Photo: Kickstarter

“Keep circulating the tapes” has long been the mantra of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanatics, but there’s one group of episodes that have eluded this guiding ethos: The first three episodes of the show, recorded at the very beginning of MST3K’s original run on KTMA in Minneapolis. These “lost episodes” have long been the subject of fan fascination, both as historical documents capturing the art of movie riffing in its infancy and because nerds are notorious completists.

And now, capping off what’s arguably been a pretty good year for MST3K fans, series creator Joel Hodgson has announced that two of these lost episodes, “Invaders From The Deep” and “Revenge Of The Mysterions From Mars,” have been found. In his announcement of this minor miracle of video archaeology, Hodgson doesn’t mention Best Brains co-founder Jim Mallon, who fan theory holds has been holding on to the tapes all this time. Instead, he simply says, “I actually thought we had discovered copies of these episodes at one point during the Kickstarter last year, and I was really excited that I’d be able to finally share them with you. And then it turned out that we hadn’t found them, and it was a real bummer. But then, earlier this year, a few final boxes turned up. And there they were: the very first episodes of MST3K ever made.”

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Hodgson goes on to say that re-watching the episodes nearly 30 years later was a bit rough, but that ”seeing them now, I’m so proud we took the leap of faith and tried it.” The episodes are now available to anyone whose Kickstarter rewards included “Classic MST3K Bonus Episodes,” and you can find them by logging in to your VHX account and going to the “Classic Episodes” section. Hodgson also adds that he took some notes on the new-old episodes, and will share them sometime this week. Enjoy, and keep circulating the URL.