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Sampo & Erhardt

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Weekend Discussion Thread: MST3K Looks at the Future

Alert reader Tanya writes:

Now that the new year is here and we’re well into the 21st century, you could say we’re now living “In the not too-distant future, next Sunday A.D.” So what do you think of the future as seen on MST3K? Most of the movies and shorts were made well before the year 2000, so it can be interesting looking at what the filmmakers thought might happen. What did they get right? What did they get wrong? What views were hopeful, depressing or just plain ridiculous? My favorite is “Century 21 Calling” because, unlike most of the movies and shorts, it actually got some things right. We really did get features on our phones like call waiting, call forwarding and three-way calling. Of course, we didn’t access them with rotary phones, but it got pretty close. What do you think?

I think it’s interesting that, in episode 403- CITY LIMITS, the opening of the movie says that it takes place “15 years from now.” The movie was made in 1985, so “15 years from now” was 2000. Thankfully the world in 2000 looked very little like the one that movie predicts. (By the way, it’s been more than 15 years since this episode debuted, and it is 15 years [and counting] from “15 years from now.” Still no comic book-obsessed motorcycle gangs.)

Your thoughts?

Have a WDT idea? Email me at msampo@aol.com.

60 Replies to “Weekend Discussion Thread: MST3K Looks at the Future”

  1. Jay says:

    First Spaceship on Venus –

    This early sixties East German/Soviet Bloc film showed a future where a crew of highly educated, multinational experts flew in a really cool spaceship to an unexplored planet. So far we have highly educated, multinational crews flying to a low earth orbiting space station, but otherwise they got it mostly right. Did I mention that their spaceship was really cool?

       7 likes

  2. Kansas says:

    I’m still waiting for those giant strawberries that Peter Graves promised us in Beginning of the End (without the killer locusts of course).

       10 likes

  3. Jay says:

    Kansas:
    I’m still waiting for those giant strawberries that Peter Graves promised us in Beginning of the End (without the killer locusts of course).

    If you got one of those seeds stuck in your teeth… Ouch!

       15 likes

  4. Sitting Duck says:

    Most of the rocketship movies show us with interplanetary space travel even before the year 2000 (Moon Zero Two, Rocketship X-M, The Phantom Planet, etc.). Seeing how short we’ve fallen from that goal is sort of depressing. On the spookily accurate end, Space Travelers was released a year before the Apollo 13 mission it so unsettlingly resembles.

       6 likes

  5. Green Switch says:

    You know, Satellite News, the space travel in The Phantom Planet (which is set in 1980, a not-too-distant future from the film’s 1961 release) makes me grow more and more convinced that the wisest and best is to fix our attention on the good and the beautiful… if you’ll just take the time to look at it.

       18 likes

  6. mthead says:

    Actually Rifftrax “Home of Tomorrow” (see below) is amazingly accurate right down to women still making men’s lunch. Uncanny.

       5 likes

  7. MarcusVermilion says:

    No one had to LEAVE THE BRONX!!!!!!

       15 likes

  8. Jenny erdahl says:

    I’m just hoping for smart robots to riff movies and TV shows some time in the future. I’m look at you apple.

       4 likes

  9. Son of Peanut says:

    Time Chasers showed us that by 2041 men will wear long leather coats and there will be junior colleges. I guess we are well on our way to that, but the big question is this: with more and more shopping malls going down hill, will we still have food courts?!

       6 likes

  10. Apollonia James (yeah, right) says:

    Time Chasers suggested that in the future, kids will become gay agents… while this hasn’t yet come to pass, it seems like more and more kids have cell phones these days…

    I also love “Wall-mounted keyboards! It must be… The Future!!”

       8 likes

  11. trickymutha says:

    Your Butt looks good in the future.

       9 likes

  12. Stoneman says:

    More Time Chasers: The building made completely of recycled materials. While I am far from being an environmental alarmist, I am seeing more and more evidence that, if the human race does not start implementing large scale and effective methods of recycling our refuse (particularly plastics), this planet will eventually be drowning in our garbage. What those methods are, I have no idea at this point, but I think the first New Year resolution I have made in years will be to educate myself regarding the issue and to become more active with my efforts.

