Mystery Science Theater 3000 is the definition of a cult classic. With over 100

episodes (with more on the horizon) MST3K has become one of the most recognizable series in television history. With new episodes coming out in the middle of April, now is the best time to sit in front of the TV and watch other people sit in front of a movie screen and make fun of movies. That’s a little confusing, so let’s look back at what MST3K was, and how two robots and bad movies made Comedy Central and SciFi the channels they are today.

Thank the stars that the 1980’s are over.

MST3K started as a show on KTMA (now WUCW) in Minneapolis in 1988 and was created by comedian Joel Hodgson. The show is about a Janitor, named Joel Robinson (later replaced by Mike Nelson), that has been shot into space by his boss in order to torment him and his robot companions with awful movies. The satellite (dubbed “The Satellite of Love”) is home to 4 robots that were “made” by Joel: Crow, Tom Servo, Gypsy and Cam Bot (who is the camera).

The 90’s were a magical time.

The show is straightforward about the facts; the opening song states “If you wondering how he eats or breathes, or other science facts, remember that it’s just a show, you should really just relax”. On top of watching old movies, the cast does skits between movie sections and even do a weekly invention exchange between the satellite inhabitants and the evil boss/mad scientist Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank. Later, the invention exchange would be dumped for more skits when the show hit the SciFi network, as well as changing to the mad scientists to Dr. Forrester’s mother, Bobo the Ape and Observer: the observer.

Bobo (left) and Observer (middle) in one of the rare moments of peace before Pearl Forester (right) brutally beats them.

The first KTMA show was a little rough, but MST3K didn’t really get its start until a small station called Comedy Central picked them up in 1989. From there, they became a signature show; being one of the main shows that aired on station until its cancellation in 1997. History does repeat itself, though, the SciFi Channel then picked the show up for two more seasons, which is the reason they grew to be a bigger channel and thus make Sharknado.

Tom Servo would really love this movie.

After cancellation, many of the writers and actors involved wanted to continue to riff on movies. Mike Nelson, the second host on the Satellite of Love, made the internet service: RiffTrax. RiffTrax is an audio service that you can cue at the same time as a current movie. They have riffed on current blockbuster movies like Avatar, Titanic, Twilight and pretty much any movie that has been released to DVD in that last few years.

MST3K is a perfect show to have going on in the background or a great way to waste an evening. For me, the Mike Nelson era (late Comedy Central and SciFi seasons) was the best; Nelson seemed to have more of a crude humor and seeing that he took over at the time when MST3K was falling in the ratings, it was a needed change. Also, the SciFi seasons were all about making fun of SciFi movies; time travel, wormholes, aliens and of course, Godzilla knockoffs.

Currently, Netflix has picked up the show for another season with a new cast, but with the old writers. The newest trailer looks pretty promising but terrifying at the same time. On one hand, its production value is good, the movies look old, and the cast is solid. But, there is always a little bit of doubt in my mind when it comes to new characters in the show. New voices for the robots and of course the new host under-performing can be a real deal breaker for me.

This must be a picture before they started to watch the movies.

I think the reason the show made so much of an impact is because of relatability. The Satellite of Love crew are well…geeks. They love films, video games, comic books and making line graphs about Sean Connery’s brother, Neil. To a lot of young kids at the time, there was no one on TV at the time making fun of how corny or how badly made some of these movies really are. For the most part, because of that aspect, the show holds up 20 -30 years later.

Highlander 2 was really that bad? … Yea, yea it was.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is one of my favorite shows of all time. I still listen to and watch episodes daily because the crew reminds me of my family. Watching movies back home consists of sitting in the living room riffing and pointing out every little flaw. The new episodes will be hugely successful no matter what; and personally, I think this new generation of Netflix watchers will enjoy one of the first bingeable shows.

For TMN, I am Tim Abrams.

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