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Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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An Update on What Joel’s Been Up To…

… comeback-wise.

Samuel Claiborn of IGN has an extensive piece on where things stand and what he’s looking for going ahead.

62 Replies to “An Update on What Joel’s Been Up To…”

  1. Let’s get the most unpopular opinion possible out of the way first,
    Thirty-plus years down the road, Joel Hodgson is still fixated on the idea that the world is entranced by his narrative. Joel, honey, not only did no one on Planet Earth care about the intro and most of the background on the last two seasons, BUT THE ENTIRE INTRO WAS COMPLETELY INCOMPREHENSIBLE. THE SKELETON CREW WAS UNFUNNY, UNORIGINAL, AND INCOMPREHENSIBLE. Hell, the Time Capsule in Cinematic Titanic was incomprehensible, and at least you pulled that after a few eps.
    The only reason having a complete little mythology as a matrix in the original show was even moderately inveigling was because it was coming out of this gimply little UHF station in the Great White North. But even Mike Nelson had to find out that the riffing-bad-movies shtick wasn’t a function of the setup (Four Film Crews and out, right?) it was a function of the funny. I remember some quote from Joel about how much he hated the whole concept of Rifftrax; entitled to his opinion, but by their hundredth or two hundredth release, a really smart guy should have picked up that FUNNY SELLS WITHOUT A SHOW. A SHOW DOESN’T SELL WITHOUT FUNNY.
    That goes triple when you’re trying to rope in a new audience.
    Time for go to bed now.

       21 likes

  2. The Original EricJ
    Ignored
    says:

    Wondering? Just. Show. Relax.

    Sounds like Joel H. really was planning on a live-show season for Netflix S13, so looks like there’s still hope–
    Bringing back S11 was a good idea, but by the time we got the riffing on “Killer Fish”, it definitely needed to get out of the box and in front of an audience again, like Cinematic Titanic–Where the audience could provide the laughtrack, or lack thereof, as the riffs and movie absurdities sink or swim in real time.
    (And, one would argue, as turned out to be the case with Rifftrax as well.)

       4 likes

  3. jay
    Ignored
    says:

    I have no expertise to comment on the above article other than to say that after all these years I am still a fan.

       19 likes

  4. Lawgiver
    Ignored
    says:

    gottogetbacktothejudorange:
    Let’s get the most unpopular opinion possible out of the way first,
    Thirty-plus years down the road, Joel Hodgson is still fixated on the idea that the world is entranced by his narrative. Joel, honey, not only did no one on Planet Earth care about the intro and most of the background on the last two seasons, BUT THE ENTIRE INTRO WAS COMPLETELY INCOMPREHENSIBLE. THE SKELETON CREW WAS UNFUNNY, UNORIGINAL, AND INCOMPREHENSIBLE. Hell, the Time Capsule in Cinematic Titanic was incomprehensible, and at least you pulled that after a few eps.
    The only reason having a complete little mythology as a matrix in the original show was even moderately inveigling was because it was coming out of this gimply little UHF station in the Great White North. But even Mike Nelson had to find out that the riffing-bad-movies shtick wasn’t a function of the setup (Four Film Crews and out, right?) it was a function of the funny. I remember some quote from Joel about how much he hated the whole concept of Rifftrax; entitled to his opinion, but by their hundredth or two hundredth release, a really smart guy should have picked up that FUNNY SELLS WITHOUT A SHOW. A SHOW DOESN’T SELL WITHOUT FUNNY.
    That goes triple when you’re trying to rope in a new audience.
    Time for go to bed now.

    This is obviously just one person’s opinion, because I was more a fan of the characters than of the riffing. Yeah the riffing was funny, but riffing without character personalities isn’t as funny to me.

       12 likes

  5. Lawgiver: This is obviously just one person’s opinion, because I was more a fan of the characters than of the riffing. Yeah the riffing was funny, but riffing without character personalities isn’t as funny to me.

    Then try this: the last two seasons with Felicia Day, Patton Oswalt, and Jonah Ray, plus the THREE bots, AND STOP RIGHT THERE. Did you have any problem with the PRINCIPAL characters, the choice of movies OR the riffing in the last two seasons? I may be alone in this, but I sure didn’t. Patton Oswalt wasn’t that well-received, but his reading on, “Ooh. The sled crashed” put me on the floor.
    The characters? The first 1+7 seasons of MST did fine with the relationships between just the essential characters. The walk-ins by writers and interns were fine, too, but other than Jerry the Mole Person they were mostly just that, walk in and walk out. The Netflix shows? Marrone a me. Beat a modestly interesting premise to death, and leave it writhing in agony.
    Joel Hodgson is like Jack Black. Somebody needs to force him to stick to what he does well. Then you get Jack Black in King Kong, and Joel Hodgson doing, “Hired!” Without control, you get School of Rock, and the g* d* Skeleton Crew.

       3 likes

  6. Master Ninja 2
    Ignored
    says:

    School Of Rock was great!

       7 likes

  7. Terry the Sensitive Knight
    Ignored
    says:

    I really only had two major problems with the Netflix show:

    1. Tom and Crow. I could not get used to their new voices/personalities no matter how hard I tried.
    Bill Corbett was right, you do not f*** with established characters. They may as well have been completely new bots.
    (While on that subject, I do hate the fact that they introduced those new bots in S12 whose names escape me. They added nothing.)

    2. The riffing itself was subpar and felt forced, rather than easy-going an natural. Everyone sounded like they were on speed and were trying to cram as many jokes in as possible, without any regard to delivery or humor. Even RiffTrax does a more MST-like job when it comes to the way jokes are delivered and how the riffers interact with each other. Jonah, Tom and Crow may as well have been in separate booths.

