Top 20 Mystery Science Theater 3000 Episodes
The return of Beavis and Butt-Head got me thinking how plausible a Mystery Science Theater 3000 resurrection would be. Obviously MST3k is a much smaller (though arguably more passionate) cult classic but they both riff on the bizarre bits of popular culture. MST3k was pretty cheap to produce; most of the budget would likely go towards licensing the films themselves. Film licensing would likely be much greater than the Comedy Central and Sci-Fi Channel years for a couple reasons. First, whatever network would probably want to get more recent and heard-of movies. I can’t see a respectable network greenlighting two hours for riffing on a random black and white Roger Corman movie. Second, the network would want a longer term license than the old episodes got. The old expired licenses have made releasing DVDs a pain and syndication possibilities nonexistent.
This would never happen of course. It’s fun to imagine though, especially in a time when we have seen Beavis and Butt-Head resurrected and acclaimed (but low-rated) Louie produced for dirt-cheap. Anyways, we can still enjoy RiffTrax and other MST3k spiritual reincarnates.
In any case, I enjoy lists, so here’s a list of my 20 favorite MST3k episodes. As you can tell, I’m a Mike guy.
- Squirm (short: A Case of Spring Fever) — Squirm is a fantastic episode in itself, but the fact that it’s paired with the best MST3k short really puts it over the top. It kind of blew my mind to see that they actually referenced Springs as early as season 3 with Crow as “Willy the Waffle”.
- Hobgoblins — Hobgoblins is a fun film in itself. It’s pure 80s nonsense that was probably a blast to film.
- The Deadly Bees – The best part is the inexplicable ending.
- Time Chasers – “Chinderwear” jokes are never not funny.
- Jack Frost – This Soviet fairytale is probably the most bizarre MST3k film.
- The Screaming Skull (short: Robot Rumpus)
- Werewolf – The “Where Oh Werewolf” song is a highlight. Also, “Wer-wilf” – courtesy of a cast that seems to have learned their lines phonetically.
- Space Mutiny – The Many Names of David Ryder.
- Mitchell – My favorite Joel-era episode. I kind of like Joe Don Baker, see also Final Justice.
- Parts: The Clonus Horror – Parts is entirely watchable with Dick Sargent and Peter Graves. In fact, The Island basically took this premise and make it slightly more of an actual film.
- Overdrawn at the Memory Bank – The absurd lines of Overdrawn manage to sound even more ridiculous when coming out of actual actor Raúl Juliá.
- Soultaker – 90 minutes of Joe Estevez jokes? Yes, please.
- The Space Children (short: Century 21 Calling) – The short is a gem and I’m a sucker for old “technology of the future!” infomercials.
- The Mole People – John Agar is the perfect B-movie protagonist to make fun of. See also: Revenge of the Creature.
- Riding With Death – The two barely connected TV episodes smushed together to make a film combined with the Ben Murphy/turkeys running gag makes this one an underrated gem. My patent papers are at a slight angle, Sam!
- The Pumaman – The rear-projection in The Pumaman might be the funniest special effect of an MST’d movie. Pumaman he flies like a moron!
- Invasion of the Neptune Men – Terrible adult voice actors voicing Japanese children can’t help but be hilarious. Also, a special guest appearance from Krankor!
- It Lives by Night
- The Touch of a Satan – This has one of my favorite bewildering lines of movie dialog (second is probably “Sargassum… weed of deceit!”).
Almost all MST3k episodes are available on Youtube, so head over there if you want to sample some of the Satellite of Love’s wares. Keep circulating the tapes!
Arbitrary song of the day: Caribou – Yeti