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Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 rejoice!
June 28, 2007 4:47 PM   Subscribe

Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 rejoice! Three of MST3K's writer/characters — Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy — have started a new venture: The Film Crew.
posted by Dave Faris (48 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
See Also: RiffTrax, which is essentially the same thing but for movies they can't afford the rights to. Oooh, they have Willie Wonka with special guest star Neil Patrick Harris!
posted by smackfu at 4:53 PM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I thought this was a double, but nope. Almost, but nope.
posted by yeti at 4:55 PM on June 28, 2007


Those guys are awesome. Though I don't understand why Film Crew couldn't just go whole hog and do the silhouette format that we all love. I wonder if that would sort of make it MST3K and violate someone's rights.
posted by rolypolyman at 4:55 PM on June 28, 2007


Year(s) old, with no content still.
posted by zerolives at 5:00 PM on June 28, 2007


Reeks of desperation.
posted by ColdChef at 5:04 PM on June 28, 2007


The Neil Patrick Harris RiffTrax is, well... LEGENDARY!
posted by basicchannel at 5:05 PM on June 28, 2007


NPH is always Legendary.

"Where will you go next Neil Patrick Harris?"

"Wherever God takes me."
posted by quin at 5:14 PM on June 28, 2007


According to Amazon, these are release dates for upcoming Film Crew movies:

July 10: Hollywood After Dark

Aug. 10: Killers From Space

Sept. 11: Wild Women of Wongo (!)
posted by GaelFC at 5:17 PM on June 28, 2007


MST3K PLZ FIND NEW SCHTICK.
posted by klangklangston at 5:22 PM on June 28, 2007


Already pre-ordered the first two.
posted by vanadium at 5:24 PM on June 28, 2007


Regarding NPH: IT'S AFRAID.

Also, I have yet to hear a RiffTrax, but I'm mightily intrigued by the Troll 2 one.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:25 PM on June 28, 2007


I should probably add:

The Film Crew's been around for a couple of years IIRC, but just recently decided to venture into movie riffing after their reunion on Rifftrax (and its subsequent success). Previously, they were regulars on various film channels like Sundance and SciFi doing intros and such.
posted by vanadium at 5:28 PM on June 28, 2007


By now this post was screaming for air.
posted by eriko at 5:29 PM on June 28, 2007


If anybody in here hasn't seen Wizard People, Dear Reader, mend your woebegone ways! I showed it to some noobz last weekend to total plaudits.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:26 PM on June 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


Mike Nelson had a piece in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago on his chronic 20-year headache.
posted by Staggering Jack at 6:39 PM on June 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Any chance of Trace Beaulieu and Joel Hodgson setting up their own outfit?
posted by Iridic at 6:46 PM on June 28, 2007


This is better than getting that pony I always never wanted for my birthday!
posted by sparkletone at 6:50 PM on June 28, 2007


Those guys are awesome. Though I don't understand why Film Crew couldn't just go whole hog and do the silhouette format that we all love. I wonder if that would sort of make it MST3K and violate someone's rights.

I was wondering the same thing. I'm glad they're still around, but this feels like a pale ripoff, even with the principal actors involved. MST3K really wasn't just about talking back to a movie.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:54 PM on June 28, 2007


"MST3K really wasn't just about talking back to a movie."

Huh? That's ALL it was ever about. Everything else was just fluff they used to pass it off as a tv series for the straights. The goal has always been talking back to a movie. Anyone who sees anything deeper in MST than talking back to a movie needs to repeat to themselves it's just a show they should really just relax.

And I dig what they were doing at RiffTrax, but got dissed at their message boards over "Cocktail," and I'm too proud to go back. Some things never change, do they? =)
posted by ZachsMind at 6:59 PM on June 28, 2007


Wizard People, Dear Reader is freaking awesome. My local video store rents out the CD at no charge (I guess it wouldn't be legal to charge for it).

