krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
A long journey (one that, even when I started it, I was convinced I'd only be able to take the first few steps of) is at last complete. In finishing the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "I Was A Teenage Werewolf," I've seen all the episodes of the show shown on cable.

In deciding what remaining episode (from a list I had just realised was shrinking down to nothing) would be the last I would watch, I might have been motivated by "I Was A Teenage Werewolf" being known in the "real" world. Like a handful of other episodes ("Robot Monster," "Rocketship X-M," "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians," "Bride of the Monster," "Eegah"), B-movie junkies discussed this movie before it ever got picked for the show... although it may be known in part because of its title. It was the first "I Was A Teenage something" ever, even if that became a joke fast. The movie came out in 1957, and in a Peanuts comic strip early in 1958, Lucy and Linus are looking at movie ads for "I Was A Teen-Age War-Monger" and "I Was A Teen-Age Camel Driver." (Linus comments that "It's difficult to make a decision when you have a choice between two such obviously fine pictures.")

The movie does indeed have its moments. A young Michael Landon plays the troubled youth Tony (we know he's troubled because he gets into fights and hurls bottles of milk against the wall), who's sent to see a psychiatrist mad scientist who makes him regress to a primitive state as part of plans to save humanity from itself by sending it back to the beginning. Some of the early "werewolf" scenes are creepy and impressive, and the official episode guide itself admits that the movie is good compared to a lot of other stuff the show took on. (For one thing, it's a lot better than the werewolf movie they did in the next season, the simply named "Werewolf." This may demonstrate again that cheesy movies from the 1950s have a bit more basic competence than ones from later decades.)

Even so, the business of the series isn't affected. After three early episodes in a row, I was interested in getting back to the later episodes. To me, their writing is sharper, the references further ranging, and the comments more frequent (if also, perhaps, a bit nastier too.) At the very beginning, I did wonder if the writing of this episode was quite as good as some others from the same period, but it soon picked up (perhaps as the movie itself did too), taking on an odd teen party and werewolf-ism alike. The "host segments" in between the movie, where our heroes have to deal with an invading alien, at first seemed to at last convince me of what others have complained about, that the later host segments aren't quite as funny as earlier on in the show's history, but once past jokes about "facehuggers" and hunting through the ventilation ducts, I thought a segment where Mike tries to get rid of the alien eggs littering the Satellite of Love by cooking giant omlettes was very funny.

The overused term "bittersweet" does still perhaps sum up some of my feelings in having seen all the regular cable episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Because it took me a while to do that, though, I'm quite ready to head back and start watching some of them again.

May 2017

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