20 June 2006

MST3K (101)

101 - The Crawling Eye - Hello, The Comedy Channel. Things start off a little rough in the new place. Mysteriously, there's no button panel on the desk, so Joel slaps the table for some reason when the movie sign comes on. Gypsy's mouth is incredibly loud. The print of the movie is wretched, even for MST standards. There's an annoying "pencil sharpener" sound in the background a lot that drove me nuts. They had a scant six months between K21 and this show to make a deal with HBO, form BBI, move into new digs, build all-new sets, rebuild the bots and hire a T.G.I. Friday's waiter as head writer, so a bumpy ride is to be expected.

You can certainly tell that the riffing is scripted now. There's a lot less of it than in the free-wheeling K21. JatB also politely wait for the dialogue in the movie to die down before speaking themselves. This is nice, as it allows you to follow the movie plot and listen to the jokes at the same time, which was something you often couldn't do during the KTMA shows. I think I detected Josh trying to improvise, anyway, as he seems to step on Trace's lines a few times.

The scripted riffing also changes the types of jokes they make a little. One example that comes to mind is when the scientist, who happens to look like an older Groucho Marx, speaks on the phone. Servo quips, "It's Harpo." This is not a laugh out-loud joke, but it is deceptively deep. Harpo never spoke on camera. The thought that Groucho could have a phone conversation with him put a smile on my face. This is the type of clever comment that would be difficult to come up with off the cuff.

I was a bit confused by this first episode. No one introduced themselves. JatB and the Mads just dove into the episode. A new viewer would've had to wait for the credits to find out what the Mads' names were (which rendered Dr. Forrester's joke early in the show about liking Forrest Tucker's name meaningless). At the time, did they see this as a continuation of the KTMA series? Or, did they just want to pretend that Joel had been experimented on for a very long time before the audience ever got to join in the fun?

So this is where the Richard Basehart thing comes from! (5/10)

film d. Quentin Lawrence (1958)
mst p. Jim Mallon (18 Nov 1989)