We used to have an outfit in town called Mr. Sinus Theater (Mystery Science Theater, get it?), but they disbanded and reformed with a couple of new guys and call themselves Master Pancake.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:02 PM on June 28, 2007


Where the hell is Joel Hodgson? That guy was the real deal. He was such a great prop comic too before he started MST3K.
posted by fungible at 7:15 PM on June 28, 2007


The Film Crew, as a group and a name, have been around for a while, true, and this is the first real thing other than a handful of old comedy bits they have to show for it. Even that video on their website has been there for several months now.

But on the other hand... I know of no one with a sharper eye towards pop culture than these guys, except maybe other MST folk. I now own about twenty RiffTrax, and haven't regretted buying any of them. Some, like the Fantastic Four one they did with amazing turn-around time, are genius.

Part of me, I will be frank, wants these guys to succeed. They are just about as outside the entertainment system as you can get. Other than MST3K, what have they done? No, wrong question: what have they been allowed to do?

They aren't incredible star-powered phonies. They aren't shmoozers. They have little in the way of ego. They're just nice guys who are able to be extremely sarcastic about the things handed down by media companies in the name of entertainment.

In some ways RiffTrax works better than MST3K. The goofy sci-fi premise, host segments and whimsical milieu are gone, but so also are the many easy targets, the reliance on old public domain films, and the impossibility of getting the rights to anything truly worthy of mockery. Most of these films not only deserve their auditory pillory, it actually feels like justice that they get it. I think everyone out there who still claims to like Phantom Menace should be chained down and forced to listen to the RiffTrax of that film, especially when Kevin Murphy so vividly describes Liam Neeson swimming through a stream of Jar Jar Binks' offal. That kind of thing could well change the world.
posted by JHarris at 7:18 PM on June 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


I sooooo wish somebody did for old war movies what these guys have done for cheesy sci-fi ones. I'm thinking especially of Sergeant York or She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, not more earnest stuff like The Victors or Talvisota.
posted by pax digita at 7:23 PM on June 28, 2007


"MST3K really wasn't just about talking back to a movie."

Huh? That's ALL it was ever about. Everything else was just fluff they used to pass it off as a tv series for the straights. The goal has always been talking back to a movie. Anyone who sees anything deeper in MST than talking back to a movie needs to repeat to themselves it's just a show they should really just relax.

Aaaaactually, *dusts off thesis* appropriating and recontextualizing pre-existing footage into a fictional diegesis wherein it's deployed as torture cum comedy is first class pop styled postmodernism, some of the first of that oeuvre but following a long line from Esfir Shub through Guy-Ernest Debord. I prefer Space Ghost, which debuted a few years later, for its more indirect detournement and play with dimensionality as marker of realism, but ymmv.

"Talking back to a movie" is in itself a pretty empowered and fraught concept... at least if you're a film scholar, copyfighter or culture jammer.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:30 PM on June 28, 2007


I've watched several of the Rifftrax (Matrix, Episode One, and FotR), and they were all great. The Matrix one in particular was just brilliant.
posted by sparkletone at 7:31 PM on June 28, 2007


MST3K just wasn't ever the same after Joel Hodgson left
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 8:22 PM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bighappyfunhouse

Yes. It was different. Still just as good, but different.
posted by SansPoint at 8:31 PM on June 28, 2007


MST3K just wasn't ever the same after Joel Hodgson Trace Beaulieu left*.

*Except for that time Mike went on trial, and there was that Amish kid. Man, that shit was hilarious. Arrr.


Fixed that for you.

It is my mission in life to get down to Austin in time for a Mister Pancake show some Friday evening. Granted, cinch-y life mission, but I've muffed it like twice now.
posted by ormondsacker at 8:38 PM on June 28, 2007


I kinda liked Mike better than Joel, myself. I still remember how shocking it was when Joel left, kinda out of nowhere. It also sucks that he doesn't seem to be into the movie-mocking business anymore.
posted by puke & cry at 8:39 PM on June 28, 2007


MST3K just wasn't ever the same after Joel Hodgson Trace Beaulieu left*.

