I thought it might be interesting to offer some year-end statistics that WordPress gathered in the keeping of this blog. Throughout the project I managed to do at least one riff from every episode and at least one riff from every short. Thanks again to everyone who read each day.
Total pageviews: A humble 25,017
Most views in a day: 796, one of the days I was pimping the blog on the MST3k subreddit.
Total WordPress followers (who get email updates): 84
Total comments: 450 on the nose.
Most viewed riffs:
1. “What’s the word? Thunderbird! What’s the price? Forty twice!”
2. “This is no time for zymurgy!”
3. “This is like the time I hit the reporter with Piltdown Man’s thighbone.”
Top riff categories:
1. Movies, with 60
2. Music, with 59
3. TV, with 55
4. Consumer goods, with 51
5. Actors, with 37
Most riffed episodes (the ones I did most):
1. “The Unearthly,” “Jack Frost,” “The Brute Man” and “The Beast of Yucca Flats” are all tied with five riffs.
2. “Radar Secret Service,” “The Sinister Urge,” “The Killer Shrews,” “The Painted Hills,” “I Accuse my Parents” and “Crash of the Moons” all have four riffs.
The episode: “Manos, the Hands of Fate,” ep. 424 (Seemed appropriate for my final post)
The riff: Announced in a hushed British accent by Tom as all of The Master’s brides begin to fight in a big, confused melee.
The explanation: This is a reference to a sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus. They did several of these, revolving around the “Batley Townswomen’s Guild,” which would put on dramatic productions of various historical events, including the Battle of Pearl Harbor. Each “reenactment,” though, would simply consist of all the women running at each other and then rolling around on the ground, fighting.
Novelty factor: Nope, nope, nope. I had no idea of the provenance of this final riff.
Thank you all again for reading this blog. It’s been a fun year of deciphering MST3k riffs. If anyone has any further riffs they wish me to look up, simply post them in the “Suggest-a-Riff” section and I’ll do my best to figure it out.
The episode: “Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders,” ep. 1003
The riff: Spoken as dialog by Tom as the film’s Julie Haggerty lookalike tells her husband “you’re scaring me,” picks up the aforementioned items, and leaves.
The explanation: This is a dual riff. “I’m taking the ___, that’s all I need,” is part of a hilarious running joke from the 1979 Steve Martin comedy “The Jerk.” As he walks out on his wife, he keeps insisting he doesn’t need anything, but then stops to pick up random objects like a paddle game, a lamp and a chair. A “Longaberger basket,” on the other hand, is made by The Longaberger Company, a longtime manufacturer of a wooden lattice baskets. Even their corporate headquarters is shaped like a giant basket.
Novelty factor: I love this bit from “The Jerk,” but I had no idea what a Longaberger basket was.
The episode: “Jack Frost,” ep. 813
The riff: Spoken by Crow as the titular character of Jack Frost applies ice and snow to a stand of trees in a long, protracted scene.
The explanation: Crow is playing off the title of 1997 Danish film called “Smilla’s Sense of Snow,” based off a 1992 Danish novel, “Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow.” The book and movie are thrillers about a young woman investigating the death of a child in her housing complex. It was well known for its bizarre ending, which involved a plot to harness energy from a fallen meteorite.
Novelty factor: Never heard of it before in my life, but it really sounds like the film had one goofy ending.
The episode: “Master Ninja I,” ep. 322
The riff: Sung by Tom as Timothy van Patten attempts to drive and a ninja blows out his tires with a throwing star.
The explanation: Tom is singing in parody of Texaco, the national oil and gasoline station chain. Throughout the 1970s they ran ads touting the chain’s reliability, saying “You can trust your car, to the man who wears the star.”
Novelty factor: I had no idea of this old slogan, but it’s a pretty clever riff now that I understand it. I also had no idea how over-the-top these Texaco ads were, this is like a Superbowl ad or something.
The episode: “Cave Dwellers,” ep. 301
The riff: Acknowledged as confirmation by Tom after a group of samurai appear and he exclaims that the picture has suddenly “become a Kurosawa film.”
The explanation: Toshiro Mifune was a beloved Japanese actor who appeared in more than 170 feature films, but was best known for 16 separate collaborations with the legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. He appeared in the lead role in many of Kurosawa’s most famous pictures, including “Seven Samurai,” “Roshomon” and “Throne of Blood.” Kurosawa considered him the finest actor in the country.
Novelty factor: This one is right up my alley. If you want to see a great performance by Mifune, watch “Throne of Blood,” Kurosawa’s Japanese version of “Macbeth,” where Mifune plays the title role.
The episode: “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians,” ep. 321
The riff: Noted in an impressed sort of way by Tom as the soundtrack suddenly spins out of control with crazy trumpets out of nowhere.
The explanation: Maynard Ferguson was a Canadian jazz trumpet player and bandleader who was noted for his ability to play accurately in extremely high registers. He was an adaptable musician who was able to find roles within popular music from 1940 all the way to the 2000s, changing with the times. Before his death in 2006, he was inducted into multiple halls of fame for musicians.
Novelty factor: Can’t say I’ve ever actually heard of the guy before, but he produced an absolutely ridiculous number of recordings in his career.
The episode: “The Final Sacrifice,” ep. 910
The riff: Credited by Servo as the camera quickly cuts a demonic, fanged carving that is oddly colored and lumpy. It kind of looks like bad papier mache.
The explanation: Red Grooms is an American multimedia artist and painter who is known for his expansive, three-dimensional depictions of urban life and decay. The face in the film more closely resembles some of the paintings he did of celebrities and famous people. Additionally, the structure of the joke, calling it “Red Grooms’ Dracula” is probably a play on the 1992 adaptation of the classic Dracula story, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” starring Gary Oldman.
Novelty factor: I’m familiar with the Oldman movie but I had to look up who Red Grooms was.
Hello, readers. There’s not a ton of you out there, but I would just like to say thank you for reading along with my MST3k project throughout the course of this year.
This blog began as a response to “thing a day” projects that friends and acquaintances were attempting, and went on to be an unqualified success. I learned the origins of many riffs I never understood before, and was able to educate other viewers in the same. In the year’s time, I never missed a daily update.
Now, though, there is only one week left in the initial 365-day challenge, and I’ve decided not to continue MST3k Riff-a-Day after that time is up. Although I’ve enjoyed writing it, the daily updates have been wearing on me, and I won’t miss having to ensure there’s a new post ready to go up each morning.
And so, thank you for reading. I’ve really appreciated all the comments over the course of the year. I will leave you with Joel’s wise words regarding the Circus of Doctor Lao.
EDIT: Somebody asked in the comments if I would still look up, research or otherwise figure out obscure riffs if they are suggested to me here, and I don’t see why not. Simply leave them on the “Suggest-a-Riff” page.
The episode: “Hercules Against the Moon Men,” ep. 410
The riff: Mumbled by Crow as an old, weathered man scribbles with his quill on a sheet of parchment.
The explanation: Aristophanes is one of the founding fathers of ancient Greek theater, specifically in the genre of comedy. His surviving works essentially define the Greek style of “old comedy” and give the most complete portrait we have of daily life in ancient Athens. They were typically politically charged and full of satire, singling out individuals such as the philosopher Socrates. Through his plays, Aristophanes wielded considerable political clout of his own.
Novelty factor: I’ve never actually seen a play by Aristophanes, but I know a handful of them and I’ve read about the playwright before.
You just got told by Aristophanes.