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Joshu Picchu

The MST3K Thread

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I figured we could use one master-thread for all things MST3K (including Cinematic Titanic, Rifftrax, Film Crew, any other alumni news, etc.), so I made this instead of creating another independent thread for the list.

And now, finally the list begins.

52 episodes received votes from 12 people. You will soon notice that that created a theme: ties. Ties, ties, and more ties. If I were to list all 52 episodes, it would look like I simply couldn't count due to all of the ties. Therefore, in order to have a nice, neat cut-off point and to display as few ties as possible, I present to you

EWB's 25 Favorite MST3K Episodes (2011)

As of February 20, 2011, the following 25 episodes (in the following ascending order) were considered the funniest, strangest, and overall best episodes in the history of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Oh, and about those ties . . .

And with each post I add to the list, I'm going to highlight one episode that somehow didn't receive ANY votes from anyone but deserves a viewing anyway.

Not In The Top 52: Cave Dwellers (Season 3)

This one deserves a mention due to it likely being the point when the series finally hit its stride. The first season on KTMA was more of a gathering of a few friends who were having fun - not knowing they were creating a brand new form. Everything in the theater was improvised, and by today's standards of riffing it doesn't hold up very well, despite some great efforts by very talented people. The first nationally broadcast season (the true Season 1) was the first draft of a concerted effort by those same people to give the new form structure. The theater segments were being written ahead of time, but no one yet realized the full potential of what they were doing. In Season 2, some notable changes occurred in the cast and crew (Kevin Murphy took over Tom Servo, TV's Frank is introduced), so there was still a "settling in" period. Then Season 3 began, and it began with this episode. Everyone has had a chance to find their footing, the writers have found what they can do with the pacing, and the movie they selected is just terrible in all the right ways. There's continuity errors, bad dialogue, goofy costumes - the works. Plus, the whole re-packaged opening credit sequence only serves to increase the "Huh?" factor. If you haven't already, watch this episode.

Here's the Satellite News episode guide entry on this episode for more information and commentary, including an explanation of "a Barney Clark bar." (The entry is the first on the page.)

Here's some background info and trivia about the movie itself from Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt, including a note that this is somehow the third in a series of four films.

Watch this episode on YouTube (in 10 parts)!

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I was watching Twin Peaks, but now I think I want to watch Cave Dwellers. Also huzzah for an MST thread!

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The pee-throwing scene, ladies and gentlemen!

Awesome start.

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As indicated I did watch Cave Dwellers last night. I think the opening host segment is probably my favorite of the Joel era. Mainly because of TV's Frank, Tom Servo's tiny fez (which he seems to wear for the whole episode for no reason?) and robot arm wrestling.

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The re-creation of the opening credits may be my favorite part of Cave Dwellers.

And Quest of the Delta Knights is notable if only for giving the origin of Leonardo Di Vinci's name.

I may get in an update on this today.

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Leonardo is hilarious in Delta Knights. The whole bit when they get to Archimedes's storehouse is a riot. Mike's deadpan "So Da Vinci was a moron and stole all his ideas" is the best.

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I started watching Quest of the Delta Knights after Cave Dwellers but fell asleep. It was 2am by the time I started watching it. I will pick up the watching tonight. I've decided to go through this list in my (admittedly nightly) MST3k viewing.

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For the record, when I voted there were two episodes that just barely missed my list, and one of them was Cave Dwellers (the other was I Accuse My Parents).

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Now, let's move on from our opening tie. With another tie! A four-way tie.

20. Danger! Death Ray (Season 6)

(9 points)

Here's the Satellite News episode guide entry on this episode for more information and commentary, including a (admittedly tangential) Kirstie Alley reference.

Here's some background info and trivia about the movie itself from Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt, including the revelation that Bart Fargo is Tarzan.

Watch this episode on Google Videos!

20. Future War (Season 10)

(9 points)

Here's the Satellite News episode guide entry on this episode for more information and commentary, including a note that the filmmakers pretty much knew this was coming.

Here's some background info and trivia about the movie itself from Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt, including the unsurprising fact that "Jean Claude Gosh Darn" was in two sequels to Bloodsport.

Watch this episode on Google Videos!