       18 likes

  8. Terry the Sensitive Knight
    Ignored
    says:

    I suppose I should add I didn’t mind the new Gypsy so much.
    To be quite honest, the old Gypsy didn’t have much of a personality beyond “obsessed with Richard Basehart and talks kinda dumb”
    Sure, she runs the higher functions of the ship and is pretty smart, but she was always something of a third wheel.

    Of course, now not only do we have a new voice for Gypsy, she’s not even Gypsy anymore but a newer, smaller model called GPC. So she may as well be a new character.

       2 likes

  9. Terry the Sensitive Knight
    Ignored
    says:

    Oh yeah, one last thing that I didn’t like about the reboot is there are NO SHORTS!

    I love shorts more than you can imagine, and I think they’re much better for riffing than feature-length films.
    They’re short (duh), cover a wide range of topics from the mundane to the utterly bizarre, and there just so many of them and most of the time I’m going “what the hell were they thinking when they made this?” while laughing my ass off.

       11 likes

  10. Terry the Sensitive Knight
    Ignored
    says:

    gottogetbacktothejudorange:
    Thirty-plus years down the road, Joel Hodgson is still fixated on the idea that the world is entranced by his narrative. Joel, honey, not only did no one on Planet Earth care about the intro and most of the background on the last two seasons, BUT THE ENTIRE INTRO WAS COMPLETELY INCOMPREHENSIBLE.
    But even Mike Nelson had to find out that the riffing-bad-movies shtick wasn’t a function of the setup (Four Film Crews and out, right?) it was a function of the funny.

    That’s actually a very good point. And this (HUGE) quote frankly worries me:

    “The narrative is really important to me. What is the story of Mystery Science Theater? How does Gizmonic Institute fit into it? What was the purpose of Gizmonic Institute?”

    Please please please Joel. Don’t try to answer questions no-one asked. NOBODY cares about who or what Gizmonics Institute is, or why Deep 13, or any of that stuff. Don’t do what George Lucas did and ruin your series by adding in a whole bunch of terrible backstory. We loved your show *because* it was so inexplicable. Funny comes first, the rest is left to our imaginations…

       18 likes

  11. SmudgyTheBootblack
    Ignored
    says:

    Terry the Sensitive Knight:
    I suppose I should add I didn’t mind the new Gypsy so much.
    To be quite honest, the old Gypsy didn’t have much of a personality beyond “obsessed with Richard Basehart and talks kinda dumb”
    Sure, she runs the higher functions of the ship and is pretty smart, but she was always something of a third wheel.

    Of course, now not only do we have a new voice for Gypsy, she’s not even Gypsy anymore but a newer, smaller model called GPC. So she may as well be a new character.

    Gypsy was only like that until around Season 4. I liked her personality – she was busy, had s*** to do and typically didn’t have time for Host & The Bots nonsense. And Jim Mallon is Public Enemy #1 in many fans eyes but I loved the voice he did for Gypsy, it’s hilarious. Except when she’s screaming! That can be brutal.

       19 likes

  12. The Original EricJ
    Ignored
    says:

    Lawgiver: This is obviously just one person’s opinion, because I was more a fan of the characters than of the riffing. Yeah the riffing was funny, but riffing without character personalities isn’t as funny to me.

    And hearing the RT guys do little other than nudge each other in the ribs for two hours ain’t exactly hilarity either.
    There’s a balance, but it depends on the dynamic of the comics: Cinematic Titanic was absolutely deadly with their isolated “Underground vault” premise, but back up to speed with an audience that the comics were more used to performing in front of.
    But whether the tighter premise-discipline of selling MST3K: the Movie to a mainstream audience made MK&T funnier by keeping “mean” Mike-era humor in check and forcing them to concentrate on more generally funny movie riffs, YMMV.

    It really comes down to a question of individual professionalism, with no right or wrong answers across the board.

    But even Mike Nelson had to find out that the riffing-bad-movies shtick wasn’t a function of the setup (Four Film Crews and out, right?)

    Five, thought it was, and Kevin Murphy tried to retro-fit a “Renaissance Fair” joke into EACH and EVERY SINGLE one of them.
    Even the Greek epic, even though it was supposed to be historical, and not mythological. (And mythology is sort of like fantasy that Tolkien-losers read, y’know…Huzzah!)

    Terry the Sensitive Knight:
    Oh yeah, one last thing that I didn’t like about the reboot is there are NO SHORTS!
    I love shorts more than you can imagine, and I think they’re much better for riffing than feature-length films.
    They’re short (duh), cover a wide range of topics from the mundane to the utterly bizarre, and there just so many of them and most of the time I’m going “what the hell were they thinking when they made this?” while laughing my ass off.

    And producer Joel’s fear that well, the KIDS wouldn’t want to see an old B/W 4:3 movie, with their Netflix, and their binge-parties, and their hoverboards, and their smartphone twerking…
    Which limited the movies to only three or four isolated sources (Roger Corman/Concorde, Asylum, MGM orphans), for cheap 70’s-90’s films, and, yes, no hilariously somber educational shorts.
    Even if Joel and (who’s the new girl, again, from the Circus show?) have to go RT’s route and do an all-Shorts show, that…wouldn’t be too bad, as the diversity of sources and their absolutely riffable deadpans make them funny enough for even RT to riff.

       3 likes

  13. Lawgiver
    Ignored
    says:

    SmudgyTheBootblack: Gypsy was only like that until around Season 4. I liked her personality – she was busy, had s*** to do and typically didn’t have time for Host & The Bots nonsense. And Jim Mallon is Public Enemy #1 in many fans eyes but I loved the voice he did for Gypsy, it’s hilarious. Except when she’s screaming! That can be brutal.

    Gypsy had some of the funniest lines:
    Crow: Mike who’s your friend?
    Gypsy: Don’t you dare, Nelson!

