"Mystery Science Theater 3000"
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FAQ Contents

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 began as a locally produced show at Joel Hodgson's home town station of KTMA in Minneapolis/Saint Paul. Twenty-two episodes were produced for KTMA and this season is often referred to as the "Pilot Season" because it was used to pitch the show to the Comedy Channel (later Comedy Central). Like how pilot episodes of television shows are often lost or buried after the show becomes successful, Joel Hodgson has been against releasing these early episodes in an official form since the production quality and joke count is so far below the standard the show became know for. As such, these episodes are not officially counted by Best Brains production when numbering the seasons and episodes. However for its own purposes IMDb catalogs the KTMA season as the first season of the series.

At the time of Joel Hodgson's departure, he cited burnout and a desire to move on to other endeavors and stated that his departure was amicable. After the show's cancellation, Hodgson, in an interview with The Sound of Young America, said that the real reason for his departure was growing animosity between himself and partner Jim Mallon about the future of the show. Hodgson was fearful that, were he to have stayed with the show, it would have resulted in backstage factions forming that would have resulted in the series' ending prematurely. Hodgson instead chose to sell the rights and allow the show to continue without him rather than see it end.

Onscreen, the character left because... In episode 512- "Mitchell", Joel's last episode as the show's official host, Mike is hired as a temp by Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank because Deep 13 is being audited. Eventually they grow tired of Mike and plan to kill him, which Gypsy overhears and thinks they are talking about Joel. She believes the only way to save Joel is to get him off the Satellite of Love, so she seeks the help of Mike, who discovers that the SOL has an escape pod hidden in a crate marked "hamdingers". After the movie ends and during the closing host segment, Gypsy forces Joel into the escape pod, and after a short goodbye via the Hexfield Viewscreen (and after Joel presenting the bots with a memorial plaque) Joel is shot back to earth and lands in the Australian Outback. Meanwhile, the Mads are furious that their long time test subject (Joel) has escaped and the experiment is ruined, that is until Mike shows up to get his time card signed. That's when the Mads find a solution to their problem. The experiment will continue! Mike is the new test subject and our new host!

This is one of the most prevalent issues for viewers of the show. The fact is that Crow's head is not backwards. However, because of the shape of his head there is a 3D optical illusion that can make some viewers see him as backwards and some as forward.

Why is Tom Servo's head not transparent in the theater? Crow and Servo are represented by black models in the theater shots.

What do those three lights in the bridge indicate? The red light indicates that the Mads are calling, the blue light that a visitor is communicating via the "Hexfield Viewscreen", and the yellow light indicates "Commercial Sign". All three lights flashing is a "Movie Sign".

Why does Crow face away from the screen? He doesn't, he faces the screen but as your TV shows a 2-D image one can mistake it for showing him facing backwards.

Why does Joel/Mike go into the theatre? Episode 2.07 says that the Mads shut off the air supply to the rest of the ship while the movies are playing.

Why is the Satellite of Love so called? It's named after a Lou Reed song. An early draft of the MST3k movie script gives its original name as the Stationary Orbital Laboratory.

Why is the Satellite of Love shaped like a giant bone? To give the Demon Dogs a reason to attack it in episode 1.02. It's a spoof of the famous jump cut in 2001: A Space Odyssey, where an ape throws a bone into the sky which suddenly changes to a satellite orbiting the Earth.

How does Joel/Mike eat and breathe? At one point it's mentioned that Dr. Forrester intended the SoL to last for 10 years, so presumably it's well-stocked with food and oxygen.

It's because of the copyright issues for the movies featured on the show. When movies were featured on the MST3K during its original broadcast, Best Brains (the production company that made the series) would negotiate the terms in which they were allowed to use each movie. Generally they were allowed the complete rights to show the movie on TV but they didn't always get the rights to release the movie on video. Since the idea of releasing the entire series on home video didn't seem very likely during the days of VHS, this was not a major concern for Best Brains. It wasn't until the advent of DVD that the idea of releasing all of MST3K on home video even seemed viable. This also remains an issue for modern streaming services, since TV rights don't carry over to streaming rights. Today, Shout Factory, who releases MST3K on DVD, has to renegotiate the rights to each movie with the copyright holders of the original film and pay them a license fee. Some episodes may have license terms that are too expensive or simply unavailable for Shout Factory to purchase, and this makes releasing MST3K in order nearly impossible.


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