I need more buttons to push, Frank
June 10, 2009 12:12 AM   Subscribe

"Help me." As an avid fan of MST3K since the early days (Joel all the way), what other shows/shorts out there have a similarly unique blend of comedy, imagination, and fun?

Basically, what kind of MST-like stuff is out there that would appeal to MSTies? I'm mostly thinking of small-time made-for-internet shows, although if there's anything from actual TV past or present, that'd work too. Self-links or MeFi Projects would be welcome also.

Anything involving quaint retro designs or source material, puppets, skits, good-natured ribbing, wacky inventions. Stuff that opens up a rainbow of enchantment and whimsy and wonder and wisdom.

It seems to me like early Nickelodeon/Disney Channel was full of kids shows that sort of fit this criteria, before it devolved into tween sitcom production lines.

I'm somewhat familiar with "The Radio Adventures of Dr Floyd," which some of the MST cast has participated in, but if anyone has any good starting points with that, that would be good.

I know of RiffTrax/Cinematic Titanic, but that's basically just the same snarky riffing sans host segments.

I'm not really looking for Avenue Q/Team America/Robot Chicken adults-only type humor. (And it sorta seems like that's all that puppetry is used for now, at least until the much ballyhooed-but-squeaky clean Kobe/LeBron ad campaign). And I'm not really fond of random pop culture referential humor in the Family Guy vein.

Whaddaya think, sirs?
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Pee-Wee Herman Show -- the older 1980 version for adults.
posted by crapmatic at 12:54 AM on June 10, 2009

My first thought on "stuff kinda like Joel's host segments" is the Muppet Show.

Have you seen Cartoon Dump, which has TV's Frank and sometimes Joel on it? The one time I checked it out it looked horrible, but you might have better luck.
posted by zompist at 3:16 AM on June 10, 2009

"Anything involving quaint retro designs or source material, puppets, skits, good-natured ribbing, wacky inventions."

Flight of the Conchords is certainly inventive and colorful, with both sets, songs, and humor. Not gonna get a whole lot of puppetry or gadgetry, however. I think it's worth watching though, for the hilarity alone.

It's not a show but Michel Gondry's film "The Science of Sleep" is cram-packed with whimsical inventions and is a beautifully done movie, IMHO.
posted by thisperon at 3:24 AM on June 10, 2009

The Mighty Boosh

I believe it is currently being shown on Adult Swim - that's an edited version although, so you'd be better off with DVDs. There's a lot of clips available on YouTube (although context is all with The Boosh, so dunno whether they work on their own, but give something like this a try.).
posted by Hartster at 4:27 AM on June 10, 2009

Not sure if it would fit.....but I really liked MXC (Most Extreme Elimination Challenge) on Spike. It's segments of the Japanese game show Takeshi's Castle, but dubbed over in English with ridiculous dubbing, and the writing can be rather hilarious. No puppets, gadgetry, or skits, but full of wackiness in terms of dialogue and the challenges, and also the costumes of some of the contestants. Something that might be a bit easier to find (but isn't nearly as good as MXC) is Wipeout.
posted by Grither at 4:54 AM on June 10, 2009

Might I offer you a bit of hair of the dog, sir?

Joel still does the MST3K thing, kinda, via live performances and through a few DVD's his show, Cinematic Titanic, has released. He's got a lot of the original cast on board! Example here.

Mike Nelson does RiffTrax, which is basically the same deal except you just buy the audio track and sync it with the movie yourself when you watch it. He has lots of recent flicks, and occasional guest stars and stuff. I think he also has some DVD's you can buy. Example here.
posted by Jinkeez at 5:05 AM on June 10, 2009

The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack and Chowder - Both are Cartoon Network actual cartoons, and both have a retro feel and whimsical, anything-goes humor. Chowder even looks like something straight out of Schoolhouse Rocks.

