Jedan od najvećih kultnih fenomena pop kulture, "najbolje što su stvorile devedesete". Tv-serija, film i mnoštvo popratnih projekata u kojima se slijedi premisa da su zli znanstvenici zarobili čovjeka i smjestili ga u svemirsku postaju u kojoj mora gledati jedan loš film za drugim. Da bi izdržao taj psihički teror čovjek izrađuje robote i zajedno s njima zajebantski komentira filmove tako da sav taj filmski jad postaje suluda zabava. Ismijavanje B-filmova i općenito svih loših filmova - loše glume, glupih scenarija, idiotskih dijaloga, katastrofalne scenografije - dosegnulo je ovdje svemirsku sublimnost.
Svatko zna da loši filmovi služe tome da se s njima sprdamo i zabavljamo se vlastitim ciničnim komentarima na njihov račun dok ih gledamo. Ovdje je taj evergrin sobnog folklora pretvoren u umjetničku formu.
Na YouTubeu su dostupne goleme količine MST3K droge, kao i mnogi izbori best-of scena.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 — MST3K for short — debuted on the local Minneapolis UHF station KTMA (currently CW station WUCW) in 1988. Somewhere between Sketch Comedy, improv, and a late-night movie anthology, MST3K showed some of the worst films imaginable — or at least the kind of crappy B-movies a third-tier UHF station could afford the rights to — intercut with framing sequences following the life of the hapless Joel Robinson (Joel Hodgson), who is stranded on the "Satellite of Love" by mad scientists Dr. Clayton Forrester (Trace Beaulieu, a reference to the hero of the 1953 film adaptation of War of the Worlds) and Dr. Lawrence "Larry" Erhardt (Josh Weinstein). During the movies, Joel is joined by Crow T. Robot (Beaulieu) and Tom Servo (Weinstein), two robots he'd contrived from spare parts, and the trio would mercilessly riff on the comically low quality of the films they watched. (Joel and The Bots were portrayed in "Shadowrama" as if they were sitting in the front row of a theater showing the movies.) The show was partially aimed towards a young audience, which made the riffing generally good-natured, unlike the bitter sarcasm of (for example) the Medved brothers of Golden Turkey Awards fame.MST3K quickly achieved cult status; after one season, the show was picked up by the fledgling Comedy Channel (now Comedy Central). Although the riffing was a lot more sophisticated — it was now written in advance, rather than improvised — the show never betrayed its low-budget roots, featuring production values which deliberately mimicked the string-powered pie plates and papier-mache aliens of the films it mocked. After the first season on Comedy Central, Weinsten left; he was replaced by the big-voiced Kevin Murphy (as Tom Servo) and the generally big Frank Conniff (as TV's Frank, who became Dr. Forrester's hapless sidekick). With this cast in place, the show hit its stride and ran for six more seasons, eventually spawning a feature film. During the fifth season, Joel left and was seamlessly replaced by head writer Mike Nelson.The film proved to be a stretch too far, however: it not only drove out original cast member Trace Beaulieu, but also led to the show's cancellation. After a period of uncertainty, MST3K was sold to the Sci Fi Channel, where it ran for three additional seasons and went through further cast changes. (By the end of the show's run, none of the original KTMA cast remained on the show.) MST3K ended in 1999, but for contractual reasons, it was rerun in random time slots until 2004.Several episodes were repackaged for syndication in a trimmed-down version known as "The Mystery Science Theater Hour", with new framing segments parodying the introductions used by classic film channels. In general, MST3K did not lend itself to commercial exploitation; each episode ran for two hours (with commercials), and the production team struggled to obtain and keep the rights to the films it riffed. As a consequence of these issues, MST3K was barely broadcast outside the US and remains unknown in large parts of the English-speaking world. Season Three featured numerous Gamera movies, which were removed from further distribution after Sandy Frank (who had imported and dubbed the Gamera films) lost the rights to his dubs and the original Japanese studio, Daiei, refused to sell them for mockery — well, until Shout! Factory got the rights to release them. Shout! Factory's new license resulted in DVD releases of the Gamera films, as well as a special volume of MST3K's Gamera episodes. (The show's Godzilla episodes are also out of distribution, but no new deal appears to be in the works to get those episodes released.)In the years since the show's end, distribution rights to many of the riffed movies reverted to their original owners, which means episodes of MST3K featuring those films can't be redistributed (legally, anyway). For several years, Rhino Entertainment released episodes on video and DVD; in 2008, the DVD rights were transferred to Shout! Factory, and the Rhino releases slowly went out of print. Most of the episodes released on DVD are available for streaming/rental from Netflix.The series' philosophy of "Keep Circulating the Tapes" (a phrase found in the credits) led to much of the show being easily found online; Best Brains encourages tape trading and file sharing, and the group uploaded numerous MST3K episodes onto Google Video themselves.The handling of the series by Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel remains a cause of irritation amongst fans even today; one widely circulated conspiracy theory says the network (either one) intentionally sabotaged the series, since the show had a small but intense cult following which made the show hard to dismiss despite its modest ratings. The odd choices of sponsors tends to underscore this idea in the minds of many fans.Several different groups of former cast members have taken stabs at reviving the show in different ways:
- Nelson, Murphy, and Corbett collaborated on The Film Crew. Four DVDs were produced — with the concept being closer to the original MST3K — before RiffTrax began, but weren't released until late 2007.
- Mike Nelson's RiffTrax was the second and more successful spin-off, giving the MST treatment to popular movies and TV shows via mp3 "commentary" tracks for DVDs (as well as DRM-free pre-synched videos of the cast making fun of public domain short films). Several RiffTrax releases feature other MST3K cast members — usually Bill Corbett, who played both Crow and Brain Guy on the Sci-Fi Channel episodes, and Kevin Murphy — and various guest stars.
- Cinematic Titanic — which also uses an MST3K-esque Shadowramma — features Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Josh Weinstein, Frank Conniff, and Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester). Episodes of this project are available on DVD and digital download. The group also takes the show on the road and riffs on films they have yet to release to DVD.
- Finally, the official MST3K website featured several flash cartoons featuring The Bots.
For obvious reasons, the movies shown on MST3K embody damn near every trope, cliché, and hackneyed plot device ever invented — which Joel / Mike and the 'bots would mercilessly call out.
The series features a man and his robot sidekicks who are trapped on a space station by an evil scientist and forced to watch a selection of bad movies, often (but not limited to) science fiction B-movies. To stay sane, the man and his robots provide a running commentary on each film, making fun of its flaws and wisecracking (or "riffing") their way through each reel in the style of a movie-theater peanut gallery. Each film is presented with a superimposition of the man and robots' silhouettes along the bottom of the screen.
Series creator Hodgson originally played the stranded man, Joel Robinson, for five and a half seasons. When Hodgson left in 1993, series head writer Michael J. Nelson replaced him as new victim Mike Nelson, and continued in the role for the rest of the show's run.
During its eleven years, 198 episodes and one feature film, MST3K attained critical acclaim. The series won a Peabody Award in 1993, was nominated for two Emmy Awards (in the category of Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing for a Variety or Music Program) in 1994 and 1995, and was nominated for a CableACE Award.
In 2007, James Poniewozik listed Mystery Science Theater 3000 as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-Time."
PremiseSometime in the future, two mad scientists, Dr. Clayton Forrester, played by Trace Beaulieu, and his sidekick Dr. Laurence Erhardt, played by Josh Weinstein, launch Joel Robinson (Hodgson), a janitor working for Gizmonic Institute, into space and force him to watch truly horrible B-movies 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. The sycophantic TV's Frank, played by Frank Conniff, replaced Dr. Erhardt in the second season premiere on the Comedy Channel (third season overall), following Weinstein's departure from the series. Trapped on board the ship, named the Satellite of Love, Joel builds four sentient robots: Tom Servo (voiced first by J. Elvis Weinstein, then by Kevin Murphy beginning in Season 2 on Comedy Channel, Season 3 overall), Crow T. Robot (voiced first by Trace Beaulieu, then by Bill Corbett beginning in Season 8 [first year on the Sci-Fi Channel, ninth overall year of the show]), Gypsy (voiced first by Weinstein, inhaling as he spoke, then by Jim Mallon and later by Patrick Brantseg, both using a falsetto voice), who steers the ship, and Cambot, the recorder of the experiments who is visible only in a mirror during the opening credits and occasionally interacts with the others (for example, when Cambot is asked a yes-or-no question, the onscreen image will shift up and down or left and right, as if Cambot were nodding or shaking itself in a "yes" or "no" gesture). Also making intermittent "appearances" in the show's early years is Magic Voice (eventually voiced by Mary Jo Pehl, who later played Pearl Forrester), a disembodied female voice whose primary role is to announce the start of the first commercial break in each episode (such as "Commercial Sign in 15 seconds"; "Commercial Sign in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1").
Joel has no control over when the movies start, because—as the original theme song stated -- "he used those special parts to make his robot friends" (those "robot friends" being Cambot, Gypsy, Crow, and Tom Servo). The opening theme-song lyrics were changed repeatedly in later seasons to accommodate plot changes, like when Mike Nelson replaced Joel Robinson. He must enter the theater when "Movie Sign" flashes, because Dr. Clayton Forrester (and in later seasons, his evil would-be tyrant mother Pearl) has numerous ways to punish Joel/Mike for non-compliance, including shutting off the oxygen supply to the rest of the ship, and electric shocks. As the movies play, the silhouettes of Joel/Mike, Tom, and Crow are visible at the bottom of the screen, wisecracking and mocking the movie (a practice they often referred to as "riffing") in order to prevent themselves from going mad.
Several times during each movie (about every half-hour when shown with commercials), Joel (and later Mike) and the bots perform skits, songs, or other short sketch pieces (called "host segments") that are usually related to the movie they are watching. These segments sometimes even feature "visits" by prominent characters from a shown movie, such as Torgo from Manos: The Hands of Fate, "Jan in the Pan" from The Brain That Wouldn't Die, Ortega from The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies, "Mega-Weapon" from "Warrior of the Lost World", and Mothra from Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster. Mike Nelson also played many of these guest characters when Joel was still hosting the show, including memorables like Torgo, Gamera and a Michael Feinstein-esque lounge singer.
Many episodes without movies long enough to fill the show's runtime also include screenings of unintentionally humorous short films or "shorts," including educational films from the 1940s through the 1960s, a training film for Chevrolet sales managers, movie serials including Radar Men from the Moon, Undersea Kingdom, and The Phantom Creeps, films intended to teach children about posture or personal hygiene, and segments from 1960s episodes of the soap opera General Hospital. Shorts became less frequent in later episodes, and were virtually nonexistent by the first Sci-Fi Channel season since the channel's executives required that every film be science-fiction, fantasy, or horror in nature. The restriction was lifted for the final two seasons, which featured three shorts (including a Gumby cartoon).
Background and history
InfluencesAlthough MST3K was arguably the most successful television series to satirize the B movie genre, it was not the first. Prior to MST3K's 1988 debut, the nationally syndicated TV series, Mad Movies with the L.A. Connection and The Canned Film Festival, featured many of the same movies but each lasted for only a single season in 1985 and 1986 respectively.
Hodgson is credited for coming up with the concept for the show (as well as the title, Mystery Science Theater; the "3000" suffix was added later to sound like a version number, as in "HAL 9000"). 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. These initial episodes were recorded at the now defunct Paragon Cable studios and customer service center in Hopkins, Minnesota.Hodgson credits Silent Running, a 1972 sci-fi film directed by Douglas Trumbull, as being perhaps the biggest direct influence on the show's concept. The film is set in the future and centers on a human, Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern), who is the last crew member of a spaceship containing Earth's last surviving forests. His remaining companions consist only of three robot drones (the third robot is destroyed in the beginning of the movie), though they are not able to converse with him. MST3K and the Joel Robinson character also occasionally reflected Lowell's "hippie"-like nature. Hodgson also cites Beany and Cecil as having likely been a subconscious childhood influence. The 1960s Bob Clampett cartoon series centered on a boy and his sea serpent friend. In an interview, Hodgson made loose retrospective comparisons to elements between the two shows, such as the ship (the Leakin' Lena, to the S.O.L.), and the characters of Beany (to Joel), Cecil (to Gypsy), Huffenpuff (to Tom Servo), Crowy (to Crow), and Dishonest John (to Dr. Forrester). Another childhood influence was the CBS Children's Film Festival, a 1970s live-action program which starred Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Burr Tillstrom's puppet troupe which was made famous during television's early days in the 1940s and 1950s. The characters consisted of a human (played by Fran Allison) and her two puppet friends (both performed by Tillstrom). Each episode of Film Festival featured an international children's film, with Kukla, Fran and Ollie serving as hosts. Fran would lead discussions of the film as the episode went on, in similar fashion to MST3K's host segments.
The show's ship, the Satellite of Love, is a reference to the Lou Reed song, the show's main protagonist, Joel Robinson, is a reference to the 1960s television series Lost in Space (as well as The Swiss Family Robinson and Robinson Crusoe), the show's main antagonist, Dr. Clayton Forrester, is named after the main character in The War of the Worlds), and the signature silhouetted movie seats were partially inspired by several Looney Tunes shorts in which an on-screen character would interact with a "theater audience member" who could only be seen in silhouette.
KTMA eraIn September 1988, Hodgson enlisted Twin Cities-area comedians Trace Beaulieu and Josh Weinstein, and producer Jim Mallon, to help him shoot a pilot for the show. The robots and the set, in their crudest format, were built by Hodgson in an all-nighter (this led to his sleepy demeanor while filming the pilot afterward, which he decided to incorporate into the character). The next morning, shooting commenced, and a 30-minute pilot was produced, 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 (Mallon). Camera work was by Kevin Murphy, who worked at television station KTMA and also created the first "doorway sequence" and theater seat design.
Mallon met with KTMA 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. The back story was also altered from the pilot; In the pilot episode it is explained that Joel Hodgson (not yet using his character name of Robinson) had built the Satellite of Love and launched himself into space (according to an interview with Hodgson on StarWars.com, it was set in a post-apocalyptic future). Once the series was picked up this was changed, with Joel now having been a janitor at a "satellite loading bay", who was launched into space against his will by his evil "mad scientist" bosses. Joel's captors (played by Beaulieu and Weinstein) did not actually appear outside of the opening theme until several episodes later.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 premiered at 6:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1988 with its first episode, Invaders from the Deep, followed by a second episode, Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars at 8:00 p.m. Initially, the show's response was unknown, until Mallon set up a phone line for viewers to call in. Response was so great that the initial run of 13 episodes was extended 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 Minneapolis, to a crowd of over 600. Despite the success, the station's overall declining fortunes forced it to cancel MST3K.
Comedy Central eraJust as its run at KTMA was ending, the creators of MST3K used a short "best-of" reel to pitch the concept to executives at the Comedy Channel, a relatively new national cable channel. It became one of the first two shows picked up. New sets were built, the robots were retooled, and a new doorway sequence was shot. Another major change was the show's writing format: instead of ad-lib riffs in the theater, each show was carefully scripted ahead of time, with Mike Nelson serving as head writer. Writer and performer Weinstein left the show during the transition period. Murphy replaced Weinstein as the voice of Tom Servo. The Dr. Erhardt character was replaced by Conniff's "TV's Frank" (who showed Joel and the bots a milk carton with Erhardt on it to explain he was "missing"). Despite being a lackey and not a "mad scientist", Forrester and Frank were collectively referred to as "The Mads".
After the second season, The Comedy Channel and rival comedy cable network HA! merged to become Comedy Central. During this period, MST3K became the cable channel's signature series, expanding from 13 to 24 episodes a year, a rate which would continue until its seventh national season, as the show gradually fell out of favor with the network's new management at the time. To take advantage of the show's status, Comedy Central ran a 30-hour marathon of previous MST3K episodes during Thanksgiving, 1991, including special promos and a "making of" show (This Is MST3K, hosted by Penn Jillette) that featured a behind the scenes look at episode scripting, filming, voicing, and puppet construction.
Show creator Hodgson decided to leave the series halfway through season five. He chose to quit due to his dislike of being on-camera, as well as his disagreements with producer Jim Mallon for creative control of the program. Hodgson later told an interviewer: "If I had the presence of mind to try and work it out, I would rather have stayed. 'Cause I didn't want to go, it just seemed like I needed to." In his final episode, Joel was forced to sit through the Joe Don Baker movie Mitchell; he escaped the S.O.L. and returned to Earth with the help of Gypsy and Mike Nelson (a temp worker, played by head writer Nelson, hired by Forrester to help prepare for an audit from the Fraternal Order of Mad Science), after the two discovered an escape pod (fittingly named the Deus ex Machina) in a box marked "Hamdingers". To replace Joel, Dr. Forrester sent Mike up in his place, where he remained as the show's host until the end of its run.
Conniff left the show after season six, with Frank being taken to "Second Banana Heaven" by Torgo of Manos: The Hands of Fate (another movie previously viewed in their theater) played by Mike Nelson. Season seven saw the addition of Forrester's mother, Pearl (played by writer Mary Jo Pehl). In the last show of the seventh season, Laserblast, Dr. Forrester detaches the SOL from Deep 13 after his funding runs out, casting the satellite adrift in space. Eventually they reach the edge of the Universe and become entities of pure consciousness.
The show's run coincided with the growth of the internet and numerous fans' (MSTies) Web sites devoted to the series.
There were two official fan conventions in Minneapolis, run by the series' production company itself (called "ConventioCon ExpoFest-A-Rama" (1994) and "ConventioCon ExpoFest-A-Rama 2: Electric Bugaloo" (1996), the second being a dual reference to the movie Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo and the children's TV series The Bugaloos).
Sci-Fi Channel eraWhen Comedy Central dropped the show after a six-episode seventh season, MST3K's Internet fan base staged a write-in campaign to keep the show alive. One contributor to the campaign was Biography host Jack Perkins, whom Nelson had impersonated for the syndicated version of MST3K, known as The Mystery Science Theater Hour. 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.
Trace Beaulieu, who had played Dr. Forrester and Crow, had already departed the series at the end of its Comedy Central run (with Forrester ultimately becoming a star child in a parody of 2001: A Space Odyssey). Mary Jo Pehl took over the antagonist role as Forrester's mother, Pearl, who had been featured as a regular in season seven. 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 (a.k.a. "Brain Guy"), played by writer Bill Corbett. In addition, Corbett took over Crow's voice and puppetry. With this replacement, the series' entire central cast had changed from the original KTMA / Comedy Central cast. 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.
The move to the Sci-Fi Channel posed additional challenges. First, Sci-Fi was reluctant to show films without a clear science-fiction, fantasy or horror theme, limiting the range of films; The Girl In Gold Boots, the second episode of the final season, was the sole exception. Sci-Fi also required an ongoing plot in the host segments, which BBI attempted to provide with the narrative of Pearl chasing the Satellite of Love across the galaxy.
Mike and the bots watch The Crawling Eye (in their apartment on Earth) at the end of the series finaleThe series finale, Danger: 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 to air on the Sci Fi Channel for several years, ending with The Screaming Skull on January 31, 2004.
Another campaign to save the show was mounted, including several MST3K fans taking contributions for a full-page ad
in the television trade publication Daily Variety magazine. The campaign was unsuccessful, but the show lives on through post-projects such as Rifftrax and Cinematic Titanic.
Main article: Mystery Science Theater 3000 video releases
Main article: List of Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodesThe first three KTMA episodes are considered to be the "missing MST3K episodes". No fan copy is known to exist. (Jim Mallon had once mentioned that Best Brains' master copies are stored in a vault.) The long lost episodes are K01 ("Invaders from the Deep"), K02 ("Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars"), and K03 ("Star Force: Fugitive Alien II"), with K03 being redone in season 3. "Episode" K00, "The Green Slime", is often counted among those missing shows, but is actually only a never-broadcast, half-hour sample from the film used to sell the MST3K concept to KTMA.
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), Monster A Go-Go (1965) (episode 421), Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) (episode 424), Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders (1995) (episode 1003), The Incredible Melting Man (1977) (episode 704), and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964) (episode 321).
SyndicationIn 1993, the show's staff selected 30 episodes to split into 60 one-hour segments called The Mystery Science Theater Hour, hosted by Mike Nelson in his "Jack Perkins" persona. The repackaged series' 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.
Main article: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The MovieIn 1996, Universal Studios released Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, a film adaptation in which Mike and the bots riffed This Island Earth. The film was released on DVD in the United States by Image Entertainment. Universal Pictures re-released the film on DVD on May 6, 2008, with a new anamorphic widescreen transfer, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix, and the film's original trailer.
BookIn 1996, the book, The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide (written by some MST3K cast members), was released, which contained a synopsis for every episode from seasons 1 through 6, and even included some behind-the-scene stories as well. In it, Kevin Murphy related two tales about celebrity reactions he encountered. In one, the cast went to a taping of Dennis Miller's eponymous show; when they were brought backstage to meet Miller, the comedian proceeded to criticize the MST3K cast for their choice of movie to mock in the then-recent episode "Space Travelers" (a re-branded version of the Oscar-winning film Marooned). He also discussed how he met Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., one of his literary heroes. When he had mentioned the show and its premise to Vonnegut, the author suggested that even people who work hard on bad films deserve some respect. Murphy then invited Vonnegut to dine with his group, which Vonnegut declined, claiming that he had other plans. When Murphy and friends ate later that night, he saw Vonnegut dining alone in the same restaurant, and remarked that he had been "faced... but nicely faced" by one of his literary heroes.
Other appearancesIn 1996, during promotion for Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, Mike and the bots were interviewed in-character on MTV, and seen in silhouettes heckling footage from MTV News. Also that year, Joel Hodgson was a featured guest on Space Ghost: Coast To Coast (Mike Nelson and Tom Servo, in character, were also interviewed in a later episode, but the segment was never completed).
In 1997, the E! network's Talk Soup show, starring John Henson, featured guest appearances from Mike, Crow, and Tom Servo. Also that year, a replica of Servo made a brief appearance as a stolen droid in the Star Wars / Cops parody, Troops.
In 2007, 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. Also that year, a new online animated web series, referred to as "The Bots Are Back!", was produced by Jim Mallon. The series planned to feature weekly adventure based solely around Crow, Tom Servo and Gypsy, with Mallon reprising his role as Gypsy and Paul Chaplin as Crow. However, only a handful of episodes were released, and the series was abandoned due to budget issues. The internet response to the webisodes was largely negative.
ReceptionIn 2004, the show was listed as #11 in a featured TV Guide article, "25 Top Cult Shows Ever!", and included a sidebar which read, "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." Three years later, TV Guide rewrote the article, and bumped MST3K to #13. 
In 2007, the show was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME."
In 2012, the show was listed as #3 in a featured Entertainment Weekly article, "25 Best Cult TV Shows from the Past 25 Years," with the comment that "MST3K taught us that snarky commentary can be way more entertaining than the actual media."
The show also enjoyed a number of celebrity fans, including Frank Zappa, whose long-standing enjoyment of substandard B-movies had been documented in songs such as "Cheepnis" (as heard on Roxy & Elsewhere); Zappa went so far as to telephone Best Brains and became a friend of the show, and following his death episode 523 was dedicated to him.
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", "thinks that people come from trees", Steven Spielberg "won't return his calls", 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. However, this may in fact be a rumor, as other rumors indicate that the Gamera films distribution rights prices were increased beyond what BBI could afford as a result of the show's success. According to Shout! Factory, the Japanese movie studio Kadokawa Pictures were so horrified with MST3K's treatment of 5 Gamera films that they refused to let Shout! release the episodes on home video. Brian Ward (one of the members of Shout! Factory) explained to fans on the forums of the official Shout! Factory website that they tried their best to convince them, but the Japanese take their Gamera films very seriously and don't appreciate their being mocked. However, eventually Shout! was able to clear the episodes for a special 2011 release due to the rights in North America shifting away from the Japanese to another, North American entity that had no such qualms. In another post on the Shout! Factory message boards, Ward explained that the Godzilla films faced the same obstacle as Gamera, and explained that unless the rights shifted the way the Gamera rights have, these films would remain unreleased.  Kevin Murphy had said that Joe Don Baker wanted to beat up the writers of the show for attacking him during Mitchell. Murphy later said Baker likely meant it in a joking manner, although Nelson said he deliberately avoided Baker while the two were staying at the same hotel. Director Rick Sloane was shocked at his treatment at the conclusion of Hobgoblins. In a recent interview, however, Sloane clarified his comments, saying that "I laughed through the entire MST3K episode, until the very end. I wasn't expecting the humor to suddenly be at my own expense. I was mortified when they dragged out the cardboard cutout and pretended to do an interview with me. I was caught off guard. I had never seen them rip apart any other director before on the show." He also credits the success of the MST3K episode with inspiring him to make a sequel to Hobgoblins, released in 2009. Jeff Lieberman, director of Squirm, was also quite angry at the MST3K treatment of his film. Author Bill Warren, during an audio commentary for The War of the Worlds with director Joe Dante and film historian Bob Burns III said, "I don't like that show", after Dante pointed out that MST3K's "head scientist" is named after the film's leading character, Dr. Clayton Forrester.
