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Stressfactor said on April 29th, 2011 at 1:17 pm

It’s ironic that you should post this as I’m just getting into MST3K myself. And like you my parent’s didn’t believe in cable either for years and years and years so I didn’t get introduced to the show until it was too late.

And, despite taking the ‘pick one and try it’ approach to watching I eventually went back and started with the KTMA stuff and feel that I actually understand the show a bit better.

But, then again, I’m a historian by both trade and nature and I feel I understand better where something stands when I understand where it began.

Since I’m not too far along yet I’ve got to say that, out of the KTMA stuff I like “Gamera vs. Zigra” because it’s the first introduction to the “Mads”, “The Million Eyes of Sumuru” because it’s a double entendre-fest (although be warned there are some jokes in there that today are kind of racially insensitive), and “Legend of the Dinosaurs” if for no other reason than fairly late in the movie Joel manages to crack *himself* up and it takes him quite a bit to get the giggles under control. As Servo says: “After 20 weeks, Joel Hodgson snapped a twig.”

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“Manos” and “Mitchell” are undeniably the two best, but I also love “Red Zone Cuba” for the sheer WTFness of the movie they’re watching and the one with giant ants (which sadly I can’t remember the name of at the moment, it’s also great because you get to see Crow’s one man show biopic of the lead actor in it – who I also can’t remember the name of at the moment…)

Also, any time they got their hands on an educational short it was comedy gold.

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The ant one is Beginning of the End and the actor is Peter Graves (thanks internet!!!)

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Also it’s grasshoppers, not ants. Sorry, i’ll stop now.

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MST3K ebbs and flows (Prince of Space and Danger! Death Ray being two of my must-sees) but holy cow, the Rifftrax of Twilight is sublime. The armadillo. The Benny Hill theme. The endless iterations of “Line?” “The cameraman’s a jumper!” Iron Man (“Heroin! I mean, help!”) and Star Trek aren’t too bad, either.

And God, yes, the shorts were almost always pure gold, with “The Chicken of Tomorrow” (sponsored by Texaco!) standing out in my memory.

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solid snake said on April 29th, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Hikeeba!

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EndOfTheWorld said on April 29th, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Red Zone Cuba is a personal favorite, but I’d be wary about showing it to a newbie. That’s a case where the movie being watched is really bad in an unfun way. Some movies, like The Room, are awful in an over-the-top way that makes them funny even without the riffing. But Red Zone Cuba, in the words of Crow T. Robot, “Dares you to watch it.” There are extended periods where absolutely nothing happens, and everything is just so disoriented that, for some people, the riffing isn’t enough to compensate for.

So, for me, I’d put the Coleman Francis Trilogy in an MST3K advanced course. (Skydivers is the easiest, since they never fucking go anywhere but that horrible airport. Also the helmet haired woman does something resembling acting)

I’d recommend Space Mutiny as another great newbie episode. Not too many injokes, and the film practically mocks itself. (Starring Gristle McThornbody and his grandma/girlfriend Not-Quite-Sherri-Lewis)

Actually, I take that back. The best way to get someone into MST3K would be a liberal application of Shorts. A movie can be too much of a commitment for some people, but shorts are never longer than 15 minutes.

Cheating(“There aren’t enough bell towers in the world for Johnny”), A Date With Your Family(“Emotions are for ethnic people”), The Days of Our Years (with the Deacon of Death), Why Study Industrial Arts? (Because you’re bad at math), Hired! Parts 1 and 2 (“FLYING ELVES ARE BACK!”)

and, God help you, Mr. B Natural.

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Lance Lunchmeat said on April 29th, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Space Mutiny is the one MST everyone has to watch.

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On the Rifftrax front Top Gun and X-Men are also excellent. Top Gun is a far gayer movie than I remember (watch it. You’ll understand) and the x-men one had me in stitches.

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Sofa King said on April 29th, 2011 at 5:49 pm

And oddly, some of the inventions they created were pretty good.

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One could always start with the movie. Its got some great lines and some excellent bridging shorts. Plus the end credits riffs are sublime…

Eastman, he came from the East to do battle with..THE AMAZING RANDO!

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We always had cable, but I never got to watch Mystery Science Theater when it was on the air. I think I read too much, and I was born a couple of years too late to really be aware of the show in it’s hey-day. My first exposure was with MST3K: The Movie when it rolled around to Pay-Per-View and I was intrigued enough by the ads on the TV Guide Channel (oh, the ’90s…) to seek it out at the little video store nook at the grocery store (again: ’80s, ’90s, nostalgia, etc.) and rip a copy on the VCR.

I loved the hell out of that little tape–had to go back for another pair of rentals to replace worn out bootlegs–but never realized that there even was a show until I ran across the old Satellite News website (which is a fantastic resource for new fans, by the way) one day and found out what I had been missing. The show was on its last legs by then though, and we didn’t get the Sci-Fi Channel…Damn.

But the DVD collections are great. They’re pricey, yeah, but they at least give you some room to get a broad spectrum of exposure to the show per set (just got Volume XV and was really pleased to get some KTMA era stuff along with the more recognizable material) and some of the special features are really very good on these later Shout Factory sets.

And since we’re listing personal favorites, I’ve always been partial to: Mitchel, The Final Sacrifice, The Touch of Satan, The Starfighters, and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

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Lister Sage said on April 29th, 2011 at 8:18 pm

If I could get a grant I’d love to actually get three people together who’ve never heard of the show. Have them sign wavers and actually keep them in an apartment for three months where every day they have to watch a shitty film, just to see what I’d end up with at the end of it. Some university really should do a study.

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malakim2099 said on April 29th, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Godzilla v. Megalon is a classic. I have seasons 2-5 copied over onto DVD, which helped me survive college.

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Lister (not that one) said on April 29th, 2011 at 9:46 pm

The most important thing to remember about exposing new people to MST3K is that a lot of the fan favorite episodes (Red Zone Cuba, Manos, The Creeping Terror, Monster a-Go-Go) are so terrible that they will turn any sane person away before the show “clicks.”

Deathstalker, Space Mutiny, Outlaw, or any Gamera/Godzilla are good full-length introductions to the show, but like EndOfTheWorld, I think the shorts are probably the best way to go. Puerto Rico, Hired (the musical!), Catching Trouble, Last Clear Chance, Truck Farming… anything that’s inherently funny on its own is a great place to introduce a new viewer.

I think the best thing about these shows is that they still hold up more than twenty (oh god, so old) years later. I swear I’ll digitize my tapes sometime before they turn to dust, too. I have turkey day host segments, people!

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I’ve always believed that Cave Dwellers is an excellent episode to show someone who’s never seen MST3K. The host segments are all pretty funny, and the movie itself, though bad, does actually try to tell a story. EEGAH! would be a good place to start as well.

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It Conquered the World is an excellent and easily approachable episode. Bad Roger Corman monster movie with laughable special effects; recognizable lead actors; and Crow’s kick-ass Peter Graves impression. Plus a short and a song, and an outstanding ending.

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Completely off topic but you might like to check out this moronic article on foxnews about ‘how Superman is turned anti-american’. http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/04/29/hijacked-superman-turned-loving-anti-american/

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Walter Kovacs said on April 30th, 2011 at 5:50 am

I definitely agree that the shorts are a good introduction (speaking of which, in addition to Rifftrax doing big movies, they do VODs of shorts regularly, and have a few compilation DVDs, and they even have a few feature length VOD/DVDs, like Night of the Living Dead, House on Haunted Hill, Plan 9, etc).

Pod People was actually a pretty good introductory episode … my friend that I intro’d the show to doesn’t normally have the patience for watching them still quotes from the “Chief! McCloud!” scenes. It may be a little dated, but do jokes about Ren Fairs and synth music ever really go out of style?

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Cookie McCool said on April 30th, 2011 at 9:21 am

I think the non-scifi movies get unfairly neglected. I Accuse My Parents has me telling complete strangers it’s my birthday just as much as Pod People has me calling small animals “Little Potato!” before I eat them. But that one with the giant spiders and Alan McHale turned me into a football-hating Green Bay-hating Packers fan even before Greg Jennings got signed.

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Katzedecimal said on April 30th, 2011 at 10:27 am

MITCHELL! Ohhhmuhgawd that one was so freakin’ bad, a classic example of MST3K making a bad movie entertaining.

My all time favorite is “The Wild Wild World of Batwoman”, which I must note is IN NO WAY attempting to cash in on that show with Adam West in tights *cough*yesitis*cough* The seance scene in all its racist glory, the MacGuffin that makes everyone who watches it say “A nuclear *what??*”, best villain name evar, useless-as-frack Batgirls, and Batwoman herself, who changed facial expression only once throughout the entire movie. And I haven’t even mentioned the dancing!

Which brings us to… “The Girl in Gold Boots” AARRRRRGH!!!! The movie itself sums it up best when a character weeps “I want my pretty brain back!” — after watching that cheeseball, so do I, sister, so do I.

Then there’s that Christmas nose-cola classic, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians!” Featuring Martians in green body paint and funny hats, a theme song that will have you wanting to strangle something inside of thirty seconds, and a Santa Claus who never once says “Ho ho ho” but laughs in a manner that makes you want to keep him AWAY from small children.

But there was one movie that not even MST3K could make bearable and that’s “Monster A Go-go.” Even the bots were chewing the furniture and crying “make it stop make it stop.”

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Evil Midnight Lurker said on April 30th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Master Ninja Theme Song!

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Edgar Allan Poe said on April 30th, 2011 at 5:27 pm

“Why would anyone want to do that with Mitchell, Joel?”

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Cespinarve said on April 30th, 2011 at 8:10 pm

“Oh, you know, pod People People got no reason to live.

Pod People? Isn’t that Mia People’s half-brother?

Which half?

