Twelve Seasons and a Movie and...?
November 26, 2019 7:47 PM   Subscribe

Netflix cancels MST3K after two seasons. Turkey Day has long been the unofficial holiday for Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans, but there is an extra dollop of mourning to go with your turkeys (either on film or on the menu) this year.

Like many shows cancelled this year, Netflix has a two-seasons-and-out policy.

In a letter to Kickstarter backers, Joel Hodgson mentions that they have been in this place before and this is just the first of many new chapters for the show.
Now, I know you might have questions about the future of Mystery Science Theater, but as you've seen over the last four years, we are just as dedicated to keeping MST3K alive as ever. And I want to remind you that there are still lots of options for us to explore in the years to come. This isn’t our first rodeo! So, while this might be the end of the first chapter of bringing back MST3K, don't worry: it's not the last chapter.

Other links of interest:
Turkey Day Marathon 2019
MST3K on Twitch
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit (83 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
It stinks! đź‘Ž
posted by riotnrrd at 8:12 PM on November 26, 2019 [23 favorites]


On one hand, crap! On the other, more MST3K exists in the world than I will watch in my lifetime, so I can't really complain.

The band was pretty cool though.
posted by eotvos at 8:14 PM on November 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


"I don't care! I don't care! I don't care!"
posted by loquacious at 8:15 PM on November 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


Shit.
posted by valkane at 8:27 PM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


Well, this was not unexpected by me, having observed how often Netflix did "two seasons and out" (as Jonah itemized in his twitter thread). But there are more outlets than ever before where the MSTies can go to... just beware the streamers who are co-owned by movie studios... HBOwhatever would probably only allow them to riff Warner movies, similarly with the NBCPeacock service with Universal and CBSTrek with Paramount. There would be so much content in the Disney+ vault, but the Mickey Mouse management would put severe limits on where the riffers could go... but I just can't give up on the impossible dream of seeing Tom Servo and Crow go after Song of the South. But with Apple and Amazon in the mix, I remain generaly hopeful for the immediate future. (still, Amazon cancelled The Tick after two seasons)
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:09 PM on November 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


Sad, but I'm grateful for what we got.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:12 PM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


more MST3K exists in the world than I will watch in my lifetime, so I can't really complain.

I haven't watched the second Netflix season of MST3K (did this already come out?) but I have seen every other easily torrentable episode that was available about 10 years ago, which was most of them except very early (and maybe even all of them) episodes. I have them all as video files on a giant stack of DVD-Rs.

If you decide to, you can watch them all.
posted by hippybear at 9:20 PM on November 26, 2019 [6 favorites]


Nooooooo
posted by tuesdayschild at 9:24 PM on November 26, 2019


HBO Max would be a good landing place. They own not only the century worth of content
in the Warner Brothers library but also New Line and 90% of RKO. I think most people are going to be shocked when that service finally launches and people see how massive their library is.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:26 PM on November 26, 2019 [4 favorites]


It's less how massive their library is and what their stupid "you get to see these now, but they'll be gone later and you can't see these now but they'll appear later" schedule is. Like, why do Netflix shows ever go offline? But they do! I expect HBO will do the same. Will Disney always have their vault (minus the famous few) available? They already don't.

But yes, HBO would be a good home for them when it comes to a library to play with.
posted by hippybear at 9:29 PM on November 26, 2019 [6 favorites]


What I am most curious about is whether they have already recorded the "host segments" for the Turkey Day marathon, and if not, whether they're going to write new material begging every other TV entity to pick them up. Either way, it'll be show I don't want to miss. (gonna plug in my pacemaker/defibrulator just to make sure)
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:35 PM on November 26, 2019 [1 favorite]


Like, why do Netflix shows ever go offline?

I'm not aware of any Netflix self-produced shows going offline, any examples ? All other shows have rights holders who dictate how long Netflix has the rights to stream a show.
posted by Pendragon at 10:46 PM on November 26, 2019 [9 favorites]


I'm earnestly disappointed I haven't yet had a reaction or fave to my MST3K quote above. I think it was that episode that totally hooked me and hurt me in wonderful ways. I lost it so hard and laughed myself dizzy the first time I saw that episode, and it was back when you could only really see this stuff live on cable or people's personal tapes.

Also is this the appropriate thread to ask about the weird head nod, smile and air-bite thingy that Joel does in the intro of the pre-Mike seasons when he tips his hardhat? It's always stood out to me in some weird way for years as a particularly odd and even endearing bit of chewing on the scenery.
posted by loquacious at 11:45 PM on November 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


Oh boo. I am in the middle of watching Robot Holocaust right now, this news is even worse than the movie. Well, maybe, it's a close thing.

I'm glad they're committed to finding another way to keep it going. MST3K is too big for any one distributor.
posted by biogeo at 12:09 AM on November 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


loquacious, sounds like you do care.
posted by biogeo at 12:10 AM on November 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


I do care and I was trying to embody what Joel is espousing with a quote. The world may blow up in tragically comedic and remarkably stupid ways that even Roger Corman dare not imagine or commit to film, but MST3K somehow keeps ticking.

Somewhere in the grim future of humanity's future there will be people watching bad movies to make fun of them, like something out of Welcome to Woop Woop meets some part of the Mad Max timeline.

