Bendites who miss Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) are in for a real treat. For those few unfortunate individuals who have never seen the cult classic television show, it starred Joel Hodgson as a janitor trapped on The Satellite of Love by a couple of mad scientists who wanted to rule the world. Along with his robot friends, Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo, he was forced to watch terrible B movies every day.
Each episode would show Joel, Crow and Tom Servo in silhouette at the bottom of the screen as they watched the entire film, cracking wise at whatever garbage they were watching. Over the course of the series, the show went from KTMA in Minneapolis to Comedy Central (known as The Comedy Network) and then finally to The Sci-Fi Channel.
During that time, there was also some cast turnover, with Joel being replaced as host by head writer Mike Nelson halfway through season five. Frank Conniff and Trace Beaulieu (the mad scientists) eventually left, while writers Mary Jo Pehl, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy took larger roles.
The show ran for 197 episodes over a decade until its cancellation in 1999. Nelson, Corbett and Murphy then created RiffTrax, where they recorded riffing commentary tracks not just for B movies, but blockbusters as well. Hodgson, Pehl, Beaulieu and Conniff started Cinematic Titanic, a touring version that followed the same basic template of making fun of bad movies.
Rumor had it everyone involved hated each other, and there was no chance of a revival one day. Then last year, Hodgson launched a Kickstarter to bring back a revival of MST3K, which raised more than $5 million from over 48,000 backers. Hodgson hasn't announced what platform the new episodes will arrive on, but they are coming. Sooner, rather than later.
To celebrate the revival (and also to prove that all the MST3K crew members still like each other), RiffTrax threw a live MST3K Reunion Show featuring Hodgson, Nelson, Pehl, Murphy, Beaulieu, Conniff, Corbett, Bridgette Jones Nelson and the host of the upcoming revival, comedian Jonah Ray.
Nelson, Murphy and Corbett started the show with "The Talking Car," a disturbing little short about a young boy dreaming about animated cars giving him safety lessons. The RiffTrax trio turned it into a horror show as the cars got more deranged and disturbing.
Another highlight was Beaulieu and Conniff riffing on "More Dates For Kay," a darkly strange little short about a teenage girl going to extremes in order to meet lots of boys. An excellent running theme of the night was the comedians taking on sexist and dated shorts and inverting them to show the ludicrousness of the ideas.
The audience at Old Mill 16 for this live show was howling with laughter. I had tears streaming down my cheeks for a huge chunk of the running time, and the person sitting next to me raised his fists in triumph. We can't wait for the return of MST3K, in the not too distant future.
Tickets for the MST3K Reunion Show can be purchased online here.
MST3K Reunion Show (encore presentation)
Tuesday, July 12, 7:30pm
Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX, 680 SW Powerhouse Dr., Bend