Mystery Science Theater 3000



Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988–1999), usually abbreviated MST3K, is an American cult television comedy series created by Joel Hodgson and produced by Best Brains, Inc. It features a man and his robot sidekicks who are trapped on a satellite in space and forced to watch particularly bad movies, especially (but not limited to) the science fiction genre. The gimmick of the show is that the man and his robots make a running commentary on the film, making fun of its flaws and wisecracking their way through the film. Series creator Hodgson originally played the stranded man, Joel Robinson. When he left in 1993, series head writer Michael J. Nelson replaced him as new B-movie victim Mike Nelson, and continued in the role for the rest of the show's run.

The format proved to be popular. During its eleven years and 198 episodes (including one feature film), MST3K attained a fiercely loyal fan base, and much critical acclaim. The series also garnered a Peabody Award in 1993.

The "plot" of the show never pretended to be anything other than just an excuse for the movie commentary and the comic sketches inbetween called "host segments."

Two mad scientists, Dr. Clayton Forrester (named after the main character in The War of the Worlds), played by Trace Beaulieu, and his sidekick Dr. Laurence Erhardt, played by Josh Weinstein, launch Joel Robinson (Hodgson), a janitor working for the Gizmonics Institute, into space and force him to watch truly horrible B-movies. They do this in order to measure how much bad movie-watching it takes to drive a person crazy, and to pinpoint the perfect B-movie to use as a weapon in Dr. Forrester's scheme of world domination. Forrester's scheme was that when he found a movie so bad that it broke Joel's spirit, he would unleash it on an unsuspecting populace and turn everyone into mindless zombie slaves. (The sycophantic TV's Frank, played by Frank Conniff, replaced Dr. Erhardt in the second season premiere following Weinstein's departure from the series.)

Trapped on board the Satellite of Love (S.O.L.) — a reference to the Lou Reed song — Joel builds four sentient robots that populate the ship (ostensibly because he is lonely, and as a homage to the 1970s film Silent Running). The robots are Tom Servo (voiced first by Weinstein, then by Kevin Murphy beginning in Season 2), and Crow T. Robot (voiced first by Beaulieu, then by Bill Corbett beginning in Season 8), who accompany Joel in the screening room; Gypsy (voiced first by Weinstein, inhaling as he spoke, then by Jim Mallon and later by Patrick Brantseg, both using a falsetto voice), who does not appear in every episode but handles the "higher functions" of the S.O.L. (such as steering the ship); and Cambot, the recorder of the experiments who is visible only during the opening credits and occasionally interacts with the others. Also making intermittent "appearances" in the show's early years is Magic Voice, a disembodied female voice whose primary role is to announce the start of the first commercial break in each episode.

Joel has no control over when the movies start, for, as the theme song states, "he used those special parts to make his robot friends". He must enter the theater when "Movie Sign" flashes, though, as Dr. Forrester has numerous ways to punish Joel for non-compliance (including shutting off all oxygen to the rest of the ship and electric shocks). As the movies play, the silhouettes of Joel, Tom, and Crow are visible at the bottom of the screen, wisecracking and mocking the movie (a practice they often referred to as "riffing") to prevent themselves from being driven mad.

Just before or after commercial breaks, Joel (and later Mike) and the bots sometimes perform skits, songs, or other short sketch pieces (called "host segments") that are sometimes related to the movie they are watching. These segments sometimes even feature "visits" by prominent characters from the movie, such as Torgo from Manos: The Hands of Fate or Mr. B Natural from the short subject B-movie of the same name (which MST3K spoofed). But before too much frivolity can transpire, the "movie sign" lights flash, signaling the resumption of the movie.

Many episodes without movies long enough to fill the show's runtime also include screenings of unintentionally hilarious short films or "shorts," including propaganda-style films from the 1950s, a training film for Chevrolet sales managers, and films intended to teach children about posture or personal hygiene. These are less frequent in later episodes.

After being approached by producer Jim Mallon to create a movie-host show to fill time for a two-hour slot on Twin Cities UHF station KTMA-TV (not a cable access channel, as is sometimes reported, but an over-the-air station that continues to exist today as WUCW-TV), Joel Hodgson initially came up with the concept for the "Mystery Science Theatre". Drawing partly on his own comedy act (which he was performing in the area at the time), the show's format was to showcase Hodgson.

