Wednesday, July 11, 2012

MST3K: The Movie

I'm watching all of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes in order. More about that here and here.

Film: Mystery Science Theater 3000 - The Movie

First released: Theaters, 19 April, 1996
Availability: iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon DVD

It's a movie!
Okay, I know I said I'm covering the episodes in order. But, the film was actually released late in Season Seven. And, as such, the continuity is a little out of whack.

The order that the TV episodes aired didn't affect continuity. In fact, if you recall, back in Season One, Episode 104: Women of the Prehistoric Planet, aired after Episode 113: The Black Scorpion. It seems the episode number wasn't the production order. In some cases, it was, but not in that case. Episode 104 was the 13th episode produced ... and aired ... in Season One.

That was one of the reasons I decided to do this in air-date order. So, why am I not following the "air-date/release-date" order here?

The 2001 joke revealed.
Well, I've made up all kinds of excuses. For one, this isn't truly an episode. If you remove it from canon, none of the other episodes are affected. As such, it can be treated like a video.

For another reason, if you consider it canon, the cast of characters fall between Season Six and Season Seven. You see, Season Seven introduces a replacement for Frank. That replacement wasn't there for the filming of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. Well, not as an on-screen character. The replacement was a writer and had been receiving writing credit for some time, including on this film.

The door to the theater has a familiar face.
But, the real reason is, this is where it feels right. Which sort of goes back to the second reason. So, maybe I didn't make that reason up after all.

Anyway, this is where it seems to fit. Thankfully, I won't have to deal with this kind of situation again. Until Season Ten. We'll go over that when I figure out how I want to handle that situation.

But, for now, let's go over this movie. This is the reason for much of the turmoil behind the scenes. Jim Mallon wanted to to the film, but Joel Hodgson didn't. Joel, who created the show, left, and head Writer Mike Nelson added host to his resume.

The movie in the movie.
Finally, we get to see what the fuss was all about.

A much ado about nothing, as it turns out.

My feeling is that Joel was correct. The movie wasn't a good idea. It was nothing more than a shortened episode of the show. Note what I just wrote: a shortened episode. The movie was 1:14 long. Each TV episode, minus commercials, normally totalled around 1:32. That makes the movie 18 minutes shorter than a standard episode.

As an episode, it's a good, but not great, episode. But, it's not an episode. It's a movie. It really kind of fails in that respect. So, I'm going to look at it as an episode, even though it was designed to be stand-alone.
Exeter communicates with earthlings via his Interocitor.The chick and The Professor don't trust Exeter.
Orbiting earth is a satellite with a lonely guy and some robots, while on the earth is a mad scientist that is sending bad movies to the lonely guy, trying to drive him mad, so he can figure out what movie will allow him to subjugate the peoples of the world, and this time, he's sending This Island Earth, which involves big-foreheaded aliens sending technology to scientists so they can find who is smart enough to help them, but they blow up the house with all the scientists inside except for some dude, some chick, and The Professor, but kill The Professor anyway, then fly the dude and the chick to the big-foreheaded aliens' planet which is being pelted with rocks, and then the due and the chick escape and the big-foreheaded alien crashes into the sea, ending the movie experiment, but the lonely guy on the satellite survives the experiment, because he and his robot pals made fun of the movie the whole time, then they make fun of their own movie. The end.

M&tB riff the movie's credits.
The original film This Island Earth was 1:27 long. They edited the heck out of it for inclusion in the 1:14 Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. Not that they took out any good parts. It's not really a good film.

This film isn't all that great, either. It's good, but not great.

I did enjoy the 2001 jokes that started the movie. Mike was running in a similar manner to that of Dave Bowman. In 2001, Dave is running around the walls of the inside of the spacecraft. They achieved the effect by mounting a camera to a revolving stage that was shaped like a wheel. In this movie, it's actually a wheel. They also have a brief scene where Gypsy appears as did HAL, with her single eye mimicking HAL's.

Mike & the Bots even get a little self-riffing at the end. They come back to the theater and riff on the credits to their own movie. A nice touch.

Again, not a great movie, but a good one. As an episode, it's a good, fun episode.

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