27 February 2007


Assignment: Venezuela - Originally, this was a short to be included on the MST3K: CD-ROM. This disc was supposed to come out in "the spring of '96," according the Trace in the Turkey Day '95 bumpers. Instead, the company publishing the CD scaled back its business and Trace, who'd been heading the project, left the show. All that remains of this PC/MAC program is this short, which was first shown at the ConventioCon ExpoFest-A-Rama '96 and later released on VHS and DVD by Rhino. According to one website, the full disc was to contain:

  • Two complete shorts, "Mylar: What's it to You?" and "Assignment: Venezuela;"
  • An "MST flight simulator" (complete with simulations of the taxi ride to the airport, metal dectectors, and hilarious seatpocket contents);
  • "Cyst" and "The Making of Cyst," a satire of popular 3-D games;
  • "Bot-builder," a program to build your own robot friends;
  • "Chess Bastard 2000," a blatantly cheating chess game;
  • "Madworks," evil scientist Dr. Forrester's customized desktop interface including satires of popular software;
  • A virtual pet hamster, a time-wasting meter, and much more.
Supposedly, also, the riffing during both of the shorts was to be randomized. How they were going to accomplish that, I'm not sure. I supposed they could've written, say, three different sets of riffs for each short, then pulled riffs from random sets as it played along. I don't know how entertaining that would really be. It seems like you'd hear mostly the same jokes over and over, with a random new one sometimes popping up.

Anyway, all we have left is a vintage oil boom industrial short from the 1950s. It's quite funny and definitely has the energy that season 7 had in it. I listened to detect if any of season 7's recurring riffs got used (skinny people, test audiences, etc.), but I didn't notice any. I wonder when it was written?

At 24 minutes long, it's almost a quarter of a full episode and about twice as long as the average short. I found the length to be perfect. If MST3K were to return, a series of riffed shorts like this would work extremely well as a half-hour TV show. It's not too long to give the network timeslot headaches and the audience attention deficit issues, plus it would be easier to sustain dense, quality riffing throughout the entire episode.

"They'd asked me to give up the pinky from my left hand." (8/10)

short d. Jack Tobin (1956)
mst d. ?? (Aug 1996)