That's exactly what I was thinking.
posted by puke & cry at 8:40 PM on June 28, 2007


I knew Bill Corbett somewhat back when he lived in the Twin Cities. Good guy. Check out his plays if you ever get a chance -- he wrote one called Heckler that starred Brian Baumgartner, currently a cast member of The Office. It was superb. (Review is mine.)
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:30 PM on June 28, 2007


Joel vs Mike: Ah, the ancient debate revived. Surely we can discuss it rationally now? I prefer Joel because of his natural whimsy and left-field concepts. Mike is a more linear thinker, but has better comic timing. Anyway, it's hard to tell from the show which is really funnier because Mike's always been head writer, even when he's not on-screen. The show does seem to decrease in silliness after Joel departs, and that's what I miss in the later shows, but it's still great, and there are plenty of excellent, bizarre sketches right until the end.
posted by JHarris at 11:10 PM on June 28, 2007


joel was better. maybe by just a bit, but he was. The invention exchanges alone tip the scale, and joel's sense of actually being tortured was more palpable. he was after all undergoing torr-turrre.
posted by vrakatar at 11:29 PM on June 28, 2007


It's a multi-channel mixer!
posted by Snyder at 12:58 AM on June 29, 2007


The MST DVD sets are in heavy rotation here at Deej Manor. My daughter and I both never tire of them. I plan on buying some RiffTrax, and now these will be on my shopping list. Thanks DF!
posted by The Deej at 1:03 AM on June 29, 2007


This is awesome! I loved MST3K and have (somehow) never heard of RiffTrax before. This "The Film Crew" thing will surely be great as well. Thanks!

(Also, the "designed for FireFox" logo at the bottom of the RiffTrax website is totally sweet.)
posted by malthas at 5:36 AM on June 29, 2007


Life is good these days for the MST3K fan. Rifftrax, Film Crew, Digital Archive DVD Project. The Film Crew did intros for bad movies on Starz a while back (check the DAP if you are interested). They've also done some commentary for colorized Three Stooges DVD releases. Good stuff.

I like how Rifftrax has panned out. Good mix of movies, good mix of guest riffers. Roadhouse is still the best Rifftrax by far, but there have been some great ones since. Troll 2 was a riot, and features the worst acting in the history of film (not hyperbole). Rifftrax even got a writeup in the NYT recently.

And let's not forget about MST3K alum Mary Jo Pehl. She and Mike did a great job of tearing apart Glitter. I wouldn't be surprised to see Trace do a Rifftrax, (read what Trace is up to lately here), but I doubt we'll see Joel. But you can check him out on the Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd.
posted by Otis at 6:20 AM on June 29, 2007


Where the hell is Joel Hodgson?

Last I heard, he was writing for Jimmy Kimmel Live. Made me punch stuff.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:34 AM on June 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


The SA interview with Mike and 1992 NPR interview with Mike and Joel are great listening for anyone who's interested in MST3K and Rifftrax.

Anyone who really thinks MST3K was just about talking back to bad movies should go go back and closely watch a few episodes; they're lousy with postmodern gags and well-informed references to -- and take offs of -- Bergman, Kurosawa, Kubrick (especially 2001, of course), etc. Then such a person should read Artists in the Audience. Then read "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction" (excerpt). Illuminating stuff.

Otis, thanks for the link to the Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd.

