Last Night Comic Con@Home took attendees on a deep dive into the world of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The long running show has taken on many incarnations over the decades and the panel included show creator Joel Hodgson as well as former cast members J. Elvis Weinstein and Bill Corbett.
The vibe was distinctly different for this comic con as everyone met at home through video conferencing. The effect is a panel that feels distinctly intimate though occasionally lacks the electricity of the standard convention. But no level of a pandemic can take away the pleasure of watching three great comedians get together and talk about the history of one of the most innovative shows ever created.
Their combined history spans the entire length of the show giving some fascinating insights into the evolution of the characters. Tom Servo, for instance, started out as Beeper an R2D2-style character that only really shows up in the first few episodes of KTMA. The character then took on a Pee-Wee Herman persona but after that didn’t gel he eventually turned into a kind of radio show host voice. Though they may seem like minor tweaks those choices went on to influence to the trajectory of the character for more than two decades.
Joel, on the other hand, notes that he wasn’t sure how to originally approach the role of host on the show. For avid viewers of MST3K the host role evolved the most through the decades. With three (four if you count the COVID Riffathon that went on Youtube) hosts and counting each one has approached it in a new way. Hodgson laid the groundwork by treating the bots like a father or an uncle.
Though fairly common now (thanks to MST3K, whether you know it or not) the act of riffing was breaking new ground as the show was created. After watching the show for years the ability of a riff to land or not land is key. Joel, Bill and J. Elvis shared insight into what makes it work and it’s not what you would expect.
“I think there’s a myth that we only wrote riffs for ourselves and that’s just not true,” noted Corbett. “Very often I’d write riffs for the others and it wasn’t even something you think about.” This is in contrast to the Joel era where it went in a round-robin fashion. “If you notice I got every third line in the show, we wanted to pass the joke around,” said Hodgson.
The unifying factor among all of their experiences was, unsurprisingly, the film itself. “In the beginning, we were much quieter and didn’t realize you had to riff through the whole thing,” Hodgson explains. “Once we got to Comedy Central we knew you had to do wall-to-wall jokes and treat the film like an acting partner,” Hodgson notes that you had to treat the film like it was Margaret Dumont in a Marx Brothers film. You had to make fun of it like it was in the room with you. That adds a whole new layer to shows.
Watching them all interact is always fun. Despite the gap in their experiences with the show they all more or less knew each other from Minnesota and treat each other like life long friends and colleagues. Something about the format of the show continues to give it new life and allow it to evolve. Even though no one on the panel is currently working with MST3K they continue to riff through mediums like Cinematic Titanic and Rifftrax. They are constantly creating new content and evolving the art of the riff. It’s a sight to behold. Watch The Full Panel Here
Justice League: Warworld Official Trailer
Until now, the Justice League has been a loose association of superpowered individuals. But when they are swept away to War World, a place of unending brutal gladiatorial combat, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the others must somehow unite to form an unbeatable resistance able to lead an entire planet to freedom.
AMC presents Anne Rice’s ‘Interview with the Vampire’: Bloody beautiful, dear heart
Set as a sequel series of sorts to the original film, the vampire Louis du Pointe du Lac approaches reporter Daniel Molloy decades later to do an actual, honest exclusive of his life as a vampire.
As we all know, Rice’s original movie Interview with the Vampire is a classic and features some of the most gorgeous male performances around. Brad Pitt as Louis, Tom Cruise as a flippant blonde-haired Lestat, Antonio Banderas as the ravishing Armand, Christian Slater as the reporter, and even a quite young Kirsten Dunst as the tiny terror Claudia. Rice has a whole world of her making about vampires, witches, mummies, and other world-ending supernatural creatures, and they are all achingly beautiful, and usually quite melancholy about their beleaguered existence.
Before her passing, Anne Rice was directly involved with the new show, wrote the updated scripts herself, and was often on hand for consulting during filming. A whole bunch of revamps (sorry) were made to the original story, including but not limited to – Louis du Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) is now a black man in early 20th century New Orleans, no longer a slave plantation man but now the proud owner of several brothels on a certain street, with a very much still-alive family who presents Louis with lots of troubles, and oh yeah, he’s in the closet too.
At this point, I want to note something important about the gay elements of the show. Rice originally published her novel Interview way back in 1976, and every single last gay tendency, male or non-binary or whatever, got her a good deal of flack. Rice has long been known for characters, vampire or other, who transcend the notion of physical sexuality into more of a divine lust of the spirit. Sure, there are plenty of physical love scenes still, but homosexuality was never something Rice just threw in to be provocative, she made no defining lines on the way her supernatural creatures could love each other, and personally I think that’s stellar.
So all of Louis’ own issues aside, things are about to get remarkably more troubling, with the advent of a blonde-haired Adonis with ice-blue eyes and a razor-sharp jawline, and an even sharper set of fangs, Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid). Initially, Lestat professes to admire Louis and his capability in running his various enterprises, seemingly satisfied with going along on brothel adventures (Lestat has long been known to bang anything that’ll hold still long enough) and verbally poking Louis to see where his “do not cross” lines are.
