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Rifftrax unearths Star Wars legend Mark Hamill’s turn in Earth Angel

Mark Hamill appears as Wayne in Earth Angel
Left the lightsaber at home: Mark Hamill appears in the 1991 TV movie Earth Angel. Comedy commentary from RiffTrax has introduced new audiences to the film. Pic credit: ABC.

Star Wars and The Mandalorian fans who can’t get enough of vintage Mark Hamill can now find him on RiffTrax, the on-demand streaming service helmed by the stars of TV cult classic Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Like the beloved MST3K, RiffTrax overlays comic commentary on a variety of films as they run in real-time. The crew has gotten ahold of Earth Angel, a quickly forgotten 1991 TV movie in which Hamill plays Wayne Stein, a nerdy student once in love with the female lead and who later becomes a cold-hearted history teacher.

The movie also features an odd assortment of cast members, including Erik Estrada, Cindy Williams, Rainbow Harvest, Roddy McDowall, Alan Young, and a young Andy Dick.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 alums return

Earth Angel is a time-travel redemption tale about a popular 1962 high school student who was killed in a car crash on prom night. She returns to Earth in 1990 in spirit form to better the lives of her former friends, even though only the daughter of her teenage best friend can see or hear her.

Rifftrax released a full-length commentary on the 85-minute film this week. Instead of the usual performances by Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett, the commentary track is voiced by Mary Jo Pehl and Bridget Nelson.

Both Pehl and Nelson are also alums of Mystery Science Theater 3000; in addition to working as writers on the show, Pehl played villain Pearl Forrester. Bridget Nelson, the wife of Mike Nelson, dropped in for several one-off performances during the show’s host segments. The ladies host an extensive “Bridget & Mary Jo” commentary collection on the site.

Mark Hamill strikes back

Hamill recently trended on social media when he stunned fans in the final episode of The Mandalorian in Season 2. His iconic character, Luke Skywalker, showed up to take Grogu from the title character to train him as a Jedi.

Since The Mandalorian is set a few years after Return of the Jedi, Hamill’s voice performance was combined with digital wizardry and bodywork from actor Max Lloyd-Jones.

Before returning as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars sequel trilogy and The Mandalorian, Hamill concentrated largely on cameo appearances and voice work after his time with the role originally ended with Return of the Jedi. In fact, he appeared in an episode of the brief Netflix revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 2017.

Technology catching up with comedy

RiffTrax began in 2006 as technology, at last, began to catch up with the comedic commenting talents of Nelson, Murphy, and Corbett.

Rather than having to purchase the rights of the movies they took on, as was the case in Mystery Science Theater 3000, podcasting made audio commentary with current blockbusters possible.

The trio stays true to its MST3K roots, however, and still mocks educational shorts, vintage B-moves, and hamfisted horror films– not to mention each installment of the Star Wars oeuvre. The group also produces live shows.

You can find the Rifftrax of Earth Angel here, and the group’s commentaries on Star Wars titles here. All Star Wars media is currently streaming on Disney Plus.

Proud aunt Mary Beth Ellis, MFA, is a freelance writer, college instructor, reader, and reality consumer in Cincinnati, OH. She is the author of "Drink to the Lasses," a memoir, and a contributor to...read more

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