Mystery Science Theater 3000

Mystery Science Theater 3000
Mystery Science Theater 3000
The MST3K planet logo
Also known as MST3K
MST 3000
Format Comic science fiction
Created by Joel Hodgson
Starring Joel Hodgson
Trace Beaulieu
Josh Weinstein
Jim Mallon
Kevin Murphy
Frank Conniff
Michael J. Nelson
Mary Jo Pehl
Bill Corbett
Patrick Brantseg
Theme music composer Best Brains (lyrics)
Charlie Erickson (music)
Joel Hodgson (music & lyrics)
Josh Weinstein (lyrics)
Opening theme "Love Theme from MST3K"
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 10
No. of episodes 198 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Jim Mallon
Joel Hodgson (1988–1993)
Running time 92 mins per episode
Production company(s) Best Brains
Original channel KTMA (1988–1989)
The Comedy Channel (1989–1991)
Comedy Central (1991–1996)
Sci Fi Channel (1997–1999)
Original run November 24, 1988 (1988-11-24) – August 8, 1999 (1999-08-08)
External links

Mystery Science Theater 3000 (often abbreviated as MST3K) is an American cult television comedy series created by Joel Hodgson and produced by Best Brains, Inc., that ran from 1988 to 1999.

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 keep 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,[1] 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."[2]



The show's loosely-defined plot serves chiefly as a pretext for the movie commentary and the comic sketches, known as "host segments," which appear throughout each episode.

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 Gizmonic 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 to find a movie bad enough to break Joel's spirit, then to unleash the movie on an unsuspecting populace, turning everyone into mindless zombie slaves. 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 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 1972 film Silent Running).

The robots are:

  • Tom Servo (voiced first by Weinstein, then by Kevin Murphy beginning in Season 2 on Comedy Channel, Season 3 overall)
  • Crow T. Robot (voiced first by Beaulieu, then by Bill Corbett beginning in Season 8 [first year on the Sci-Fi Channel, ninth overall year of the show]). Both Crow and Tom Servo 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)
  • 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 being driven 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 run time 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, and films intended to teach children about posture or personal hygiene. On one occasion a Gumby cartoon was used as a short, and on three other occasions, segments from 1960s episodes of the soap opera General Hospital were used. These are less frequent in later episodes. They are nonexistent in season 8 (the first Sci-Fi Channel season), because during that season the Sci-Fi Channel's executives required that every film be a science-fiction, fantasy, or horror movie. The restriction was lifted for the final two seasons, with season 9 featuring two shorts (including the aforementioned Gumby film) and season 10, one short (in the penultimate episode).

Background and history

Inspirations and influences

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.[3]

Although 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 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).[3]

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 '40s and '50s. 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.[3]

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.

The name of the Joel Robinson character is a reference to the 1960s television series Lost in Space, which followed the adventures of the shipwrecked Robinsons, a family of astronauts (which itself traces the theme of castaway Robinsons through The Swiss Family Robinson [1812] back to Robinson Crusoe [1719]). In the pilot and first season on KTMA-TV, Hodgson used his real last name.

KTMA era

Hodgson initially came up with the concept for the "Mystery Science Theater".[4] 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.

In 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 overnight by Hodgson. 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, it was set in a post-apocalyptic future).[5] 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 Mysterians" 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 Channel/Comedy Central era

Just 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. MST3K 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 would still be 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 in 1993, halfway through season five. He chose to quit the show due to his dislike of being on-camera, as well as his disagreements with producer Jim Mallon for creative control of the program.[6][7] 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."[8] 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 (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 MST3K previously took into 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) devoted websites to the series.[9]

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 era

When Comedy Central dropped the show after a seventh season of only six episodes, MST3K's Internet fan-base staged a write-in campaign to keep the show alive. One notable contributor to the campaign was TV personality and 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 thus took over the lead "Mad" role as 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. 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 to the staffing issues. First, the channel was reluctant to show films which did not have a clear SF, fantasy or horror theme, limiting the range of films that BBI were able to convince them to show; the only show in the Sci Fi channel era featuring a film with no supernatural or science fictional elements whatsoever was The Girl In Gold Boots, the second episode of the final season. In addition to this, the channel were not willing to release extensive funds for licensing films until they were sure that the move to the channel was a success, so the first nine episodes of the Sci Fi Channel era consist of riffs on old Universal and AIP monster flicks that the channel already had the rights to, making the early part of season eight feel somewhat "samey". And finally, the Channel wanted to impose more of 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 - though this loose plot had somewhat fallen by the wayside by the end of season 8, and for seasons 9 and 10 the concept was abandoned more or less entirely.


Mike and the bots watch The Crawling Eye (in their apartment on Earth) at the end of the series finale

The 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. Including the feature film, the MST3K cast and crew produced 198 full episodes of the show.

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[citation needed]. Another campaign to save the show was mounted. This included taking contributions from MST3K fans for a full-page ad in the television trade publication Daily Variety magazine. The campaign was not successful. However, many former members of Best Brains insist to this day that they would have loved to continue the show indefinitely, as evidenced by similar new projects such as Cinematic Titanic, RiffTrax, and The Film Crew.

In early 2008, nearly all the members of the original MST3K cast reunited to shoot a brief sketch to be included on the web-exclusive DVD release of The Giant Gila Monster.[10] 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." The three-and-a-half-minute video is presented as a seminar to instruct consumers on how to "upgrade" their DVD set, which merely consists of "disposing" of the old disc and inserting the new one. Hodgson (as Joel), Beaulieu (as Crow and Dr. Forrester), and Conniff (as TV's Frank) all reprised their roles, with Conniff also playing Tom Servo.


Cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000
Character KTMA "Season 0"
Comedy Channel / Comedy Central seasons (1989–1996) The Movie
SCI FI seasons (1997–99) Flash series
Giant Gila Monster
(2008) [10]
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Joel Robinson
"Joel Hodgson" during season 0
Joel Hodgson Joel Hodgson1 Joel Hodgson
Mike Nelson Michael J. Nelson
Crow T. Robot Trace Beaulieu Bill Corbett Paul Chaplin Trace Beaulieu
Tom Servo Josh Weinstein Kevin Murphy James Moore Frank Conniff
Gypsy Josh Weinstein Jim Mallon Patrick Brantseg Jim Mallon
Cambot Kevin Murphy2
Magic Voice various, usually Jann Johnson or Alexandra Carr Mary Jo Pehl Beth "Beez" McKeever
Dr. Clayton Forrester Trace Beaulieu Trace Beaulieu
Dr. Laurence "Larry" Erhardt Josh Weinstein
TV's Frank
simply "Frank" pre-season 4
Frank Conniff Frank Conniff1 Frank Conniff
Pearl Forrester Mary Jo Pehl1 Mary Jo Pehl Mary Jo Pehl
Professor Bobo Kevin Murphy
Observer ("Brain Guy") Bill Corbett

1. Guest/cameo appearance only.
2. Normally a non-speaking role.

Video releases and episode trading


The first three KTMA episodes are considered to be the "missing MST3K episodes". No fan copy is known to exist.[11] (Jim Mallon had once mentioned that Best Brains' master copies are stored in a vault.)[12] 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.[11]

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).[13]

Other adaptations


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 time slot. 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.[14][15][16]

Feature film

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. Universal Studios invested few resources into the resultant Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. Distributor Gramercy Pictures had a limited advertising budget and devoted its funds instead to the marketing of the Pamela Anderson film Barb Wire.[17]

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.[citation needed] The movie was released on DVD in the United States by Image Entertainment, but that release has since gone out of print. Universal Pictures re-released the film on DVD on May 6, 2008. The re-release features a new anamorphic widescreen transfer, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix, and the film's original trailer.[18] The movie is also available on DVD in Germany as of October 2007.

The film ran for 74 minutes, making it shorter than any episode of the actual series, and shorter than the original film, This Island Earth, itself.