Others have been more positive: Robert Fiveson and Myrl Schriebman, producers of Parts: The Clonus Horror, said they were "flattered" to see the film appear on MST3K. Actor Miles O'Keeffe, the star of the film Cave Dwellers, called Best Brains and personally requested a copy of the MST3K treatment of the film, saying he enjoyed their skewering of what he had considered to be a surreal experience (the film was shot in Italy). In the form of an essay and E.E. Cummings-esque poem, Mike Nelson paid tribute to Miles with a humorous mix of adulation and fear. Actor Adam West, star of the 1960s Batman TV series, co-starred in Zombie Nightmare, another film MST3K mocked. West apparently held no grudges, as he hosted several MST3K marathons on Comedy Central, including the "Turkey Day" marathon in which the episode featuring Zombie Nightmare had its broadcast premiere. Mamie van Doren (who appeared in episode 112, Untamed Youth, and episode 601, Girls Town), Robert Vaughn (star of episode 315, Teenage Cave Man, which he called the worst movie ever made) and Beverly Garland (who'd appeared in many MST3K-featured Roger Corman films) also hosted. Rex Reason, star of This Island Earth, has also appeared at several MST3K events and credits MST3K with introducing the film to a new generation. The crew of Time Chasers held a party the night the MST3K treatment of their film aired and, while reactions were mixed, 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."
AwardsIn 1993, MST3K won a Peabody Award for "producing an ingenious eclectic series": "With references to everything from Proust to 'Gilligan's Island,' 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' fuses superb, clever writing with wonderfully terrible B-grade movies".
In 1994 and 1995, the show was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing for a Variety or Music Program, but lost both times to Dennis Miller Live. Every year from 1992 to 1997, it was also nominated for CableACE Awards. Its DVD releases have been nominated for Saturn Awards in 2004, 2006 and 2007.
Characteristic elementsSeveral unusual elements of Mystery Science Theater 3000 provide a unique feel to the show, and were featured in many (if not all) episodes.
Theater silhouetteThe theater silhouette, trademarked as "Shadowrama" (sometimes "Shadowramma") — a row of chair tops with Tom Servo, Joel or Mike, and Crow sitting at the right side — is a simple row of rounded shapes cut from black painted foamcore board. Joel/Mike would be dressed in black and the puppeteers would be crouched below the foam seats. The robots used for filming these scenes would be spray painted black. Shot from behind against a white wall gives the illusion of sitting in a movie theater. A simple digital replacement of the white screen with the movie completed the effect. A photograph of this process appears in the book The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, depicting Mike Nelson with a script on his lap and puppeteers Trace Beaulieu and Kevin Murphy working their respective robot puppets in front of the theater seat cutout. Its characteristic appearance has been used in several works, often as an homage to the show. In some cases, Joel or Mike would use their silhouette to "interact" with the movie as if helping the actors with a prop or the like as part of a joke; when the show featured 1985's City Limits, the silhouettes were used to censor a brief nude scene. Occasionally, when a close-up would place the image of a movie character's lips within Tom Servo's range, his silhouette would rise up and "kiss" the oversized lips on screen. The silhouette "interactions" are used more predominately in Cinematic Titanic.
In the initial DVD releases, a polyvinyl silhouette was included, which could be affixed to a TV screen via static electricity to allow viewers to create their own MST3K experience with any feature at home.
Door sequenceFeatured 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 theater or vice versa. Access to the tunnel from the bridge is through a hexagonal doorway, originally decorated with a large, stylized pinion gear shaped "G" (for Gizmonic Institute, the original lair of the Mads). In the middle of season five, upon Joel's departure, the main bridge door's stylized Gizmonic "G" logo was removed and altered to resemble a full pinion gear wheel/hub design for the Mike Nelson episodes (season 5 to 7). This change was made per Joel Hodgson's request that all references and logos to Gizmonic be removed upon his leaving the show. In the Sci-Fi Channel era, the main bridge door was redecorated again, with a profile shape of the Satellite Of Love locking hinge-and-planet design. This replaced the "gear wheel" design. 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 doorway sequence was changed three times during the series' duration. The first one was used for the KTMA season, and a more colorful and elaborate one was built and recorded for season one on Comedy Central which would remain in place until Joel left in episode 512. Beginning with episode 513, a newer, more sophisticated doorway sequence was built and recorded, keeping up with the show's art direction at the time, which now included more dark-grey colors, more props and a more proportionally shaped hexagonal tunnel. This doorway sequence would remain for the duration of the series. The original door sequence is known amongst fans as the "Joel Doors" and the latter sequence is known as the "Mike Doors." In Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, Best Brains acquired props to use an actual door sequence instead of recording one. The film's renditions of the doors also featured a plaster casting of the face of TV's Frank from the Joel-era seasons on Door #2, as an homage to the former cast member.
Hexfield Viewscreen (HVS)The HVS was, as its name implies, a hexagonally shaped opening on the SOL's bridge that served as a kind of monitor, through which the inhabitants of the SOL could interact with a wide and diverse range of visitors, often characters taken directly from whatever movie they were watching at the moment (Gamera, Jan-in-the-Pan, etc.), and sometimes not (Yakov Smirnoff, rowdy redneck neighbors, etc.). While an ostensible viewscreen, it was actually a small stage area, covered with a dark fabric screen with an "iris" mechanical door in front of it; and was often "deactivated" by simply turning off its lighting at the end of a transmission, as the door moves rather slowly. The HVS was used more frequently during the Comedy Central years. During the SciFi Channel era, it was used on a few occasions, such as during the season-eight send up of "The Mole People" and during season 10 in episodes "Soultaker", "Final Justice", & "Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders". The Hexfield Viewscreen premiered in episode 201 ("Rocketship X-M") and was originally manually operated with a hardware store bought window shade before episode 205 when the more familiar iris mechanism and frame backlight were installed. The HVS frame had different backlight colors through the years. It had a blue light from mid-season two to early season three, white lighting in mid-season three, then yellow lighting in late season three, and finally blue again from seasons four through ten.
Rocket Number NineSometimes Joel/Mike and the Bots would become aware of something happening outside the ship, and would instruct Cambot to "give [them] Rocket Number Nine". Once they did this, they were provided with an external view of the ship and whatever was nearby. This is an oblique reference to the Sun Ra composition Rocket Number Nine, featured on the 1973 album Space is the Place. This became a running gag; every external shot of the ship, no matter what angle or element of the ship was shown, was from "Rocket Number Nine", or one occasion (episode 913, Quest of the Delta Knights), "Rocket Number Eleven Minus Two".
During the host segments, a set of three spinning lights was located on the table (to the viewer's left) and above the door to the theater.
- The leftmost light was red and would light to indicate that the Mads were calling; Mike discovered in episode 517 (Beginning of the End) that the button could be pressed to contact Deep 13, but commented after seeing the Mads in an uncomfortable domestic scene, "So, I guess we can call the Mads... You know what, I don't think we should do that again."
- The middle light was purple (green from episodes 201–324) and would light to indicate a visitor in the Hexfield Viewscreen (this occurred only during the Comedy Central episodes—except in episode 802, when it was lit parallel to Mike trying to 'start' the Satellite of Love). While one of the characters would usually touch the flashing light to "execute" it, there were never any consequences for failing to do so.
- The rightmost was yellow ("commercial sign") and would light to indicate that the show had to cut to a commercial break.
- When all three lights flashed, it indicated "movie sign". When this happened the camera would shake, a buzzer would sound, and everyone currently on the bridge would scatter while yelling "We've got movie sign!" or "Movie time!".
Invention exchangeThe Hodgson era of the show (as well as the first five episodes of the Nelson era) featured the "invention exchange". This was always in the host segment which followed the first commercial break. Joel and the bots would present their latest idea for a new invention to the Mads (often ending with the line "Whaddaya think, sirs?") and vice versa. Hodgson's premise behind the segment was that as fellow Gizmonic Institute employees, the invention exchange served as a sort of company greeting. In reality, the segment was essentially a carryover from Hodgson's earlier prop comedy performances. The inventions ranged from a karaoke machine that only played public domain music (to avoid royalties) to a machine that converted fun gifts into mundane, practical gifts. The final invention exchange occurred in episode 519, "Outlaw" (the seventh show featuring Nelson as the host), wherein the Mads presented "the first really real time machine" opposite Mike and the bots' "instant Fabio kit". The invention exchanges were ultimately discontinued because, according to Murphy in The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, "Joel was the gizmocrat, the one who brought that invention exchange spirit on board," adding that "Mike is many things, but he is not a tinkerer". Despite this, Dr. Forrester and Frank continued to present new inventions and experiments throughout seasons five and six, usually sending them to Mike and the bots to test them out.
