My life in the past few days has been overtaken by MST3K. I discovered that there’s a video version of Winamp’s ShoutCast, with some channels streaming tv shows 24 hours a day. Two of these channels stream MST3K, and though the streams are usually maxed out on viewers, for $4 my IP is on the VIP list of this stream, which means uninterrupted MST3K until March 31.
When a KTMA-era mini-marathon was scheduled last weekend, I knew I had to “tape” it. I probably could have guessed that these episodes are readily available via various p2p outlets, but I also would have guessed (rightly) that the files are kept extremely large for the sake of quality. Ideally I wanted to save video from the stream in very low quality; nearly all of an MST3K episode is silhouettes and bad movies anyway, so this could hardly be considered “compromise.”
The only program I’d heard of that might be capable of capturing streaming video was StreamBox VCR, but from what I’d gathered it was riddled with legal issues and bugs. I’ve also had terrible luck with video software in general, so I wasn’t hopeful. But I quickly stumbled upon Net Transport, “a faster, exciting, and the most powerful downloading tool that you ever saw [sic, sic, sic],” lightweight and with no nags or spyware. I was amazed when within a few minutes I was recording KTMA episode 5 in ShoutCast’s 128kbps, meg-a-minute .nsv format.
Recording is still kind of a pain — it’s very manual so I inevitably lose a few seconds at the beginning of each episode if there’s a quick turn-around; I can’t know exactly when a particular episode will start, so scheduling is out of the question; memory shortages have broken the stream once or twice; and the support lifespan and editing capabilities of the .nsv format are both questionable.
When I’m not frantically configuring a recording session, I’m learning a lot about the show I ditched bitterly after Joel left, cursing my mom for taping over my Turkey Day collection, shaming the ungrateful 14-year-old who took the show so for granted, and trying to relive all the endearment and wonder that surrounded the show and its fans. I found out that the MST3K Info Club still kind of exists, and I finally became a member, for whatever that’s worth. Best Brains put out a “Scrapbook Tape” in 1995 that boasts the most in-depth look at the show ever composed. And in the first episode of the tenth season, when cancellation had been made official, Joel briefly returned to the SoL:
Some more links:
- The MST3K Reference Guide: Useful site includes photo gallery, articles, episode guides, etc. Great place to find images from the KTMA episodes if you’ve never seen them.
- The Almost But Not Quite Complete History of MST3K: Very, very, very thorough.
- MST3K DAP: the Digital Archive Project keeps non-Rhino-releases in digital circulation, at about 700 megs an episode for easy storage.