MST3K reunites for a good cause

Via AVClub:

Comic-Con@Home is online and underway, having kicked off this past Wednesday, July 22. It’s a grand experiment in capturing San Diego Comic-Con International’s heady mix of popular culture, camaraderie, and commerce without exposing attendees to a highly contagious and lethal virus, and as anyone who’s ever conducted a grand experiment—say, subjecting a human and his robot companions to the worst movies ever made—things don’t always go according to plan. Which is how Mystery Science Theater 3000 creator and original host Joel Hodgson, second Crow T. Robot Bill Corbett, and first Tom Servo J. Elvis Weinstein find themselves committed to resuming their old roles a few hours before taking the virtual stage Comic-Con stage and announcing they were doing so as part of a fundraiser for the Minneapolis-based Native American youth organization MIGIZI.

The fundraiser’s formal launch was intended to be part of tonight’s MST3K SDCC@Home panel, but word of the campaign spread early. As of this afternoon, it had reached the first of its two goals, with $10,000 in donations locking Hodgson, Corbett, and Weinstein in for a riff of the short film “A Busy Day At The County Fair.” (Let it never be said that MSTies aren’t passionate or quick to put money behind that passion.) If the fundraiser reaches $20,000—and, as of this writing, it’s less than $5,000 away from doing so—the trio will do another short, which, like its predecessor, will be a turkey with the full MST3K trimmings: The silhouettes, the doorway sequence, and a combination of host and bots never before seen on the Satellite Of Love.

Donors will receive early, VIP access to the shorts, which will later run on Their donations will go toward rebuilding MIGIZI facilities damaged during May’s protests over the death of George Floyd, caused by fires that spread from the burning of a nearby Minneapolis Police Department precinct. The Minneapolis area was the longtime production hub for MST3K, which originated on Twin Cities UHF station KTMA and produced its 10 cable seasons in nearby Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

Donate here.

THE OUTER LIMITS: The Expanding Human



As far back as men have recorded their history, veils have been lowered to disclose a vast new reality — rents in the fabric of Man’s awareness. And somewhere, in the endless search of the curious mind, lies the next vision, the next key to his infinite capacity…

Strange occurrences seem centered on the experimentation of a college professor who seeks to expand upon the limitations of the human mind and body using CE drugs. A night watchman is murdered and chemicals are stolen and it all points towards the expansive experimentation of Dr. Clinton. However he maintains that his research is not related and urges the police to refrain from publicizing the events as it would hurt the program’s already challenged reputation due to the loss of students due to the drug.

Clinton experiences a Jekyll and Hyde transformation and resolves into an advanced form of humanity who is incapable of being harmed and morally corrupt. He urges his friend Dr. Wayne to take the same cocktail with hopes that he will not be alone in his mission toward world domination. He is convinced that his mind and body have been expanded beyond capacity to a higher level of life.

One of Clinton’s associates describes the experience of CE drugs by comparing a regular man’s reaction to a falling leaf by saying that on CE, he would experience all leaves, all possibilities of its trip from tree to ground and all that it entails. It’s a drug that taps into a world of experience that is beyond the standard human being’s ability to conceive.

The episode is clearly about LSD, a drug that was being experimented upon with college students at the time. It’s a rather uninspired script shot with very little flair, especially for The Outer Limits. Whereas ordinarily the program expounds upon the human experience with emotional angles and bizarre concepts, this one has a one note tale that results in the lesson that drugs are bad.

Frankly, I expect more from this ground breaking program. Perhaps pressure from on high came down to make this episode and the creative talent phoned in the production? Who knows.

Clapperboard – Space: 1999

From the annals of 1975 comes this short film on the Gerry Anderson program, Space: 1999. A groundbreaking series that took science fiction to new heights with its high production values and cerebral storylines.

In addition to a glimpse behind the scenes, the pair of documentaries delves into the supermarionation technology with the smooth talking Gerry Anderson walking through the mind-bending technique as well as the history of his past productions.

Read more Space: 1999 articles here.

Ultra Q, the Japanese X-Files

For the next 30 minutes, your eyes will leave your body and arrive in this strange moment in time…

After the success of Gojira, special effects supervisor Eiju Tsuburaya launched his own production company. The first thing he did was purchase a state of the art photography system to make the best photographic effects possible at the time. Unable to afford the unit, Tokyo Broadcasting Systems bought the printer for the company in exchange for one thing, a TV series in the same blockbuster tone as Gojira. What they got was Ultra Q.

