Got into a conversation the other night about "Mystery Science Theater 3000," one of the cleverest ideas ever to hit American television. Aired for 11 seasons and could've easily gone much, much longer, as the supply of horrible movies is virtually as renewable as wind or solar power. Sometimes I wonder what Joel/Mike and the robots could've done with a movie like "Showgirls" or even "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."
Anyway, I thought I'd use this opportunity to go back through my favorite episodes of the show and even share some clips, which are in abundance on YouTube -- as a matter of fact, of the five episodes I'm listing here, I think all of them can be viewed on YouTube in their entirety. Herewith, my Five Favorite "MST3K" Episodes Of All Time:
"Mitchell" (ep. #512)
I have no idea what was going through the mind of the Allied Artists Pictures decision-makers when they decided to greenlight a movie about an overweight, slovenly, borderline-alcoholic police detective occasionally following a group of mobsters around, but the above clip is pretty representative of the level of "suspense" present throughout the film. Joe Don Baker makes for one of the most unintentionally hilarious law-enforcement "heroes" in cinematic history, whether he's getting in an argument with an eight-year-old while on a stakeout or reaching out from under the covers to grab a beer while he's nailing a hooker played by Linda Evans. This episode was hilarious from the opening credits straight through to the end, and also has the distinction of being Joel Hodgson's last episode.
The Brain That Wouldn't Die (ep. #513)
This is the 1959 sci-fi film that spawned the infamous image of the woman's disembodied head, hooked up to a bunch of tubes and wires, sitting in a pan of what the robots conjectured was gravy. One of those movies that takes itself way too seriously, and pays for it.
Wild Rebels (ep. #207)
Police convince a washed-up race-car driver to go undercover as the wheelman for a renegade bank-robbing biker gang. Starts slow but quickly gets way better, culminating in a hilarious climactic police chase in which the cars' tires manage to squeal even as they're careening through a swamp and the soundtrack music sounds like a jazz band on marijuana riding around in a car with loose tappets. Even the intermission segments (like the ad for Wild Rebels Cereal) were hilarious.
Time Chasers (ep. #821)
Besides having one of the most half-assed titles in film history, this flick also boasts a nerdy, smug, mulleted "hero" who, as protagonists go, is even harder to root for than Mitchell. Filmed in 1990, but for some reason not released until 1994, by which point the hairstyles and fashions were already hopelessly out of date. Seriously, if I were the main character and had that haircut, I would not go around being nearly as satisfied with myself as he constantly appears to be. And as the robots are quick to point out, the "future" depicted in the movie basically looked exactly like the present (even in 1990). Please, even cell phones weren't that exotic by then.
Devil Doll (ep. #818)
"It's true what they say, you only rent ham." This film concerned an evil magician/hypnotist who somehow transferred the soul of one of his assistants into a ventriloquist's dummy. A central joke of the episode is that the supposed "hero," Mark the newspaper reporter, doesn't actually do anything for pretty much the entire movie; most of the "action" is incited by the dummy itself, which should give you a pretty good idea of what you're dealing with.
Two honorable mentions: "The Touch of Satan," from the ninth season ("Softens hands while you do dishes"), and "Prince of Space," from season eight ("I LIKE IT VERY MUCH!"). Really, you can't go wrong with anything involving a Japanese movie dubbed over with American voices.
And now the Ten:
1. Richard Cheese, "Add It Up"
2. Madonna, "Open Your Heart"
3. Del tha Funkee Homosapien, "Fake as Fuck"
4. The Dave Brubeck Quartet, "Three to Get Ready"
5. Soul Coughing, "Super Bon Bon"
6. Stella, "O.K., Tomorrow I'll Be Perfect"
7. The Go! Team, "Junior Kickstart"
8. Orbital, "Halcyon" (7" version)
9. Adam Sandler, "Buddy"
10. Dr. Dre, "The Day the Niggaz Took Over"
Your own Random Tens and/or favorite MST3K episodes in the comments, please.