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RiffTrax Live: Thoughts?

An open thread for reports about last night’s Rifftrax Live: The Five Doctors show.

31 Replies to “RiffTrax Live: Thoughts?”

  1. majorjoe23 says:

    I was surprised that q movie with a character called The Master didn’t get a Manos reference.


  2. Kenneth Morgan says:

    I thought it turned out very well. There were a few slow spots, plus a few technical hitches near the start, but the result was very good.

    The short, “Play Safe”, was pretty much a British version of “Shake Hands with Danger”, with dumb kids doing dumb things and suffering the harsh consequences. For “The Five Doctors”, they focused on the cheesiness of the production and the holes in the script, and ignored most of the continuity snarls a Whovian might pick up on. Much hay was made about Richard Hurndall stepping in for William Hartnell (“I’m off to have tea with the second Darrin from ‘Bewitched’.”) and the ineptitude of the Cybermen (“These guys are easier to kill than Stormtroopers.”) And I also liked the pre-show title cards (“WHO KNEW: Every time the Doctor reverses the polarity of the neutron flow, he’s forced to reset his AOL password.”)

    I found that those in the UK will eventually get to see this as a VOD. I’d be interested to know their reaction.


  3. I’m not a Doctor Who fan but definitely laughed harder than in any other live show in recent memory courtesy of the horrible costumes, 80s special effects, and many many references to other series and movies I love. Working on the funny moments for the show’s TVTropes page. Also had a good theater crowd.

    Also along with the missed Manos reference, I’m surprised no one else pointed out that the Master looked a great deal like Pendragon from Jack The Giant Killer.

    Many Favorite riffs:
    * “In a rare twist of fate, somebody is telling an old man to get off his lawn!”
    * “[The First Doctor] looks like Martin Van Buren on the set of a Japanese game show!”
    * “Someone pissed off Tim the Enchanter”
    * “Hey, that’s just Space Quest II!”
    * “That’s the wrong kind of probe!”
    * “Well, I’ve found my new ringtone.”
    * “Please insert the second CD ROM disc!”


  4. ThomasKDye1 says:

    My spouse and I definitely had fun. We were in Vallejo, California, and there were perhaps fifteen people in the theater, tops.

    The opening glitch (“WE NEED THE MOVIE IN OUR MONITORS, PLEASE”) was a bit unnerving; I was wondering if it’d ever get fixed but it did. “Play Safe,” as stated above, was “Shake Hands with Danger” crossed with “Danger! Keep Out!” Slight spoiler; I loved how the kids practically had to go out of their way to get electrocuted, and the riffers did not miss that. “In Flaming Jeans…”

    “The Five Doctors” was a typically slow-moving but fun Dr. Who serial. Tom Baker’s Doctor is written out in the cheesiest of ways (“the five, uh, FOUR doctors!”). Mike, Kevin and Bill riffed a fair amount on how old and doddering the Doctors all are apart from Davison, who doesn’t do much but talk. (My husband and I discussed that it’s funny how after this, the Doctors were all young guys until Capaldi.) The bit where Sarah Jane falls off a “ledge” was hilarious and they made the most of it. The checkerboard “trap” got some deserved slagging.

    I think the energy wasn’t there as much, though… and this is me speaking as a Who fan… because the serial was just so slow and oddly paced. There weren’t as many “gimmes” because the plot made little-to-no-sense (at least the multiple Doctors had a reason to be there in “The Three Doctors” several years earlier). But I had a good time and laughed often, which was the important part.


  5. Laura says:

    I too am not a “Doctor Who” watcher and yet I nearly had an asthma attack from laughing last night. This is one of the funniest live shows I’ve seen in a while. Who knew DOS games had multiple uses? This is a question for the Whovians here: Is Sarah Jane really that bumbling? She (somehow because gravity behaves differently on the Doctor’s homeworld) falls down a VERY SLIGHT incline and needs to be pulled to safety? That one still boggles my mind. Also, I had no idea one of the Doctors was the love-child of James May and Ric Flair!