Mitchell!
posted by cog_nate at 7:11 AM on June 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


The driver is either missing, or he's gone.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:28 AM on June 29, 2007


Caught a Mister Pancake sendup of The Day After Tomorrow in Austin a few weeks back. Brilliant stuff, they had spot-on comedic timing and the material was definitely at least Joel-era MST3k quality. I highly recommend seeing them sometime if you're ever in Austin.
posted by signalnine at 6:02 PM on June 29, 2007


I tried some months ago to make my own MSTish sendup of Blair Witch Project but only got so far as Coffin Rock. After they get lost, it starts getting really difficult to come up with the funny. It's just trees trees and more trees. I've been tempted to record it, put in a bunch of silence, and then hop back in about when Mike & Heather start looking for the house, saying I went to the convenience store for smokes. I don't smoke anymore, but what difference would it make?
posted by ZachsMind at 7:07 PM on June 29, 2007


Roger Ebert had a suggestion some time back that there should be some web repository of commentary tracks by regular folks. Other people could download the tracks to watch with their DVDs.

I like that idea, and with ZachsMind saying he started a MSTification of Blair Witch, it makes me think about it even more. Heck, ZM, you could make available what you have, and others could add their riffs where you are riffless. A community riff-fest.

You know, if such a thing existed. This is a good MeFi Project for someone.
posted by The Deej at 8:57 PM on June 29, 2007


I've always loved that Ebert idea. My friends and I are all such big fans of movies that we've talked many times about doing commentary tracks (even if we knew that no one would listen). I just think it would be a blast to do.

In fact, now that I think about it, I'd guess I already do at least two or three commentary tracks a week.

Of course, I'm by myself. And I'm not recording. And I'm usually pretty drunk. And yelling at the TV should probably not be considered 'commentary' per se, but I have thoughtful things to say that I bet would be useful to many listeners.

Things like "Don't go in that room! Are you kidding me? Have you never seen a scary movie? You just got done having premarital sex and smoking pot! You go in that room and you are dead dead dead! Fuck! Why don't you ever listen to me? I've warned you about this at least a dozen times, and every time you go in to it. And every time you die! You are a stupid, stupid person!"
posted by quin at 9:28 PM on June 29, 2007


You should probably check out cuts.com if you're interested in the self-riffing thing; Rifftrax/Legend Films bought them out a few weeks ago to facilitate it.
posted by vanadium at 11:21 AM on June 30, 2007


I have done this before. There used to be places that were more generic in audio commentaries than BDC, which is notably Whedon-specific.

Read Fair Use In The Digital Age for a little enlightenment on the issue.

Here is the original Ebert article on the topic of fan commentaries, and you can get his Notorious commentary as a sample of what he had in mind. Dang I miss Yahoo Internet Life magazine. I think I was the only one who had a subscription.

ShareCrow promises to help with the fan commentary thing, but personally I've yet to have much success with it. The point is, people are trying to make this work. That alone is something.

There are many podcasters who do their own commentaries but they don't put them in a repository with others. You have to be a fan of that particular podcast to know about their commentaries.

Here is an example of a fan of fan commentaries making a list of good ones but it's about two years old now. There also used to be repositories on the web, but their links no longer work. It was an idea that had legs, but since it's a labor of love with no possible financial future, I fear it's dead in the water. In fact, while at one time I knew of about a dozen or so different places, Renegade is pretty much the only one that's still plugging.

Listening to other people's fan commentaries is kinda touch and go. Over the years I've found some and given them a try. Sometimes you hit upon a gem but more often than not (including my own past efforts) you get something that might have been what the originator wanted for himself, but not so much something for a wider audience. It's little more than flipping through someone else's photo album, and not knowing who any of the people in the pictures are. You're happy for your friend that he's so excited? But it just doesn't serve you in any way.

A good commentary needs to be funny, informative, pertinent to the film it's commenting upon, and give legitimate reason why the film deserves reviewing while this new audio is playing. It needs to generate a new experience for the viewer/listener.

It's a tall order.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:38 PM on June 30, 2007


... oh wow... I didn't even know about this one. Good find, VanaDium.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:42 PM on June 30, 2007


Wow, Netflix is on it. All the Film Crew titles were just recommended to me. You can view the dvds through them.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:40 AM on July 9, 2007


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