       8 likes

  14. mst3kme
    Ignored
    says:

    Smudgy:

    Jim Mallon is not Public Enemy #1 to me.

    He’s the quintessential Gypsy.

    Whatever happened with rights issues or money distribution among the Brains is nobody’s business except for those people involved.

    Mallon is no longer in the entertainment industry and has been through personal tragedy you wouldn’t wish on anyone.

    SmudgyTheBootblack: Gypsy was only like that until around Season 4. I liked her personality – she was busy, had s*** to do and typically didn’t have time for Host & The Bots nonsense. And Jim Mallon is Public Enemy #1 in many fans eyes but I loved the voice he did for Gypsy, it’s hilarious. Except when she’s screaming! That can be brutal.

       14 likes

  15. Benjamin Wink
    Ignored
    says:

    I think that the issue is that Joel has kind of ignored or dismissed what made MST work in the first place. By not having a Jim Mallon or a Trace Beaulieu with the reboot, everything rested on Joel’s shoulders which was what he apparently wanted, hence the decisions that were made. I think he wanted this to be his baby and his responsibility and his everything and subsequently, for me at least, it misfired. MST3k wasn’t just his idea, it was his voice along with all the other voices that helped that seed of an idea grow and bear fruit for as long as it has.

    It emphasizes more and more why there had to have been a balance when this show started to make it what it became over 11 years from KTMA to Sci-Fi. Whether he admits it or not, Joel needed Jim’s producing abilities and strong voice for that show to work. Joel needed Trace and his amazing creative input for that show to work. And not to dismiss Kevin or Josh either because they were valuable lynchpins in getting that show going and enduring. I mean Kevin was on that series from the day the doors opened to when the studio was shut down.

    Perhaps the Lucas parallel is apt to an extent. Lucas needed Gary Kurtz and Lawrence Kasdan and outside directors and such to help get his original vision out, to bounce ideas off of, to be a voice that challenges him when need be. That’s the big issue with the prequels is that Lucas took over the whole enterprise of directing and writing by his lonesome, left a wide production berth for himself with no repercussions to anyone but himself, and subsequently there was no real voice to challenge a perceived bad or underdeveloped idea. Sure it is certainly Lucas’ vision, but perhaps that vision needed an equally respected voice to provide constructive criticism, much like Spielberg with the Indiana Jones films.

    That is probably why Cinematic Titanic worked well for the most part. The group that Joel surrounded himself with weren’t newbies at all. They had more than earned their stripes, had the track records to show that they sure as hell knew what they were doing, and it seemed to be more a team of equals than anything else. (And the barely goofy premise that CT started with, which I know I never really cared for, died a quick death once the live shows started up and was not missed.)

    But the reboot had none of that “team of equals”-kind of ethos in the background as far as I can tell. It seemed to have more of an acolytes and fans who would follow whatever Joel would want type of vibe with the production. An “Oh we’re just so grateful to be here! I grew up with MST3k so this is a dream come true for me!” line of thinking. Now is Joel funny? Absolutely. There were plenty of talented people on that reboot. People with their own established credentials, who never worked together before. Were they able to be considered equals or at least have a creative critical voice as powerful as Jim or Trace had back in the day? Or Kevin or Mike for that matter?

    Frankly, did the reboot’s rushed production schedule even allow for it? Given how fast they wrote and filmed and acted, I doubt they had a chance to breath let alone effectively contribute creatively to the best of their abilities for that many episodes made in such a quick succession. It just never really gelled for me and given how fast it was made it looks like it didn’t completely gel for them either.

    I had hoped that when Joel brought Paul Chaplin onboard, he could have been that voice, but it didn’t happen. Paul certainly had the street cred and is incredibly talented. Personally I would have made him head writer, if he wanted to take the job, just to have that established creative continuity. But that’s me. And again, maybe it was offered by Joel and Paul declined; who knows but those two gents?

    It just seems like a missed opportunity. At least for me. Others can love it and more power to them. I begrudge no one their fandom. (Well, except for fans of the Eagles. How can one enjoy a rock band that caters to people that hate rock music?)

    But above all, I echo others here that cringed when Joel wanted to explore a backstory. I don’t give a toss about a prequelly kind of MST3k season to explore any kind of origins. Don’t care. Not a bit. All I need for establishing a backstory on MST3k is provided within whichever season’s theme song. Done. Golly, that was easy and no mess.

       29 likes

  16. The Original EricJ
    Ignored
    says:

    Lawgiver: Gypsy had some of the funniest lines:
    Crow: Mike who’s your friend?
    Gypsy: Don’t you dare, Nelson!

    Q: So what would you do if you were the Amazing Colossal Man?
    Gypsy: I would have taken my head, and made a hat!
    All: (ahem…okay?…)

    Benjamin Wink: Perhaps the Lucas parallel is apt to an extent. Lucas needed Gary Kurtz and Lawrence Kasdan and outside directors and such to help get his original vision out, to bounce ideas off of, to be a voice that challenges him when need be. That’s the big issue with the prequels is that Lucas took over the whole enterprise of directing and writing by his lonesome, left a wide production berth for himself with no repercussions to anyone but himself, and subsequently there was no real voice to challenge a perceived bad or underdeveloped idea. Sure it is certainly Lucas’ vision, but perhaps that vision needed an equally respected voice to provide constructive criticism, much like Spielberg with the Indiana Jones films.
    That is probably why Cinematic Titanic worked well for the most part. The group that Joel surrounded himself with weren’t newbies at all. They had more than earned their stripes, had the track records to show that they sure as hell knew what they were doing, and it seemed to be more a team of equals than anything else. (And the barely goofy premise that CT started with, which I know I never really cared for, died a quick death once the live shows started up and was not missed.)
    But the reboot had none of that “team of equals”-kind of ethos in the background as far as I can tell. It seemed to have more of an acolytes and fans who would follow whatever Joel would want type of vibe with the production. An “Oh we’re just so grateful to be here! I grew up with MST3k so this is a dream come true for me!” line of thinking. Now is Joel funny? Absolutely. There were plenty of talented people on that reboot. People with their own established credentials, who never worked together before. Were they able to be considered equals or at least have a creative critical voice as powerful as Jim or Trace had back in the day? Or Kevin or Mike for that matter?