  6. ripmcstudly says:

    Our crowd in Maryland had a lot of big laughs, the kind that can drown out a riff or two. Usually it’s not quite that boisterous, apart from an intentional loud laugher. The short was definitely a roller coaster, going from the monitor problem to a horrified laugh at the flaming jeans. The feature, though, played pretty well start to finish, with the crowd really eating up jokes about the “First Doctor”s sour old man attitude and Time Lord fashion. I have to admit, though, that after watching so much Pertwee, I basically went home with a craving to watch his lookalike Bea Arthur in Golden Girls.


  7. CaptainSpam says:

    I thought it was a solid show, really. Definitely a stronger turnout in Lexington, KY than what we had for the Summer Shorts show. Around fifteen or so instead of four. Again, we had an audio problem at the start where all sound died during the previews and had to be restarted a couple minutes into the actual show, which was disconcerting. The real issue, though, was midway through when a storm rolled in and we were all treated to a Complete Signal Loss error screen for around ten minutes. Then we got to see the computer that ran the show reboot (Win 7 Embedded, it turns out). Neat!

    The Five Doctors never did make too much sense, and that’s even compared to the rest of classic Who, but even at that, I’m glad they didn’t seem to get TOO savage on it. The “crisis” of Sarah Jane falling into a shallow ditch was handled quite well, I was enjoying the jokes about the First Doctor changing actors due to the death of William Hartnell (they thankfully kept those jokes fun and upbeat rather than mean-spirited), and just what DOES Turlough bring to the team, anyway? I’m also pretty sure this was a remastered edition; last I saw it, I don’t recall the Time Scoop having that sort of effect, and I thought the part with the Fourth Doctor being released from the vortex was different than just replaying a part of the gondola scene.

    Play Safe was a fun one, too. Started out sort of slow, but as it picked up steam, MAN, British child safety videos back then did not mess around, apparently. Two children dead, several hospitalized, law enforcement openly calling some of them stupid… we’re not in Coronet country anymore, that’s for sure. Also, I had no idea there were so many electrical sub stations in Britain around that time.

    All in all, a fine show, which makes it a shame they might not be able to get it released as a VoD. I’m hoping they work something out, but given it’s the BBC and Doctor Who, I can imagine it’s not likely.


  8. Johnny's nonchalance says:

    The biggest turnout at the Oakdale, MN Marcus theater in many moons. They actually shifted it to a bigger theater on the day of the show because of the demand. It was great that they had more people show up, but slightly annoying that I had reserved seats at the back of the theater but got moved closer to the front.

    I was also very nervous about the monitor glitch in the early moments. This is gonna be awkward! Thankfully they worked it out. I wonder if they will incorporate a better way to communicate such issues to the tech staff without letting the audience know there’s a problem. I was also wondering if the glitch affected their ability to sell a stand-alone live version of the short as they frequently do–especially if they are unable to release this as a VOD.

    I remember watching Five Doctors originally on PBS as a tyke with my dad in the early 80s. I’m sure it was more compelling then. Now it is prime riff fodder. I will add that my first episode of MST3K was Fugitive Alien, and the fanboy dispute pretty much sealed the deal for me.

    Crow: Oh man, cool, this is just like episode 38 of star trek the first season! but it doesn’t have that same kind of…

    Tom: No, no, it’s like that star raider that the daleks had in the fifth generation of the doctor and the Doctor Who when they had the three doctors together and they had the one that looked like Moe and..

    Crow: They were Klingon

    Tom: No

    Crow: It’s just like that episode when it was the Nazi world on Star Trek

    Tom: No no no, it’s like Doctor Who when Tom Baker was the Doctor, he was the fifth doctor, and he was trying to save Lila from the plague masters…

    Crow: No, cos I saw it at a…

    Tom: I saw it at the Who Festival, they had twelve hours…

    Back to the Rifftrax show– The probing jokes were pretty good, but I thought the highlight was the stray cyberman walking into the background. “Uh, did I miss my cue?”

    All the jokes about the ineptitude of the villains were glorious.

