Q: Why does Joel watch these bombs? What would happen if he
refused to enter the theater?
A: In episode 208- Lost Continent Joel refuses to enter the theater, and is zapped by remote control by the Mads. So it appears that he has to watch them, or get a continual shock to the shammies. Besides, if he didn't, it wouldn't be much of a show, right?
Q: Where do the Brains get all those bizarre shorts?
A: Most of them were provided by New York City-based film historian Rick Prelinger. He has a collection of 20,000+ of such films.
Q: Why was Jef Maynard, the show's former propmaster, called "Toolmaster"?
A: Maynard, who left the show to start his own company at the end of the sixth season, reports that the term came from a song by Minnesota rock band Trip Shakespeare called "Toolmaster of Brainerd." Frank Conniff apparently invented a parody of the song that included the phrase "Toolmaster Jef Maynard." When the time came to give Maynard a title in the credits, Maynard says, it seemed to make sense.
Q: Who is Torgo, and why does he keep showing up with that annoying theme music?
A: Torgo was the most memorable character from episode 424- "MANOS": The Hands of Fate. His big-kneed charisma so captivated the Brains that he (impersonated by Michael J. Nelson) made many appearances in Deep 13.
Q: How many times did Tom Servo's head explode?
A: Four (not counting various times when he was just generally blown up or his head has fallen off or apart). Tom's head first exploded trying to think of a good thing about episode 105- The Corpse Vanishes. In episode 107- Robot Monster, it happened while he was trying to make sense of the fact that bumblebees shouldn't be able to fly. In episode 211- First Spaceship on Venus, his sarcasm sequencer overloaded. And in episode 419- Rebel Set it happened while he was trying to figure out who Merritt Stone was.
And while it really wasn't an explosion, Tom's head suffered a serious meltdown in the theater during 318- Star Force: Fugitive Alien II, leading to an hilarious spoof of "Rescue 911" in the host segment immediately following the meltdown.
Tom also had his share of problems in MST3K: The Movie, although his head didn't explode of its own volition.
Q: Gypsy seems to have gotten smarter over the years, hasn't she?
A: Like all the 'bots, Gypsy went through a complex personal evolution. Certainly the wise, loving Gypsy of recent seasons is not the dopey, almost pet-like Gypsy we knew in season one. But then, you're probably smarter than you were ten years ago, too, aren't you?
Q: Could Gypsy enter the theater?
A: Yes. Gypsy has entered the theater in three episodes. She made brief appearances in the theater in episode 112- Untamed Youth and episode 207- Wild Rebels. Her longest appearance in the theater was in episode 412- Hercules and the Captive Women, when she actually participated in the experiment for awhile, before fleeing the horrible movie.
It should also be noted that in the opening credits for the KTMA episodes it was Gypsy, not Servo, who was shown in the theater with Joel and Crow.
Q: Who is this Richard Basehart that Gypsy is so fond of?
A: Born in 1914, he was a veteran movie and TV actor, perhaps best remembered as Admiral Nelson on TV's "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea."
The Richard Basehart thing on MST3K is basically a running gag that started in episode 101- The Crawling Eye: Joel asked Gypsy what 2 + 2 equals. She responded with a complete non-sequitur: "Richard Basehart." You kinda had to be there.
Q: Why is it that, in the opening credits of episodes 201 to 512, Cambot's image in the mirror looks straight ahead and then pans left, but the camera's point of view keeps pointing straight ahead and does not turn?
A: It's just a show, you should really just relax.
Q: Just what IS a hamdinger?
A: Hamdingers (a pivotal plot element in the story of Joel's escape in episode 512- Mitchell and mentioned again in episode 513- The Brain That Wouldn't Die) are miniature microwavable sandwiches from the Swift-Premium folks, made out of processed ham...sort of spamburgers. Originally intended to be a quickie snack-meal item, they were extremely nasty and were/are most popularly used as fishbait.
Q: Why are the Mole People (the Mads' assistants, seen during the second and third seasons) named Jerry and Sylvia?
A: The names are a reference to Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, who created many super-marionation films such as "Thunderbirds Are Go," and the first two movies riffed in the KTMA days.
Q: How come the Mole People are no longer on the show?
A: The Mole People costumes were horribly hot under the studio lights, and the people (usually unpaid interns) who were inside of them rebelled and refused to continue the characters, for fear of asphyxiation.
By the way, the people who dared to don the costumes were:
Also, for their last on-screen appearance -- during the ending of
episode 316- Gamera vs. Zigra -- Jerry and Sylvia were played
by Kevin Murphy and Jef Maynard!
Q: What is Film Ventures International?
A: It's a movie distributor that obtains the rights to films after the copyright has expired, and then re-releases the film under a different name with a new credit sequence. This is how BBI was finally able to get "Marooned" (episode 401- Space Travelers).
Q: So what are the names of the original films that FVI got?
A: There are seven films thus far given the Film Ventures International treatment. They are:
The movie in episode 301- Cave Dwellers was originally "Ator The Blade Master," the movie in episode 303- Pod People was originally "The Unearthling," the movie in episode 305- Stranded in Space was originally "The Stranger," the movie in episode 401- Space Travelers was originally "Marooned," the movie in episode 405- Being From Another Planet was originally "Time Walker." Episodes 213- Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster and 403- City Limits are also FVI products. But they were not renamed, as far as we can tell. Two other MST3K episodes got a similar, but slightly different treatment from FVI: episodes 322- Master Ninja I and 324- Master Ninja II were each made up of a pair of episodes from the NBC TV show "The Master," clumsily strung together.
Q: I noticed that Gizmonic Institute was no longer mentioned after Mike became the host. Why?
A: Actually, after the first few episodes of season one, "Gizmonic Institute" was almost never spoken of (except in the theme song) by anybody. After all, the Mads hadn't set foot inside Gizmonic since the KTMA days. The word "Gizmonic" was invented by Joel during his stand-up comedy days, he has copyrighted it, and he asked the show not to continue to use the word when he left the series.
Q: The "invention exchange" that used to start each show stopped in season five. Why?
A: There is both an "on-screen" reason and an "off-screen" reason.
On-screen: as explained earlier, the corporate culture of Gizmonic Institute revolved around inventions, so much so that, rather than greet each other, Gizmonic employees would show each other their latest invention as a form of greeting. Since both Dr. F. and Joel were both former Gizmonic Institute employees, that was the first thing they did each episode. But Mike never worked for Gizmonic (Mike was a temp hired directly by Dr. F. well after Dr. F. had fled Gizmonic) and so he knows nothing of Gizmonic's corporate culture. Mike would therefore not understand what an invention exchange was about and Dr. F. would see no point in exchanging inventions with him.
Off-screen: the invention exchanges were mostly Joel's doing. He was the gizmo guy. When he left, there was no interest in continuing the concept. Instead, Dr. F. began most episodes by performing some kind of experiment on M&TB.
Q: Since Mike took over, it seemed like the host segments didn't having anything to do with the movie anymore/It seems like the host segments always had something to do with the movie. Why?
A: It's funny the way people's memories work. Since Mike became host, some fans couldn't help looking for differences between Mike's host segments and Joel's, and claim to have noticed all sorts of things. Perhaps the most popular observation involves the host segments' relevance to the movie being shown in that episode.
But, interestingly, one group has been complaining that the host segments don't have something to do with the movie like they used to, while others have been complaining that the host segments much more often have something to do with the movie than they used to.
A careful examination of the series shows that the number of host segments that had nothing to do with the movie steadily increased beginning in season three and that the ratio of relevant-to-irrelevant host segments leveled off in season five before Joel's departure, and stayed pretty much the same since then. Weird, huh?
Q: In season six episodes, M&TB and Dr. F. seem to have the ability to send objects back and forth to each other. How was that possible?
A: In episode 601- Girls Town a device was introduced that was variously called the "umbilicus," the "umbilicon" and the "umbiliport." It is, quite simply, a tube running from the SOL to Deep 13. In the first episode, it was connected to Gypsy, and objects left the SOL and arrived there through Gypsy's mouth. In later episodes, a simple oven door-like device both in the SOL and Deep 13 has served as the hatchway.
Q: How could a tube run from an underground cave to an orbiting satellite?
A: It's just a show, you should really just relax. The concept was introduced to allow more interaction between Deep 13 and the SOL, and was been the basis for a number of host segments, including a memorable one (in episode 615- Kitten with a Whip) in which Crow was shot down the tube and into Deep 13.
For the record, the umbilicus/con/port is supposed to be 227 miles long. The writers at BBI once calculated that for an object (such as Crow) to travel from Deep 13 to the SOL in 10 seconds, it would be traveling at 82,000 miles per hour!
Q: The name Dr. Clayton Forrester sounds familiar. Have I heard it before?
A: It was the name of the hero from the 1953 George Pal film adaptation of H. G. Wells' "War of the Worlds." Also, a "Dr. Clay Forester" (spelled with one "r") was the protagonist of Jack Williamson's 1947 SF novel, "The Humanoids," but the similarity of names between the novel and the later movie appears to be coincidental.
Q: What about Dr. Lawrence Erhardt? Didn't that name come from "War of the Worlds" as well?
A: Despite what you've read here in earlier editions of the FAQ, the answer is no. Josh Weinstein thought of the name himself. It was based on Werner Erhardt, the EST founder. Josh thought that the name had an "evil" ring to it. And he selected the first name "Lawrence" because he thought it sounded pretentious.
Q: I heard that the Brains appeared at a convention in 1992 and that the event was taped. How do I get copies of this tape?
A: Yes, Joel, Jim, Trace and Kevin appeared at the 1992 StarCon, which was held in Denver. They answered questions from a giddy audience, and Joel handed out dollar bills to people in the crowd. To get a copy of the tape of their appearance, call Starland at 303-757-5850 and order tape VTSC92MST. You can also order from their website at http://www.starland.com. The tape costs $19.95 plus $5.00 for shipping and handling.
Q: It seems like some of the first season episodes aren't in the right order. What is the deal?
A: This was the subject of much discussion (and precious little information from BBI) for many years, but was finally answered in The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide. Episode 104- Women of the Prehistoric Planet is the one that is out of order. It was actually (as many suspected all along) the last episode done in season one, and was made after episode 113- The Black Scorpion, which explains why there are references in that episode to several later episodes, and the announcement of the winners of a contest that is first announced in episode 110- Robot Holocaust.
Q: What is with this cry of "Hi-keeba!" and where does it come from?
A: It's a long-running gag used when somebody makes a stupid martial-arts-movie-type move. It refers to a particularly stupid moment from episode 104- Women of the Prehistoric Planet. A comic-relief character in the film is supposedly trying to show off his martial arts skill, and while he is doing so, he shouts "Hi-keeba!" and promptly does a pratfall.
Q: What was KTMA TV23?
A: It was an independent UHF station in Minneapolis, where MST3K first aired on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1988. The station went bankrupt shortly after putting MST3K "on hiatus," but has since returned to the air. It first returned as KLGT (AKA "Sonlight 23"), a religious station. It is now KMWB, a WB Network affiliate.