    Also the Lucas parallel that the former young promising American Graffiti director had now been fan-lionized as The Creator, and–like Gene Roddenberry’s occasionally loopy improvisations helping Paramount develop Star Trek:TNG–may have gotten too wrapped up living up to the Walt Disney-like reputation that fans had put upon him.
    Hodgson’s idea was a very simple one, back when local stations owned packages of unwanted Gamera films, 60’s-spy cheapies and TV-compilations, and all backwater stations could throw something goofy and homemade together to kid themselves about it and still draw some ratings for a showing. It’s only when fans started believing this was some New Manifesto, and set out into the world shouting “Rowsdower!” as if it was “Wakanda Forever!”, that everyone on the series thought it was their own comic sounding board to strike back against our confused age–Kevin wanted the jokes to be anger-cathartic shock-jokes about headlines, Mike wanted the jokes to be about Whatever Celebrity Bothered Him, etc., and the entire cult of fans and talent literally forgot what the show was supposed to be.
    After Joel H. got the show back, he couldn’t do another Cinematic Titanic Under The Proper Name This Time, he had to make the show what fans “expected” from the Sci-Fi series he watched, and have it be a “celebration” of fan-refs and Idiot Control Now lyrics.

    (Although Cinematic Titanic sure could have picked some better, or least less bleak movies to show to a paying audience than “Legacy of Blood” or “The Doomsday Machine”.
    CT wanted to stay with the purer concept of Bizarre Public-Domain Movies strange enough for the audience to jawdrop at, back when RT was still trying to wring low-hanging locker-room laughs out of the Transformers, Twilight and Reefer Madness, and it seemed like the two disappointing extremes of what was funny enough to work in the middle.)

       3 likes

  17. claybone
    Ignored
    says:

    I held out on watching the Netflix phase for a while, but recently started to binge on them. I’m on Starcrash right now and enjoying the hell out of it.

    The updates and changes were a little jarring at first, but I quickly acclimated. The show was always in a state of flux anyway so that really isn’t an issue for me.

    I adapted to the new robot voices pretty quickly. I had trouble telling them apart at first and it was frustrating, but now I don’t have that problem. After I’m finished I’ll have to go back and watch the first few episodes again so I can enjoy them without that particular frustration.

    The riffs are very rapid fire! Now that I’ve gotten used to the heightened pace the old episodes feel as though there are oceans of time between the riffs.

    I love the visual refinements to the sets and color schemes as well as the razor sharp HD resolution. Even the movies themselves look great without sacrificing any schlock aesthetic. The choice of movies seems perfect, as well as cohesive, and it seems like a wise decision to stick with color films.

    While I’ve warmed up to the new bot voices and enjoyed both Patton Oswalt and Felicia Day right from the get-go, it’s Jonah Ray that I’ve been most impressed with so far. I wasn’t sure at first because I thought his performance at that Rifftrax live event a few years ago was somewhat lackluster. But now I see why Joel chose him for the part and I’m probably going to have trouble accepting another host.

       11 likes

  18. mando3b
    Ignored
    says:

    Benjamin Wink: By not having a Jim Mallon or a Trace Beaulieu with the reboot, everything rested on Joel’s shoulders which was what he apparently wanted, hence the decisions that were made.

    This is so ironic, because on the Sound Lot history of MST3K, Joel says in so many words that it was Trace who gave Crow his personality. Look,I love Joel, and I have no problem with him tinkering around with MST in 2020: after all, it is his creation. But what made the classic show, Seasons 1-10, was the camaraderie & collective creativity that produced a chemistry that the Netflix reboot and recent live shows (what I’ve seen, at least) just can’t reproduce. I liked Felicia Day & Patton Oswald, and I especially like Jonah and Emily, but everything that has been going on with MST3K has too much of a big-budget/show biz feel to it that runs counter to the whole idea of riffing bad movies on the background of a WTF backstory. On the Twitch MST3K network, they ran a bunch of short spots about the Keebler elves who now work on the robots. It’s all cool and interesting and creative: Crow can dance and ride a unicycle! Tom Servo can fly!! And Gypsy is now a hand-held puppet named GPC. It’s all so–klandintku! But to me it so misses the point. As for the narrative business . . . Hey, I’m a writer and I taught lit for a long time, so I love narrative! But the glory of the old MST is the poker-faced/WTF/it just IS aura. It was enough to know that Gizmonics & Deep 13 exist & that Joel made sentient robots with big personalities who help him ridicule bad movies. That’s all I need to know!

       17 likes

  19. mando3b:
    As for the narrative business . . . Hey, I’m a writer and I taught lit for a long time, so I love narrative! But the glory of the old MST is the poker-faced/WTF/it just IS aura. It was enough to know that Gizmonics & Deep 13 exist & that Joel made sentient robots with big personalities who help him ridicule bad movies. That’s all I need to know!

       2 likes

  20. bchat
    Ignored
    says:

    It’s the 21st Century, time to take advantage of the technology at hand and the viewing habits of the world at large.

    Shout! Factory should just get Joel to produce six episodes at a time, and then release them as dvd sets (with extras) to get back some of the cost. Then, six months to a year later (to maximize sales), stream them online somewhere (on their own site, or Youtube, wherever) and plug-in some ads to make a little more money, while directing online viewers to links to buy the dvd sets … and shirts, coffee mugs, hats, trading cards, party napkins, action figures, and Halloween costumes. “Release” the episodes online one at a time to replicate that regular network schedule feel.

    MST3K is not a show that has to have a big budget look or celebrities showing-up as a guest-star or part of the cast in order for me to want to watch it. The movie/riffing is the main star, so, in my opinion, that’s where the bulk of the money should be spent (film rights & writing staff). “Mystery Science Theater 3000” is about a person with robots trapped in space being forced to watch bad movies. It’s such a simple set-up, and it isn’t necessary to spend money trying to explain or build upon that premise. In other words, Joel doesn’t need NetFlix or a cable network to make it work.

    I feel that Joel tried so hard to find MST3K a “home”. What he didn’t realize was that MST was already home the whole time. It’s the internet, Joel … the internet is MST3K’s home. It always was.

       12 likes

  21. mando3b: As for the narrative business . . . Hey, I’m a writer and I taught lit for a long time, so I love narrative! But the glory of the old MST is the poker-faced/WTF/it just IS aura. It was enough to know that Gizmonics & Deep 13 exist & that Joel made sentient robots with big personalities who help him ridicule bad movies. That’s all I need to know!

    Ghod, do I miss the Edit function. I have no idea what just happened.
    Anyway, if Joel Hodgson wants to build his puppet show on a structure of narrative and a self-referential little mythology, that’s his call, if he can find someone who’ll fund it. If he wants something that won’t close on Wednesday, though, he needs an editor for that narrative. To quote one of the greats (me), HEMINGWAY HAD AN EDITOR! STEPHEN KING HAS AN EDITOR! YOU NEED AN EDITOR! I NEED AN EDITOR! ALL GOD’S CHILDREN NEED AN EDITOR! I think you hit it–do we really need to post the cafeteria menu for August for the Gizmonic Institute cafeteria?

       6 likes

  22. Thad Boyd
    Ignored
    says:

    I think some of you are being a little harsh but I agree with the general sentiment that Joel is overthinking the lore. (Except the villains; I think Rebecca and Yvonne both have real potential but deserve better than “Pearl clone” and “other Pearl clone”.) He mentioned he wants to involve fans more in the creation process, so maybe that’s a chance for someone to gently talk him out of it.

    I remember an interview where he said that at one point his plan for the revival was that they were going to alternate between two casts, the original cast and the Sci-Fi cast, and he had some elaborate explanation in mind for why Joel and Mike were both going to be up there with two sets of bots (and maybe even two different satellites?) but eventually he decided to dump all that in favor of a clean start. I think ultimately that was the right decision — a rotating cast like he was describing then and is describing again now isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but there’s no need to overthink it. Do you really need an in-universe reason for having Jonah sometimes host and Joel sometimes host and Emily sometimes host? I think you can trust the audience to roll with it.

    It sounds like we’ve got at least two new shorts coming up with Joel, Josh, and Bill, which is a lineup we’ve never seen before. So that’s an opportunity to see how combining different actors from different eras of the show can work, and also another opportunity to try to figure out how to make MST3K during the pandemic (I think they said there would be silhouettes this time, so it won’t be like the Moon Zero Two re-riff).

       5 likes

  23. Master Ninja 2
    Ignored
    says:

    Public domain means no one owns it. Those movies are extremely rare, as there’s an owner for near everything. It’s as bad as saying MST3K started on public access (it didn’t, UHF!).

       4 likes

  24. The Original EricJ
    Ignored
    says:

    Master Ninja 2:
    Public domain means no one owns it. Those movies are extremely rare, as there’s an owner for near everything. It’s as bad as saying MST3K started on public access (it didn’t, UHF!).

    But when Elvira at one point was doing the exact same string of titles that early Cinematic Titanic was (eg. Blood of the Vampire, Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks), one suspects that a certain class of movies are very EASY to get hands on cheaply, without a lot of nasty “broadcast rights” nonsense to interfere.

    Speaking of which, when is RT going to thrill us with David DeCoteau’s latest female-pseudonymed direct-to-video Amazon Prime epic?

       1 likes

  25. 346436 .
    Ignored
    says:

    The Original EricJ: But when Elvira at one point was doing the exact same string of titles that early Cinematic Titanic was (eg. Blood of the Vampire, Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks), one suspects that a certain class of movies are very EASY to get hands on cheaply, without a lot of nasty “broadcast rights” nonsense to interfere.

    Speaking of which, when is RT going to thrill us with David DeCoteau’s latest female-pseudonymed direct-to-video Amazon Prime epic?

    Just because it’s easy to obtain doesn’t make it public domain. Stop misusing the term.

       12 likes

  26. Master Ninja 2
    Ignored
    says:

    Cheap does not mean free.

       5 likes

  27. IR5
    Ignored
    says:

    I do think exploring the back story is self indulgent perhaps. Don’t overthink it Joel- find witty writers and performers- goofy ass movies and let it riff. Keep host segments brief. I’m also of the opinion that we don’t need an invention exchange. Sure, there have been some great ones- but, this isn’t Sunday Mass- no need for this ritual. That said, I support Joel and his efforts and believe he will listen to fans on shaping the future of his show. Keep it low budget, sharp, and focused on the movie- and just relax…

       10 likes

  28. The Original EricJ
    Ignored
    says:

    346436 .: Just because it’s easy to obtain doesn’t make it public domain. Stop misusing the term.

    They’re “Easy to obtain” because the copyright needed to be renewed every few decades, and the original struggling producer or cheapjack B-movie distribution company wasn’t around to pay for it, and thus now doesn’t own it.
    Manos would never have been on the series in the first place if Hal Warren had been around to continue to pay for his paean to the female hand, and let’s not even get into the Creeping Terror guy.
    Sometimes, like Amazing Colossal Man or Godzilla vs. Megalon, someone DOES pay for the copyright, and then that’s too bad for everyone.

    (And recently, the bankruptcy of MGM/UA/Orion has left a lot of formerly owned 70’s-80’s American International pictures up for grabs, like “Mac & Me” and “Land That Time Forgot”.
    Roger Corman’s loss of New World Pictures also gave us almost the entire S11.)

       0 likes

  29. The Original EricJ
    Ignored
    says:

    gottogetbacktothejudorange: THE SKELETON CREW WAS UNFUNNY, UNORIGINAL, AND INCOMPREHENSIBLE.

    And don’t ref “The Super Infra-Man” if you’re not planning to USE it on the show! That’s too cruel!!

       2 likes

  30. claybone
    Ignored
    says:

    The back story stuff might be unnecessary for us fans, but it might be the main creative aspect that keeps Joel interested in going forward with the show. When he loses interest then he’s going to abandon us again. I still have PTSD from 1993.

       8 likes

  31. 346436 .
    Ignored
    says:

    The Original EricJ: They’re “Easy to obtain” because the copyright needed to be renewed every few decades, and the original struggling producer or cheapjack B-movie distribution company wasn’t around to pay for it, and thus now doesn’t own it.
    Manos would never have been on the series in the first place if Hal Warren had been around to continue to pay for his paean to the female hand, and let’s not even get into the Creeping Terror guy.
    Sometimes, like Amazing Colossal Man or Godzilla vs. Megalon, someone DOES pay for the copyright, and then that’s too bad for everyone.

    (And recently, the bankruptcy of MGM/UA/Orion has left a lot of formerly owned 70’s-80’s American International pictures up for grabs, like “Mac & Me” and “Land That Time Forgot”.
    Roger Corman’s loss of New World Pictures also gave us almost the entire S11.)

    Yeah like I and Master Ninja 2 said just because it’s easy to obtain doesn’t make it the public domain regardless if some “struggling producer” wants to cheaply license it. If someone owns it then not in the Public Domain. Also Hal Warren has long since passed on we don’t know what his take would be had he kept the rights. However, considering David Gianolca had no problem licensing Time Chasers to the show and I’ve heard similar stories about Tony Zarindast and Werewolf for all we know maybe he’d be in the same boat we don’t know for sure so there’s no definite answer. Further more I don’t know what point you’re trying to make here with phrases like “paean to the female hand” but considering your posting history I don’t think I want to know.

       8 likes

  32. InvaderPet
    Ignored
    says:

    Re: “Jim Mallon is not Public Enemy #1 to me.”

    I was thinking, given the mixed opinions of Joel’s current incarnations with the series, perhaps there are reasons why Jim Mallon was so stronghold on Joel’s creative decisions way back when….

       9 likes

  33. MonkeyPretzel
    Ignored
    says:

    InvaderPet:
    Re: “Jim Mallon is not Public Enemy #1 to me.”

    I was thinking, given the mixed opinions of Joel’s current incarnations with the series, perhaps there are reasons why Jim Mallon was so stronghold on Joel’s creative decisions way back when….

    It’s become obvious over the past five years or so that Joel’s creative ideas work best when he has a team of EQUALS, not underlings, working on bringing them to life. It’s also apparent that those EQUALS need to tell him “No” once in a while, something that underlings who are dependent on their childhood hero for work aren’t in a position to do.

    The popular interpretation is that Mallon “drove” Joel out of MST3K, but everything I’ve ever read or heard anyone involved say, including Joel, is that Joel left because he didn’t get his way about the movie. He thought it should be done according to his ideas, Jim (and possibly a few of the others) disagreed and went in another direction. Joel didn’t want to be the face of a movie that he thought was going to fail and he didn’t want to continue doing the show under all that tension, so he left. Getting MST3K back was Joel finally getting the total control he thought he deserved as creator over his creation, and he’s not going to give that up in any way, for anyone. I think MST3K has suffered for it, and having that total control means that when new MST falls short on something, he’s the one ultimately responsible. That includes not being able to handle money properly and ending up in debt on both Season 11 and Season 12, which is why if he asks for money again he should be questioned closely by the people providing the funds on exactly how much things cost and how he is planning his budget.

       15 likes

  34. littleaimishboy
    Ignored
    says:

    Here’s a list of 1089 Public Domain movies. There’s lots more, but this should keep future incarnations of MST, and Rifftrax, busy for a while.

    https://www.imdb.com/list/ls060673364/

       2 likes

  35. Master Ninja 2
    Ignored
    says:

    The strange thing about all this format of the show business…

    IFC is going to air some of Season 12. And, like everything else, there will be commercials. This was the season that did away with the commercial breaks.

    None of this makes sense anymore lol

       1 likes

  36. nomad
    Ignored
    says:

    Yeah, well IFC just plays the commercials where ever the hell they feel like playing them anyway. They’ve already butchered quite a few classic episodes that DID have commercial breaks, but IFC decided those breaks weren’t in the right spots!

       2 likes

  37. SmudgyTheBootblack
    Ignored
    says:

    Yeah, I’m glad IFC is showing old episodes (it makes the show feel a little more vital than airing on, say, Comet) but the random commercial breaks are jarring and it seems that they slow down the opening theme song and the commercial bumpers (not the actual show, relievedly).

       1 likes

  38. michaelkz
    Ignored
    says:

    I think I get what Joel is saying wanting some kind of sense as to the cast changes, he shouldn’t worry about that. It’s okay for Netflix and MST3K Live to be their own things.

       1 likes

  39. Master Ninja 2
    Ignored
    says:

    …and then out of the blue, the official MST3K Twitch channel streamed Quest of the Delta Knights today! Hopefully this means some rights issues were cleared up!