Ultra Q was shot on 35 mm film and featured filmic special effects unseen at the time outside of a feature film. Tsuburaya’s skill at mixing miniature and full size images was masterful and the rubber monster designs were out of this world. The program premiered in 1966 and spawned 36 spinoffs including the popular Ultraman. It was even revived several times over.

The scheme of Ultra Q (or the ultimate question) revolved around man’s imbalance with the world of nature. It is this UNBALANCE that leads to unimaginable creatures and beings crossing paths with our heroes. They must use their wits to escape from the creatures and go back to their world free of the monstrous. It is an anthology program recurring characters of a quartet of newspaper investigators and some stand out stories that have nothing to do with anything such as “Grow Up! Little Turtle,” which centers on a young boy’s fantasies.

Ultra Q is a program unlike anything I had seen before and I bought it on a whim during a sale on Amazon. If you are stuck at home and looking for something new and interesting to watch, this may be right up your alley!

Available on Amazon.

Thunderbirds comes to BritBox

The mighty puppets are back and are on BritBox. Fans can now stream the classic series from home and enjoy the explosive adventures of the Tracey family.


BritBox has announced it will be adding a variety of classic kids television series from ITV’s archives to its service next month.

Fans of Gerry Anderson and his Supermarionation series will also be happy to hear that select episodes from his back catalogue will also be available: including 10 of the best episodes of Thunderbirds and the pilot episodes of Captain Scarlet (1967), Joe 90 (1968) and Stingray (1964).

The documentary All About Thunderbirds (2008) will also be part of the new Gerry Anderson Collection.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 returns for social-distancing Riff-Along special

As we recluse ourselves on our homes, kicks are hard to come by. Thankfully the folks behind MST3K have come along with a treat for its fans, a riff-along of Moon Zero Two along with a new short.

Via AVClub

As with so many aspects of life during COVID-19, it started with a Zoom call. Joel Hodgson and the team behind Mystery Science Theater 3000’s latest live tour were scheduled to discuss their next project over the videoconferencing service in the days before social-distancing measures and emergency lockdowns were instituted across the United States. By the time of the call, any in-person MST3K events would have to be postponed for the time being, but the cast was firing on all cylinders, as if they were still on the road and mixing it up with the worst movies ever made.

“I was feeling the heat off the screen,” creator Joel Hodgson recently told The A.V. Club. And just as a fictional ’70s outbreak had helped spark Hodgson’s idea for a TV show where the hosts crack wise over a movie, this very real 21st-century pandemic set the stage for the next iteration of MST3K, coming to Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and other platforms next Sunday, A.D.

The A.V. Club is the first to announce the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live Riff-Along, a special streaming event taking place May 3 at 6 p.m. ET. Coupled with a new short, Circus Day, the centerpiece is a screening of the vintage MST3K episode Moon Zero Two, which will find the show’s touring cast riffing between the jokes their first-season counterparts first made in 1990.

“We tend to ignore the first season, because we got so much better the next season—we had a bunch of shows under our belts, so we just improved so much,” Hodgson said. But, he added, “there’s so much in there”—including the 1969 “moon Western” that will play side-by-side with the chat window where Emily Marsh, Conor McGiffin, and Nate Begle will resume their roles as Emily Crenshaw, Tom Servo, and Crow T. Robot, respectively, along with Yvonne Freese in a dual performance as Mega-Synthia and GPC.

The Riff-Along will also be carried via the MST3K channels on Pluto TV, Stirr, Xumo, Redbox, and Vizio. Hodgson himself will be on-hand to field questions and comments submitted to YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook—the last of which will provide peeks behind the scenes during commercial breaks.

The Outer Limits – Cold Hands, Warm Heart

“The most brilliant planet in our solar system is Venus, named for the Greek Love-Goddess. It is closer to Earth than any other planet — twenty-eight million miles away. Until sometime in the last half of the twentieth century it is still a planet shrouded in mystery, enveloped in a heavy blanket of clouds and steam. Because its surface temperature was believed to be several times that of Earth’s, it was not thought possible for Man to reach Venus and come back… until one day, somebody did it.”

THE OUTER LIMITS: Cold Hands, Warm Heart

September 26, 1964

As part of Project Vulcan, an ambitious endeavor to colonize Mars, astronaut Jeff Barton has traveled to far off Venus. However, when he returned a celebrity to a ticker tape parade, he was changed. Regular temperatures were far too cold and he had strange visions of his mission. He proclaimed his love for his endearing wife as far greater than any of the planets in the solar system but something was wrong with him.

