In the not too distant future, on your next trip to the Center for Puppetry Arts, you’ll find — among the Muppets and Skeksis and marionettes — a pair of robots that appear to be built out of discarded toys and gym equipment.
That pastiche of components that make up the characters of Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo give some insight into the thrown-together charm of the cult classic television show, “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” The Center welcomed the two into their permanent collection in an unveiling ceremony with the show’s creator, Joel Hodgson.
“MST3K” started in 1988 and found several homes over the years, from Comedy Central to the SyFy Network and finally getting a reboot on Netflix in 2017. It featured Joel and the bots, trapped on a satellite in space, forced to watch bad movies, with heckling as their only relief.
The show attracted a devoted cult following, which traded episodes of the show on bootleg VHS tapes in the pre-streaming days. In those 30 plus years, it’s gone through a number of cast changes, but the constants have been the wisecracking bots.
“Even if they aren’t the most sophisticated puppets that have ever been created, that doesn’t matter because they are very important, iconic pieces of puppetry history,” said Jill Nash Malool, the Center’s Museum Director.
The acquisition was spearheaded by Beau Brown, their Community and Events Manager, who brought Hodgson to the Center and convinced him that Crow and Tom belonged there. Funds were then raised through a Power2Give drive supported by the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, which garnered support from all over the country. The campaign raised over $12,000.
The bots from are on display now at the Center for Puppetry Arts now.
The Center will be celebrating with a screening of “Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie” on March 9.