aka Michael J Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett). They riffed Starship Troopers tonight, live in theaters via a satellite feed from Nashville. I had my fingers crossed for them, what with Starship Troopers being a *bit* tongue-in-cheek already, but these guys have successfully riffed Casablanca, and that's quite possibly the greatest movie
ever made. I've been to every live show they've had, and each one has
been a riot. They're still releasing PSA shorts and riffed films, as
well as MP3 commentaries for big-budget films over at in riffing rifftrax.com. The other part of the crew, led by Joel Robinson (aka Joel Hodgson) are running Cinematic Titanic, which I'm sad to say I haven't seen because their live shows aren't satellite-broadcast.
Before I go, if you're a fan of the show, there's one question on your mind. Joel or Mike? I'll happily answer. I'm a Mike fan. No disrespect to Joel, but Mike's always sounded like he's having more fun.