6/13/07

Frequently Asked Questions

(Or, more accurately, Questions I’m Guessing Might Get Asked Once or Twice in the Future if I Don’t Answer Them Now)

New Question added 5/2/11:

Why doesn't the guide update anymore?

Short answer: Because I got tired.
Long answer: Read this.


Why did you write this guide?

Because my wife told me to get a hobby, and this was cheaper than model trains. Especially when you consider that I’d have to dig a basement to keep all the elaborate scale models in, which I would then have to rebuild every time a Japanese film crew decided to shoot another surreptitious monster movie.

Japanese film crews sneak into your basement?

I think it’s the only plausible explanation for the occasional devastation down there. Then again, my wife could be right. It might just be my kids.

You could put a lock on the... Wait. You just said you didn’t have a basement.
No one in my area does. The water table’s too high.

Then why did you... Never mind. Let’s just start over.
Okay.

Why did you really write this guide?
The short answer: Practice.

The long answer: Once upon a time, in the far reaches of the distant past, I decided to write. Fiction mostly, but at the beginning, maintaining a regular writing schedule was difficult. So I decided I needed to write something different every Monday to cleanse my mental palette and provide a springboard for my work the rest of the week. Something easy to write and fun to research. I had collected all the MST3K episodes by then, but had not yet found the time to view them. Should I combine the tasks?

Unable to think of a reason why not, I did one review a week for several years, and after a while it got to be a habit. (If you look closely you might actually see my writing gradually improve from my beginning level of Sea Snail with Scrabble Pieces to—let me check where I am now on the Literary Animal Scale...ah, yes—Gibbon with a Broken Typewriter.) I showed them to friends and family who claimed to enjoy them and didn’t actually shriek in abject terror when I sent them a new one every week. (At least, not where I could hear them.) When I finished the show, I wondered what to do with it all. It was, perhaps, inevitable that they should end up in the greatest repository of ill-informed ramblings ever created: the internet.

What does "War of the Colossal Fan Guide" mean, anyway?

The original episode guide from the writers/performers of the show is named after a movie called The Amazing Colossal Man. The sequel to that film is called War of the Colossal Beast.

Some of those reviews are rather lengthy. Do you really expect me to read all this?

No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.

Seriously though, the top section of each full review includes all the essential information on the episode in question, including the rating and a one-sentence summary. The detailed summary and my often irrelevant musings regarding same are all behind the cut, and can be viewed by clicking the handy link that says “Read More,” which you are certainly not obligated to do if you’re not interested.

It seems to me that you spend more time critiquing the movie rather than the episode as a whole.
This is true, but that’s not a question.

Why?

Because it’s there. Which is not a reason, I know. It was just more fun to rip apart the awful cinema of our storied past than deliver thoughtful critiques of someone else ripping apart the awful cinema of our storied past. I do critique the host segments and film commentary, though. Usually in the last couple of paragraphs.

Also, with very few exceptions, I found the good folk at Best Brains to be remarkably consistent with the quality of their mockery. They’re always their same old funny selves from week to week. Generally, what makes or breaks an episode for me is whether or not I can stand to watch the movie they’re mocking.

Didn't you used to use a different rating system?

Yes. My original system had only three possible ratings (essentially: good, better, and worse) and could probably have been accurately construed as a cry of defiance against the use of cold mathematical formulae to make subjective judgements. Or maybe I was just lazy. Since then I've given in to peer pressure and conformed to the four star system used by just about every film critic in the Western Hemisphere.

Isn’t there already an episode guide out there, written by the writer/performers themselves?

There are three, actually. The first one is a large yellow paperback published by Bantam Books. It’s called The MST3K Amazing Colossal Episode Guide; it covers Seasons One through Six, and is available wherever fine literature is sold. I suggest you go out and buy one. The second is an online-only guide that covers Season Seven; it was written well after the show’s cancellation for The Satellite News. The third is also online-only; it covers Seasons Eight through Ten. It was written for the SciFi Channel website during the last few years of the show, but has since moved to The Satellite News as well.

It should be noted that it is not my intention to replace their excellent guide. (As if I could.) Their guide contains a lot of interesting information on the process of making each episode, something I, of course, would have no first-hand knowledge of. My guide is simply a fan’s perspective of the show.

Why don’t you deliver more dirt/personal information/gossip regarding the cast members and/or insight into the making of process?

A couple of reasons. First, as I said in the entry above, I have no special knowledge of such things. I wasn’t there, and I don’t know any of the people involved. I have never corresponded with any of them or attended an event where they appeared. Their children do not invite my children to their birthday parties...which is just as well, because I think the nearest ones live about an eight hour drive to the south.

Second, because I’m not really interested. All I want to know is whether or not their work is funny. Fortunately the answer, for the most part, is “Yes.”

Will you be including reviews for the casts’ other works?

If it features the original MST3K characters, involves mockery of existing cinema, or otherwise remains true to the original spirit of MST3K, then yes, absolutely. Rifftrax reviews are all caught up; new ones get posted as they are released. I've reviewed all four Film Crew DVDs as well. The Cinematic Titanic project and the online MST3K cartoon project will get looked at as soon as they start producing content.

What resources did you use to write this guide?
The episodes themselves, mainly. The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide of course, and the subsequent on-line guides as well. IMDb.com was useful for remembering characters’ names and providing release dates for films. Daddy-O (at The Satellite News) has a lot of good information on the films too. I, um, “borrowed” the vast majority of the images from mst3k.booyaka.com, and took a few screenshots myself when I couldn’t find a good enough picture elsewhere.

Will you lend/trade/give me copies of your episodes?

No, but I’ll tell you how to find your own. Many episodes have been released commercially by Rhino Home Video, and can be found at most DVD retailers/rental facilities. (Check DeepDiscount.com for deals, or add them to your Netflix queue.) You can trade for the others (The Satellite News is a good place to start) or purchase them from bootleggers on eBay. People with a modicum of technical expertise and a broadband connection will probably be best served by The Digital Archive Project.

Why are you using Blogger? Why not make your own website?

Because I know enough html to nod pleasantly to my browser if I pass it in the hall, and maybe ask it about the location of the bathroom if I feel the urge, but if it replies with more than a series of hand gestures, I’m lost. I know how to use Blogger. It has functions I want, like tags, comments, and search; things I would never be able to reproduce on my own. Also, it’s free.

Why is there a "Donate" button on the sidebar?

You know, just in case...

What does MST3K stand for?

Mystery Science Theater 3000.

What does the K stand for?

Karl, the man who invented lighting.

What does SOL stand for?

Satellite of Love, among other things...

What does “Mads” mean?

Short for “Mad Scientists.” It usually refers to Dr. Clayton Forrester and his cohort at the time. (Either Dr. Erhardt or TV’s Frank.)

What does “Bots” mean?

Short for “Robots.” It usually refers to Tom and Crow, but it sometimes includes Gypsy and Cambot as well.

What is your real name?

Paul.

What is your quest?

Oh dear.

What is your favorite color?

Please stop.