Monday, March 30, 2020

Movie Library Rebuild Completed

I mentioned around first of the year that I had accidentally deleted my entire movie library. It was over 1.500 at the time I went stupid. I've been working on rebuilding it for some time.

Well, I'm done.

It's not exactly the same. Previously, I was using iTunes running on a Windows 10 machine to serve up my local files. I downloaded all my iTunes purchases, and played them through iTunes on my Apple TV. And I ripped all my DVDs out and imported them into iTunes as MP4 files.

At the time, the total movie count was 1,525 of which 1,259 were iTunes purchases.

I decided to move everything to Plex, allowing me to stream to more devices. I could have left my Apple purchases in iTunes, and put the non-Apple content in Plex, but that would mean switching apps depending on what I wanted to watch. I didn't want that. I wanted everything in one app, and I wanted more than iTunes offered. So, I installed Plex and began moving everything over.

Along the way, I screwed up and while intending to delete the iTunes content I had already moved over, I instead deleted the iTunes content I hadn't moved over. The total opposite of what I wanted to do.

So began the long process of rebuilding a fairly large movie library.

One thing I didn't like about iTunes was that they had two categories of content: TV Shows and Movies. (I'm not counting music videos, which went into the Music category. Music is another story entirely.)

Of the things that iTunes called "Movies" were things like short films, such as some old Buster Keaton two-reelers. You can make the case that they're movies. But they also listed Disney shorts -- think Mickey and the Beanstalk -- as movies.

And MST3K episodes were movies. Of the movies riffed, around 150 were available through iTunes, and I had them. But, really, I think of those as TV episodes, not movies.

Some Warner Brothers shorts were listed in iTunes as "TV Shows" even though they were just collections of shorts.

With Plex, I had complete control over how I categorized the content. I created three main categories: Movies, Shorts, and TV Shows.

I finished up my last import of iTunes content into Plex. Yes, I had to rip it out because of Apple's copy protection. Yes, I know they don't like it. No, I really don't care, because I'm using it as my own personal use, not for distribution.

Anyway, it's done. I now have 1,587 movies. Real movies. The number is up because I've continued to build my library as I restored it.

I have 568 short films. That's individual Bugs Bunny or Donald Duck cartoons, along with the Buster Keaton and other similar shorts. I have them tagged with ways that are useful to me, for when I want to watch certain things: Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Bugs Bunny, Frisky Puppy, Road Runner, Sylverster, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, etc.

And I am building my TV Shows library. I didn't really have that done in iTunes, so I didn't lose anything there. But, I have all the MST3K listed as episodes of that TV show. Also, I've done the shows I own full series of: Star Trek (original), Firefly, The Fugitive, The IT Crowd, Men Into Space, The Outer Limits (original), The Twilight Zone (original), and Get Smart. I'm working on Doctor Who right now, and have the first ten seasons. One more Jon Pertwee season, then on to Tom Baker.

So, finally -- fi-nal-ly -- my movie library is rebuilt.

Now, to watch it all. Starting with the unriffed MST3K movies.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Unriffed MSTie Movie Library: Cheating, Just A Little

As I near completion of my Unriffed MSTie Movie Library -- the intact movies that the MST3K crew riffed -- I found I'm having to cheat a little to finish up the library. Well, maybe it's cheating, and maybe it's not.

It is. But only a little.

The KTMA season had a movie called "Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars." It's a feature length film made from four episodes of the 1967-68 British TV show, "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons."

While "Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars" isn't available online, VHS tapes are available, but I'm not paying over $100 for one. So, it's do without, right?

Well, not exactly.

There are videos of the opening and closing credits of the movie available online, because of course there are. It's relatively cheap to get episodes of the series online. The entire series is cheaper than the movie.

I have the KTMA episode, with Joel, Crow, and Servo (he wasn't yet Tom Servo), so I have a rough template of the movie. So, with the four episodes of the show, the movie opening and closing, and a computer to edit them together, I was able to reconstruct the movie. And, I think I did a pretty good job. The original movie was 1:31, and as it turned out, so was my reconstruction.

So, is that cheating? Yeah, it is. But, I'm gonna count it as having the movie, until I can find one reasonably priced.