In September 1988, Hodgson enlisted Twin City-area comedians Trace Beaulieu and Josh Weinstein to help him shoot a pilot for the show. The robots and the set, in their crudest format, were built overnight by Hodgson. The next morning, shooting commenced, and a 30-minute pilot, in which selections from the 1969 science-fiction film, The Green Slime, were the test subject film. Joel watched the movie by himself, and was aided during the host segments by his robots, Crow (Beaulieu), Beeper, and Gypsum (Weinstein).

Mallon met with station manager Donald O'Conner the next month and managed to get signed up for thirteen consecutive episodes. The show had some slight alterations-- the set was lit differently, the robots (now Crow, Servo and Gypsy) joined Joel in the theater, and a new doorway countdown sequence between the host segments and the theater segments was shot.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 premiered at 6:00 PM on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1988 with its first film, Invaders From the Deep, followed by a second episode, Revenge of the Mysterians, at 8:00 PM. Initially, the show's response was unknown, until Mallon set up a phone line for viewers to call in. Response was so great that aside from the first 13 episodes, the station extended the season to 21, with the show running to May 1989. During this time a fan club was set up and the show held its first live show at Scott Hansen's Comedy Gallery in Minneappolis to a crowd of over 600. All success aside, the station's declining fortunes forced it to cancel MST3K.

Just as its run at KTMA was ending, however, the creators used a short "best-of" reel to pitch the concept to executives at the Comedy Channel, a national cable channel that was then being created. It became one of the first two shows picked up by it. After two seasons there, the Comedy Channel and rival comedy cable network HA! merged to become Comedy Central. During this change, MST3K became the cable channel's "signature series", expanding from 13 to 24 episodes a year, which would continue until its seventh national season, as the show gradually fell out of favor with the network's management.

The show's run coincided with the growth of the Internet, and numerous fans (MSTies) devoted websites to the series. The Internet also facilitated tape-trading of previous episodes among fans, a practice the show's creators encouraged by including the phrase "Keep circulating the tapes!" in the closing credits of episodes during seasons 2, 3, and 4. Before season 5 started, the practice was discontinued after Best Brains' lawyers alerted them that the phrase may constitute a support of piracy.

There were two official fan conventions in Minneapolis, run by the series' production company itself (zanily called "ConventioCon ExpoFest-A-Rama" (1994) and "ConventioCon ExpoFest-A-Rama 2: Electric Bugaloo" (1996), the second being a misspelled reference to the movie Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo). Some noted celebrity fans of MST3K are film director and producer Steven Spielberg, songwriter-musician Neil Young, musician-composer Frank Zappa (whom the show honored at the end of episode 523 on January 22, 1994, a month after his death), writer-director Paul Schrader, former Vice President Al Gore, Time film critic Richard Corliss, singer/songwriter "Weird Al" Yankovic, actors Emilio Estevez and Neil Patrick Harris, rock band Rush (who mentioned the show in the liner notes of the Counterparts album), and MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann.

When Joel Hodgson decided to leave the series, halfway through season five, an episode was written in which his character escaped from the S.O.L. (after being forced to sit through the Joe Don Baker movie Mitchell). Joel escaped with the help of Gypsy and Mike Nelson (a temp worker hired by Doctor Forrester to help to prepare for an audit from the Fraternal Order of Mad Science), after they discovered an escape pod (amusingly named the Deus ex Machina) in a box marked "Hamdingers". To replace Joel, Dr. Forrester sent Mike up in his place. The series head writer Michael J. Nelson played Mike from 1993 until the end of the series. Debates (sometimes heated) raged in fan forums about who was the better host for quite some time, but in more recent years a consensus has developed among the fanbase that acknowledges that each performer had his merits.

Among the many troubles the Best Brains staff had with Comedy Central was the latter's desire to cut the show down to a 60-minute timeslot. As part of this effort, in the summer of 1993, the MST3K staff selected 30 episodes to split into 60 one-hour segments, hosted by Mike Nelson in his "Jack Perkins" persona. The resulting repackaged series was titled The Mystery Science Theater Hour, and its first-run airings of these half-shows ran from November 1993 to July 1994. Reruns continued through December 1994, and it was syndicated to local stations from September 1995 to September 1996.

