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Weekend Discussion Thread: Riffably Obscure TV Shows

Alert regular “Sitting Duck” suggests:

Largely forgotten TV shows have proven to be a gold mine for our favorite cowtown puppet show. What other shows do you think are suitable for being riffed? I’d like to put forth this British show from the 50s called “Colonel March of Scotland Yard.” It’s got slipshod plotting, overwrought acting, inappropriate music cues and Boris Karloff sporting an eye patch. In other words, it’s perfect for the MST3K treatment.

What obscure TV shows would you like to see riffed?

84 Replies to “Weekend Discussion Thread: Riffably Obscure TV Shows”

  1. jay says:

    MY MOTHER THE CAR –

    “She’s a 1928 Porter. That’s my mother, dear. And she helps me through everything I do and I’m so glad she’s here. MY MOTHER THE CAR!!!”

       10 likes

  2. I think “The “A” Team” offers dopey action, stupid characters (not actors), bad scripts and is well known by different generations so it could be a great “target” to aim for

       3 likes

  3. Scott Strong says:

    It’s not very obscure, but “BJ and the Bear” would certainly be very riffable. You’ve got a beefy, hairy, hunky 70’s tv star. A monkey, and an incompetent sheriff that wound up getting his own spinoff.

       7 likes

  4. DarkGrandmaofDeath says:

    It’s a toss-up of two titles for me. First there’s Checkmate, a detective series set in San Francisco. It starred Sebastian Cabot, Doug McClure, and Anthony George, and what I remember of it was fun and entertaining, but also quite riffable. (Plus, Sebastian Cabot AND Doug McClure, so you couldn’t go wrong!)

    The other one is Decoy from 1957, a police procedural with Beverly Garland (so you couldn’t go wrong!). Beverly played policewoman Casey Jones, and had to go undercover to solve crimes. It’s 1950s police work, but with a strong, smart woman in the lead…go figure.

       4 likes

  5. I can’t recall the title offhand, but about 10 years ago NBC ran a science-fiction series about monsters appearing in the ocean, and it starred Lake Bell, that MST3K could have tackled. It wasn’t *totally* bad, it just ran on a lot of cliches.

       0 likes

  6. skrag2112 says:

    The weird old puppet show ‘The Letter People’ from 1970s PBS. It had an earworm of a theme song and just so much oddness.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtnuCz91SBA

       1 likes

  7. Aaron says:

    I’m going to give the same answer I gave the last time this came up as a Weekend Discussion Thread – “Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad”, a 1994 Power Rangers knockoff with Matthew Lawrence playing the lead hero and Tim Curry voicing the bad guy.

    Why that one, as opposed to some other Power Rangers knockoff? Easy. The giant Ultraman-type hero that Matthew Lawrence turned into was named…”Servo”.

    Practically writes itself now, doesn’t it? I’m imagining a host segment where Tom decides he’s the Servo from the “movie” and has to merge with a human host, and of course the only human around is Mike (or Joel or Jonah or whoever…)

       3 likes

  8. goalieboy82 says:

    skrag2112:
    The weird old puppet show ‘The Letter People’ from 1970s PBS. It had an earworm of a theme song and just so much oddness.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtnuCz91SBA

    i saw that in elementary school in the early 1990’s.

       2 likes

  9. Son of Peanut says:

    Any of the Power Rangers knock-offs from the 90s and early 2000s. Power Rangers itself was pretty awful, but Tatooed Teenage Alien Fighters From Beverly Hills? Wow. Just, wow.

       4 likes

  10. goalieboy82 says:

    skrag2112:
    The weird old puppet show ‘The Letter People’ from 1970s PBS. It had an earworm of a theme song and just so much oddness.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtnuCz91SBA

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI9LjpLSaSg

       1 likes

  11. Kenotic says:

    Team Knight Rider would be right up MST’s alley: A Low-budget sequel series with no Michael, no KITT, and no other connection to the original series. Somehow it took the worst of Knight Rider and added in designs and acting more along the quality of Power Rangers. It took itself way too seriously and the attempts at humor were usually painfully bad. It only lasted a season and would be perfect for JATB.

