Mystery Science Theatre 3000

There’s a Kickstarter campaign out there right now to bring back Mystery Science Theatre 3000.  As is usual for this sort of thing, there are a lot of fun rewards on offer for those who donate different amounts, ranging from T-shirts and posters to tickets to their LA premier to big stuff like being a writer for an episode or making an on-screen appearance.

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Tom Servo

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Of course, those sorts of major rewards are thousands of dollars, and well out of my reach.  Indeed, even the posters or T-shirts are out of my reach.  Things may change before the campaign is over, but for now I just can’t justify putting finance into such a thing.  After all, it’s just a show, it’s just a show…

(I couldn’t justify buying tickets to see They Might Be Giants when they came to Perth recently, either.  Alas, alas.  Onward, Christian soldier!)

Now, for those who know what I’m talking about, I could just fill the rest of this post with random jokes and pop culture references, and we’d all feel right at home.  But for those who don’t, some quick explanations would at least show some basic consideration.

Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (or MST3K as it is known) was an American science fiction comedy series that ran for about ten seasons (and one movie) in a variety of venues:  a local TV station in Minnesota, Comedy Central, and the Sci-Fi Channel.  It was an inexpensive show about an ordinary guy named Joel (later replaced by Mike, leading to one of the internet’s early civil wars) who was launched into space by his evil bosses, and forced to watch bad movies as part of an experiment.

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MST3K - Theatre

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Most of each episode was made up of an actual bad movie, with silhouettes of Joel and his robot friends (Crow and Tom Servo, both of whom he had made to give himself some company during his exile) superimposed on the bottom of the screen.  Viewers would watch the movie, but also listen to Joel/Mike and the robots making fun of what was on screen.  Periodically, they would take a break and treat the viewer to amusing little “host” segments that were sometimes related to the movie, though sometimes not.  The villain(s) who launched started all of this would also make appearances, talking to the host via a TV screen.

I haven’t actually seen all that much of the show, but I always enjoyed it, and certainly the whole vibe of the thing–with the unexpected quirky jokes and cultural references–both complemented and influenced my own sense of humor.  There’s one line that I’ve always remembered which is a small example of this:  Joel and the robots have notices pieces of candy appearing outside the window of their space station, similar to what used to happen in an old commercial that would play before the movie in many theatres, and at one point one of them fears that what they are seeing is the onset of death and destruction.  “No,” says another, “It’s just gummy bears.  Gummy bears don’t spread death and destruction…do they?”

I like to periodically say this, just to fill in the silence.

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MST3K - Joel

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You also get a bit of a feel for the series from the opening titles.  A popular line that survived more-or-less all of the different iterations of the theme song was this:

If you’re wondering how he eats and breathes
And other science facts,
Just repeat to yourself: “It’s just a show,
I should really just relax.”

Anyway, like I said all this came up because of Joel Hodgson, the creator and original host of the show, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the show going again.  He’s already reached his initial target of raising $2 million to allow three new episodes to be produced, and are still pushing on toward the ultimate goal of raising $5.5 million to allow 12 episodes to be made, and hopefully get the attention of some influential TV distributor who might want to get behind future episodes.  Feel free to check it out here – he’s got some funny video updates that are worth having a little look at as well, and this Thanksgiving they are running an all-day video stream of six of their classic stories.

Anyway, like I said, the big rewards are far far out of reach for me, but if I did have money that I would otherwise be throwing down the toilet, the reward that I think I’d be most interested in is for a gift of $6500:  the opportunity to have my own obscure in-joke included in an episode somewhere.  I thought about it, and the one that I’d pick is pretty clear:  as appears in True Blues, someone with a high-pitched voice, lamenting irritably, “Oh sure!  Just because I’m a duck!”  I’d love it if I could get Crow shouting something like that, while the others just stared at him, without comprehension.  Then they’d ask him what he was talking about, and he’d reply the same thing, but even more annoyed.  Then they’d go on.

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And I’d be laughing and laughing to myself.

The line comes from an audio project that I did called True Blues (preserved here in the more copyright-friendly format of a one-man audio book called True Blues Retold).  Bo the Duck is maybe my favorite character that I ever had a hand in creation–a talking duck who likes fast cars and good music, but who is convinced that the world treats him unfairly…because he’s a duck.  This leads to things like “Oh sure, refuse to let me drive, just because I’m a duck,” and stuff like that.

Here’s a quick sampling of the guy (usually played by me), from the original True Blues (you can hear some brief snippets of the non-copyright free blues music that I didn’t have the forethought to not use):

(Hey…I just noticed as I put this together that never once has Bo, in any recorded media, ever actually said, “Oh sure, just because I’m a duck!”  Sort of like that Sherlock Holmes and that whole “Elementary, my dear Watson” thing.)

So yeah, anyway, it’d be funny, and totally worth $6500, if I was otherwise going to use that money to line our guinea pig cage.  Joel Hodgson made it possible for three people to get this reward, and one of them is still available!

How could I get $6500, in the next 18 days?

Hmm, maybe I could run my own Kickstarter campaign.  Help me to raise $6500, so that I can donate it to the Bring Back Mystery Science Theatre 3000 campaign and get one of the robots to say, “Oh sure, just because I’m a duck!” in an actual, real-life produced episode!  What do you think?!!  Awesome, right?  Come on, let’s do it!!

Okay, okay.

It’s just a show, it’s just a show.

And it’s just an in-joke.

I should really just relax.

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