Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas, Chorally Yours

24-Dec-13 9:30 AM by
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Alumni of Mystery Science Theater 3000 rang in the holiday season earlier this month with a live RiffTrax of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, a film that Cinematic Titanic has also revisited. When MST3K originally spoofed that episode on Dec 21, 1991, it featured a host segment with a very special musical interlude: Joel and the bots wishing viewers to "Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas".

Mr. Swayze is no longer with us, but I think he would smile at the thought of us celebrating the holidays in his memory. MST3K creator Joel Hodgson and the team at Reddit agree and together revisited this holiday staple, arranging it for a mighty chorus. Come and listen to their musical rendition:

Merry Christmas, everyone!

(Hat tip to reddit)

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day offerings

27-Nov-13 2:19 PM by
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It is a good time to be a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The television show spent ten years lampooning some of the worst films ever created, and this week, 25 years after the show's debut, the comedy just keeps on coming.

If you didn't catch this show during its decade on the air, or you're missing your favorite episodes, Shout! Factory has you covered. All this month, they've been celebrating the show's 25th anniversary with daily sales on select DVD sets. But why settle for one a day? This Thursday and Friday, ALL previous sales will return simultaneously. Engorge yourself with your favorite box sets at MST3KTurkeyDay.com.

There are still more box sets to come, with the 25th Anniversary Edition having been released just yesterday, and another box set — the show's 29th! — announced as coming next year, containing some of the best episodes ever.

Want to watch MST3K show live like it's 1988? A tradition long gone from our world returns this Thanksgiving, thanks to show founder Joel Hodgson. The MST3K Turkey Day Marathon is back, with six favorite episodes airing starting at noon ET, again at MST3KTurkeyDay.com.

Reruns are great — but what about the future? After MST3K concluded its run, its hosts continued the comedy with two similar troupes: Cinematic Titanic, hosted by Joel Hodgson, and RiffTrax, spearheaded by Michael J. Nelson.

Cinematic Titanic focused on DVDs and live tours and will be concluding their farewell tour next month. I caught them on all three of their visits to Boston, most recently on November 2, when they subjected their audience to a terrible movie, The Doll Squad. Hodgson engaged in Q&A with the audience, but more impressively, he yesterday conducted a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA). Generations of fans paid tribute and got sincere, thorough answers to their questions about the past, present, and future of Hodgson's comedy exploits.
Meanwhile, RiffTrax continues to publish audio commentary MP3s to accompany your favorite blockbuster films, from Starship Troopers to Twilight. Their next live event is a holiday riffing of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians on December 5 at 8 PM ET. Tickets are now on sale, and these events have been known to sell out, so get yours today!

This holiday season, I am thankful for the talented artists who have brought so much laughter into my home, and the many friends with whom I've shared those experiences. We have movie sign!!

UPDATE (2-Dec-13): Missed the Turkey Day Marathon? Here are all the original host segments featuring show creator Joel Hodgson:

(Hat tip to Annie Lynsen and Annie Lynsen)

RiffTrax Starship Troopers gets my name wrong

20-Aug-13 1:45 PM by
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RiffTrax, the comedy troupe composed of Mystery Science Theater 3000 alumni, earlier this year conducted their first Kickstarter. The plan was to raise enough funds to secure the rights for a one-night live riffing of Twilight. Having heard their MP3 riffs of this film, I was all in. The Twilight studio proved enthusiastic to work with RiffTrax but felt the timing wasn't right to dilute their sparkly vampire brand, so the comedy team moved onto their second choice: Starship Troopers.

Starship Troopers
Prepare for an explosion of funny.

The show was last Thursday, which I attended with my middle brother Dan and dozens of friends from the local Meetup group. I encouraged everyone to wait after the movie, as my Kickstarter pledge had earned my name an inclusion in the credits. Dan, in anticipation of seeing my name on the silver screen, pulled out his iPhone and started recording the credit sequence.

It didn't turn out quite how we expected.

How "Ken Gagné" became "Ken GagnŽ", I'll never know. But that'll teach me to be all fancy with my foreign accent marks.

Thanks for the riff, guys! An encore performance will occur on Thursday, September 12, at 7:30 PM. On August 30, tickets will go on sale for their next original live show: Night of the Living Dead!

UPDATE (5-Dec-13): Bill Corbett (aka Crow T. Robot) balanced the scales when he got my name right in the first 30 seconds of this Kickstarter thank-you video:

UPDATE (20-Dec-13): RiffTrax offered an official apology as a comment on the above Vimeo video.