       3 likes

  12. Yeti of Great Danger says:

    goalieboy82:
    Space Rangers (1993)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Rangers_(TV_series)

    We had a WDT of “Failed TV Series You Wish They’d Riff” back in October of 2016, and I know this is different as far as “failed” vs. “obscure,” but I’ll heartily agree with Space Rangers, which I suggested on that older WDT. It would be perfect.

    I imagine that obscure TV series would also tend to be failed ones, because if they lasted very long then they probably got to be famous or at least well-known. Another obscure one I’ll suggest is Hank which ran one season from 1965-1966. I remember almost nothing about it other than it had a catchy theme song and the main character, the titular Hank, wore a jaunty white food server’s hat. The extremely brief summary of the show on IMDb says, “Campus lunch wagon operator “drops in” to classes to get college education.” I think riffing on the mid-’60s clothes, hair, and attitudes would be a lot of fun.

    A sad postscript to the show was that Dick Kallman, who played the lead, was killed at age 46 in a robbery-homicide in his Manhattan apartment. :-(

       2 likes

  13. Midwestern Tanuki says:

    Brandon Pierce:
    I can’t recall the title offhand, but about 10 years ago NBC ran a science-fiction series about monsters appearing in the ocean, and it starred Lake Bell, that MST3K could have tackled. It wasn’t *totally* bad, it just ran on a lot of cliches.

    Surface

    I am going to second “Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad”/Gridman.

    Diver Dan

    The Fox Box/4Kids/English dub of Ultraman Tiga.

    Kolchak-The Nightstalker or the short lived reboot.

       1 likes

  14. I have a few:

    “Small Wonder” with VICI the robot girl. So much cheese and laugh-track laden 80’s goodness.

    “Days of our Lives” BUT, during the specific story line when Kristin Demera and Marlena kept morphing into the Devil.

    “TJ Hooker” because Shatner. Nuff said, amirite?

    And of course, Saturday nights on ABC ruled while others drooled with their 1-2 punch of “Love Boat” and “Fantasy Island”. Material for days.

       3 likes

  15. Kenotic says:

    skrag2112:
    The weird old puppet show ‘The Letter People’ from 1970s PBS. It had an earworm of a theme song and just so much oddness.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtnuCz91SBA

    Man, Sesame Street-inspired 70s educational TV was a trip. That said, it’s much better than the Caillou/Barney dark ages from a few years past.

    I’d be up for JATB (or Mike and Company) watching some highlights of 70s/80s Educational TV: Zoom, Read All about It, Slim Goodbody (although the naked man with no skin standing in front of them for 15 minutes might be a bit traumatic), Today’s Special, The Bloodhound Gang…

    ..oh, and Vegetable Soup. That thing was packing more than just veggies…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwktFmbBg2c

       2 likes

  16. TheAngryBanjo says:

    It my be direct-to-video, not TV, but I can’t think of any show more deserving of a good J/M&tB teardown than Peppermint Park.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXThsWgpdfw

       2 likes

  17. I’ve been watching the old Outer Limits, and while they are fun I’m not sure they hold up. For example I saw an episode where tumble weeds attack Eddie Albert from Green Acres! I’d love to see MST take on some of the goofier Outer Limits episodes, especially the ones with monsters.

       3 likes

  18. Kenotic says:

    I could be here all day for this. I didn’t watch B-Movies like others, but I was all over bad and obscure TV kids shows from the 80s and early 90s.

    I’ll see your Super Human Samarui Squad and raise you a “Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills.” If Power Rangers quit their jobs and were replaced by background extras from Saved by the Bell and had a budget of $100 and some spare rubber suits, this is what you’d get. It makes Power Rangers look like Seven Samurai.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOmt2-Z_DfI

       4 likes

  19. goalieboy82 says:

    for Bridget and Mary Jo
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sisters_(U.S._TV_series)

       1 likes

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

    How ’bout this really cheesy mid-80s show called “The Master”? It starred Lee Van Cleef as this old Caucasian Ninja guy, and Timothy Van Patten as this smart-aleky punk kid.
    I think it would be GREAT MST3K fodder as bad TV goes… uhhh…
    errr….. um….. waitasec….