A feature film, in which Mike and the bots worked over This Island Earth, was released in 1996 during the gap in the show's run between seasons 6 and 7. Unfortunately, Universal Studios invested few resources into the resultant Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. Distributor Gramercy Pictures had a limited advertising budget and put all of their funds into another film, Pamela Anderson's Barb Wire. The film was never given wide release, instead playing for a limited time in different cities and then moving to another city. The result was that many fans did not even know it had been released.

When Comedy Central dropped the show after a seventh season of only six episodes, MST3K's Internet fan-base staged a precedent-setting write-in campaign to keep the show alive. (This included taking contributions from MST3K fans worldwide for a full-page ad in the television trade publication Daily Variety magazine. One notable contributor to the campaign was TV personality and Biography host Jack Perkins, whom Nelson had impersonated on the series several times.) This effort led the Sci Fi Channel to pick up the series, where it resumed with some cast changes and ran for three more seasons.

By this time, Trace Beaulieu, who had played Dr. Forrester and Crow, had already departed the series. Mary Jo Pehl took over the lead "Mad" role as Dr. Forrester's mother, Pearl, who had been featured as a regular in season 7. Her sidekicks were the idiotic, Planet of the Apes-inspired Professor Bobo (played by Murphy) and the highly evolved, supposedly omniscient, yet equally idiotic Observer (AKA "Brain Guy"), played by writer Bill Corbett. Corbett also competently took over Crow's voice and puppetry; with this replacement, the series's entire central cast had changed. In the middle of the first season on the Sci Fi Channel (the eighth national season overall), Mallon handed over the voice and puppetry work for Gypsy to BBI staffer Patrick Brantseg.

At first, Sci-Fi Channel officials mandated that every movie featured on the revived series had to fit within the channel's broad definition of science-fiction (which included horror and fantasy), instead of the varied genres present in past shows. But by the final season this restriction seemed to be loosened, allowing movies such as Girl in Gold Boots, and the Joe Don Baker film Final Justice.

The series finale, Diabolik, premiered on August 8, 1999, although a "lost" episode produced earlier in the season, Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders, was the last new episode of MST3K broadcast on September 12, 1999. Reruns continued on the Sci Fi Channel until January 31, 2004. Including the feature film, in total there were 198 full episodes of MST3K.

As with the run on the Comedy Channel, the Sci-Fi Channel run ended due to a change in management. As a two-hour show involving long negotiations for the use of third-party films, MST3K was a tough sell for networks, despite the fan base and ratings. However, Best Brains insists to this day that they would have loved to run the show forever, and even after 200 episodes there wasn't a shortage of bad films to potentially riff.

In the May 30-June 5, 2004 issue of TV Guide, a feature article listed Mystery Science Theater 3000 among the "25 Top Cult Shows Ever!":

" 11 - Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1989-1999)
A space traveler and his smart-ass robots watch and crack-wise about bombs like The Brain That Wouldn't Die and The Killer Shrews.
Cult-ability: Mike Nelson, writer and star (replacing creator Joel Hodgson), recently addressed a college audience: "There was nobody over the age of 25. I had to ask, 'Where are you seeing this show?' I guess we have some sort of timeless quality."

The reactions of those parodied by MST3K has been mixed. Sandy Frank, who held the rights to several Gamera films parodied on the show, was "intensely displeased" by the mockery directed at him. (The crew once sang the "Sandy Frank Song", which said that Frank was "the source of all our pain" and implied that he was too lazy to make his own films.) Because of this, Frank reportedly refused to allow the shows to be rebroadcast once MST3K's rights ran out. Murphy says that Joe Don Baker wanted to beat up the writers of the show for attacking him during Mitchell. Kevin Murphy later said Baker likely meant it in a joking manner. Others have been more upbeat: Robert Fiveson and Myrl Schriebman, producers of Parts: The Clonus Horror, said they were "flattered" to see the film appear on MST3K. The crew of Time Chasers held a party the night the MST3K treatment of their film aired. Reactions were mixed, but director David Giancola said, "Most of us were fans and knew what to expect and we roared with laughter and drank way too much. I had a blast, never laughed so hard in my life."

Several unusual elements of Mystery Science Theater 3000 provide a unique feel to the show.

The theater silhouette — a row of rounded chair tops with Tom Servo, Joel or Mike, and Crow sitting at the right side — is a simple row of folding chairs with rounded shapes cut from Foamcore, attached to the backs. Its characteristic appearance has been used in several works as an homage to the show.

