The End and Beyond - Part 5
2011 was a busy years for all of the MST3K alumni. Fans were ecstatic to have so many opportunities to see and hear new comedic offerings for each of them through various interviews, podcasts, DVDs and live performances. One could only image what 2012 might bring.
One thing we would learn right away was that Frank was becoming a fixture on the internet. His appearances on podcasts and web series would continue to increase throughout the year, starting on 1/6/12 as part of a panel discussion on The Point. Other ex-Brains also continued to make web based appearances. For example on the same day as Frank's show Kevin and Bill were featured on the WNYC show On The Media. Host Bob Garfield asked them for pointers on his upcoming show Media Scrutiny Theater.
RiffTrax released a BluRay version of their live Christmas Shorts-Stravaganza that they had performed at the Escondido Center for the Arts in San Diego back on 12/16/09.
Bill and Kevin had by now become regular guests at the San Francisco Sketchfest. This year on 1/19 at the Castro Theatre they presented their Night of the Shorts III: The Search for Schlock. The line up of riffs included Kevin and Bill performing Jobs In Cosmetology, then joined by Cole Stratton and Janet Varney for Walking to School, David Cross for Magical Disappearing Money, Bruce McCulloch with What Is Nothing?, Kevin and Bill doing What Makes Things Float?, joined by Eugene Mirman for Patriotism and finally Paul F. Tompkins for Safety: Harm Hides at Home. They also participated in the Thrilling Adventure Hour along with a cast of dozens. On 1/20 Kevin joined Bill and Joseph Scrimshaw at the Eureka Theater for Cinemadness. They performed some Rifftones songs, were joined by Paul & Storm for a song about George Lucas, Kevin read some passages from his book A Year At The Movies and performed some improv with the audience.
We had been hearing for a while about the Manos: The Hands of Fate restoration project, but on 1/20/12 we got to see some frames and clips to compare with previously released versions. Here we see a screen grab from the MST3K episode, the "best" DVD version on the market and finally the restored sample.
Frank was interviewed by Katie Uhlmann of TTN-HDPLTV on 2/12.
Also in February we were treated to a few promos from the guys at RiffTrax. On 2/7 they shared the creative process behind the scenes preparing for Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I believe there was just enough poop related humor. We saw Mike's favorite shirt once again when they presented the latest Twilight saga Breaking Dawn. On 2/16 the David and Hazel Players (Kevin and Bill actually) gave their insightful rendition of a scene from David and Hazel: A Story in Communication.
On 2/16/12 Dana Gould presented another live riffing of Plan 9 From Outer Space, this time at the Nerd Melt Theater in LA. He was joined by Trace, Frank and Josh. From 2/22 through 3/4 the 6th New York Frigid Festival was held in NYC. Mary Jo's play Man Saved By Condiments was presented at the Red Room Theater as part of the event.
Cinematic Titanic returned to the Royal Oak Music Theater in Royal Oak, MI on 2/25/12 to perform a double feature of their shows. My report on the event can be seen here.
RiffTrax released two of their recent offerings on DVD on 3/7. The Galaxy Invader and The Crater Lake Monster had been offered on line for video on demand (VOD) purchase. Next on 3/27 another collection of RiffTrax shorts called Hand-Crafted Artisanal Shorts became available.
Meanwhile Shout Select issued the MST episodes The Wild World of Bat Woman (515) and Girl in Gold Boots (1002) on 3/20. DVD set XXIII hit the shelves on 3/27 featuring episodes King Dinosaur (205), Castle of Fu Manchu (323), Code Name: Diamond Head (608) and Last of the Wild Horses (611). Extras included documentaries The Incredible Mr. Lippert, Darkstar: Robots Don't Need SAG Cards and Code Name: Quinn Martin. We also hear Kevin Murphy's Life After MST3K and see a collection of MST promos (some supplied to Shout! from my own personal collection).
Mike was joined by fellow RiffTrax writers Sean Thomason and Conor Lastowka in a promo for the upcoming riff of Frankenstein Island.
3/29/12 saw the launch of Bill Corbett's Kickstarter page for his proposed graphic novel Super-Powered Revenge Christmas with illustrations by Len Peralta. This was an interesting way for many fans to in some way participate in and help support a new project by one of our celebrity heroes. Kind of a cool idea. The goal was, after achieving the proposed dollar amount, to create and release the finished project before the end of the year.
From 3/29 to 4/1 Kevin and Bill joined John Hodgman on his That Is All tour. At Sakura-con in Seattle, WA from 3/29 through 3/31 there were various sightings of life sized Tom and Crow robots. It's always fun (for me any way) to see the diverse tributes to MST3K and during 2012 we would see many of them. Another fun moment came on 4/22 when Cinematic Titanic appeared in Princeton, NJ and Joel showed up for the performance in his old Gizmonic jumpsuit. I also included the small cartoon of a drive-in movie that I first saw about this time. Again, a very nice tribute.
On 5/1 RiffTrax began offering a DVD of the live riff of Jack the Giant Killer performed 8/17/11 at the Belcourt, Theater in Nashville, TN. The disk included the pre-show trivia and a behind the scenes slide show.
In early May we not only learned that Joel had been teaching a workshop on movie riffing at Bucks County Community College in eastern Pennsylvania, but he was hosting a "live movie riffing battle royal" on 5/4 at the Gateway Auditorium in Newtown, PA featuring some of his graduates.
