While it didn't invent talking back to the movie screen, Mystery Science Theater 3000 (and its various offshoot components - Rifftrax, The Film Crew, and Cinematic Titanic) turned it into an artform. Never before had so much intelligence and humor been poured into the simplistic act of heckling hackwork. Thanks to said delightful cowtown puppet show, however, the fool's floodgates have been opened. Everyone now thinks they are Joel Hodgson, Mike Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett, J. Elvis Weinstein, Frank Conniff, and Mary Jo Pehl (or any combination of the aforementioned). They believe they are empowered - nay, entitled! - to yak back at a film - any film - whenever the misguided muse hits them. The result is subpar MST, jokes that only work within the insular brain of the brayer, and little else. So to commercialize such creative contempt seems doubly arrogant - case in point: The Boob Tube Show. From the silhouetted figures making wisecracks (?) to the obtuse use of a felt penis puppet (??), this self-proclaimed "mystery science theater 3000 (sic) meets bad 70s (sic) porn" is nothing more than an unfunny rip-off. All prurient subject matter aside, this crude copycat is a weak, witless wonder.
The "series" premise finds frustrated janitor Samual working for the equally irritated owner of a local porn theater, one Richard Thrawbone. Not only does Dick have business issues, he's a zebra-suited oversized schlong to boot. That's right, Sam's boss is a big fat willy , and to make matters worse, the prick fancies himself a filmmaker. Hoping to create the greatest hardcore movie ever made (and rake in tons of dough in the process), he gets our hapless mop pusher to join him and projectionist Luna Moon as he screens bad XXX titles from the '70s.
Hoping to learn from - and laugh at - their mistakes, the trio takes turns quipping and complaining about everything: the acting; the directing; the truncated, non-sex scene included storylines; the fashions; the figures; the complete and utter lack of sex appeal. In between, we get failed music videos, hardcore history lessons, and enough unrequited longing (Sam for Luna) to make Twilight look like Wuthering Heights.
For this 90 minute excursion into mediocrity, Dick and the gang take on Little Orphan Sammy, a ridiculous spoof of the classic comic strip character ("Remember to drink your...Ovaltine?") and Johnny Wadd, the John Holmes starring vehicle featuring the gangly actor and his 13"...supporting player. With all the filth cut out (but most of the nauseating Me Decade nudity intact), our trio try to make us laugh - keyword being "try".
Argh! As a dyed in the wool MST3K fanatic, The Boob Tube Show is more than just an affront. It's callous copyright infringement as an attempt to coattail a far superior shot of inspiration. It's like listening to a bunch of bargain basement hucksters attempt to sell you on how clever and cool they are. No matter the amount of body art, the siliconed curves being tossed about the screen, the team of producer Sean Skelding, director Tyler Benjamin, and writers Brian Joines, Luna Moon, and Jamison Challeen can't make this work. It always comes off as an insipid theft of something done a dozen times better by others. It's not just the obvious unpaid homages to MST. It's the lack of inspiration, the complete and utter absence of true creativity and wit. Like asking a monkey to take an IQ test, mocking '70s porn is a waste of time. It's inherently awful, made for no other reason than to help Me Decade middle aged businessmen get their rocks off. Should we expect good performances and polished filmmaking? Not when you have John Holmes' hillbilly buffoonery clouding up the camera.
If anything, The Boob Tube Show is not nasty enough. If you're going to handle titles with full frontal nudity left intact (no penetration allowed, luckily), you might as well make the jokes match the material. Instead, Sam, Richard, and Luna all deliver the standard "subpar" statements - she's ugly, he's ugly, that dialogue is bad, that performance is pathetic. Where's the outrageous quips at the expense of Holmes' genetic genital mutation? How about the sexually ambiguous aspect to Sammy's personality? Many of the ladies here suffer from era-appropriate "hair" issues, and yet...nothing. All we get is the bumbling Bad Movie Bible, made even more unbearable by the lack of any real wit or insight. At least MST had the audacity to mix its mocking with a bit of literary allusion and off topic smartness. Here, you can practically predict the jokes. If anything, the format is set up to stretch the boundaries of entertainment, to take something skewed one way and twist it another. All The Boob Tube Show does is dumb it all down...and add dicks.
And let's not talk about the between segment "sketches". Someone apparently thought Ms. Moon was a fine crafter of musical messages, because she gets a couple of crappy tunes to croon. Both are beyond bad. Then there is the hampered history lessons delivered by a babe whose "boobs" keep getting in the way - at least from the cameraman's POV. She has some interesting things to say, but the framing can't get past her prominent cleavage. Sam's pining away for Luna is also lame, since we don't really get the connection, and if you've seen one questionably hot honey sport indescribably bad tats, you've seen the gallery over at Suicidegirls.com. Had it really wanted to take the whole Mystery Science Theater 3000 thing seriously, the Boob Tube crew would have had to do something more than simply reproduce the series' basic idea sans robots and rampant '60s/'70s references. Porn could conceivably provide a backdrop for such satire, but what we have here is the comedy equivalent of someone shouting "YOU STINK! " back at a bad stand-up. While the goal may have been something goofy and good natured, The Boob Tube Show only manages to deliver the god-awful.
First up - the porn material. It looks horrible, some clearly lifted from a heavily pixelated web-based presentation. You can practically see the XTube imprint in the corner. Colors are washed out with skin tones non-existent. No one was expecting a remaster, but many of the sequences are unwatchable. As for the series itself, The Boob Tube Show looks pretty good. The hues are bright and crisp, the level of detail easily discernible. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image is decent, even when we switch over to theater mode and have to suffer through a bit of bad greenscreening. Overall, the presentation looks perfect for a direct to DVD production.
Most of what was said about the visual aspect of this release applies here. The porn material sounds terrible. The newly filmed elements are clean and clear. The music video moments for Ms. Moon are bright and nicely balanced (if a tad overproduced) and the overall presence of the Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 mix is strong. While it's no channel challenging ride, it's not wholly unlistenable either.
None - which isn't that big of a surprise, when you think of it.
While it really deserves a trip into the nearest aluminum disc shredder, The Boob Tube Show is being offered some leniency by this big fat MiSTie known as yours truly. In my mind, it's a concrete skip it. At the same time, I've suffered through some of those "guest appearance" presentations from Rifftrax, so I know how hard it can be to match the mastery of the MST gang. Therefore, in deference to the attempt, a rating of Rent It is offered. Judge for yourself - and don't let your hormones or lack of a legitimate love life get in the way. Back in the last part of the 1980s, a local Minnesota comedian who made worldwide good came back home to combine his love of cheesy schlock with satiric wit. The end result was one of the best TV shows of all time. Two decades later and technology has led to imitation. Instead of being the sincerest form of flattery, however, The Boob Tube Show is just insufferable.
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