20. Jack Frost (Season 8)

(9 points)

Here's the Satellite News episode guide entry on this episode for more information and commentary, including information on just who the hell Hildegard von Bingen is.

Here's some background info and trivia about the movie itself from Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt, including a reminder that the movie is Russo-Finnish. Okay, so these links aren't always terribly illuminating.

Watch this episode on Google Videos!

20. The Killer Shrews (with short: Junior Rodeo Daredevils) (Season 4)

(9 points)

Here's the Satellite News episode guide entry on this episode for more information and commentary, including the observation that this is essentially Jurassic Park.

Here's some background info and trivia about the movie itself from Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt, including a note that Roscoe P. Coltrane runs (ran?) an acting school in Florida.

Watch this episode on YouTube (in 10 parts)!

BONUS: The official website of the upcoming sequel. Seriously, check out this cast.

Not In The Top 52: San Francisco International (Season 6)

This one's mainly getting a mention because I just dig it. Moreover, I think it's an episode that's often unfairly forgotten - and that's if people realize it exists in the first place. In my opinion, the television pilot/failed TV series is a genre that MST3K always did well. This particular TV pilot is just cheesy and fun as all hell, mostly thanks to its cast being a Who's Who of C-list 70's TV actors. Plus, there's something about this movie/TV show containing multiple plots that just always keeps the stupidity moving. I think that's the key here: variety. It's the $3.99 lunch buffet of movies that would probably go well with fondue. Oh, also: URKEL!

Here's the Satellite News episode guide entry on this episode for more information and commentary, including depressing news about a cast member.

Here's some background info and trivia about the movie itself from Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt, including what happened when this pilot became a series.

Watch this episode on YouTube (in 9 parts)!

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And now another tie. Followed by . . . stand-alone entries that aren't tied?!

18. Horrors of Spider Island (Season 10)

(10 points)

Here's the Satellite News episode guide entry on this episode for more information and commentary, including a theory that the host segments are out of order.

Here's some background info and trivia about the movie itself from Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt, including a mention that may or may not be intended to make you look up nude pictures on the internet.

Watch this episode on YouTube (in 10 parts)!

BONUS: For those with access, watch this episode on Hulu!

IF YOU DARE: Watch this movie without the MST3K treatment!

18. Santa Claus (Season 5)

(10 points)

Here's the Satellite News episode guide entry on this episode for more information and commentary, including a note that the filmmakers pretty much knew this was coming.

Here's some background info and trivia about the movie itself from Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt, including a note that Santa Claus has become the It's a Wonderful Life of Mexico.

Watch this episode on Google Videos!

17. Fugitive Alien (Season 3)

(12 points)

Here's the Satellite News episode guide entry on this episode for more information and commentary, including a list of quite a few callback references. (The entry is nearly halfway down the page.)

Here's some background info and trivia about the movie itself from Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt, including links to all the other Sandy Frank movie entries. That bastard.

Watch this episode on YouTube (in 10 parts)!

16. The Wild Wild World of Batwoman (with short: Cheating) (Season 4)

(13 points)

Here's the Satellite News episode guide entry on this episode for more information and commentary, including an explanation for why invention exchanges were eventually dropped from the series.

Here's some background info and trivia about the movie itself from Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt, including alleged confirmation that this movie does indeed contain footage from another film riffed by MST3K.

Watch this episode on YouTube (in 10 parts)!

Not In The Top 52: I Accuse My Parents (with short: The Truck Farmer) (Season 5)

GhostMachine reminded me of this one, so maybe it's just fresh on my mind. In any case, I do think it tends to fall in the "unfairly overlooked" category. It's actually a well-made movie, from a technical standpoint. The acting isn't even that bad, considering the era. The real perpetrator here is the writing. Right from the start, this movie is preachy and heavy-handed. That's okay, because ultra-serious makes for good riffing. But this movie goes the extra mile and (as pointed out in the third host segment) makes the protagonist make a series of colossally stupid decisions. The movie is actually kind of watchable (in that you actually know what's going on), the riffing is great, and that recreation of the nightclub song that Joel and The Bots do is the icing on the cake.

Here's the Satellite News episode guide entry on this episode for more information and commentary, including an explanation of just what the hell "Insight" was.

