Netflixing: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Gauntlet
Here’s a question for everyone in the universe: what is worse than a bad movie?
And I would answer, “Six bad movies.”
But then, what is worse than six bad movies?
And I would answer, “Six bad movies that an evil scientist forces you to watch back to back.”
But you know what’s better than six bad movies that an evil scientist forces you to watch back to back?
Why, watching six bad movies back to back with a couple of friends that will help you mock, lambast, and otherwise destroy the bad movies, allowing you all to get your gripes out in the most hilarious way possible.
This is Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Gauntlet.
In the Not Too Distant Future…
Tom Servo, Crow, and newcomer Jonah Heston are still trapped aboard the Satellite of Love after last season’s triumphant return. But the wicked Kinga is still in charge, and she is none too happy about the fiasco that would have been her wedding.
Now she is ready for revenge, and has prepared a truly diabolical challenge for Jonah and the robots: a gauntlet of six movies—perhaps the worst in all of history—launched one after another from their individually colored liquid containment units.
Wait a minute…
Each one a different color.
And together they form a Gauntlet.
Why does that setup sound so familiar…?
Wow, this really is the scheme of an evil genius. But will Kinga’s master plan wipe out half of the life in the universe? Can she do it without the help of Josh Brolin?
Let’s find out.
We might as well face it, MST3K isn’t really about the frame story, with the original characters and the comic setup.
Nope. You actually watch MST3K for the old educational/propaganda films that get riffed between the actual movies.
But since none of those are part of this season, we’ll just have to talk about the movies themselves.
And we have quite the lineup of stinkers this time around. This might just be the season when everyone finally loses their minds, and the evil experiment triumphs.
Since this season is short enough, let’s examine each onscreen train wreck one boy one.
Movie #1: Mac and Me
Honestly, this movie is so bad that even the non-stop riffs of the MST3K crew doesn’t really make it bearable. They get plenty of good zingers in, but your still stuck watching the ugly special effects and brain-killing acting of Mac and Me. It was nice of them to check this one off their list, so that no one has to ever watch it again.
Movie #2: Atlantic Rim
It never quite sinks to Birdemic levels of badness, but Atlantic Rim is of the same vein as other modern B-movie schlock.
The result is robots riffing robots—a veritable inception of robot mockery. It’s not to be missed.
Movie #3: Lords of the Deep
Everybody loves it when James Cameron movies get ripped off, right?
Lords of the Deep is a pale shadow of a pale shadow of The Abyss. And it shows in every part of the movie, from the cheap effects to the completely forgettable cast of characters.
Naturally, it’s ripe for the riffing, and is one of the better executions featured in this season.
Movie #4: The Day Time Ended
This episode resulted in the best spontaneous musical number of the new season, proving that instead of trying to make a movie with a cohesive story, you should just keep throwing various gimmicks at the wall to see what sticks.
A movie as meaningless as The Day Time Ended was meant to serve as a bottomless source of jabs and jibes.
Movie #5: Killer Fish
A sexy heist thriller that is not sexy, has no thrills, and only earns the “heist” label out of pity.
This is another one that is so boring that even the constant riffs don’t make it palatable. It has a few solid jokes and laugh out loud moments, but ultimately this episode reminds us that movies filmed underwater tend to be terrible.
Thanks for the lesson.
Movie #6: Ator the Fighting Eagle
The one thing this season was missing was a Conan the Barbarian ripoff, which thankfully, they brought us in the home stretch.
The appeal of half-naked barbarians and amazons isn’t enough to save this movie, so the MST3K crew has to perform a mercy killing.
The result is a riff for the ages, but will it be enough to foil Kinga’s evil plans?
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Gauntlet is a worthy and fantastic addition to the series.
That the season was trimmed down to only six episodes actually worked in the show’s favor, as each episode became more memorable and had an easier time standing on its own.
It still has all the classic flair of the original MST3K and even adds upon that to create a fulfilling experience that every fan of cheesy movies can (and should) enjoy.
And it is a Netflix exclusive, so be sure to check it out, though you may lose your mind (but isn’t that the point?).