There are very few things that a 7-year-old and a 39-year-old can agree upon. Just the other day, it took me an hour and a half to figure out where to get something to eat with my child, due to his picky tastes in fine cuisine. Peel and Eat Shrimp or Mac 'n' Cheese - I had to find one of those in the middle of a city I was unfamiliar with. We ended up eating at the hotel across the street from our hotel. On the way out of that fine dining establishment, a pleasant young lady proceeded to hock a loogie in the pathway of my impressionable child. So, why had we traveled two and a half hours away from quiet suburbia to the wrong side of town Richmond, VA? To see the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live! Watch Out For Snakes Tour!
I spent way too much time in college, when I probably should have been studying, watching MST3K on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel. For some reason, random pop culture references stick to my brain like Nietzsche never could. So I loved it when I would get a joke that flew over others' heads. Plus, I found it amazing that people were getting paid to do what people would tell me to shut up from doing.
So when I saw that Joel Hodgson was launching a Kickstarter campaign to attempt to fund three new episodes of the classic show, I was all about #BringBackMST3K. I backed without any trepidation. I supported it for really the same reason I run this toy news site - for a feeling of nostalgia and a glimpse at art being created. Flash forward a few months and Joel and company had raised close to $6 million, secured a deal with Netflix, and released 14 new episodes starring the likes of Jonah Ray, Patton Oswalt, Felicia Day, Baron Vaughn, Hampton Yount, and Rebecca Hanson.
During this time, I had been watching Shout! Factory DVDs of old episodes and my sons got into the show. My youngest loves the robots and spaceship. My oldest laughs at the jokes. It's likely that 75% of the time he has no idea what he's laughing at. I'm pretty sure he's not getting those Spuds MacKenzie references and has no idea who Joe Don Baker is. But was he super excited to go see the new cast of the revived MST3K when I told him they were doing a Live Tour.
So I went all-out and sprung for the VIP package at the Richmond show. While they had riffed on the "classic" film Eegah! at most of their previous spots, we got to see the "Secret Surprise Film". And it was a surprise as I had no idea what it was until the opening credits started rolling (now that the tour is over, I feel okay saying it was a really bad Italian superhero film called Argoman the Fantastic Superman). My son and I got seats in the front row. There was a fairly intimate Q&A with creator Joel Hodgson before the show. And then we got to go up on stage and get our picture taken with some of the cast. I felt a sense that not only was this mind-blowing for the fans, but also for all of those connected to the show (since most of them were fans of the original show's run).
The show itself was excellent. There were some sound issues that I blame on the venue. But the live show was set up just like a regular episode, with sketch breaks taking place featuring Jonah, Crow, and Tom Servo aboard the Satellite of Love. There was also interaction with the crowd (like my son nearly getting a spit-take shower from Rebecca Hanson's Synthia character). And the movie featured an A+ riff. It likely would have been one of my top 5 favorite episodes if it had been included in the revival season (It's going to be tough to top Cry Wilderness). I'm sort of hoping they include it in Season 2 of the Netflix run. Speaking of a Season 2 (or 12), where's that announcement Netflix?
But the best thing was that my son and I got to enjoy a laugh over the same thing. Nowadays, I don't get their cartoons. When I was a kid, cartoons were made by toy companies intent on selling you their toys. I understood that. However, when we went to see MST3K Live! Watch Out For Snakes! we were able to find mutual humor in a guy and two robots making fun of a 50 year old superhero-Eurospy film about a robe wearing playboy "fantastic superman". Who woulda thought...