WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS
The previous “perfect” episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return, Avalanche, was unfortunately followed by a weaker episode, as the sci-fi Western The Beast of Hollow Mountain’s “blah” narrative overwhelmed our sarcastic heroes. Thankfully, the Korean monster flick Yongary doesn’t have the same effect. At least not completely.
This episode never reaches the comedic heights of The Loves of Hercules, but it does have some very hilarious moments. There are some misses in and out of the theater here, but Jonah and company manage to riff the hell out of the terrible Godzilla rip off. Plus, there’s an awesome pee joke.
“Yongary Is a Parable for Copyright Infringement”
The episode does trip up early, comparing Yongary to the infamous Gamora movies that provided some of the original show’s best moments. This creates unnecessary expectations and the comedy never quite reaches them. Like The Beast of Hollow Mountain, the boring giant monster movie only scares away your attention span. But unlike that episode, the guys don’t let the monotony take completely take over.
Yongary is a very strange monster movie. It gets lost in the unimportant details, preferring to focus on mundane procedure, such as a model rocket ship landing, or old men staring at red arrows (“Welcome back to ‘Speaking Spectacles,’ I’m your host Glasses McFancyHair.”) than actual storytelling. Jonah and the bots have a good time riffing on this, literally running out of jokes as one sequence lingers for a stunning amount of time on a motorcycle cop driving up a hill.
They also hilariously point out that two of the main characters, a married couple, are never named in the first half hour. Looking back, I’m not sure if they are ever are named. Instead, we get Icho, a psychotic young boy who treats a monster’s rampage like a prank. His presence adds to the chief source of this episode’s comedy. He actually dances with the monster…unironically.
Jonah and the bots make mince meat of Yongary’s very odd tone. It often can’t decide if it’s a straight up monster movie, or a comedy…or some strange cinematic mix of “Whaaaaaa?.” The people of Korea deal with their impending doom in weird ways, including “pigging out” on vegetables or pouring endless amounts of beer on each other. The guys often giggle audibly at the movie itself and wisely let it provide the comedy at the right moments. Don’t worry…they actually take more than their fair share of shots. But they save some of their silliness for outside the theater (More on that later).
This is probably Crow’s (Hampton Yount) most outstanding performance as he provides some of the best moments. His jokes feel distinct from the others for the first time, and his voice actually stands out. It’s great to see him take his share of the spotlight as Baron Vaughn’s Tom Servo continues to shine. These characters are really coming into their own.
Really? A Hitler Joke?
The skits outside of the theater didn’t have the same synergy or hilarity of the previous episode, though they do have their moments. There is a very big stumble early with that terrible Todd Hitler Coffee joke. It isn’t offensive or in poor taste…it’s simply lazy. These days, Hitler jokes are either half assed or in poor taste. Both Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt didn’t seem to be all that into the segment and it suffers. It’s like the writers quit on the joke before it ever starts.
However, the rest of the skits are pretty solid. Jonah and the bots wait until a special segment to further skewer Yongary’s strange apocalypse “celebrations.” As stated above, they let the scenes speak for themselves during the screening. The actual skit lets them really cut down those scenes and it’s pretty funny. Tom’s “Yongary Nights” club is a silly way to destroy the sequence.
And that musical number at the end? Simply great. The show continues to show off their musical chops in fun ways as the guys again join forces to perform a corny ballad to honor Yongary’s death. The outcome of the movie is shockingly disturbing as the filmmakers again turn to unnecessary long takes. The ballad is funny, but also a little touching.
Consistency, Thy Name Is MST3K: The Return
This isn’t the greatest episode, but it has some great moments. That pee joke is awesome…so awesome that I won’t ruin it here. It is probably the hardest I have laughed at the show, which is saying something. Even the “worst” episodes aren’t that bad…they’re actually pretty good.
SCORE: 8 OUT OF 10
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return is currently streaming on Netflix