Joel Hodgson Talks MST3K Live Eegah and Returning to Riffs

first_img GEEK PICK OF THE DAY: Mystery Science Theater 3000 Round Logo MatMystery Science Theater 3000 Launches Watch Out for Snakes Tour Stay on target Mystery Science Theater 3000 made its long-anticipated return last April with a new 14 episode season. Sure the cast was different, and the bots’ new voices took some getting used to, but it still had the same familiar feel. Jonah Ray turned out to be a likeable host with his own sense of humor different from Joel or Mike’s from the series’s original run. (The riffs still certainly had a “Joel” feel, but that’s probably because Joel was heavily involved in writing the new season.)Now, they’re taking the show on the road with a tour of live movie riffs in cities around the United States. All cities will get to see Jonah and the bots deliver a new riff on an MST3K classic, Eegah! If you’ve somehow managed to scrub that one from your brain, (first of all, how?) it’s the one with a caveman, weird shaving scenes and a disembodied voice warning you about snakes. A handful of cities will also get a separate performance where Jonah and the bots will riff a secret surprise movie. I got to speak with creator Joel Hodgson about returning to the show, doing it live and what it’s like to revisit such a strange classic.Hodgson says movie riffing works great live. He started doing live movie riffs exclusively 10 years ago with Cinematic Titanic, which is a huge reason we have new MST3K in the first place. A lot of the changes in style people noticed about MST3K: The Return came directly from doing Cinematic Titanic live. Live audiences, Hodgson said, want to hear the movie as well as the riffs. They learned early on to write and time the riffs, so they weren’t talking over the dialog. When it came time to bring the show back for Netflix, they kept that rule.Viewers shouldn’t expect the same kind of show from MST3K Live as they got with Cinematic Titanic, though. Hodgson described those earlier live shows as sort of a table-read in front of an audience. He and the rest of the cast stood at microphones, reading the riffs. For the live tour, he’s bringing all of MST3K to the stage. Moon 13, the Satellite of Love and even the sequence of numbered doors will all be recreated. It will be an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 performed right in front of you, Mads, Boneheads, invention exchanges and all.That does mean, that the movies will be slightly edited for time, just like they are on TV. Hodgson says he wants the live shows to be about the same length as a TV episode. The editing also tends to make the movie more watchable, which is a necessity even with the riffing. “You’re trying to entertain [audiences] better than the original movie did,” he said.Mock-up of MST3K Live! set. (Via MST3K.com)While he wouldn’t say what the secret movie in select cities will be, it is going to be the same movie in each city. They aren’t writing unique shows for individual cities. “If it was, we would be geniuses,” Hodgson said. He did say they’re currently writing the second movie riff right now, and in a statement on MST3K.com, he said he’ll probably reveal the surprise movie after its first performance in Glenside, Pennsylvania on July 7. Word will probably get around pretty soon after that anyway.One thing I definitely wanted to ask about was the general lack of anger in the new season of MST3K. Jonah never really got angry or cynical about the movies he was watching, which is part of why he felt closer to Joel regarding attitude. A lot of people watching picked up on that too. Hodgson says that while audiences sometimes like seeing the riffers get mad, he’s not a fan of going there. Especially not right away.He sees getting angry at the movie as a simplified, “coloring book version” of what he does.“Getting angry at the movie is kind of the same joke over and over again, so we try not to do it too much. We try to do it a couple of times a movie,” he said. “If you do it once, you’re kind of covered… we do hundreds of different styles of jokes. The movie’s like a springboard to do a variety show, and do jokes and impressions and sketches and songs and stuff.”MST3K: Manos the Hands of Fate. (Via Shout! Factory)As beloved as Manos: The Hands of Fate is, Hodgson doesn’t believe it’s all that good of a riff. He thinks people like that episode so much because it’s the fulfillment of experiencing a really bad movie together. It’s true that watching Manos: The Hands of Fate feels like you’ve triumphed over something with the help of Joel and the bots, so Hodgson may have a point there. That said, each season has its own Manos, according to Hodgson. Each season has one movie that pushes them to that point of anger. In The Return, it was either Cry Wilderness or Carnival Magic. Hodgson says that while they did go to anger with those movies, they make an effort not to “live there.”Finally, I asked him what it was like going back to Eegah! more than 20 years later. Hodgson said what made writing this new riff interesting is that in that time, he met and became friends with the star of the movie (and son of the producer/director), Arch Hall Jr. Now, he knows more about what led to that movie being made, which certainly influences the new riff a little. It turns out that Arch Hall Sr. wanted to make a movie that had everything kids of the 1960s loved. Those things being rock music, fast cars, and cavemen. Don’t ask. Hodgson said he finds the movie charming in that it’s an earnest attempt to make a “pop confection drive-in movie.”Even then, Hodgson can’t deny that it is a weird movie. If you’ve seen the classic MST3K episode, you know what he’s talking about. “There’s a lot of really crazy stuff in it that I still can’t get over.” Sadly, Hodgson never asked Hall about those awkward shaving sequences, but he learns a fun story about the movie. Back in the day, the cast would bring the movie to drive-in theaters around the country and play songs from the movie live. While that must have been interesting to see, Hodgson learned that Richard Kiel, who played Eegah, would walk around in full costume attacking passing cars with his club.MST3K: Eegah! (Via Netflix)Although Hodgson knows Hall Jr., personally now, his approach to riffing on the movie hasn’t changed. He said that Hall was very sweet about the whole thing, and realized that any popularity he still enjoyed was because of MST3K. What has changed is the way Hodgson looks at the movie. When they first filmed the episode, he wondered who this “little Lord Fauntleroy” whose dad put him in a movie. Now respects them a little more as a super-ambitious group of people who thought they’d try to make a movie.Surprisingly, Netflix hasn’t yet invited MST3K: The Return back for a second season, but Hodgson is still planning it just in case. Season two, he says, will pick up right where the first left off, with Jonah still trapped in the Reptillicus Metallicus’ stomach. The live show will exist outside of that continuity, but Hodgson wishes he could have written the live shows into the timeline of the show somehow. Oh well, as cool as it would have been, I’m just looking forward to watching one of my favorite MST3K classics get a new riff live on stage.You can see when MST3K Live! is coming to your area (and buy tickets) at MST3K.com.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img read more