Bill Corbett's Super-Powered Revenge Christmas

30-Mar-12 10:12 AM by
Filed under Potpourri; 1 comment.

Bill Corbett (whose birthday is today — happy birthday, Bill!) is a writer who knows no bounds: his comedic stylings have defined both RiffTrax and MST3K; the best parts of the Eddie Murphy film Meet Dave were his work; he even contributed to the animated short Max the Hero.

Television, film, live performances, animation — what remains? A graphic novel, of course! And that's exactly what Corbett has envisioned with his Kickstarter project for SUPER-POWERED REVENGE CHRISTMAS!.

The artwork will be drawn by Len Peralta, who formerly did the Geek a Week trading cards.

Kickstarter is a crowdsourcing platform that solicits pledges from the mass market to fund a project. This approach allows artists like Corbett to retain control of their creative vision without sacrificing it to meet the demands of a publisher. Perhaps that is why the final book will be made available as an e-book only and not in a dead trees edition printed for $100-level donors only. The project has until April 28th to raise a minimum of $23,000, or else no money is collected and the project doesn't happen, so pledge at least $15 to guarantee your copy of the finished novel this Thanksgiving!

Tom Servo's Christmas Concern

24-Dec-10 9:30 AM by
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Happy holidays from Showbits! As is tradition, I would like to celebrate the season in classic, comedic style with the residents of the Satellite of Love. This collection of MST3K performances has three skits, but I've limited it to the most passionate and my favorite:

This is Showbits' fifth annual Christmas greeting from MST3K and harkens back to the first, when the site was less than two weeks young and run by someone who was recently out of a text-based environment and still unsure how to use multimedia.

May our holidays be rich with humor and cheer!

Peter Graves: Avowing Knowledge of His Actions

15-Mar-10 9:56 AM by
Filed under Fade to Black; 1 comment.

Actor Peter Graves died of a heart attack at his home in Pacific Palisades, Calif., on Sunday, just four days before his 84th birthday. (Story continues)

Mr. Graves had many film credits to his name, including spoofing his own gravitas as Capt. Clarence Oveur in the cult classic Airplane!, but he was perhaps best known for Mission: Impossible, in which he played team leader Jim Phelps, in both the original series (1967–1973) and the revival (1988–1990). His variety of roles demonstrated his talent for both drama and comedy, though his efforts at the former sometimes met with mixed success; It Conquered The World, The Beginning of the End, and Parts: The Clonus Horror were best suited to MST3K fodder. Nonetheless, he took his roles seriously and personally, to the point of expressing regret that Jon Voight's character in the 1996 Mission: Impossible film bore the same name with which Mr. Graves so closely identified.

To a great and memorable actor, I offer this fan memorial of the inestimable Mr. Graves, followed by one of his most dramatic moments:

(Hat tip to the Washington Post)

Art Clokey of Gumby, Davey & Goliath, Passes Away

11-Jan-10 3:47 PM by
Filed under Fade to Black; 1 comment.

Art Clokey, creator of the stop-motion clay animation shows Gumby and Davey and Goliath, passed away this Friday. He was 88. The New York Times has the full obituary.

Though Davey and Goliath and its Lutheran values predate my childhood, I was a religious follower of Gumby, making the show a part of my morning ritual. Gumby's friendship with Pokey took them on the most fantastic adventures, though later characters Prickle, Goo, and Denali were sometimes a bit disturbing. Mr. Clokey's obituary taught me things even I didn't know about the character, such as the origin of his design — "Gumby’s asymmetrical head, resembling a rakish pompadour, was a tribute to [Art Clokey's] biological father's prominent cowlick" — and his popularity: more violent cartoons swayed viewers away from Gumby until Eddie Murphy's bawdy interpretation of the character on Saturday Night Live brought the fans back to the original. Who knew that a seemingly disparaging parody could have such a positive effect?

If parody can then be a tribute, then I offer the following MST3K as my contribution to Mr. Clokey's memorial. "Robot Rumpus" was Gumby's third episode, having debuted on The Howdy Doody Show in August 1956:

Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas

24-Dec-09 9:30 AM by
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We are about to close what has been a difficult year for the acting community — not in terms of low box office sales or a lack of acting jobs, but due to the loss of many storied performers. Ed McMahon, Karl Malden, Dom DeLuise, Bea Arthur, Majel Roddenberry are among those who we lost.

As always, we here at Showbits send holiday greetings in a musical style perfected by the inhabitants of the Satellite of Love. I'd like to use that tradition to honor one of the great actors we lost this year, Patrick Swayze: