In Depth

Video: Maintaining the 'Mystery'

Twenty years ago, creator Joel Hodgson and executive producer Jim Mallon made mocking a bad movie into an art form with “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

Starting on public access television in Minnesota, “MST3K” became an instant cult hit. It garnered more attention on Comedy Central and Sci Fi, as well as inspiring a movie.

Set on a floating satellite, Joel (and later former head writer Mike Nelson) and his robots mock schlocky movies.

Although it went off the air in 1999, the program is still popular in certain circles, especially online.

Speaking to TVWeek at Comic-Con 2008 in San Diego, Mr. Mallon said the reason for "MST3K's" continued popularity is partly the comedic staff, but also the accessibility of the show.

“It was very intimate, very personal. You could look at it and see, ‘Oh, that robot is made out of a bowling pin, and those are ping-pong balls for eyes,” Mr. Mallon said.

Twenty years later, the idea of the show is still alive, with Mr. Nelson forming RiffTrax, an audio riffing service, and Mr. Hodgson participating in “Cinematic Titanic,” direct-to-DVD films in the style of “MST3K.”

Even though the two hosts worked on the show, fans have always wondered if Mr. Nelson and Mr. Hodgson would ever riff together on-screen, a notion Mr. Hodgson isn’t terribly interested in.

“Don’t cross the streams,” writer Trace Beaulieu said.

Click play to see more on Mr. Hodgson working with Mr. Nelson, and how a multiple-Emmy-nominated show with puppet robots gets started.



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