On 5/7 Buzzfeed.com writer Ryan Broderick posted his Top 20 Most Underrated TV Shows of the '90's with MST3K appearing at (drum roll) #1. Frank began posting regular video commentaries on Salon.com in his show called Oy Vey! He then showed up on This Week In Mad Men on 5/16.
Another fan tribute to MST3K came out on 5/22. Called In The Not-Too-Distant Future" it featured some very inventive animated characters and visuals along with some classic clips from the show.
Although Kevin was prepped by Mike and Bill how to present the promo for Prisoners of the Lost Universe on 5/24 things went horribly wrong. The guys riffed some video games for Joysiq on 6/1/12, including Mega Man 8, Sonic, Final Fantasy X and Metal Gear Solid. It also had a pretty cool multi-colored cartoon logo for RiffTrax.
A fun event called Chaos at the Colonial was held 6/2 at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, PA, the same theater featured in the 1958 Sci-fi classic The Blob. This evening featured Joel and his graduates of Riff Camp 2012 presenting their theses (I hate that word). He was also joined by Satellite News guru Chris "Sampo" Cornell. The MST DVD of I Accuse My Parents was included as part of the festivities. Joel had been featured on 6/1 in a large article in the New York Times discussing MST, Cinematic Titanic and his Riff Camp.
Yet another MST fan tribute showed up on Youtube on 6/5 called Mystery Scienece(sic) Theater 3000 Every Movie. It included probably the best riff from every MST episode plus each special.
A promo for Cartoon Lagoon appeared on 6/6. Perhaps not an intentional tribute, but certainly MST inspired, as can be seen below, the show had three animated characters in search of the worst cartoon.
A few interesting events occurred in Europe about this time. We learned that the Cinematic Titanic DVD of War of the Insects had been shown at the Belfast Film Festival on 6/7. A BluRay version of MST3K: The Movie had been released in the UK on Region 2/PAL back on 5/28. (I had been contacted by the producers of the disk to include a photo gallery of my MST3K: The Movie items, but sadly my time was not available to have it prepared in time for release. I was able to help them obtain some clips, through the generosity of Gary "Skyroniter" Bacon, of the cut scenes and electronic press kit for inclusion.)
Manos: The Hands of Fate met Gameplay for iPhone on 6/8 when a new game became available that follows the trials and tribulations of Torgo and the Master as they torment Mike and his family. There are also other B-movies with MST ties incorporated into the game, such as Robot Monster as seen below.
Frank's internet presence took another step when he launched his own Youtube channel on 6/13. Frank, Josh and Dave "Gruber" Allen appeared at the fundraiser Laughter is the Best Medicine at the Albert Rose Theater in Portland, OR for the Vital Life Foundation and Alzheimer's Association. On 6/22 Entertainment Weekly listed the Satellite of Love as the #9 Coolest Spaceship of all time. Also on 6/22 some screenshots of Minecraft Science Theater 3000 were posted on line. On 6/27 the first ten episodes created by Cinematic Titanic became available on Hulu. Entertainment Weekly channeled MST once again on 7/1 for an article on movie heckling. Then on 7/3 Teefury.com offered a shadow puppet/ MST related t-shirt for sale.
7/5 saw the return of Cinematic Titanic to the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, MI. The evening included the premiere of the latest CT riff for the movie The Doll Squad, directed by Girl in Gold Boots icon Ted V. Mikels. Once again I was lucky enough to be on hand for both shows and have posted my write up of the evening here.
Jerry Seinfeld posted a promo on line on 7/6 for his upcoming web series called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The promo featured clips of many of his comic guests including one of an obviously excited Joel Hodgson.
Joel and his brother Jim presented their annual event for the Down Syndrome Association of LA Twenty Wonder on 7/7. Along with the usual comics and roller derby demonstrations Joel also performed, once again in his MST jumpsuit. Apparently Joel was a favorite of the ladies on hand.
July saw the five year anniversary of Frank's Cartoon Dump project. Below are a few items associated with the event, including Frank holding a pretty cool balloon based interpretation of him in his Moodsy Owl persona.
The annual Blobfest was held at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA on 7/13-15. Joel had taped a promo for the event back on 6/1 when he was there for his riff-fest.
RiffTrax has become a regular at San Diego Comic Con. This year the convention ran from 7/12-15 with the RiffTrax panel being held on 7/12 to the delight of a packed room of fans. Bill, Kevin and Mike performed a live riff of Guardiana, the Safety Woman and were joined on stage by True Blood star and MST fan Deborah Ann Woll, who arrived dressed up as Axe Cop. They discussed the upcoming live riff of Manos: The Hands of Fate and announced that in October they would be riffing another fan favorite, Birdemic. They ended the panel by allowing fans to pitch their own ideas for bad movies with the best (or worst) being awarded a free DVD. Winners included one young lady in one of the most unique Servo costumes I have seen.
Cinematic Titanic released their next DVD Rattlers on 7/17/12. This was the live performance taped at the Parkway Theatre in Minneapolis, MN on 9/17/11.
On the 7/20/12 edition of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart he used an interesting graphic for a story on Mitt Romney's fiscal ideals.