Speaking of which I totally want to see MST3K do Welcome to Woop Woop but it might break reality in very bad ways.
posted by loquacious at 12:23 AM on November 27, 2019


uh, is it okay to have a dissenting opinion?

Never liked MST3K because I never found it entertaining, the comments seem to never rise above the most basic tropes possible, and were usually witless and dull. Watching bad movies and making fun of them, how heroic.

I am not advocating for a world where all creativity is equal, but for fuck sakes, can we not valorize a show that took on the easiest targets imaginable?
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:52 AM on November 27, 2019 [9 favorites]


I've been waiting with bated breath for the MST3K catalog to show up on the Netflix service in Sweden, but nope. Not even the Netflix-produced seasons. I swear we only get like 10% of the licensed content available stateside.
posted by St. Oops at 1:04 AM on November 27, 2019


uh, is it okay to have a dissenting opinion?

no
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:19 AM on November 27, 2019 [56 favorites]


I liked MST3K at first, but after a few episodes, I'd just had my fill of it. My problem with it seems to be the same as my problem with Cards Against Humanity (also a Thanksgiving standard): it is a method for delivering snark to people who want to be snarky but are unable to produce sufficient snark on their own. Plus you have to get through a really boring movie to appreciate it, so it's fighting against a massive entertainment deficit from the get-go.
posted by darksasami at 1:26 AM on November 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


Seriously, what is the point of coming into a thread about a popular show being canceled just to be a dick about it? I mean, that's not very "heroic." It's one thing to say you don't like a show, and it's another to pretend as though you're more clever and enlightened than the people who do.

I mean, I'm perfectly capable of snark. I have some snark I'm keeping to myself right now.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:46 AM on November 27, 2019 [56 favorites]


Never liked MST3K because I never found it entertaining, the comments seem to never rise above the most basic tropes possible, and were usually witless and dull.

I've always considered the series to be highly variable in terms of quality. Some episodes are fantastic, some are downright dull. The shorts, in my opinion, tend to run higher in quality.

Some choice examples:
Mr. B Natural
A Date With Your Family
Hired!
Hired! Part II
Here Comes the Circus

Try as I might, I just couldn't get into the Netflix reboot. The bots having new voices felt wrong, the host did nothing for me, and the jokes felt like they were trying too hard to be modern and relevant (actually one of the things I loved about the original series was how old and obscure many of the references were). I gave up after an episode or two.
posted by dephlogisticated at 2:03 AM on November 27, 2019 [12 favorites]


Loved Joel, liked Mike, did not care for Jonah at all.
Hard pass on the two Netflix seasons, even though I gave Joel $100 to bring it back.
I kept circulating the tapes and own everything I need, plus - most importantly - a complete feed of Turkey Day Marathon for 1991 that some kind soul captured and converted to MP4.
I'm good.

Having said all that, we seem to be living in a much different time than the period that gave birth to MST3k.
Maybe I am looking back with Nostalgia Goggles, but today seems a lot more jaded and mean than the beginning of the series.
Snark and sarcasm have their place, but it seems to be the default setting, and that gets exhausting.
I wish that Trace and Frank as The Mads would come to St. Pete, and Riff Trax will always get my money for a Fathom Event.
Yeah, I'll stick with the old dudes and keep my Nostalgia Goggles firmly in place.
I'm glad Joel got his shot at the big times and took it, regardless of the outcome.
posted by Bill Watches Movies Podcast at 2:21 AM on November 27, 2019 [9 favorites]


I am not advocating for a world where all creativity is equal, but for fuck sakes, can we not valorize a show that took on the easiest targets imaginable?
Phlegmco(tm)

It's just a show; I should really just relax.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:33 AM on November 27, 2019 [33 favorites]


I hear the Criterion Collection has a streaming channel now...
posted by Jon_Evil at 2:59 AM on November 27, 2019 [5 favorites]


I am not advocating for a world where all creativity is equal, but for fuck sakes, can we not valorize a show that took on the easiest targets imaginable?

I guess I probably can't undo the harm I've caused by "valorizing" this thing you don't like, but I'm willing to take responsibility for my actions, and I'll promise to do better by you in the future.

Anyway, this is a bummer, but I don't see it being the end by any stretch. Joel seems pretty dedicated to keeping it going, and there's obviously still a fanbase.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:10 AM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


On one hand, Disney is vacuuming up all culture.
On the other, they have a deep back catalog of weird flicks and Gypsy could become a Disney Princess...
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:34 AM on November 27, 2019 [10 favorites]


I have to confess, I'm never been a MST3K fan. Not my bag, but it seems to bring a lot of joy to a lot of folks, so I'm sad that it's getting the two and done treatment by Netflix.

I am not advocating for a world where all creativity is equal, but for fuck sakes, can we not valorize a show that took on the easiest targets imaginable?

I had to take one of my cats to the vet ER last night. (Major UTI, but seems like she'll be OK.) While there they were blaring some home flipper TV show in the lobby where some vapid couple with over-whitened teeth were shouty about fancy flooring in LA or some shit, and "ha ha, look at how much money we spend!"