    My apologies for being so serious. MST3K is a comedy, and when I post here I usually try to make it funny, but when I read the thread idea the above was the first thing that hit me. Maybe I should just relax and consider a future where I can actually dopple (as long as it’s not an anteater!).

       11 likes

  13. Murdock Hauser says:

    Old men becoming pandas from “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank”. Now that’s the future.

       11 likes

  14. John Hanna says:

    I like that we now have a space station like the one in ‘Crash Of The Moons’, just without the office furniture scratching the floors up.

       1 likes

  15. MSTie says:

    I agree with Tanya about Century 21 Calling — that got a lot of future phone concepts right, although not the actual instruments. Another short, Design for Dreaming, has a couple of ideas too. Putting a card into a kitchen gizmo that shows you what the finished dish will look like and what ingredients you need is sort of like internet recipe sites. There’s another device that is a little like a programmable timer oven or microwave.

       1 likes

  16. Ro-man, aka one of several possible Steves says:

    Well, it’s the future–and I’m still waiting for Nuveena to dance into my life. :inlove:

       6 likes

  17. Torque the Dorque says:

    421 – MONSTER A GO-GO

    “but there was no future…”

       8 likes

  18. Jay says:

    Ro-man, aka one of several possible Steves:
    Well, it’s the future–and I’m still waiting for Nuveena to dance into my life.

    When “mother’s little helpers” went out of fashion in the sixties Nuveena entered rehab. After that she made a modest living starring in “Just Say No” promotionals. She met and later married a lobbyist for the automotive industry.

       13 likes

  19. I’m still waiting for that automatic oven that not only bakes the cake, but then frosts it and adds lit candles on top.

       10 likes

  20. doug says:

    Most of the futures involved adapting to unpalatable life choices. Personally, I’m glad that today does not include flying through space in a warehouse with a healthy psychotic population. Although it’s neat that people can die and return to duty without anyone being the wiser.

       10 likes

  21. ck says:

    #5
    You’re quite a guy, Green Switch. (Now will someone
    just nudge him out an airlock)!

    Btw, still no comic book-obsessed motorcycle gangs?

    Wait until 2020 and four years of a dystopian
    political Washington, D. C.

       7 likes

  22. Blonde Russian Spy says:

    Thanks for using my suggestion, Sampo! First time for me. I do remember watching Century 21 Calling and being a bit shocked to see “futuristic” telephone functions that had actually come to pass. There are quite a few futures from MST3K that I’m glad didn’t come to pass, though. In particular, I’ll say Teenage Caveman. It looks like it’s set in the past, until you get to the end. Of course, it’s always surprising how old people could be and still be “teenagers”.

       2 likes

  23. Ro-man, aka one of several possible Steves says:

    By the way, this is a fun topic. I find it really interesting how science fiction can paint a vision of the future – sometimes thoughtful and prescient, sometimes just plain silly.

    In fact, we are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.

    And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.

       6 likes

  24. MikeK says:

    We have yet to make hyper-intelligent androids that enslave humans, take us into space, go back in time to capture dinosaurs and go back to our present time to kidnap new humans.

       3 likes

  25. David Mello says:

    Project Moonbase may be the most insulting future. It predicts in 1970 we’d almost land on the moon except for some dumb female astronaut who screws it all up. On top of that, it predicts Brooklyn will still have the Dodgers, men and women have to marry each other on the moon so they don’t live in sin, and we’d have a female president who’s a thin Barbara Bush. That last prediction would be nice to have, though

       1 likes

  26. HauntedHill says:

    “Century 21 Calling” sure nailed down the future of phones, eh?

       1 likes

  27. Cam says:

    The continued trajectory of Sean Connery’s brother’s career was precisely predicted.

    Absolutely no deviation.

    (And it retains the same save: At least he didn’t make Zardoz.)

    As far as from the films, I’m going to cheat and use Cinematic Titanic.

    China’s Doomsday Machine has been stolen by North Korea and is a clear and present danger.

    Like Kim Jong-un’s haircut.

       2 likes

  28. Ray Dunakin says:

    One thing I’ve learned from watching MST3K is that large portions of the future will look very much like old stock footage.