    Sorry, as you were.

       9 likes

  21. goalieboy82 says:

    Ro-man, aka one of several possible Steves:
    How ’bout this really cheesy mid-80s show called “The Master”?It starred Lee Van Cleef as this old Caucasian Ninja guy, and Timothy Van Patten as this smart-aleky punk kid.
    I think it would be GREAT MST3K fodder as bad TV goes… uhhh…
    errr….. um….. waitasec….

    Sorry, as you were.

    how about Rocky Jones Space Ranger….oh wait

       2 likes

  22. Kenotic says:

    One more: The New Monkees.

    I know MST has generally stayed away from things trying to be a comedy, but this really fell flat in its face. There are stories about how the writers never wrote for TV before this, and I believe it. The first episode spends 10 minutes talking about how big their house is and how wacky everything is going to be — it’s like Richard Scarry mixed with Kidd Video in terms of edginess. There’s also a big pair of lips on a screen for some reason. I don’t know how easy it’d be to riff, but it’d be fun seeing them make a go of it.

    At least the music wasn’t awful, but I still feel a little bad for the guys who got caught up in this.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHcmJtslsOg

       1 likes

  23. goalieboy82 says:

    Kenotic:
    One more: The New Monkees.

    I know MST has generally stayed away from things trying to be a comedy, but this really fell flat in its face. There are stories about how the writers never wrote for TV before this, and I believe it. The first episode spends 10 minutes talking about how big their house is and how wacky everything is going to be — it’s like Richard Scarry mixed with Kidd Video in terms of edginess. There’s also a big pair of lips on a screen for some reason. I don’t know how easy it’d be to riff, but it’d be fun seeing them make a go of it.

    At least the music wasn’t awful, but I still feel a little bad for the guys who got caught up in this.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHcmJtslsOg

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KSXsxic6L8

       1 likes

  24. Kenotic says:

    goalieboy82: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KSXsxic6L8

    Yup, new Munsters, new Monkees, new Gidget, new Bradys…dark times, Harry, dark times.

       6 likes

  25. goalieboy82 says:

    Sea Hunt

       3 likes

  26. Laura says:

    “The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJDoX0Ej1wk

    jay:
    MY MOTHER THE CAR –

    “She’s a 1928 Porter.That’s my mother, dear.And she helps me through everything I do and I’m so glad she’s here.MY MOTHER THE CAR!!!”

    Jay, just in case you didn’t know this already

    http://canceledtoosoon.libsyn.com/ep-45-my-mother-the-car-1965-1966

       2 likes

  27. Aaron says:

    goalieboy82:
    Sea Hunt

    Which, of course, starred Lloyd Bridges as a character named…”Mike Nelson”.

    By my own logic, this would work perfectly. (My lungs must be aching for air).

       3 likes

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

    goalieboy82:
    Sea Hunt

    Sure, yeah… but how do you riff a line like “By this time my lungs were aching for air.”? ;)

       3 likes

  29. Well, I don’t want to be That Guy who said that riffing 50’s General Hospital soap operas didn’t…really turn out to be as interesting as they’d hoped, but hey, that is my job, or so I hear. ;)

    Aaron:
    I’m going to give the same answer I gave the last time this came up as a Weekend Discussion Thread – “Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad”, a 1994 Power Rangers knockoff with Matthew Lawrence playing the lead hero and Tim Curry voicing the bad guy.
    Why that one, as opposed to some other Power Rangers knockoff?

    At a guess, I’d say because it would be less painful than USA Network’s old garage-made “Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters From Beverly Hills”. (“Wait, Power Rangers was made in Japan? They didn’t make it themselves?…D’ohh!”)


