It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years since Mystery Science Theater 3000 first hit the airwaves. In honor of the big anniversary, creator and original host Joel Hodgson is hitting the road alongside new host Jonah Ray, as they riff along to bad B-movies in Boston, New York and other cities across the country. The celebratory tour will culminate with back-to-back shows in Minneapolis – where it all began – just days before season 12 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 debuts on Netflix Nov. 22. We caught up with Hodgson to chat about the 30th annivesary, why decided to join the tour and what’s in store for the new season.
Joel Hodgson talks Mystery Science Theater 3000
You didn’t participate in the last Mystery Science Theater 3000 live tour. What made you want to take part in it this time around?
It was really important for me that Jonah just do it on his own, him and the new guys do it on their own and learn how to put across a movie riffing show live. The last tour went really great. The show’s so old, a lot of people want to revert back to the history of the show and do a lot of nostalgia like, “Wouldn’t it be great if it was the old guys who used to do it?” The truth is, we’re all in our 50’s and 60’s now, so it was really important to get new people in there – and that worked really good. So because of that, I felt like this time I could come back and do it too and kind of represent the first iteration of Mystery Science Theater, and Jonah is the latest iteration.
What’s your relationship like with Jonah?
It’s great! He’s a friend. I think we know each other enough to complain when we get in each other’s hair. I see that as a really good thing. I love spending time with him.
Take us back to how it all began. What sparked the idea for Mystery Science Theater 3000?
The idea of putting silhouettes over a movie, I kind of got to that in high school. Later in college, I noticed a trend that was starting, I guess it was the beginning of what people call now an ironic viewing. They’d show like Plan 9 from Outer Space at the art house cinema or they’d show Robot Monster. All you have to do is see that ad and you totally get it. Like, “Oh right, that’s a bad, silly movie,” and people want to go watch it ironically. It’s not like they expected it to be great. That was a really radical idea and that went hand in hand with the beginning of video stores. You suddenly had access because of a VCR. That’s where it kind of emerged. Those two things kind of went together for me to do Mystery Science Theater.
What’s your favorite B-movie of all time?
I don’t know. It’s weird when you work with these movies. You get to like them on a completely different level because you get to spend so much time with them. Each one of the movies, you start to like them for different reasons than other people do. I remember when I was working on MST when I was the host, and there was that one Sinbad movie. It was like a Finnish-Russian co-production. I remember being in awe of it because there’s so much craft to the whole. It’s really beautifully made and has this amazing charm to it. I remember thinking how much I liked it.
Any fun surprises in store for the new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Netflix?
Oh my god yeah. I can’t tell you. We’re really parsing out the information a little at a time. But yeah, I’m super excited. I think we got a couple of our best episodes in this new season.