If I could rid the airwaves of entertainment that was objectionable, MST3K wouldn't even make my top 1000 list. Making fun of bad movies may be shooting the proverbial fish in a barrel, but it seems relatively harmless. It might even inspire some of its audience to chase down and watch some older films they might never have thought about.
posted by jzb at 5:17 AM on November 27, 2019 [11 favorites]


I've been getting back into MST3K after a looooooooong period away. I watched some episodes on VHS in the mid-90s that my older sister and her boyfriend had. The one that we loved was 'Cave People,' as we were big fantasy nerds at the time (still are, I guess).

Then I don't think I saw much MST until I got Netflix. I streamed some of the classic episodes as they had them and then watched the two new seasons. Now, I've borrowed some, rented some through iTunes and generally this Fall have probably watched an episode a week.

I've tried to watch the streams available through Shout Factory, but they also seem to stutter and lag so much that you can't really enjoy it. Likewise, I just discovered the Twitch stream, but it doesn't want to play that well for me (although it's better than Shout Factory). I know "Keep distributing the tapes" was something that the show promoted for a long time, but do they want you to torrent episodes?

While I really like the show, I get where people don't like it. I know someone, for instance, who kinda gets in a mode where he MSTs his way through most social interactions and the quips and asides get kinda distracting. I also think it helps a lot if I naturally think the movie is funny, so I tend to love episodes that skewer 70s and 80s movies, particularly sci-fi and fantasy, because those are the movies I grew up watching. When they do 50s movies, I have a harder time sticking with them, because I have less affinity for the material.

I have episodes I like from each of the hosting teams. I will say since I was introduced to the show in the early-to-mid-90s, I am a Joel Hodgson fan, definitely. So, for me, the host order is Joel -> Jonah -> Mike. The mads order for me is Felicity/Patton -> Pearl -> Clayton/Frank.

So, a few weeks ago, I realized "Hey Thanksgiving is coming up! Maybe there'll be a new season of MST3K on Netflix!" Oh well.
posted by Slothrop at 5:18 AM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


As someone who regularly scrolls Netflix looking for things to watch, I didn't even know this existed. I can say with certainty it never once has been recommended to me so they did a shitass job of promoting it.
posted by dobbs at 5:27 AM on November 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


I'm finding less and less to watch on Netflix these days, and the occasional appearance of a good show like Derry Girls isn't mitigating the loss of quality.

I'm currently rewatching Breaking Bad, but I think if I can find another way to get the last season of Better Call Saul, I'm out.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 5:32 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


> Phlegmco(tm): uh, is it okay to have a dissenting opinion?

Never liked MST3K because I never found it entertaining, the comments seem to never rise above the most basic tropes possible, and were usually witless and dull. Watching bad movies and making fun of them, how heroic.

I am not advocating for a world where all creativity is equal, but for fuck sakes, can we not valorize a show that took on the easiest targets imaginable?


You are obviously free to not like MST3K (not sure why you would come into this thread if you don't, but whatever). It does seem awfully hypocritical to imply that a dissenting opinion won't be welcome and then suggest that everyone else should not be expressing theirs.

If you're not a fan, I can understand how you might not appreciate the obvious love for B-movies and outsider art that all the creators of the show have had all along, and you would miss the subtle way that they reserve their harshest criticism (which is never really all that harsh) for times when it is clear that the movie they are watching doesn't share that same respect for the genre. You also probably haven't watched interviews with the MSTies where they explain that the worst movies don't make good candidates for MSTing, that there has to be some inherent spark to make sitting through the whole thing possible. Happy Thanksgiving!
posted by Rock Steady at 5:34 AM on November 27, 2019 [19 favorites]


I grew up on MST3K. My dad and I found solace in TV, movies, and music because everything else was chaos. It was "us" time. I remember a ton of weird 90s commercials because I would watch our home recordings from Sci-Fi or Comedy Central. I'm also a HUGE fan of Rifftrax and a little less time spent with Cinematic Titanic. I quote something from MST3K at least once per day.

I got to meet the "Rifftrax" guys about 10 years ago, and it was awesome. I've read 25 Mystery Science Theater 3000 Films That Changed My Life in No Way Whatsoever and highly recommend it for a quick and funny read.

In general I like the Mike years most. I think part of it is the movies were a bit better and the whole feel of the show was a bit more silly with Mike being less of a "dad" and being more of a goof. Though I adore Joel and a lot of his sketches are hilarious.

I ENJOY everyone on the new season (both in this show and in their other works), but I'll be honest, I haven't even finished them. I watch a lot of TV and I know that especially comedy can really take time for everything to click together. There have been some super great moments in what I've watched. But I also felt like it's part the jokes being a little too fast or talking over the movie too much and part the movies being a little too...new? Less silly?

But really, the thing that made me sad as a big fan is that the production value was better. Yeah, that's a weird complaint, sure. But I think a lot of us really enjoyed seeing something made from scrap cardboard. Or how the sketches were just bots and a human BORED on a ship and they find some wigs and sing a song or whatever.

The new show sketches seemed far too rehearsed and not hand-made. Part of the humor to me is KNOWING the giant leech is a damn garbage bag. Or a magic transformation machine means just flipping a box over. The Mads and Pearl and Crew also just did silly weird things as torture. I wanted cardboard cutouts and fishing line and tempera paint, not laser cut props.

