Thanksgiving has long held special meaning for fans of “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” the series devoted to cinematic turkeys. When the show was originally on, “Turkey Day” marathons were an annual tradition on Comedy Central and then the Sci-Fi Channel, and in recent years that shifted to streaming online marathons.
And now that the show has been revived on Netflix, they’re celebrating Thanksgiving with “The Gauntlet,” a marathon of six new episodes that will go up about 3 a.m. that day. The lineup includes a number of “mockbusters,” low-budget movies that tried to capitalize off the success of blockbuster films such as “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” “Pacific Rim” and “The Abyss,” with abysmal (sorry) results. This is the 30th anniversary of “MST3K,” by the way, and it proves there are always plenty of bad movies to make fun of.
Hampton Yount, a Virginia native and the latest voice actor to play wisecracking gold-colored Crow T. Robot, took a few minutes recently to answer some questions by email.
What can people expect of Crow in the new season?
Expect the unexpected! Unless you already were suspecting that, which is suspicious, but not entirely unexpected I expect. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and not to be hyperbolic, the best thing that’s ever happened to you personally.
What kind of balance did you have to find playing a well-established and well-adored character while bringing something new to the part?
It’s tricky but at least I have the cast all going through the same thing in many ways. We’re all fans of the previous incarnations of the show and want to add to that rather than take away from it, for sure. The trickiest part is definitely having grown up with this character, but in a way is helpful because when I look at a Crow puppet, my brain immediately hears a voice. When we do improv stuff it’s always best to just put yourself in a Crow state of mind, which I think is kind of a silly, gleeful nihilist who loves his friends. You know, like Ringo.
Where in Virginia are you from, and do you get back? What do you miss where you are now? (and where is that, for that matter?)
I’m from Warrenton, Va. I recommend you check out my mom’s restaurant, Renee’s Gourmet, great sandwiches and soups. I go back when I can. Virginia is a very lush, beautiful place. Right now I live in Burbank and everything is usually on fire, so feeling pretty good about the move.
What’s your favorite Crow moment, either of your own or of the previous incarnations?
If I were to think of one definitive Crow moment, which is hard because he has done a lot, I’d say in “The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Movie” where he’s introduced by trying to dig a hole through the ship and then through space. He rips a hole in the ship and everyone is being sucked out. They plug the hole and Crow says “Hey Mike, think you can toss me my calculations? Thanks. Ah here it is. ‘Breach Hull — All Die’. Huh, even had it underlined.” It’s so gloriously stupid.
What’s your favorite bad movie, and would it be good fodder for MST?
The worst movie ever made is “American Beauty.” It’s the most self-righteous, pompous thing I’ve ever seen, with truly unlikable characters. It’s the thinking man’s movie for the “Fight Club poster on the wall” generation. I’d watch a thousand “Underworld” sequels over it, because they are at least honest about what they are, kung fu vampires. I could go on.
Filming is about to start for a prospective new Amazon Prime series that co-stars a UNC-Greensboro alumna. Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut, who graduated from the college in 2015, has one of the main roles in “Panic,” a thriller based on a young adult novel that is being developed for Amazon Prime’s streaming video services. The story involves a small town whose teens participate in a dangerous competition.
Chestnut previously had roles in such shows as “Homeland,” “The Good Fight” and “Gotham,” where she appeared alongside fellow UNCG alum Chris Chalk.
Jill Wagner, a Winston-Salem native, is the star of the latest movie in the Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” marathon. “Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa” airs at 8 p.m. on Hallmark, with a cast that also includes Mark Deklin and Holly Robinson-Peete.
Wagner is perhaps best known as a co-host from 2008 to 2014 on the competition show “Wipeout,” and was also featured in such shows as “Blade: The Series,” “Teen Wolf” and “Handcrafted America.”
Elliott Sancrant, a 14-year-old actor from Bermuda Run, has a guest role in this week’s episode of the medical drama “The Good Doctor,” airing at 10 p.m. Mondays on ABC. In the episode, he plays Finn, a young patient whose parents don’t believe in vaccinations, which leads to medical complications.
Elliott previously appeared in an episode of the Destination America series “A Haunting” and had a role in “Hard Surfaces,” a 2017 film also known as “The Moleskin Diary” that was filmed in the Winston-Salem area.