Shout! Factory released MST DVD set XXIV on 7/31 including episodes Fugitive Alien (310), Star Force: Fugitive Alien II (318), Sword and the Dragon (617) and Samson vs the Vampire Women (624). Frank tells us about his Life After MST3K while we also see the documentary Lucha Gringo: K Gordon Murray Meets Santo. We also receive MST Hour wraps and an intro by August Ragone for Fugitive Alien, plus the shorts Snow Thrills and A Date With Your Family and finally the interview You Asked For It!: Sandy Frank Speaks.
On 8/10 in preparation of their upcoming live performance RiffTrax posted a clip of a really hot girl watching Manos: The Hands of Fate for the first time. We need more of this guys. Keep up the good work.
And then on 8/16/12 the actual event took place. Performed live at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville, TN the event would again be broadcast via satellite across the country. The pre-show again featured humorous facts and quotes until Mike, Kevin and Bill took the stage. We were first treated to the short Welcome Back, Norman (1979) about, well Norman returning somewhere (those of us watching in Michigan noticed the car he was driving had 1979 Michigan license plates). Tonight show was apparently sponsored by California Prune Juice. Yet another bizarre offering from the At Your Fingertips series of shorts (Grasses, Boxes, etc.) now showed us the wonderful world of Cylinders (1970). Then it was on to Manos, but not before a brief break for Giovanni's pizza delivered by Torgo (aka Rupert Munch) and the Master (name TBD). Rupert is actually the force behind the somewhat anticipated Manos sequel. OK, now it was on to Manos, masterfully re-imagined by RiffTrax. The evening wrapped up with the viewing of Torgo-mix of the Eagles song Take It Easy created by the previously mentioned Mr. Munch.
When the winners of the 33rd Annual (2012) Telly Awards were announced on 8/16 RiffTrax was awarded a silver statue for their live presentation of Jack The Giant Killer in the Non-Broadcast Live Event category. They also won a second award for Use of Humor for the same event. (I think the way this works is that their production company Camp Digital actually won for their presentation of the RiffTrax event.)
On 8/19 Teefury issued another t-shirt that had an MST connection. The shirt was referred to as Robot City.
The Everything Is Festival III was held in LA from 8/19 through8/26. Cinematic Titanic performed a live riff of The Doll Squad on 8/19 at the Saban Theatre and were joined by the films star Francine York. Francine was not only an extremely good sport about the riffing, but also looked incredibly nearly 40 years after the films original release. On 8/20 Joel appeared again in an event called Show & Tell With Joel Hodgson. Joel presented slides and films of some of his other post-MST projects including the TV Wheel and X-Box. He also explained his search for the perfect ventriloquist dummy. (I know I stole someone's pictures from the event again. Please feel free to contact me and I'll be happy to give you credit and to express my extreme jealousy for not being able to be in attendance myself.)
Jerry Seinfeld's web series Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee was up to episode 5 by 8/23 entitled A Taste of Hell From On High. Jerry and Joel drove through lower NYC and northern New Jersey in a 1963 sea blue VW Karmann Ghia until they arrived at the Skylark Diner in Edison, NJ (I've eaten there too!). The lively chat culminated with a discussion of the potential publicity pitfalls from the sound of ketchup extruding from a top-under bottle.
The Nerdist Podcast aired a conversation on 8/24 with Joel that had originally been taped back on about 8/17. Other than some dated publicity for the now completed Everything Is Festival Joel discussed many stories about his early days in comedy and the seminal moments leading up to MST3K. On more recent news Joel informed us that he is now the Creative Lead for Media for a Pennsylvania-based company called Cannae QDrive that is developing new advances in space propulsion technology. How's that for cool? Three videos produced by Joel and featuring inventor and company manager Guido Fetta can be viewed on the company's web site.
A new casual chat forum called Talking RiffTrax debuted on 8/29/12 with Bill, Sean and Conor discussing Ghost House. On 9/25 it became even more casual when the name was switched to Talkin' RiffTrax for the review of The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. Finally the scenario typically settled on the three primary RiffTraxers offering their comedy while drinking coffee.
Trace made a guest appearance in Joseph Scrimshaw's show Obsessed at the Bryant Lake Bowl, where he discussed his own obsession with Frankenstein. Trace also was a special guest at an airing of This Is Spinal Tap on 9/13 at Pepitos Parkway Theater in Minneapolis. Frank co-hosted a show in his honor(?) at the Steve Allen Theater in LA on 9/15. Josh appeared on stage at the event. On 9/19 the guys from RiffTrax provided an audio commentary for a brief riff on The Super Mario Brothers Movie (1993). Trace then reappeared as a guest judge at the Power Point Karaoke at the Bryant Lake Bowl.
As some fans may have noticed Frank has a tendency to voice his political ideology via social media, so the upcoming presidential election offered unlimited fodder for his quips. (I have deduced he prefers Obama to Romney, but please feel free to form your own opinions.) In late September Frank moved back to New York City to kick off a few new projects. On 9/30 we were treated to his first Podhouse 90 offering called The Wonderful Pundits of Oz. Then on 10/5 Frank became head writer on John Fugelsang's new webcast called So That Happened.
The Ladies of Ragnarok tour featuring Molly Lewis and The Doubleclicks made a few Midwest appearances in early October. While in Evanston, IL on 10/3 they were joined by Bill Corbett and Joseph Scrimshaw at Evanston Space. Then on 10/4 the tour reached Minneapolis where not only Bill and Joseph appeared, but this time Kevin Murphy also joined the festivities.
