16 great moments from MST3K creator Joel Hodgson's Reddit AMA

Contributed by
Nov 26, 2014

It's been 15 years since a new episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 aired, and more than two decades since Hodgson was the star of the show, but the beloved comedy series continues to find new fans and keep its old ones enthralled. Tomorrow, for the second straight year, Hodgson and crew will revive the MST3K Turkey Day Marathon through online streaming, and to promote the event Hodgson took to Reddit yesterday to talk about the show, films he still wants to riff on and a possible MST3K reboot. You can read the whole thing HERE, but we've rounded up our favorite moments below.

On whether he's ever felt bad about mocking a movie: 

Hodgson has skewered dozens of films in his lifetime, but sometimes even he thinks he might have gone too far.

The answer is YES. The movie was EEGAH, and the person I felt we were particularly tough on was Arch Hall, Jr. I believe we called him a "stiff with teeth and hair." I met him this summer at a convention, and he couldn't have been nicer. And he's a wonderful guy and was very complimentary and said he was really glad we riffed the movie. He said something like "It isn't lost on me that I get to work these conventions because you guys did my movie." He was really nice about it. But i was pretty nervous meeting him, because I thought he was really going to hate me, but he was really nice about it.

On whether networks ever made him change anything: 

The show was picked up by Comedy Central in 1989, and Hodgson worked with the network until he left the series in 1993. In all that time, they apparently only asked for one big change.

No...the amazing thing was, we never had any interference from the executives at Comedy Central when we were making the show. There was only one and that was they wanted us to make the silhouettes green on the B&W movies because they felt people wouldn't be able to see our silhouettes. So we did that for one episode, that was ROBOT MONSTER. But we figured out how to fix it, by putting a blue cast to the film.

On how the show got the rights to movies: 

When asked if there were any films he wanted the rights to but couldn't get, Hodgson clarified that, to make things easier, the show always pulled from films already available to them.

Going back aways - we'd get the movies when they were cleared already, so the lawyers already felt confident that they could license the movies. Not the other way around, because it would take investment and manpower to go through them and riff them. It's somewhat obscure, because I think people think we window-shopped for movies, but it's more like fixing up a home - so you want to make sure you can BUY the home first, before you spend a lot of time and money fixing it up.

On which robot will be the death of him. 

When asked which of his robot friends would be the first to break Asimov's Laws of Robotics, Hodgson had a very clear answer.

I completely expect I'll be killed by Crow. Tom couldn't do much, he could just pinch you.

On his favorite episodes, and watching the show after he left. 

Hodgson was asked which MST3K episodes he prefers, and also whether he continued to watch the show after Mike Nelson took over as host. Here's his two-part answer:

1) For Joel episodes, I like "I accuse my parents" and for Mike episodes, my favorite is "Final Sacrifice."

2) Yes, yes I did. But it took me a long time to come back and watch the show. I was really frustrated when I left and didn't really want to watch it.

On his favorite invention: 

When asked for his favorite of the many invention exchange sketches done on the show, Hodgson said:

Yes, I like the one from when we did surgery on Frank and it was a giant Operation game.

On movies he would never put on the show: 

When asked if there are movies he would never consider riffing, Hodgson spoke about the importance of obscurity and surprise on the show.

There are movies that people love and are very familiar with and I kinda feel like, you know - part of the allure of Mystery Science Theater is that you kinda don't know what movie you're getting? It's like going on a tour of a scary house in your neighborhood, you don't know what's in there.

On his favorite thing to sign for fans: 

When asked what he enjoys signing most, Hodgson went for a classic.

It's really nice when they hand me their original INFORMATION CLUB membership cards, that's always kind of amazing, because that means they've held onto it for over 20 years.

On that reboot: 

Hodgson was asked twice about his plans to reboot the series. The first time, he teased that something's afoot, but wouldn't say what.

We're working on it. I'll tell ya later.

The second time, he answered a question about whether old or new robots will be involved.

I think, for the reboot, obviously people would really want to see the original robots back. So I intend to do that. But hopefully we'll bring some new ones too.

On who he'd like to riff with and what film he'd most like to riff on. 

When asked to pick any historical figure to mock a movie with, as well as a movie he'd love to riff, Hodgson said:

I guess I would like to riff a movie with George Méliès, because he created fantasy film. And I guess - HAPPY FEET 2?

On why the show never riffed TV: 

When asked if he'd ever consider mocking something made for the small screen, Hodgson explained why the show never has before.

Yeah, we've talked about it over the years. And you know... my impressions is the thing that's nice about MST3K is that it gets refreshed with new characters and new situations. And the thing about TV is that it's the same characters. Obviously I would never say never about that, but that's my impression. It's just easier to refill with new movies rather than with a TV show that has the same characters.

On the hardest movie to riff: 

When asked which film was the hardest to mock on MST3K, Hodgson chose one of the most famously bad flicks the series ever encountered.

I can say the hardest one to riff on was MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE. I can't think of the easiest, but the hardest one was MANOS, for me.

On "bad on purpose" movies: 

When asked for his take on deliberately cheesy films like Sharknado, Hodgson had a very thoughtful response:

My opinion is they are kind of a big misunderstanding.

Movies like that are predicated on confusing a large percentage of the audience into thinking they were meant to be good, but somehow turned out misaligned, thereby driving discussion online and elsewhere.

But it's a common creative exercise to try to make something bad and I think there are a lot of good benefits to that.

On his favorite feature of the show: 

When asked if there was something he wanted fans to understand about himself or his creations, Hodgson opted to talk about a regular feature of the show's format, the Movie Sign, and how he used it.

And I guess I will say: one of my favorite features of the show is the concept of Movie Sign and I put that in there so we wouldn't have to figure out how to end sketches - the Movie Sign just comes in there and we have to run away. Movie Sign is one of my favorite features, and I put it there because it's impossible to write good endings for sketches, so Movie Sign comes in there and interrupts us so we never have to finish them.

On expectations when he goes to the movies: 

When asked if people expect him to make jokes while sitting an actual movie theater, Hodgson made it clear that you shouldn't expect that kind of thing from him.

I'm like everybody else: when I go to a movie, I'm hoping to be taken up into the movie just like everybody else. Riffing on movies is my job, and I go to movies to have fun.

On two other robot co-hosts: 

When asked to pick two other fictional robots he'd like to riff movies with, Hodgson chose a classic and a newcomer.

TARS from INTERSTELLAR, and Twiki from Buck Rogers? Twiki would be a good counterpoint.

The MST3K Turkey Day Marathon begins at noon Eastern on Thanksgiving Day. To watch, visit

(Via Reddit)

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