Cinematic Titanic – The Complete Collection
After the original demise of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1999 the principal players from the series eventually coalesced into two distinct camps. Mike Nelson (Mike Nelson), Kevin Murphy (the second Tom Servo/Bobo) and Bill Corbett (the second Crow/Observer) formed first The Film Crew and then Rifftrax. The remaining talent, Joel Hodgson (Joel Robinson/series creator), Trace Beaulieu (the first Crow/Dr. Forrester), Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank), J. Elvis Weinstein (the first Tom Servo/Dr. Erhardt) and Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester) became Cinematic Titanic. I am a big fan of all these incarnations as evidenced by my recent post on the forthcoming Mystery Science Theater 3000 Trading Cards. In truth I have watched one of the groups in one form or another nightly since January of 2000. I know that sounds impossible and ridiculous but its true. I can’t overstate my love of movie riffing!
Cinematic Titanic began as studio versions of the cast playing themselves being forced to riff on movies in an effort to preserve them from erasure due to some event that was destroying all digital media. This was all taking place in some underground bunker controlled by a company or the government. Not too many details were provided but it was obvious Joel intended to build a new mythology similar to that of MST3K. After 7 studio releases the DVDs switched to live recordings of their touring show for the final 5 DVDs of their 12 (there were two more live shows that don’t seem to have ever been recorded sadly). Joel commented many times that he came to realize that the vibe of CT was really in its live riffing. It was on these tours, performing the riffs live to a theater audience that Hodgson and the crew got a chance to connect with fans and see the real immediate effect of live riffing as well as the adoration for their legacy. Certainly in many ways this helped pave the path for the return of MST3K as well as the recent live MST shows with the new cast.
I actually already had all of these movies individually since I ordered them from Cinematic Titanic as each of them debuted. I picked this up because I thought it would be cool to have them collected together and the set does have a few small additional extras added to the original releases. In the end though, as much as I love all of those involved, to me CT was never equal to the sum of its parts. I can’t explain exactly why but it never quite seemed to find its stride to me. Maybe 6 performers is just too many riffers, or maybe it was that some of those involved were actually new to riffing having played other roles on MST3K. I’m not sure in the end but while I enjoyed these movies they aren’t my favorites compared to MST or Rifftrax but are very much worth having, especially when the complete set of all 12 films is so affordable.