So, a while back, I had finished the remaining KTMAs that I needed to watch. And I gotta say that they’re really not bad at all. Some of them are kinda boring, but a lot of them feature entertaining movies and lively riffing. I honestly think that KTMA is better than season 1 in some regards. I think Gamera Vs. Guiron, Phase IV, and The Legend of Dinosaurs are the best ones of the season. So, what do you all think of the KTMAs? Best left forgotten or an enjoyable part of the series?
There are some good experiments in the KTMA season, although finding a decent-quality video can be tricky. All the uploads of Humanoid Woman I’ve seen, for instance, are hard on the eyes.
The riffing is much less active than in later seasons, but you get used to it after a while.
I think I’ve heard that in the early days they were afraid people would complain if they “interrupted the movie” too much. And they avoided pop culture references because they were afraid that a) people wouldn’t get it or b) they’d get sued. It was a big change when Mike Nelson came in.
I agree with Garth_Vader - some of them aren’t bad, but the quality (at least in the versions I have) is not great and make them somewhat of a challenge to sit through. But I still do pull them out from time to time…
I actually wouldn’t mind if they did a re-riff of SST: Death Flight from the KTMA season. Lots of potential there, including MST favourites Doug McClure and Peter Graves in the cast, along with Burgess Meredith, Billy Crystal, Lorne Greene and John de Lancie, ropey visual effects and annoying characters making stupid decisions.
I think the season as a whole is something of a curio. The actual riffing is probably more miss than hit, and there is a lot of dead air during the movies, but it is kinda fascinating to see all the elements coalesce into place for season one proper, from the evolution of Drs Forrester and Earhart from generic mad scientists to fully fledged characters of their own to the different order of Robot Roll Call.
I find a lot of them to be a bit of a slog, but I view them as I do demos of a favorite band. I might not enjoy them as much as the stuff once they hit their stride, but they are an interesting glimpse into how they got to where they did.
They were still figuring out a lot of the show that year. The riffs were mostly improv (although some were clearly planned). Riff pacing is slow by later standards, and they sometimes talk over each other a bit. But there are some real gems in that season. SST: Death Flight is definitely one of the best, but Hangar 18 and Phase IV are excellent, too. It’s also fun to compare Fugitive Alien, Gamera, Mighty Jack, and Time of the Apes to their seasons 3 & 4 redos. Superdome and City on Fire and fun. Plus there are the host segments. Really, it’s all worth watching, I think as long as you come at it in the right frame of mind: already loving the show, but prepared to take what they’re doing on its own terms, with the understanding that they were breaking new ground and still getting a feel for how it all works.
I think that while the KTMA’s can be slower, it’s showing you the riff process in its infancy and honestly J. Elvis did some fine work there especially. I think he definitely shined in the improv format.
I actually don’t think I have seen any of the ktma episodes but I think the season is very similar to the first season, which I either really enjoy the episodes or I really don’t. I think because of how it’s primarily watching the movie and not a lot of emphasis on the riffs it makes it feel slower paced and maybe not like the rest of the seasons.
As for a final conclusion? Let’s just say it’s like X Marks The Spot.
They definitely have a different vibe to them, more of a “Joel has invited you over to his pad for B-Movie Night” kind of deal. I’m glad I finally got around to giving them an extended look earlier this year.
It really is fascinating going from K01 where Joel frequently cuts himself off mid-sentence and actually shushing Crow when he gets too talkative to K21 which truly is a full-on riff of the movie.
I wonder if there is a way to remaster and bring forward the film’s audio. I find the hardest part about the first few seasons is the riffs are comparatively loud while the film audio is a whisper. I turn them up way too loud and then the riffing can be jarring.
I’m watching these for the first time and enjoy the different vibe from the official episodes. A lot more improv feel. One had the Channel 23 promo and mentioned it aired Sunday at 6pm. Was that the time slot for the whole KTMA run? I love that the fan club address was the actual studio address!
Was there a reason they moved from “Hair Brain” to “Best Brains”?
Currently watching “Cosmic Princess” and loving it. “Everything’s groovy on the moon!”
I think Joel and the crew were VERY lucky that someone at the future Comedy Central saw something in MST3K because the KTMA episodes are pretty bad. I think it is really understandable that Joel never wanted to release them. They are only good as a historical perspective on the development of the show over time.
Actually update since I was looking for the first episode, I have watched the tv series The Invaders From The Deep is from unriffed, it’s called Stingray. I find Thunderbirds very enjoyable unriffed, but Stingray since it is a smaller cast is a hard sell for me. So imagine my surprise to realize I know exactly the source material. I think there’s definitely room for more riffs for sure, but I also appreciate letting the viewer take in the detail of the episode.