The… better half?”

“Give me that, I’ll show you how to use a prop phone”

The radio makes a funny noise too! (Uh, that’s called music)

You know they’re going to have to build another room just to stack the bodies.

I feel like someone should be reciting a Robert Frost poem. “Something there is that… does not involve a crummy monster movie”

Trumpy, why did you kill those people? (I did it for the kicks!)

Kitty is like a potato, yes, how nice.

WILL THERE STILL BE A CLOWN IN THE SKY…..for….. me?

Ah Pod people, best MST3K episode of all time, as far as I am concerned.

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Mitchell and Pod People have always been favorites of mine. I like I Accuse My Parents alot also. And was there one called High School Big Shot? Or High School Tough Guy? Something like that? There’s a couple of lines from that one that my friends and I still quote back and forth regularly.

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“Man, this house is all foyer…”

I’ve gotten to use that one so many more times than you would think over the years. Pod People really is just a brilliant episode, and features so much classic Joel, but what I really love about it is that almost every host segment has a musical number or gag in it…and each and every one kills.

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Mitche;; is one of my favevs for sure, but no one has mentioned Werewolf, which is so stupendously bad, for one, and for two, the team does an awesome job at sending up. The end credits are just classic and it is full of great one-liners.

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A Date with your Family may be the best Short they ever did, but I’ll always hold a fond place in my heart for Johnny At The Fair.

“For the first time in his young life, Johnny knows real fear.”

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I rank episode 204 (2nd season) CATALINA CAPER as the first of the truly great MST3K episodes.

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EndOfTheWorld said on May 1st, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Don’t forget Future War!

“So it’s not the future, and there’s no war. You know I normally don’t like to complain, but…”

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Admiral Snackbar said on May 1st, 2011 at 5:53 pm

The shorts are a perfectly fine way to start, but I don’t think they really capture the whole experience. I think if you really want to get a skeptic into MST3K, pick a more recent film they riffed that wouldn’t be insufferable to watch on its own. Space Mutiny is the king here, but Future War, Werewolf and even Hobgoblins are contenders.

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I agree that they don’t capture the full experience, but the one issue with MST3K is that going through a whole movie’s worth of riffing is a LOT of time. I think bringing them in with the shorts will give them an idea of the sense of humor at work, without making them sit through 90 minutes of a show they haven’t seen before.

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Drag Balls said on May 2nd, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Oh man, love this. Pod People might be my favorite (everyone remembers their first), but another one I like is It Conquered the World. Hilarious short (shi thrills!), much Peter Graves joy, a couple uproarious host segments, and a final monologue that’s repeated… what, four times?

My favorite line (after a character is bitten by a mind-controlling alien drone), “Yes, I understand now. Reagan would make a GREAT president!”

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edosan said on May 2nd, 2011 at 1:28 pm

I agree with the earlier poster that said a lot of MST3K classics (like Manos, the Hands of Fate) are terrible movies to show a first-time watcher. Better first eps would be shows like Werewolf or Outlaw.

Also, I have to admit that I want to like Cinematic Titanic but they pick some unwatchable movies, even with the riffing. The few movies Mike and Co. did as “The Film Crew” were better picks. All the Rifftrax Live events have been excellent.

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DaveKan said on May 2nd, 2011 at 2:51 pm

“There’s 40 pounds of butt in 30-pound butt capacity pants”.

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Cookie McCool said on May 2nd, 2011 at 3:30 pm

The funny thing is, the first few times I saw MST3K, I thought it was the dumbest dumb thing I’d ever dumbed and why the hell would you want to watch somebody watch a terrible movie? I now regret all the fun times I could’ve been enjoying.

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Fortunately, the series’ creators actually included the phrase “Keep Circulating the Tapes” in the credits for the first seven seasons

Actually, it was just seasons 1-4.

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Candlejack said on May 3rd, 2011 at 3:52 am

Me too, Cookie.

(My parents also didn’t believe in cable, but luckily, the broadcast translator did. So at a time when the local cable stations didn’t show Sci-Fi…our antenna pulled it and several other cable networks as UHF channels. Yay for piracy! Boo for cable subscribers alerting their cable providers and putting a stop to it.)

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HoboJim said on May 3rd, 2011 at 8:04 am

Pumaman (or is it Pyumaman) is an excellent starting point for getting someone into MST3K. It’s cheesy enough to enjoy, but not outright bad enough to turn anyone away.

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I am so very glad that I’m not the first one to recommend Pumaman, aka Pyoomaymen, aka Dockers casual superhero.

To the Pod People quotes, I’d like to add
“It’s a *data* stream!”

And for personal favorites, Mitchell is definitely grand, but I also have great fondness for both “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank” and “Jack Frost”.

“a lot of MST3K classics (like Manos, the Hands of Fate) are terrible movies to show a first-time watcher.” /truth

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Liesmith said on May 17th, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Headin’ down the road, tryin’ ta lighten my load, I got Colman Francis on my mind.

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