Flash series

On October 29, 2007, Jim Mallon announced through the Official MST3K Web Site that Best Brains, Inc. was being reborn. To spearhead the production company's return to activity, a new online animated web series referred to as "The Bots Are Back!" was produced. 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.[9]

Other appearances

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.[19]

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. A 1997 episode of E! network's Talk Soup show featured guest appearances from Mike, Crow, and Servo.

The only authorized 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, which featured two brothers "riffing" in an MST3k-like manner at clips of old sporting events, aired from 2004 to 2006. Mike Nelson and Tom Servo were interviewed in character for the show Space Ghost: Coast To Coast, but the segment was never completed. (A segment with Joel Hodgson aired in 1996.)


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."[20]

In June 2007, TV Guide rewrote the list to include new cult hits and removed those that "have not stood the test of time." MST3K was bumped back two spaces to number thirteen. [21]

In 2007, James Poniewozik listed Mystery Science Theater 3000 as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME."[2]

In the book The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide (written by the season 6 MST3K cast members), 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).[22] In the other, Murphy 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.[23] 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 Speilberg"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.[24] 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.[25]

Kevin Murphy had said that Joe Don Baker wanted to beat up the writers of the show for attacking him during Mitchell.[26][27] 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.[28]

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.[29] 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. [30]

Rick Sloane was shocked at his treatment at the conclusion of Hobgoblins.[31] 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.[32] Jeff Lieberman, director of Squirm, was also quite angry at the MST3K treatment of his film.[33]

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.[34]

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,[28] 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.[35]

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.

A 2005 DVD release of The War of the Worlds features audio commentary by director Joe Dante, film historian Bob Burns III and author Bill Warren. During the commentary, Dante points out that MST3K's "head scientist" is named after the film's leading character, Dr. Clayton Forrester. Warren then replies: "I don't like that show."

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."[36]

The theater silhouette motif was parodied by golf commentator and talk show host David Feherty in the July 19, 2011 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).


MST3K won a Peabody Award in 1993, 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".[37]

In 1994 and 1995, Mystery Science Theater 3000 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.[1]

MST3K was also nominated for CableACE Awards each year from 1992 through 1997, the last year of the awards. Its DVD releases have been nominated for Saturn Awards in 2004, 2006 and 2007.

Characteristic elements

Several unusual elements of Mystery Science Theater 3000 provide a unique feel to the show, and were featured in many (if not all) episodes.

Theater silhouette

The 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.[38] 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.[39] 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 sequence

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 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 5, 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.[5] 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 1 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 season 1-5.5 door sequence is known amongst fans as the "Joel Doors" and the season 5.5-10 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.[40] 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 8 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 2-early season 3, white lighting in mid season 3, then yellow lighting in late season 3 and finally blue again from season 4 through 10.

Rocket Number Nine

Sometimes 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.[41] 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".

Light/button signs

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."[42]
  • The rightmost was yellow - "commercial sign" - and would light to indicate that the show had to cut to a commercial break.
  • 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). While one of the characters would usually touch the flashing light to "execute" it, there were never any consequences for failing to do so.
  • 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!".

The lights were absent from the early episodes of the series, and did not appear until halfway through the first season of the Comedy Central era. Before the lights appeared Joel would simply slap the table instead. During Season 1, the color order of the light buttons were different than from later seasons. The green and red buttons were reversed. Green was used for commercial sign and yellow was for the Mads. Red was only used with the others during "movie sign". The rotating strobe lights above the doors did not appear until the set was revamped for season 2. Beginning with season 4, the center door strobe light and center desk button were changed from green to purple. When the S.O.L set was again revamped for the Sci-Fi channel era in season 8, the rotating strobe lights were replaced with blinking square shaped lights and the color and order of color above the doors were changed. A blue light was on the left, yellow in the middle and red on the right. However, the desk lights retained the same color and order from the Comedy Central era red, purple, yellow.

Invention exchange

The 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 5 and 6, usually sending them to Mike and the bots to test them out.


A 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 second-season episode featuring 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.

The button

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 budget

As 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 references

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 (recorded throughout its eleven seasons in this area) and the Best Brains staff's Midwestern roots.[43] 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 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-80s 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 callbacks

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.[5] 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 Club

A 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 7, with the last episode to feature letter readings being episode 705, "Escape 2000".

