'Mystery Science Theater 3000' turns 20 -- ''MST3K'' hosts Joel Hodgson and Mike Nelson share show secrets

By Kate Ward
November 21, 2008 at 05:00 AM EST

Cult fave Mystery Science Theater 3000 celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. We asked hosts Joel Hodgson (1988-93) and Mike Nelson (1993-99) to share some show secrets…and we promised not to heckle.

Elton John was the original ‘bot.
As a teen, creator Hodgson had his first vision of MST3K while looking at Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album, which featured an illustration of two silhouetted characters watching a film in theater seats. He now remembers thinking, ”You could superimpose people over a movie, and it would be really funny.”

B movies can be hazardous to your health.
Nelson blames a run of chronic headaches on überbad 1960s auteur Coleman Francis, whose duds Red Zone Cuba, The Skydivers, and The Beast of Yucca Flats were all covered in season 6. He begged writer/costar Frank Conniff — who handpicked MST3K‘s movies — to ban the director. Says Nelson, ”I had to go to him and say, ‘The Coleman Francis movies are actually crushing me and destroying my health.”’

Don’t drink and mock.
The staff turned to the bottle after experiencing writer’s block while working on season 1’s The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy episode. ”Somebody unwisely suggested, ‘Let’s be rock stars!”’ says Nelson. ”We came in and gently tipped over chairs and drank some tequila and tried to write, and nothing happened. We went home ashamed. That was the last time any substance was tried.”

  • TV Show
  • In Season
Complete Coverage