It was sometime around 1989 and I was about fourteen. My mom and sister had discovered this nutty show where a guy and his robot friends watch and riff on really bad movies for two hours. The show was "Mystery Science Theater 3000." I watched as my mom and sister never missed an episode and even made their pilgrimages to Minneapolis for MST3K conventions. One year my sister dressed up as a giant leech. Another year my mom went as the brain that wouldn't die. It's funny to think back on those days when a campy TV show brought the whole family together. (Well, except my dad who was usually out in the garage.)
For fans, MST3K was more than a show, it provided a family identity. Like the Partridge Family, except with no Susan Dey, no music, just a crapload of terrible B-movies. What was really enjoyable about the show was its low production values, and one-take skits. It had a very immersive quality. It didn't try to please everyone, and that was why the people who liked it loved it so much.
It turns out a lot of other people felt the same way my mom and sister did. The fans became known affectionately as "MSties," MST3K turned into a cult classic, and Time Magazine later named it one of the 100 greatest TV shows ever. Even after it's cancellation in 1999 an underground following remained. Revived by the DVD format, fans can now get old episodes through NetFlix and other outlets.
But now it looks like the original spirit is back. MST3K creator Joel Hodgson has launched a new internet-based project called "Cinematic Titanic" which he describes as "a new movie-riffing delivery system." Along with Joel will be the original writers from MSTK: Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Mary Jo Pehl, and J. Elvis Weinstein. They will, as in the original show, riff on terrible movies, and the end product will be available via download, web stream, or DVD delivery on a monthly basis.
I received word of this when my sister alerted me (of course). When she explained to me the premise I said, "Wait, isn't Mike Nelson doing something similar with "RiffTrax?"
"This is different," she said. And then, in a voice like Dave from 2010, in full MST3K mode she said, "It's something wonderful."
Here's a link to the Cinematic Titanic homepage where you can join their newsletter and get alerts on new movies coming out.'
And, if you have no idea what MST3K is all about, here:
And, if you think I'm crazy, here's the word on the street:
SFist: MST3K Returns!
Slashdot: Joel and Original Cast of MST3K Riding the Cinematic Titanic
Wired: Cinematic Titanic Steams Into Mystery Science Theater Waters