My grade scale: 5 is a masterpiece, 4 is very good (or, if you tent your fingers... "excellent"), 3 is good, 2.5 is a shoulder shrug "yeah that's fine, but not much lit a fire under me", 2 and under are different levels of hell. Theater riffing is what primarily drives these grades.
1. Carnival Magic (4.5 - the episode I've watched the most from this group) 2. Avalanche (4.5 - the funniest episode, though Magic has that movie and all the intangibles which put it #1) 3. The Christmas That Almost Wasn't (4.25 - very steady laughs, few lulls for me) 4. Cry Wilderness (4) 5. The Loves of Hercules (4) 6. Ator, the Fighting Eagle (4 - earns a grade bump because I have so much fun with it, it puts me in a happy mood)
7. Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (3.5) 8. Mac and Me (3.5) 9. Yongary (3.5) 10. The Land That Time Forgot (3.5) 11. The Time Travellers (3.5)
12. The Day Time Ended (3) 13. The Beast of Hollow Mountain (3 - though the final half-hour features top 10 material) 14. Starcrash (3) 15. Reptilicus (3) 16. Atlantic Rim (3)
17. Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II (2.5) 18. Lords of the Deep (2.5) 19. At The Earth's Core (2.5) 20. Killer Fish (2)
I think my rewatch of the episodes are solidifying some slots for me. Right now I'm going with:
1. Avalanche 2. Wizards of the Lost Kingdom 3. Starcrash 4. Cry Wilderness 5. Mac and Me 6. Ator, the Fighting Eagle 7. Yongary, Monster from the Deep 8. Killer Fish 9. At the Earth's Core 10. Reptilicus 11. Atlantic Rim 12. The Loves of Hercules 13. The Beast of Hollow Mountain 14. The Day Time Ended 15. The Land That Time Forgot 16. Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II 17. The Time Travelers 18. Lords of the Deep 19. The Christmas That Almost Wasn't 20. Carnival Magic
I'm still working on season averages. I think the last time i played with that I came out with:
Avalanche is great. My only issue with it is the NPH song, which feels thrown in and separate from the rest of the episode. I used to dislike Christmas That Almost Wasn't and Canival Magic, but they have grown on me over time. I still can't get past the incorrect frame rate on Carnival Magic and Starcrash. How that strobe effect got past quality control, I'll never understand. Atlantic Rim is my least favorite of the entire series. It falls into the "that's not riffing, that's talking" category. Movies that are comedic, campy or "bad-on-purpose" are a mixed bag from MST3k, IMO. It tends to fall more into the category of hosting or presenting the cheesy film, rather than riffing it. Kind of the Castle of Fu-Manchu conundrum. "We could have made better comments, but the movie wasn't very good." While the "hosting" presentation works for a lot of fans, it's not what I come to the show for. Hence, my lack of appreciation for such fan favorites as Space Mutiny, Overdrawn, Werewolf, Final Sacrifice. These episodes are more like let's just enjoy this movie that knows it's kind of silly, rather than point out the earnestness a production that really thought it was making something great. Atlantic Rim suffers from being merely "hosted," and just filling up space with "riffing" that is really just talking. The Gauntlet, while fun, suffered from this syndrome more than any other season. Let's hope they get past that stage of growing into the series.