Featured in most transitions between the theater segments and "host" segments is a camera tracking through a tunnel leading from the bridge of the Satellite of Love into the Mystery Science Theater, or vice versa. Access to the tunnel from the bridge is through a hexagonal doorway, originally decorated with a large, gear-like "G" (for Gizmonic Institute, the original lair of the Mads). As the camera (implicitly Cambot) moved through the opening doorway, a countdown of hatches, decorated with unusual artifacts and numbered "6" through "2" (in the style of a film leader countdown), moves out of its way, finally opening on the theater and the film. The hatches and decorations occasionally changed throughout the series, usually after a production move or cast change.

Many of the riffs and cultural references made by the humans and bots in the show are specific to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, reflecting the origin of the show (filmed throughout its eleven seasons in this area) and the Best Brains staff's Midwestern roots.

Once the Best Brains staff gained some experience from the earlier KTMA shows, they gradually increased the amount of riffing until they estimated they were doing about 700 jokes per 90-minute episode. Many of those riffs are "callbacks", or references to earlier episodes and running jokes.

The MST3K cast was occasionally augmented by "guest stars" from the films — characters so memorable that they made interesting visitors to the Mads' lairs or the Satellite of Love. These film characters were always portrayed by Best Brains staffers, giving some screen time to behind-the-camera workers. Other "guests" were real-life people portrayed by MST3K cast and crew. Two, however, were actual celebrities. Minnesota Viking Robert Smith appeared in a season 8 episode as "Howard", a "gift" to Pearl from her ape worshippers. Film critic Leonard Maltin, who had been mercilessly mocked for some of his ratings of MSTied films, gamely appeared as himself in season 9, in a good-humored attempt to help Pearl torture the SOL captives with Gorgo, another film he claimed he liked.

"The Guys"

* Joel Robinson — Joel Hodgson (1988–1993)
* Mike Nelson — Michael J. Nelson (1993–1999)
* Crow T. Robot — voice and puppetry by Trace Beaulieu (1988–1996), Bill Corbett (1997–1999)
* Tom Servo — voice and puppetry by Josh Weinstein (1988–1990), Kevin Murphy (1990–1999)
* Gypsy — voice and puppetry by Josh Weinstein (1988–1989), Jim Mallon (1989–1997), Patrick Brantseg (1997–1999)
* Cambot — Apparently voiced one time only by Kevin Murphy
* Magic Voice — variously voiced; but as of Season 4 was consistently (more or less) voiced by Mary Jo Pehl. Prop Mistress Beth "Beez" McKeever provided the voice for her two Sci Fi era "appearances".

"The Mads"

* Dr. Clayton Forrester — Trace Beaulieu (1988–1996)
* Dr. Laurence Erhardt — Josh Weinstein (1988–1990)
* TV's Frank — Frank Conniff (1990–1995)
* Mrs. Pearl Forrester — Mary Jo Pehl (1994 (1 episode), 1995–1999)
* Professor Bobo — Kevin Murphy (1997–1999)
* Observer ("Brain Guy") — Bill Corbett (1997–1999)

* Jack Perkins (Michael J. Nelson) — in real life the host of the A&E Network's Biography program, Perkins first appeared in MST3K simply to annoy the Mads by describing the movie with glowing praise. When MST3K appeared in syndication as The Mystery Science Hour, Nelson's fake "Jack Perkins" hosted the show.

* Jan-in-the-Pan (Mary Jo Pehl) — a woman's severed head from the movie The Brain That Wouldn't Die.

* Jerry and Sylvia (various actors) — two "mole people" from the movie The Mole People (featured much later as a Season 8 episode) who occasionally assisted the Mads and stopped by for social events. Presumably named after Sylvia and Gerry Anderson, the creative team behind Space: 1999 and Supermarionation shows like Thunderbirds and Stingray, some of which were featured as KTMA-season episodes.

* "Krankor" (Bill Corbett) — a pudgy, vain, would-be conqueror with an unfortunately chicken-like appearance and a drawn-out, braying laugh, "Krankor" (technically, "The Phantom", dictator of the planet "Krankor" in the movie Prince of Space) appeared in a host segment when MST3K riffed Prince of Space, and returned three episodes later in a host segment for Invasion of the Neptune Men, a movie with a similar plot.