       9 likes

  29. Bob says:

    “We really did get features on our phones like call waiting, call forwarding and three-way calling”. Yes. And we got
    smart phones. Now college students can check their phones 440 times a day (actual number) to see if they got a call or text (a common
    phenomenon); ten-year-olds can text their buddies at 3 am and, if they don’t get a reply in two minutes, have an anxiety attack or become apoplectic (another common happening) – no one can have a moment of peace in public, at an outdoor cafe, or waiting in line, or on a plane because someone else is usually yelling drivel into their phone; few people have a real restaurant experience anymore (that is, to enjoy the food and have some conversation) because instead they are staring at their phones, waiting desperately for a call or are actually on their phones; if you go to a live concert sometimes you can’t see the performers because the audience is all on their feet holding up their phones to record it; how many people can walk their dog or see a sunset now without being on their phone?
    – I’m just sayin’

       11 likes

  30. EricJ says:

    David Mello:
    Project Moonbase may be the most insulting future. It predicts in 1970 we’d almost land on the moon except for some dumb female astronaut who screws it all up. On top of that, it predicts Brooklyn will still have the Dodgers, men and women have to marry each other on the moon so they don’t live in sin, and we’d have a female president who’s a thin Barbara Bush. That last prediction would be nice to have, though

    “‘By 1970, the Space Station had been built, and free men were reaching for the moon’…By 1977, hot pants became the height of fashion.”
    (Walking on the walls, however, was a problem.)

    And sadly, the British Mod movement never lasted long enough to bring latex fashion and colorful wigs to Moon Zero-Two.
    We’ve got Marvel Avengers Monopoly and Cartoon Network Monopoly, but still no Moon-opoly.

       1 likes

  31. Cherokee Jack says:

    The ability to “scroll up cinemas” on computers as seen on “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank”.

       6 likes

  32. jjk says:

    When I grew up in the 60’s we were promised by the year 2000 we would have our own jet-packs to fly around in and our own personal spaceships like George Jetson. Well I’m still waiting. Not to mention the only three-way had nothing to do with phones.

       2 likes

  33. fatbarkeep says:

    I’m just saddened by the fact that even in the future our weapons will still be ineffective against the Prince of Space.
    Get off your asses, scientists!

       4 likes

  34. [the Original] Stan McSerr, Destroyer of Worlds says:

    I want to tell a story that happened about 3 weeks ago. I was hungry for some milk and crackers and didn’t feel like doing the yard work. So, I got these robots to do it for me. they made a real mess of things. I am not quite sure why they went haywire. Anyway, the future.

       3 likes

  35. Jay says:

    [the Original] Stan McSerr, Destroyer of Worlds:
    I want to tell a story that happened about 3 weeks ago.I was hungry for some milk and crackers and didn’t feel like doing the yard work.So, I got these robots to do it for me.they made a real mess of things.I am not quite sure why they went haywire.Anyway, the future.

    In your defense it must have been difficult to program those robots with hands made of green modeling clay (no fingers, either).

       6 likes

  36. MSTie says:

    Bob:
    “We really did get features on our phones like call waiting, call forwarding and three-way calling”. Yes. And we got
    smart phones. Now college students can check their phones 440 times a day (actual number) to see if they got a call or text (a common
    phenomenon); ten-year-olds can text their buddies at 3 am and, if they don’t get a reply in two minutes, have an anxiety attack or become apoplectic (another common happening)– no one can have a moment of peace in public, at an outdoor cafe, or waiting in line, or on a plane because someone else is usually yelling drivel into their phone; few people have a real restaurant experience anymore (that is, to enjoy the food and have some conversation) because instead they are staring at their phones, waiting desperately for a call or are actually on their phones; if you go to a live concert sometimes you can’t see the performers because the audience is all on their feet holding up their phones to record it; how many people can walk their dog or see a sunset now without being on their phone?
    – I’m just sayin’

    As I mentioned in the other Satellite News post about the new Rifftrax short from MJ&B “Home of the Future,” Ray Bradbury had it right in his 1953 short story The Murderer (readable online as a pdf). I was shocked when I read it a few years ago, and phone addiction has only gotten worse.

       3 likes

  37. MikeK says:

    Kids kind of are gay agents with the scheduled physical activities and smart phones.

       2 likes

  38. EricJ says:

    jjk:
    When I grew up in the 60’s we were promised by the year 2000 we would have our own jet-packs to fly around in and our own personal spaceships like George Jetson. Well I’mstill waiting.