Read More »

Cloak and Daggers Reunion Takes a While But Its Worth It

first_img James Gunn Once Again Directing ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’Dark Phoenix Trailer Released & More Marvel Movie News Marvel’s newest series Cloak and Dagger is already resistant to formula. After a two-hour-long premiere last week, its third episode gave us something entirely different. The show continues to have some pacing issues, but it’s hard to get too mad at them when everything else is so good. The story is engrossing, the characters are complex and fascinating, and the show just looks good. Even scenes that aren’t actively driving the plot are still fun to watch because of how this series plays with light and shadow. It doesn’t feel like any other superhero show, nor does it feel like other shows on Freeform. We’re three hours in, and each one so far has been its own unique thing.That’s not to say the entire episode is perfect. It still spends too long getting our two leads together. Even after last week’s cliffhanger forced them into the same physical space, which lasts for all of two minutes. Tyrone, ever practical even in inexplicable situations like this, immediately checks to see if Tandy’s OK. He forgets to put his gun away, which freaks Tandy out a bit, but you forget things when emotions run high. He tells Tandy she has a concussion, which comes back in a cool way later in the episode. She doesn’t want to hear any of it. She’s still determined to get out of New Orleans, which is now complicated by her busted car and head injury. She tells Tyrone she never wants to see him again, which we all know won’t be the case. The show is called Cloak AND Dagger, after all.OLIVIA HOLT (Freeform/Alfonso Bresciani)The rest of the episode is told in two parts over the same span of time. It’s a cool way to structure the episode. It slowly builds anticipation for the moment when they’ll connect again, and lets us stew in the mystery of how it will happen. It’s not without its downsides. It often switches to a new scene (via commercial break) the minute each story starts getting good. When all you want is for these two great characters to be in the same room again, that’s a little frustrating. The episode starts with Tandy’s story. She ditches her car and heads back home to clean up her head wound. This is the part where the episode starts to give its characters a break. While her mother flips wildly between indignant and protective, there’s a knock at the door. A police detective is looking for Tandy. Her mother covers for her, saying she hasn’t seen her daughter in weeks. Their relationship is interesting, and I definitely want to see the show explore it further in the future.Detective O’Reilly isn’t here to arrest Tandy, though. She visited her attacker in the hospital and notices his story isn’t adding up. He has a weak explanation for the scratch marks on his face, and none for why his pants were unbuckled when the paramedics found him. She puts everything together fast, but not quite fast enough. By the time Tandy contacts her, the rich rapist gotten himself an alibi. With a little help from a friend in the police department, who closes the case. Wouldn’t you know it, it’s the same cop that got away with murdering Tyrone’s brother. So no justice for Tandy, but at least someone in the department believes her. This probably isn’t the last time O’Reilly will look into the case either. Still, Tandy is disillusioned all over again and skips town on a bus. She falls asleep and finds herself in a dream where Tyrone as a little kid dribbles a basketball alone.Aubrey Joseph (Photo via Freeform)That’s where the episode rewinds itself to show us what Tyrone’s been doing this whole time. After his surprise appearance in front of Tandy’s car, he prays to his brother for some guidance on just what is going on. His maybe-more-than-a-friend Evita overhears what he’s talking about and has a suggestion for him. It turns out she runs a voodoo walking tour after school, because I guess that’s a thing teens in New Orleans can do to earn some money. Hers looks to be one of the more authentic ones, considering her aunt is an actual voodoo priestess. She prescribes Tyrone an herbal bath to open the mind, noting a concussion would do the same thing but this is more comfortable. (Ha!)I love Tyrone and Evita’s relationship in this episode. They’re so awkward and adorable together. They know they both want something more than friendship, but are unsure of how to proceed. Evita is a little bolder, staying in the bathroom while Tyrone undresses, and only turning around when he makes her. If there’s anything a Freeform show should get right, it’s the mechanics of teenage flirting, but they are nailing the uncertainty and awkwardness here. Yeah, it probably won’t end well once Tandy and Tyrone start hanging out together more, because that’s just how these stories go. For now though, Evita and Tyrone are just so cute.WAYNE PARE, AUBREY JOSEPH, OLIVIA HOLT (Freeform/Alfonso Bresciani)The herbal bath takes Tyrone into the dream world, and our leads are finally together… sort of. Tyrone sees a young Tandy standing on top of the Roxxon building. The shared dream sequence that follows is one of the series’ best moments so far. It’s the moment where Cloak and Dagger lets you know what kind of show it is. It’s not afraid to break from formula, and it’s willing to play in the surreal. It’s not as in-your-face or deliberately confusing as Legion, but it’s willing to dedicate half an entire episode to pure symbolism. Tandy and Tyrone see visions of each other’s struggles. To Tandy, Tyrone appears in 18th-century clothes and approaches a table of weapons. In a repeating sequence, he uses each one to kill his brother’s murderer. Each time, he’s hunted down and lynched by police. I have to say, I was not expecting that kind of commentary on police treatment of black people in America from a Marvel superhero show aimed mostly at teens.Over on Tyrone’s side, he sees Tandy standing outside a glass room, helplessly watching her father get tortured by Roxxon representatives. Each time, she runs away and falls into a pit. Both realize they have to use their powers to help each other. Tandy places her light dagger on the table of weapons. When Tyrone touches it, it turns into handcuffs, which he uses to arrest the dirty cop. Tyrone uses his powers to hold Tandy in place, giving her the courage to intervene in her dad’s torture. Both outcomes are something you don’t normally see in superhero stories. They’re using their powers to support each other, not hurt their enemies. That will come later, though.(Freeform/Alfonso Bresciani) OLIVIA HOLTAs hopefull as those images are, the dream sequence ends with some pretty dark imagery. The last thing Tandy sees is young Tyrone, unconscious, surrounded by torn checks from his murdered brother. Tyrone sees a young Tandy giving communion to all those Roxxon men, poisoning each one. Just before they wake up, they sense each other on the other side of a stained glass window they both recognize from the real world. I love this whole sequence. It’s haunting,  powerful and just a little bit disturbing. And because we’ve already spent so much time with both of these characters, the show makes us care about what happens to them in it. The significance of what Tandy and Tyrone see lands just as intended because we know exactly what these images mean to them. They also work together so well on screen, it’s captivating even when they aren’t directly acknowledging each other.I do wish the show didn’t end right as they decide to meet in the real world. They both head to the church with the stained glass window from the dream, and decide they need to talk. That’s it. As much as I liked this episode, the show is taking way too long to get Cloak and Dagger together. Their forced meeting from the end of the last episode turned out to be little more than a fake out. They separated so quickly, it felt a little lame. Much of the first half of this episode was essentially finding reasons for Tandy to stay in New Orleans. That’s not quite as much fun to watch as super-powered dream sequences, and the episode spends a lot of time on it. The show’s pacing could certainly be better, but that should come with time. It makes up for it with great characters and an unwillingness to stick to a formula. Three episodes in, Cloak and Dagger still refuses to be what we’re used to seeing from superhero TV. That’s enough to keep me watching.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on targetlast_img read more