       7 likes

  40. Thad Boyd
    Ignored
    says:

    Master Ninja 2:
    Public domain means no one owns it. Those movies are extremely rare, as there’s an owner for near everything.

    I wouldn’t say “extremely rare”, but every movie from 1978 onward is still under copyright. The copyright status of movies made before 1978 (and after 1924) depends on whether the creators registered and maintained the copyrights properly.

    Nearly all the movies that Trace and Frank riff as the Mads are public domain. MST3K riffed a number of public domain films over the years; notably, Manos is public domain because Hal Warren never filed for a copyright (the US has recognized automatic copyright since 1978).

    MonkeyPretzel: It’s become The popular interpretation is that Mallon “drove” Joel out of MST3K, but everything I’ve ever read or heard anyone involved say, including Joel,is that Joel left because he didn’t get his way about the movie.

    From what I’ve heard on Bill’s podcast, everybody had a pretty fraught relationship with Jim. I forget which episode and which guest it was, but I remember a comment to the effect that Frank was the only person who left the show for any reason other than a conflict with Jim.

    If Jim wanted to tell his side of the story, I’m sure his perspective would be different. He was the guy who had to keep the trains running on time and also make the tough financial decisions. I’m sure he did what he thought he had to do to keep the lights on.

    I don’t think there’s any sense holding a grudge against him all these years later, but if someone’s going to say “maybe it wasn’t Jim, it was Joel,” I think it’s worth mentioning that Joel isn’t the only person who’s described conflict with Jim.

       7 likes

  41. [Sorry, for some reason the Quote function isn’t working]
    MonkeyPretzel
    The popular interpretation is that Mallon “drove” Joel out of MST3K, but everything I’ve ever read or heard anyone involved say, including Joel, is that Joel left because he didn’t get his way about the movie. He thought it should be done according to his ideas, Jim (and possibly a few of the others) disagreed and went in another direction.

    I recall a remark made several years ago somewhere in the MST Universe that Joel decided to leave and wanted to drop in from time to time as an at-will guest. Jim told him, “in or out.” Anybody remember this story, and maybe the source? For Science, of course.

       2 likes

  42. mando3b
    Ignored
    says:

    Thad Boyd: He was the guy who had to keep the trains running on time and also make the tough financial decisions. I’m sure he did what he thought he had to do to keep the lights on.

    I remember an episode from the old Dick Van Dyke show in which Rob is telling Laura about how irritating Mel can be, and he says, “Mel’s a PEST! With the writers he’s a PEST, with the cast he’s a PEST … but, you know, that’s the point: he’s the producer, that’s his job, he has to be a PEST, or the show won’t happen on time!” (Paraphrasing here, but this was the idea.) Could this be part of the point with Jim and the rest of the crew on MST?

    Public domain, not public domain, who the hell cares? The movies are bad, they got ’em, and the rest depends on what they do with ’em. If “public domain” allows the laughs to happen more easily, then bravo.

    This is somewhat relevant to the original discussion. At the end of the day, the reason I’m here at all is the robots and the SOL. I like to watch Cinematic Titanic, Rifftrax & The Film Crew every now and then, but those shows are all just garden-variety comics riffing on bad movies. They all happen to be comics I like a lot and I laugh from time to time, but then I turn off my computer and move on to something else. I would never start my day checking a fan site for CT as I do Satellite News; I wouldn’t put on a Film Crew tee-shirt for “Film Crew Monday” on Shout! Factory TV and set my schedule around that week’s lineup; and I certainly wouldn’t have figurines of the Rifftrax crew on prominent display in my living room. The goofy backstory, the big personalities and great puppeteering make something I could do myself unique and memorable. (All of us have riffed lots of bad movies in our time, with mixed results!) Trace’s line “My loins will never stir again!” during the championship wrestling match in Racket Girls would be amusing enough if it were just Trace; but seeing and hearing a wacky, loinlesss, pin-nosed robot say it in silhouette in an ersatz movie theater makes it side-splittingly/tears-streaming-down-cheeks funny. That’s the essence of MST for me! Crow doesn’t need to ride a unicycle as long as he keeps coming up with lines like that.

       14 likes

  43. InvaderPet
    Ignored
    says:

    Re: “It’s become obvious over the past five years or so that Joel’s creative ideas work best when he has a team of EQUALS, not underlings, working on bringing them to life. It’s also apparent that those EQUALS need to tell him ‘No’ once in a while, something that underlings who are dependent on their childhood hero for work aren’t in a position to do.”

    Amusingly, this can apply to George Lucas as well, in regards to the Star Wars prequels.

       4 likes

  44. The Original EricJ
    Ignored
    says:

    Thad Boyd: I wouldn’t say “extremely rare”, but every movie from 1978 onward is still under copyright.The copyright status of movies made before 1978 (and after 1924) depends on whether the creators registered and maintained the copyrights properly.
    Nearly all the movies that Trace and Frank riff as the Mads are public domain.MST3K riffed a number of public domain films over the years; notably, Manos is public domain because Hal Warren never filed for a copyright (the US has recognized automatic copyright since 1978).

    Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that when studios go under–like MGM’s bankruptcy in the 00’s dumping the aforementioned “Mac & Me” on every cheap independent streaming service known to man, not to mention S12–there are a lot LESS people to Maintain Copyrights Properly.
    For example, when Orion Pictures went bankrupt in the early 90’s, later rebranded itself as an ownership label for other expired B-distributor companies’ catalogs from the 70’s and 80’s, like American Int’l, Atlantic, Hemdale and Cannon, and then went bankrupt again…all of a sudden, not only did 90’s Orion Pictures like “Dances With Wolves” and “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” suddenly crop up like kudzu on Amazon, Netflix and Hulu, so did AI B-movies, Atlantic’s “Teen Wolf Too”, Hemdale’s “Hoosiers”, and Cannon’s “Lifeforce”, along with just about every Chuck Norris film ever made.
    And that’s not counting United Artists’ 00’s bankruptcy–flooding those same services with 007, 80’s Woody Allen, “1984” and “Curse of the Pink Panther”–the 80’s/90’s movies that Paramount gave to Warner to release, who promptly dropped them (you have never had so much streaming opportunity to watch “Clue” in your life), or the 70’s-80’s Columbia catalog that Sony dumped when they thought Disks Were Dead in the 10’s.