Of course Joel and others WANTED to have better production back when they made stuff out of wire and cardboard and spray paint. But I think what came out of just making it work is what people enjoyed too.

I really hate being negative about something I still fully support. I don't ever want to be "that" fan that says "IT'S NOT THE OLD THING!" Because of course it won't be the old thing. There was so much that came together for the old thing.

I cringe at how horrible some fans have been (I literally haven't said anything negative in writing anywhere but here.) I think with more time it would have maybe found its footing as a new chapter and found its own things that would stand out. Making TV isn't easy. And you can't please everyone. (For example Stargate SG1 vs Stargate Universe. IMO they're both fantastic, but some fans hate one or the other.) But I'm also not surprised at it being cancelled. Yes, I agree, some marketing is to blame here too.

I hope that it can find a new home or continuation somewhere. And I hope they take a look at what worked then and what worked now and find a good way to morph them to the future. If they do, I hope it can be more silly and playful.

But I'm still glad we got something. I'm glad people got to find others who really enjoy this type of humor and make genuine connections. I'm glad I got to participate in a fundraising campaign for something I grew up on. I'm glad there's awareness that there are STILL lots of fans of this show that will be there to support it. I'm glad we have people continuing the genre like Rifftrax and others. But not matter what, we all still got to have fun over the years and that's wonderful.
posted by Crystalinne at 6:11 AM on November 27, 2019 [13 favorites]


I also didn't really care for the Netflix version of the show, but I was pretty obsessed with MST3K in the '90s. It, along with Kids in the Hall and Space Ghost: Coast to Coast were weird and wonderful things to watch as an impressionable teenager.
posted by Automocar at 6:16 AM on November 27, 2019 [8 favorites]


I've watched all of the Netflix episodes, but I haven't rewatched them the way I can endlessly rewatch the classic episodes. There's something about Trace, Kevin, and Bill's voices that equals Crow and Tom Servo to me.

For people who don't know, Pluto tv has an MST3K channel and a Rifftrax channel that replay 20 or 30 episodes in an endless loop. It's a free way to get a little taste of MST3K anytime you want.
posted by wittgenstein at 6:30 AM on November 27, 2019 [5 favorites]


Great comment, Crystalinne. I get the complaint about the production values being too good. I think part of it is that the original had this kind of cozy Midwestern appeal, like it was very much a low-budget production out of suburban Minnesota. There's a big difference between something done cheaply and something that wants to look like it was done cheaply as an aesthetic.

And yeah, it does seem like the new stuff is closer to what Joel always envisioned, but I think it's one of those cases where constraints can lead to better results than a blank check. I think making fun of B movies is more successful when you're doing it with cheap production values yourself.

I actually ended up liking the new one a lot more than I thought I would, at least as far as the movie riffing was concerned. The only thing that consistently rubbed me the wrong way was the celebrity guest stuff. It felt more like it was for their sake (the celebrities') than mine, but obviously other people must have felt differently.

I do get why some people wouldn't be into the whole concept. I have a couple friends from England who love bad movies as much as I do, but didn't grow up with MST3K like I did. I showed it to them one time, and I remember their reaction was immediate irritation, something along the lines of "oh god, they sound like your friend Neil from college!" So OK, it's not for everyone. But it's had great staying power for some of us who love it. Somehow after 25+ years of watching it, I can still get something out of the same 150 or so episodes. Either that's due to some total stupidity on my part, falling for low-hanging fruit, or there's something genuinely compelling.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:37 AM on November 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


I mean, a friend of mine named her cat Torgo, and she's a brilliant academic. Maybe it was just the haunting Torgo theme...
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:39 AM on November 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


uh, is it okay to have a dissenting opinion?

Only if you're prepared to get eyerolled at, times infinity, like the proverbial crank uncle at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Anyhoo, I tried to get into the Jonah series, but something didn't quite click for me. I think I didn't have a good sense of who was delivering lines in the darkness of the theatre, because I'm too used to the voices in the Mike and Joel episodes. And I loved Felicia Day in The Guild, but she was just okay, and she didn't seem to quite rise to the level of fun that Oswalt was having.

That said, I got to see a relatively young Robert Forster (RIP) elevate a terrible film like Avalanche, just by showing up. So I'm a better person for having lived through that awful movie and I'm grateful to Joel for showing it to me. It kind of underlines the point of how even the worst films, and the worst of the worst films, and the Roger Corman films, can have some spark in them that can make them interesting, even if only to poke fun.

In summary: Mike and Pearl > Joel | Jonah and co. There, I said it.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 6:55 AM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


Netflix has turned Thanksgiving into a real Unhappy Meal.
posted by sugar and confetti at 7:14 AM on November 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


I've loved every incarnation and had the pleasure of meeting the whole gang at the 2016 reunion show. They were all incredibly nice, but Jonah was having actual, enthusiastic conversations with the fans and made a hugely favorable first impression.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 7:15 AM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


I like Joel best, but I liked Jonah just fine and thought the new show was funny and good.