Read More »

8Bitdo Launches a New Wireless Controller for the NES Classic Edition

first_imgEarlier this week we reported that ThinkGeek would be making the NES Classic Edition available today (in limited quantities). It should come as no surprise the highly sought-after miniature console is once again sold out (if reports are true). However, if you were lucky enough to grab one today or when it originally released, you’ll be happy to know 8Bitdo is releasing a controller specifically made for Nintendo’s retro system.Available today from Amazon, the N30 2.4G Wireless Controller for NES Classic Edition features a Home button, Turbo buttons, a rechargeable battery, and wireless 2.4G connectivity. Basically, it has all of the same functions found in 8Bitdo’s other controllers. This new controller is more or less based on the original NES controller. The big difference of course are the two Turbo buttons located above the B and A buttons. It looks a little odd when compared to the classic controller it is inspired by, but it looks great regardless.AdChoices广告This isn’t the first time 8Bitdo has made peripherals for the NES mini. One of the NES Classic Edition’s biggest flaws is its painfully small controller wire. 8Bitdo solved this problem by releasing the Retro Receiver. This Bluetooth-enabled device allowed users to play the diminutive console with any of 8Bitdo’s wireless controllers. The Retro Receiver also made it possible to easily access the console’s Home menu directly through the controller. Before that, users had to reset the system in order to return to the Home menu. The new controller makes things simpler by having a dedicated Home button.The N30 2.4G Wireless Controller for NES Classic Edition is available now from Amazon. Sadly, it will probably be easier to procure one of these controllers than an NES mini. We hear Amazon is also selling the tiny console today, so perhaps you can snag one of them alongside the new 8Bitdo controller. If not, you can always use the controller to play games on PC or mobile devices.last_img read more

Read More »