* The Nanites — Self-replicating, bio-engineered organisms that work on the ship, they are microscopic creatures that reside in the S.O.L.'s computer systems. (Their name likely comes from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Evolution (TNG episode)", which featured "nanites" taking over the Enterprise.) The Nanites made their first appearance in season 8. Based on the concept of nanotechnology, their comical deus ex machina activities included such diverse tasks as instant repair and construction, hairstyling, performing a Nanite variation of a flea circus, conducting a microscopic war, and even destroying the Observers' planet after a dangerously vague request from Mike to "take care of a little problem".

* Ortega (Paul Chaplin) — an unintelligible, decrepit, cigar-smoking henchman from the movie The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies, Ortega recurred probably more frequently in the three Sci Fi seasons than any other "guest character", perhaps because of his similarities to Torgo.

* Pitch (Paul Chaplin) — a devil from the Mexican movie Santa Claus, Pitch was one of the few characters from the Comedy Central seasons to return in the Sci Fi Channel seasons.

* Torgo (Michael J. Nelson) — a rebellious monster henchman (with bad knees) in Manos: The Hands of Fate, Torgo was among the most frequently returning "guest characters" of MST3K. He got his knees fixed and accompanied TV's Frank to sidekick heaven and was never seen again (episode 624 Samson vs. the Vampire Women).

* Pearl Forrester (Mary Jo Pehl) — Dr. Forrester's horrible mother appeared once in season six (episode 607 Bloodlust). The character returned in season seven as a replacement for TV's Frank (Frank Conniff), and then became the main villain in the Sci Fi era. This is the only time a guest star was made into a regular character. (Professor Bobo and Observer were added as regulars from their initial appearances.)

* Santa Claus (Kevin Murphy) - Appeared twice on the show, including a fight with Pitch, bellowing, "I'm here to chew candy canes and kick ass, and I'm all out of candy canes!"

* MST3K has only had two non-staffers make guest appearances on the show: Minnesota Viking Robert Smith (as "Howard" in episode 803 The Mole People) and film critic Leonard Maltin (as himself in episode 909 Gorgo). All other guest appearances were filled by a Best Brains crew member or a regular cast member in disguise.

MST3K's run coincided with the birth and growth of the Internet in all its forms, and MST3K fans created communities, relationships--and sometimes controversy--in cyberspace.

Tape trading, and now DVD trading, has always been active on the Internet and still is today.

One of the first Internet communities for MSTies grew up in 1992 and 1993, on bulletin boards hosted by the Prodigy online service. In the era before chat rooms, fans staked out a spot on the TV bulletin board and "chatted" in real time by posting, then reading the other posts and responding, then repeating the process over and over, night after night. However, in 1993 Prodigy perpetrated a self-inflicted wound that signaled the beginning of its downfall: It began to charge hourly rates to access its popular message boards. After the first month, when members received bills well over $100 (and sometimes much higher), membership plummeted, creating what some wags called "the great Prodigy diaspora."

Many of those Prodigy members found a new home on a then-fledgling online service called America Online, where a nightly online fan chat was very popular. Others found a place on Compuserve, and created a very lively and close-knit community.

At about the same time three different Usenet newsgroups were created, alt.fan.mst3k, alt.tv.mst3k and rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc. All three were very active during the show's heyday. The latter is the only group that is still active.

Following the vicious "flame wars" that consumed many of these forums following the departure of Joel Hodgson, nearly all of the communities adopted rules -- some simply on the honor system, others enforced by online service monitors -- that posts on the topic of "Joel vs. Mike" were forbidden. In recent years, however, such restrictions have long been abandoned as no longer necessary.

With the arrival of the World Wide Web, many fan Web sites sprung up. By 1996, there were hundreds. The official MST3K Web site is Satellite News at mst3k.com. It was created in 1997 when Best Brains, which could no longer afford to mail out its fan newsletter, asked longtime fans Chris Cornell and Brian Henry to create a Web site that would provide the latest news. It continues to thrive today, offering the most up-to-date news on anything related to MST3K and its now-far-flung cast. It is also the home of the official MST3K FAQ, the Amazing Colossal Episode Guide (written by the cast) for seasons 7 through 10 (picking up where the 1996 book left off), and many other features.

