Bad movie fans and smarmy robot lovers can rejoice! This Thanksgiving, as with the past two, Joel Hodgson will be hosting a marathon of six Mystery Science Theater episodes. The whole show will stream online care of Shout! Factory, which now controls the beloved television franchise. In fact, thanks to the recent announcement that MST3K is coming back and crowdfunding, this marathon will probably be the most exciting and interesting one yet! We’re likely to get a look at some of the new faces behind the show and possibly learn if old favorites are coming back.
The choice of Thanksgiving for this auspicious occasion is no accident. In fact, to the hardcore MST3K fan, Thanksgiving is known by a different name: Turkey Day. While at its roots a groanworthy pun, Turkey Day is also a longstanding tradition in Mystie circles. Beginning with the show’s third season on cable in 1991, a Mystery Science Theater marathon would be run all day long, for 6 years running. In those days, geeks seeking an alternative to the football game might have been hard-pressed to come up with other watching material. To them, the marathon was a welcome oasis, and fans taped it all in droves. It’s also a kind of hip and irreverent take on Thanksgiving, the sarcastic edge to the warm fuzzies.
On many years, Best Brains (the people behind the show) would produce holiday-themed bumper segments to show between episodes and to promote the marathon, making them extra special occasions. You can see most of these online, but the greatest Turkey Day might have been in ’95, when the “Night of the Blood Beast” episode was produced with two versions, one of which was only intended to be shown on Turkey Day. The Turkey Day version includes incompetent villain supreme Dr. Forrester attempting to host a party filled with some of the most memorable characters of bad movies past, and it’s an absolute joy you’ll have to spring for the DVD set to see in context.
Thanksgiving also has another connection to Mystery Science Theater: its original public access version first came on the air on Thanksgiving Day, 1988. If you decide to join me and the rest of the Mysties online this Turkey Day; be sure to give thanks to 27 years of Gypsy, Crow, and Tom Servo too.
All images credit of: Shout! Factory