Same thing with Season 3 movies "Master Ninja I" and "Master Ninja II" which were made from two episodes each of the 1984 TV series "The Master." I can't find the movies anywhere, but I was able to get episodes of the show. So, using the MST3K riffed version as a guide, I was able to reconstruct the movie from the episodes. Yes, still cheating a little, but it's darn close to the original.

The only other movies that were made from TV episodes were in the KTMA season: "Invaders from the Deep," which was from the show "Stingray," and "Cosmic Princess," which was from "Space: 1999." Both of those movies are available, and for a reasonable price, so no reconstruction is necessary.

I'm still looking for the movies to replace my reconstructions, so I won't remain in "cheat" status. But, I'll just look the other way until then.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Unriffed MSTie Movie Library: Nearing Completion

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was about 2/3 way through having a complete collection of the MSTie movies. Not the episodes -- I have all of those except KTMA episode 3 (nobody has that) -- but the actual movies that the crew riffed. Either the original release, or the edited for U.S. audience version that the MST3K crew had when they made the show.

Why would I want to watch, say, "Manos: The Hands of Fate" or "Santa Claus vs The Devil" without Joel/Mike and the Bots? Because I can. Well, when I get all the movies, I can.

I've made some progress since my last update. I've gone from needing 70 movies to needing 15. How in the world did I get 55 movies so quickly? Well, there's bargain bins. And Amazon and eBay have people selling multi-movie DVD packs.

And, if you keep searching, you can find them. I've got a lead on 6 more, but those are individual movies, and I'm hoping to find a multi-pack with the remaining films so I can save some money.

I'm still missing:

  • Invaders from the Deep
  • Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars
  • The Last Chase
Season 2
  • Jungle Goddess
Season 3
  • The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent
Season 5
  • Village of the Giants
Season 6
  • The Dead Talk Back
  • Last of the Wild Horses
  • San Francisco International
  • The Starfighters
Season 8
  • Agent for H.A.R.M.
Season 9
  • Werewolf (Arizona Werewolf)
  • The Projected Man
Season 10
  • Hamlet (Hamlet, Prinz von Dänemark)
Season 11
  • Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II
Of those, I've located on individual DVD (and one VHS tape) the following, but am still looking to find on a multi-movie pack are:
  • Invaders from the Deep (on VHS)
  • Jungle Goddess
  • The Last Chase
  • The Projected Man
  • The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent
  • Village of the Giants
  • Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II
If I break down and purchase those individually, that will leave me only 10 shy of a full collection. But, I'm cheap, so I'm holding out.

I can't wait to finish this collection. I really need to watch some of these movies I own.

Monday, March 16, 2020

A Horde of Hoarders

Went grocery shopping last night. Went down my shopping list and saw that paper towels were on the list. Toilet paper, too.

I have a paper towel rack -- one -- in the kitchen. And, I keep one or two paper towel rolls in the cabinet above the stove. When the cabinet is empty, I buy another two-pack. Been that way for years.

Similar with the TP. Four rolls. When I'm down to two, I get another four-pack. Been that way for years.

Now, the horde of idiots that are hoarding paper products have already ransacked the grocery stores. here There were single rolls of store brand paper towels, and I got two, like always.

But no TP.

There will be no follow-up post about that last point. You're welcome.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The correct order to watch MST3K

Mystery Science Theater 3000 has been on my mind recently. A couple of weeks ago, I posted about my progress in completing my collection of MST3K movies, the unriffed versions. And I've made a little progress, but that's not what I'm wanting to talk about today. It's about watching the actual MST3K episodes, particularly, the order in which to watch them.

That doesn't seem like it would be an issue, but there were some peculiarities in the way the shows were recorded, and other things that make it not so cut and dry.

KTMA Episodes

First, do we include the KTMA shows? That is the original season, consisting of 21 episodes that were done for the local station KTMA TV-23 in Minneapolis-St. Paul (now WUCW) before the show went national.

Reasons to include
  • The episodes exist (20 of 21 at least), so they are part of the show.
  • 12 of the movies were not re-done during the national run and are unique.
Reasons to not include
  • It was a local show, and not actually part of the continuity of the national show.
  • Nine were re-done, and done better, in Season 3.
  • The local show, while good, pales in comparison to the national show. It's great for show buffs to see the origins, but not for regular watching. It's like a pre-season game.
I say do not include KTMA episodes, but if you do, they were broadcast in the order produced, and that's the way to watch them.

The Movie

After Season 6 and right before the first cancellation, the crew did Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. The crew riffed "This Island Earth" for the big screen. But do we count it?

Reasons to include
  • It's MST3K, just in a little different format. It's as simple as that.
Reasons to not include
  • It wasn't part of the show. Sure, all the parts are there, but it's not the show. It's something different.
  • A hard-to-resolve continuity issue arises depending on where you place the film.
I say do include the movie. That does bring up some complications as we'll see.

The 1995 Turkey Day Special

In 1995 Comedy Central wasn't as sold on MST3K as they used to be. They only ordered six episodes for the upcoming Season 7. I've never seen an explanation for this, and I assume it was a budget thing. The riffing during the movie was separate from the host segments, with no references to what was going on outside the theater. This allowed the movie riffing to be wrapped in Thanksgiving themed segments for the Turkey Day special and for the regular season (and subsequent rebroadcasts).

Reasons to include
  • It was part of the show.
  • While the movie is the same, the host segments are hilarious and should be part of regular viewing.
Reasons to not include
  • It's not really part of the show. It was a special.
  • You end up watching the same movie back-to-back.
I include it, but don't feel nearly as strongly about including it. On another day, I might say leave it out.

Production Order vs Broadcast Order vs Production Code

The order in which the shows were produced doesn't always line up with the production number. Those don't always line up with the order in which they aired.

Season 1 had a major production code vs production order issue with "Women of the Prehistoric Planet." It was the 13th produced and aired, but retained the production code 104 instead of, as would be expected, 113. Watching in production order creates a continuity issue as there is a reference to "Robot Holocaust" (Episode 110) in "Women of the Prehistoric Planet" (Episode 104). Air date order resolves this.

Season 1 also had some shows air out of order. The first two aired in reverse order, although there is no continuity issue with those two being watched in either order.

Season 3 also had air date order not matching production order. "Teenage Cave Man" (Episode 315) aired after "The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent" (Episode 317), but again, no continuity error if watched in either order.

Season 5, like Season 1, had the first two episodes air in reverse production order. And, again, no continuity issue if watched either way.

Season 6 is the real problem child. It's a mess, with the production order, production code, and air date in order at the very beginning and at the end, but all jumbled in the middle. It's hard to describe, but I'll try.
  • The episode "Zombie Nightmare" (604) was held from airing so it could be part of a college tour by the cast. It finally aired after "Kitten with a Whip" (615).
  • "The Skydivers" (609) aired after "Colossus and the Headhunters" (605).
  • "The Creeping Terror" (606) and "Bloodlust!" (607) aired in reverse order.
Those three changes really jumbled the order things aired. However, no continuity issues arise in watching any of them in either production/code or air date order.

Season 7 has the issue of "Night of the Blood Beast" (701) existing twice. And, if you include the movie, that was released during Season 7 between "Escape 2000" (705) and "Laserblast" (706). However, the Mads differ. Pearl is a regular in Season 7, but doesn't appear in the movie. And, since Dr. Forrester is "reborn" at the end of the season, the movie can't move in that direction.

Season 10 aired "Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders" (1003) six weeks after the series finale, "Diabolik" (1013). Watching in production/code order resolves the continuity issue.

My Method

So, production order? Production Code order? Air date order? The answer is ... none of those.

I am a bit of a purist, so I prefer air date order, as that's the order they were originally presented. And, that generally works, except for Season 10, and for the Movie (if you include it).

I use air date order, moving "Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders" (1003) to just before "Diabolik" (1013), and The Movie between Season 6 and Season 7. With those two adjustments, everything works.

On the other hand, watching in Production Code order almost works. You have to move "Women of the Prehistoric Planet" (104) to the last episode of Season 1. You still have to put The Movie between Season 6 and Season 7.

So, pick either order, put the movie between Season 6 and Season 7, then shift one episode (in Season 1 for Production Code order; in Season 10 for air date order) and everything works.

As I said, I prefer air date order.

Of course, it was just a show. I should really just relax.