Public television and Mystery Science Theater 3000 might seem strange bedfellows at first, but let’s consider the facts: Both entities make good use of puppets, and both have a thing for endearingly cheap science-fiction. And what is Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess if not the riff-slinging Crow T. Robot of post-Edwardian England?
The folks at American Public Television certainly hope that PBS affiliates see things that way. Four episodes of MST3K—Manos: The Hands Of Fate, Hercules And The Captive Women, Gunslinger, and The Unearthly—are among the programs APT is currently peddling to public-TV programmers. According to APT’s Eric Luskin, if enough stations bite on this initial offer, it could open the door to further “Best of MST3K” packages—though the episodes in such a package would have to lose somewhere between seven to nine minutes of runtime to fit the average station’s timeslot. Even so, a public-TV deal for MST3K would bring the amount of venues for the show to a number previously undreamed of by the cult series’ tape-trading fanbase, which can finally start clearing off its VHS-cluttered shelves thanks to various DVD releases, Vimeo, the streaming Turkey Day marathon, Netflix, Hulu, and Retro TV. (Not to mention good ol’ YouTube.)
But while they understand that you can get your movie-mocking content almost anywhere these days, American Public Television wants you to know that only public broadcasters can bring you MST3K alongside such unique, enriching programs as the special pledge week special Pearl! Pearl! Pearl! Pearl! Pearl! And if you call to pledge your desire to watch MST3K on pubic television now, you’ll receive this sturdy tote bag, emblazoned over its entire surface with the color brown. So give them a call, won’t you?