Mystery Science Theater 3000: Spotlight, New Horror Update, & New Discussion
I’m assuming you’re extremely confused with the title of this posting. Let me break it down for ya. I’m doing the 1st ever combination Blog Spotlight-New Movie Update-New Discussion. And the topic is: MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000. I just know there has to be a few of you out there that have seen and love this show!! MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 (referred to as MST3K by it’s fans) was and still is a big part of my life starting from my late teens up to now. Don’t know what it is? Well for starters take a look at the opening of the show (and please note there have been several different openings over the course of its 11 year run):
Just hearing that intro sends me back to a really happy place full of buddies, beer, and hard liquor. So what’s this show about? Didn’t you know Two mad scientists (played originally by Trace Beaulieu and Josh Weinstein) shoot Joel Hodgson into space as an experiment. They plan on showing him really bad movies and record his reactions. They are trying to find the worst movie ever made and use it to take over the world. Yeah I know it sounds ridiculous; its supposed too!! Once in space Joel builds two robots, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot, to keep him company and help him make fun of the horrible movies, or “experiments.”
MST3K was thought up by Joel Hodgson who recruited the help of local comedians Trace Beaulieu and Josh Weinstein and producer Jim Mallon to help him shoot the pilot in September of 1988. The show hit the air on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1988 on a small cable station, KTMA, in Hopkins, Minnesota. The show was pretty much an instant hit but unfortunately KTMA was experiencing financial troubles and was forced to cancel MST3K. Sensing their impending cancelation, the creators put together a “Best of” reel and pitched MST3K to the executives of a brand new cable station called The Comedy Channel — which went on to become Comedy Central. MST3K was one of the 1st 2 shows picked up by this young cable station and with the deal Hodgson and crew got new sets, better looking robots, and the now infamous doorway sequence was built.
The show also experienced some major changes around this time: Mike Nelson (who later become a huge part of the show) joined the team as the head writer; Josh Weinstein, who was the original voice of the robot Tom Servo and played one of the evil scientists Dr. Erhardt, left the show; Kevin Murphy took over the voice of Tom Servo; and Frank Conniff took over the role as TV’s Frank. For those of you who’ve never heard of MST3K, you no doubt don’t have a fucking clue what I’m talking about. All you MST3K fans are, I bet, smiling from ear to ear. If you’ve never seen MST3K do yourself a huge a favor and grab a few episodes from Netflix ot your local Blockbuster rental store. I have every episode (just shy of 200) on DVD and when my wife goes outta town with the kids I randomly grab a bunch of episodes and have myself a marathon!!
The “Comedy Central Years” were MST3K’s most productive and amazing years. The show went through some major changes but it never hurt the quality of the show. In 1993 Joel Hodgson left the show leaving some pretty damn big shoes to fill. Head writer Mike Nelson replaced Hodgson and the show didn’t miss a beat. Nelson brought his own personality and sense of humor on the air that was different from Hodgson’s and in some ways helped reinvigorate the show. What could have been another big blow to the show was the departure of Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank). Conniff was for me the backbone of the show. He was one of the main writers and his portrayal as TV’s Frank was perhaps the shows best character.
Eventually the new “masters” over at Comedy Central didn’t really like MST3K, despite it being one of their solid shows that built that network, and the show was canceled. But the popularity and growth of MST3K coincided with another pretty popular phenomenon … the internet. Comedy Central dropped the show after the 6th episode in the 7th season and the rabid fan base (myself included) immediately hit the web showing their support of the show and demanding the rest of season 7 be aired. The Sci Fi Channel heard the call and stepped up to the plate. They made some casting changes and wanted them to stick more to sci-fi flicks. MST3K aired for another 3 years on the Sci Fi Channel before it was canceled once again (and for the last time) after another management change at the station.
The final episode of MST3K (DANGER: DIABOLIK) aired on August 8, 1999. I know I sound overly dramatic here, but that is a day I won’t ever forget. I sat in my basement with a 6-pack of Yuengling beer and watched the final episode all alone. This was a show that was with me from my sophomore year of undergrad all the way through my Ph.D. studies. It was part of my family and Trace, Mike, Frank, Joel, Servo, Crow, (et al) felt like family members I’d never see again. Luckily some of the guys stayed together and formed such MST3K off shoots like Cinematic Titanic, RiffTrax, and The Film Crew. All the various projects were funny in their own right, but none of them captured the magic of the original MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000.
NEW HORROR FILM UPDATE:
Ok; enough of me geeking out. How does this spotlight tie in with a new horror movie update and a new discussion? Glad you asked!! If you ask any diehard MST3K fan what their favorite episodes are I guarantee the one or more of the following shows will pop up on everyone’s list: MITCHELL, THE SIDEHACKERS, WILD REBELS, TIME OF THE APES, ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES, LASERBLAST, and of course MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE. There hasn’t been another movie like MANOS … ever. MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE (which translates to “Hands: The Hands of Fate”) may just be one of the worst movies ever made. Period. It defies description and I’m not even gonna try.
Yet Rupert Talbot Munch, Sr. thinks that MANOS needs a sequel. That’s right; 45 years after the original MANOS was made we are gonna see a sequel. KVIA.com out of El Paso reports that Rupert Talbot Munch, Sr., an indie filmmaker, will be conquering the sequel titled MANOS: THE SEARCH FOR VALLEY LODGE. Wow what a stupid title for what is sure to be an unwatchable movie. And to go from horrible to absolutely horrible, former WWE wrestler Gene Snitsky will star in the sequel. God my stomach hurts!! But wait: the MANOS fansite torgolives.com has a plot summary:
A woman battling mental illness regains her memory and heads into the deserts of El Paso, Texas to confront her inner demons and discover her mysterious past. (Supernatural Thriller… or is it?)
Filming will begin sometime in 2011 but we probably won’t see the actual film until some time in 2013. That should give us just enough time to forget all about this!! It’s pretty funny how a movie that is only known because of it being ripped apart by the guys and ‘bots of MST3K is finding a sequel 45 years later. Oh the movie industry is an untamable bitch!!
This will be an easy one: What are some of your fondest MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 memories? What are some of your favorite episodes and one-liners?
So that’s my first website hat trick: A Spotlight, New Film Update, and New Discussion on one topic!! I hope there’s a lot of you out there with some kind of memories about the funniest show to ever grace the airwaves.