    I was the only one in our theater who laughed at the joke when the three doctors were all staring at that pyramid shaped thing with the hieroglyphics on it. “they moved the food court”

    Bill’s impersonation of the jowely mutton-chopped Rassilon was hilarious, but it did cover up a lot of dialogue. Surprised they didn’t comment on how one of the faces disappeared from Rassilon’s table in the last shot of it.

    Hey Moe!


  9. goalieboy82 says:

    this would also be a good one (semi NSFW)


  10. La De Da says:

    Never seen a Doctor Who anything before last night, but I saw characters in so much of shows, I wasn’t super lost.

    When to 5 Guys after. Ironically, only four people were working that night.


  11. Mysteryman says:

    Best lines were “Sonic the Hedgehog looks quite pregnant there” and also the two guys drinking: “It’s 9 am somewhere!” and “To civilian life!” “We’ve ended enough of it this year!”

    This is a question for the Whovians here:Is Sarah Jane really that bumbling?She (somehow because gravity behaves differently on the Doctor’s homeworld) falls down a VERY SLIGHT incline and needs to be pulled to safety?That one still boggles my mind.

    I think they wanted her to fall off a cliff but just couldn’t manage it so they had her fall down a fairly gentle incline and unsuccessfully tried to hide it with fog. They should have just cut it completely.


  12. Another thing I liked more about this show than the Summer Shorts fest is political humor was kept to a minimum and jabbed at both sides. I’m sure I’m not the only one who goes to those shows to get away from those topics.


  13. Sitting Duck says:

    A couple of minutes before the end of the pre-show sequence, the sound cut out. I got increasingly panicky as the silence continued through the opening sequence. Fortunately, it came back on as the riffers walked onto the stage.

    Regarding the incompetence of the Cybermen in this feature, I believe Terrance Dicks has stated that he’s not very fond of them. Certainly it would explain why there was never a Cybermen story in the Pertwee years, when Dicks was script editor.

    Laura: This is a question for the Whovians here: Is Sarah Jane really that bumbling?

    I’d say Sarah is upper middle of the pack as regards Companion competence. She’s nowhere near as hapless as Victoria or Peri, but falls short of Leela or Nyssa. Of course, depending on which writer handles a Companion, their competence levels can vary.


  14. Colossus Prime says:

    Pretty good turn out in Milwaukee, WI. Originally they planned to put it in a bigger theater, rightfully expecting a larger turn out for Doctor Who, but wound up switching it to a smaller one. Unlike Johnny, my friends and I were bumped back instead of forward, so it wasn’t bad.

    As a guy who absorbs continuity like a sponge, I forgot how all over the place this special was. Still a very fun time, even though it slows down a lot.

    I appreciated the unusual volume of “older” jokes. Ones that would go over the heads of, say, people under 30. There weren’t a whole lot, but certainly more than usual.


  15. IR5 says:

    The usual 25 here in Flint, MI. I don’t get Dr. Who, but, I thought it was very funny and was entertained. I am thinking about going back for the repeat next week.


  16. littleaimishboy says:


    Exclusive Radio Times interview with Elisabeth Sladen: “My whole life flashed before my eyes!!!”

    Ahhhhh ….. good times.


  17. There were probably about 8-12 people in Ashland, Kentucky last night. I arrived late due to some road work-based delays (and a motorcycle festival causing my expected route to be closed entirely at one point). Despite the relatively small turnout, the audience was very receptive and there were a lot of laughs. I think I made it in about halfway through the short. As a Whovian and MSTie, this was a dream for me, and it was very cool seeing classic Who on the big screen. And I happen to love The Five Doctors, as quirky, shall we say, as it is. The riffs seemed to take a little while to pick up steam but they got into a great groove and were hilarious as always.

    Can someone fill me in on what exactly happened with the technical glitch? I’m hoping I can go to the rebroadcast next week, but I’m wondering if whatever it was will have been edited out somehow by then. It’s a shame this probably won’t see a VOD release, it’s one I’d definitely buy if they were able to release it.


  18. Ern Darnpath says:

    Leonard Kirke:
    Can someone fill me in on what exactly happened with the technical glitch? I’m hoping I can go to the rebroadcast next week, but I’m wondering if whatever it was will have been edited out somehow by then. It’s a shame this probably won’t see a VOD release, it’s one I’d definitely buy if they were able to release it.

