Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume 6 (review)

Embrace the snark. If you still desperately miss MST3K as much as I do, then rejoicing is the only response to this sixth collection of mad-cinematic experiments. Hapless but sneakily hilarious janitor Joel Robinson (Joel Hodgson, creator of the series and one of TV’s unappreciated genius innovators) and his robot pals survive forced watching of really bad movies by talking back to them — their running interpretation and analysis (which, come to think of it, is sort of the proto-DVD commentary track) is simultaneously geeky and enlightened, enthusiastic and literate. And witty and funny and clever, of course — that’s the stuff I really miss; no one on the tube today consistently tickles the brain the way Joel and the bots did. This four-disc set includes the particularly icky creature feature Attack of the Giant Leeches, in which the sweaty hick swamp folk are the scariest monsters around; Gunslinger, with Beverly Garland as a lady sheriff in Roger Corman’s Western fantasy, er, movie; Teenagers from Outer Space, in which middle-aged high-school students from another planet bring giant lobsters to Earth; and, most bestest of all, an entire disc devoted to “Mr. B’s Lost Shorts.” The skewering of goofy serial chapters, self-important corporate films, stuffed-shirt educational propaganda, and other short, bad movies frequently produced the sharpest mockery in the series’ long run, and some of the best examples are here: the terrifying “Mr. B Natural,” in which an androgynous sprite seduces impressionable youngsters with something dubiously labeled “music”; the outrageously pompous “Hired!,” a training film produced for inept Chevrolet salesmen; “Are You Ready for Marriage?,” which likely was shown to teens in health class in order to put them off sex forever; and more. I keep wishing for MST to return to the air, but I’ll make do with having the old stuff around for continually rewatching, which never gets old.

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