I wish streaming services would stop cancelling everything after two seasons. I am still annoyed about The Tick.
posted by kyrademon at 7:23 AM on November 27, 2019 [10 favorites]


Never liked MST3K because I never found it entertaining, the comments seem to never rise above the most basic tropes possible, and were usually witless and dull. ~ Phlegmco(tm)

Thank you! I agree 100%. I've never understood the popularity of this show. I've endured many, many episodes while watching TV with friends over the years, but never saw the humor or entertainment in it.
posted by Annabelle74 at 7:29 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


I love MST3K.

I love hearing savage criticism of MST3K. That's a hell of a lot more interesting than listening to fans croon over it.

If you're offended that someone disagrees with your aesthetic opinion of a TV show from the 80s, I'd remind you that it's only a show and you should really just relax.
posted by eotvos at 7:37 AM on November 27, 2019 [7 favorites]


I just want to share this anecdote...Earlier this year I went to the Alamo Drafthouse in Ashburn, VA for a showing of the truly awful 1987 horror movie Blood Lake. I sat in the back row of the small-ish theater, and while waiting for the movie to begin, who should enter and sit right in front of me but Patton and Matt Oswalt. So, I had the experience of watching a terrible movie in a theater with the real-life silhouettes of performers/writers from the MST3K Netflix reboot coincidentally right in my field of vision the whole time.

Actually, while it was a great time and very cool to be able to meet them after the movie ended, no one in the audience shouted snarky comments (though we all laughed at the movie together frequently)...But just being aware of them being right there still made it a unique real-life MSTK experience for me.
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:40 AM on November 27, 2019 [10 favorites]


All of you coming in here to shit on our disappointment can hop the night train to Mundo Fine and take your last clear chance to get out before I sic the tracker dinosaurs on you and use the itching ray. Let us enjoy our hamburger sandwiches and french fried potatoes in peace. Hi-keeba!
posted by stevis23 at 7:43 AM on November 27, 2019 [19 favorites]


Let us enjoy our hamburger sandwiches and french fried potatoes in peace.

We are teenagers, after all.
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:45 AM on November 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


...and Gypsy could become a Disney Princess...

I think I broke my favoriting finger.
posted by Mchelly at 7:47 AM on November 27, 2019 [8 favorites]


That's a hell of a lot more interesting than listening to fans croon over it.

We're not doing it for you.

I don't care if you or anyone else doesn't like MST3K, it's the repeated objections to people who do like it that comes across as unnecessarily abrasive. "Can we not celebrate this thing I hate." I hate Star Wars, you don't see me shitting up Star Wars threads with my hot takes about its fans. God forbid someone likes something I don't like, if only there were some way to avoid having to hear about it.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 7:51 AM on November 27, 2019 [24 favorites]


> I am not advocating for a world where all creativity is equal, but for fuck sakes, can we not valorize a show that took on the easiest targets imaginable?

That was... part of the joke though? Bad film watching (and "bad" film "appreciation") has been an avocation for a few people for at least a decade before MST3K. They hadn't done anything more than put on screen what thousands of people had been doing already when sleeplessly watching midnight movies on broadcast television, the difference this time being the riffing is done by comedians and (except for the KTMA years) scripted in advance.

Movie metahumor of this sort predates MST3K by a long shot, from Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jr. in which Keaton's character inserts himself in various movies to parody their tropes, to Woody Allen's "What's Up, Tiger Lily" which is an edited and redubbed version of a schlocky Japanese film. (Don't bother watching it unless you want to endure endless gags based on postwar Asian stereotypes, but you should know it exists.)

Hodgson and others have spoken up multiple times about how much he appreciates how difficult it is to make any movie, and how much more difficult than that to make a good one. The humor for the most part focuses on the absurdity of what they're watching (and how the acting and production instigates or exacerbates that absurdity). It's impossible to both acknowledge that a given movie is bad and then treat it as if it is are not, so they invest in the badness for humor's sake. And some are not even bad, they simply don't hold up well to modern viewing for some reason, either because the acting seems awkward and manneristic to modern American eyes, or the production doesn't age well (attempts at realistic space travel in movies from the 60s and 70s in particular are just plain silly now, and it's not the movie makers' fault).

MST3K is as much film appreciation as comedy. Personally I've tried and failed to enjoy some of these movies without their editing and riffing. It's because they've made good entertainment out of mediocre entertainment, and because they're never actually mean; they wouldn't have started this show if they didn't love the source material.
posted by ardgedee at 8:13 AM on November 27, 2019 [13 favorites]


I like Jonah, he has been a great host.

My parents had seen Avalanche! in the theater, and still remembered how bad that movie was. When we got to the part where they said "You know, I don't think they can blame this bit on the avalanche" we all lost it laughing.

Plus, my kids love to say, "Look dad! I kept myself out of mortal danger for three whole seconds!" from the Bigfoot one.

Godspeed, space movie watcher.
posted by BeeDo at 8:14 AM on November 27, 2019 [8 favorites]


netflix cancels everything after two seasons

(my revenge: i cancelled netflix. all hail disney and our glorious baby yoda ovelords)
posted by entropicamericana at 8:30 AM on November 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


What I am most curious about is whether they have already recorded the "host segments" for the Turkey Day marathon

Which, for the record, they will be hosting on their Twitch and YouTube channels.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:47 AM on November 27, 2019


"you get to see these now, but they'll be gone later and you can't see these now but they'll appear later"


The thing where stuff abruptly disappears from streaming services is related to licensed content. That is, when Netflix or Hulu pay to have the rights to stream a movie they didn't finance, that is a finite agreement. It ends. The stuff they own they keep forever. This is why Netflix makes more stuff and licenses less stuff now.

