Mystery Science Theater 3000 has been written about before on this site quite a bit. But the Coronavirus has lots of people shut in with not much to do, perceivably. (It’s an excellent opportunity to do many things like learning a new skill, organize, read, exercise, and other activities that Americans often resist) Playing board games with the family can only take you so far.
But one solution, especially if you’re self-isolating, is to watch MST3K. A lot of people don’t get it. I understand that. But for the people that do get it, it seems to have become a coping mechanism during these days of staying in, solitude, and possible loneliness.
I’m a big fan of the show, which I’ve covered here. I haven’t and never will cross the line with taking to the extremes some fans do, which is building their robots, cosplay, and paying vast sums of money to sit in the front row at live events. I just watch the shows.
But the concept of the shows offers something to people who yearn for socializing. It’s like watching movies with your friends, and they are funny, wry, and consistent, which provides comfort to lonely people. You hear other people’s voices speaking up as if they’re right beside you, while you all enjoy some awful, campy, Ed Wood, Roger Corman, 80’s cheese-fest movies.
To enjoy them, you need to possess an extensive repertoire of references. Otherwise, you won’t get the jokes. That’s why some people don’t like it, which is understandable. They aren’t as obscure as Dennis Miller’s references at all, who I also love, but he prides himself on infusing the most cryptic references he can muster. He’s like a Crypto-comedian. Bring along your Thesaurus and plan on doing a lot of Googling. It’s like listening to Socrates doing standup at times. I watched his most recent show, which was good, but I couldn’t help but notice he’s older than I am and his hair is not grey. He’s dying it obviously.
You can binge-watch MST3K in several ways. Twitch has a channel that plays not only MST3K 24/7 but RiffTrax as well. RiffTrax is the spawn of MST3K and is the next best thing as far as a continuance of the original show there is. Joel Hodgson, the creator of the whole thing, tried to launch a revival of the show with Netflix, which bombed, in my opinion. It’s what happens when you mix creatives with executives and inject loads of money. You get something that resembles a product designed by a committee, which is almost always a flop.
Mike Nelson was the head writer for many of the episodes, and like it or not. He’s the mainsail. If the producers of the revival of the show wanted to do it right, they would have kept him around as a head writer. When I watched the credits of one of the new episodes, I counted approximately 30 writers. 30. Too many cooks in the kitchen.
So if you’re sitting around your house wondering what to do during this awkward time and want some company and to laugh, Mystery Science Theater 3000 may be your solution. I feel like I just wrote a book report.