On Sunday, Joel Hodgson, the creator of Mystery Science Theater 3000, teamed up with friends old and new for a videoconferencing bad-movie event. You can replay the “MST3K LIVE Social Distancing Riff-Along Special” below.
The Riff-Along was a Russian nesting doll of shows-within-shows. At its innermost core was the 1969 movie Moon Zero Two. This science fiction disasterpiece was the subject of a Season 1 episode of MST3K way back in 1990, and that episode was included in today’s event. That means viewers were treated to the iconic front-row silhouettes of robots Tom Servo (Conor McGiffin) and Crow T. Robot (Nate Begle), as well as Hodgson as Joel Robinson. The Riff-Along also utilized video conferencing to bring another layer of smart-assed commentary. Inset images along the right side of the screen included those same robots, as well as Gypsy (Yvonne Freese) and relative newcomer Emily Marsh, reprising her role from the recent live tour as human test subject Crenshaw. Finally, Joel Hodgson himself appeared during commercial breaks, stage-managing the live performances and engaging in audience Q&As.
Even after Moon Zero Two (mercifully?) came to an end, the Social Distancing Special wasn’t finished. Instead, Crenshaw and her robot crew engaged in some all-new badinage on the short film Circus Day. It was a great compromise for fans who like the riff-heavy later seasons and those who complain that the actors are always talking over the movie. Circus Day involved a surprisingly terrifying clown and some of the longest awkward pauses ever unintentionally committed to film. Check out the “MST3K Social Distancing Riff-Along Special” below.