The Titans are shown standing or seated on scaffolding and filmed in silhouette in the studio-recorded DVDs; on the live DVDs and shows they sit at music stands with their scripts (or more recently, an iPad) in front of them. They riff bad movies, in the manner of MST3K. The actors essentially play themselves as they participate in an experiment for some unknown, possibly shadowy corporation or military force. The story currently provided to the cast is that there is a tear in the "electron scaffolding" that threatens all digital media in the world. Their experience doing MST3K is key to the organization's plans. The riffing for each film is recorded to a "nanotated disc" and inserted into a "Time Tube" by Hodgson that descends into the frame at the end of every episode. The unknown organization is very firm on keeping the cast focused on their duties, providing no time frame for completion and requiring them to stay within the facilities at all times. They apparently have massive resources and an autonomous military force, which they use to keep the cast in line. As of now, the cast is inquisitive of the true purpose of the experiments but have no major problems as, aside from having to watch bad movies, they are well-treated. There are often host segments on the studio DVDs, but unlike the MST3K ones, the players remain in silhouette in the theater.
On February 16, 2013, it was announced that Cinematic Titanic was going on an indefinite hiatus. According to an email sent out to members of the site, due to "5 people living in 5 different cities with different lives and projects, it has become increasingly difficult to coordinate our schedules and give Cinematic Titanic the attention it requires to keep growing as a creative enterprise and a business."
The roster of films riffed so far (available on DVD, unless noted otherwise):
- The Oozing Skull (1972)
- Doomsday Machine (1972)
- The Wasp Woman (1959)
- Legacy of Blood (1971)
- Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
- Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks (1974)
- Blood of the Vampires (1966)
- East Meets Watts (1974)
- The Alien Factor (1978)
- Danger on Tiki Island (1968)
- War of the Insects (1968)
- Rattlers (1976)
- Samson and the Seven Miracles of the World (1961 - Live Show only)
- The Astral Factor (1976 - Live Show only)
- The Doll Squad (1973 - Live Show only)
As of East Meets Watts, the show has moved from the scripted, silhouetted shows to taping the live shows (which are staged similarly to the RiffTrax live shows). Currently, every episode except Insects and Rattlers are available on Hulu.
Compare and contrast RiffTrax, which features a different set of MST3K alumni. The main difference between the two is that RiffTrax often riffs on recently-released movies while Cinematic Titanic concentrated on obscure B-movies similar to what you'd find on the original MST3K. Also, Cinematic Titanic has a continuous storyline while RiffTrax does not. (That storyline is not referenced in the live shows or the DVDs recorded from them.)
Cinematic Titanic provides examples of:
- Anti Humour: A preshow sequence had Frank Conniff use about half a dozen fat jokes on embattled New Jersey governor Chris Christie ("I don't want to say Chris Christie eats large portions of food, but all of his silverware was designed by Claes Oldenburg"), followed by this gem:No, but seriously folks, when Chris Christie sits around the house, he really passes laws that hurt working Americans.
- Butt-Monkey: Poor Frank seems to reprise his old role from MST3K.
- Cannot Spit It Out: In "War of the Insects", Mary Jo completely mangles a line, to which Josh quips "They can't all be sentences!"
- Corpsing: In East meets Watts, Frank completely loses his cool after Joel tells a fart joke, and Mary Jo just BARELY catches herself.
- Frank in general is most prone to this, by bursting out laughing at other riffer's lines or just barely making it through some of his own, with Mary Jo coming in second.
- Darker and Edgier: There is definitely more swearing and adult-oriented humor from Joel and the gang, along with brief nudity and racial epithets in the films they riff.
- Deadpan Snarker: All of them at times, but Mary Jo is the queen.
- Discontinuity Nod: The Doomsday Machine episode references the crew's involvement with MST3k.Government Official: We've noticed you dont have the robots with you anymore.Trace: We dont do that anymore, its just us now.Official: Oh, so its not just a copyright thing?
- HA HA HA No: Frank Conniff pulls this naturally.
- Is That What They're Calling It Now?: in Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks:Some Guy: Alright, let's take her in for an Autopsy.Joel: Oh, is that what they're calling it now..
- Phrase Catcher: in Legacy of Blood:Christopher Dean: Take your hands off me!The Titans in Unison: You damn dirty ape.
- Refuge in Audacity: Many of Frank's riffs, as well as his opening stand-up if you see the show live.
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": The policy trailer includes pronouncers for "Weinstein" and "Beaulieu"
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
- The cast tends to ditch the movies during their final few minutes rather than stay to the very end.
- When Trace learns that they'll be riffing on Santa Claus Conquers the Martians he attempts to run away, only to be dragged kicking and screaming back into the theater.
- Shout-Out: To a certain other movie-riffing franchise. From the East Meets Watts live show:the film's lead is battling a snake in a rock pitJoel: Hey, Trace? Watch out for snakes.audience goes wildthe lead is climbing out of the rock pitTrace: Hey, Joel? Rock climbing.audience goes wildFrank: Torgo! (audience cracks up) No, wait, that has nothing to do with anything.
- Sick and Wrong: From Legacy of Blood:Mary Jo: Brother/sister vampire action; it's not right and it's not hot.
- Spiritual Successor: To MST3K, obviously.
- Spit Take: In East Meets Watts, the entire Cinematic Titanic crew pulls off a simultaneous version when an on-screen character drops a particularly vile racial epithet.
- Take That!:
- During the opening credits of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Joel mentions that they originally thought it was hilarious that Pia Zadora was in this movie, but he can't remember why now. (Either a Take That! at Zadora or a Take That Me for making such a big deal out of it in the first place.)
- When the local reporter in The Alien Factor is interviewing the M.D. about the mysterious death of a young man at the beginning and doesn't want to provide false information to keep rumors from getting started, Trace quips, "This is back when journalism used facts."