It seems like MST3K has gotten bolder about changing itself for the past three seasons, with multiple hosts being the biggest change yet. Is there anything about the show that’s so foundational that you’d never change it?
The Doorway Countdown
Doesn’t matter if film leader spools aren’t widely know about anymore, it’s both a great transition device that lets you catch your mental breath between the theater & skits and is just plain fun to look at/hear.
I’ve always liked the door sequence for the implication that, oh, these films are so hazardous, look how many doors we have to lock them away behind, we’re really venturing into dangerous territory here.
I know, I know, that seems obvious, but… this was actually a point of contention back in the Comedy Central days. Some time before MST3K was canceled over at CC, the powers-that-be (who expressed exasperation over the show’s longer-than-your-average-program runtime) tried to negotiate a deal: Team MST3K could have a seat at the table if they rearranged the show so that they made fun of TV shows instead of movies.
I’m not saying that this couldn’t work. You look at the MTV Week in Rock segment where Mike and the 'Bots riffed on a piece on Radiohead, and you see that it worked awesomely. But that’s not what the show’s about at its core.
The gang could work miracles out of TV shows and YouTube videos and such if given a chance, but… it’s all about that cinematic funhouse ride.
I love the hell out of the shorts, but that’s the bread by which MST3K cannot live alone.
A short can really help add to the overall experience. The best case example I can think of is “Cheating” for The Wild Wild World of Batwoman, where you’d have this occasional animosity/resentment crop up from Servo towards Crow for his cheating shenanigans in the host segments.
They’re fantastic to have, but yeah, like you said, I wouldn’t want them to be the show’s main attraction.
Like @moviegique said, you had a wonderful dimension added by way of the Mike as Jack Perkins intros and outros. And it’s all a bit of great fun. Not counting MTV’s one airing of Alien from L.A. that I forgot the specifics of, the Mystery Science Theater Hour is how I found - and really got into - the show.
There is a tradeoff, though. In order to accommodate the Jack Perkins intros and outros, you had to lose chunks of movie riffing. I didn’t realize this until I compared episodes of the MST Hour I taped off TV with the uncut DVDs. Can’t say I’m a fan of losing those moments, no.
This might be a small cosmetic/superficial element, but I love the hell out of the stingers.
I don’t know that I’d call the stingers “foundational,” exactly, but I would never want to lose them. There’s something oddly satisfying and exhilarating about the show hitting the perfect endnote with a well-chosen stinger that encapsulates the absurdity of the cinematic experience you just had.
This one features both the opening AND closing MST Hour themes. Great stuff, that.
But you touched upon something that goes right to the heart of this topic: I wouldn’t change the basic guts or arrangement of the theme song.
I mean, yeah, things would HAVE to be changed in order to reflect which test subjects / mad scientists / scenarios are in play, but the mainstay elements - “in the not too distant future,” the la la la’s, the sending of cheesy movies, the presence of the robot friends (and the Robot Roll Call), the pondering of the pondering of the science facts - should ideally stay in place, as should the core musical composition.