    They couldn’t hear the short to be able to talk back to it at the right times at the beginning, instead going off the “house audio” which would have bothered Sir Topham Hatt.

    Kevin had to loudly ask the audio guys to “have the movie in our monitors” several times.

    Thankfully Bill was not trapped in a chrysalis the whole time, but it’s my opinion that the jokes for that short went up to eleven.


  19. Ern Darnpath says:

    I loved the whole thing. Rifftrax has figured out how to let the weirdness of a thing shine through at just the right times, and then deliver a killer line later.

    Any MT337 fans here?


  20. Joseph Nebus says:

    About two-thirds full at Celebration Cinema in Lansing. That’s down from previous shows here, I think, although given that the previous show wasn’t at Celebration maybe they’re just recovering.

    The sound mix of the short and the movie seemed off, to us. At least it was hard to make out the original short-and-movie. Maybe our theater just had the balance wrong. The Fathom Events Guy telling us to enjoy this Fathom Event had enough reverb to support a small baseball park. And maybe it’s just impossible to get a good audio mix out of early-80s Doctor Who, as I understand BBC policy at the time was to have all the dialogue recorded by someone standing in the closet two rooms over.

    Play Safe was an exciting short; it’s always interesting to see how a different culture describes the same sort of basic, should-be-common-sense stuff. It felt more technical than what I’d imagine the US equivalent of the time to be. It’s also striking that not only do two kids get killed over the course of the short, but that they’re killed by the actions of someone else. I mean, Frisbee Kid is killed because he gives in to peer pressure, but it’s not like he thought grabbing the Frisbee was all that great an idea. Also, apparently it was a thing to throw chains into the wires of British electrical stations in the hopes of causing a blackout? Is this something that actually happened or just something everybody knew roving gangs of would-be Clockwork Orange fans did?

    I couldn’t get enough of the technical glitch that kept the Rifftraxers from seeing the short on their monitors. But I love watching systems trying to carry on as important pieces break down.

    So regarding The Five Doctors: did the Lord President actually need The Doctors to do anything? More to the point, did the narrative? Because if The Doctors hadn’t been sucked into this, what would have happened? The Lord President gets himself turned into a face on the Bier of Rassilon? This is some real Raiders of the Lost Ark problem with the story.

    The other problem with the story, besides Doctors being matched up with the wrong Companions for their era: only the Second Doctor was really into it. I mean, I liked the First Doctor for not wishing to put up with all this nonsense. And I liked that the First Doctor always had a clear idea of what to do to settle the matter once and for all. He gave the narrative what meager direction it could have. But every time the Second Doctor came on-screen I brightened up because there, finally, was some energy and excitement and a sense that at least one actor wanted to be there. My Love and I concluded that he did for the narrative what Popeye did for Thimble Theater: every panel he’s on-camera, there’s someone to pay attention to. The Fifth Doctor, oh, my, he tried valiantly but it’s like the camera itself just slid off whenever he was on-screen. I understand he’s generally better than this.

    The joke My Love thought went too far: the Rifftraxers saying “now attend every two-bit sci-fi convention until you die”. My Love took this to be directed at Patrick Troughton, in which case that was an excessively mean riff, since he almost never did conventions and then, the one time he [I]did[/I] attend one, he died at the con. I took this to be aimed at Nicholas Courtney, whom I understand did attend a lot of conventions and enjoy them, in which case the meanness is dispersed. I’m curious how other people read the line.

    Favorite riff: ‘Its like if Martin van Buren on a Japanese game show!’

    So why [I]did[/I] the Lord President have his collectible figures of the Doctors and Companions in that little cheese wheel, anyway?

    I understand in Who fandom after this episode a standard running joke became identifying The Things of Rassilon: the Bicycle Pump of Rassilon. The Cheese Fondue Set of Rassilon. The Highway Rest Area Vending Machine of Rassilon. The Violin Bow Resin Cube of Rassilon. I suppose the movie didn’t give the Rifftraxers enough time to develop this theme, but it’s one of obvious great value.

    Still waiting for the Emerson, Lake, and Palmer Song of Rassilon.