    So, even if we’re not properly using the PD-words, the new streaming/disk-fan lingo is that there are a lot of poor studio “Orphans” out there.

       1 likes

  45. SmudgyTheBootblack
    Ignored
    says:

    gottogetbacktothejudorange:
    [Sorry, for some reason the Quote function isn’t working]
    MonkeyPretzel
    The popular interpretation is that Mallon “drove” Joel out of MST3K, but everything I’ve ever read or heard anyone involved say, including Joel, is that Joel left because he didn’t get his way about the movie. He thought it should be done according to his ideas, Jim (and possibly a few of the others) disagreed and went in another direction.

    I recall a remark made several years ago somewhere in the MST Universe that Joel decided to leave and wanted to drop in from time to time as an at-will guest. Jim told him, “in or out.” Anybody remember this story, and maybe the source? For Science, of course.

    Joel talks about that in the TV Guide article from 1993 with the photo”shoot” that has him, Mike and The Bots on the SOL.
    “What he will get is a three-month hiatus, after which he will continue to direct every third show and help write scripts.”
    https://twitter.com/brotherzee/status/870979527656263682/photo/3

       2 likes

  46. [Still no Quote function???]
    SmudgyTheBootblack
    Joel talks about that in the TV Guide article from 1993 with the photo”shoot” that has him, Mike and The Bots on the SOL.
    “What he will get is a three-month hiatus, after which he will continue to direct every third show and help write scripts.”
    https://twitter.com/brotherzee/status/870979527656263682/photo/3

    AWESOME At my age, something I remember as being from “a coupla years ago” inevitably turns out to be more like twenty years ago….

       2 likes

  47. mst3kme
    Ignored
    says:

    Smudgy:

    I remember reading that article when it first was published.

    I don’t know whether I feel old or I was just younger then…

    What a creep Tom Shales became toward MST3K.

    What disposable garbage TV Guide became later.

    Meanwhile, not everyone here will be onboard all of the projects the MST3K alums do.

    We’ll see what we like.

    We MSTies will stick together in our own way.

    SmudgyTheBootblack: Joel talks about that in the TV Guide article from 1993 with the photo”shoot” that has him, Mike and The Bots on the SOL.
    “What he will get is a three-month hiatus, after which he will continue to direct every third show and help write scripts.”
    https://twitter.com/brotherzee/status/870979527656263682/photo/3

       6 likes

  48. The Original EricJ
    Ignored
    says:

    mando3b: Public domain, not public domain, who the hell cares? The movies are bad, they got ’em, and the rest depends on what they do with ’em. If “public domain” allows the laughs to happen more easily, then bravo.

    Just as long as SOME folks remember it:
    When MST3K first came on, we knew why the network was showing Lance Link, Abbott & Costello and Supercar, so seeing “Radar Men From the Moon” turn up on the show was no surprise either.

    I normally wouldn’t mind RT having to dumpster-dive Amazon Prime and ephemera-shorts just to keep their daily bread going, but would someone tell their interns to stop being so desperately Bill-hysterical about trying to make it sound like it was their comic IDEA to do whatever turned up in the PD pipe that week, and make it sound like the next Star Wars Holiday Special?:
    “In the tradition of great war epics, we bring you ‘Air Force Service Film #873: Aircraft Riveting”!…The stirring wartime miniseries pitting our fighting forces in war and romance, against a stainless steel enemy, in a riveting drama!”

       0 likes

  49. claybone
    Ignored
    says:

    I understand everyone’s trepidation concerning Joel’s absolute control and creative decisions. I hope he takes to heart the fans’ suggestions without losing interest and shelving the project. The back story stuff and elevated production doesn’t bother me, but the live setting as an alternative is an issue. I love the basic premise of being trapped in space and forced to watch bad movies. Aside from being borderline genius, I love the coziness of the theater and satellite bridge. Those silhouettes are so damn iconic! All of that is missing from the live shows. I’d rather Joel over fit the studio production rather than strip away all but the riffing for the live shows. That being said, I’m good with any course he sets if he leaks out the rest of the KTMA episodes like he did with K01 and K02.

       3 likes

  50. The Original EricJ: Just as long as SOME folks remember it:
    When MST3K first came on, we knew why the network was showing Lance Link, Abbott & Costello and Supercar, so seeing “Radar Men From the Moon” turn up on the show was no surprise either.

    I normally wouldn’t mind RT having to dumpster-dive Amazon Prime and ephemera-shorts just to keep their daily bread going, but would someone tell their interns to stop being so desperately Bill-hysterical about trying to make it sound like it was their comic IDEA to do whatever turned up in the PD pipe that week, and make it sound like the next Star Wars Holiday Special?:
    “In the tradition of great war epics, we bring you ‘Air Force Service Film #873: Aircraft Riveting”!…The stirring wartime miniseries pitting our fighting forces in war and romance, against a stainless steel enemy, in a riveting drama!”

    Why not? Their claims to “public domain” aren’t always the purest, but how many seasons would it take to run archive dot org out of material? Start off with Revenge of Dr. X, Richard Cunha’s masterpiece She Demons, Dementia, Bloody Pit of Horror (…oops, too late).

       2 likes

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