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Mystery Science Theater 3000 in My Mailbox: Satellite News Printed Editions!

As a teen, I fell in love with the show Mystery Science Theater 3000. Like countless others before me, I discovered the program while lazily scrolling through my cable offerings one night. As usual I landed on a B-movie, however I soon noticed three small silhouettes at the bottom of the screen. Clever riffs and pop culture references, many of which I didn’t get at the time, smacked me in the face, and I became intrigued.

I kept watching for a few minutes and eventually noticed the figure that most closely resembled a human rose to his feet. He picked up one of the “creatures”, the one seated immediately to his right, and left the theater. The third mysterious being followed suit. At that point, I was transported through a strange portal that terminated in some sort of counter top amidst a giant space station. The mystery deepened.

I watched as my moviegoing companions came into full view. Who was this guy? And were those robots? My questions would eventually be answered in later episodes. I would go on to learn that the sleepy eyed human was Joel, a custodian for Gizmonics Institute who was shot into space by evil scientists. He was blasted into isolation in order to watch bad movies as part of an experiment. His friends, Crow and Tom Servo, were robots he had built to keep him company. The premise was simple, elegant even. Joel seemed nice enough and the robot puppets, Tom and Crow, instantly resonated with my inner Henson fan. I knew at that moment I would be a fan for life.

After programming our VCR to record the show for a few weeks, no easy feat mind you, I caught on to the “fan letters” portion that aired at the end of each show. I hastily jotted down a note of approval, complete with a sketch of Joel and the bots, and fired it off to the good folks at the MST3K Fan Club in Hopkins, MN. Unfortunately, my letter was never read on the air. I do know that they received it, however, because about a month later I received the following unexpected treat in the mail:

MST3K Fan Club Card

Yep, I became a card carrying member of the MST3K Fan Club, member #15670 to be exact. After getting my introductory package from the show, I ordered a T-shirt from the merchandise catalog and let the world know of my fandom. I must have worn that shirt a hundred times. It eventually started to fall apart so it had to become a dust rag for my mom.

Anyway, I settled in and kept watching and recording the show each week. I thought that would be the end of my interactions with my favorite show. I was wrong, however, because down the road I received another piece of mail. I remember it clearly. It was a Saturday morning, I was finishing up my bowl of whatever sugary cereal was en vogue at the moment, when my dad slapped this little gem down on the breakfast table beside me:

It’s hard to describe the feeling of excitement that coursed through my body at that moment. It was kind of like the first time I saw a Paula Abdul video, only not so pervy. More editions of the Satellite News would follow over the years. Classic segments like “Scraped From the Cutting Room Floor” by TV’s Frank and serialized fiction from Crow T. Robot standout in my mind as favorites. Sadly, the newsletters eventually stopped showing up, probably because it made more sense to move the show’s newsletter to the web. Satellite News continues online to this day and makes for a great daily read. Their Twitter account is a nice way to stay on top of things too.

One More Thing

One year I also received a postcard promoting the MST3K “Turkey Day” marathon. This beloved marathon ran on Comedy Central each Thanksgiving in the early 90s. If you look closely, you’ll see where I checked off the episodes I wanted to tape. Also it looks as if I tried to update the start times for my time zone… incorrectly. I hope I didn’t miss out on anything. Bless my heart.

MST3K Turkey Day Post Card

MST3K Turkey Day Post Card Back

Sentimental Drift’s Top 3 MST3K Creature Features

Just getting started with the classic television show, Mystery Science Theater 3000? Perhaps you were recently exposed to MST3K while browsing Netflix and wish to dig deeper into the original iteration of the program? Or maybe you’re already a bit of a fan and wish to unearth some fun episodes you can share with a friend? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, have I got a list for you!

Below you will find my list of the top three campy, silly, creature movies that aired during the original run of MST3K on the Sci Fi Channel. Being a fan of the creature genre, and honestly anything schlocky from the 80s and 90s, I can say with authority that these flicks are worth your time and attention. I avoided the Comedy Central era when making these selections even though I discovered MST3K during its third season, and my love for the early years runs deep. In my opinion, the cast really dialed in the riffing during the latter years. I think these picks from seasons 9 and 10 might make for a better viewing experience for those unfamiliar with the show’s premise.

These episodes are available online from various sources like Amazon, eBay, Netflix, and maybe even YouTube. So kick back, crack a cold one, and kill your next Saturday afternoon in style with Mike and the bots!

The Top 3 MST3K Creature Features

  1. Episode 904: Werewolf – In this 1996 direct-to-video release, a group of archaeologists uncover what appears to be the skeleton of a werewolf. One worker is scratched by the skeleton and begins his transformation into the “yetiglanchi”, some sort of shape shifting Navajo being often taking on the form of an animal. Highlights include: the casting of Joe Estevez, Mike transforming into a “werecrow”, and the acting prowess of Adrianna Miles.
  2. Episode 907: Hobgoblins – In this raunchy take on Gremlins, furry little, troll-like monsters run amok at a movie studio. It’s up to security guard Kevin and his friends to stop them. This film, directed by Rick Sloane, has developed a bit of a cult following since appearing on the show. I would recommend owning an unMiSTied version. It’s that much fun. Highlights include: rake fighting, premarital sex, and disgusting dive bars.
  3. Episode 1006: Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues – In this sequel to the 1972 film, The Legend of Boggy Creek, a college professor and a group of his prized students travel deep into the Ozark Mountains to capture evidence of the Boggy Creek creature. Directed by, and starring, long time indie filmmaker Charles B. Pierce, this film is one I can watch over and over without it growing stale. Highlights include: Old Man Crenshaw, the little creature, and Tim.

Feel free to share your favorite creature episodes from MST3K in the comments. For example, I know Pod People could have easily made this list as a representative from the Joel years. I’d love to hear from you!