Mike Nelson certified his place in pop culture with is role as TV’s Mike on the cult-series, Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Mike was nice enough to spend a few minutes talking with forcesofgood.com about his past, present and future.

Why do you consider the Patrick Swayze epic Road House to be the best worst film of all time?

You can’t not watch it. (Or to use even more conflicting negatives, you can’t fail not to cease your stopping of watching it.) I attribute this mostly to Ben Gazzara and Sam Elliott and their masterful performances.

Do you see yourself in Dalton?

Quite a bit of me, yes. But unlike Dalton, I have a first name. (Is it “Todd” Dalton? “Gary” Dalton? Or is it Dalton P. Witheringtonham III? Or Dalton Goldstein? We don’t know. We’re never told.)

You were the only writer added to the MST3K staff when it went from local Minneapolis television to Comedy Central. Describe what it was like to write for the Satellite of Love?

It was a great time. I got on with all the people involved right from the start and we laughed a hell of a lot. We were getting paid diddly (at least I was) but damn, it was fun.

When Joel Hodgson left the show, how did you come to be TV’s Mike?

The rest of the crew asked me if I wanted to throw my hat in the ring and I said, Why not? So they auditioned a bunch of people and realized, Hey, if we hire Mike, we don’t have to pay another guy. So, voila, I was hired.

Why do you think MST3K wasn’t as successful when it went to the Sci-Fi Channel from Comedy Central? Was it the departure of cast members and writers, or was it the network or something else entirely?

Actually, it did quite well on Sci-Fi. They were pleased with our ratings all along. (If you didn’t find it artistically as successful, what can I say? Personally, I’ll argue that we were so much better at the end of our run than at the beginning that it’s not even funny. But I actually think that any show that has a long run is going to get complaints that it “isn’t as good as the early stuff.” If you compared them side by side, you’d see that wasn’t the case with our show, so I attribute a lot of that to the psychological state of certain viewers whose emotions aren’t as moved by a show with which they’ve become too familiar. Also, once a lot more people get on board as fans, it becomes less appealing to claim that you love it. The hip cache is gone. Anyway, my two cents.)

After the series ended, you wrote Mind Over Matters, Movie Megacheese and the novel Death Rat. Do you prefer writing quirky essays/op-ed or was writing a novel a more satisfying experience?

They’re both extremely arduous tasks and I don’t enjoy either. I like when they’re finished, though.

Is it hard for you to watch a movie without commenting?

Bad movies, yes. Very difficult. But I don’t do it at the theater. Not fair to the other patrons who’ve paid their money to see Rob Schneider cavort and prance.

Was there ever a film that you wanted to bring to MST3K, but couldn’t?

Yes, Moment by Moment with Lily Tomlin and Baffled with Leonard Nimoy.

What are your five favorite films?

Casablanca, It’s a Wonderful Life, Great Expectations (The David Lean version), Nicholas Nickleby (the 2002 Douglas McGrath version), Local Hero.

What are your five least favorite films?

Pulp Fiction, Under the Tuscan Sun, American Beauty, Fahrenheit 9/11, The Hours.

(With apologies to the very many people who obviously love these films. There is much about them all to admire. They just happen to annoy me, for various reasons that have little to do with acting or craft and more with their worldview.)

Will we ever see the return of MST3K?

Possibly. Maybe. There’s a slight chance. Very slim. Remote possibility.

You recently did commentary tracks for the colorized re-releases of Night of the Living Dead and Reefer Madness. Is it difficult to make snarky remarks without a robot sitting on either side of you?

Not terribly. It’s a different thing, with a different style. The elegant beauty of having robots say things that you never could is obviously missing. So it has to be crafted in a different way.

What’s next for Michael J. Nelson?

Working on a new book. Working on spots for NPR’s All Things Considered. Working on some new DVDs. Just finished two books that I co-wrote with artists, one a very talented comic book artist, another some very talented art and design people. I also have a monthly column in Home Theater Magazine. And Off Color Films just released a special edition of Carnival of Souls for which I contributed a commentary track. I’ve also been a frequent guest of Northern Alliance Radio and even The Hugh Hewitt Show.