While the jazzy-scored paper cut-out countdown animation from season 13 are fine, I feel like the 30 minutes or so of lead-up time prior to a new episode’s premiere on the Gizmoplex would be better filled with a MST3K “pre-show” similar to what Rifftrax Live and The Mads are already doing for their live shows, where we get a mix of clips, trailers, and trivia for viewers who tune in early to riff on in the chat, but also make use of our incredible forums here to generate some fun fan content that would both engage the fanbase and incentivize purchasing a season-long gizmopass.
Obviously, you still need to have the countdown clock in the bottom right so folks know how long they have to use the bathroom or nip off to the kitchen to fix themselves a sammich, but the rest of the presentation could be filled with classic trailers and drive-in commercials intercut with:
New fan letters (submit your letters to a thread in the forum. These can be scanned and PDFed if you want that authentic real MST3K fan letter experience)
Show us your… Cosplay photos/home-built bots/MST3K themed wedding/pet costumes, etc. (The prompt goes out in the previous pre-show, you post to the special thread in the forums, and the next pre-show features some of the mods favorites)
Fan art (the tasteful stuff you can show to your grandma in public that is)
MST3K Trivia/Film Facts/True Hollywood Stories (ex: Did you know that Crash of the Moons was the last Rocky Jones “movie” to feature Winky? His character was quietly written out after actor Scotty Beckett held up a Hollywood hotel, fled to Mexico, and got into a shoot-out with local cops.)
Fan-voted “top fives” (ex: favorite hexfield visitor/songs/invention exchanges, etc. Just post a poll thread on the forums then show the results in the next pre-show.)
Share a Good Thing/Bad Thing about the previous experiment’s movie. (likewise, just a thread in the forums, and the mods pick some of their favorites to go up on screen during the pre-show.)
Riff This Comic! Basically just our long-running Out of Context Comics thread, but you pick one old cheesy Charlton comic panel from the 40’s/50’s per month, show it during the previous pre-show with a link to the forum thread, then put the funniest submissions up next to it on screen during the next show.
You could also do a caption contest using old sci-fi movie stills, but I think the comic panels would be a better fit because you get both a dialogue prompt and a visual cue to riff off of.)
Gizmoplex concession stand/gift shop adverts (ex: TV’s Son of TV Franks, Good & Beautifuls, Swedish Devil Fish, Rowsdower’s Hard Lemonade) Basically, an excuse for forum members to show off their Photoshop skills coming up with fun fake items Kinga and Max would sell to Gizmoplex theatergoers on the moon.
All of the above could be assembled by one person using very simple text and JPEG layers in PowerPoint or Adobe Premiere, with no extra burden placed on Joel or any of the rest of the cast. (I would even volunteer to do it myself if you’d like to see an example.)
However, if Joel or someone like Matt or Leslie were willing to record some video material for the pre-show, it would be amazing to have a monthly Invention Exchange Challenge, based around a new prompt each month (ex: “Invent a new musical instrument,” “come up with a new alternative to texting,” “help bring families closer together,” etc.) with the winners shown off and commented on by Joel or whoever was hosting.
Since we all have varying degrees of technical expertise, inventions could be submitted as anything from crayon drawings to CAD designs, photos of physical props you’ve built, or even short videos showing them in action (Just don’t hurt yourself or burn the house down).
For example, if this month’s prompt was “make mealtime fun”, I might submit something like this picture of the After Dinner Ejector Seat, for when you’re stuck at your in-laws, the meal is done, but people won’t stop yammering on. The perfect way to exit the dinner table before Uncle Walt starts discussing their vacation plans for the next year (Though it really is best suited to patio dining)
The top submissions could even be inducted into a permanent “Gizmonic Institute Hall of Inventors” up on the Gizmoplex somewhere.
Wha’d’ya think sirs? And what do you, the viewers at home think?
Is there anything else you’d like to see included in an episode premiere preshow?