Mystery Science Theater 3000

Live Tour Items

img_7100Mystery Science Theater 3000 – Live Tour Items 

Recently I had the amazing fortune to enjoy Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live as a VIP. Previously I had seen Cinematic Titanic four times, The Mads (Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff) six times and Joel Hodgson’s Riffing Myself twice. While not actually in person I have also seen Rifftax live remotely via their Fathom events 24 times so I have a lot of experience with the original cast alums doing live shows. This however was my first time to see MST3K proper live and of course also the first tour for the new cast. I’ve already established my absurd fandom for movie riffing in discussing my 17 years of nightly viewings and my posts on the Cinematic Titanic Complete DVD Set and the upcoming Mystery Science Theater 3000 Trading Card Set. So this was in a silly way a major event in my life.

Before the show proper we were treated to a small VIP gathering that consisted of a Q&A session with Joel. We also got a little inadvertent set tour where we checked out the stage, a bunch of props and some costume racks, etc. Then a quick handshake meet and greet was followed by about 100 photos with the full cast on the set. It was a lot of fun and some nice icing on the cake that was the incredible riffs of two amazingly bad films. They were the MST classic Eegah! with all new riffs (plus a few choice throwbacks) and the mystery film which turned out to be the Italian/English superhero James Bond mash up Argo, The Fantastic Superman. Both were nothing short of hilarious and the live presentation was perfect for MST, part community theater DIY, part creative genius-level professional.

But In The Mail Today isn’t supposed to be about the concerts, movies, and theater events that I attend. Its about the stuff! So the VIP experience came with a cool laminate featuring Jonah and the bots being pelted with spring snakes (it was the Watch Out For Snakes Tour) on a custom lanyard. We also got a nice MST logo tote bag and a sweet live show poster. Of course they offered lots of additional merch as well. I opted for the tour photo book which photographically takes you through the creation of the tour from conception to writing sessions to green screen filming to live show pics. The Script book for Eegah! was a unique item that was made all the more interesting by Joel’s reluctant introduction which is featured in the photos here.  In total these are some fantastic souvenirs from an amazing night.

*full disclosure – these items did not come in the mail. I picked them up in person at the merch booth when I saw MST3K live recently.

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Cinematic Titanic

The Complete Collection

img_7090Cinematic 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.

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The Complete Collection from Shout Factory
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Mystery Science Theater 3000

Trading Cards (promo set)

img_6544Mystery Science Theater 3000 – Trading Cards (promo set)

It seems with the return of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in its current iteration that there will be some new merchandising of the classic series. Among the many items that have been discussed are these trading cards. I’ve always loved non-sports trading card sets (see my gushing post on the Planet Of The Apes Topps Trading Card Book). Back in the ’90s during the trading card glut I collected dozens of sets featuring the likes of the animated Betttlejuice, fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, MAD Magazine, Fangoria Magazine, DC’s Sandman, The Three Stooges and many more. I think it all dates back to my love of the original KISS trading card series from Donruss in 1978.

These new MST3K cards are coming soon and I was lucky enough to receive a couple of promo cards (thank you Richard). The cards are very well made, being from RRParks Cards, a company run by a classic cards lover, most well known for reprints of Three Stooges card sets as well as monster, horror and Halloween themed cards. These particular promo cards use art from the Shout Factory releases by Steve Vance which, while cool, has never been my favorite representation of the show. I am hoping that the card set has more stuff like cast pics, movie still, riff captions and the like. I’m sure it will be interesting as all of their other card sets have tons of cool concepts and different presentations. More to come when the actual set is released, until then, keep trading the tapes cards.

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