Joel dropped in on the Shout! Factory booth at the New York Comic Con at the Javits Center on 10/13. Joel was interviewed for podcasts and web shows, signed autographs and reminisced with his old buddies Tom and Crow.
Bill, Joseph Scrimshaw, Peter Sagal and others participated in a fundraiser in Minneapolis in a show called Thirst Theater: The No Round. A few RiffTrax fans joined a Ustream broadcast of Voodoo Man on 10/17. There was little notice and the show was just the previously released Video On Demand version, but about 500+ fans joined in for the show any way.
On 10/19/12 Joel premiered his new one man show How To Have A Job Like Mine at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, PA. The evening included Joel discussing his formative years and how that helped develop into stand-up, MST3K and beyond. He included a slide show featuring pictures from a number of his early projects. The evening concluded with the showing of the MST episode The Beatniks (415). Joel continued to hone his presentation at a number of other performances over the next few months. (I have read in a couple places that it was actually The Dead Talk Back that was aired. If someone can confirm either was I would appreciate it.)
Then on 10/25 and 10/26 Joel took part in a show called Lucha VaVoom at the Mayan in LA. Dana Gould was also part of the show. Joel showed up in his shark skin suit, as can be seen in the picture below (notice the dorsal fin).
Also, on 10/25 I was contacted by Joel himself notifying me of his new personal web site at www.joelhodgson.com. Joel was kind enough to include a link to my web site as the preferred source of his unofficial history. (The following group of publicity proofs from 1984 are on that page. The second picture was used in many newspaper articles at the time.)
The evening of 10/25 saw RiffTrax fans attending the live performance of Birdemic. Mike, Bill and Kevin once again presented the show live from the Belcourt Theater in Nashville, TN. Earlier in the day the guys appeared at a meet and greet at Boscos Restaurant and Brewery. The pre-show began with songs and slides featuring Halloween Tips, anagrams, In Case of Birdemic helpful hints and for some reason numerous Charles Grodin quotes from Beethoven's 2nd. We were treated to another installment in the Norman Krasner motivational film series, namely the short Norman Checks In (1984). Birdemic was then tackled by the gang to the delight of the fans nationwide (via satellite). As usual after the show digital goodies were made available to viewers, including a nice postcard of the guys wielding coat hangers and Len Peralta caricatures of the movies star-crossed losers Rod and Natalie. (Just for the heck of it I included a behind the scenes picture from the actual filming of Birdemic where we see Whitney Moore, aka Natalie, earning her Makeup artist credit. I also added a picture from the movie's premiere, showing director James Nguyen with the cast. They are all smiling because they apparently hadn't learned yet that James was going to conveniently forget to pay most of them.) (Oh, yeah. Good news folks. There are at least two or three more Norman shorts. One called Norman Gives a Speech and another called Norman, Beloved Husband of Irma. There is perhaps a third called simply Norman Krasner that supposedly shares Norman's light hearted trip to the men's room. No really. That's the synopsis I read.)
Joel began performing his one man act How To Have A Job Like Mine at a variety of locations in November. On 11/3/12 he was interviewed by Natalie Kane on WCCO to promote his show that evening at Pepito's Parkway Theater in Minneapolis, MN. Then on 11/4 he appeared at the Iron Lounge in Sioux Falls, SD. Joel continued to hone the show and delighted fans by discussing the origins of MST3K and showing photos and items from his personal collection. Both of these evenings also featured the airing of the MST episode I Accuse My Parents.
A DVD of Christmas With RiffTrax Featuring Magic Christmas Tree became available on 11/16. This was the identical show presented on line back on 12/20/11 including being hosted by Kevin, Mike and Bill, their traditional gift exchange, a clip from the Joe DiMaggio Show and the short The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives.
Cinematic Titanic returned to the Family Arena in St Charles, MO on 11/17 to perform The Doll Squad. One attendee arrived with some pretty incredible balloon art versions of Tom and Crow. (I didn't catch his name, so if someone can email it to me I'd like to give him credit for his work. Thanks.)
Bill provided the voice for the Ghost Wizard in a new promo released 11/18 for an animated fantasy parody called The Begun of Tigtone. The project is the the creation of Andrew J. Koehler.
Starting back on 10/31/12 RiffTrax had been presenting free streaming shows on Ustream. The first offering was Voodoo Man. Then on 11/22 they gave a preview of a series of shorts and previews called A Very RiffTrax Thanksgiving. The show had a short introduction by Mike and included four food related shorts along with previews of many RiffTrax riffs available for purchase.
The Cleveland Show offered a short tribute to MST3K when the episode A General Thanksgiving (Season 4, Episode 3) aired on 11/18/12. Cleveland's step-son Rollo is seen watching TV. The announcer says "And now back to Mystery Science Magic Johnson Theater 3000." We see three silhouettes watching a sci-fi movie and shouting out what is happening on screen. Rollo shouts back "Y'all shut up. I'm tryin' to watch a movie!"
Daniel Griffith, the documentary producer from Ballyhoo, began offering a variety of buttons sets on eBay starting 11/27. One of them was referred to as As Seen On MST3K and featured pictures for a number of films used on the show.
