'Will & Grace' to 'Star Trek': 9 Series Bosses Reveal the Challenges of Rebooting Beloved Properties

Darren Michaels/SMPSP

THE BEGINNING Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988-99, Comedy Central/Sci-Fi Channel)

REFERRING MADNESS When Joel Hodgson first launched MST3K in the late ’80s, he could make a reference to a 1940s film and know that most of his viewers would get the gag. Three decades later, though, he’s often the one struggling to get some of his show’s references. “There’s stuff the younger writers come up with that I don’t get,” he says. “Like the one to something called the Konami Code. There was a character sitting at a control panel, so they wrote, ‘Up, up, down, left, right.’ It was a cheat code for an old video game. That had the writers laughing, and they had to hip me to it. But once I got it, it went in the show.”

THINGS CHANGE Clearly, says Hodgson, the biggest change in the world since he started MST3K is, well, Joel Hodgson. Fans have asked why he isn’t hosting the series this time around (that duty went to comedian Jonah Ray). His answer? “I’m 57. I’m told, ‘Yeah, Joel, you can helm a topical TV show where you have to be constantly riffing.’ Well, at a certain point, there’s only so many riffs you can do without getting exhausted, so it was totally right to bring Jonah in.”

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