    The [I]Star Trek[/I] pinball machine in the theater’s lobby has had a good bit of maintenance and was playing rather well, apart from the left kicker not firing well. I was able to win three replays in a row, and my love got two in the three games played. I even got on the high score table twice, this despite my setting a personal record for shots missed and for half-ramps, the ball getting [I]nearly[/I] around but coming rocketing back down toward the center instead. Only put up 57 million — the high score table’s been reset, although not the Grand Championship — but considering I couldn’t connect with any of the shots that’s doing really well. Glad to see it’s had some caretending.


  21. hookemhorns says:

    This was fun, but I must admit that my wife and I both dozed off a bit here and there. Maybe our age is catching up with us, although we admittedly are not Dr. Who fans by any stretch of the imagination. However, it appeared that many in attendance at the Cinemark in Plano, Texas were and really enjoyed the show. It was a pleasant enough evening. Though it was not my favorite Rifftrax live show, my 17 year old daughter repeatedly laughed and loved it, and wants to try watching more Dr. Who as a result. I myself liked seeing Peter Davison; I had grown up watching him in All Creatures Great and Small reruns every Saturday night here on our local PBS affiliate in the early 1980’s, although it was funny to see him as something other than Tristan Herriot.

    Our theater was 75-80% full, which has not happened since the Starship Troopers show a few years back was completely full.

    The line that got the best audience reaction here was Mike’s callback riff on Fort Worth from the first Rifftrax Live show and the flying stewardesses short then. The Dallas-Fort Worth rivalry lives on.


  22. Danzilla "Cornjob" McLargeHuge, Student of Kaijuology says:

    My theater in Sylvania, Ohio, was pretty full. I’d say about 3/4 full, a better turnout than most (if not all) previous Rifftrax shows. The “Who Factor” lured many a nerd to this particular show…

    I must confess, for no other reason than that I know I would become immediately obsessed with it and begin collecting DVD’s, toys, and other bits of memorabilia with money I don’t have, I haven’t seen a heck of a lot of Dr. Who. Last night was the first full Dr. Who anything I’ve seen, and although I’m familiar with much of the mythos and history, there still a lot that is mysterious to me. NONE of that was a hinderence to enjoying the show, or to laughing like a crazy person.

    The short started out rough with those concerning technical difficulties, and the rhythm was kind of thrown off a bit for a while, but they recovered pretty well. I’d love to hear all the riffs they didn’t deliver.

    The feature was pretty darn good, a respectful but funny Riff in the vein of last year’s Mothra. The movie itself is very much my cup of tea, as, I’m sure, it was for many viewers. But the cheese lent itself well to riffing, and the end result was a memorable comedy experience. Cheesy British stuff has always worked well for riffing (at least for me), so this felt right at home with episodes like The Projected Man and The Deadly Bees.

    Bottom line: my Kickstarter money was well spent, as always. This show was amazing, and this year has been a great one for Rifftrax. The Sumer Shorts Beach Party was hysterical, and Samurai Cop is, at least in my book, one of the top 3 funniest shows they’ve done. 2017 has been great for riffing in general, and I’m so glad Rifftrax is continuing to be amazing and bring so much laughter to a world that sorely needs it right now.

    I’ll see you guys in October for Night of the Living Dead!


  23. Warren says:

    There were maybe seven people in the theater, not surprising but slightly disappointing. Favorite moments-the Cyberman apparently jumping his cue into the shot, the rare twist of an old man being taken off of the lawn, the Master finding ‘Uncle Owen’, and graphic pants on fire at the substation. I did hear one of the guys say something about the monitor, but if it was a technical issue it seemed to be fixed quickly (here anyway). The writer acknowledged (I have the proper dvd of this) that Sarah Jane wasn’t really down some deep slope, that it should have been easy to get back to the road. For that matter she could have just met the Third Doctor without needing his immediate help. Elisabeth Sladen deserved a better costume too.


  24. Sitting Duck says:

    Joseph Nebus:
    The other problem with the story, besides Doctors being matched up with the wrong Companions for their era…

    While the Brigadier and Sarah Jane may be more popularly associated with Pertwee and Tom Baker respectively, both made their debuts with the preceding Doctors (in The Web of Fear and The Time Warrior).