Musical numbers

The 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

The number of musical numbers featured on the show went into decline once Nelson's tenure as host began, despite the fact that he wrote almost all of the musical numbers.[citation needed]

Guest characters

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. 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 8 episode;[44] 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".[45][46][47]

Post-Mystery Science Theater 3000 projects

Mystery Science Theater 3000s Mike Nelson (left) and Kevin Murphy, at "Exoticon 1" convention panel in Metairie, Louisiana, November 1998
  • Shortly after the cancellation of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Patrick Brantseg, Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy, Michael J. Nelson and Paul Chaplin created The Adventures of Edward the Less, a 2001 animated fantasy/comedy for, the Sci Fi Channel website. Edward the Less was a parody of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and the fantasy genre in general. MST3K veterans Mary Jo Pehl and Mike Dodge also provided vocals.[48]
  • Since 2006, writer/performers Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett have applied the format to major studio films by selling riffing-only audio tracks, called RiffTrax, on the web. Nelson occasionally performs solo on the tracks, or accompanied by guest commentators such as "Weird Al" Yankovic and Neil Patrick Harris.
  • Under the "RiffTrax" banner, Nelson, Murphy and Corbett make occasional live appearances. In July 2008, they riffed to Plan 9 from Outer Space in San Diego. They also provided commentary to Michael Bay's Transformers, Jurassic Park and other movies during a summer series at the Stone Brewing Company in nearby Escondido, California.
  • Nelson, Murphy and Corbett appeared in four episodes of The Film Crew, riffing on old movies in a different setting. The four-title run includes "Hollywood After Dark", "Killers from Space", "Wild Women of Wongo", and "The Giant of Marathon". No additional episodes have been made, the website and sets have been discontinued, and cast-member Kevin Murphy has indicated that the project will probably not continue. The four existing titles are all available on DVD.
  • Joel Hodgson has created a similar project, called Cinematic Titanic, with original cast members Trace Beaulieu and Josh Weinstein, as well as former cast members Frank Conniff and Mary Jo Pehl. Hodgson and company have stuck a bit closer to the MST3K format than their RiffTrax counterparts, staying with little-known b-films and the shadowrama effect. Their first DVD was released in December 2007, with new releases becoming available both on DVD and on the internet for download.
  • Conniff has been part of "Cartoon Dump",[49] a series of classically bad cartoons from the collection of Jerry Beck. In addition to web appearances, live shows are being performed in Los Angeles and New York City Hodgson and J. Elvis Weinstein make guest appearances. Conniff plays Moodsy Owl while Hodgson and Weinstein play Dumpster Diver Dan.
  • Corbett, along with fellow writer Rob Greenberg, wrote the screenplay for the 2008 family comedy Meet Dave, 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 Eddie Murphy. Corbett originally conceived the story as a series called Starship Dave for, but 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. Corbett said he and Greenberg had very little creative control during filming.[50]
  • The computer game Darkstar: The Interactive Movie features, along with actor Clive Robertson, several cast members from MST3K and Cinematic Titanic, including Trace Beaulieu as First Officer Ross Perryman, Frank Conniff as both Navigator Alan Burk and the voice of the quirky robot SIMON, Joel Hodgson as Scythe Commander Kane Cooper, Mary Jo Pehl as both Captain Beth Ingram and the voice of the computer Westwick Main, and J. Elvis Weinstein as Captain Cedrick Stone. Also from MST3K is Beth "Beez" McKeever as Pilot Paige Palmer. Darkstar was released on November 5, 2010.[51]

Cast reunion

To commemorate 20 years since MST3K's first episode, the principal cast and crew from all eras of the show reunited for a panel discussion at the 2008 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.

