What is MST3k?

It should probably be a foregone conclusion that if you’ve ended up on this blog, you’re a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000. However, in the event that you were living under a rock from the years 1988-1999, or more realistically had a social life and didn’t spend much time watching Comedy Central or the Sci-Fi Channel, let me clue you in.

MST3k was a cult-classic TV show that somehow thrived for a decade while maintaining a two-hour run time devoted to making fun of (“riffing on”) bad movies. The premise is thus: A nice, everyman kinda-guy named Joel gets shot up into space by a pair of bumbling mad scientists, and is forced to watch really terrible movies as a sort of sick social experiment. To cope with this torture, the resourceful Joel constructs several robotic friends to watch the films with him. Together, they mercilessly mock the drivel they are forced to endure, and occasionally entertain ideas of escaping their satellite prison. Most of each episode consists of viewing the films and making jokes at their expense.

Joel and the bots. Gypsy in purple, Crow T. Robot in gold, Tom Servo in red.

Joel and the bots. Gypsy in purple, Crow T. Robot in gold, Tom Servo in red.

Along the way, a few things change. Joel eventually does escape the Satellite of Love in Season 5, and is replaced with a clueless temp named Mike, who develops his own relationship with the bots. The experiments pick up right where they left off, and Mike and the bots continue to endure cinematic torment of the first degree.

New look Nelson: Mike and the bots.

New look Nelson: Mike and the bots.

Today, the spirit of the show lives on through a very dedicated fanbase, continuing DVD releases, and ongoing movie-riffing projects by both Joel Hodgson and Mike Nelson. Joel’s project, “Cinematic Titanic,” is more focused on live shows and in-person riffing in theaters, while Nelson’s very successful “Rifftrax” project consists of producing riff-commentaries for the popular Hollywood releases of today. Both projects are staffed by crews of MST3k cast members and alumni.

What do you think, sirs?

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