GEEK PICK OF THE DAY: Mystery Science Theater 3000 Round Logo MatMystery Science Theater 3000 Launches Watch Out for Snakes Tour Stay on target Mystery Science Theater 3000 made its long-anticipated return last April with a new 14 episode season. Sure the cast was different, and the bots’ new voices took some getting used to, but it still had the same familiar feel. Jonah Ray turned out to be a likeable host with his own sense of humor different from Joel or Mike’s from the series’s original run. (The riffs still certainly had a “Joel” feel, but that’s probably because Joel was heavily involved in writing the new season.)Now, they’re taking the show on the road with a tour of live movie riffs in cities around the United States. All cities will get to see Jonah and the bots deliver a new riff on an MST3K classic, Eegah! If you’ve somehow managed to scrub that one from your brain, (first of all, how?) it’s the one with a caveman, weird shaving scenes and a disembodied voice warning you about snakes. A handful of cities will also get a separate performance where Jonah and the bots will riff a secret surprise movie. I got to speak with creator Joel Hodgson about returning to the show, doing it live and what it’s like to revisit such a strange classic.Hodgson says movie riffing works great live. He started doing live movie riffs exclusively 10 years ago with Cinematic Titanic, which is a huge reason we have new MST3K in the first place. A lot of the changes in style people noticed about MST3K: The Return came directly from doing Cinematic Titanic live. Live audiences, Hodgson said, want to hear the movie as well as the riffs. They learned early on to write and time the riffs, so they weren’t talking over the dialog. When it came time to bring the show back for Netflix, they kept that rule.Viewers shouldn’t expect the same kind of show from MST3K Live as they got with Cinematic Titanic, though. Hodgson described those earlier live shows as sort of a table-read in front of an audience. He and the rest of the cast stood at microphones, reading the riffs. For the live tour, he’s bringing all of MST3K to the stage. Moon 13, the Satellite of Love and even the sequence of numbered doors will all be recreated. It will be an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 performed right in front of you, Mads, Boneheads, invention exchanges and all.That does mean, that the movies will be slightly edited for time, just like they are on TV. Hodgson says he wants the live shows to be about the same length as a TV episode. The editing also tends to make the movie more watchable, which is a necessity even with the riffing. “You’re trying to entertain [audiences] better than the original movie did,” he said.Mock-up of MST3K Live! set. (Via MST3K.com)While he wouldn’t say what the secret movie in select cities will be, it is going to be the same movie in each city. They aren’t writing unique shows for individual cities. “If it was, we would be geniuses,” Hodgson said. He did say they’re currently writing the second movie riff right now, and in a statement on MST3K.com, he said he’ll probably reveal the surprise movie after its first performance in Glenside, Pennsylvania on July 7. Word will probably get around pretty soon after that anyway.One thing I definitely wanted to ask about was the general lack of anger in the new season of MST3K. Jonah never really got angry or cynical about the movies he was watching, which is part of why he felt closer to Joel regarding attitude. A lot of people watching picked up on that too. Hodgson says that while audiences sometimes like seeing the riffers get mad, he’s not a fan of going there. Especially not right away.He sees getting angry at the movie as a simplified, “coloring book version” of what he does.“Getting angry at the movie is kind of the same joke over and over again, so we try not to do it too much. We try to do it a couple of times a movie,” he said. “If you do it once, you’re kind of covered… we do hundreds of different styles of jokes. The movie’s like a springboard to do a variety show, and do jokes and impressions and sketches and songs and stuff.”MST3K: Manos the Hands of Fate. (Via Shout! Factory)As beloved as Manos: The Hands of Fate is, Hodgson doesn’t believe it’s all that good of a riff. He thinks people like that episode so much because it’s the fulfillment of experiencing a really bad movie together. It’s true that watching Manos: The Hands of Fate feels like you’ve triumphed over something with the help of Joel and the bots, so Hodgson may have a point there. That said, each season has its own Manos, according to Hodgson. Each season has one movie that pushes them to that point of anger. In The Return, it was either Cry Wilderness or Carnival Magic. Hodgson says that while they did go to anger with those movies, they make an effort not to “live there.”Finally, I asked him what it was like going back to Eegah! more than 20 years later. Hodgson said what made writing this new riff interesting is that in that time, he met and became friends with the star of the movie (and son of the producer/director), Arch Hall Jr. Now, he knows more about what led to that movie being made, which certainly influences the new riff a little. It turns out that Arch Hall Sr. wanted to make a movie that had everything kids of the 1960s loved. Those things being rock music, fast cars, and cavemen. Don’t ask. Hodgson said he finds the movie charming in that it’s an earnest attempt to make a “pop confection drive-in movie.”Even then, Hodgson can’t deny that it is a weird movie. If you’ve seen the classic MST3K episode, you know what he’s talking about. “There’s a lot of really crazy stuff in it that I still can’t get over.” Sadly, Hodgson never asked Hall about those awkward shaving sequences, but he learns a fun story about the movie. Back in the day, the cast would bring the movie to drive-in theaters around the country and play songs from the movie live. While that must have been interesting to see, Hodgson learned that Richard Kiel, who played Eegah, would walk around in full costume attacking passing cars with his club.MST3K: Eegah! (Via Netflix)Although Hodgson knows Hall Jr., personally now, his approach to riffing on the movie hasn’t changed. He said that Hall was very sweet about the whole thing, and realized that any popularity he still enjoyed was because of MST3K. What has changed is the way Hodgson looks at the movie. When they first filmed the episode, he wondered who this “little Lord Fauntleroy” whose dad put him in a movie. Now respects them a little more as a super-ambitious group of people who thought they’d try to make a movie.Surprisingly, Netflix hasn’t yet invited MST3K: The Return back for a second season, but Hodgson is still planning it just in case. Season two, he says, will pick up right where the first left off, with Jonah still trapped in the Reptillicus Metallicus’ stomach. The live show will exist outside of that continuity, but Hodgson wishes he could have written the live shows into the timeline of the show somehow. Oh well, as cool as it would have been, I’m just looking forward to watching one of my favorite MST3K classics get a new riff live on stage.You can see when MST3K Live! is coming to your area (and buy tickets) at MST3K.com.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.