Satellite News - The Almost But Not Quite Complete History of MST3K - Part 10


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Part 10: Redemption (1994)

Tom Servo, Mike and Crow T. Robot

After the turmoil of the previous year, almost anything would seem a relief. Nonetheless, 1994 would hold many satisfactions, as well as challenges: It was a year in which Mike Nelson succeeded in winning over most of the show's fans on screen, and a year in which the online forums would find new unity. At the same time, there was a new struggle to make a feature film, and growing tensions between CC and BBI, and CC and the fans.

By late winter, the Joel vs. Mike strife had subsided, not because one side or the other had "won," but because of a growing consensus to simply forbid the topic. "No Joel vs. Mike discussions" became General Order Number One in MST3K forums all over the internet. As forum leaders began trying to impose this rule in each community, two new opposing factions emerged: In essence, the communities were now divided between those who valued the community more than the issue, and those who felt the issue was more important than the community.

As tempers cooled and combatants wearied, Mike partisans and those neutral on the issue succeeded in making common cause with Joel fans who were, despite their feelings, anxious to salvage what was left of their shattered communities. Opposing them was an odd confederation of hard-line Joel partisans (still determined to criticize the series at every opportunity) joined by outspoken libertarians and free speech proponents (who simply resented any abridgement of their rights to do as they liked in any forum), and a gaggle of self-described trouble-makers (who enjoyed provoking arguments and who did not wish to see an end to their fun). By spring, increasing pressure from the former group caused the latter group to throw up its hands and depart the communities.

The new communities that emerged from the terrible struggle were made up largely of those who had been on the Mike side of the argument, mixed with a smattering of Joel loyalists who were willing to bite their tongues in order to enjoy the pleasures of the community. Now at peace, the forums began to again gain new participants, equaling and then far surpassing the number of those that had departed. The communities looked around, and found that they were once again united and powerful, and they began to flex their muscle.

Late in season five the CC logo began running in the lower right hand corner of the screen, despite the fact that it covered up Crow in the theater. Fans complained loudly, in letters and calls to the network and in online forums, and the practice stopped. Then, for a few episodes, the network ran little alleged jokes -- and commercials for other CC programming -- in a "crawl" across the bottom of the screen during episodes. Again, after an outcry from MSTies, they were stopped.

(Outcries such as these were mostly due to the fact that taping the series had become a popular hobby among fans of the show. Though trivial, details like the logo or the "crawl," were deemed imperfections that would become annoying upon repeated viewings of the tape.)

Springtime also brought two other developments. The first came in the form of a postcard mailed to the entire Info Club fan base, pleading with fans to send letters to Universal Studios head Casey Silver, telling him how much they would love to see a MST3K movie. By the thousands, they responded.

Jim Mallon would later describe it as "probably the first time in history that the general public wrote to a Hollywood studio demanding that a movie be made."

The second piece of news was even more exciting: BBI and CC were joining forces to present a MST3K convention in September in Minneapolis. About 2000 fans registered for the event in a matter of weeks.

It was about this time that Mike Pearce, a Maryland-based fan, began to emerge as a major presence among internet MSTies. Pearce, who had managed to forge a friendly relationship with a CC insider, became a font of schedule and other CC-related information. Unfortunately, much of what he reported was evidence that the network was quickly souring toward everything MST3K-related, and was becoming increasingly heedless of what BBI and fans felt.

In late spring, he learned that the network was planning to cut five to seven minutes from season-two and -three episodes (which ran five minutes longer than episodes in seasons four, five and six) in order to squeeze them into a two-hour time block and still have enough room for all the commercials. Then fans learned that BBI had not even been consulted about making those cuts. Fans were outraged that BBI had not been informed, and annoyed that episodes they considered jewels would be edited. (And, again, fans who had not taped those episodes worried they would not be able to obtain complete copies.) Again fans called the network, and wrote letters and emails. BBI also expressed its dismay. The network backed down. Instead, when season-two and -three episodes were shown, they ran as much as ten minutes longer than two hours, playing havoc with the CC schedule and creating growing resentment among CC programmers.

The sixth season began July 16th.

It would be a season in which the series rose to Frank and Dr. F present Nummy Muffin Coocol Butterdazzling new heights. Two Ed Wood movies would set the stage for three movies by the despicable Coleman Francis. Dr. F. and Frank would get a chance to try their hand at riffing as BBI pulled off an hilarious parody of Star Trek's "Mirror Mirror" episode. Nummy Muffin Coocol Butter became a household name, and the term "refueling" became shorthand for nightmarish tedium.

And there was one other notable event that season: In one episode, Dr. F and Frank were visited by Dr. F's strange and overbearing mother, Pearl Forrester, played by staff writer Mary Jo Pehl.

| Welcome! | 1984-87 | 1988 | 1988-89 | 1989-90 | 1990-91 |
1991-92 | 1992-93 | 1993, part 1 | 1993, part 2 | 1994, part 1 |
1994, part 2 | 1995, part 1 | 1995, part 2 | 1996, part 1 |
1996, part 2 | 1996-97 | 1997 | 1997-98 | 1999 | 2000 | Epilogue |