    For my choice, some prefer J&tB’s “Master Ninja” take on cheesy 70’s-80’s network series to M&tB’s “Riding with Death and Mellowing Out With Jimmy Carter” off-topic issue-laden take on cheesy 70’s-network.
    If it was Jonah&tB, I say, give them the legend that was NBC’s “Supertrain”, and let the Avalanche-esque fun begin. :)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUERtAe73NI
    Not like they’d have that many episodes to work with, anyway.

    (Fantasy Island was miles cheesier, of course, but that one is sacred and untouchable to a generation.)

       3 likes

  30. Buster says:

    Land of the Lost, I know it’s not very obscure to the olds, but if you are under 40 you probable don’t know it except for the movie remake.
    Although the last season is terrible, Seasons 1 and 2 are good just very cheesy, so being watchable helps a ton.

       4 likes

  31. John Paradox says:

    How about Jerry [Sliders] O’Connell in an earlier series called “My Secret Identity”. He, for instance could levitate, but had to carry spray cans to change direction.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Secret_Identity
    or another oldie “My Living Doll” with Julie Newmar and Bob Cummings?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Living_Doll

       2 likes

  32. Scott Strong says:

    goalieboy82:
    Sea Hunt

    I’ll see your Sea Hunt and raise you a Seaquest DSV.

       4 likes

  33. Son of Peanut says:

    Here’s Lucy! The guys referenced The Lucy Show so much I had assumed that it was the low point of Lucy “comedies”, but then I found Here’s Lucy.

    I Love Lucy was funny.
    The Lucy Show much less so.
    Here’s Lucy is just a waste of 30 minutes.

       1 likes

  34. jay says:

    Laura:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJDoX0Ej1wk

    Jay, just in case you didn’t know this already

    http://canceledtoosoon.libsyn.com/ep-45-my-mother-the-car-1965-1966

    Thanks for posting that Laura. As a kid watching the show I had no idea that the car/mother was a communist/Martian/talking horse/homosexual/witch. Wow! No wonder I turned the way I am… But wait. We can’t blame that on a one season TV show, I guess. Of course, if we throw in the effects of watching Lost In Space that’s a different story.

       2 likes

  35. Kenotic:
    One more: The New Monkees.
    I know MST has generally stayed away from things trying to be a comedy, but this really fell flat in its face. There are stories about how the writers never wrote for TV before this, and I believe it. The first episode spends 10 minutes talking about how big their house is and how wacky everything is going to be — it’s like Richard Scarry mixed with Kidd Video in terms of edginess. There’s also a big pair of lips on a screen for some reason.

    Sounds like something for a science-fiction double-feature picture show.

    (Yes, I remember that one was an incoherent mess, riding the ownership-troubles heels of who owned the Old Monkees after MTV’s 20th-anniversary reissue.)

       2 likes

  36. Kenotic says:

    Son of Peanut: Here’s Lucy

    Here’s Lucy was okay, but it was also Lucy 20 years after her most famous role and TV was nothing like it was in the early 50s — imagine turning the channel from Lucy to Laugh-In — and by the time it was over TV was already making itself nostalgic for the 50s with stuff like Happy Days.

    That said, Life With Lucy is the toughest to watch: Every second she’s on it’s fun, but any time anyone else opens their mouth everything screeches to a halt.

       3 likes

  37. RedZoneTuba says:

    Battle of the Network Stars

    B-list celebrities, women competing braless (Angels Revenge, Redux?), and self-important Robert Conrad taking everything deadly serious and acting like western democracy depended on beating those bastards from ABC in the bouncy-bouncy relay race.

       4 likes

  38. Kenotic says:

    For Pete’s Sake, I cannot stop thinking of good riff material — how has Cop Rock not been mentioned?!??

