In the Peanut Gallery with Mystery Science Theater 3000

Essays on Film, Fandom, Technology and the Culture of Riffing


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About the Book

The award-winning television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988–1999) has been described as “the smartest, funniest show in America,” and forever changed the way we watch movies. The series featured a human host and a pair of robotic puppets who, while being subjected to some of the worst films ever made, provided ongoing hilarious and insightful commentary in a style popularly known as “riffing.” These essays represent the first full-length scholarly analysis of Mystery Science Theater 3000MST3K—which blossomed from humble beginnings as a Minnesota public-access television show into a cultural phenomenon on two major cable networks. The book includes interviews with series creator Joel Hodgson and cast members Kevin Murphy and Trace Beaulieu.

About the Author(s)

Robert G. Weiner is associate humanities librarian at Texas Tech University. His work has been published in the Journal of Popular Culture, Public Library Quarterly, Journal of American Culture, International Journal of Comic Art and Popular Music and Society.

Shelley E. Barba is an associate librarian at Texas Tech University. She has published in such journals as College & Research Libraries, The Reference Librarian, and Texas Library Journal. She lives in Lubbock, Texas.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Robert G. Weiner and Shelley E. Barba

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 277
Bibliographic Info: 14 photos, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4532-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8572-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
1. Beginning 3
2. An Independent Actress 20
3. Two for the Seesaw and The Miracle Worker 36
4. Mel Brooks 52
5. Mother Courage and Her Children 65
6. The Graduate 84
7. Max Brooks 102
8. Fatso 119
9. Agnes of God 132
10. Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound 148
11. Keeping the Faith 165
12. The End 174
Appendix: Stage, Film and Television Performances 177
Bibliography 181
Index 185

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “The first full-length scholarly analysis of MST3K…a thoroughly engaging work”—Journal of Adaptation in Film & Performance
  • “The first scholarly book that has been written about the…series…highly recommend[ed]”—Journal of American Literature
  • “The first scholarly book that has been written about the television series…highly recommends”—Journal of American Culture