StingerA brief (generally, three to five seconds) clip from that episode's movie (or occasionally the accompanying short) which played following the end credits of the show. The clip generally highlighted a moment or line of dialogue that the show's writers found to be particularly amusing. The tradition started with the season-two episode that features Rocket Attack U.S.A., with a shot of a blind man walking down the street, then suddenly stopping to exclaim "Help me!" The stinger was replaced for three episodes of season eight with images of the Observers, and for a fourth with a shot of Bobo after a disastrous fall.
Best Brains' copyright notice was shown during the stinger.
At the end of each episode during the "Frank" years (seasons 2–6), Dr. Forrester would instruct Frank to push "the button", which was located on a computer keyboard. When this was done, the image would shrink and leave a black screen to make way for the end credit roll. "Push the button, Frank" has since become one of the show's more recognizable lines among fans. (Some believe that the line is a reference to a running gag of "Push the button, Max!" in the film The Great Race). Occasionally there were variations of this custom, as in Daddy-O where "the button" malfunctioned and would repeatedly interrupt the credit roll to switch the show back to the Mads in Deep 13.
Low budgetAs with the films that they riff on, MST3K was economical. Everything, right down to the sets, props and robots are made from household items found at thrift shops. Part of this started during the KTMA years, as there was little to no budget supplied to the crew for the set, so such items had to be made out of various "found junk". Despite an increasing budget, Best Brains never forgot their roots as a "cowtown puppet show" and subsequently kept the bric-a-brac motif of the show.
Midwestern referencesMany 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 (recorded throughout its eleven seasons in this area) and the Best Brains staff's Midwestern roots. For example, in episode 422 (featuring The Day the Earth Froze), Crow T. Robot remarks how Scandinavia resembles southern Wisconsin with the crack: "It's the Swedish Dells!" He then says in a heavy Swedish accent: "The Dooks! Ride the dooks!" (that is, the 'Ducks', an amphibious tour vehicle). There is also an episode where they reference former U.S. Sen. William Proxmire, D-Wis. In the fan-favorite episode 424, "Manos: The Hands of Fate", one scene is accompanied by the exclamation "filmed on location in Spooner, WI." The character of Mike Nelson is also from Little Chute, Wisconsin and in episode 810, The Giant Spider Invasion, which is set in Wisconsin, the crew accordingly mocks riotous mobs by shouting variations of "Packers won the Super Bowl!!" (Hodgson is a native of Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin and Packers fan. However, some members of the cast and crew are ardent fans of the arch-rival Minnesota Vikings, even having Vikings running back Robert Smith in a dialogue-less cameo in one episode). References to the Twin Cities suburbs such as Maplewood and Edina are also common, e.g., "Featuring Music normally heard at the Days Inn lounge in Columbia Heights". Mary Jo Pehl's home town of Circle Pines, Minnesota is also mentioned in a number of episodes. Actual directions off of the Beltline in Madison, WI, have also been given on the show. Other Midwestern areas referenced at various times in the series include Chicago (writer/performer Kevin Murphy is from Illinois, and the film from episode 517, "Beginning of the End" is set in Illinois; WGN is referenced several times, particularly its late-1980s commercial bumpers for movie broadcasts), Iowa (in "Outlaw of Gor," a wideshot showing a large grassy expanse causes Crow to exclaim: "Wha-It's Iowa!"), and Michigan (at one point in episode 512, "Mitchell", Joel uses the name of a henchman to reference Benton Harbor, Michigan).
Riff density and callbacksOnce 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. For example, if something in the movie is shown flashing light, one of the cast members would say "Eat at Joe's".
Letter readings and Info ClubA common feature on the show was the reading of fan mail during the closing segment of the show. Usually, only one letter was read per episode, although up to four letters have been read in some episodes. During the beginning of each letter, Cambot has the note up on "still store" so that the audience can see the text (or fan art, if any). This began during the KTMA season of the show, though early episodes had Joel only playing phone messages from fans – the tradition did not evolve to letter-reading until about halfway through the inaugural season. One piece of fan art, featured in episode 402, The Giant Gila Monster, showed Joel and the Bots, but inexplicably labeled Crow as "Art". Joel and the Bots were clearly puzzled by this, and it led to a running joke of characters on the show occasionally addressing Crow as Art. (The artist, a young child, had presumably seen a sketch in an earlier episode in which Joel introduced the 'bots in the manner of Jackie Gleason introducing the cast of The Jackie Gleason Show; in the sketch, Joel introduced Crow as "Art Crow," a reference to Gleason Show cast member Art Carney.)
MST3K also boasted an "Info Club", a system where viewers could write in to the specified address (the same one used to collect fan mail) and receive newsletters about events and information related to the show. The address would appear in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen twice during the theater segments, and again in conjunction with the letter readings.
The letter reading ended mid-season seven, with the last episode to feature letter readings being episode 705, "Escape 2000".
Musical numbersThe host segments of many episodes (almost every episode in the Joel era, less often in the Mike era) feature a musical number written by Michael J. Nelson. The songs usually mock the movie that's being watched (the "Sidehacking" song from "Sidehackers") or one of the people involved with production ("The Sandy Frank Song" from "Time of the Apes"). Several of these songs make up the majority of the archive material on MST3K.com
Guest charactersThe 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. MST3K has only had two non-staffers make guest appearances on the show: Minnesota Vikings running back Robert Smith appeared as "Howard", a "gift" to Pearl from her ape worshipers, in a season eight episode; and film critic Leonard Maltin, who had been mercilessly mocked for some of his ratings of MSTied films, appeared as himself in episode 909, "Gorgo".
Mystery Science Theater 3000s Mike Nelson (left) and Kevin Murphy, at "Exoticon 1" convention panel in Metairie, Louisiana, November 1998In 2001, Mike Nelson, Patrick Brantseg, Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy and Paul Chaplin created The Adventures of Edward the Less, an animated parody of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and others in the fantasy genre (w/ additional vocals by Mary Jo Pehl and Mike Dodge) for the Sci Fi Channel website.
In 2006, Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett debuted RiffTrax, a web-based series which allowed customers to purchase riff-only audio tracks that they can sync up with dozens of popular film titles. Guest commentators such as "Weird Al" Yankovic and Neil Patrick Harris have been featured guest riffers, and, under the RiffTrax banner, the three principal riffers have made occasional live appearances which have been broadcast to theaters nationwide, starting with the 50th anniversary edition of a colorized Plan 9 from Outer Space in 2009.. In addition, the three riffers also occasionally provide commentary to movies during a summer series at the Stone Brewing Company in Escondido, California.
In 2007, Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Josh Weinstein, Frank Conniff and Mary Jo Pehl debuted Cinematic Titanic, direct-to-DVD releases which riffed on older films with a shadowrama effect. Also that year, the three principal Rifftrax crew debuted The Film Crew, direct-to-DVD releases which riffed on old movies in a different setting. Cinematic Titanic continues to release new titles, while The Film Crew discontinued after only four titles. Also that year, Frank Conniff and animation historian Jerry Beck debuted Cartoon Dump, a series of classically bad cartoons, which are also occasionally performed live.
In 2008, Bill Corbett and fellow writer Rob Greenberg wrote the screenplay for Meet Dave, a family comedy starring Eddie Murphy about a tiny Star Trek-like crew operating a spaceship that looks like a man. The captain of the crew and the spaceship were both played by Corbett. Originally conceived as a series called Starship Dave for SciFi.com, it was dropped in favor of Edward the Less. The script (along with the title) were changed drastically by studio executives and other writers, although Corbett and Greenberg received sole screenwriter credit.
In 2010, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Joel Hodgson, Mary Jo Pehl, Josh Weinstein, Beth McKeever and Clive Robertson voiced characters for Darkstar: The Interactive Movie, a computer game created by J. Allen Williams.
ReunionIn 2008, to commemorate the show's 20th anniversary, the principal cast and crew from all eras of the show reunited for a panel discussion at the San Diego Comic-Con International, which was hosted by actor-comedian Patton Oswalt. The event was recorded and included as a bonus feature on the 20th Anniversary DVD release via Shout! Factory. Also that year, several original MST3K members (including Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff) reunited to shoot a brief sketch to be included on the web-exclusive DVD release of The Giant Gila Monster. The new disc was added to Volume 10 of the "MST3K Collection" DVD boxed set series, replacing the Godzilla vs. Megalon disc which could no longer be sold due to copyright conflicts. The new package was sold under the name "Volume 10.2", and the sketch was presented as a seminar to instruct consumers on how to "upgrade" their DVD set, which merely consists of "disposing" the old disc and inserting the new one.
LegacyIn 2003, the television series, Deadly Cinema, starring Jami Deadly, debuted, which featured the cast making fun of bad movies, MST3K-style.
In 2004, the ESPN Classic series, Cheap Seats, debuted, which featured two brothers making fun of clips of old sporting events, MST3K-style, and is noteworthy for containing an episode in which MST3K cast members briefly appeared in a cameo to make fun of the hosts' own skits.
In 2007, for a special premiere of the Nickelodeon movie, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, the three characters (Jimmy, Carl, and Sheen) commented during the movie, MST3K-style.
In 2008, the internet and direct-to-DVD comedy series, Incognito Cinema Warriors XP, debuted, which used the same "host segment-movie segment" format the show established, while featuring completely original characters and plot. ICWXP has gained a similar cult following, even earning the praises of former MST3K host, Michael J. Nelson.
In 2009, the television and internet comedy series, Transylvania Television, debuted, which was about a vampire and his misfit minions who run a television station in the depths of the Carpathian mountains with the improbable ability to reanimate dead TV shows. While it doesn't use a riffing format, it also utilizes puppets and is steeped in pop culture references.
In 2010, the television series This Movie Sucks! (and its predecessor Ed's Nite In), starring Ed the Sock and co-hosts Liana K and Ron Sparks, debuted, which featured the cast making fun of bad movies; however, creator Steven Kerzner was quick to point out that MST3K was not "the creator of this kind of format, they’re just the most recent and most well-known."
In 2011, the podcast, Torgo's Pizzeria Podcast, debuted. The name comes from the character of Torgo from the movie Manos: The Hands of Fate which was featured on MST3K. The concept of Torgo working in a pizzeria is also a reference to the show. 
Also that year, the theater silhouette motif was parodied by golf commentator and talk show host David Feherty in an episode of Feherty. He is shown sitting in front of a large screen and "riffing" while viewing footage of golfer Johnny Miller and is joined in the theater by his stuffed rooster (Frank) and his gnome statue (Costas).Public performances of live riffing have been hosted by various groups in different cities across the U.S., including The Raspberry Bros. (New York City, New York), Cineprov (Atlanta, Georgia), Counterclockwise Comedy (Kansas City, Missouri), FilmRoasters (Richmond, Virginia), Mister Sinus Theater (Austin, Texas), Moxie Skinny Theatre 3000 (Springfield, Missouri), Riff Raff Theatre (Iowa City, Iowa), and Twisted Flicks (Seattle, Washington). Canadian sketch comedy group Loading Ready Run produces the show Unskippable for The Escapist website, which applies the MST3K premise to video game cut scenes.
rec.arts.tv.mst3k.announcewere Usenet newsgroups established in the mid 1990s for announcements and discussions related to the show. The newsgroup had been created in April 1995 by renaming the existing unmoderated newsgroup rec.arts.tv.mst3k at the same time as the creation of the moderated general announcement group rec.arts.tv.mst3k.announce.
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42. "Interview with Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy", 0:06:44ff, Disc 2, The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 5 DVD set (2004), Rhino Entertainment, ISBN 1-56605-906-2. Murphy: "I think staying in the Midwest was crucial to the fact that the show did so well…" Nelson: "… the point of view is so Midwestern…".
43. Mystery Science Theater 3000, "The Mole People" , closing segment.
44. MST3K, "Laserblast" . During the film's closing credits, Mike and the bots ruthlessly compare Maltin's other ratings to what they consider his inexplicable favoring of Laserblast with 2½ stars.
45. MST3K, "The Undead" , closing segment. Tom Servo forces Mike to costume himself as Maltin and read an outrageous apology for "his" Undead rating.
46. MST3K, "Gorgo" , intro and closing segments. Maltin gamely appeared as himself in season 9, in a good-humored attempt to help Pearl torture the SOL captives with Gorgo, another film of arguable quality which he claimed he liked.
47. Murphy, Kevin. "Edward the Less Video Interview, Part 1." SciFi.com, 2001. Retrieved on 2009-02-02.
53. Darkstar on IMDB
55. Minnewood Behind the Scenes with Transylvania TV Minnewood.com, March 19, 2009 (Video by Brian Stemmler)
56. Mohawk students help bring Ed back to TV Hamilton MountainNews, May 27, 2010 (Article by Gord Bowes)
60. Godes, David; Dina Mayzlin (August 2003). "Using Online Conversations to Study Word of Mouth Communication". pp. 10–11. Retrieved 15 September 2010. "We found 169 diﬀerent groups that contained messages about the shows in our sample ... Table 3 ... 20 Top Newsgroups in the Sample ... rec.arts.tv 9,649 ... rec.arts.tv.mst3k.mis 578"
61. Lieck, Ken (July 14, 1995). "The Information Dirt Road Marketing Your Band on the Net" . The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 15 September 2010. "groups where obsessos of all types get together and exchange information about their favorite TV shows (news:alt.tv.brady-bunch, news:rec.arts.tv.mst3k)"
62. Werts, Diane (May 14, 1996). "A MSTie Farewell to Mike, The 'Bots and Bad Flicks". Newsday (Long Island, N.Y.): pp. B.53. "new MST feature flick which just ended its NYC run and should hit the burbs soon check the Internet newsgroup rec.arts.tv.mst3k"
63. "Moderation Replacement Announcement rec.arts.tv.mst3k.announce". The Big-8 Management Board. 2007-09-20. Retrieved 15 September 2010. "rec.arts.tv.mst3k.announce was created in April 1995. At the same time the unmoderated newsgroup rec.arts.tv.mst3k was renamed to rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc"
- Best Brains (1996). The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide (1st ed.). Bantam. pp. 173 pages. ISBN 0-553-37783-3.
- The Official MST3K FAQ
- Satellite News — Official MST3K fan site
- "Mystery Science Theater 3000". Official site (Sci Fi Channel). Archived from the original on August 1, 2001.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 at the Internet Movie Database
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 at TV.com
- Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt — Reference guide to the movies and shorts shown on MST3K.
- The MST3K Song Index — Lyrics and lists of all the songs from MST3K
- Sci Fi Channel chat transcripts
on August 22, 2003.
- "MST3K's Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, Mary Jo Pehl & Paul Chaplin" . March 12, 1998. Archived from the original on August 22, 2003.
- "MST3K's Kevin Murphy: A Dialogue (Part 1)"
. August 08, 1999. Archived from the original on August 24, 2003.
- "Bill Corbett & Mike Nelson: A Dialogue (Part 2)" . August 08, 1999. Archived from the original on August 23, 2003.
- MST3K wiki
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 Exclusive Interview – Trace Beaulieu and Jim Mallon
Written by Nico
I’ll admit it. It was intimidating to sit across from Trace Beaulieu (Crow T. Robot, Dr. Forrester) and Jim Mallon (Gypsy), two of the creative forces behind a show that got me through college – Mystery Science Theater 3000. When I introduced myself as being from www.collider.com, they asked if I had anything to do with the supercollider in Europe that, if turned on, could end life as we know it. It’s that sort of tangential thinking that made the riffing on MST3K so organic and so funny.
We talk about how MST3K is like coffee, if a show like MST3K could exist today and what movies would inspire their commentary now… and, of course, the end of life as we know it.
Here’s the transcript…but you can also watch the interview as a video clip at the bottom of this article.
NICO FROM COLLIDER: What is it like revisiting it after ten years? The whole Mystery Science Theater phenomenon?
TRACE BEAULIEU: It’s so strange because we stopped doing it and it kind of left our lives but it’s never left the fan’s lives. They’ve kept it alive all this time. It’s really flattering to return to it when there’s this much passion for it.
JIM MALLON: One of the things I’ve enjoyed is just getting back together with everyone after all these years and remembering how funny everybody is. Were you at the panel last night?
NFC: I wasn’t.
JM: There’s someone like Frank [Conniff] who… if he was a guy who came to your house to move a refrigerator, you wouldn’t think twice about it…. And then the funniest stuff just pours out of him. Or Paul [Chapin] who probably in a different life would be a professional fishing guy, don’t you think?
TB: Or he’d be a campaign person for Adalai Stevenson.
JM: Yeah, exactly. It’s very unexpected. So to get the whole band back together and feel that energy is pretty cool. Then to be in front of over two thousand fans, super charged the evening. That, to me, was very cool.