  25. Farmland says:

    Springfield, Oregon with a pretty decent crowd (They showed it in one of the smaller theaters, but it was full.) Everybody seemed into it (I even spotted someone else with the 2017 Kickstarter shirt) and while there was one person in my aisle who went a little heavy on the HEYUCK HEYUCK HEYUCKs, it didn’t interfere with my enjoyment. Play Safe was fun (I love how British bobbies will flat out tell you you’re doing something stupid); the technical snags may not lend themselves to a VOD release, but it should be pretty painless to record a studio version, especially if it’s not going to be available anywhere else.

    As for the main event, it wasn’t Rifftrax Live at its very best, but it was still a good solid night out with a lot of laughs. I enjoy Who as much as anybody, but it’s always been damned silly (that’s part of the charm) and I always enjoy a chance to glory in that, especially with the barely coherent plot and Tom Baker’s obviously wedged in “appearance” (The Four-And-A-Half Doctors probably would have been more accurate.) The guys must have had to jump through some hoops to get this, but it was time and money well spent. Hopefully, the BBC will let them have another crack someday soon.

    And part of me is a little bummed that this is it for 2017, but I’m actually kind of relieved overall. I recall Kevin once saying that their goal was to do two or three live shows a year, and that seems to be a good number. For those of us who have to hire babysitters, four shows is a bit of a stretch, and it sort of kills off the novelty a little bit. As a fan and Kickstarter backer, I’m very happy with what I paid for. Bring on next year…

    “I’m not too drunk to tardis! You are!”


  26. majorjoe23 says:

    The show was sold out locally, the first time I remember that happening for a RiffTrax show. Usually I buy my tickets day of, but my wife wanted to go and suggested we buy in advance. We ended up getting the last two seats together.

    I think Doctor Who fans (there’s a pretty strong contingent in Iowa due to IPTV’s longstanding support) turned out in strong numbers.

    Here’s an interesting article about Iowa’s longstanding support of The Doctor


  27. PJ says:

    Our crowd in Maryland had a lot of big laughs, the kind that can drown out a riff or two. Usually it’s not quite that boisterous, apart from an intentional loud laugher. The short was definitely a roller coaster, going from the monitor problem to a horrified laugh at the flaming jeans. The feature, though, played pretty well start to finish, with the crowd really eating up jokes about the “First Doctor”s sour old man attitude and Time Lord fashion. I have to admit, though, that after watching so much Pertwee, I basically went home with a craving to watch his lookalike Bea Arthur in Golden Girls.

    I’m picturing the Doctors in a post credit scene at a kitchen table 4am huddled around a cheesecake discussing their sex lives.


  28. PJ says:

    And what happened with the monitors? The Mike, Kevin, and Bill’s monitors went black and they had to rely on the big screen? Or was this something happening with monitors all over the country of some type. I’m confused.

    BTW, I’d really love to the the Rifftrax guys just being themselves in plain clothes but have Jonah and the Bots join in. That would be one hell of a reunion with the bots involved. Maybe the Mads dressed up as well. A fella can dream.


  29. IR5 says:

    Went to see this again tonight as son couldn’t make last week and it was cool to go together. It was better this time. Plus, Son translated what Dr. Who was really all about, which confused me further, which led to more laughter. Old guys painted the screen, and that was only Bill, Kevin and Mike. Seriously, the second viewing felt like comic Gold. I trust my feelings.


  30. noplot says:

    About two-thirds full for the replay in Portland, OR this evening. Having never seen a Doctor Who episode before (yeah, I know, but I’ve seen all five Roger Corman nurse movies, so that must count for something, right?) I was worried I’d be kind of lost, but it was fine and I figured out what was going on pretty quickly. Lots of laughs from the mix of actors and cost-effective special effects. The short was also lots of fun; apparently British kids were just as clueless about electricity as we were, but our shorts rarely showed kids, um, dying. And could the Cybermen pick up satellite radio with those heads? Enquiring minds want to know.


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