Here's some background info and trivia about the movie itself from Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt, including a note that director Sam Newfield was responsible for 3 other MST3K-riffed films.

Watch this episode on YouTube (in 10 parts)!

Next time: we crack the Top 15!

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I never really liked The Wild, Wild World of The Batwomen. Fugitive Alien however. Well...

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How have I never seen Fugitive Alien? o_O

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I didn't until this past year, myself. When your first few in-depth MST3K experiences are episodes like Space Mutiny or Mitchell, it's tough to delve into those first few seasons. Obviously, it can pay off now and then.

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Oh, c'mon. The seance? The horseshoe battle? I dig Batwoman.

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I have been watching the episodes on this list and have gotten am just starting Danger! Death Ray. Which I haven't watched in a very long time.

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Again, that's a personal favorite. Never has the score been such a character.

I hope to get this updated in the next couple of days.

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Just finished watching Danger! Death Ray. It took me a while. Due to watching MST far too late at night to stay awake.

I've watched the later seasons so often recently, I forgot about the letters. They were fun! Now onto Future War!

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I so need to fucking get back on this.

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*sigh*

Clearly, I never got around to doing this exactly as intended.

However! Here's the full list - even if it's not as ceremonial - so everyone can finally know.

THE TOP 52 - FULL LIST

49. Eegah!

49. The Deadly Mantis

49. Attack of the Eye Creatures

49. Gorgo

(1 Point Each)

45. Soultaker

45. Zombie Nightmare

45. Earth vs. The Spider

45. Code Name: Diamond Head

(2 Points Each)

41. The Dead Talk Back

41. Wild Rebels

41. The Undead

41. The Incredibly Strange Creature Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies

(3 Points Each)

38. Devil Doll

38. Red Zone Cuba

38. The Brain That Wouldn't Die

(4 Points Each)

34. The Screaming Skull

34. Sampson vs. The Vampire Women

34. Hercules Unchained

34. Warrior of the Lost World

(5 Points Each)

26. Horror of Party Beach

26. Squirm

26. The Beast of Yucca Flats

26. Mighty Jack

(7 Points Each)

30. Gamera

30. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

30. Godzilla vs. Megalon

30. Invasion U.S.A.

(6 Points Each)

24. I Was a Teenage Werewolf

24. Quest of the Delta Knights

(8 Points Each)

20. Attack of the Killer Shrews

20. Future War

20. Danger! Death Ray

20. Jack Frost

(9 Points Each)

18. Horrors of Spider Island

18. Santa Claus

(10 Points Each)

17. Fugitive Alien

(12 Points)

16. The Wild Wild World of Batwoman

(13 Points)

14. Riding With Death

14. Danger: Diabolik

(15 Points Each)

12. Parts: The Clonus Horror

12. Hercules vs. The Moon Men

(17 Points Each)

9. The Final Sacrifice

9. Werewolf

9. Hobgoblins

(22 Points Each)

8. Mitchell

(30 Points)

7. Pod People

(31 Points)

5. Pumaman

5. Prince of Space

(32 Points)

4. This Island Earth

(42 Points)

3. Overdrawn at the Memory Bank

(45 Points)

And the TOP TWO ARE . . .

2. Space Mutiny

(52 Points)

1. Manos

(61 Points)

So, there you go. I was a little surprised that Manos won, even though I had it figured for at least the Top 10. I had predicted Space Mutiny would get the nod (which it obviously almost did.) However, to me, the biggest surprises were the episodes that didn't make the list at all. Here's a few I would have included in my own Top 52 - probably even Top 25, for some - if I had done it entirely on my own:

- Space Travelers

- Teenagers from Outer Space

- The Beatniks

- Bride of the Monster

- Teenage Strangler

- Outlaw

- Radar Secret Service

- Village of the Giants

- San Francisco International

- Cave Dwellers

- I Accuse My Parents

- Devil Fish

- Escape 2000

- Merlin's Magical Shop of Mystical Wonders

- Laserblast

Obviously, that's why I started the "Not In The Top 52" thing, just to show how great some episodes were that didn't make the cut at all. I honestly cannot believe that the last 2 didn't make the list. Am I right in assuming that most of you haven't seen those 2? Laserblast was THE biggest shocker to me, given that it's not only a solid episode, but that it's also the final episode of the Comedy Central era and the last one for Trace (Dr. Forrester, the original Crow.) I think there's a slight bias toward the SciFi years on EWB, which is somewhat understandable (they had really mastered the form after years of experimentation), but I get the feeling that some of you are missing out on some quality stuff from the first 7 seasons.

