There were a lot of strange televisions offerings in the 1990’s: “Cop Rock,” “Rocko’s Modern Life,” and “Twin Peaks,” just to name a few. However, there was none better and more criminally underrated than “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” This cult classic has had many iterations over the years, but its newest form is a live tour, which brings all of the eclectic parts of this unique show to life.
MST3K, as the show is called for short, was started by writer and comedian Joel Hodgson and originally aired on a local affiliate in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The show’s premise was that Joel Robinson (played by Hodgson) was a humble janitor working for Gizmonic institute. However, he is taken prisoner by two mad scientists, shot into space on a craft called the “Satellite of Love,” and forced to watch the worst movies they can find in their plot to take over the world. To try and keep his sanity, he creates several sentient robots to keep him company and make fun of the movies with him. These are Tom Servo, Gypsy, and Crow T. Robot. (For more information on the plot of the show, watch the opening credits.)
You might just bust a gut laughing.
The show’s format followed the basic formula of some short vignettes with Joel and the robots, usually with the mad scientists (or “mads”) and then moving into the film and their riffs on the terrible material they were forced to watch. They would take several breaks throughout the movie for additional vignettes, and each episode usually ran for 90 minutes. The show moved to Comedy Central in 1989 developed a cult following; it also did a special marathon event every Thanksgiving, aptly called “Turkey Day” for all the “turkeys” they were forced to watch. When Comedy Central cancelled the show after its 7th season, it was picked up by the Syfy channel for 3 additional seasons. Most recently, it was revived on Netflix, with a mostly new cast including comedian Patton Oswald and indie darling Felicia Day. It currently holds an impressive 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Fans of the show will absolutely love the live version, for a number of reasons. First, Joel has returned for the current tour, which he says will be his last. He opened the show with an electric guitar version of the catchy theme song and a brief question and answer. The show’s premise is also fully on display, complete with the comedic vignettes, wacky characters, and hilarious riffs on truly terrible movies. If you are unfamiliar with the show, you might be a bit confused by the skits, but everyone will love the “riff track” that goes along with the movie. At the show I attended, they did the 1986 martial arts stinker “No Retreat, No Surrender.” This film included an early appearance from the Muscles from Brussels himself- Jean Claude Van Damn. I can scarcely recall laughing as hard as I did at this show. I was a fan as a kid, but even people who didn’t know the show really enjoyed the live version.
If you are a fan of bad movies, sci-fi comedy, and most importantly, puppets, you should definitely check out Mystery Science Theater 3000, The Great Cheesy Movie Circus Tour. You might just bust a gut laughing.
Advisory: Mystery Science Theater 3000 includes some adult language and situations, so it is recommended for audiences 14 and over.
For more information on upcoming tour dates, click here.