Not a single person who knows Anne Rice and her original novel, or even the first film, can deny the insane connection Louis and Lestat happen to have. Love and lust and envy and hatred are all tangled up in the relationship of these two vampires, made more complicated by the fact that Lestat is Louis’ Sire, or Maker if you prefer. This particular portrayal of the love story between two compelling characters, one inherently kind and desirous to do good (or at least not be bad) in an unfeeling world, the other an arrogant prince of the immortal kind with seemingly little regard for the pain he causes others (other than in an amusement capacity), how they push and pull at each other and cause each-other so much damage but simply find themselves both unable to give up the other entirely, can be an allegory for all the bad-for-you relationships, regardless of sexual orientation. And things are made so much more wretched when a third vampire is introduced to their little damned family.
The portrayal of Claudia (Bailey Bass) in this version of the story, a teenage black female with a sickeningly sweet Southern accent, has some rather different origin scenes too. Most of Claudia’s arc, while moving the story right along at a healthy clip, is full of complaints at the odd restraints of her existence – Louis cautions for temperance, while Lestat gives that wicked grin and encourages Claudia to revel in her bloody existence as a vampire. Jealousy rears its inevitable head, whether its Lestat’s envy of the brother-sister father-daughter relationship Louis has with Claudia, or Claudia’s own jealousy of the rather obvious romantic relationship between Louis and Lestat, or even the jealousy of seasoned vampires watching a fledgling getting to experience many supernatural firsts – vampires are immortal and unchanging, after all, so anything new and surprising is zealously sought after and treasured almost as much as blood. So when Claudia inevitably starts acting out, things are made so much worse with the realization that she’s actually far more terrible than Lestat when it comes to restraint, as in, she has none.
Then there’s what’s happening with the present – a ridiculously expensive high-rise and high-res environmentally-controlled apartment in Dubai, an accent-less and increasingly begrudging Louis, insistent on following a proper timeline to his stories but still attempting to conceal things from Molloy, even after he swore he wouldn’t, his assistant Rashid (Assad Zaman) is also getting more and more protective of his Master, and Molloy himself, who never had a bullsh*t tolerance in the first place, getting more strident as the interview rages on in his search for the raw, honest truth. Because redemption can come from honesty in this interview, even for the reporter conducting it, if only Molloy would allow it.
Full of gorgeous scenery, familial ties that bind and gag, revelations about the nature of love and how it can twist when used as a weapon, and absolutely stellar performances from every single actor involved, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire can be devoured on AMC now!
Created by Brett Goldstein, Bill Lawrence, Jason Segel
Number of Episodes 10
Runtime: 33 minutes
Starring Jason Segel, Jessica Williams, Harrison Ford
Streaming on Apple TV
Jason Segel plays Jimmy, (How I Met Your Mother) a grieving therapist who lost his wife due to a terminal illness. He is coping with her death but gives little care to their teenage daughter, Grace played by Lukita Maxwell.
He works at a practice with his mentor Paul, played by Harrison Ford, and Gaby played by Jessica Williams. Jimmy’s work is less than inspiring because he has seen several patients over the years with no real breakthroughs. Finally, he is assigned a new patient who his co-worker couldn’t take on. This particular patient was court-ordered to see a therapist to avoid certain jail time. Sean, played by Luke Tennie, is an honored war vet with severe anger issues and has been arrested several times for starting fights in bars. Jimmy also has some frustrations at home as his next-door neighbor Liz, played by Christa Miller, has taken over as Alice’s parent. Without his wife and daughter, Jimmy is a mess and just drinks himself into a deep depression. His friends have become estranged and worst of all, his daughter has no respect for him.
During one session, Sean is reluctant to give Jimmy a chance as he was just pathetic in his eyes. Jimmy forgoes traditional therapy practices and goes for something a little extra. He takes Sean to a boxing club and has him work out his frustrations with a sparring partner. Sean and Jimmy have a breakthrough and then things start turning around for Jimmy/ The only problem is that Paul doesn’t approve of these new practices and warns him that this will lead to trouble.
Jimmy tries these new practices with his other patients and slowly makes breakthroughs but still seeks the constant praise and mentorship of Paul. Jimmy starts to try new things at home to reclaim parenthood over his daughter. Unknowingly Paul has been secretly counseling Jimmy’s daughter to help her with her issues with her father as well as being a father figure that he never was.
Things start going upside down when one of his patients tries to kiss him, another patient is lying about leaving her husband, and even worse, Sean sees Jimmy as a friend and not a therapist. The final straw is when Liz and Gaby find out that their daughter has fallen in love with Sean.
The show starts off slow at first, establishing the characters and giving the audience an inside view of the main protagonist’s world not unlike Lawrences’ other shows like Ted Lasso and Scrubs. This really allows the audience to get attached to their favorite characters and builds a world that we would all love to live in. The real problems addressed in this show are not sugar-coated and always highlight human qualities we would soon forget sometimes. It’s a real gem after Ted Lasso and you’ll just need to be a little patient in the beginning, but the payoff is well worth it in the end.