The Show’s Structure
The structure of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 is rather straightforward, and adheres to it in most every episode. In the early seasons, the show would open with the title song, a short skit before “Commercial Sign”.
The First Act would consist of an Invention Exchange where Joel and the Mad Scientists would introduce a (usually silly) invention before the Scientists give a brief summary of that week’s “experiment” or b-movie (and sometimes a short). Joel and the bots enter the theatre and watch the film’s First Act, occasionally broken up into halves for commercials. In later seasons, (after Mike took over) the Invention Exchange was dropped in favor of another humorous skit.
The halfway point of the show would have Joel and the bots performing a skit or mocking/parodying the film they are watching, typically in a campy, underproduced style. For example, in the third season episode ‘Pod People’, Joel, the bots and, surprisingly, the Mad Scientists recreate the recording session scene— complete with the now-famous “IT STINKS”. For comparison here are the links:
The Third Act consists of finishing the film, talking about the film or something the film inspired, usually reading a fan’s submitted letter, and finishing with Joel asking the Mads what they think with a comedic skit between the two and another famous line “Push the button, Frank” to begin the title sequence.
One of the most rewarding moments comes at the very end of the episode where a short joke or moment in the film (known as a stinger), usually notable among the many cringe-worthy moments. (Here is a compilation, all taken out of context, all hilarious)