Series inspired by MST3K

  • The Ed the Sock Canadian television series This Movie Sucks! (and its predecessor Ed's Nite In) are likely inspired by MST3K as the series features Ed the Sock with his co-host Liana K and Ron Sparks screening and making fun of bad movies, although 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."[52]
  • Another Canadian series, The All-Night Show, hosted by Chuck the Security Guard (Chas Lawther) who would take over the CFMT TV station late at night and screen cult classic TV shows and movies with his friends (including Jim Carrey) actually preceded and may have helped inspire MST3K.
  • Transylvania Television, a television and internet comedy series 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 was, in great part, inspired by their MST3K predecessors.[53] While it doesn't use a riffing format, it also utilizes puppets and is steeped in pop culture references and homages to B-movies, and D-list monsters.
  • Internet and direct-to-DVD comedy series Incognito Cinema Warriors XP, or "ICWXP", is heavily influenced by MST3K. The show uses 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.[54]
  • 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.
  • Popular Internet series Webcam Ward on Something Awful and YouTube channel Retsupurae, both started by Micheal "Slowbeef" Sawyer, riffs on bad YouTube videos in the classic MST3K format, although the inspiration may not be as direct.
  • Popular web series Freeman's Mind has some comedy elements similar to MST3K, such as when the main character complains about the rules in the game world.
  • There is a series on YouTube called Master Chief Theater 3000, similar to MST3K, but instead features Master Chief and other Halo series characters viewing cutscenes from the Halo games.

