MST3K, THE RETURN :: I (almost) Like It Very Much!

It seems bold to me to 'reboot' sacred cult stuff (X-Files, Twin Peaks, It) for no other reason than cult members are fucking crazy & you don't mess with their God. Of course, even the most mainstream things (Star Wars, Alien, Ghostbusters) have their own 'cult following' (which is just lazy terminology for 'people who really enjoy something a lot'). Point is, everything is somebody's favorite something, and it can and will all be reworked and retold. Don't think they can't remake Catalina Caper or Final Sacrifice, because there is a market.
It's us.

And on that twisted note, let's turn our attention to the plain fact that "we" funded this new MST. (I myself contributed nothing). After watching the first 4 episodes, it seems that maybe they could've done with less money. That's one of a few nits I can pick in what otherwise seems to be a shaky frame on an already sturdy foundation.

  1. The 'Bots are now controlled by a puppetry 'team,' as opposed to voice actor=puppeteer. While that carried with it a bit of charm, it also created a loose flow in the physical performance. Now that they have working arms & Servo has a functioning hover skirt, they manage to look less real and more stiff & weird. 
  2. Speaking of stiff - the riffing itself. While the show has always been scripted, it has never felt more so than it does presently. My favorite years are the last few - the Mike, Kevin and Bill seasons before the end. If for no other reason - and there may not be any - it was the pace and temperament of the jokes. Casual disdain mixed with impatient hostility seemed to be the best formula - better for me than the chuckling sparseness of the early Joel stuff. Now, the riffing is rapid-fire, incessant, and shouted at us with exclamation points, as though each comic simply can't wait to get their line in. Though, what forgives this is that, yeah, they're excited to fill the theater seats of cultural icons, & that excitement can be infectious. Also, the jokes themselves are solid; topical, referential and esoteric as ever. The delivery needs work. Practice.
  3. Jonah Ray is the new host. Despite his hipster name and his hipster face, he certainly carries on the MST legacy of the "doughy white guy" in a jumpsuit, and he does it pretty ok. The 'Bots are troubling because, again, after the stilted delivery and movement, recasting puppets is like changing the voices of cartoon characters. We all know what Mel Blanc and Jim Henson sound like, & we know bullshit knockoffs when we hear 'em. That's the thing, though - these aren't knockoffs. Apart from Crow's Hampton Yount actually sounding a lot like Trace Beaulieu, it's startling when voices change but faces stay the same. The best (or worst) example is Gypsy. Her transition from folksy Midwestern gal to sassy back-talker who actually drops in on the movies to pop a joke (?) sorta personifies the new constitution of the show.
  4. The show now exists in a post-Seinfeld comedy-show-world. While it was always rooted in sarcasm, it also had an innocent charm. It was, after all, a puppet show on local Minnesota television. Today, the climate of comedy has become way more cynical, current, and winkingly self-referrencial -- just look at The Simpsons for Christ's sake. A bit of that sneaks onto the new MST. Of course, they also have twice as many writers as before - just like every other thing on the show - which also explains the volume of jokes. Jonah has described the original series as "comforting." That's not just nostalgia - that was the whole vibe of the show, mostly attributed to the fact that, when you're not watching a movie with these guys, they're talking into the 4th wall, at you. As long as they keep that up, we can combat the cynicism - which is likely, since I don't think the movie segments are going away.
  5. The movies themselves were, and continue to be, the best and most fascinating thing about the show. They could do 10,000 episodes and still only scratch the surface of 'these kinds' of films. But the ones they have done and are doing places them into a kind of "hall of fame." I was certainly never aware of most of the movies they've "showcased" until they made me aware. Coincidentally, that's always been a point of contention for the show's haters, who insist the show defiled classic cinema masterpieces. I don't know about that, but I do know that someone who can't find humor in everything is no friend of mine, and I don't want to know you.
Maybe that falls in line with that whole "comfort" thing - sharing the same sense of humor as others. That, and the movies. 
The sketches are pretty far down the list - even more so now. So much more so that I'm not entirely clear on the new setup: Are they on a new satellite? Are they underground? How did Tom & Crow get back into space?
Of course, I should just repeat to myself, "It's just a show..."

 - Paul

1 comment:

Peyton said...

Hahaha your opening line is too accurate.

I think Lynch is returning to TP because he's near death and the show/story was left unfinished.

When artists are near death, they become more honest (and crazier) with themselves. In my opinion, Kubrick made his masterpiece right before he died.

I think season 3 might be more insane than Lynch's Los Angeles trilogy, and of course not even all the diehard fans will like it.

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