Imagine for a moment you’re working as a janitor when two mad scientists abduct you and send you hurling into space aboard a dog bone shaped satellite, called the Satellite of Love, so that they can conduct nefarious experiments upon you in order to provide them with information to commence their plan for world domination. From their Earthly underground bunker, known simply as Deep 13, your captors torture you in the most inhumane manner (no, not waterboarding) — they force you to watch a series of egregious, low budget B-movies! To keep your sanity, you construct two robotic companions out of the most random spare parts imaginable, to collaborate with you by “riffing” on the substandard films you are forced to endure. Welcome to Mystery Science Theatre 3000!
Originally airing in the fall of 1988 on KTMA, a local Minneapolis tv station, the show moved to The Comedy Channel, NKA Comedy Central, before it finally ended on Syfy in 1999. Commonly referred to as MST3K, the television show had a great run, lasting 10 seasons with 197 episodes, and even a feature film, in 1996. Admittedly, the show is one of my guilty pleasures, and I rank it up there as one of the greatest cult television shows of all-time, along with The Young Ones and My So Called Life. If you’re not familiar with the series or you just need a good laugh, I’ve pulled together short clips from three different seasons to showcase the basic format where captives Joel (’88-’93) or later Mike (’93-’99) along with puppets, Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo, are seen only by their silhouettes in front of a large movie screen. From those front-row seats, the trio “rif” as in, wisecrack and ridicule everything including: the music, title sequence, plot, dialogue, f/x, actors, and even the director’s ineptitude, during the films they’re forced to watch. The show can be found mostly on VHS Tapes or YouTube, if you’re into that sort of thing. For years, fans of the satirical series have called for its return only to be rebuffed; however, due to a successful crowdfunding effort by its creator, MST3K is set to be revived. In an age of sequels and reboots, let’s hope for everyone’s sake, the plethora of godawful movies the show has lampooned over the years, such as: Manos: The Hands of Fate, Hobgoblins, Monsters a Go-Go and The Creeping Terror, don’t get that same opportunity.
MST3K: Season 3 – Episode 1: Cave Dwellers (1991)
MST3K: Season 7 – Episode 6: Laserblast (1977)
MST3K: Season 9 – Episode 4: Werewolf (1996)
News surfaced last week that a 2015 Kickstarter campaign, started as an endeavor to revive the sci-fi comedy program, collected nearly $6.4 million in what to date is one of the largest tv/film crowdfunding initiatives ever. The shows original creator and former host Joel Hodgson along with writers Dan Harmon (Community, Rick and Morty) and Joel McHale (Community, The Soup) announced they would be relaunching MST3K, and it was quickly snatched up by Netflix. Additionally, the reboot would feature returning cast members Mary Jo Pehl, puppeteer, Bill Corbett and writer/actor Kevin Murphy as well as new cast members, writers/comedians Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille) and Felicia Day (The Guild). The good news is that if it’s anything like the original, both longtime fans and newcomers to the show are in for a real treat. The bad news: you’re going to have to wait. The reality is that the show is still in the early stages of its development. Not to fret though, the streaming network will begin airing original episodes in the not-too-distant future.