In (primarily) network-funded seasons of MST3K, the show never really had the budget for regular guest stars. And when they did, you’re a legacy character, like Joel in season 10 or Dr. Erhardt in season 12. Similarly, Power Rangers is much the same way doesn’t have guest stars except for teamups and other legacy appearances. That was until this season, with Special Olympics athlete Sarah Dalton in “Winning Attitude” (while also still having Kelson Henderson back as Ninja Steel’s Mick and Teliula Blakely back as Beast Morphers’s General Shaw sometime in the next 30 episoes). The most Hollywood Power Rangers ever got on an official capacity was the 2017 movie. On MST3K, the exception was much higher profile, season 11, with such people as Neil Patrick Harris, Jerry Seinfeld and Mark Hamill, let alone that the new human regulars were names just as big. But I was wondering, was this anyone’s sticking point? Did it not go over well for them because it didn’t feel just like a tight-knit tiny group of performers? Because I’d totally understand. I’d be shocked if someone outside the franchise guest-starred on the show too.
I liked Wil Wheaton in the intro to the first show and really liked Mark Hamill with The Great Space Circus Show (-o-ow), but Jerry Seinfeld and Neil Patrick Harris didn’t really click for me. I think the main thing was that MH’s appearance tied in nicely to the episode (Carnival Magic) whereas JS and NPH felt a bit too random to me. There wasn’t anything wrong with the skits, but the lack of context just meant they didn’t really pop.
I didn’t mind NPH, because he was in the Comedy Central Making Of MST3K special way back when.
And, of course, there’s the Leonard Maltin guest shot from the Sci-Fi Channel years.
All I know is that I hope P.T. Mindslap was right when he said that we haven’t seen the last of him.
If Luke Skywalker’s final film appearance had been more Mindslappy, I might’ve been motivated to actually see the film.
All right, seriously: I didn’t dislike any of the Season 11 guest appearances. I know of some fans who violently objected to them. However, I’m not sure how they would’ve been any less entertaining if done by talented people who most of us had never heard of.
I looooved NPH, loved the song. Plus he and Felicia Day were both in Dr Horrible’s Sing-along Blog so it seemed like an appropriate pairing.
But I fast forward over Jerry Seinfeld. I watched it through the first time but I just found it annoying – it felt like Jerry Seinfeld doing, essentially, a Jerry Seinfeld impression, which is already trite. Just didn’t do anything for me at all and I find his voice irritating. Unlike the new and improved Dr Eckhardt who is so smooth and calming now
Honestly, to continue the Power Rangers comparisons, J Elvis returning was like if Blake Foster (Justin, Turbo) ever returned again. Sure he wasn’t a swiftly departed original like Weinstein, but he was THE kid Ranger (his last appearance was True Blue to the Rescue, in the very next season, so there was basically no difference) and to see how much he’s grown onscreen would be nice.
It did feel different and kind of jarring at times, but I’ve found you just have to embrace the show as being different now. I would however be more receptive if the guests weren’t so mega-famous and belonged more in the cult status that MST has: Svengoolie, Elvira, Weird Al, that sort of tier.
I was thinking the same, the Dr. Horrible reunion, getting to hear them sing a duet again made that a winner.
But I think the celebrity guests were just another example of the show/Joel overdoing it on nu-MST. I don’t need all these bells and whistles, celebrities or house bands - Servo flying to excess, and all the busy activity in the theater in Killer Fish. The low-fi, cow town puppet show of old suits me just fine.
I liked all the star cameos. Very talented performers of course, but also fellow fans of the show. But they did seem sort of random. But funny random.
I do kind of miss the cameos being characters from the movie on the hexfield, usually impersonated by cast and crew members. Mike and Mary Jo had some great turns. Mike as Hugh Beaumont—Mary Jo as Jan in the pan—it gets no better!
I’m of mixed opinions on this. The guest appearances were (mostly) new territory for MST3K, especially guests of this caliber, which was exciting. But the “phoned-in” nature of their inclusion kinda stretched the definition of guest star – they were never truly with the cast. (At least as far as I know; it seems a waste if they were but didn’t share the screen with the cast.)
I get that it was a logistics issue, aligning schedules and getting folks on set, but it kinda deflated the experience. NPH and Felicia’s duet? It was good. But NPH and Felicia dancing with each other ala Pearl and Brain Guy’s “Loving Lovers Love?” That would have been amazing.
Given the choice for future guest stars, I’d happily wait for the stars to align for in-person appearances.
I always wondered why he was in that special. NPH was just Doogie Howser at the time. He had nothing to do with MST3K or Comedy Central or anything else related to the show. It was like they decided they had to have a celebrity in the special and they picked him.
I mean I don’t mind, NPH was charming as always, but it never made sense to me.
Though it’s great to watch Adam West in the '94 Turkey Day Marathon. He didn’t interact directly with the cast, but he’s still a hoot.
Yeah I even mentioned my annoyance that they weren’t on the moon base or the satellite to Rebecca Hanson just recently (May). I was probably too blunt about it, but I think I saved myself from alienation by showing that I was understanding. In hindsight, they come off as “What if MST3K was produced during the peak production-affecting period of the pandemic?” I wouldn’t call it “phoned in” in the traditional sense, but more in the Zoom call way. Not low-effort, but limited.
I think, used sparingly, guest appearances are OK. A few per season, sure. But I don’t need to see a recognizable face (beyond those who are in the regular cast) every episode any more than I need to hear Kinga call every movie “nightmare fuel.”
In general, the fewer big names there are in MST3K, the happier I am.
MST3K should always feel like you’re hanging out with friends; regular people who just happen to be on the weird side and really good at making you laugh, rather than celebrities.
The occasional cameo by returning MST3K alumns is fine, but I come here for the riffs, not to watch the stars. And in most cases, having a celebrity on feels more distracting and less like MST3K than if it’d been Matt McGinnis or someone else from the crew performing the exact same bit in a silly hat and wig. It’s kind of the same thing with production values. There’s a certain shabby charm and extra layer of humor about having your show look like all the props were pulled out of a dumpster and glued together the previous evening, that gets lost the moment you start bringing out the professionally laser-cut MDF.
If Crow’s going to go out on a date with Kim Cattrall, which is funnier? Actually bringing Kim Cattrall on the show, or having Crow dress a potato up in a wig and pretending it’s Kim Cattrall?
My money’s on potato every time.
I do enjoy seeing a special guest on the show. It’s one of a few rarities it does other than riffing recent movies.
Since we had Robert Smith, Leonard Maltin, Neil Patrick Harris, Jerry Seinfeld, Mark Hamill, and Joel McHale; maybe we should see these guests in future episodes.
Penn and Teller
Paul F. Tompkins (A favorite guest of Rifftrax and an odd resemblance of Trace)
Justin Roiland (Rick cameo)
Weird Al Yankovic
Cast of Red Dwarf (Crossovers are cool)
And these are just a few suggestions I had in mind.
Robert Smith! He was a great NFL running back but I’ll always remember him as Howard the mute hunk. He’s my favorite NFL running back because of this.
Not a sticking point per se, but to me, the special guest stars just were too much of the nerdy kid trying to hang out with the cool kids rather than just being himself. To me, they just didn’t really add anything to the show and I think just didn’t feel right for me. I’m not violently opposed to them. I just think they don’t add anything so instead of paying big names to appear on the show, use the budget to make the show itself better.
I know this is kind of a touchy subject, but I’m sorry … I think I would laugh myself unconscious if Penn Jillette were to show up at the end of an episode and just start talking.