In the not-so-distant future, next Thursday A.D., fans of the greatly-revered film riffing television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 will be treated to a much loved but long absent tradition. For the first time in 16 years, MST3K‘s Turkey Day marathon will air on Thanksgiving Day, hosted by the program’s original test subject, Joel Hodgson.
Shout! Factory, the company that has been responsible for putting classic MST3K episodes on DVD, is resurrecting the marathon to mark the show’s 25th anniversary. Once an annual tradition, 1997 was the last year with a Turkey Day marathon until now. At high noon Eastern Time on November 28, 2013, MST3K enthusiasts will be able to log on to MST3KTurkeyDay.com and watch six episodes of the show back-to-back, with Hodgson appearing occasionally to communicate with viewers. Adding to the event’s interactivity, Hodgson will be taking fan suggestions on Twitter in the days leading up to the event to help him decide which episodes will air during the marathon.
Entertainment Weekly recalls that the first Turkey Day took place in 1991 at the behest of Comedy Central, the channel that originally aired MST3K. Hodgson told the magazine that the tradition carried on, even after the show’s lifespan.
“When I started doing Cinematic Titanic six years ago and we started doing live shows, that’s when I really met these people who love Mystery Science Theater,” Hodgson told EW. “I’d hear all these stories about Turkey Day. People would say, ‘Yeah, we still watchMystery Science Theater on Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition, like the Lions playing.’ I was kind of amazed that it was in people’s lives like that.”
The program’s creator expressed his joy at being able to pore over the 198 episodes seeking the right picks for Turkey Day. Furthermore, he discussed his disappointment in the lack of Thanksgiving-themed monster movies available for the MST3K treatment.
“A giant turkey would really fit in the lexicon of things like Gamera. You have Gyaos and Godzilla, Rodan, and Turkathon. Actual turkeys are horrifying. Their temperament is terrible, and they’re just tall enough to go for your crotch. And they seem to have a genetic predisposition to go for your crotch. They’re also really stupid, right? They’re famous for being stupid and delicious. That’s exactly what you want.”
As an MST3K devotee, this is some of the best news I’ve heard all week. The original show was such a unique concept at its inception and it had a tremendous influence on many comedians and film buffs. For example, our very own film companion commentary series, Watch A Movie With Us, bears some relation to the MST3K formula. Of course, many members of the program’s cast have moved forward with film-riffing productions, such as the acclaimed RiffTrax and Cinematic Titanic, so the show’s spirit continues to survive. Still, sometimes you just need some of the original flavor and that’s what Turkey Day is offering to us this year.
Fear not, I’m well aware that the Thanksgiving holiday is supposed to be focused on spending time with the family and appreciating the precious moments with your loved ones. I’m all about that, and my family is certainly welcome to join me as I watch every minute of the Turkey Day marathon. If you ask me, the best way to spend time with the family is spending hours in front of the TV watching a dude and his robot pals watch movies.
Which MST3K episodes would you like to see during Turkey Day’s return? Which host was your favorite? I’m solidly Team Mike, I think it’s a generational thing. In any case, let us know down below!