When the series moved to the Sci-Fi Channel, the network provided a message board space, and it was popular and well-maintained for some time, but visitors tended to be newer fans, less-familiar with the Comedy Central days, and before.

After the series was cancelled, internet activity around the series understandably ebbed. There are now perhaps a few dozen actively maintained MST3K-related Web sites, and a few dozen more that still exist on the Web, but have been abandoned by their owners. But the vast majority are gone. Although they had been abandoned for several years, the AOL message boards were still present, unused, in a backwater of the services message boards, until the summer of 2006, when the service finally deleted them. The Compuserve message boards are also gone: Its regulars, furious at the purchase of Compuserve by AOL, moved as a group to a private email list. When usage of the board subsequently dropped off to almost zero, the board was deleted.

The message board on the Sci-Fi Channel website, one of the largest online MSTie communities in the final seasons of the series, was abandoned by the network Website's monitors, and it quickly devolved into a haven for internet trolls and obscenities. This motivated MST3K fans Don MacGregor and Forrest Rice of MST3K Review to create the most active and largest MST3K online community: MST3K: The Discussion Board. It continues to thrive.

Several episodes of MST3K have been posted in 10 minute segments on YouTube.com, though these postings have never been authorized by Best Brains.

The re-airing of episodes on TV and packaging of episodes for purchase are difficult for MST3K due to rights issues involving the movies featured within the episode. Long negotiations are involved, and some (if not many) episodes are not possible due to dissatisfaction with the mockery made of the film.

VHS

Rhino home video released several episodes from the Comedy Central era on VHS in the late 1990s. Although out of print, most are still readily available, except for the episode featuring The Amazing Colossal Man, which was pulled due to rights issues. All other episodes have since been re-released either on single DVDs or as part of the "Collection" series.

Best Brains also produced VHS tapes including the Play MSTie for Me series, the Tom Servo's Favorite Host Segments series, as well as the Poopie series of outtake collections. They also released several Sci-Fi era episodes that have since been re-released on DVD by Rhino. The last original Best Brains video product was The Last Dance - Raw!, backstage footage from the filming of the final episode of MST3K, Diabolik.

DVD

Since the show has been off the air since 2004 (and there have been no signs of it coming back), much of MST3K's loyal fanbase rely on DVD releases by Rhino. There have been ten various releases of single movies (one episode, featuring the movie Beginning of the End, was recently discontinued due to rights issues), along with ten "Collection" sets of the show. Collection sets consist of four movies and/or "shorts" DVDs each, and each set may contain movies from any era. There is also an Essentials collection, containing two movies (the previously released Manos: The Hands of Fate and fan favorite Santa Claus Conquers the Martians) and a shorts collection (only available when ordered directly from Rhino). The feature film Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie was released on VHS and DVD in 1998, but the DVD version offered no special features or deleted scenes and was withdrawn from the market in 2000. A fan-produced special edition was released in 2003 containing deleted scenes, trailers and other bonus features. Copies of the discontinued official release sometimes sell on eBay or Amazon.com for upwards of $100.

Recently, some fans have expressed anger and disappointment in Rhino Home Video, due to glitches on discs in Collection Volumes 7 and 8. In one of these cases, Rhino officially announced that the errors were from the original analog master tape and could not be fixed. This led to further criticism over why Rhino would release a DVD knowing it suffered highly noticeable audio and video errors without mentioning the problems earlier, and note that Rhino could have tried to obtain a broadcast copy without said problems or released another episode instead. Rhino responded to these complaints by stating that choosing another film would result in another lengthy process of rights negotiation, further delaying the set's release.

Best Brains themselves have also produced DVDs including Play MSTie for Me Triple Decker (a collection of musical numbers from the show) and Tom Servo's All Time Favorite Host Segments Vol 1 (with bonus Poopie 1). They are available directly from BB through the Satellite News web site and through mail order.

Most of the humor in MST3K episodes comes from quotable quips that the S.O.L. crew insert into the dialog and scenes of the movies they mock, as well as clever riffing during the "host segments". A large sample of notable MST3K quotes is available on Wikiquote.

Several of the movies used in the MST3K series have consistently made the Internet Movie Database list of the Bottom 100 movies over time, including Hobgoblins (1987) (episode 907), Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) (episode 424), Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders (1995) (episode 1003), and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964) (episode 321).

