I truly wish I were kidding, but I am not. I have essentially not watched anything other than episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on YouTube. It’s an effective way to keep your mind off of quarantine and people refusing to wear masks because it’s their body/choice and unemployment and the clementine buffoon in the Oval Office, but it does have some side effects:
- I cannot watch any movies without riffing them. Sometimes, I don’t even realize I’m doing it.
- I’m discovering that I don’t want to even watch good movies. Parasite has been on my to-watch list forever, and I just can’t. I don’t wanna riff it.
That being said, though, there are way worse things. I could be rewatching Tiger King and writing songs about how I once saw a tiger and a woman killed her husband or some shit, but instead, I’m yelling “parkour!” at my screen during Train to Busan.
If you have any interest in diving into the series (there are so many episodes, with two new seasons on Netflix in addition to the ones available elsewhere), and if you don’t feel like just watching whatever is on the PlutoTV channel dedicated to the show, I have some suggestions as to where you should start*, mainly because these are the ones I keep replaying time after time:
- Space Mutiny – Seriously, probably one of the best episodes they ever did. Paste Magazine agrees with me, too. From the names they call the lead actor to quip about presenting like a mandrill, it is probably my absolute favorite. They even did a re-riff on RiffTrax that I admittedly own and watch regularly on top of the original MST3K version.
- Mitchell – The movie is just great for riffing, but honestly, it’s the scenes involving Gypsy that make this one of my favorites. “They’re going to kill Joel!!!!”
- Night of the Blood Beast – I think it’s the sheer number of Steves in this movie that makes me laugh so hard. And the shrimp.
- Gamera vs Guiron – Think Godzilla as a turtle who also has mad gymnastics skills? This one only recently got into my favorites because of one particular scene that I could not stop laughing at – just google “hello thank you MST3K” – but the rest of the episode is just as hilarious, like when one of the bots says, “I’m just now realizing how weird this movie is.”
- Werewolf – Just watch it. I’m not even going to say anything else.
- Eegah! – I’m sitting here, trying to explain this episode, but let’s just say Jaws from the James Bond movie I don’t remember the name of plays a caveman that tries to be the Beast to the heroine’s Belle by kidnapping her father and then keeping them both in his cave. And there’s the guy who’s interested in the girl who randomly sings throughout the movie like he’s trying to be Bobby Darin or Paul Anka. Oh, and this is the episode where the commonly quoted, “WATCH FOR SNAKES!” originates!
- Pod People – I already have this year’s Halloween costume picked out, and it’s thanks to this movie. You’ll just have to wait until October to find out what it is. This movie is just so wretchedly bad, but so rife with crappiness for the cast to mock.
So there you go! I’m sure there are others who would point you in the direction of other episodes, like its arguably most famous episode, “Manos: The Hands of Fate,” or “Cave Dwellers,” both of which are Grade A in quality, but I feel like you appreciate those more after you’ve seen other episodes. I don’t really have a preference for any of the hosts – Joel, Mike, and Jonah were all great but different in what they brought to the show – but I know of plenty of people who fight over who is the best host. So how about you head to the Satellite of Love and make your own opinion there?
Art Credit: IFC
* If you have Netflix, I’d recommend Cry Wilderness and Starcrash, too – the new host Jonah and bot voice actors, Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn, do such a great job in these two. All of the ones I listed are available for free on YouTube.