In the case of the newer production company owned platforms, the only holdup seems to be which shows/movies are in a condition to stream and are not currently licensed out elsewhere. HBO Max may have some hold-ups getting older stuff prepped to stream and free from competing agreements but the expectation is that when WB/New Line/RKO/HBO/Cinemax/Cartoon Network/etc. stuff goes up there, it will stay there.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:50 AM on November 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


I, for one, valorize our Easy Target Taking On overlords.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:25 AM on November 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


Watching bad movies and making fun of them, how heroic.

Comedy needs to be heroic?

Anyway... Netflix is so fucking weird. What on earth is attracting new users to Netflix? They literally have become "the brand that cancels shows too early." I also have Amazon, but that's part of their delivery package. I end up finding more things to watch on Amazon than Netflix.
Netflix produces or at least buys exclusive rights to so many random, shitty things. Then they don't do a long time favorite like MST. It's just a weird business model.

Netflix didn't promote this show at all. But honestly, Netflix does a horrible job of promoting anything. I'm at the point of cancelling Netflix, because I open it up these days and I'm faced with a giant wall of... stuff... that I have no clue about. Am I supposed to just watch a series I've never heard of based on a thumbnail? And when 8 out of 10 shows/movies say "Netflix Original" then that term becomes meaningless. Original? So what? Slathering "Netflix Original" on as many titles as they possibly can completely dilutes the entire point of using that tagline.

I was with them from the very early days of DVDs in the mail. I mostly watch movies. You'd think based on what I stream, they'd have a bunch of movies similar to the ones I that I do watch presented to me. But nope. I end up digging around a thousand titles I either am not interested in or have no clue about, and I usually end up turning off Netflix and playing a game or read or something. "Choice paralysis" gets me... so many choices that I choose nothing.

I'm not even thatangry that they're not supporting MST. I'm more just astonished that Netflix is staying alive with the way they operate these days.

...

If Joel is reading this:

Strip MST down to what it was in the early days. Smaller cast of actors. Lower production values. We don't need the band, and the giant vats of goo and the special effects and ten guest appearances. Make it quaint and low-fi. That's what drew people originally.

Have some faith in your audience. The audience exists because they were watching weird, funny and strange low budget movies before MST even existed. I loved MST from the beginning because it was fun to watch the movies. With jokes added! The show became more like all jokes with a movie in the background to give the jokes structure. I honestly found a few of the latest episodes outright exhausting with all the shadow visual gags, and the nonstop riffing, sometimes so fast I couldn't tell what they meant.

The show in the new 2 seasons became wall-to-wall jokes, as if they were desperate to fill in any silence, and had to point out every little detail in the movies "just in case the audience might get bored"

Slow down the pace to what it was like in the early days. Like the viewer tunes in to watch a movie with his friends. Stop the wall-to-wall jokes, slick editing and constant comedy. The appeal of MST for me was that I LIKED watching the weird-ass or shitty movies! The bots and Joel/Mike making wisecracks was icing on the cake. The last few seasons, the show became too much icing, too little cake.

My takeaway is: too many writers competing to be the new Top Writer. Too many people behind the scenes trying to one-up each other. The show shines brightest when I believe the robots and Mike, or Jonah, or Joel are the ones coming up with the jokes on the spot. The robot's personalities are making the jokes, not an overworked writer's room. Recent seasons sound too slick, scripted and tightly crafted.

Jokes need to come from Crow. And from Tom. And from Jonah. From those characters. There's a recent lack of sweetness to the Bots. One thing that I loved so much from the show was how they made the robot puppets actually endearing and lovable. Last 2 seasons they have personalities made by committee.

Cut the budget, cut the production. Get back to basics. Go back to the core appeal of the show. Then find a smaller publisher/host.

- my 2 cents
posted by SoberHighland at 9:49 AM on November 27, 2019 [20 favorites]


What on earth is attracting new users to Netflix? They literally have become "the brand that cancels shows too early."

Wasn't this the Sci-Fi channel's brand?
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:57 AM on November 27, 2019 [9 favorites]


If Joel is reading this: ...

tl;dr - Turn your crank to Frank!
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:58 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


If nothing else, this thread has convinced me it's time for me to take a break from Netflix. I've been a subscriber since early DVD days and have defended the company when it's been attacked over price bumps, but its penchant for cancelling popular series while spending ungodly amounts just to keep lame-ass Friends on its network.. I'm out, at least for a while.
posted by jzb at 10:12 AM on November 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


Wasn't this the Sci-Fi channel's brand?

At least with Sci-Fi/Syfy, the network itself always felt sort of scrappy, so it wasn't as galling when they canceled something that was good but obviously kind of expensive.

