It's always fascinating the way television shows evolve. Some develop their characters at a glacial pace, while others manage to right the ship or expand shallow characters in a matter of an episode (Revolution comes to mind). So when an independently produced show like Incognito Cinema Warriors XP comes along and makes massive leaps forward in quality with each successive installment, it certainly demands the attention of this viewer's frontal lobe. In a matter of only seven episodes, it's gone from fun project for a lark among friends, to a smartly produced, slick HD laugh-fest that, commands the cash of anyone wearing their MSTie badge with pride. In that same span, the show has evolved; no longer locked into the same format as Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (the show it's lovingly homaging), ICWXP has expanded what were traditionally short "host segments" into an almost full fledged sitcom.
The result comes across more as Rikk and the bots riffing on contemporary pop culture (and each other), rather than a show in the same vein as Home Improvement (thank Cthulhu). You can relax though true believers, there's still plenty of riffing here. This time at the expense of the Hershey's Chocolate company and their ridiculously campy education short film. The riffing is sharp but the short doesn't do them any favors. This episode's theater segment isn't as strong as Soapy the Germ Fighter was for episode 202. Perhaps it's because Soapy is so rutting insane that it's a impossible act to follow, but it's also important to bear in mind that the subject being riffed usually needs to be absurdly funny in it's own right to combine for best results.
The host segment portion of the show, which does make up the majority of the running time, really provides the comedy gold this time around. Skewering everything from bad YouTube remixes, to Michael Bay's continual string of bad choices, the crew lay into much of the minutia that makes up our unhealthy Internet obsessed culture. The banter between the ever increasing cast of bots is quick, snappy, and (where applicable) viciously hysterical. Most importantly, the world around their theater is growing, filling in to flesh out the universe around the core cast of characters. There's plenty of demand for more theater bound riffing time from the crew, but the unique show they're growing into is still funny; even if we're not staring at the backs of their heads. Perhaps after they leave the comfy nest of MST-dom, spread their wings and go for glide through the air, they'll return to the nest of long form riffing. Whatever they decide, you shouldn't be missing this show, it's scathingly hysterical.
The show's production values also continue to skyrocket, making stellar use of their new, high deff cameras. This wouldn't really mean much without some style behind the scenes; fortunately, all the on the job training for ICWXP has groomed some aspiring Hollywood talent. The DVD and digital download are both available from the official site, and while the former looks good, the latter version really takes advantage of it's HD crispness (and is half the price of the hard copy).
If you're brand new to Incognito Cinema Warriors XP, have no fear; the episode begins with a "previously on" recap, which will be more than enough to get you on the Topsy Bot 5000 train (which I understand is full of delicious frozen beverage action). Longtime fans, prepare yourself for the return of a familiar face, and an in-depth look at a side of him which you've never seen before (personally, this my favorite portion of 203). The special features include multiple commentary tracks, ICWXP at Naka-Kon, a riffed short by show writer Josh Way, and two of the show's side characters (Birkin and Nelson) throwing down all manner of shenanigans at the Kansas City Zombie Walk. Episode 203 - The Great American Chocolate Factory/This Gear is Family released this past week. Head to the official ICWXP store, where you can purchase it on DVD for $13.99 or digitally for $5.99.
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