MST3K DVD set XXV was released on 12/4/12. It included the episodes Robot Holocaust (110), Operation Kid Brother (508), Kitten With A Whip (615) and Revenge of the Creature (801). (Operation Kid Brother was the original name for Operation Double 007 and needed to be used on the box art for legal/ copyright issues.) There were intros by Joel and Mike, Life After MST updates of Bill and Josh and a documentary called Jack Arnold at Universal: Auteur on the Campus.
When fans of Sally Forth read the cartoon on 12/2 they were treated to a pretty good explanation of the MST3K premise. Of course all fans of MST are always pleased to see another MST tribute.
12/5 saw the release of another collection from RiffTrax called Shorts To Astonish! This set also included three new shorts riffed by Cole Stratton and Janet Varney.
Joel performed again on 12/7 and 8 at the Cinefamily Theater in LA. His one man show was now being called Riffing Myself. This time around there was an airing of the MST episode of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. He would host the same events on 12/22 back at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, PA. Also in December Frank began appearing in Alex Rocco's show Underground Americana.
Vanity Fair hosted a reunion of the cast and crew of Freaks and Geeks in December. Fan favorite Dave "Gruber" Allen attended as well as Josh, who was a writer and producer for some episodes. Although Trace and Joel also appeared in the series neither attended the event. In one behind the scenes photo from the episode Discos and Dragons we can see Joel in the background when he appeared as the DJ for a disco dance competition.
12/10 saw the debut of the SyFy Channel's 20th Anniversary Special. MST was briefly featured near the beginning of the show. MST was described as one of the first cast off from another channel picked up by Sci Fi, a process that would become a frequent method for filling air time. Matt Roush from TV Guide commented that the show was a good fit because it would be so cheap to produce. This is somewhat of a misnomer since the show hadn't really been produced in a garage for many years and actually featured somewhat higher production values than it had in the early days. Regardless, MST fans were glad it had been resurrected and it was nice of the current heads of SyFy to acknowledge the event.
Wits, a Minnesota Public Radio show hosted by John Moe, performed at the Fitzgerald Theater in St Paul, MN on 12/14/12. Episode 11 featured Henry Rollins, singer/ songwriter Lissie and our very own Bill and Kevin. Below are a couple pictures from the rehearsal earlier in the day and a couple from the evening performance.
Getting into the holiday spirit, RiffTrax posted the fan selected list of Worst Movies of All Time on 12/20. Not too surprisingly coming in at #1 was the Twilight Saga.
RiffTrax celebrated the Mayan End of Days on 12/21/12 by treating fans to a little presentation called Santa's Village of Madness. The show featured them riffing on the three K. Gordon Murray shorts filmed in 1964 at a Santa's Village theme park, possibly at one of the two in California or the one in Dundee, IL. Along with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and of course Merlin, the cast also includes Stinky the Skunk, Puss'n Boots (their spelling, not mine) and the Ferocious Wolf.
2013 began with Joel performing his act Riffing Myself at four locations during January. On 1/12/13 he was at the Mayne Stage in Chicago, IL followed by the Alamo Draft House in Austin, TX on 1/18 and then the Texas Theater in Dallas, TX on 1/19. Later that month he was at the Trocadero in Philadelphia, PA on 1/27. Each evening included an airing of the MST episode Pod People, except at the Alamo Draft House where Joel joined in for a live riff of a live performance of the 1974 sci-fi film Zardoz (with a diaper-clad Sean Connery in one of his first attempts to break from his recent James Bond type cast - mission accomplished).
Bill, Kevin and Mike again took part in the San Francisco Sketchfest at the Castro Theater on 1/24 with there Night of the Shorts 4: Riffizens on Patrol. The evenings line up included riffs of Welcome Back Norman (Mike, Kevin and Bill), Perk! Pop! Sprinkle! (Cole Stratton and Janet Varney), Choking: To Save A Life (Kevin McDonald), Cooking: Terms and What They Mean (Mike, Kevin and Bill), More Dangerous Than Dynamite (Adam Savage), The Self Image Film: If Mirrors Could Speak (Kristen Schaal) and At Your Fingertips: Cylinders (Paul F. Tompkins). (Theater marquee photo courtesy of Livia Edwords.)
Fathom Entertainment presented to Best of RiffTrax rebroadcasts of previous live shows in January. On 1/24 they aired Manos: The Hands of Fate from the 8/16/2012 show from the Belcourt Theater in Nashville, TN. Then on 1/31 they showed Plan 9 From Outer Space, the first RiffTrax live event from way back on 8/20/09, also originally from Nashville.
The following two pictures appeared on the internet on 1/26 and 2/3/13 respectively with absolutely no information to explain the circumstances of the events documented. All that has been determined is that the first photo depicts Beez McKeever with some sort of monkey-like creature on her head and the second shows Frank in dark glasses surrounded by some colorfully adorned youths.
Just three days later Frank is seen with John Fugelsang and Dick Cavett on 2/7/13. To date no connection with the previous photo has been found.
Joel's next Riffing Myself appearance was at the Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple in Scranton, PA. As can be deduced by the event poster the evening also included a viewing of Pod People.
