Being a parent has finally made me understand why a lot of my friends who are parents didn’t know about a huge chunk of the shows I was watching at any particular time. As soon as Chrissy was old enough that I knew she was paying attention to stuff, she was also old enough to remember and repeat the stuff. I didn’t want to get a call from her preschool to have an awkward conversation about why she shouldn’t be quoting Archer in class (though, can you imagine a video of her going DAAAAAAANGER ZOOOOOONE!).
I mean, I know I’m eventually going to get a call that she told another kid in class to “bite her shiny metal ass,” but I’m not a monster and will not deny her the glory that is Futurama. For those who are curious, she most certainly takes after her parents in that regards. Only four, and she already has favorite episodes of Futurama (“the one where Bender is Santa” / A Tale of Two Santas), King of the Hill (“the one where Hank rescues Peggy Underground” / Texas City Twister), and the Simpsons (“The one with Homer in his Flower Dress” / King-Size Homer… which is also Julie’s favorite episode).
In being a parent, there’s this terrible mix of not having as much time to watch stuff and when you maybe have time, you need to choose things that aren’t going to lead to having to discipline your kid for swearing at the same time you’re laughing hysterically inside about it. So, I quickly found videos that I loved to watch that I knew were going to be okay to have on around her as well. The classic, Mystery Science Theater 3000, quickly flew up to the top of the list for that.
MST3K one of my favorite shows of all time. I only watched it sparingly growing up, got into it a lot more in college, and then catching repeats as time went on. Thanks to the Internet, Amazon, and the like, I believe I’ve seen every episode they ever made, and I’m extremely pumped up for the new show coming back next year.
It used to be a tradition that only came back a few years ago, the MST3K Turkey Day marathon. This year it was broadcast live and featured some exceptionally boring intros by Noah (the new captured guy) and Joel (who’s funny but was never great in front of a camera)… as well as the top 5 voted episodes. I’m not sure where the vote was, but it was fairly hard to argue with most of their choices. I fully intended for this to be posted shortly after Thanksgiving, but see that whole parent thing above, and I just missed getting it done.
So, I guess this is a New Year’s-ish list or something, including some links to Amazon where you can go rent or buy them and keep the classics alive. It’s a good way to spend a weekend, and likely more family friendly than most everything you find on TV these days.
This movie has nothing to do with space battles, Sci-Fi, or anything else you’d think about when you see that title (then or now). It’s actually a “movie” that could best be described in the phrase “With the Generous Help of the Air Force,” since it’s basically the single most boring attempt at a recruitment film ever made. It has no plot, features a former congressman, and many jokes about finding the worst looking people imaginable. It’s worth every dime to rent or own, and also comes with a great Tom Servo music number in the middle. For my friends that did their time back at Gateway, it also features some jokes that you’ll likely remember…
“Your movie today, is, if one can measure such things, the worst thing to ever come out of Canada.” With that, Brain Guy sets up the best of the later seasons. We get Zap Rowsdower, the peak of 80s and 90s name fusion (the film was originally released in 1990, making it one of the most modern movies the MST3K crew ever did). The riffs in this one go deep, but it’s probably all worth it just to see Tom Servo dressed as a Mountie and singing about Canada and a total lack of moderation.
It Conquered the World
Unfortunately, this one isn’t available on Amazon Instant Video like the other ones that I’ve posted. Fortunately, someone has uploaded it to YouTube, so you can enjoy Joel and the bots continually mix up Peter Graves for his brother, James Arness. It’s funny how they make jokes about Graves being the “lesser” of the stars, which was likely true at the time. But thanks to MST3K, Biography, Airplane! and other various TV things I grew up with, I’d likely recognize Graves than Arness.
And, thanks to MST3K, I know that Peter Graves went to the University of Minnesota.
One of the rare times when you can hear either of the hosts actually crack up legitimately during a riff. The Brute Man, featuring Rondo Hatton, which should have been called “The Creaper” since he’s never once called the Brute Man in the movie. It’s a gloriously bad movie that was obviously written around a particular casting before anything else. The whole thing is worth it for the baseball umpire crack that comes in the middle. If you’re even a passing fan of baseball, you can’t help but loose it.
The Violent Years
Ed Wood is at once the worst and the best filmmaker of all time. He’s movies are outstandingly awful, capable of causing pain and suffering to anyone who sees them… and yet, they are so firmly in the “so bad it’s good territory” that it’s hard not to love them. I’m sure I’ve seen more Ed Wood films than, say, Oliver Stone films (and not just because Oliver Stone sucks). I’ve probably watched this particular movie and MST3K riff a couple of dozen times. It also features my favorite line in the whole of the MST3K…
Crow: There is an audible thud every time he tells a joke
Something about that, how it is delivered, and the timing in such a terrible movie is probably as close as we will ever get to the deadliest joke sketch from Monty Python.
This season five stinker is, for some reason I will never be able to explain, my all-time favorite MST3K episode. It has nothing to do with the fact that the Service Chief was apparently born in the same city I was (thanks, Wikipedia), or the presence of Sid Melton. There’s just something fantastic about a movie so unapologetically boring, missing things like plot, pacing, or enjoyable characters. Just watch out for the Hypno-Helio-Static-Stasis… make sure you have plenty of Hinder-90. The patent has likely expired by now.
Honorable mentions: The Gamera series, which unfortunately won’t probably see a re-release until the new show (hopefully) takes off. It was briefly in print as a DVD set, but the rights were pulled many years ago. You can find it, if you’re willing to pay for it (someday I’ll have to break down and get it for myself).