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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Camp > The Film Crew: Hollywood After Dark

The Film Crew: Hollywood After Dark


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Film: A



The Film Crew is not quite Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K, several volumes reviewed elsewhere on this site) but it's close.  When the Satellite of Love closed shop in August of 1999, it was a sad day for MST3K fans.  Mike Nelson and company ended one of the most successful runs of a 2-hour show in cable television history.  Just to bring any latecomers up to speed, MST3K was a comedy about a regular guy trapped on a satellite with three zany robots, all of whom were forced to watch really bad sci-fi (and other) movies by a couple of mad scientists.  These terrible films became the backdrop for hilarious skits and biting commentaries from the captive audience.  The show became the embodiment of a wise-ass culture that wasn't afraid to watch really bad cinema, and was also smart enough to make fun of it.


The Film Crew reunites Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett (the latter two being the voices of the robots from MST3K in addition to handling writing chores on the show) to once again watch really bad cinema.  This time the three of them work for a wealthy patron who briefs them via speaker phone prior to the film in Charlie’s Angels-like fashion.  Their mission?  Provide the audio commentary on a number of movies their patron feels deserve the attention.  Of course, he's crazy, but a job's a job, and the film crew gets to work on their first assignment: Hollywood After Dark starring that Golden Girls alumnus Rue McClanahan.  Of course, this is the Rue McClanahan of 1968, looking much younger, but somehow less attractive than during her stint on Golden Girls (at least according to Mike Nelson).


After a brief re-adjustment period, this new framework for celebrating bad cinema felt a lot like the old one.  There are no more robots or invention exchanges, but a brief lunch break in the middle of the film did provide a nifty skit on the foibles of corporate culture.  Seeing Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett in the flesh rather than in their guises as robot cut-ups was a bit disconcerting at first, but the material is so solid grizzled MST3K fans might not miss Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot.  Well, maybe not that much, anyway.  These guys haven't lost a thing!  The comic material is sharp, and in some cases laugh-out-loud funny.  The movie itself is at least ten kinds of bad, but as veteran viewers of the old show know, this is when the Film Crew is at their best.


Like in previous MST3K offerings, the combination of the audio from the actual movie and the crew's witty banter sometimes results in moments where it is difficult to understand what's transpiring in the movie AND hear the scathing commentary at the same time.  Hollywood After Dark features predictably awful 1.33 X 1 picture and Dolby Digital 2.0 barely stereo sound, but the video quality of the actual Film Crew sequences is great.  The extras are a bit thin, with a short Ode to Lunch following the feature attraction.


It's been almost eight years since the last new MST3K episode aired.  It's not coming back, folks.  However, the Film Crew is a nifty replacement that rekindles the spirit of the old while offering fresh material.  It's like seeing old friends, really good ones, from high school, and after some initial awkwardness settling in and slipping back into your old routines with them.  No, The Film Crew is not MST3K, but it's still pretty damn good.



-   Scott R. Pyle


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