Season 3 over, finally! Okay, actually, I finished it up a while back but it took some time for me to put my notes in order. Anyway... the overview....
Season 3 might be best summed up as... 'Forward, into the past!'... and I'll explain that in a minute.
With season 3, though, the creative team started out the year with a certain amount of stability. There were no more cast changes nor would there be until mid-season 5, the sets were pretty well... uh... set and the same could be said of the robot puppets as well. Also, after a whole season of working together, the cast had settled into familiarity.
Stability, however, does not mean that the show was static. MST3K broke new ground as they increased their episode production from 13 episodes per season to 24 -- even more than they had done at KTMA in their initial run! They also decided to tackle their first Christmas themed episode and they experimented with riffing bad films and their equally bad sequels.
All of this security seemed to put the gang into a reflective mood, though, as they looked back only three short years ago to how they had begun on the little, local, independent TV station of KTMA. As a result the original team members decided they wanted another crack at some of the movies they had riffed at KTMA to do a better job at it now that they had more experience under their belts. As a result, out of the 24 new episodes this season 9 of them were recycled from KTMA -- Gamera, Gamera vs. Barugon, Gamera vs. Gaos, Gamera vs. Guiron, Gamera vs. Zigra (sensing a theme here?), Time of the Apes, Fugitive Alien and Starforce: Fugitive Alien II. The result of all of this was some of the show's fan favorite episodes, host segments and songs -- stuff that is still quoted and laughed over today.
Season 3 would also end up having some of the best-known riffed shorts with the likes of Mr. B Natural and Appreciating Our Parents among others. As for the films well, season 3 wasn't as genre diverse as others seasons were or would be. The slate came down heavily on 'science-gone-wrong', Cold War analogy sci-fi, and (thanks to the KTMA do-overs) badly dubbed and worse edited Japanese imports. This was okay, though, since, in my opinion, the gang really did some of their best work within the sci-fi genre. There's something about extra large humans, arachnids, traffic cones and/or turtles that seems to inspire the riffing.
One of the most noticeable things was how much tighter the writing became on the skits. The host segments for season 3 produced far fewer clunkers and even for the less amusing installments at least the skits tended to have a beginning, middle and end rather than meandering around before finally just coming to an end.
If there is one complaint to be had it is that the end of the season is noticeably weaker than the the beginning. The last feature -- Master Ninja II-- goes out with much more of a whimper than a bang in my opinion. This is understandable though since tackling 24 bad movies in one season was quite an undertaking. Still, they hopefully learned from the experience and paced themselves a little better when season 4 rolled around.
Usually I finish up with a few episodes that were the highlights of the season for me. This time I'm putting those in a separate post since I have a *lot* to say. You've been warned.....
Tune in tomorrow for Stressfactor's list of "Things You Can't Miss" from season 3 of Mystery Science Theatre 3000