Top 10 Mystery Science Theater 3000 Episodes: A look back at the 10 best episodes of a cult classic TV series.
Shows like The Soup, The Daily Show, Tosh.0, along with snarky blogs like mine, have had great success goofing over pop culture mishaps.
But I wonder, would it be that way without Mystery Science Theater 3000 (aka MST3K) lighting the torch?
From 1988 to 1999, MST3K made mockery over the best-worst movies they could find.
The premise was simple yet genius: Our hero Joel Hodgson (later replaced by Mike T. Nelson) is trapped on a satellite, and is forced to watch terrible movies as an evil experiment by mad scientist Dr. Forester. He creates robot friends Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot to keep him company. Together they suffer through each cinematic turd with defiant humor.
Unlike the asshole on a cellphone annoying you at a movie, their quips actually IMPROVED the source material.
The show put Comedy Central on the map, being one of its first programs. It later aired on Syfy, helping its geek status as well, but was sadly cancelled in 1999, despite a massive online effort to keep it going.
Thanks to Amazon VOD, DVD Box Sets, YouTube and fan sites, MST3K still lives on, living up to its motto of “keep circulating the tapes.” Hodgson and former cast members now do ‘Cinematic Titanic‘ road shows, and Nelson and his crew offer Rifftrax; commentaries you can download online for various past and present movies.
**Be sure to click here to read my new interview with Joel Hodgson!
So here’s our list of the Top 10 MST3K episodes. I’ll have links under each entry for both VOD and DVD collections available through either Amazon and Shout! Factory.
Below is a Rifftrax link for a prize William Shatner stinker:
10. Final Justice (episode 1008- Season 10)
Joe Don Baker plays an alcoholic, binge-eating sheriff who flies from Texas to Malta to catch a bad guy. Most notable in this drab-fest, is that Baker never changes his nudie-suit once throughout the entire film! Yuck.
The best zinger from the MST3K crew is a scene of Baker’s character being revived with some liquor. They punctuate the scene with; “drink this its liquid beef!” Check it out at the 1:11 mark:
9. The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (episode 812-season 8)
The title itself is exhausting, but wait’ll you watch this train wreck. Part horror-movie, part-musical and all-shit, it provided ample material for Nelson, Servo and Crow to eviscerate. Check out this scene where some juvenile delinquents make their way to a cursed carnival: “GET YOUR TICKETS HERE!!”
Buy it from Shout! Factory:
8. Soultaker (episode 1001, Season 10)
This features an endless barrage of killer quips riffing on Joe and his lantern-jawed sidekick Robert Z’dar (of Maniac Cop fame). His first appearance inspires their best line; “God he’s a catcher’s mitt with eyes!!”
Buy Soultaker and Final Justice together;
7. Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders (Episode 1003-Season 10)
This travesty features three unrelated movies of different era’s spliced together in a desperate attempt to salvage the material. But it was to no avail. One scene involves a snotty dork who ages rapidly via terrible makeup. It provides ample fodder for Mike and the Bots. Check it out:
6. Overdrawn At The Memory Bank (Episode 822-Season 8)
Originally a PBS special, this low-rent, painfully corny dystopian sci-fi clunker is unintentionally infuriating. But it provides great inspiration to the MST3K satire machine. The late Raul Julia stars in this mess and even he seems embarrassed by it:
5. Pod People (Episode 303-Season 3)
This repellant bargain basement E.T. ripoff features one of the few movie break skits that doesn’t feel like filler, where they goof on a scene involving a ‘rock band’ in a recording studio. To quote the movie, “IT STINKS!”
4. Laserblast (Episode 706-Season 7)
Another tale of small town teens, this one involves a slacker douche who finds a weird ray gun and becomes some sort of zombie. The satellite of Love crew carved this up like the turkey it is. Even film critic Leonard Maltin gets a good skewering, as he gave this movie a better review than Star Wars!
Equally shocking is that actor Roddy McDowell lent his talents to this clunker. Eddie Geezen of ‘Grease’ fame also appears, and he may be the most nauseating geek in movie history.
3. Manos: The Hands Of Fate (Episode 404-Season 4)
To say Manos has continuity errors is putting it mildly; scenes start and end with no discernible reason, and the plot involving an undead lord and his slave wives is confounding. All this is a recipe for an unforgettable episode. Here’s some of the best moments:
2. Werewolf (episode 904-Season 9).
Joe Estevez returns in this bewildering tale. Between his bad acting, co-star George Rivero’s alternating hairpieces, and Adriana Mile’s incomprehensible accent, this is one of the show’s finest hours.
1. Mitchell (Episode 512-Season 5)
“Mitchell” is the masterpiece of the series. Joe Don Baker is back, increasing his unappealing nature to unseemly levels. It feels like an extended episode of a forgettable 70’s cop show; shot in 70’s muted tones with music straight out of a PSA. The plot is incomprehensible, and Baker’s portrayal of an inept private detective is priceless.
Joel and the bots outdo themselves here, especially during one of the yuckiest sex scenes ever. I’m sure Linda Evans doused herself in bleach and booze after sharing a bed with Baker. What’s even weirder is that he has his own theme song that plays in the background. Listen and watch in horror. As Crow T. Robot says : “My, my, my, MY GOD!!”
Well I hope you enjoyed our Top 10 MST3k episodes! Man, it was hard narrowing it down with so many to choose from. Which ones are in your Top 10? Sound off below. I may have to do an expanded edition in the future!
And you might also enjoy these related posts:
And here’s another Rifftrax link for a movie franchise well worth ridiculing: