5 days ago
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Keep Passing The Tapes
When the subject of favorite TV show inevitably comes up at cocktail parties (has anyone actually been to a cocktail party in the last twenty years?) or in annoying Facebook copy and paste lists, most people rattle off the standard answers: Seinfeld, The Simpsons, MASH, The Cosby Show, I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, Friends, Star Trek, etc.
My answer is not so standard, though I do have one of the most loyal cult followings to back me up here. My favorite TV show of all time is none other than Mystery Science Theater 3000.
There's a good chance you've never heard of it. That's okay, because you still probably know what it is. If you've ever seen or heard about "that show where three guys watch and make fun of appallingly bad movies," then you know what I'm talking about.
MST3K was created by Joel Hodgson (who also starred) and enjoyed a decade long run on various channels, beginning life on public access TV in Minnesota. From there, it spent several years on Comedy Central and ended its run on the Sci-Fi Channel. About halfway through the series, Joel Hodgson left, and Mike Nelson, the head writer, took his place on the Satellite of Love as the man trapped in space forced to watch bad movies.
Yes, for literally ten years, all these guys did was make fun of bad movies. The premise: a guy is shot into space by an evil mad scientist, builds a couple of robots for company, and is forced to watch terrible movies as part of an experiment.
Admittedly, the show had its low points. The creators themselves will be the first to say it took them a few seasons to really get what they were doing and perfect it. And then there were times when the movies they were watching were so bad (Manos: The Hands of Fate to name one), they literally couldn't do anything with the material.
If you've never seen the show, I recommend starting out with one of these episodes:
The title of my post refers to a line that appeared in the end credits of the show. MST3K enjoyed a huge cult following, and it became customary for die-hard fans of the show to tape an episode and pass it along to people who had never tuned in before. The creators heard about this and actually encouraged it to entice new viewers, because the show, like many good ones, was always a stone's throw away from the gallows.