Seeking the advice of his personal physician proves worthless and Barton continues to experience cold spells and night terrors, recalling glimpses of his Venus mission. It is only when he visits a steam bath and sets the temperature gauge to the limit that he has a reminiscence of falling too close to Venus and actually landing on the surface. A strange wraith-like creature visits him and claws at the exterior of the vessel, trying to get at him.

After the experience in the steam bath, Barton finds that his hands have changed and are now webbed and mottled with raised bumps. His blood tests confirm that he is mutating into something else, something alien. But there is no time for rest and recuperation as Barton is busy preparing for a meeting with top brass to drum up support for Project Vulcan. He is burning the candle at both ends and his sanity is paying the price.

He is apprehended at the military base and placed into a flight simulator to reproduce the mission to Venus and find some way to connect to him. Only his wife’s voice seems to make any impact as Barton once more sees the creature in the mists of Venus, clawing at him. His wife’s voice eventually brings him down and he is stable once more. He even delivers the speech to the top brass and earns the funding he was after. It turns out that for all the dangers and tribulations of his journey and after effects, his heart held the strongest connection to his humanity through his love for his wife.

Starring William Shatner, Cold Hands, Warm Heart is another stellar achievement for the Outer Limits. It once more uses the human element combined with the strange and alien to connect to the viewer. Barton’s relationship with his wife is touching and full of warmth. Shatner delivers a top notch performance of a gifted and devoted astronaut who dreamed of flying as a child. His soliloquies are powerful and full of that rich Shatner charm that we would grow to love on Star Trek.

Part of the magnificent second season of Outer Limits, Cold Hands, Warm Heart is highly recommended.

Year of the Rabbit

I’ve been a fan of Matt Berry’s since I first saw him in Garth Mareghi’s Darkplace. His dulcet tones and stoic acting manner made him a standout comedian in my view and I followed him through IT Crowd, Snuffbox and Toast of London. His latest series is getting plenty of acclaim and is actually being screened stateside on IFC!

Via AVClub

A gleeful, deliciously profane riff on U.K. crime series like Ripper Street and The Sweeney, the series follows a trio of outsider enforcers in a loose approximation of London in the 1880s. Plot is relatively threadbare. The series punctuates its crime-of-the-week stories with ongoing narratives about a mysterious secret society and Rabbit’s combative relationship with a vindictive colleague (Paul Kaye, recently of Game Of Thrones). But it’s all in service to the whip-crack banter and character dynamics.

There’s little complexity to Eli Rabbit (Berry) or his new partner, the excitable, naive Wilbur Strauss (Freddie Fox), but rather it is a ready-made comedic pairing that leavens Rabbit’s rough-and-tumble nature with Strauss’ doe-eyed enthusiasm for upholding the law. Rounding out the cast is Mabel (Susan Wokoma), the adopted daughter of the chief inspector who, despite being told a woman will never be a police officer, inserts herself into enough cases that her impact can’t be ignored. It’s a pretty standard setup, but the three have instant, undeniable chemistry, and the series’ six episodes give each a chance to both indulge in and subvert their established archetypes. In the third episode, Strauss’ theatrical, grotesque embrace of his undercover work as a dirt-smeared thug remains one of the Year Of The Rabbit’s purest delights.

Wednesday, February 19, at 10:30 p.m. Eastern on IFC

Alex Reviews The Mad Hatter!


My son has released his second video review, this time focusing on that dastardly chapeau-obsessed fiend, the Mad Hatter.

While the review focuses on a toy based on the character from the 1966 Batman TV series, Alex takes the time to provide a brief primer on a character who is a bit more complicated than one might think. Initially created as an impish villain inspired by his namesake from Alice in Wonderland, a second Hatter was introduced a decade later with no ties to Lewis Carroll’s work but a burning need to posses all hats, especially Batman’s cowl.


Portrayed by David Wayne, then a hot commodity, the Mad Hatter appeared in two stories, one focused on getting revenge on the jury who convicted him and a follow up in which he irradiates Batman’s cowl, turning it pink. Armed with a top hat that housed a secret mesmerizing beam, the Mad Hatter was a formidable foe for the caped crusader and just weird enough to be fondly remembered. An unusual and quirky character, he has proven popular enough to still have an appeal, even to a seven year old kid.

Watch the review here!