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In Praise of Mystery Science Theater 3000

My kids (they just turned nine, twins) needed something to watch so I showed them Mystery Science Theater 3000, the new episodes on Netflix.

I am such a proud papa—they loved it! I don’t think they’ve understood an eighth of the references, but enough of it is funny that they’re totally into it.

We suffered through Mac and Me (OMG, I had never seen it) and now they’re onto Atlantic Rim. (Include me out, as Sam Goldwyn used to say.)

And, true to form, they have started heckling regular television.

Mac and Me actually has a good, prime-’80s score by Alan Silvestri and I enjoyed the riff, “I’d love to see the movie the composer thought he was scoring” (or words to that effect).

I discovered MST3K in its original run on Comedy Central, the “classic cast” of Joel Hodgson (Joel), Trace Beaulieu (Crow) and Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo).

It was appointment viewing for me, although, to be honest, I rarely watched the whole thing as the movies were so incredibly boring, even with the heckling.

They did a “Turkey Day” marathon on Thanksgiving, which was so great, but also way too much.

But I still remember some of the lines to this day, like the guy sneaking around in broad daylight: “I’ll just hide here under the cover of this air.”

Also, where else are you going to watch Daddy-O, with John Williams’ first feature film score?

“Oh no, John Williams, before he heard Stravinsky, heheh!”

Like any movie geek I’ve lived the experience of discovering and enduring terrible movies, and the show really “got me.”

At a certain point, it’s just piling on...but yeah, it’s funny to heckle all the shoddy filmmaking and painfully clichéd storytelling.

I kind of lost track of the show with all its cast changes, reincarnations and competing audio-only descendants. But it is such a great idea, and so charmingly low-fi with its sets and production values, it warms my heart.

And it still makes me laugh.

“Keep circulating the tapes!”

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