Season 14 "preshow" ideas

While the jazzy-scored paper cut-out countdown animation from season 13 are fine, I feel like the 30 minutes or so of lead-up time prior to a new episode’s premiere on the Gizmoplex would be better filled with a MST3K “pre-show” similar to what Rifftrax Live and The Mads are already doing for their live shows, where we get a mix of clips, trailers, and trivia for viewers who tune in early to riff on in the chat, but also make use of our incredible forums here to generate some fun fan content that would both engage the fanbase and incentivize purchasing a season-long gizmopass.

Obviously, you still need to have the countdown clock in the bottom right so folks know how long they have to use the bathroom or nip off to the kitchen to fix themselves a sammich, but the rest of the presentation could be filled with classic trailers and drive-in commercials intercut with:

  • New fan letters (submit your letters to a thread in the forum. These can be scanned and PDFed if you want that authentic real MST3K fan letter experience)

  • Show us your… Cosplay photos/home-built bots/MST3K themed wedding/pet costumes, etc. (The prompt goes out in the previous pre-show, you post to the special thread in the forums, and the next pre-show features some of the mods favorites)

  • Fan art (the tasteful stuff you can show to your grandma in public that is)

  • MST3K Trivia/Film Facts/True Hollywood Stories (ex: Did you know that Crash of the Moons was the last Rocky Jones “movie” to feature Winky? His character was quietly written out after actor Scotty Beckett held up a Hollywood hotel, fled to Mexico, and got into a shoot-out with local cops.)

  • Explain a MST3K Experiment Plot Badly (just post a few favorites from the thread. I came up with a list of 100 of them that you’re more than welcome to use.)

  • Fan-voted “top fives” (ex: favorite hexfield visitor/songs/invention exchanges, etc. Just post a poll thread on the forums then show the results in the next pre-show.)

  • Share a Good Thing/Bad Thing about the previous experiment’s movie. (likewise, just a thread in the forums, and the mods pick some of their favorites to go up on screen during the pre-show.)

  • Riff This Comic! Basically just our long-running Out of Context Comics thread, but you pick one old cheesy Charlton comic panel from the 40’s/50’s per month, show it during the previous pre-show with a link to the forum thread, then put the funniest submissions up next to it on screen during the next show.
    You could also do a caption contest using old sci-fi movie stills, but I think the comic panels would be a better fit because you get both a dialogue prompt and a visual cue to riff off of.)

  • Gizmoplex concession stand/gift shop adverts (ex: TV’s Son of TV Franks, Good & Beautifuls, Swedish Devil Fish, Rowsdower’s Hard Lemonade) Basically, an excuse for forum members to show off their Photoshop skills coming up with fun fake items Kinga and Max would sell to Gizmoplex theatergoers on the moon.

All of the above could be assembled by one person using very simple text and JPEG layers in PowerPoint or Adobe Premiere, with no extra burden placed on Joel or any of the rest of the cast. (I would even volunteer to do it myself if you’d like to see an example.)

However, if Joel or someone like Matt or Leslie were willing to record some video material for the pre-show, it would be amazing to have a monthly Invention Exchange Challenge, based around a new prompt each month (ex: “Invent a new musical instrument,” “come up with a new alternative to texting,” “help bring families closer together,” etc.) with the winners shown off and commented on by Joel or whoever was hosting.

Since we all have varying degrees of technical expertise, inventions could be submitted as anything from crayon drawings to CAD designs, photos of physical props you’ve built, or even short videos showing them in action (Just don’t hurt yourself or burn the house down).

For example, if this month’s prompt was “make mealtime fun”, I might submit something like this picture of the After Dinner Ejector Seat, for when you’re stuck at your in-laws, the meal is done, but people won’t stop yammering on. The perfect way to exit the dinner table before Uncle Walt starts discussing their vacation plans for the next year (Though it really is best suited to patio dining)

The top submissions could even be inducted into a permanent “Gizmonic Institute Hall of Inventors” up on the Gizmoplex somewhere.

Wha’d’ya think sirs? And what do you, the viewers at home think?
Is there anything else you’d like to see included in an episode premiere preshow?


Think there’s a lot of great ideas here!


Awesome ideas!

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Something else that would potentially be a lot of fun, but also require more work on the part of the production team, would be a monthly group riff of one of the old public domain Republic serials like Radar Men on the Moon or Manhunt of Mystery Island.

This could either be an unscripted live riff-a-long sort of thing, similar to what the cast did for Moon Zero Two, where we get one of the actors and a couple of the writers into a zoom chat to watch the 15 minute serial alongside the people in the chat room.

Or… we could do something closer to what Sci-Fi Channel did for MST3K: The Home Game back in the 90’s, where you screen the serial a couple of times about a week or two before the episode premiere, and fans have an opportunity to submit jokes in the live chat.
And then you take those two screenings, curate the best jokes, and show a greatest hits version with text captions and static theater silhouettes during the pre-show.

