Joel wants to bring back 'Mystery Science Theater 3000'

Series creator Joel Hodgson urges fans to help crowdfund 12 new feature-length episodes of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" via Kickstarter.

Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
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"Mystery Science Theater 3000" creator Joel Hodgson and his robot pals Crow and Servo urge fans to help them raise money to make new episodes.

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Watching campy sci-fi and horror movies is even more fun when you have two sarcastic robots at your side, mocking the actors with funny comments.

Almost 30 years ago, a hilarious TV show called "Mystery Science Theater 3000" (MST3K) debuted on Minneapolis' KTMA.

MST3K also aired on Comedy Central and Sci-Fi Channel, lasting 12 years with a total of 197 episodes before it was finally cancelled in 1999. But now the show's creator, Joel Hodgson, wants to bring back the series with a new Kickstarter campaign.

If the campaign reaches its goal of $2 million, Hodgson and his crew will film three full-length episodes. For $3.3 million, they'll make six episodes; $4.4 million will finance nine episodes; and $5.5 million will be enough money for an entire season: 12 episodes.

For fans wondering why it costs so much to make the first three episodes but not as much for the rest, Hodgson explained the campaign costs in an Ask Me Anything interview on Reddit on Tuesday.

"Eight percent of what we're raising goes to Kickstarter and credit card fees," Hodgson said in the AMA. "About 30 percent of what we're raising goes toward making and fulfilling all of the rewards we're offering. That means that MST3K itself only costs about 65 percent of what we're raising. The first three episodes cost a lot more than the other nine...because there are a lot of onetime costs involved in starting production. For example, we have to make props, design costumes and build sets. We also need special baby clothes for the robots. So all of that stuff adds up."

If the show raises the money it needs to make the new episodes a reality, Hodgson hopes to air them on TV, cable or a digital outlet.

The more money raised, the more episodes created.


"If we team up with the fans to get it up and running again, it will prove there's a real audience," Hodgson said in the Kickstarter campaign video. "And then it'll be a lot easier to find those open-minded executives to support the show...for cable or an online platform, so a whole new generation can find it."

Those backers who pledge more than $100 will receive HD downloads of all the new episodes with no digital rights management or copy protection.

Though MST3K will have the same wisecracking robots Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot, the cast -- including the robots' voices -- will be different from the original series.

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"I've invited everyone from the original cast to come back and participate creatively -- to write, and hopefully to do cameos as their Mad Scientist characters," Hodgson said in his AMA. "I don't know yet who will and won't decide to come back. But this isn't a reunion show either. To keep the show fresh, I really believe it's important to keep bringing in new talent and keep looking forward."

However, the previous story lines used in the series will still be intact. This won't be a reboot but a continuation of the series.

"Everything that happened in the old MST3K definitely happened," Hodgson said in his AMA. "The show will continue in that same timeline. The new Mad will be the offspring of Dr. Clayton Forrester, and the grandchild of Pearl Forrester, and therefore heir to the MST3K experiment."

Fans who make large pledges to the campaign get big perks like Kickstarter producer credits, red carpet events, VIP set visits, and the chance to own actual Tom Servo or Crow T. Robot puppets used on the new show. Fans could also appear in one of the new episodes or get one of their jokes used as a riff on one of the episodes.