* One piece of the Satellite of Love set was a painted Hungry Hungry Hippos game. Other pieces included portions of a toy Millennium Falcon, a toy Proton Pack from Kenner's Real Ghostbusters line, some sports water bottles, and two children's training potty seats. The potty seats are the only known set decoration to survive from KTMA to the Sci Fi Channel.

* There is a miniature doll of Dr. Forrester hidden on the right side of the screen during one of the doors in the Mike-era door sequence.

* When the series finale (1013: Diabolik) aired, the Sci Fi Channel had an official IRC chat with Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy. When asked by fans if they should stop watching the Sci Fi Channel after MST3K's cancellation, Kevin Murphy responded "YES STOP WATCHING!! NOW!!!" before the moderators could respond.

* One of the few elements included in every known episode of MST3K is creator Joel Hodgson's voice during the "Robot Roll Call" portion of the opening theme song.

* The cast performed several live shows during the program's history. Two of the movies watched during these live events were Roger Corman's World Without End and This Island Earth. The latter was further developed into Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.

* During a tour of the Best Brains studio, Info Club "Poobah" Barb Tebben mentioned that, according to the writers and performers, the "classic" Satellite of Love set used from Season 2 until the end of Season 7 cost $200 to construct.

* On Thanksgiving Day November 28, 1991, a 30-hour "Turkey Day" marathon featured 15 consecutive episodes.

* The original cut of the biker flick The Sidehackers reportedly included a graphic rape/murder scene which was removed, leaving an obvious gap in the storyline. The BBI staff explained that they had not thoroughly reviewed the film before deciding to use it, but changed this practice afterward.

* The night the Sci Fi Channel aired the last rerun of the series, NBC aired one of creator Joel Hodgson's first national television appearances on an old episode of Saturday Night Live.

Joel/Mike must watch the movie or be subjected to a loss of oxygen or other punishments. One episode, Invasion of the Neptune Men, was so bad that Mike left the theater, preferring the vacuum.

* Gypsy's work keeps her from participating in the movie segments. However, upon casual mention of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Gypsy is prone to bursting into the theater to gasp, "Richard Basehart?!" Gypsy's love for Basehart is a running gag of the series. Also, in one episode, all life support systems are turned down to minimum so that Gypsy can join The Guys in the theater properly. She realizes it's quite boring and leaves after a few minutes.

* In only one episode did "The Mads" sit in the theater instead of "The Guys". This was episode #611, Last of the Wild Horses, which takes place in a mirror universe where Mike is the mad scientist.

* In only one segment of one episode did Pearl Forrester sit in the theater. This was episode #913, Quest of the Delta Knights. Pearl was trying to evaluate the entire experiment process to find out why Mike wasn't breaking.

* Matt Groening was a fan of the show. Homages to MST3K can be seen in episodes of Groening shows The Simpsons and Futurama.

* In the "Potty Emergency" episode of the cartoon series Animaniacs, Wakko, Yakko and Dot go to watch Brain Eaters from Outer Space, wherein an alien attempts to eat its victim by catching her betwixt two pieces of sliced bread. As she runs over to the side of the spaceship, she opens the window and screams. Right above the very window is inscribed: "MST3K".

* MST3K is actually the password for the final level in the computer game Mac Attack.

* The computer game Escape Velocity features many Mystery Science Theater references, including: An Easter Egg where you can fly the S.O.L., a secret weapon called "The Forklift" which plays a brief snippet of the MST3K song "They Tried to Kill Me with a Forklift", and by holding down the "Option" key one can watch a parody of the MST theme song in place of the game's normal opening scrawl.

* Wing Commander 3 had a mission set in the Torgo system. In addition, a player could type "Mitchell" (a reference to the Joe Don Baker movie MST3K parodied) to put the game in cheat mode; if it was successful, the game played an audio snippet of Joel, Crow and Tom Servo saying "Mitchell!"

* LucasArt's computer game Star Wars: Rebel Assault II contained an elaborate easter egg that, if activated, would display the famous MST3K silhouette on the bottom of the screen. Afterwards, all the cutscenes in the game would display alternate, humorous dialogue in the style of the show.

* In the Marvel Comics issue Quasar #57, the character Paragon goes undercover as Advanced Idea Mechanics Agent MST-3K.

