PLATTSBURGH - When the soon-to-be destined cult classic television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 launched in 1988, it wasn't long before the show developed a following in Plattsburgh. It was a following so large that it bore a child - the "Illegitimate Son of Mystery Science Theater 3000."
The television show itself, which originally aired on a UHF station and later on Comedy Central and the Sci Fi Channel, centered on a man and his robot companions who were trapped on a space station. The characters were forced to watch various "B movies," leading them to make comedic remarks throughout the viewings, and making "MST3K" popular with its viewers.
That kind of appeal is what Andy MacDougall, one of the ISMST3K's original founders, said led his group to be formed in the first place. The group would get together with the same premise - to view and openly mock bad cinema.
"It was like having a live version of the show ... taking a bad movie and pumping comments into it relative to current events or whatever," said MacDougall.
The original ISMST3K group met regularly at the John XXIII Newman Center on Broad Street and the Palmer Street Coffeehouse at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church. However, it wasn't until 1993 that the group really took off. That's when the State University of New York at Plattsburgh got behind ISMST3K, helping promote it as an alternative to students hitting the local bar scene, said MacDougall. The group met weekly on the college campus, eventually having crowds of 30-40 or more.
"It was a good cause," MacDougall said of promoting an alcohol-free Saturday night event. "We were quite proud of that."
When MST3K fizzled out in 1999, it was about a year later the group followed the same path into waning popularity. Five years later, though, there was a resurgence of interest in the group, with five more get-togethers arranged over the spring and fall semesters of 2005.
It was short-lived, however, and was an idea that sat on the shelf - until now.
Through the collaboration of Plattsburgh Public Library staff members Kelly Sexton, Caleb Moshier and David Fuller with MacDougall, ISMST3K has been resurrected. The next generation of the group chose what MacDougall considered a fitting film to view - a 1980 B movie that was one of ISMST3K's first films viewed on the college campus in the early '90s.
"That movie is almost self-quipping, self-riffing. It's just so incredibly bad it almost needs no comments added to it," said MacDougall. "But, we shoehorn them in whenever the film isn't making fun of itself."
\\Just as every movie ISMST3K views is bad in its own way, said MacDougall, so is the brand of humor each group member brings to the table. MacDougall's humor is one in which he injects "not so in-your-face" political satire, much like MST3K did in its heyday. Sexton, who was an earlier member of the group, returns with her take on just "making fun of a bad movie."
"It's a way to be involved with the movie instead of being just passively sitting there," said Sexton. "Everybody kind of gets into trying to outdo one another to see who's going to say something funnier. It's just silly."
"We each have our own perspectives on it, but ultimately it's about having fun," said MacDougall.
The group will meet in the auditorium of the Oak Street library Friday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m. The viewing is open to those 18 and older due to the potential nature of humor used during the event.
"We just want people to have a good time," said MacDougall. "We would like this to be a permanent thing now even if it's only monthly."
If interested in learning more about ISMST3K, contact MacDougall via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the library at 563-0921.