The fellas at Rifftrax recently announced a super secret mysterious new riffing target for Rifftrax Live. On March 27, 2017, the triumvirate du trax stepped into a time machine, fiddled with the control knobs, and boldly exclaimed they would be live-quipping it up to the likes of Doctor Who: The Five Doctors in “theaters across the country on August 17th”. Using modern broadcasting technology, and those wizards at Fathom Events, you’ll be able to watch the show as it happens, in the comfort of your local movie theater. It’s like America is the Rifftrax Live overflow room! (Your silver screen may vary.)
T5D is an episode of the British scienty-fiction series Doctor Who which features four incarnations of the eponymous main character messing about on their/his/them’s home planet of Gallifrey. This won’t be the first time Rifftrax has hit the boards for a live version of their Mystery Science Theater 3000 inspired, shadowrama-free, jokery. It also won’t be the first time they’ve targeted something that has already taken licks from riffing crews. But, they’ve got a large catalog of tra”x”, and it’s not like anyone’s been keeping tra”ck” of what fans of MST3K have been riffing on their own, and does it really matter anyway? Maybe not.
Anyhoo, in this case, the riffing overlap involves those silly billies over at The Federation. You may know them from their Doctor Who fan-films, and the live-show they’ve been performing for twenty years called Mysterious Theatre 337. MT337 is an MST3K Alive!-style show performed at Doctor Who/scienty-fiction conventions, featuring episodes and movies of Doctor Who. They started in 1996 with a single performance at the now-defunct Visions convention in Illinois, but quickly settled into doing two shows a year; usually at the Chicago TARDIS and Gallifrey One conventions. In 2003, they took on Five Doctors, The at Gallifrey One — giving them a 14 year head-start over Rifftrax. Ten years later, armed with a “special edition” copy of The Five Doctors, they performed with an updated script at Chicago TARDIS 2013. MT337 reprised the DW:T5D(SE) show a few months later at UK Expo 2014, in Milwaukee. That year, they performed at an unprecedented four conventions, adding also CONsole Room in Minnesota.
So, Mysterious Theater 337 totes beat Rifftrax to the punch once, twice, twice again times a lady. However, according to MT337 big-cheese Steven Hill, it ain’t no thang:
I think it’ll be a great show and even though we might shout it from the rooftops that we did it first, we can’t be envious, since we wouldn’t have done anything without the inspiration from them in the first place.
The “them” of course being the founders of Rifftrax: Michael J Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett — former cast members and writers on Mystery Science Theater 3000, the show which introduced the world to the art of movie riffing. (Rifftrax itself was founded ten years after The Federation started doing up Mysterious Theatre 337.)
Truth be told, Steven himself even recommended the episode to Rifftrax:
When there were rumors months ago that there might be some Doctor Who in their future, I posted my recommendation – backed up by experience – that The Five Doctors was the best choice. Maybe they took my comment into consideration.
Only their hair dresser knows for sure (presumably) if the Rifftrax crew has already written the script for their live riffing event in August. But, if B.C., Nelstone, and The Murph run into a snag on their own version and need a bailout, there’s a script from 2013 on the downloads page of the official Mysterious Theatre 337 website they could crib that has a proven record of success.
Other notable Doctor Who related Mystery Science Theater 3000 connections include Brian Uiga, who produced a (no-longer-available) fan-made MST3K episode featuring as the experiment the Doctor Who episode Time and the Rani; and Ryan K. Johnson, who produced two fan-made episodes of his own. Neither of RKJ’s episodes featured Doctor Who experiments, but he and his pals did produce a few Doctor Who fan-films in the 1980’s (which he still offers on his website), and he started a long-running Doctor Who fan-club in Seattle called The Society of the Rusting TARDIS . You may recognize Brian Uiga from the documentary InDoctornated when it’s finally released.