30 March 2007

MST3K (season eight closing thoughts)

Goodbye, season eight.

It was a rough transition at the start. Was it the Sci-Fi Channel that mandated nine 1950s horror movies in a row to kick off the new version of the show? Or did BBI suffer from some poor planning or unlucky rights acquisitions and didn't have much of a choice in the matter? Whatever the reason, I wonder if put off some potential new fans? People who might've tuned in to check out this weird puppet show that SFC saved from oblivion could've gotten worn out quickly from the repetitive movie selection. Then again, I wondered the same thing after the KTMA season did a five-episode Gamera marathon. That didn't really hurt the show's future at all. Then again, the show wasn't canceled just two short years after that.

What's wrong with horror movies from the 1950s? Personally, I dislike them quite a bit. I might go so far as to dub the 1950s as the worst decade for cinematic horror. The transgressive nature of horror just doesn't mesh well with the most repressive decade in our recent history. Sure, sometimes it's interesting to see how filmmakers managed to sneak images and ideas past the censors, but that's not usually enough to survive the sea of "he tampered in God's domain" garbage.

As far as the show is concerned, I think '50s horror movies can work just fine. By their nature, they're goofy and very easy for the guys to riff on. The lack of variety was the only problem with the early part of this season. Had the nine movies been spread out more evenly in the season, I wouldn't have even noticed.

Luckily, the show made up for this poor start in the latter half of the season. Space Mutiny is may end up being my all-time favorite episode. The Giant Spider Invasion was one of those nice, very funny surprises the show unleashes. I'm still not a fan of the '60s Japanese movies, though, same as I felt during season 3.

Having a storyline thread through all of the host segments for every episode was an interesting idea. It could've been a nice change of pace from the regular host segments. However, it just doesn't make any sense given the fact that the show was always rerun out of order. In reruns, this season just seems to be a random mishmash of ancient Rome, a monkey planet, a camping planet and Pearl driving the Widowmaker. These story-bound segments also turned out to be, in general, not quite as good as the free-form host segments from years past. I miss Joel singing "Joey the Lemur" while bouncing a puppet off of the robots' heads, though the Wisconsin cheese factory segment almost makes me forget that.

I'm looking forward to a number of episodes in season 9. I've never seen the infamous Pumaman, Werewolf or The Final Sacrifice before, all of which seem to be fan favorites.

Just seven more weeks and 26 episodes to go. The year is going by fast.

The Numbers

Total Length
34 hours, 50 minutes, 33 seconds
(92 min average for 22 episodes)
(24 min average for 3 specials)

Years Spanned
(1966 average)

Time to Watch
29 days
Time to Broadcast Originally
309 days

Turkey Day Episodes
7 (32%)
801, 807, 808, 809, 810, 811, 812 (27 Nov 1997)
Horror Movies from the 1950s
801, 802, 803, 804, 805, 806, 807, 808, 809 (41%)
Movies Exploring the Evils of Hypnosis
805, 806, 808, 809, 812, 818 (27%)
Black and White to Color Ratio