On 2/10 the Royal Caribbean's cruise ship Freedom of the Seas departed on the seven-day, third annual JoCo Cruise Crazy with Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy on board as two of the featured entertainers. (Within days another unfortunate cruise ship made news after a power outage caused most ship functions, including air conditioning and plumbing, to fail. It is believed that the passengers on the JoCo Cruise had a much more enjoyable voyage, although no working toilets are actually identified on the official ship layout.) Bill's wife Virginia joined in on a performance of Sparky Vampires and the whole cast belted out Sloop John B. Of course a number of shorts were riffed including At Your Fingertips: Cylinders with John Hodgman and More Dangerous Than Dynamite with John Roderick. There was also a large picture of a frowning cat shown during the Q&A session.
A completely unanticipated announcement was made on 2/14 when the creative team behind Cinematic Titanic notified fans that they had decided to end their live performances at the end of 2013. Not many details were initially made available and social media was quickly swamped with fans both commiserating the end of another beloved project, but also sincerely thanking the CT members for five plus years of laughter.
Until the end of the year, however, the Cinematic Titanic live tour continued. On 2/23 they appeared for the fourth consecutive year at the Royal Oak Music Theater in Royal Oak, MI. They performed The Wasp Woman (for only the second time live) and The Doll Squad. I attended the shows and offer my report of the event here.
The guys from RiffTrax had been telling us to expect a big announcement on 2/25/13. That turned out to be that they were attempting to obtain the rights to the "winner" of their recent poll of all time worst film - Twilight. In order to determine interest of the fans and to build up the necessary funds they started a Kickstarter campaign on that same day. Their initial goal was announced to be $55,000 and to everyone's amazement the goal was reached in a little over an hour. A few days later they had exceeded $150,000. The campaign closed on 3/27 and eventually there would be 6113 supporters donating $264,860.
On 2/28 we learned that the documentary The Incredible Mr. Lippert featured as an extra on MST3K DVD set XXIII was up for a Rondo Award. Although it did not win it was awarded an honorable mention for its category of Best DVD Extra. Trace, Frank and Josh participated in a show called Laughter is the Best Medicine on 3/8/13 at the Bagdad Theater in Portland, OR. The show was presented by the Vital Life Foundation and the MST alums performed a live riff of Plan 9 From Outer Space.
The following artwork entitled Space Oddities by Anna Marie Pellow was posted on line on 3/16/13. On 3/19 io9.com posted their list of all time Incompetent Henchmen with TV's Frank making the list.
A new MST3K DVD set was released on 3/26. Set XXVI featured The Magic Sword (411), Alien From LA (516), Danger! Death Ray (620) and The Mole People (803). There were also interviews with directors Bert I. Gordon (The Magic Sword and numerous other MST episodes) and Albert Pyun (Alien From LA), a new documentary Of Mushrooms and Madmen: The Making of The Mole People and a Life After MST3K for Mike.
RiffTrax notified us on 5/22 that there negotiations with Sony Entertainment failed to reach an agreement to riff Twilight live. Their belief was that the franchise was still to valuable to allow it to be officially ripped on. Instead we learned that they would take on the 1997 Casper Van Dien sci-fi bug hunt Starship Troopers. The news was met with a positive reaction from fans who were excited that a completely new riff would be offered and that they would not have actually pay money to see Twilight in a theater.
The fourth season of Arrested Development premiered on Netflix on 5/26/13. MST fans immediately started spreading the word that in episode 5, A New Start, there was a scene where a clip of the 1994 Roger Corman version of Fantastic Four was seen with the familiar shadowrama across the bottom of the screen. Even more surprising is that Joel and Trace also provided a brief cameo (voices only) offering a few riffs of the movie. Then we learned that in episode 9, Smashed, another shadowrama clip was seen over the movie Apollo 13 (the 1988 version, not the 1995 version starring Kevin Bacon).
Doug TenNapel announced a Kickstarter campaign on 5/28 for his stop-motion animation adventure game Armikrog. The Pencil Test Studios, Inc. production would feature voice work by a number of familiar actors, including Mike Nelson providing the voice for the protagonist Tommynaut.
Mike, Kevin and Bill's performance at San Francisco Sketchfest back in January 2013 was released on DVD on 5/31 and included all of the guest appearances.
The second episode of Frank's Podhouse 90 first aired on 6/6. The show, entitled South By South Satan, featured a large cast including Josh, Laraine Newman, Emo Philips, David Higgins and Dana Gould as Satan.
Kevin and Bill were guests of honor at CONvergence 2013 at the Event Horizon Community Center in Minneapolis from 7/7 to 7/7. They appeared in various panels including Prometheus Debunked, World of Riffing, Comedy on the Internet and Kickstart Me Up. Bill also put on a performance of his play My Monster. Pictured below are the event poster and Guest of Honor ID badges created by comic illustrator Christopher Jones.
Mary Jo appeared on StageIt on 7/14 ready a few chapters from her book Employee of the Month and fielding a few questions from the attendees. The event lasted about twenty minutes and allowed Mary Jo an opportunity to show us the actual Employee of the Month award she received in a previous career. She also momentarily shared her impersonation of a pronghorn antelope (or was making the sign of the devil. I'm not really sure since I forgot to write down a note when I grabbed this image.).
7/18/13 saw Frank's last appearance on Viewpoint with John Fugelsang. The final news story was called "Rush Limbaugh is so racist..."