* In the Archie Comics series Sonic the Hedgehog, issue #52, Sonic the Hedgehog is sent into a 1920s variation of Mobius. In searching for the handheld computer Nicole, Sonic does battle with a number of robots, two of them resembling Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo.

* The DC Comics series Young Justice and Teen Titans Go! had various MST3K references. References include a box of "MiSTe-Os" with Tom Servo on it in Young Justice: "Sins of Youth" (#1), the remains of the Satellite of Love in a spaceship graveyard in the Young Justice installment of "Our Worlds at War", and Starfire going to Torgo's Pizza in Teen Titans Go! issue #2.

* The 2006 Dark Horse comic book STAR WARS: Tag & Bink II #2 had numerous cameos, including a scene in a diner with Gypsy, Tom Servo, and Crow in the background (pg. 8).

* In one of the show's skits from 1993, the cast decided to poke fun at Minneapolis, Minnesota radio station WBOB, which had adopted the identity "Bob 100" and the slogan "Turn your knob to BOB". In their parody, Dr. Forrester was naming a radio station after TV's Frank with the slogan "Turn your crank to Frank". In 2006, Nassau Broadcasting actually started a variety-hits "Frank FM" format, similar to the "Jack FM" format, so in areas of the Northeastern United States, people can now actually turn their "crank" to Frank.

* In the 1997 Star Wars fan-made parody film Troops, the Imperial droid stolen by the Jawas is shown to be Tom Servo.

* The Homestar Runner cartoon "A Jorb Well Done" features a theater scene (which in itself is parodying A Clockwork Orange's conditioning scene) in which Tom Servo is visible.

* The silouette of The Guys is on the cover of Roger McGuinn's 1996 album Live From Mars.

* For rock band Weezer's 2001 self-titled album (aka The Green Album), the band had a silhouette of the MST3K cast sitting in front of the band playing on-stage in the CD case insert. The trio can be found on the bottom right hand side of the crowd.

* The webcomic Megatokyo features a strip named "Mega-Science Theatre 3k" where Largo talks about previous scenes saying, "The scene is saying I am lame."

* In The 40-Year-Old Virgin, there is a Mystery Science Theater 3000 poster in Andy's apartment.

* The comic book Ninja High School has had several overt references to the show, including having Gamera fly by in the background while a character sings the MST-penned Gamera song ("Gamera is really neat, he is full of turtle meat"). The bots and Joel have also repeatedly shown up in the backgrounds.

* MST3K has infiltrated realms of fiction completely unrelated to the series. It has become an acceptable form of critical commentary in various fanfiction genres to "MST" or "MiST" a story that is perceived as flawed. In the MSTing, it is common for characters of the story to examine it through the voice of the MSTier, usually in a biting or sarcastically funny manner.

* The videogame magazine PlayStation Underground (Volume 2 Number 1) included a Best Brains-produced MST3K short on one of their promotional discs. The video opened with a host segment of Mike and the Bots playing some PlayStation games, only to go into the theater to riff on some videos from the magazine's past. The feature is about seven minutes long. An Easter egg on the disc has some behind-the-scenes footage of Best Brains filming the sequences.

* The only appearance to date of the cast in character since the final episode was an episode of ESPN Classic's Cheap Seats, where they briefly appeared in a cameo to make fun of the hosts' own skits. The show is largely looked upon as the closest thing to MST3K on television as of January 2006.

* The anime convention Otakon ran a series of shows called "Mystery Anime Theater 3000" from 1997-2003. The show was one of the most popular elements of the convention.

* The annual Transformers (toyline) convention Botcon has done a similar MSTing of Transformer episodes nearly every year since 1996.

* The commentary for the film (at least the UK version) Men in Black is done in a similar style to MST3K, with Tommy Lee Jones and others sitting in a theatre watching the film and commenting on it.

* The DVD for Ghostbusters features a MST3K style commentary track. Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman and Joe Medjuck were featured in silhouette "watching" and discussing the feature.

* A comedy group in Austin, Texas called "Mr. Sinus Theater 3000" began a live version of the MST3K format in 2000, mocking popular films like Top Gun and The Terminator at the Alamo Drafthouse dinner theater. In 2004 they were sued by the creators of MST3K over copyright issues, and subsequently changed their name to "The Sinus Show." As of 2006 they remain one of the most popular comedy groups in Austin, and may be the only version of the MST3K format still in production.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home