With Netflix, they have obscene amounts of money, but for me the only really compelling exclusive they have right now is Stranger Things, which has at most two more seasons in it. The broadcast networks moved everything else I was watching to Hulu, and Netflix has nothing to replace, say, Bob's Burgers, a big part of the appeal of which is, at this point, the fact that there are ten seasons of solid comedy. Churning out a hundred variations on White Guy Comic's "Triggered" special can't compete with that.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:26 AM on November 27, 2019 [6 favorites]


I end up digging around a thousand titles I either am not interested in or have no clue about, and I usually end up turning off Netflix and playing a game or read or something.

This is increasingly my experience as well. My theory for why Netflix has so many random and low-quality movies is that they’re licensing them from media companies in bundles, meaning they end up with the streaming rights for thirty terrible movies just to get two or three good ones. The companies want to squeeze some value out of their mediocre back catalogue and Netflix figures, hey, someone might watch this crap.

There might also be something of a long tail distribution in play, where a given terrible movie has low rates of viewership, but three hundred terrible movies across a wide spectrum of genres attract a significant number of watches in aggregate. One person might have lower standards for horror movies because they love the genre, another might like cheesy sci-fi, etc.
posted by dephlogisticated at 10:53 AM on November 27, 2019 [5 favorites]


We dropped Netflix this week to make room for Disney+. I’ll pick it back up briefly for future seasons of Stranger Things and Glow (if there are any), but that’s pretty much it. Most of their original/“original” content just isn’t that compelling, and they seem to keep cancelling what is.
posted by skycrashesdown at 10:56 AM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


Related: The Definitive Ranking of Every MST3K Short
posted by Chrysostom at 11:25 AM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


> Like, why do Netflix shows ever go offline?

What Netflix show went offline?
posted by dgeiser13 at 12:01 PM on November 27, 2019


The reason Netflix's content quality is dropping is well documented. In the early days their strategy was based around creating limited amounts of high quality content with the best available producers. These days, their content is funded based on an algorithm driven by what their viewers click on and watch. They are being fed weirdly specific information that leads them to make decisions like "A postapocalyptic drama with a teen female lead and a Marvel star in a supporting role will get views."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:03 PM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Turn your crank to Frank!

BROOKS AND DUNN!

(Wynonna!)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:09 PM on November 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


entropicamericana: netflix cancels everything after two seasons
Netflix’s deals include bump/bonuses after each season that are getting progressively bigger. While the payments are relatively modest after Season 1 and a little bigger after Season 2, I hear they escalate after Season 3, especially for series owned by Netflix — sometimes from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars — as the studio starts to pay off the shows’ back-end. For series from outside studios, which I hear cost about 20% more than their Netflix-produced counterparts, I hear the built-in payment increases do not skyrocket as much but still are bigger after Season 3, Season 4 and beyond.

Netflix is known for giving writers and producers creative freedom and has been relatively patient, picking up a significant portion of its freshman series for a second season, giving them time to find their legs. But as the shows’ prices start going up, the network tightens its renewal criteria.
In short, Netflix errs on the side of fiscal constraints over audience devotion to lesser-streamed shows. But tied to the 3-7 (!!) year freeze-out of other streaming platforms picking up cast-aside programming, getting a show on Netflix sounds like a double-edged sword: great for a few years, then you need to do something new, because unless you're a big hit, that program is done.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:23 PM on November 27, 2019 [5 favorites]


I am not advocating for a world where all creativity is equal, but for fuck sakes, can we not valorize a show that took on the easiest targets imaginable?

I never loved MST quite as much as I kinda wanted to based on my own enjoyment of schlocky films - it's pretty hit-or-miss, and space filled with weak jokes can be worse than space left unfilled. But since you felt it worthwhile to contribute this opinion it feels like fair game for me to say that I find this sentence truly odd. Best I can get is you think the format is too mean to the people who made the movies? For the most part I think that really is not the spirit with which the MST crew approached it.
posted by atoxyl at 2:04 PM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Also my controversial (maybe not really!) opinion for this thread is that as a viewer I'm pretty okay with Netflix keeping things to two seasons. I always liked the shorter length of most UK series - gives the show less time to go stale. The thing that sucks about the Netflix approach is that, as understand it, showrunners don't usually know how many seasons they are going to get. Not being able to plan definitively for a short series sort of negates the advantages of a short series.
posted by atoxyl at 2:15 PM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


The thing that most made MST3K special is what it did with one of the oldest television formats... the Hosted Movie. In the early days of broadcast TV, a lot of local stations that were not network affiliates filled large blocks of time with old movies (usual of low quality because they were inexpensive to acquire). But because they didn't fit the timeslots they were allocated to, they required an in-studio host to sit on camera at the commercial breaks and fill time. Sometimes, the host was driven to use his time fills to express his true opinion of the movie- many a fledgeling TV career was ended that way, but one area where that behavior was tolerated was the weekend timeslots when they showed old horror/monster movies. Many of the hosts gained fame beyond their local TV markets (Zacherley, Vampira, Svengoolie) and one in particular, Larry Vincent as Sinister Seymour, went to great lengths to "value add" to the movies, often breaking into scenes with snarky commentary via green screen. Vincent's untimely death in 1975 from cancer left the title of Supreme Movie Snarker vacant until Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson took over in the early '80s. (Full disclosure: I knew one of Seymour's gag writers during the time between hosts) Other hosts and shows played with the format until Joel and the Best Brains raised it to an art with MST3K. It's a TV format with a long, if checkered past (heck, I'd call it plaid).
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:18 PM on November 27, 2019 [22 favorites]


These days, their content is funded based on an algorithm driven by what their viewers click on and watch.
I really don't get this. Not the comment, but the strategy.