It's hard to explain either show, but Chowder is about a small blue kid trying to learn to become a great chef and Flapjack is about a kid who really, really wants to be a great adventurer. The shows are only vaguely aimed at children - there are a lot of references that only adults would get.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:16 AM on June 10, 2009

From Adult Swim - The Brak Show and Sealab 2021 in particular have the right blend of science fiction, homages, in-jokes and snark that you're looking for. Sealab is mainly for the adults; a lot (not all) of the Brak Show was kid-friendly.

Seconding RiffTrax - it's MST3K FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE! Lowtax guested!
posted by ostranenie at 5:29 AM on June 10, 2009

I agree, The Mighty Boosh all the way. Start at the beginning, but it takes a few episodes to get to its best.
posted by galaksit at 6:21 AM on June 10, 2009

Unskippable is a web short on the Escapist (the same website that also hosts Zero Punctuation) that does the MST3K bit for CGI video game scenes.

I only watched two episodes and they were okay -- not great, but okay.

I'd recommend watching their Lost Planet episode.
posted by carpyful at 6:57 AM on June 10, 2009

Food Party!
posted by O9scar at 7:51 AM on June 10, 2009

Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long has the goofy humor and sci-fi part down.

Cheap Seats still shows on ESPN Classic. It's MST3K, except for old sports clips. I loathe sports, and it is hilarious.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:08 AM on June 10, 2009

Long-time MST3K fanatic here. I heartily second Cheap Seats and its hilarity.

You might also check out Let's Bowl, which had a great quirky sense of humor and some MST3K alum on the writing staff.

If it's whimsical kids stuff you're after, there's still good shows out there. Check out Wow Wow Wubbzy and Yo Gabba Gabba or maybe even Lazy Town.
posted by Otis at 8:51 AM on June 10, 2009

A completely different motif, but a very similar sense of humor, I cannot recommend Andy Richter Controls the Universe enough. Better Off Ted, a new show on ABC by the same creator (and with one of the same actors), is also very similar.
posted by BiffSlamkovich at 8:58 AM on June 10, 2009

You also might want to check out The Spoony Experiment (especially the Phantasmagoria 2 playthrough) and The Nostalgia Critic site. Both are inspired by a MST3K-like snarkiness, and certain similarities in the approach are undeniable...

Oh, and Atop the Fourth Wall is also vaguely similar, but focuses mainly on comics.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 3:07 PM on June 10, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the recommendations so far. I guess both Pee-wee shows sort of had that MST feel, and I'd never really thought of it as a possible influence. And I do need to check out the original Muppet Show.

With all the Cartoon Network stuff mentioned, I realized that Cartoon Planet and Space Ghost were other shows that I loved as well, although the Brak Show never quite clicked for me. I thought I'd read once that Andy Merrill and Joel were planning on doing some children's show, which never happened, but that would've been an awesome pairing.

I've seen Cheap Seats, but I just never really liked how the hosts seemed so smug. For some reason Joel and the Bots could throw snide comments at a movie without seeming, well, smug.

And I've seen some clips of Cinematic Titanic. In some ways it's nice to see that group back together, but it and RiffTrax kinda feel like, well, Brett Favre not being able to quite let go...

Better Off Ted looked interesting, but after Pushing Daisies got cancelled, I would've thought a lot of people would've been hesitant to try it out only to get heartbroken all over again.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 12:06 AM on June 11, 2009

Sifl and Olly ran for 2 seasons on mtv, and there is a 3rd season out on dvd. Sock puppets, late nineties, Liam Lynch, whimsy, some pop culture references, mild Bjork obsession.
  • puppets, (check, titular characters are made of socks)
  • skits, (check, Calls from the Public, A Word with Chester, Interview Time)
  • good-natured ribbing, (check, most interactions with Chester)
  • wacky inventions (check, Chicken flavored air conditioning, legless dogs, squirrel zappers)
    Give it a try: here's 4 hours worth.

  • posted by enfa at 8:16 AM on June 11, 2009

    I know it's been said twice now, but I'm, uh, thirding The Mighty Boosh? It captures a similar ineffable weirdness to the skit portions of MST3K, and is really just inspired.
    posted by pts at 2:59 PM on June 11, 2009

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