MST3K DVD Set XXVII came out on 7/23 featuring the episodes The Slime People (108), Rocket Attack USA (205), Village of the Giants (523) and The Deadly Mantis (804). The set included extras Chasing Rosebud: The Cinematic Life of William Alland, an interview with The Slime People star Judith (Morton) Fraser and Village of the Giants' Joy Harmon, Life After MST with Trace Beaulieu, introductions by Mary Jo and original trailers. If ordered directly from Shout! you would also receive a compilation of the shorts Undersea Kingdom, The Phantom Creeps and General Hospital.
The following pixilated characters appeared on the internet in early August 2013. I couldn't help but think this looked a little like a needlepoint version I had seen a few months earlier.
Joel was seen at the Plaza Theater in Atlanta, GA on 8/10 performing his Riffing Myself show and again on 8/11 when he joined the local comedy group Cineprov for a live riff of Star Trek.
Kickstarter backers of the upcoming RiffTrax Twilight/ Starship Troopers event were treated to about 20 minutes of a behind the scenes rehearsal on 8/12 in preparation for the 8/15 live performance. Viewers were left wondering whether or not "stumping" would make the final draft of the script (Note added 8/15: it didn't). Supporters also received t-shirts with a custom designed Zegema Beach motiff.
The live riff of Starship Troopers took place on 8/15/13 at over 600 theaters across the US and at about 200 more in Canada, making this the first international broadcast. There were more pre-show jokes and songs, along with some thank you's accompanied by photos of some of the top Kickstarter contributors, leading up to the time when Mike, Kevin and Bill took the stage. The show itself was a little bare bones compared to other live events since we launched right into the movie with no short subjects. This is most likely due to the running time of the main event film itself. One other question that had been discussed since the film title was announced was how would the nudity in the film be handled. Those viewing across North America were only able to watch the delivery of some "gorilla-grams" while the film continued to run (mostly) off screen. At the end of the show even more contributors' names were shown on the screen (After the event RiffTrax emailed that they had mistakenly left out some of the names, including mine. They did email a list showing all of the contributors). It's was nice to learn that quite a few members of the cast of the original movie attended the show, including Dina "Dizzy" Meyer who saw the show in LA. Apparently they all accepted the riffing with a good sense of humor. (I'm personally glad to hear this because this is actually kind of a favorite movie of mine. Not that it didn't deserve the RiffTrax treatment, but this is one of those movies I've watched dozens of times just for the fun of it.)
Frank appeared on Illogical Contraption Radio podcast on 8/18 with fellow actor and heart throb Eddie Deezen.
Meanwhile Bill, Mike and Kevin were furiously signing posters from the Starship Troopers Live event for Kickstarter contributors. Also, three new riffed shorts became available at the same time. There was an all new riff of the complete Mr. B Natural as well as Georges Méličs From the Earth to the Moon and the third Norman Krasner short coincidentally named Norman Krasner.
Dragoncon 2013 was held in Atlanta from 8/30 to 9/3/2013. With the upcoming release of MST3K: The Movie on Blu-ray and the impending 25th anniversary of the launch of the original show there was a wealth of MST related events. Daniel Griffith from Ballyhoo Pictures hosted a marathon of MST3K episodes, a costume competition, showed some rare footage directly from the Best Brains archives and displayed some original MST props (supplied by yours truly form my personal collection). Bill Corbett attended the event and was featured during a few panels.
A Mystery Science Theater logo was briefly seen during a new Samsung Smart TV commercial debuting on 8/31.
The MST3K: The Movie Blu-Ray was released on 9/3. Along with the film were the Making of featurette from the original electronic press kit, the original theatrical trailer and documentaries on the Making of MST3K: The Movie - The Motion Picture Odyssey and the making of the film within the film, This Island Earth: 2 1/2 Years in the Making.
On 9/3 Joel appeared on Turner Classic Movies with host Scott McGee talking about movies and his career. Part two of the interview premiered on 9/18. Both parts were taped while Joel was in Atlanta for his Riffing Myself performance back on 8/10/13.
Frank started a stint as a writer for Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell on 9/4. That same day we were treated to a teaser photo for a project of Trace's which at the time we only knew also included Gruber.
Kevin appeared at Salt Lake Comic Con on 9/5 as part of a large group of visiting dignitaries. Although Kevin isn't included in the official line-up image below, he is represented by his alter ego Tom Servo as seen near the lower right corner. (No that's Darth Maul. Servo is two away from him. No that's Chewbacca. Servo is two away in the other direction.)
Trace and Frank both appeared at Scare-A-Con 9/12-15 in Verona, NY near Syracuse. Trace mentioned his new project would be available around Halloween and Frank made it clear that they were more than happy to appear anywhere. Just ask (and I assume offer money).
Back on 6/6/12 we heard about a web series called Cartoon Lagoon with three animated characters watching bad cartoons and giving them the MST3K treatment. The first full episode, of the Casper cartoon Boo Moon, debuted on 9/19/13.
As the Cinematic Titanic farewell tour continue they visited the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, WI where they performed The Doll Squad and Danger on Tiki Island.
RiffTrax announced two new features on 9/26. First they would be releasing a series of specials hosted by Mike, Kevin and Bill presenting commentary on clips from a specific film genre. The initial offering was of three 90's Cyber Thrillers. The second new item was a series of Best of collections, this time showing us clips from previously riffed films.
