The structure of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 is rather straightforward, and adheres to it in most every episode. In the early seasons, the show would open with the title song, a short skit before “Commercial Sign”.
The First Act would consist of an Invention Exchange where Joel and the Mad Scientists would introduce a (usually silly) invention before the Scientists give a brief summary of that week’s “experiment” or b-movie (and sometimes a short). Joel and the bots enter the theatre and watch the film’s First Act, occasionally broken up into halves for commercials. In later seasons, (after Mike took over) the Invention Exchange was dropped in favor of another humorous skit.
The halfway point of the show would have Joel and the bots performing a skit or mocking/parodying the film they are watching, typically in a campy, underproduced style. For example, in the third season episode ‘Pod People’, Joel, the bots and, surprisingly, the Mad Scientists recreate the recording session scene— complete with the now-famous “IT STINKS”. For comparison here are the links:
The Third Act consists of finishing the film, talking about the film or something the film inspired, usually reading a fan’s submitted letter, and finishing with Joel asking the Mads what they think with a comedic skit between the two and another famous line “Push the button, Frank” to begin the title sequence.
One of the most rewarding moments comes at the very end of the episode where a short joke or moment in the film (known as a stinger), usually notable among the many cringe-worthy moments. (Here is a compilation, all taken out of context, all hilarious)
I chose this episode to review because I am biased and would call it my favorite episode. This movie is full of perfect set-ups, and for once it was as if the writers of MST3K knew me personally and wrote this show catered to my tastes. This is not to say that no one else likes it— I’m pretty sure it’s one of everyone’s favorites. There’re just too many hilarious jokes. Here is the movie and some of my favorite quotes from it.
“He was uh… dead. Guess that’s what caused it all.” (3:40)
“I’m your boyfriend now! bluhbluhbluhbluh” (39:13)
THAT WHOLE ENDING (1:25:00)
Enough gushing (though I could continue).
This episode encapsulates everything I love about the show, from its campy, not-so-great acting, to the constant stream of references, jokes and insane characters as well as the film’s poor quality. The scene where the characters describe their favorite types of drunks is one of the best dark humor moments of the show in my opinion, and showcases the unique blend of referencing, physical/verbal comedy and low-key production methods. This episode simply gets an A (or if you’re Evan, a Peabody) in my book.
Let me know what you think! Leave a comment if you agree, disagree or have any thoughts regarding the episode! And as always, thank you for reading!
Yes, you read that title correctly— this post is the biggest complaint I have regarding my favorite show. While this blog is about my favorite show and I find it kind of silly to question decisions that can not be undone, I believe it’s important to remind one’s self that just because it is the “best show ever” does not mean it is perfect.
The main problem I have with Mystery Science Theater 3000 is the inconsistency of the humor among the various (and I mean VARIOUS) episodes. This is kind of an obvious complaint for a comedy television show, but I just feel disappointed sometimes with the potential for a hilarious episode or better timing or higher amount of jokes when I watch multiple episodes back-to-back. While it isn’t really a problem in most sitcoms if an episode is less funny than others, MST3K is an exception due to its longer than normal length. If a movie is boring and the episode isn’t as full of jokes (Seasons 1-2 mostly had this problem) or possibly too full of jokes (Seasons 6-10 mostly utilized between 600-700 jokes per episode) the episode just pales in comparison to other on-the-money episode and can leave you bored or more prone to distraction.
There is a probable solution to this problem which I’ve yet to try—watching the show with friends. If you can watch the show with a friend and there’s a funny moment or line that goes unused, why not join in and do the writer’s job for them?… at least, until they come back in and say something ten times funnier than you or I could think of.
Let me know in the comments if this complaint is important to you also, or tell me “I should really just relax” if you’re up to it.