I'm already paying netflix a fixed fee and there are no ads. As long as I don't unsubscribe, they lose money every time I watch something. It seems like their winning strategy would be to occasionally create content just barely good enough to convince me to remain a member, but so bad in general that I don't actually use the service much. (Perhaps that actually explains their selection?)
posted by eotvos at 4:07 PM on November 27, 2019 [5 favorites]


As long as I don't unsubscribe, they lose money every time I watch something.

I think the concern is that “unengaged” and “unenthusiastic” often slides into “unsubscribed”, as is demonstrated by a few commenters in every Netflix thread these days. Streaming platforms want viewers that are not just passively subscribed but tweeting and telling friends about the latest thing they’re binging. That kind of buzz is what brings in new subscribers, but it’s something you can’t really buy, force, or reliably predict. It’s enormously hard to build from the bottom up.
posted by dephlogisticated at 5:26 PM on November 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


MST3K was a staple of college. Had youtube existed, my roommate who spent hours creating mixtapes of shorts (by using two VHS players) might have actually graduated, though we wouldn't have that unbelievably funny two hours of perfectly mixed shorts, interstitials, and stingers.

Out of everything in this thread, though, the one thing you're all terribly wrong about: the best short is Why Study Industrial Arts1, shortly followed by Are You Ready For Marriage?2 I mean, sure, Mister B is great and all, but it's more on the Here Comes the Circus level for me.


1Because you're bad at math.

2First Federal Church, member FDIC

posted by Ghidorah at 6:48 PM on November 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


Also, little known fact, I had always wanted my username to be Torgo. In college, I had some pretty nasty back issues (two surgeries and a bonus MRSA infection!), and in loving response to my hunched over lurch, my friends starting calling me Torgo, naturally. This was long enough ago that I was able to use Torgo as a signup for a great many things. When I got here, I thought, sure, Torgo, that'd be a great name. When I got to the name choosing, it turned out that not only had someone already chosen Torgo, they had never actually finished the signup process, thus dooming the most perfect name ever to the land of unusable usernames... The sadness I felt was almost as great as being made to watch Hands, the Hands of Fate itself.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:52 PM on November 27, 2019 [8 favorites]


When I got here, I thought, sure, Torgo, that'd be a great name. When I got to the name choosing, it turned out that not only had someone already chosen Torgo, they had never actually finished the signup process, thus dooming the most perfect name ever to the land of unusable usernames...

Twitter is getting ready to release a bunch of unused user names on a first come, first served basis.
Maybe MetaFilter could do the same and charge a PREEEEMIUM for those.
How much would you be willing to pay for that Torgo user name?
Enough to have @cortex finally have his Scrooge McDuck vault of moneys?
posted by Bill Watches Movies Podcast at 6:32 AM on November 28, 2019 [2 favorites]


Nah, I’m pretty much good with Ghidorah these days.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:54 AM on November 28, 2019 [2 favorites]


Cheating is the best short, followed by Design For Dreaming.

(I was proud of my kids a few years ago - they called out The Home Economics Story as sexist. And then we watched Why Study Industrial Arts, and "hey, this is the same movie but for boys!")
posted by Chrysostom at 8:50 AM on November 28, 2019 [2 favorites]


I was going to say something in response to the wet blankets up above, but enough other folks did that that I figure I don't have to. I'll just leave it with a reminder that we're watching the Turkey Day marathon over in the MST3K Club video room if you want to watch with us!
posted by JHarris at 9:04 AM on November 28, 2019 [6 favorites]


Cheating is the best short, followed by Design For Dreaming.

You forgot Circus

on Ice!
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 1:00 PM on November 28, 2019 [1 favorite]


So far on the Turkey Day it's been

Space Mutiny
I Accuse My Parents (with excellent short, "The Truck Farmer")
Werewolf

Commercials have been replaced with promos for Shout Factor stuff and small bits of other experiments, like a bit from Manos, The Hands of Fate.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:18 PM on November 28, 2019 [1 favorite]


Werewolf

Whirrwelf
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:35 PM on November 28, 2019 [3 favorites]


Didn't they just show Warrrwilf last year or the year before?
posted by MrBadExample at 3:40 PM on November 28, 2019


For those in need of an MST3K fix, try the wonderfully weird Pluto.TV streaming service. Its dozens of channels are ad-supported, and it's free to users, no commitment required. In addition to the standard mix of news, sports, movies, etc., it has a channel that runs nothing but MST3K episodes 24/7.

And a channel that runs nothing but Dr Who episodes 24/7.

And a channel that runs nothing but Baywatch episodes 24/7.

And a channel that runs nothing but Midsomer Murders episodes 24/7.

And did I mention the channel that runs nothing but cat videos 24/7?
posted by bcarter3 at 4:07 PM on November 28, 2019 [3 favorites]


Further, there are official 24-hour Twitch streams for both MST3K and RiffTrax!
posted by JHarris at 3:46 AM on November 29, 2019


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