IN CELEBRATION OF ITS 30TH ANNIVERSARY, THE CULT CLASSIC SERIESMYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 GOES ON TOUR, INCLUDING A ONE NIGHT STOP HERE IN THE CITY
BY MATT SCANLON
For anyone who, like this writer, credits Mystery Science Theater 3000 as one of the bedrocks of their comedic sensibility, naming the perfect line or riff from the groundbreaking comedy TV series will produce acrimony worse than the kind experienced by Red Sox jersey wearers in a Yankees bleacher, but I’m going to try it anyway. In season nine, episode four, while the quartet of resident human Michael J. Nelson and robot friends Crow, Tom Servo, and Gypsy were goofing on the 1996 direct to video horror flick, Werewolf, Nelson offers: “You know, it’s economical to not have a storyline, because then you can just film people saying things.”
To occasional family, friend, and acquaintance consternation, this author has been using the line ever since.
Conceived by then Minneapolis based comedian Joel Hodgson, the show, which first aired in November, 1988 on Minneapolis TV station KTMA, had its premise in these characters being forced to watch a seemingly endless series of punishingly awful movies only managing to keep sanity by commenting on their stars’, directors’, and production crews’ appalling lack of professional acumen. The show was saved from cancellation after a disappointing first season reception by being picked up by The Comedy Channel (ultimately Comedy Central). By the middle of season two, it had ratings traction, and later found a home on the Sci-Fi Channel. Its latest iteration, under Netflix management, was made possible when home video and music company Shout! Factory and Hodgson formed a company in 2015 dubbed Satellite of Love LLC, which acquired rights to MST3K with a plan to make new episodes. The Kick starter campaign #BringBackMST3K, spearheaded by the partners, surpassed its goal of funding 14 new episodes and set a record as the highest funded film/TV crowd funding campaign ever. New episodes debuted on April 14th of last year, and the show has been renewed for another season, with co-stars Patton Oswalt and Felicia Day on board.
In celebration of the series 30th anniversary, a summer and fall live screening tour has been announced. The second tour in two years this one features founder Hodgson, who had departed from the show after season five over creative differences.
Alongside new series host Jonah Heston, Joel and the Bots will eviscerate new movies and offer all new riffs and sketches on stage starting on October 9 in Portland, Maine, and heading to New York for two shows on October 14 at the Play station eater (corner of 45th Street and Broadway). Different flicks will be screened at each, so fans wanting the double-feature experience will need to buy two tickets. And for those who need to ramp up some of their own jokes at home, films on the chopping block are the 1988 Canadian science fiction gem, the Brain, and the 1983 Argentinian crime against humanity, Death stalker.
“The craziest and most exciting thing for me is that I am putting on my old jumpsuit and will be riffing live, shoulder to shoulder with Jonah, Crow, and Tom Servo for two incredibly strange feature films,” said Hodgson. “I’m going to have to go into training to get caught up to the skill level of Jonah and this new cast. If you saw last year’s tour, you have some idea just how talented these young movie riffers are.”
Mystery Science Theater 3000
Live 30th Anniversary Tour
Playstation Theater / 1515 Broadway, Manhattan /
for tickets, visit, axs.com