NFC: Is there any chance that energy might translate into a reunion of some kind?
JM: That’s a complicated question. Partly – we would be double casted. Let’s say we got everybody back together to do the show. We’d have two hosts, we’d have two Crows, we’d have Dr. Forrester and his mom trying to rule the world, we’d have two Tom Servos, we’d have two Gypsy’s… I think that’s like what you were saying, don’t cross the streams. There’s sort of a parallel universe thing. We might have a Lost episode on our hands where all of the sudden the convention hall would move eight feet to the one side or something. I don’t know if that is particularly possible, but it’s an interesting idea.
TB: We could do both casts and overlay them and the viewer could dial the cast member they wanted to see…
JM: That’d be cool.
TB: …like a make-a-face kit.
NFC: With Blu-Ray technology, you could pick which character you wanted to listen to.
TB: And you could get other people to do us.
JM: Yeah and this could all be put on a, what do they call it, a blog?
TB: It’s something like that. A blog… or a log…
JM: You could real-time blog it and it would be good.
TB: It sounds too hard already.
NFC: I think there’s about a billion fans that would help out. So if you’re looking for help just put a little note up on the internet and you’ll have a response.
TB: On Craig’s List.
TB: Looking for Mystery Science cast.
JM: A billions a lot of people. I think we should look at that number. I think there’s three hundred fifty million people in the United States and I know we have fans…
NFC: China? Big in China? Come on.
JM: I’m thinking Canada. You know there’s very few people in Canada. This is one of those not-known facts. How many people do you think there are in Canada? Just take a guess.
NFC: Twenty-five million?
JM: No. 327 people. I thought… millions.
TB: They’re clustered in the urban areas.
JM: They run it with a skeleton crew. They do a pretty good job.
TB: It’s a really well run company. Company? Country.
NFC: What was the genesis for the voices of Crow and Gypsy? Where did those come from? Was there an inspiration?
TB: Originally Crow was a very staccato, machine, more classic robot… It got kind of hard to speak that way. It was hard to riff like that because it was locked into one intonation. I think as we did it, I got tired of doing that. (Jim laughs) The voice changed a lot those first few seasons from KTMA to Comedy Central. Comedy Central, right?
JM: Comedy Channel.
NFC: It was originally Comedy Channel and became Comedy Central.
TB: It was a little bit different in that first season than later when I just went I don’t have the energy to maintain this so I’ve just got to do closer to my own voice which is kind of a cross between my voice when I’m excited and a school girl.
JM: Josh [Weinstein] did Gypsy on KTMA, what little she showed up, and he did it as an inhale. I was concerned when I took over Gypsy that I would be permanently damaged and sound like… who’s that guy on Kotter that sounded like that?
JM: Yeah I was concerned I would end up –
TB: In an iron lung.
JM: Then again the writers in those days gave Gypsy one or two word statements like “My stars!” or “Oh!” so there probably wasn’t the danger. I went to falsetto because Gypsy was female. Although I was noticing in one skit, the other bots threw a shower for her and she asked why, was she pregnant, and she didn’t think so. I think it was Tom that said, “Well, you’re a girl” and she mumbled under her breath, “Well, I think I am.” The falsetto and raising of the voice high roughly parallels the difference between the sexes, between humans where men’s voices tend to be lower and women’s voices tend to be higher. I know that’s probably far more technical then you were looking for, but that’s the evolution.
NFC: It’s okay. We’re on the Internet.
JM: Oh. Then they can Google it if they don’t understand.
TB: Porn. Knob. Porn!
NFC: Do you think a show like Mystery Science Theater could be created today with studio pressure and that sort of thing?
TB: Cable has changed so much that we had so much freedom and we were really left alone. Now cable TV is just as restrictive as network, I think.
JM: Plus it’s really fat. When we were kids, cable was like your finger. Maybe a pencil. Now the bandwidth in there…
TB: A pipeline.
JM: That’s an excellent question. I think there’s a couple things to consider. If this show was ever pitched. Here’s what we’re proposing to do. It requires a lot of imagination to envision what this concept could be. The problem is studio executives don’t have that kind of imagination and they just don’t. If you do, you can’t become a studio executive. I don’t think… I think they would’ve smiled a lot, nodded a lot, got us Diet Cokes and waters and said, “Sure, folks, we’ll think about it.” I don’t think it would’ve gotten out of the gate.
TB: It’s hard enough to describe after we’ve made it. Well, we take a bad movie, there’s little guys at the bottom of the screen –
JM: We’re in space…
JM: We’re in space…
TB: When you see the show, you get what it is, but it’s almost impossible to describe to somebody.
JM: The other thing is today you kids what with your digital camcorders and your iPod-Phone things have this thing called your YouTube so if someone comes up with a neat idea on Monday, by Friday 350,000 people have seen it and they’re on to the next thing. I would suspect that the fate of Mystery Science if it were done today, it would’ve been a neat thing that somebody did… there’d be fifty copies right away… there would’ve been the glut of doing that… and then everyone’d go back to porn. I don’t think the show would have had the… it’s like a fine cup of coffee really. You’ve got to let it drip through the grinds and get the flavor. Yes, you can take the cup out and, if you have a better coffee maker, it will stop the flow and not spill, and I’m speaking metaphorically, it will not spill all over the kitchen table of your imagination. The coffee won’t taste as good because what you’re getting is the first drips which I’ve got to believe are stronger, because that’s just logical. When you get a whole cup of coffee, or a pot, then you’re getting a more even – help me here, I’m grasping a little bit. Anyway, the point is –
TB: We made really good coffee. (laughs)
JM: We bought a Bunn machine, remember that?
TB: Oh, yeah… Coffee was our culture.
JM: The Bunn E-Matic. I don’t know if you’ve seen those. You normally can only find those in restaurants. Sort of your roadside restaurant.
TB: It’s the professional coffeemaker. Dedicated water supply.
NFC: Oh yeah.
JM: They call it Bunn for short but the full name is Bunn-E-Matic.
NFC: That should’ve been another bot on the show.
JM: Not a bad idea, actually. There’s probably still time.
NFC: You probably needed a coffee machine.
JM: Anyway, in a nutshell, there was something about the quaint period when we made the show that allowed it to happen which, you’ve got to wonder, how many Mystery Sciences are falling through the crack today because of these kids with their instant YouTube Google?
TB: They consume stuff and then it’s digested and then it’s gone. So we would be gone already.
JM: You wouldn’t be sitting here… filming us…
NFC: So the universe would end as we know it had it tried to happen today?
JM: Just like that accelerator.
TB: Yeah. Don’t start the accelerator. Please.
JM: In Europe.
TB: It’s going to end the universe.
JM: Touch that thing on the whole world will fill up with grey goo and it’ll be over.
JM: Grey goo, not Grey Goose.
NFC: Is there a movie that, since you stopped doing the show that you wished you had a shot at… or when you were doing the show that studios would’ve give you permission?
TB: There’s new stuff all the time. Van Helsing a couple years ago. Open your paper… or open your browser. Any movie. The Hulk, a couple weeks ago.
NFC: The Hulk a couple years ago?
TB: The Hulk a couple years ago AND The Hulk a couple years from now when they remake it again. When will you learn?
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: THE MOVIE DVD Review
Reviewed by Nico
For those of you who missed Mystery Science Theater 3000, or MST3K as it’s also known, here’s a bit of a primer.
MST3K was the perfect foil to the ego, pomp and circumstance of moviemaking. Mad scientist Dr. Forrester maroons everyman Mike Nelson (who replaced original strandee Joel Hodgson) on the Satellite of Love. Forrester then force-feeds Mike bad B movies and plots to take over the world by driving people insane through film flops. The robots, Tom Servo (the one that looks like a gumball machine), Crow T Robot (looks sort of like a robot duck) and Gypsy (looks very much like a giant vacuum cleaner) keep Mike company and the first two help him to critique the movie in question. Mike, Tom and Crow’s silhouettes poke fun at the movie screened at every possible moment. The films stop briefly (he has no control over the breaks as those parts were used to make his robot friends) and the brief intermissions are filled with skits, usually having to do with the movie in question.
For MST3K: The Movie, Dr. Forrester forces Mike and bots to submit to This Island Earth. This Island Earth involves an alien force arriving surreptitiously on Earth in the hopes that Earthling scientists can solve their uranium deficit crisis. Their peaceful mission commander, Exeter, tries to be pleasant and hospitable. After an escape attempt leads to the death of one of the scientists, the plan is scrapped and the laboratories are destroyed. The two remaining scientists are taken to the alien home world of Metaluna… briefly.
