Here's a 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' Refresher Course Before We Get the Reboot
During those rainy summer days growing up, plenty of my friends stayed home and tuned into shows like Full House, but I hunkered down with a guy named Joel Robinson and his four robot friends Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo, Cambot, and Gypsy on Mystery Science Theater 3000. So when I read Wired’s fantastic oral history of the series, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of MST3K’s premiere, I was beyond delighted to find out the series’ creator Joel Hodgson wants to bring the show back with a web series.
According to Hodgson, “I’ve talked to a bunch of fans about their lives and what MST3K means to them. I’m overwhelmed by how people took to that show. It really affected them. I thought, if enough people still love it, maybe we can bring it back... And fortunately for us, as long as there are movies, there are always going to be cheesy movies.”
An MST3K reboot would be welcomed back with open arms. Now that we live in the world of Comic Con and Tumblr, cult series are more mainstream than the early days of cable would have let on.
Whether you’re a longtime fan who can’t wait to return to the seats of the Sattelite of Love or if you’re getting into the series for the first time, here’s a little refresher course on MST3K. And hey, you really should check it out, because according to the series’ producer Jim Mallon, “Fans of Mystery Science tend to be above-average smart.” So come on you smarty-pants, let’s travel back into one of television’s most original series:
Joel Robinson (originally played by Hodgson) is a janitor at the Gizmodic Institute who is launched into space by the evil Dr. Clayton Forrester and his henchman Dr. Laurence Erhardt (later replaced by another character named TV's Frank) and forced to watch terrible movies. Forrester’s plan for world domination is to discover just how bad of a movie it takes to drive the human race into madness.
While aboard the Satellite of Love, Joel builds four robot best friends and they combat Forrester’s scheme by making fun of the bad films they are forced to watch.
For the first four seasons, Joel was played by series’ creator Joel Hodgson. Then, after creative differences between Hodgson and Mallon, Hodgson left the show. The role was then taken over by head writer Mike Nelson. The character Joel was an all-around average Joe type, who somehow managed to be the key to saving the human race. He’s sort of like the real version of Fry on Futurama.
The crew aboard the ship have no control over when movies start because the robots were built out of materials used to determine those sorts of things...whoops! Though it’s sort of touching that Joel/Mike would rather have friendship than control. Awwww. Anyway, here’s a little bit on each:
Crow T. Robot
"Crow" stands for "Cybernetic Remotely Operated Woman," a cheeky joke played by his creator Joel. He was the writer of the robot crew and even penned a musical called Supercalifragilisticexpiali-wacky! while on board.
You smart-ass gumbal machine, you! One of the longest-running gags in the series and movie were objects held in Servo's hands that were never explained
She's the shy one of the crew. Though she's not subjected to watching the movies with Tom and Crow, she is responsible for making sure the ship's systems are working and steering it and all. Atta girl.
Cambot's role is sort of meta since he's the device used to record Joel and the robots for the evil doctors. We only ever see him in the opening credits but we sort of know he's watching with us.
Images: Comedy Central