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Cinematic Titanic is the newest project from Mystery Science Theater 3000's Joel Hodgson. The Cinematic Titans are Joel Hodgson (Joel Robinson on MST3K) Trace Beaulieu (Doctor Forrester, Crow) Josh Elvis Weinstein (Dr Erhardt, Tom Servo) Frank Conniff (TV's Frank) and Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester). On April 21, 2012 Dave "Gruber" Allen (formerly from the comedy trio The Higgins Boys and Gruber), who'd done the audience warm-up for the group during their live performances, filled in for Weinstein for a show in Princeton, NJ.
The Titans are standing or seated on scaffolding and filmed in silhouette in the studio recorded DVDs; on the live DVDs and shows they sit at music stands with their scripts (or more recently, an iPad). They riff bad movies, as MST3K. The actors essentially play themselves as they participate in an experiment for some unknown, possibly shadowy corporation or military force. The story currently provided to the cast is that there is a tear in the "electron scaffolding" that threatens all digital media in the world. Their experience doing MST3K is key to the organization's plans. The riffing for each film is recorded to a "nanotated disc" and inserted into a "Time Tube" by Hodgson that :descends into the frame at the end of every episode. The unknown organization is very firm on keeping the cast focused on their duties, providing no time frame for completion and requiring them to stay within the facilities at all times. They apparently have massive resources and an autonomous military force, which they use to keep the cast in line. As of now, the cast is inquisitive of the true purpose of the experiments but have no major problems as, aside from having to watch bad movies, they are well-treated. There are often host segments on the studio DVDs, but unlike the MST3K ones, the players remain in silhouette in the theater.
Compare and contrast Riff Trax, which features a different set of MST3K alumni. The main difference between the two is that Rifftrax targets recently released movies while Cinematic Titanic riffs on obscure B-movies similar to what you'd find on the original MST3K. Also, Cinematic Titanic has a continuous storyline while Rifftrax does not. (That storyline is not referenced in the live shows or the DV Ds recorded from them.)
Cinematic Titanic provides examples of:
- Anti Humour: A preshow sequence had Frank Conniff use about half a dozen fat jokes about Chris Cristie ("I don't want to say Chris Christie eats large portions of food, but all of his silverware was designed by Claes Oldenburg"), followed by this gem:
No, but seriously folks, when Chris Chistie sits around the house, he really passes laws that hurt working Americans.
- Butt Monkey: Poor Frank seems to reprise his old role from MST3K.
- Dude, Not Funny: Some riffs stray into this catagory, like during "East Meets Watts" when, during a fight scene, Josh quips, "There hasn't been this much kung-fu action since housekeeping found David Carridine."
- Dueling Shows: With Riff Trax
- Ha Ha Ha No: Frank Conniff pulls this naturally
- Is That What They're Calling It Now?: in Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks:
Some Guy: Alright, let's take her in for an Autopsy.
Joel: Oh, is that what they're calling it now..
- Refuge in Audacity: Many of Frank's riffs, as well as his opening stand-up if you see the show live.
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": The policy trailer includes pronouncers for "Weinstein" and "Beaulieu"
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The cast tends to ditch the movies during their final few minutes rather than stay to the very end.
- Shout-Out: To a certain other movie-riffing franchise. From the East Meets Watts live show:
the film's lead is battling a snake in a rock pit
Joel: Hey, Trace? Watch out for snakes.
audience goes wild
the lead is climbing out of the rock pit
Trace: Hey, Joel? Rock climbing.
audience goes wild
Frank: Torgo! (audience cracks up) No, wait, that has nothing to do with anything.
Mary Jo: It's pander-monium!
- Spiritual Successor: To Mystery Science Theater 3000 obviously
- Take That: During the open of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Joel mentions that they originally thought it was hilarious that Pia Zadora was in this movie, but he can't remember why now. (Either a Take That at Zadora or a Take That Me for making such a big deal out of it in the first place)