PLATTSBURGH - When the soon-to-be destined cult classic television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 launched in 1988, it wasn't long before the show developed a following in Plattsburgh. It was a following so large that it bore a child - the "Illegitimate Son of Mystery Science Theater 3000."
The television show itself, which originally aired on a UHF station and later on Comedy Central and the Sci Fi Channel, centered on a man and his robot companions who were trapped on a space station. The characters were forced to watch various "B movies," leading them to make comedic remarks throughout the viewings, and making "MST3K" popular with its viewers.
That kind of appeal is what Andy MacDougall, one of the ISMST3K's original founders, said led his group to be formed in the first place. The group would get together with the same premise - to view and openly mock bad cinema.
"It was like having a live version of the show ... taking a bad movie and pumping comments into it relative to current events or whatever," said MacDougall.
The original ISMST3K group met regularly at the John XXIII Newman Center on Broad Street and the Palmer Street Coffeehouse at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church. However, it wasn't until 1993 that the group really took off. That's when the State University of New York at Plattsburgh got behind ISMST3K, helping promote it as an alternative to students hitting the local bar scene, said MacDougall. The group met weekly on the college campus, eventually having crowds of 30-40 or more.
"It was a good cause," MacDougall said of promoting an alcohol-free Saturday night event. "We were quite proud of that."
When MST3K fizzled out in 1999, it was about a year later the group followed the same path into waning popularity. Five years later, though, there was a resurgence of interest in the group, with five more get-togethers arranged over the spring and fall semesters of 2005.