Perplexingly, ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ Crew Reuniting for RiffTrax Anniversary Show

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Believe it or not, it’s the 10th anniversary of RiffTrax, the spinoff of Mystery Science Theater 3000 where three of the original MST3K players continue riffing on and making fun of bad movies. It’s just been announced that, in celebration of that anniversary, the original principal cast of MST3K will reunite for a special show, to be performed and broadcast live in theaters on June 28.

Michael J. Nelson (Mike Nelson), Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo), Bill Corbett (Crow T. Robot), Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank), Trace Beaulieu (Dr. Clayton Forrester, Crow T. Robot), Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester), Bridget Nelson (Nuveena, Mr. B Natural), and Joel Hodgson (Joel Robinson) will all be returning for the special event. This is great news! It’s also really weird news for anyone who is aware of the history of all of these people.

That history, and the problem with the prospect of any future MST3K shows, was broken down by our own Jason Bailey when a Kickstarter for a new run of shows was mega-successful. He’s a huge fan of the series and most of what it has spawned, so I’ll let him explain why this new development is such a head-scratcher.

First, the fact that the end of MST3K resulted in two shows:

And they did, so much so that after MST folded up shop, they kept riffing on movies. Nelson, Murphy, and Corbett do both mp3 commentaries for big hits and all-in riffs on terrible B-movies via Rifftrax; Hodgson, Beaulieu, Weinstein, Pehl, and “TV’s Frank” Coniff spent years doing a live-performance variation called Cinematic Titanic.

Then, the fact that most of the original members denied any involvement or desire to be involved in a reboot of MST3K:

“I’m not involved at all with the Mystery Science Theater 3000 reboot,” Nelsonnoted on Facebook, and then followed up: “I loved my time at MST, but I was in essence a hired gun. The brand does not belong to me, and I make and have made (almost) zero dollars off it since it stopped production in 1999.” Bill Corbett concurred: “No, I am not involved in this.” J. Elvis Weinstein“won’t be participating.” Trace Beaulieu: “Not involved at all,” and the kind of Dr. Forrester cameo Hodgson alludes to “won’t be happening.” Mary Jo Pehl is not involved. Frank Conniff hasn’t yet commented publicly; neither has Kevin Murphy.

So, somewhere between November of 2015 and yesterday, the relationship between all of these performers changed so drastically that they’re now willing to appear together to create a show that was only possible because of the cessation of their original show. Huh.

Either way, should this RiffTrax show manage to come together and meet expectations, it’ll be a great boon for fans. And, if it doesn’t? Well, things will probably just go back to the way they were.

Tickets for the event will be available starting April 15.