The Master did not attract a large enough audience to remain on the air. The series was later edited into a format similar to that of the TV-movie, with two-episode VHS tapes being sold under a new title, Master Ninja, followed by a volume number. No official, Region 1 DVD release has been made. However, the first two episodes (Max and Out Of Time Step) have made it to the Martial Arts DVD 50-movie pack produced by Treeline Films.
The series was mocked by Mystery Science Theater 3000, a show which features a man and two robots making fun of cheesy B movies. The show featured the first two volumes of the re-edited Master Ninja tapes on episodes 322 (originally aired January 11, 1992) and 324 (originally aired January 25, 1992). Featuring the first four episodes, Joel Robinson and the 'Bots (Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot) mercilessly mocked the series. Notable jokes included jabs at Lee Van Cleef's gut disappearing whenever his stunt double was onscreen, and at Timothy Van Patten's muffled speech pattern. The fact that Demi Moore guest-starred on the first episode in an early role provided more fertile joke material. The third installment of the Master Ninja series was scheduled to air as episode 624, but it was eventually replaced by Samson vs. the Vampire Women. Both episodes were released on Mystery Science Theater 3000, Volume XX on March 8, 2011.
The series features a man and his robot sidekicks who are trapped on a space station by an evil scientist and forced to watch a selection of bad movies, often (but not limited to) science fiction B-movies. To keep sane, the man and his robots provide a running commentary on each film, making fun of its flaws and wisecracking (or "riffing") their way through each reel in the style of a movie-theater peanut gallery. Each film is presented with a superimposition of the man and robots' silhouettes along the bottom of the screen.
Series creator Hodgson originally played the stranded man, Joel Robinson, for five and a half seasons. When Hodgson left in 1993, series head writer Michael J. Nelson replaced him as new victim Mike Nelson, and continued in the role for the rest of the show's run.
During its eleven years, 198 episodes and one feature film, MST3K attained critical acclaim. The series won a Peabody Award in 1993, was nominated for two Emmy Awards (in the category of Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing for a Variety or Music Program) in 1994 and 1995, and was nominated for a CableACE Award.