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Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Episode guide: The Making of ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000′

Original airdate: Aug, 1, 1997

Watch on Youtube:

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• Clearly the filming was done during the episode 814- RIDING WITH DEATH, and in fact it ran for the first time the week after that episode first aired and a day before the debut of the next episode 815- AGENT FOR H.A.R.M.
• Kevin’s story about the naming of the show is completely wrong in almost every respect, or at least it is almost totally at odds with the explanation Joel has given.
• Bill was going through a “complete cueball” phase.
• I think the idea of giving the cast camcorders in order to capture “behind the scenes” footage is largely a failure (with the exception, perhaps, of that nice moment when they zoom in close on Mike’s meaty face). There’s a layer of Midwestern shyness and self-consciousness that prevents them from really making it work.
• I will say that this show is very well edited, and the clips from the show are well chosen.
• Apparently the show has won “numerous awards.” Really?
• Among those interviewed is then-BBI staffer Jill Roozenboom, who I don’t think lasted until the end of season 8.
• Interestingly, there is no credit for the narrator. Anybody know who it is?

31 comments to Episode guide: The Making of ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000′

  • 1
    WeatherServo9 says:

    This one feels just right to me. First of all, no odd outsider involvement (Penn), and second of all, it doesn’t feel like they’re trying to sell the concept of the show to dumb people the way that first one so desperately feels like. Also, when they riff on themselves it’s quite fun and makes me think of a mirror reflecting a mirror reflecting a mirror reflecting a mirror reflecting a mirror…

    Seeing this one and the one with Penn always makes me wish I could have a job like MST3K. What a bunch of lucky people.

       7 likes

  • 2
    H says:

    Hey, one’s a number! Plus, they were nominated a bunch of times.

    I like this one. It’s more concise, gets the info across more clearly than This is MST3K. It feels more like the guys had a hand in this rather than just a documentary that happened to be about MST3K.

       4 likes

  • 3
    Brian says:

    I remember thinking that Jill Roozenboom was kind of foxy in a midwestern friend’s mom kind of way.

    I should have probably kept that to myself.

       8 likes

  • 4
    SAVE FERRIS says:

    “I remember thinking that Jill Roozenboom was kind of foxy in a midwestern friend’s mom kind of way.”

    .

    That’s okay Brian, I found myself thinking the same thing about Andrea Ducane (hair/make-up)………both ladies are definitely cute !!!

    Then of course, there’s always “Beez” McKeever (who appears only briefly)………but in the interests of keeping these posts “PG” rated, it’s best we don’t even go there……. Oops!

    .

       4 likes

  • 5
    TarlCabot says:

    I dunno. I kind of liked the Comedy Central one better. Feels like they put more effort into that one.

       3 likes

  • 6
    BIG61AL says:

    I actually missed all these specials as I had moved and the new cable lineup in my new hometown did not get the sci fi channel until the last part of the reruns were aired. Evil I missed everything after May 1992 to the last three month of reruns broadcast. Stupid cable company. Thank goodness for [ahem] tape trading. Wink

       1 likes

  • 7
    Kenneth Morgan says:

    I don’t know who the narrator is, but I think it’s pretty much the same narrator that did all of the network’s promos at that time.

    The only real problem I have with this one is that Joel is barely mentioned.

       1 likes

  • 8
    Finnias 'Critter' Jones says:

    I have a shaved head, and I forgot that Bill Corbett is bald during this special. He wears it well. Wonder why he didn’t stick with that look? Too Colonel Kurtz? Or was it only for his time spent as Brain Guy?

    Again, like in the Comedy Central Special, it’s sadly tragic how the Sci-Fi Channel seemed so optimistic about the future of MST on its network. And unlike the CC one, no Jim Mallon.

    Overall, this is a good look at the show from behind the scenes. If Shout ever gets the rights to Riding With Death, this is a no-brainer for release as a special feature. (Scenes from Eye Creatures and Undead not withstanding).

    Thanks once more to Sampo for posting these and giving us the chance to comment on them. It makes the pain of the end of Season Ten and the torture of upcoming KTMA/Season One a bit more bearable.

       0 likes

  • 9
    Iggy Pop's Brother Steve Pop says:

    I think Bill had hair later on in the series. I can’t remember which episode it was, but I remember a moment where his hood is creeping forward, and he kind of hooks it with his index fingers and pulls it back a bit, and you can very briefly see his hairline.

       0 likes

  • 10
    Sharktopus says:

    Wow, SciFi sure hammered on the “It’s More Than Just Heckling A Movie – Look At All The Science Fiction Stuff We’re Making Them Do” message.

    Crow: “So which one’s the guy who’s always hanging offa my butt?”
    Tom: “Oh, you’ve got one of those, too?”

       1 likes

  • 11
    Food Man Chu says:

    Is that a cut scene from Parts: The Clonus Horror @ 2:06 in Part one? Damn, I wish there were more raw MST3K edits available.

       1 likes

  • 12
    Spector says:

    A necessary update needed after the move to the Sci-Fi channel, especially as an introduction to those Sci-Fi denizens who hadn’t heard of MST3K (did those folks exist?).

       1 likes

  • 13
    DaWurmFace says:

    I liked it but I would have like more about the origins of the show. Namely Joel and Trace, Frank is there, but isn’t even elaborated on. Or even a passing nob to Josh would be nice. And I know it is on here and I’m going to go look for it but I’m curious as to the actual name origins, and about Jim Mallon’s and Kevin’s role in the creation of the show. I hadn’t realized that Kevin was in it from the beginning.

       0 likes

  • 14
    Brandon says:

    @ Spector

    Well, I had the Sci Fi Channel since 1996 I think, but never became aware of MST3K’s existence until maybe 1998. And even then I only noticed it during channel surfing.

       1 likes

  • 15
    DrChadFeelgood says:

    I’m not suprised that there’s little to no mention of Joel, Trace, Frank or (especially) Josh – after all, it wasn’t as if the Sci-Fi Channel was ever going to show a single Comedy Central episode – why blow the horns of some other guy’s ex-employees?

       3 likes

  • 16
    Steve Vil says:

    Patrick is wearing a Gary Numan t-shirt in this special. That RULES.

       3 likes

  • 17
    Dan in WI says:

    Man, Mike has a big head. It might even be bigger than the big head invention Joel had years back.

    Bill Corbett looks funny without hair.

    It’s surprising just how much Comedy Central footage appears in this special.

    Kevin really comes across as the cagey veteran during the interviews. I guess this is fitting as he is the only original who appears on camera during this special.

    The thing that struck me about this special was how it was lower concept in comparison to This Is MST3K special of the Comedy Central years. It is the opposite of the show itself as Comedy Central (particularly pre-Jeff Stonehouse) was the homier version and the Sci-Fi years were a bit more polished. Kind of makes you think doesn’t it?

       0 likes

  • 18
    Sitting Duck says:

    No need to watch it on YouTube. The special is one of the extras on Volume XXII (on The Brute Man disk).

       9 likes

  • 19
    Jason says:

    …although it practically looks like it was sourced from Youtube. Obviously, they weren’t able to go to the actual source of the special, which I guess would be in the Syfy vault if it even still exists, but even for a promotional piece it’s a fairly disappointing transfer.

    Good special though. I hope that the behind-the-scenes stuff that aired during The Home Game winds up on a Shout! DVD as well. It’s every bit as good.

       5 likes

  • 20
    JohnnyRyde says:

    Jill Roozenboom seems to have done alright for herself post-MST3k… Now a senior producer for America’s Next Top Model.

       1 likes

  • 21
    jjb3k says:

    I kinda wish they’d done a better overview of the Comedy Central years. (It’s not like they’d be promoting another channel, really, since CC didn’t air MST3K reruns anymore at this point.) They seemed to only have access to about five episodes from between Seasons 1 and 7. And it always bugged me how they edited the clips to the narration so it makes it look like the Rip Taylor Trio sketch from “Attack of the The Eye Creatures” was Joel’s farewell appearance.

       1 likes

  • 22
    jjb3k says:

    Oh, and during the home video footage when we see the computer screen, which episode are they writing? I don’t recognize a single one of those riffs.

       0 likes

  • 23
    Luther Heggs aka Number 6 says:

    Bill Corbett looks like a slightly tamer version of Aleister Crowley.

    It works for him. Devil

    I do believe that narrator is Penn Jillette himself, stepped down/on with the Casey Kasem augmentation modulator cross phasing option.

    There’s also just a hint of a flanger effect. Nerd

       2 likes

  • 24
    jaybird3rd says:

    @#22: It’s not too surprising, I suppose, given that they only used about 15% of the jokes that were offered and typed in (according to Paul Chaplin’s estimate). It looks like their writing room computer at the time was running Windows 95 and Microsoft Word 95, which makes sense given that this was filmed in 1997.

    This is a fun behind-the-scenes special, but as others have said, I think Sci-Fi tried too hard to sell the “story arc” approach to the host segments. We now know how much of a pain in the neck those were, both during filming and when the show was aired (out of order) in reruns. I also think they unfairly gave Joel and Trace short shrift, but since the show was still in production at the time, I guess it was understandable that they would want to focus on the present and try to sell the show in its 1997 incarnation. That’s why documentaries that are made years later, without those pressures, are always more interesting; they can take the time to show the complete picture.

    My favorite line by Mike, riffing on their own behind-the-scenes footage as one of the crew rocks the Widowmaker: “If you need someone else to rock your van, you’re doing it wrong.”

       4 likes

  • 25

    Another snazzy little special here. It’s serviceable in its 22 minute running time. It has a good look at the writing room and gives a nice sense of that whole process, for both newbies and old fans alike. Showing the blacked out “shadow” bots (TIMMY!) used in the theater segments is a nice improvement over the last special.

    Some notes:

    Mary Jo says this about Pearl: “She doesn’t have a long term plan. She just wants to be antagonizing.” ——— This really gets at the heart of what the problem with the character is. Without any clear goals, it’s hard to really have any sort of character consistency. Dr. Forrester wanted his mad science experiments to succeed so he could be considered a great mad scientist. Within that simple goal oriented structure, the character is allowed to breath and grow and we see a variety of aspects of Dr. F (his domestic relationship with Frank, his slightly sad relationship with his mother) that never feel random or out of place.

    The character of Pearl was very random and, especially when looking at Season 10, you can get a sense that they really didn’t know what to do with the character and what she was all about. I mean, ostensibly her motivation was to avenge Dr. F and continue the Forrester legacy, but this is never really mentioned in the show (except for maybe in the first episode of the Sci-Fi years) nor is it expounded on. With this quote from Mary Jo, it’s revealing to find out that the lack of a clear goal for Pearl was a deliberate decision on the part of the writing staff. I’m sure the thought was, “let’s not tether the character down to any one thing, freeing her up to do whatever,” but the problem with that is fairly obvious upon retrospect (making her a lot of different things makes her nothing) and I would say that the Brains made a poor decision there.

    Why is Bill bald? Was that his look then or was it a Brain Guy costume thing?

    Kevin, about Mike: “A big, meaty, roast of a face.”

    The little parts where Mike and the Bots are riffing on the behind the scenes footage and stuff is cute and not overused. I like this exchange:
    Servo: “Mike, who are these other people?”
    Crow: “Yeah! Are you seeing other puppets?”
    Mike: “No!”

    And at the very end, over the credits:
    Mike: “So did Fitzcarraldo get the boat over the mountain..?”


    Another decent special.
    i give it 3 out 5 stars
    TV TV TV

       5 likes

  • 26
    brian says:

    i’m not sure I ever heard the origin of the name of the show, could someone enighten me?

       0 likes

  • 27
    pondoscp says:

    Yep, everyone said it already. You can watch this on Vol. 22 on The Brute Man disc, and it looks like the master is probably lost in the Sci-Fi vaults. And, oh boy, do they hammer the “we are forcing them to do the storyline” aspect! What strange world will they visit next? Earth. How many more planets will Mike destroy? None. How many more movies will they be subjected to? About 30.
    Bill looks like he’d be able to kick some ass in his bald head look!

       2 likes

  • 28
    jaybird3rd says:

    Yeah, they make the different planets sound cool in the special, but all I can think of is poor Patrick Brantseg and Beez McKeever working through long nights and weekends to make it all happen. That and Kevin Murphy sweating to death under that Bobo costume.

       3 likes

  • 29
    schippers says:

    Regarding the naming of the show: I cannot remember Joel’s full ‘splanation from his Riffing Myself show, but I do recall him saying that the number 3000 is not meant to be the year, but rather a model number.

       1 likes

  • 30
    pondoscp says:

    They get by on such a small budget…

    Because Sci-Fi wouldn’t give them a bigger one!

       2 likes

  • 31
    JCC says:

    My memory may be bad as I haven’t seen this one in over a decade, but I remember they spent an inordinate amount of time talking to Jill Roozenboom and suspected it was because the Sci Fi Channel felt she was the foxiest lady working on the show and the desperate geeks at home should get a good long steamy gawk at her. Worked for me!

    @22 – I’m still wondering where the “Don’t look at my underpants! DON’T LOOK AT MY UNDERPANTS!” riff would have gone. That one was either shown here or on the Home Game segments.

       1 likes