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Mystery Science Theater 3000: the Shorts

Updated on March 29, 2015


As detailed in Mystery Science Theater 3000: a Nostalgia Trip, Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a show that had its cast and characters watch old movies and make snarky comments while watching the movie at the same time. And while the movies were of questionable quality when they were made, seeing the characters in this show point out the flaws and interpret scenes during certain movies differently that they were meant to be interpreted were hilarious. But movies were not the only sources of cinematic media that were mocked. Accompanying the movies, Mystery Science Theater 3000 also made fun of different shorts that were made over the years. Some of these shorts were based on alternate forms of animation. Some of these shorts were examples of how the addition of color in classic public service announcements that talked about how technology has helped improve the lives of people. And in regards to the original black-and-white public service announcements, some of the subjects covered included some mundane subjects like how to groom oneself. In the episode The Screaming Skull, a short based on the stop-motion animated cartoon The Gumby Show, titled Robot Rumpus had the robotic co-stars Crow and Tom Servo traumatized because a pair of robots got destroyed. Another short, titled The Chicken of Tomorrow, talked about how chickens were kept in the farm of the modern world and how different products made by chickens were distributed. Another classic black-and-white short, titled Body Care and Grooming, dealt with how the human body required grooming and how to properly clean oneself. These were weird, fascinating, and somewhat scary, but Mystery Science Theater 3000 made these shorts hilarious.

The Gumby Show: Robot Rumpus

Not all of the movies and shorts watched in Mystery Science Theater 3000 were live-action. Some of the shorts involved content from animated content from a few decades back. In the 1956 cartoon The Gumby Show one of the episodes involved the characters in this show buying robots. So this episode's events resulted in interesting reactions for Crow and Tom Servo. One of the earlier comments that came from the Mike was the fact that Gumby was nude. Crow then made a clay joke by saying that one of Gumby's friends died in a kiln, or an oven used to solidify products made out of clay. As for Pokey, Gumby's friend in this series, Crow made a joke that implied that he might have pooped on the yard due to being a horse. When the robots from this short were introduced, Crow then made a joke about how these robots made it so that Gumby would not have to hire illegal immigrants. Inevitably, the robots started malfunctioning and started destroying parts of Gumby's lawn. Pretty soong even Gumby;s house was getting ransacked from the robots' not working. When Gumby's dad was informed about the robots, Tom Servo remarked that he was naked like Gumby as well. Fortunately, Gumby's father managed to turn off the robots when he arrived back home. However, the robots somehow managed to turn themselves back on and resume their destruction. Long story shorts, Gumby managed to to use a crane to stop one robot, but the mangled state it was in nearly made Tom Servo hurl. By the end of this short, the sight of a decapitated robot head symbolizing the resolution of this short made both Crow and Tom Servo remark that they needed therapy after watching this short.

The main MST3K cast and a scene from The Gumby Show: Robot Rumpus.
The main MST3K cast and a scene from The Gumby Show: Robot Rumpus. | Source
Because people needed to see how modern chickens eventually became food.
Because people needed to see how modern chickens eventually became food. | Source

The Chicken of Tomorrow

The interesting thing about the shorts from Mystery Science Theater 3000 was that they all talked about a seemingly random subject. Probably because children who watched these shorts when they were made could become educated about the subjects that were covered in these shorts. For example, in the short The Chicken of Tomorrow, the subject was how the advancement of technology has resulted in the improvement in the production of edible chicken products like meat and eggs. Crow and Tom Servo of course made jokes about how the chickens in this short would eventually end up as somebody's next meal. When a scene involving a pamphlet stating that a new program was being started that would breed better chickens for consumption, Crow made a statement like there was going to be a war between humans and Chickens while Tom Servo lamented that he did not have what it took to be a chicken of tomorrow. Soon the short allowed the viewer to see how a chicken grew up on a chicken farm. When the MST3K viewers of this short made jokes about how the lady who put the eggs in an incubator tray looked like Lucille Ball in the I Love Lucy episode involving a malfunctioning conveyor belt filled with chocolates, how there would be one bathroom for all of the eggs in one incubator, and joking that seeing the incubation process would be something erotic to see. Some of the jokes that came with the scene where the hatching process was shown involved talking about how the egg was too crowded for the chick, how strange a chick inside the egg looked, and how sticks of dynamite could be used to help in the hatching process. Once the chick fully hatches and was getting ready to be shipped to another farm, the fact that all of the chicks had some yolk inside of them that they could feed off of earned the joke that the chicks would turn on each other once the yolk ran out. Some jokes that came once the chicks reached adulthood included how the female chickens could look forward to some fun times with the males, the scariness of the rodents that might appear on a farm, and the daily lives of chickens on a farm. Even the shots of the cooked chicken's white meat being cut was joked about how small the cuts were shown. Basically a somewhat depressing short about how large numbers of chickens were going to end up fat and eaten.

Because basic hygiene warranted the production of a public service announcement.
Because basic hygiene warranted the production of a public service announcement. | Source

Body Care and Grooming

In the article Mystery Science Theater 3000: a Nostalgia Trip I talked about some of the mundane subjects that got turned into Public Service Announcements. In this case, the mundane subject dealt with cleanliness for the human body. Here, the MST3K viewers made jokes about how the narrator seemed narrow-minded about how somebody could be considered attractive. This being a Public Service Announcement aimed for college students, it made sense that this short talked about how one should look when going out in a professional sense. Of course, there were jokes made at certain points. For example, a scene involving a girl looking uncomfortable in the clothes she wore earned the joke about how the short was saying that expressing individualism was just plain wrong. Even scenes like the animation of old skin falling off the body was given a comedic interpretation by making it seem like the skin was having fun falling out of the body. Basically, this was a fun short to watch seeing the MST3K viewers make jokes about.


Mystery Science Theater 300 was famed for its hilarious commentary while viewing movies. But there were some funny moments that came from the characters while viewing shorts as well.


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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      One of my favorite shows of all time.

    • Lynn Savitsky profile image

      Lynn Savitzky 3 years ago from New Jersey

      I haven't seen the first two, but I love Body Care and Grooming. I love seeing those informational shorts from the 50s with smartass commentary!