Pop cultural references fly fast, loose and out of control and include (but not limited to) Casablanca, Willy Wonka and the Dating Show. During one of the intervening skits, the manipulator arm control is labeled Manos after a film made (in)famous previously by the MST3K crew. The Satellite of Love itself looks like a giant bone… a nod to 2001:A Space Odyssey perhaps? Perhaps one of the funniest moments is when they make fun of their own end credits. This film should be most effectively viewed in the company of people with solid senses of humor and a catalogue of pop culture.
My one criticism is that the film nearly takes itself too seriously. It jettisons the fun, traditional TV opening song that explains everything for an introduction by Dr. Forrester. This starts the proceedings off on the wrong foot and it takes a bit of time to recover. I don’t know how many newcomers will actually stumble across this, so it’s could also be construed as a bit pandering.
The feature is presented in 1.85:1 Anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 on the English track and Dolby Digital 2.0 for the French language track. There are English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
That is all.
No trailer. No scene selection. No inner workings. Heck, no outer workings for that matter. There were no ads for other movies, which I often have a hard time counting as a bonus seeing as they’re just attempts to secure more of your money. As mentioned previously, we don’t even get a performance of the MST3K opening song. As it clocks in at a 75 minute run time (shorter than most episodes of the TV incarnation), this void is sad and evident.
Fans who missed out on the initial theatrical release and that of this DVD years ago will be pleased to have a chance to finally watch it. Unfortunately, there are no new additions to sweeten the pot. The film and its stars continue to bring the funny, but the dearth of extras makes for a disappointing end to the long wait.
- The Green Slime [pilot]
- Invaders from the Deep [K01]
- Revenge of the Mysterions from Mars [K02]
- Star Force: Fugitive Alien II [K03]
- Gamera vs. Barugon [K04]
- Gamera [K05]
- Gamera vs. Gyaos [K06]
- Gamera vs. Zigra [K07]
- Gamera vs. Guiron [K08]
- Cosmic Princess [K09]
- Phase IV [K10]
- Humanoid Woman [K11]
- Fugitive Alien [K12]
- SST Death Flight [K13]
- Mighty Jack [K14] 
- Superdome [K15]
- City On Fire [K16]
- Time of the Apes [K17]
- The Million Eyes Of Sumuru [K18]
- Hangar 18 [K19]
- The Last Chase [K20]
- Legend of the Dinosaurs [K21]
- The Crawling Eye 
- Radar Men From The Moon (Film Serial) [102, 103, 105, 107, 108, 109, 110]
- The Robot Vs The Aztec Mummy 
- The Mad Monster 
- Women Of The Prehistoric Planet 
- The Corpse Vanishes 
- The Crawling Hand 
- Robot Monster 
- The Slime People 
- Project Moon Base 
- Robot Holocaust 
- Moon Zero Two 
- Untamed Youth 
- The Black Scorpion 
- Rocketship X-M 
- The Sidehackers 
- The Phantom Creeps (Film Serial) [203, 205, 206]
- Jungle Goddess 
- Catalina Caper 
- Rocket Attack USA 
- Ring of Terror 
- Wild Rebels 
- Lost Continent 
- The Hellcats 
- X Marks The Spot (short) 
- King Dinosaur 
- First Spaceship on Venus 
- Godzilla Vs Megalon 
- Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster )
- The Blade Master aka Cave Dwellers 
- Gamera 
- Pod People 
- Gamera vs. Barugon 
- Stranded in Space 
- Time of the Apes 
- Daddy-O 
- Gamera vs. Gyaos 
- The Amazing Colossal Man 
- Fugitive Alien 
- It Conquered the World 
- Gamera vs. Guiron 
- Earth vs. The Spider 
- Mighty Jack 
- Aquatic Wizards (short) 
- Catching Trouble (short) 
- Teenage Caveman 
- Gamera vs. Zigra 
- Viking Women And The Sea Serpent 
- Star Force: Fugitive Alien II 
- Mr. B Natural (short) 
- War of the Colossal Beast 
- The Unearthly 
- Santa Claus Conquers the Martians 
- Master Ninja aka The Master 
- The Castle Of Fu Manchu 
- Master Ninja II aka The Master 
- Marooned aka Space Travelers 
- The Giant Gila Monster 
- City Limits 
- Teenagers From Outer Space 
- Time Walker aka Being From Another Planet 
- Undersea Kingdom (Film Serial) [406, 409]
- Attack of the Giant Leeches 
- The Killer Shrews 
- Hercules Unchained (1959) 
- The Indestructible Man 
- Hercules Against The Moon Men (1964, starring "Big" Alan Steel) 
- The Magic Sword 
- Hercules and the Captive Women (1961) 
- Manhunt In Space 
- Tormented 
- The Beatniks 
- Fire Maidens from Outer Space 
- Crash Of (The) Moons 
- Attack of the The Eye Creatures 
- Johnny At The Fair (short) 
- The Rebel Set 
- The Human Duplicators 
- Circus On Ice (short) 
- Monster A-Go Go 
- The Day the Earth Froze 
- Hired! (short) [423, 424]
- Bride of the Monster 
- "Manos" The Hands of Fate 
- Warrior of the Lost World 
- Hercules (1958, starring Steve Reeves) 
- What To Do On A Date (short) 
- Swamp Diamonds 
- Secret Agent Super Dragon 
- Sadko aka The Magical Voyage of Sinbad 
- Eegah! 
- The Truck Farmer (short) 
- I Accuse My Parents 
- Operation Double 007 
- The Girl in Lovers' Lane 
- Body Care And Grooming (short) 
- The Painted Hills 
- Gunslinger 
- Mitchell 
- The Brain That Wouldn't Die 
- Is This Love? (short) 
- Teen-Age Strangler 
- Cheating (short) 
- Wild World of Batwoman 
- Alien from L.A. 
- Beginning of the End 
- What About Juvenile Delinquency (short) 
- The Atomic Brain 
- Outlaw (of Gor) 
- Last Clear Chance (short) 
- Radar Secret Service 
- Santa Claus 
- Teenage Crime Wave 
- Village of the Giants 
- Design For Dreaming (short) 
- 12 To The Moon 
- Girls Town 
- A Date With Your Family (short) 
- Invasion USA 
- The Dead Talk Back 
- Zombie Nightmare 
- Colossus and the Headhunters 
- The Creeping Terror 
- Uncle Jims Dairy Farm (short) 
- Bloodlust 
- Code Name Diamond Head 
- The Skydivers 
- Young Man's Fancy (short) 
- The Violent Years 
- Last of the Wild Horses 
- The Starfighters 
- The Sinister Urge 
- San Francisco International Airport 
- Kitten With a Whip 
- Racket Girls 
- Ilya Muromets aka The Sword and the Dragon 
- High School Big Shot 
- Red Zone Cuba 
- Danger Death Ray 
- Progress Island: USA (short) 
- The Beast of Yucca Flats 
- Angels Revenge 
- The Days of Our Years (short) 
- The Amazing Transparent Man 
- Samson vs. the Vampire Women 
- Revenge of the Creature 
- The Leech Woman 
- The Mole People 
- The Deadly Mantis 
- The Thing That Couldn't Die 
- The Undead 
- Terror from the Year 5000 
- The She-Creature 
- I Was a Teenage Werewolf 
- The Giant Spider Invasion 
- Clonus aka Parts: The Clonus Horror 
- The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies 
- Morozko aka Jack Frost 
- Riding With Death 
- Agent for H.A.R.M. 
- Prince of Space 
- The Horror of Party Beach 
- Devil Doll 
- Invasion of the Neptune Men 
- Space Mutiny 
- Time Chasers 
- Overdrawn at the Memory Bank 
- The Projected Man 
- The Phantom Planet 
- Puma Man 
- Werewolf 
- The Deadly Bees 
- Century 21 Calling (short) 
- The Space Children 
- Hobgoblins 
- Touch of Satan 
- Gorgo 
- The Final Sacrifice 
- Devil Fish 
- Robot Rumpus (short)
- The Screaming Skull 
- Quest of the Delta Knights 
- Soultaker 
- The Girl in Gold Boots 
- Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders 
- Future War 
- The Blood Waters of Dr. Z 
- Boggy Creek 2: The Legend Continues 
- Track of the Moon Beast 
- Final Justice 
- Hamlet, Prinz von Dänemark 
- It Lives by Night 
- Horrors of Spider Island 
- A Case of Spring Fever (short) 
- Squirm 
- Danger: Diabolik