In a chaotic world, sometimes one yearns for the simpler pleasures of times past. When I was a teenager, I used to watch Mystery Science Theater 3000 with friends. We howled not just at the delicious snark being served up, but at the dismal quality of the movies themselves. How did this stuff even get made? What committee signed off on it, what producer approved the funds? But it was good clean fun for all that. I still remember the abysmal Russian folktale "Jack Frost", and the scene in which the beleaguered heroine, after working all night for the evil stepmother or someone, steps out into the first light of morning and stands, breathing in the fresh morning air.
"Ah, Claritan D!" sighed one of the hecklers.
I still think about that every time I go outside and take a deep breath.
Last night I gathered the children around the glowing hearth of the computer screen, and we fired up the first installment of Netflix's new series of MST3K. I did wonder how the movies would change. Styles in trashy movies have changed, and perhaps it was a mistake to go into this with the kids without having previewed it first, despite the glowing recommendations of friends.
Fortunately, Netflix has preserved the same low-budget, innocently trashy vibe of the original series. The movie was "Reptilicus", an English-language Danish production about a giant prehistoric reptile who wreaks havoc in Copenhagen (the hecklers started singing, "Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen!", which rolled over my kids' heads as a bit of absurdity but started me choking). The production values were non-existent, the snark was on-point and basically clean, and we had a rollicking time.
I don't remember tons about the original frame of MST3K, so I can't say how well it's been reproduced. Felicia Day, who I gather is a cult favorite, didn't do much for me as the villainess, but Jonah Ray was fine as the captive maintaining his sanity by heckling the awful movies he's forced to watch. This is all my opinion, as one who watched the original without grokking every cultural reference, and mainly for the purpose of having fun with friends. If you're more discriminating, here are the first two reviews thrown up by Google:
I suppose you can be a purist, or you can go outside, take a deep breath, murmur, "Ah, Claritan D!" and just enjoy the show.
Reading Notes April 2017
1 hour ago