So. Thoughts?

What surprised you? Any choices you'd change? Etc.

Also, on a sidenote, Google Videos will soon be removing ALL user-uploaded videos. That means no more full MST3K episodes on Google. :( However, we'll still be able to watch many episodes (part by part) on YouTube. Plus, there's another way to watch online (which I believe is perfectly legal, but in a gray area, so I won't publicly state it until I know for sure.) And, of course, Shout Factory is doing an awesome job of turning out unreleased episodes on DVD.

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The end of Google Video having MST episodes makes me sad. I've never been able to find it on DVD here and I don't have a credit card so I don't buy stuff online very often. Although YouTube has a greater quantity of MSTs, watching them in parts isn't as fun.

I haven't actually seen Mighty Jack or The Eye Creature. There are a lot of seasons 1-4 I don't think I've seen. Mainly because the few I have seen, I haven't enjoyed as much as season 5 on. Mainly because I think the show got funnier as it went a long and I haven't been as entertained by earlier ones.

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Seasons 1 and 2 are pretty hit and miss - more miss than hit - when compared to the standard of later seasons. However some of them are genuinely worth checking out, even if you can't appreciate them as the early development of the form. One that come to mind is Moon Zero Two (Season 1.)

Note that Season 1 features Josh (J. Elvis) Weinstein as the voice of Tom Servo (he's the original) and as Dr. Forrester's comrade, Dr. Erhardt (instead of TV's Frank.) Some people are down on Josh's work, which is quite understandable when you're used to Kevin as Servo (however, I'd like to think Erhardt would have changed his voice had he stayed on), but I've come to have an immense appreciation of his sense of humor and delivery. Of everybody on the Cinematic Titanic crew (Joel, Trace, Frank, Mary Jo, and Josh), I think Josh has actually proven to have more laugh-out-loud riffs per movie.

Once Season 3 got rolling with Cave Dwellers, the writers/riffers got into a much better groove. And Season 4 feels like the one that finally cemented "this is what the show should feel like."

Because of all of that, there's a ton of Joel episodes that get overlooked by newer fans, but many of them are very much worth looking back to.

EDIT: That said, Mighty Jack ain't one of the better episodes I'm referring to. The Sandy Frank episodes in general are a weird area for me. I've never quite gotten into the Gamera episodes (which is like half of the Sandy Franks) and Mighty Jack's never done it for me. However, Fugitive Alien is rightly a fan favorite. Star Force (Fugitive Alien 2) is less so. Time of The Apes is an episode I can enjoy on the right day.

Maybe I'm subconsciously harboring some grudge against the Japanese.

No pun intended.

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Excuse the double-post, but after the above convo and one I'm having with Liam via PM, it strikes me that this might be helpful:

Satellite News - The Official MST3K Fan Site

That's the site I was referring to some in the countdown. If you look at the left sidebar, there's a link for a comprehensive episode guide (which is still being updated.) That guide will be very helpful for a lot of reasons, but one reason will be a reference point for those looking to dig into a few older episodes they may have missed.

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Come to think of it I've watched most of season 2. I think. I remember TV's Franks first episode and Tom Servo's new voice. I haven't actually sat down and watched MST episodes by season in quite some time. Probably not since I watched a whole heap of seasons 2 and 3.

Since this is the general MST and MST related thread?

What say you good folk are the best Rifftrax? Sometimes I find Rifftrax a little underwhelming. I think The Room remains one of the greatest I've seen. I have seen Birdemic. I was hoping for a Manos reference. It never came. Because that movie borrowed a great big hunk of Manos' play book with its opening.

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I have seen very little of Rifftrax, unfortunately. Has to to do with not having 99% of the DVDs you would need to watch them properly and the cost of downloading them. However, the more I read about others having an easy time syncing everything up, etc. the more prone I become to try a few.

I take it that you've not had much trouble with Rifftrax's unique set-up?

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