Usenet groups and were Usenet newsgroups established in the mid 1990s for announcements and discussions related to the show.[55][56][57] The newsgroup had been created in April 1995 by renaming the existing unmoderated newsgroup at the same time as the creation of the moderated general announcement group[58]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Mystery Science Theater 3000". emmys. Retrieved 2011-08-03. 
  2. ^ a b Poniewozik, James (2007-09-06). "The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME". Time (,28804,1651341_1659192_1652619,00.html. Retrieved March 4, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c "20 Questions Only Joel Hodgson Can Answer about MST3K". Special Feature. Satellite News. January 1999. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  4. ^ "Ouch, Minutiae! #1: What do we know about the MST3K Pilot and missing episodes?". Tom's Temple of MST3K Stuff. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  5. ^ a b c "A Guy Named AJ : Launching Cinematic Titanic". Archived from the original on 2007-12-02. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  6. ^ Henry, Brian. "MST3K FAQ -- West Brains: Aliens in L.A.". MST3K Info Club. Archived from the original on 2007-04-14. Retrieved 2007-05-24. 
  7. ^ Phipps, Keith (1999-04-21). "Joel Hodgson". The Onion A.V. Club. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b MSNBC article: "Ex ‘MST3K’ stars, writers fill hole left by show". webcitation archive link
  10. ^ a b "Joel & The 'Bots Return for Brief DVD Reunion". Wired: Underwire blog. 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  11. ^ a b "Season 'Zero': KTMA-TV Channel 23 1988-1989". Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Unofficial Episode Guide. Satellite News. Retrieved 2007-01-26. 
  12. ^ "Jim Mallon interview". Satellite News Interview of Jim Mallon. Satellite News. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  13. ^ "IMDb Bottom 100". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2006-08-17. 
  14. ^ "The Mystery Science Theater Hour: Summary".;full_summary. Retrieved 2006-08-17. 
  15. ^ "The Mystery Science Theater Hour: Episode List".;episodes. Retrieved 2006-08-17. 
  16. ^ Beaulieu, Trace; et al. (1996). ""The Mystery Science Theater Hour"". The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide. New York: Bantam Books. p. 111. ISBN 0-553-37783-3. 
  17. ^ Walker, Albert (March 14, 2004). "Barb Wire recap". The Agony Booth. Retrieved 2006-08-17. 
  18. ^ Lambert, David (January 22, 2008). "New DVD Release for MST3K: The last!". TV Guide: DVD News & Reviews. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  19. ^ "PlayStation Perfect Guide". Game Rave. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  20. ^ "25 Top Cult Shows Ever!". TV Guide (May 30 – June 5, 2004): 32. ISSN 0039-8543. 
  21. ^ "TV Guide Names the Top Cult Shows Ever". June 29, 2007. Retrieved August 24, 2007. 
  22. ^ Beaulieu, Trace; et al. (1996). The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide. New York: Bantam Books. p. 64. ISBN 0-553-37783-3. 
  23. ^ Beaulieu, Trace; et al. (1996). "Forward About Kurt Vonnegut". The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide. New York: Bantam Books. pp. xi-xiii. ISBN 0-553-37783-3. 
  24. ^ "Part 14: Battles on Many Fronts (1996)". The Almost but Still Not Quite Complete History of MST3K. Satellite News. Retrieved 2006-08-17. 
  25. ^ "Sandy Frank". MST3K Wiki. Wikia. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  26. ^ Finley, Stephen F. (June 25, 1999). "512 - Mitchell". Daddy-O's Drive-In Dirt. Satellite News. Retrieved 2006-08-17. 
  27. ^ Chandler, Rick. "MST3K Touches Down For Good". Impression Magazine. Reprinted by MSTies Anonymous. Archived from the original on 2006-06-18. Retrieved 2006-08-17. 
  28. ^ a b Cavanaugh, Maureen (2006-08-30). "Host of Mystery Science Theater 3000 moves to San Diego" (MP3). These Days. KPBS-FM. Retrieved 2006-09-13. 
  29. ^ Cornell, Chris (2010-11-25). "Turkey Day Surprise from Shout". Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  30. ^ Ward, Brian (2010-11-29). "Shout Factory Community". Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  31. ^ Sloane, Rick (2006). Interview with Jonah Falcon. The Jonah Falcon Show. MNN. New York City. 
  32. ^ Borntreger, Andrew (February 2, 2008). "Interview with Rick Sloane". Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  33. ^ Jeff Lieberman, director. (1976). "Director's Commentary", Squirm (NTSC) [DVD], MGM. Released August 26, 2003.
  34. ^ "An Interview with Fiveson & Schriebman". The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Review. Retrieved 2006-08-17.  Original discussion was started under the thread "Interview with Robert Fiveson" on Proboards on July 29, 2005.
  35. ^ Beaulieu, Trace; et al. (1996). "Miles O'Keefe: A Tribute". The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide. New York: Bantam Books. p. 37. ISBN 0-553-37783-3. 
  36. ^ "An Interview With David Giancola". The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Review. c. May 22, 2005. Retrieved 2006-08-17.  Date is based on information on the discussion thread "David Giancola Interview".
  37. ^ "The Peabody Awards". Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. Archived from the original on 2007-07-08. Retrieved 2007-07-10. 
  38. ^ Best Brains (1996). The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide (1st ed.). Bantam. p. 145. ISBN 0-553-37783-3. 
  39. ^
  40. ^ Noël, Tom. ""Ouch, Minutiae! #9" (doorway changes)". Tom's Temple of MST3K Stuff. Retrieved 2006-08-30. 
  41. ^ "Empty Love Stories #2". Funny Valentine Press. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  42. ^ Epside 517 partial transcript
  43. ^ "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…".
  44. ^ Mystery Science Theater 3000, "The Mole People" [803], closing segment.
  45. ^ MST3K, "Laserblast" [706]. 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.
  46. ^ MST3K, "The Undead" [806], closing segment. Tom Servo forces Mike to costume himself as Maltin and read an outrageous apology for "his" Undead rating.
  47. ^ MST3K, "Gorgo" [909], 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.
  48. ^ Murphy, Kevin. "Edward the Less Video Interview, Part 1.", 2001. Retrieved on 2009-02-02.
  49. ^
  50. ^ Corbett, Bill. "Meat, Dave?",, July 10, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-02-02.
  51. ^ Darkstar on IMDB
  52. ^ Mohawk students help bring Ed back to TV Hamilton MountainNews, May 27, 2010 (Article by Gord Bowes)
  53. ^ Minnewood Behind the Scenes with Transylvania TV, March 19, 2009 (Video by Brian Stemmler)
  54. ^ Rikk Wolf on How Incognito Cinema Warriors makes Terrible Movies Better
  55. ^ 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 ... 9,649 ... 578" 
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  58. ^ "Moderation Replacement Announcement". The Big-8 Management Board. 2007-09-20. Retrieved 15 September 2010. " was created in April 1995. At the same time the unmoderated newsgroup was renamed to" 


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