“Mystery Science Theater 3000” started as a bit of filler on a Minnesota UHF station, graduated to The Comedy Channel (now Comedy Central) for 11 seasons, and continues to live on in the hearts and minds of geeks who like watching human comedians and their two robot buddies crack wise about the shittiest movies in the galaxy. One such geek is Chris Morgan, a pop culture writer who is paying tribute to the cult fave with The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Morgan’s book is nearly as odd a duck as the show it explores. It’s analytical, though our tour guide realizes it would be a violation of all that Joel, Mike, Tom Servo, and Crow T. Robot held sacred to get too academic about something so low-rent and goofy. So Morgan wisely keeps the tone light and wise-cracky in the spirit of his topic. It’s the format that seems off. Morgan chooses one representative episode from each season (plus the feature Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie) to analyze, spending the majority of his pages critiquing the movies the “MST3K” cast lambastes. The point of the show is that these men and robots are being forced to watch bad movies, so we already know they stink, and the cast’s wise cracks give us a pretty good idea why. A few of the shows he selects actually feature pretty good movies-- such as This Island Earth and Danger: Diabolik--but Morgan doesn't seem to appreciate them much more than Manos: The Hands of Fate or Pod People, so there's none of the fresh perspective that makes reevaluating B-movies more than an excuse to sneer. There is a bit of critique regarding the cast’s wise cracks, and though Morgan is an admitted fan, he rightfully calls out the cast for coasting through episodes or for knocking movies for their “ugly” actors or being shot in black-and-white. Fans might still be interested in the more historical details that bind the critiques together, though we get very little insight into basic details like why Joel, so history is hardly this book’s purpose. Overall, there’s too little discussion of what made “MST3K” worth watching in The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Get The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000: Twelve Classic Episodes and the Movies They Lampoon on Amazon.com here: