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Launching in 1988, the show initially starred Hodgson as Joel Robinson, a janitor trapped against his will by two mad scientists on the Satellite of Love and forced to watch a series of B movies as a part of the scientists' plot to take over the world. To keep his sanity, Joel crafts a number of robot companions—including Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot, and Gypsy—to keep him company and help him humorously comment on each movie as it plays, a process known as riffing. Each two-hour episode would feature a single movie in its entirety along with associated public domain films, with Joel, Tom, and Crow watching in silhouette from a row of theater seats at the bottom of the screen.
This Pop! features the wise-cracking Tom Servo, a red puppet that has a gumball machine for a head, a body composed of a toy "Money Lover Barrel" coin bank and a toy car engine block, and a bowl-shaped hovercraft instead of legs. Much like his fellow robots Crow, Gypsy, and Cambot, Crow was built by Joel Robinson, who created them to help him withstand the torment of watching bad movies on the Satellite of Love.