What episodes would you recommend to ease a new viewer into MST3K? My own first episode years ago was Jack Frost.
I would introduce them to the show with Manos: The Hands of Fate.
I had good luck with The Movie. I know it’s not The Brains’ favorite or anything, but it seemed to get people to “click” with the show pretty easily.
I also had good luck with Zombie Nightmare, because there’s so much to sink one’s teeth into.
HOWEVER! I can tell you, watching Monster A Go-Go with several drunk people led to a hilarious moment when someone let loose a torrent of colorful language that turned the air cerulean when the ending went down.
Good times. Good times.
I think I’d want someone to experience Joel first simply to be chronological and my brain keeps landing on Giant Gila Monster .
I think it’s a solid experiment and a good representation of the show. The movie is goofy and fun, the characters are likable, and there’s some music. I think its pace is leisurely enough that might allow for a new viewer to get the concept with ease.
Lots of great ideas over here, too:
Boggy Creek. Or Reptilicus. Or maybe Prince of Space. I guess it depends on what kind of bad movie your friend would connect with.
My top four introductory episodes in no particular order are
I Accuse My Parents
Teenagers from Outer Space
Bride of the Monster
Oh geez, and the Gamera films. I’ve made a few converts with the Gameras
I think the episode that was my introduction was an excellent one–and one I’ve used to introduce others to it. My kid brother “kept circulating the tapes” when I lived in a town whose cable system didn’t have the Comedy Channel (or Comedy Central after that). The first episode on the first VHS tape my brother sent to me was “King Dinosaur.”
The reason that it works so well is related to the fact that it starts with a great short, “X Marks The Spot”–if they don’t laugh at that…no point in watching the movie that follows. But, if they do, you could show them ANY MST3K movie and they’ll love it.
(The second episode on that VHS my brother sent me is still my all time favorite, “Godzilla vs Megalon”–an excellent way to start…and I’ve since watched all the early ones I missed and all that have come since. Can’t wait for new MST3K to come!)
I Accuse My Parents, Space Mutiny, Pod People, Cry Wilderness, and Catalina Caper (yes indeed) are some of the ones I’d recommend. Probably wouldn’t start with Manos; let them build up to the awfulness.
Moon Zero Two
I feel like Manos requires a specific appreciation of the riffing arts PRIOR to watching it for people to really comprehend the mastery that went into creating that episode. It was SO bad, but yet SO good.
I like using something more goofy than awful.
Prince of Space is the one I use most often, but Santa Claus, The Day the Earth Froze and Space Mutiny are all good picks to ease someone into the show.
The Movie is the best, since it’s essentially an intro course on the MST concept.
For a regular episode: I would go with any of those stitched-together “movies” like Riding With Death or the Master Ninja duo. Very easy to get through.
It was The Movie for me. Space Mutiny should be a good one. I’ve used Prince of Space and Samson before to good effect as well.
I always recommend Overdrawn at the Memory Bank. It’s cheesy sci-fi, it’s color, which is an easy entry for some people, it has a name star, it is based on a much better movie, and the riffs are top-notch.
But that’s really only for a full episode. I usually recommend people start with Assignment Venezuela, even though it was never officially released (it’s on YouTube). It’s rather long, but not too long, they put some of their best efforts into it, and it’s cheesy enough for people to get the idea.
…My wife (AKA The Fair Melissa) was adamant that she wasn’t fond of MST, but I finally got her to watch Space Mutiny, followed by Overdrawn At The Memory Bank. After that, she was hooked.
Now, to answer the question directly, I would go with either Mutiny or Overdrawn first, then Manos - IMHO (your mileage may vary, of course) the first two are superb, top-five episodes which give somebody a solid idea of just how it works, the timing, and the style. Manos is what seals the deal - a virtuoso demonstration of how to riff and how to do it perfectly.
Honestly, I really liked Master Ninja I and I feel like it is easily digestible for any new viewers, as the bone hurting juice isn’t that high, and it’s also easy to follow the plot. The riffs were great on it, and I feel like people who could be new to riffing would also partake themselves. The episode had good bits too with the robots. Plus, the lead was nice on the eyes
…as was the female lead in the first episode part of the movie.