MST3K celebrates 20th anniversary with box set
From left, Jim Mallon voiced and operated the robot puppet Gypsy, Trace Beaulieu played Crow T. Robot, and Kevin Murphy played Tom Servo on the cult TV show “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” This photo from the 1990s shows the cast members with their puppet alter egos. (Photo courtesy Shout Factory)
A version of this story ran in Wednesday’s Life section of The Oklahoman. Check BAM’s Blog in the coming days for extended Q&As with MST3K creator Joel Hodgson and original cast member Trace Beaulieu.
Set revives MST3K at 20
Creator says lampoon show’s enduring popularity is a mystery
An assortment of thrift store junk, copious amounts of hot glue and inspiration from Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album seem humble materials for creating a cultural phenomenon.
But that’s the stuff comedian Joel Hodgson used to make “Mystery Science Theater 3000″ in 1988. The cult TV show is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a special edition four-DVD box set released Tuesday.
The enduring success of the show, which started as a sort of low-budget lark, comes as a pleasant surprise to its creator.
“When we were doing it, people would go ‘Are you surprised that people like your show and it’s on TV?’ I would always kind of go, no, ’cause that’s why you make a TV show. You do it ’cause you think you have a good idea and you think people will like it.’ So that part I saw, but not 20 years later,” Hodgson, 48, said in a phone interview from Pennsylvania, where he recently moved.
“Every year we sell more DVDs than we did the previous year. It’s kind of like the comic equivalent of Steve Miller Band’s ‘Fly Like an Eagle’; it just keeps getting reinvented and rediscovered by new generations.”
‘A new art form’
“Mystery Science Theater 3000,” MST3K for short, centers on a man who is shot into outer space by evil scientists who force him to watch atrocious B movies in the name of science. To stay sane, the fellow builds a pair of robots – Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot- to keep him company and join him in making fun of the movie.
A prop comic, Hodgson took the idea to Jim Mallon at Minneapolis cable-access station KTMA. Hodgson played the stranded spaceman and crafted puppets to portray the robots. He asked local comedians Trace Beaulieu and J. Elvis “Josh” Weinstein to operate the puppets, voice the robots and play the mad scientists.
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