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Concordia College club shares love of Mystery Science Theater 3000

Members of the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" club share a laugh while viewing an episode of the cult favorite television series. (David Samson/The Forum)1 / 2
Concordia junior Chris Meiers tallies votes to decide which episode the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" club will watch in the Jones Science Center. (David Samson/The Forum)2 / 2

MOORHEAD - Given the laughter rolling out of one of the rooms at Concordia College's Jones Science Center during a recent evening, you would think there has to be something going on besides science.

But actually it is science ... sort of. It's a student group built around watching "Mystery Science Theater 3000," a

now-canceled television show with a cultlike following in which a human and two robots heckle bad, old movies while stranded in space.

The eight students recently who gathered in Jones 210 (it's usually in 212) laughed and grinned as the "MST" hecklers, Mike (the human) and robots Crow and Tom Servo, verbally clobbered the truly heckle-worthy Canadian flick "Final Sacrifice."

The line of commentary from the

on-screen peanut gallery is constant to the joy of the gathered students.

Near the beginning of the film, there's a shot of a snowy field and one of the show's robots says, "Hooray, the movie's been closed today because of snow." Later, one of the movie characters has a mulletlike case of hockey hair, and a robot wisecracks, "Didn't Barbara Mandrell have hair like him at one point?" In reference to the movie's sound effect for someone walking, Crow remarks, "Someone's breaking Shreaded Wheat biscuits."

"It's great," says the group's vice president, Steven Jaskowiak. "I don't know why you wouldn't like it."

Jaskowiak used to sneak down the stairs at night when his parents were watching the show to see what was going on. But he says he didn't understand what "an awesome show it was" until he was involved with the "MST3K" group at Concordia.

"I think it allows for people to laugh at life a little bit," says the group's president, Chris Meiers, 20, a junior biology major.

The group was founded in 2006 by Joel Moline, who stopped by for Wednesday's screening. He owns and has watched every episode of "MST3K" and says the show gets better in a group setting.

"Watching it by yourself is great, but watching it with people is always more of an experience," he says.

The show is undeniably funny, if often juvenile, which really isn't a criticism. It's part of what makes it endearing.

The show's strange mix of lovable characters, high-brow references and low-brow humor helped kept it alive on television for more than a decade.

"MST3K" was born in 1987 in Minneapolis when two friends, Jim Mallon and Joel Hodgson, created the program to air on KTHA, a UHF station in the Twin Cities. One year later the cable network The Comedy Channel (known know as Comedy Central) picked up "MST3K," and it ran for seven years. The show found new life on the Sci-Fi Channel, where it ran until 1999.

Along the way, "MST3K" picked up a Peabody Award - in 1994 - and made the jump to the big screen with a movie in 1996.

But while the cult favorite show that put silhouettes of its peanut gallery in front of the

B-movies they ridiculed was canceled, it hasn't died. Fans everywhere continue to adore the program. And the show perpetuates itself on its official Web site,

As for the future of the Concordia group, it doesn't appear to be getting canceled. It looks like there's at least one younger student willing to take up the mantle. Freshman David Beery said he's willing to take the club over.

"I'll keep the tradition alive," says Beery, who hails from Montana. "Pass the torch and I'll keep running."

And having a new generation of MST3Kers is a good thing. It would be a tragedy to lose a group with such lofty ideals as those expressed in the group's mission statement: " 'The Mystery Science Theater 3000' group is meant to entertain and enlighten, to amuse and amaze, all in the name of good TV and horrible, cheesy B-movies."