In recent years it’s felt like the epic rift between jock and nerd has been healing quite a bit. So much so that, if you follow a movie geek on Twitter, it’s now just as likely that they’re going to be tweeting about the NFL on Sunday as it is that they’re going to be tweeting about the new theatrical film releases on Friday and Saturday. That’s not how it’s always been though. When I was young, nerds hated football and jocks hated nerd stuff, because that’s how god intended it. That’s why, for whole generations of nerd kids, Thanksgiving was an awful holiday that we had to celebrate by sitting around bored in living rooms full of our pants-unbuttoned relatives while everyone watched some snore-fest of a football game.
That is, until Comedy Central decided to start playing huge blocks of episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 connected together with holiday-themed bumpers in 1991. The event was called Turkey Day, and it was good. With the advent of Turkey Day my childhood Thanksgivings went from distracting myself from football games by playing Gameboy to stealing away to whatever room contained a spare TV and a little bit of solitude so that I could gorge myself on cheesy movies and clever quips while everyone else gorged themselves on beige-colored food. The sad part of this story is that the wonderful tradition of Turkey Day only lasted until 1997, but the happy part is that a lot of MSTie diehards have been keeping the tradition alive with unofficial Turkey Day parties ever since, and the super-happy part is that MST3K creator Joel Hodgson and Shout Factory are teaming up to create a more official revival of the tradition that we can all take part in this year.
Right about now you’re probably wondering what the details of this exciting event are, so that you can be sure to participate. Well, thankfully for us, Entertainment Weekly got the scoop on how it’s all going to go down. In honor of the 25th anniversary of every good film geek’s favorite TV show of all time being created, a website has been launched over at mst3kturkeyday.com where, starting at 12 noon ET/9 am PT on Thanksgiving Day, Hodgson will be hosting six classic episodes of the show that he will have curated for your viewing pleasure.
Which episodes? Well, that still seems to be up in the air, and the best part is that you can have some say in how it’s all going to go down. Soon after the announcement that Turkey Day was coming back Hodgson took to Twitter and announced the following:
Yes, turkey day is on – let me know your fav mst3k episodes, riffs, or memories from past TurkeyDays #MST3K
— Joel Hodgson (@JoelGHodgson) November 18, 2013
This is a pretty serious conundrum for aficionados of bad movies and quirky comedy. Which six episodes of MST3K would make for the perfect Turkey Day marathon? Every MSTie out there probably has their own ideal mix, as unique to them as their fingerprint, but to have some fun and to whet everyone’s appetites for the event, let’s look at the Turkey Day I would put together if I had to fill Hodgson’s legendary jumpsuit.
Some of the first things that spring to mind when one thinks back to watching old episodes of MST3K are all of the low-rent creature features they suffered through, so something involving a creature would probably be the perfect way to kick off the event. And probably the most horrifying of all the creatures they riffed on was Richard Kiel wearing a fur singlet and trying to play a giant, modern day caveman in Eegah. Check out this clip from the film of director’s son/defacto star/aspiring music idol Arch Hall Jr. performing his non-hit song ‘Vicki,’ which brings an already boring film to a screeching halt.
I Accuse My Parents
Another staple of bad moviemaking is the melodrama, and one of the most melodramatic ever is 1944’s pseudo-noir downward spiral story I Accuse My Parents, which is about a seemingly grown man who lives with his parents entering into a life of crime due to the fact that said parents have stopped paying attention to all of his incessant whining and have understandably been driven to alcoholism. Check out this clip, where our protagonist attempts to break bad by robbing a lowly diner owner and ends up learning a lesson about life. Dare you to watch it and not crave a delicious hamburger sandwich with french-fried potato garnish of your own.
Time of the Apes
Any MST3K marathon worth its salt would have to contain an episode where Joel and the bots riff on a piece of trash that was put together by prolific producer of schlock Sandy Frank, and maybe the best of the bunch is Time of the Apes, which was a Japanese television series that ripped off The Planet of the Apes and then got condensed down into a terrible feature not quite fit for English-speaking consumption. The video above will give you a little bit of insight into whether or not its cherub-faced protagonist, Johnny, actually cares about anything. Spoiler: he doesn’t.
In addition to being one of the most 60s things ever made and one of the worst caper films ever conceived of, Catalina Caper is also one of the most beloved episodes of MST3K, so it wouldn’t seem right to do a marathon of the show without it. In addition to the actual film including a completely bonkers performance by Little Richard, the show’s host segments also included the Satellite of Love’s resident songbird Tom Servo performing a moving ballad to one of the most off-putting love interests in film history. I give you, ‘Creepy Girl.’
The Brain That Wouldn’t Die
Even though this Turkey Day revival is under Joel’s control, it would seem strange not to include an episode that featured Mike as the host. He was a huge part of the show’s history, after all, and definitely the best replacement of a beloved cast member that an ongoing TV series has ever been able to pull off. And if we’re going to include a Mike episode, why not include the first episode that he took over for, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die? It’s absolutely hysterical. Here’s a clip from the episode where Mike gets put through the riff wringer in preparation for taking over Joel’s job.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Seeing as Thanksgiving is seen by many as the kick-off of the build toward Christmas, it’s probably a given that you’d cap off Turkey Day with one of the worst Christmas-themed movies ever made, and one of the most infamous episodes of MST3K, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Included here is Joel and the bots’ performance of their attempt at creating a new Christmas Song classic, ‘Patrick Swayze Christmas.’ Any fan of Road House should love it.
How close did my picks mirror your own? Was it a little too ballsy to leave out classic episodes like Manos or Mitchell? Let us know what your perfect lineup would look like in the comments, and be sure to send your picks over to Joel on Twitter. Now, for an added little bit of fun, I’ve also included the song that kicked off the first Turkey Day ever, as well as the credits sequence to a completely bonkers Russian ripoff of Mystery Science Theater 3000, which was apparently a real thing. Keep circulating the tapes.