    And now instead, we’ve got that stupid “Who are they, and what are they even SELLING?” ad, every time you open Hulu:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37waZeR4isc

    (Although it is in keeping with 21st-cty. advertising’s current image of “In the future, everyone will be ethnically ambiguous…”)

       0 likes

  39. Jay says:

    It bothers me to see these old movies where everybody is smoking. All the time. Nonstop. They didn’t know better then. In the future people were supposed to live longer and we do, in large part because tobacco addiction has been greatly reduced. I hate tobacco and all the misery it creates. Like Stoneman and his worthwhile post on recycling I apologize for introducing a serious topic to this enjoyable discussion, but I would be remiss not to speak up and push for a future free of tobacco in any form. Thanks for reading.

       9 likes

  40. Troy says:

    I has a similar idea, but about Joel’s invention exchanges.

    Living in the not to distant future, airbag helmets are a pretty common safety item for cyclists, they make circular saws that automatically retract when they get too close to human fingers, voice to sign language systems, mind controlled musical instruments, phones that tell you when you’ve been eating too much junk food, in utero speakers (though they *ahem* work a little differently from Joel’s), I’m pretty sure you can find ear shaped earmuffs on Etsy, and FAO Schwarz probably sells Hobby Hogs to spoiled rich brats.

    And as 2016 comes to a close, I’d say we’re all more than a little familiar with the concept of DEEEP HUUUURTING!

       4 likes

  41. Ray Dunakin says:

    Jay:
    It bothers me to see these old movies where everybody is smoking. All the time.Nonstop.They didn’t know better then.

    Sure they did. I’m almost 62, and even when I was a small child smoking was already associated with cancer and emphysema. And even prior to those discoveries, common sense should be enough to tell you that deliberately inhaling concentrated smoke can’t possibly be good for your health. They knew. They just didn’t want to accept it.

    Sadly the same thing is happening today. Just as people back then would claim that smoking tobacco had health benefits, now they’re calling cannabis smoke “medicine”.

       3 likes

  42. Johnny Drama says:

    Moon Zero Two is set in 2021. Flights to the moon begin in 2026, so not too far off!

       2 likes

  43. According to The Phantom Planet, on March 16, 1980, square headed white guys would be launching rescue operations from the moon. With co-pilots babbling on about the good and the beautiful.

    Our old future, that is.

       3 likes

  44. pirengle says:

    How about those spaceships with the fully pressurized spacious interiors? It’s like they launched a high school gym. Is Elon Musk working on that?

       2 likes

  45. Ro-man, aka one of several possible Steves says:

    MSTie: Ray Bradbury had it right in his 1953 short story The Murderer

    Thanks for sharing that. Prescient indeed.

    I was in the store gazing at the massive TV screens and my wife mentioned Bradbury. We’re getting awfully close to screens that make up the entire walls of our rooms.

       2 likes

  46. Jay says:

    Well, how ’bout that? Today really is “next Sunday, AD” and I for one am very happy that Specialty Breads have taken over the future. Specialty Breads, properly and attractively displayed. Happy New Year Folks!

       6 likes

  47. Sitting Duck says:

    jjk:
    When I grew up in the 60’s we were promised by the year 2000 we would have our own jet-packs to fly around in and our own personal spaceships like George Jetson. Well I’mstill waiting. Not to mention the only three-way had nothing to do with phones.

    Jet packs do exist, but they’re expensive and kind of lame. One description I’ve heard is that it’s essentially like being propelled through the air with farts. The Future!

       1 likes

  48. Green Switch:
    You know, Satellite News, the space travel in The Phantom Planet (which is set in 1980, a not-too-distant future from the film’s 1961 release) makes me grow more and more convinced that the wisest and best is to fix our attention on the good and the beautiful… if you’ll just take the time to look at it.

    Sorry Green Switch, didn’t see your post. My bad.

       1 likes

  49. Ro-man, aka one of several possible Steves says:

    pirengle:
    How about those spaceships with the fully pressurized spacious interiors? It’s like they launched a high school gym. Is Elon Musk working on that?

    Don’t forget railings. LOTS of railings.

       5 likes

  50. A Flat Minor, Mr. B'smith cousin says:

    Angel’s Revenge with “Which one’s Bruce Jenner?”

       6 likes

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