Sunday, December 4, 2011

TV Show: Mystery Science Theater 3000

This next TV Show has, unfortunately, been off the air for a while now. Fortunately, it's spiritual descendants are still around, and it's still to catch some episodes of this show online as well. The show in question is Mystery Science Theater 3000, which first aired on the local station KTMA in Minnesota before being picked up by Comedy Central and later the Sci Fi channel.

The show is based around the idea of a man named Joel having been shot into space by a couple of mad scientists to see if they can drive him insane by forcing him to watch truly awful movies. Joel, being a dab hand at mechanical things, makes himself a few robot buddies, Cambot, Gypsy, Tom Servo, and Crow, out of parts from the ship (the Satellite of Love) to keep himself company. To help keep themselves sane, Joel, Tom, and Crow mercilessly riff on the movies and short films sent to them by the Mads. When Joel escapes in the middle of the show's run, he is replaced by former temp agent Mike, who carries on the riffing with Tom and Crow.

The show features mostly older movies, and has Joel/Mike and the two bots appear as silhouettes seated in theater chairs. While they mostly make fun of the films vocally, they will occasionally react physically to the events onscreen by flinching away from oncoming objects or indulging in prop comedy, like pretending to have a weenie roast over an erupting volcano or miming peering out of a window or into a car.

The time spent in the theater is interspersed with Host Segments, which take place on the bridge of the Satellite. These may be a continuation of mockery for that day's movie, a song and dance number, more rarely a chat with the Mads, or something completely different. These only last for a couple of minutes, when they get Movie Sign, it's time to get back into the theater.

Like some of the other things I've mentioned on this blog, I got into the show because of my parents. They were fans back when it was on the air, and picked up the concept of riffing on things from it. One of my fondest memories is of watching a movie with my mother and sister that turned out to be so terrible it still occupies a place of infamy in our minds. Instead of just turning the movie off and writing the rental cost off as a loss, my mom started tearing into the movie out of the blue, single-handedly riffing her way through the entire thing. My sister and I were in stitches, and the afternoon was saved.

As with so many things, it was only when I got to college that I really got into MST3K. I managed to find some episodes online, and quickly found my new favorite thing to do when I finished my schoolwork. This show was a great way to relax and have some laughs at the expense of some truly terrible pieces of cinema. Fortunately or unfortunately, I'm now unable to watch anything without doing at least some light riffing in m head, even shows and movies I really am fond of. It's all in good fun, though, so I don't mind, and I've learned to bite my tongue when I'm with friends so I don't get pillows thrown at me!

Episodes from seasons 4-6 are available on Hulu here:

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