Frank made an appearance on Totally Biased on 10/4, stepping out of character to play a crotchety old white guy for a bit called What's With Kids These Days?
Viewers of ESPN's College Gameday before the Northwestern versus Ohio State football game on 10/5 noticed a sign behind analysts David Pollack and Kirk Herbstreit that gave us the many names of Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald.
Joel, Josh and Trace provided a commentary track for the Blu-Ray of The Heat released on 10/15. I'm not sure why.
RiffTrax released another shorts compilation on 10/21 called May The Shorts Be With You.
On 10/24/13 RiffTrax presented their next live event from the Belcourt Theater in Nashville. This time the riffed on another Norman Krasner short, Norman Gives A Speech followed by the feature presentation, the 1968 George Romero classic Night of the Living Dead.
Bill and Kevin were recorded for and Episode of Ask Me Another back on 9/27. It was made available to the general public on 10/25. Below is a picture of Kevin from the original taping. I don't know why Bill wasn't included in the photo op.
Totally Biased featured another Frank bit on 10/30 called Historical Burn. Frank was joined by Dwayne Kennedy to help emphasize the burns.
Those interesting in buying the new book There's A Zombie In My Treehouse! written by Ken Plume and John Robinson and illustrated by Len Peralta were given in interesting option. iBooks were available read by either Joel, Mike, Kevin or Bill. Starting on Halloween (10/31/13) Trace began showing his short film The Frank at Cinematic Titanic live events. The film featured appearances by Gruber, Mary Jo and Bill along with some other friends. Issue #27 of Screem Magazine came out on 11/5 with Mike, Joel, the bots and the SOL on the cover to celebrate the shows 25th anniversary.
New show debuted on Cartoon Network on 11/4/13 called Steven Universe. Joel provided the voice for the character Mayor Bill Dewey. On 11/6 Mary Jo opened a Kickstarter campaign for her project with the working title Awesome Music For Awful Movies. The goal was achieved and work began on developing the music to go with the title. Throughout the month of November Shout! Factory held a Turkey Month Marathon sale on all MST related DVD sets.
On 11/9 and 11/01 Coast City Comicon was held in Portland, ME. Mary Jo, Bill and Kevin all attended. An item available at the show were various unique scented soaps by Deeply Dapper that were related to the convention. One called Cheesy Movie! was popcorn scented and featured a familiar shadowrama.
On 11/15 Frank appeared on Totally Biased performing an Obamacare bit called Love Me! The show wrapped up on 11/17 when the following cast and crew photo was taken.
Another RiffTrax DVD was released on 11/14. This time the movie was Ghosthouse.
On 11/16/14 the Museum of Broadcast Communication in Chicago hosted a MST3K 25th Anniversary panel with Joel, Trace and Frank. Josh was originally scheduled to attend, but had to cancel due to illness. The event was moderated by Steve Darnell. After a lengthy discussion about the history and impact of the show there was a meet and greet held. Local celebrity writer and silent film connoisseur Janelle Vreeland was also in attendance.
The incredibly insane Santa's Village of Madness was released by RiffTrax on DVD on 11/26.
Also on 11/26 we saw the release of the MST3K 25th Anniversary DVD set by Shout! Factory featuring the episodes Moon Zero Two (111), The Day the Earth Froze (422), The Leech Woman (802) and Gorgo (909). On a separate disk we found two more shows, Mitchell (512), which was Joel's last episode, and The Brain That Wouldn't Die (513), Mike's first. A lengthy history of the show was prepared by David Griffith of Ballyhoo Productions. (It was fun for me to see one of my props in the background of Joel's interviews. David had borrowed a few props from my collection to have on display at some conventions while promoting the DVD release.)
On 11/26 Joel showed up on Reddit doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with his fans.
Shout! Factory presented a Turkey Day marathon on 11/28/13 hosted by Joel and featuring six episodes live streaming on-line. The shows used were Space Mutiny, I Accuse My Parents, Werewolf, Cave Dwellers, The Final Sacrifice and Mitchell and were selected with input from fans on Twitter. The marathon included trivia challenges and a clip of the original Turkey Day Hymn from 1991. Joel performed new bumpers from a kitchen where dinner was being prepared. In the last bumper Tom and Crow make a brief appearance to the delight of fans.
A wonderful choral rendition of A Patrick Swayze Christmas was posted on-line on 12/2. Joel makes a brief appearance at the end with another holiday sentiment. (Unfortunately I cannot find my notes that listed who the choir is. I know I had their name at one time. If anyone can help me out with their name I would love to post it and gladly give you credit for the info.)
The next RiffTrax live was held on 12/5 at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville, TN and brought us a completely new riffing of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, originally done on MST3K for episode 321. Fans now had three completely different riffs of this movie along with the MST3K and the Cinematic Titanic versions. The bizarre short feature Santa and the Fairy Snow Queen (1951) was also riffed that evening.
RiffTrax would also give us their second annual worst films list (of 2013) with After Earth taking the honors this year.
Cinematic Titanic announced that they had decided to disband at the end of the year after a very successful run of live shows and DVDs since their first performance 12/7/2007, a private show at Industrial Light and Magic. The final shows were performed at the Keswick Theater in Glenside, PA on 12/30/2013. The Wasp Woman and The Doll Squad were performed along with a viewing of The Frank music video. The evening ended with a toast for both the new year and the end of the chapter of MST history.