The main problem with Sci-Fi’s Home Game (besides there being dozens of chat rooms, only two or three of which were being monitored) was that there was such a delay between people seeing the setup for a joke on screen, typing their riff, and the chat mods identifying and putting the joke up on screen, that even if you made a really funny joke it was guaranteed to take at least 30 seconds for it to appear on screen, at which point the movie had already moved on to a completely different scene.

We could do this with shorts instead of serials, but riffing 12 extra shorts would potentially take away from future MST3K productions, and the serials are usually pretty definitively in the public domain, and something that people could easily skip ahead and watch the next couple of chapter of themselves, if they wanted to prepare a list of riffs in advance.


Basically the Rifftrax game.


Pretty close, though the Rifftrax game gives you a short clip and then time to submit a response.

With a longer 15 minute serial, it either needs to be all free-riffing in the chat with no “winning” jokes selected, or free riffing and some person has to go back through the chat transcripts (ideally from at least two separate passes at the same footage) and select the funniest riffs to feature up on screen.

We could theoretically try something closer to the home game, where a mod tries valiantly to highlight and post funny riffs in real time as we write them, but even if it’s just a double click action on their part, the chat scrolls so fast once you get hundreds of people participating that it’s almost impossible to read, let alone highlight a particular line of text.

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We already got some fan art and trivia in the later pre-shows for S13.

Frankly, I’m not interested in more being added to the pre-show if it is something that needs to be “paid attention to”. The point of the flatimation and jazz was so that the stream was up and stable by the time the show was supposed to start. And a lot of us tuned in pretty much when the jazz started each time. But I always saw that as a time to get in the mindframe for MST3K, plus get your snacks ready and your trip to the bathroom.

If they did a more formal pre-show, then the jazz would probably start even earlier. And maybe this makes me a bad fan, but S13 livestreams were often over 3 hours long with the pre-show jazz, the episode, and the aftershow. That’s a long time, and I’d rather not extend that - especially if you end up making the episode less than half of the total runtime of the event.


Well, making the after-show a bit tighter could solve that issue. :slight_smile:

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It would be really cool to see the official trailer of the movie. But maybe that’s also a rights issue?

Alamo Drafthouse and Master Pancake may have ruined me for preshows.

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For me, I’m with you. For a couple reasons:

  1. i feel like it has a flavor of the old 90s/00s movie theater “pre-show.” It’s fun to get there early and see erotic pictures of Coca-Cola and popcorn, or unscramble TREB I DORGNO, but it’s very low-impact. If you get there late, you didn’t really MISS anything.

  2. Length, absolutely. It’s probably safe to say the biggest fans are here in the forum, but I wager there are lots of folks who didn’t see a single stinger (neither the aftershow nor waiting through 1000 names at the end). It’s how fandom is. Some fans listen to Rage Against the Machine and somehow miss their overt politics. Some folks know how many kids Tom Morello has and what brand microphone Zach uses. And lots and lots of fans are in the middle. Make those fans sit through Esoteric Deep Fandom before they get to the stuff they actually want, and they’ll grow less convinced they want to pay for the honor.

  3. The reality is, the more intensive any part of the experience becomes, the more it’ll cost. Simple things (like the fan art and trivia that showed up in latter episodes) probably doesn’t take a whole heck of a lot of time. A hosted pre-show riff-along that might include cast and writers? Thats a lot of time to ask folks to volunteer.


I feel like the aftershows got better as the season went on. For me, the absolute worst one was after Robot Wars when they had Barbara Crampton on. That was an absolute mess and (IMO) she provided absolutely nothing of substance.


The thing that confused me about the pre-show stuff was when you would go back to watch an episode that had aired already. Having 15 minutes of the flatimation on those before the show seemed pointless. Having something else going on like trivia questions or fan art would at least make it worth not just skipping.

Those are the event replays. If you just watch the episodes, the preshows, adverts, etc aren’t there.


Maybe some commercials for a restaurant like Pizza and Pasta or Laurel and Hardy.

Yeah, just to clarify I’m only talking about material that would precede the episode premiere events on the Gizmoplex, similar to what you get if you show up to a Rifftrax Live or The Mads livestream. Nothing that would show up on the final DVDs or just-the-episode purchases. (Though I could see some of the fake concession stand items being a fun bit for Max to hawk during the “commercial breaks”)

Basically, some light funny stuff to keep the crowd entertained and add a tiny bit of a buffer zone for those of us on the west coast who always get stuck with a godawful 5PM weekday start time, right when we’re getting off work.

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As far as possible ideas for celeb cameos go…

diana prince girl GIF

oh yeah girl GIF