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Mystery Science Theater reunion Mothra





pg 13. 90 min



Okay so here is a strange little performance, very limited theater distribution and a live digital feed to boot. And since its broadcast live the re broadcast will be exactly the same so don't expect any changes.


Back in the early nineties one of my friends at Put-In-Bay turned me on to two things that I enjoy greatly to this day. First was the melodic rock band Toad the Wet Sprocket and the other was a strange little show call MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000, produced, as I recall, by Comedy Central. The absurd premise for the series was that Joel Hodgson, a janitor on a space station, was shanghaied and sent into space as part of a fiendish experiment to determine how long it would take his mind to snap after being forced to watch horrible movies everyday. The ingenious Joel found a way around total insanity by taking some of the parts of the space station and crafting them into robot companions, Crow and Tom Servo (made from things including plastic bowling pins spray painted gold and a gumball machine) with whom he could watch as well as heckle these films. The Comedy Central version featured different kinds of bad films to be lampooned but when they ceased production and mst3k was revived on the Syfy channel the new bosses insisted that all the films be science fiction, which unfortunately narrowed the scope. An example of some of the humor I recall in a cheesy 1950s teenage flick is where the cranky old man at the diner yells at the kids "you punks get out of here!" And her response was " we're not punks, we're new Romantics!" (referencing the 1980s distinctions between versions modern music). The show always featured dozens of under-the-radar references that not everyone caught but those who did were amazed.


After a few years creator Joel Hodgson left the show and was replaced by head writer Mike Nelson and the show continued pretty much as before until it finally left the air in 1999.


The show still has a cult following, including myself, willing to shell out bigger than usual fees for tickets for a broadcast of a live event based on the original show. This time the movie is Japanese monster classic Mothra. For those of you too young to remember Japanese monster movies you will certainly scratch your head wondering how the Japanese, who manufacture such innovative precise electronics, musical instruments, vehicles etc and still line up at the movie theater to watch films that look like they could have been made by a middle school remedial shop class.


But back to the show. There are some changes from the original format which bothered me a little bit. Even though it's a Mystery Science Theater reunion it's now called RiffTrax. They have eliminated the mst3k theme song as well as the silhouettes of Mike Tom and Crow at the bottom of the screen. They've been replaced by the actual actors (Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett) sometimes split right and sometimes off camera. Also missing are the little segments that lead into an out of the films on the original show.


On the plus side is the fact that when you do one or two productions a year you can be much more selective with the wisecracks. It's harder if you have to crank out a show every week, and the jokes here are top notch.


Another positive is now without the constrictions of the Syfy channel the boys are free to bring back the short feature to open the show. This time it's an ancient educational film about the benefits of washing yourself with soap (seriously) and it's hilarious.


I won't bother detailing the plot of MOTHRA but I'll admit that I was a bit surprised at how the story actually unfolded. We are here for the wise ass commentary not for the thoughtful analysis of monsters crushing styrofoam cities and toy cars.


Anyway the comedy is non stop, clean and funny not to mention the fact that the entire show is performed live. I'm sure it will be rebroadcast soon and probably available on Pay-per-view, so if you are a fan of the original series (or even not) I can just about guarantee you will enjoy this incarnation.




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A lot of the original MST was classic stuff. It's V2.0 seemed to miss the mark more... not sure what changed other than the human.


I fondly remember doing a MST-style viewing of "Mothra" with my ex-Dad-in-law and his brother in a motel in Kennett Square, PA before MST was a thing. We laughed our asses off... but admittedly alcohol was involved.

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