    Most shows don’t have black market adoption ring leaders sing a song with the words “I’m the Baby Merchant, Tots R Us.” There is a reason for that.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPk966PuQNE

       2 likes

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

    On the subject of 50’s sci-fi TV, I’d have to say “Men into Space”. The title says it all: men go into space. Once in space, they do things. Sometimes those things are dangerous. Sometimes those things are more ABOUT space than IN space. There is dialogue. A moonbase figures prominently in many episodes. There are rockets. There are lot of old white guys talking. Sometimes, that talk in space.

    In other words, this show is dryer than unbuttered stale toast.

    It’s also insultingly sexist. I kid you not, there is an entire episode where the astronauts are permitted to take their housewives with them to the moonbase in order to study them and see how the effects of space travel effect womenfolk. They literally do the same things they do on earth (cook, clean, take care of the men), and still SOMEHOW fail. Why? Strap in… The pressures of being unable to shop, talk to their friends, or go outside get to them, and the space program decides to drop the whole “women into space” thing almost immediately.

    Wow.

    Chauvinistic douchery aside, it’s an interesting little show, if for no other reason than that there is very little that is, in fact, interesting about it. It’s a peek into how 1950’s America viewed the very real possibilities of space travel. Think Rocky Jones, but with no action, likable characters, space pirates, sci-fi worlds, or crashing moons. It’s just dry and dated enough that MST3K could REALLY sink their teeth into it.

       3 likes

  40. Son of Peanut says:

    Kenotic: Here’s Lucy was okay, but it was also Lucy 20 years after her most famous role and TV was nothing like it was in the early 50s — imagine turning the channel from Lucy to Laugh-In — and by the time it was over TV was already making itself nostalgic for the 50s with stuff like Happy Days.

    That said, Life With Lucy is the toughest to watch: Every second she’s on it’s fun, but any time anyone else opens their mouth everything screeches to a halt.

    I bow to your superior Lucy wisdom.

       4 likes

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

    1974s Planet of the Apes TV series would be fun. I was 10 at the time and I remember being SO EXCITED about it.
    In retrospect… Lord, it was not that good.

    Oh, except for Roddy McDowell — he’s good in EVERYTHING.

       5 likes

  42. Sitting Duck says:

    Regarding Colonel March, he was originally created by mystery writer John Dickson Carr under the pseudonym Carter Dickson. I’ve never read him, so can’t be sure if the plotting flaws are a result of either a shoddy adaptation or if Carr was simply a hack. The opening sequence is particularly riffable. It involves March (portrayed by Karloff) walking over to his desk, where he sits and starts writing in a book. We then cut to the book, where the episode’s title is written. A riff that comes to mind would occur as he’s writing, which would go, “Dear Diary, [insert statement of pent-up resentment towards Bela Lugosi and/or Lon Chaney Jr.].” If you want to see it for yourself, the entire run is available on Amazon Prime. I particularly recommend The Abominable Snowman.

    Midwestern Tanuki:Kolchak-The Nightstalker or the short lived reboot.

    I enjoyed the original Night Stalker, but will concede that it was running on fumes by the last couple of episodes. IIRC it has been subjected to the Master Ninja treatment of two episodes being clumsily stitched together into a single “movie”. The 2005 remake was terrible, from basically making it X-Files at a Newspaper to Stuart Townshend’s craptastic performance as Kolchak.

       2 likes

  43. Cornjob says:

    Automan: A big slice of 80’s cheese.

       2 likes

  44. jjk50 says:

    A show currently on Comet TV, Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot. A Japanese series from 1967-68 that has rubber monsters and aliens like a cross between Godzilla movies, Lost in Space and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

       3 likes

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

    Also, while I’m here, I have to add the late 80’s/early 90’s “War of the Worlds” TV show to the list. While a fascinating concept that deserves high praise for so faithfully replicating the props, effects, and feel of the original George Pal film (which the series acts as a direct sequel to), there are some admittedly cheesy moments that, while I was watching it, made me think of how fun it would be to watch it riffed on MST3K. It’s not a bad show by any means, nor is it particularly obscure (at least in certain circles), but it’d be interesting to see how it would work on the show.

       2 likes

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