There are several ways to look at this reunion of MST3K originals (plus new guy, Jonah Ray), and all of them are pretty damn good.
First, it’s Rifftrax’s 10th Anniversary, and after 200 riffed movies, it’s just so cool these guys have carried the torch for so long. They have their own voice, their own style, and they’ve really been at the forefront of riffing since MST3K’s cancellation 15 years ago. I thought it was fitting and proper that they celebrate both their anniversary and the past in one show. They’re not just funny, they’re small businessmen negotiating a lot of tricky rights issues. That they’ve lasted this long is a minor miracle and a testament not just to their creativity but to their organization.
Second, the tag team approach was cool. We got to see Bridget and Mary Jo work together (a first for me). We got to see the Mads (Trace and Frank) again. They’ve been doing live shows for some time now, and they were brilliant. Jonah and Joel riffed together as well, and while you can tell Jonah is new, he’s not in over his head. He’s going to do well in the new show.
Third, there’s a nostalgia factor, particularly in the final segments when they all riffed together. It’s not quite there like I presume it will be for the new show, because so much of the original MST3K was the sets, the props, the sketches, and so on. But it was still something to see them all on stage at once.
Fourth, how can you not love these guys? I’m rooting for all of them. I hope Rifftrax continues to flourish and that the new MST3K takes off. (I really do miss the robots and dumb sketches and musical numbers and all of it. It just fits in with the whole “let’s put on a show” ethos.) But I also feel like, genuinely, whatever awkwardness there may be, they’re all rooting for each other, too! For example, Frank said he was hurt he wasn’t invited to be part of the new series and that’s a perfectly understandable sentiment: But he also said that’s he rooting for it, and I believe that. And you can find that kind of good will between them, very consistently.
Fifth, how is it as a riff-fest? It’s really damn good! Short subjects are often The Boy’s favorite parts of the show, and this was back-to-back shorts that are hilarious in the way that only finely aged infomercials can be, whether about traffic safety or the latest in appliances. Everyone got to be in the spotlight and everyone used the spotlight well.
Anyway, it was darn good stuff just for what it was, never mind all the additional layers. And remember: Corn is grass!