Satellite News - The Almost But Not Quite Complete History of MST3K - Part 12


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Part 12: Wave Your Freak Flag High (1995)

As the new year began, Jim Mallon flew to New York and met with CC executives. The buzz immediately following those meetings was that numerous complaints and differences on both sides were aired and that relations between the two were better. A result of this meeting was the commission of the first BBI-produced special, The Little Gold Statue Award Preview Show.

But relations between fans and CC were worsening. The outcry over the midnight shows prompted two unprecedented on-air appearances by then-recently hired Comedy Central programming chief Vincent Favale. In the first appearance, Favale appeared just before an episode began and read a brief statement defending the decision to cut the midnight shows, insisting that the ratings weren't high enough.

He also took a moment to make what were deemed disparaging remarks about the people who were complaining. (For example, that angry callers to CC had made a secretary cry. In on-line postings, several cyberspace MSTies replied, "Good!"). This appearance, rather than mollifying MSTies, incensed them further: Not only did the outcry continue, but personal comments about Favale's apparent cluelessness were now sprinkled among the scheduling complaints.

The following week, Favale set aside an astounding and unprecedented half hour slot, live and in prime time, right before an episode. With CC personality Marc Maron acting as moderator, he took live phone calls from fans and again defended his decision. This appearance simply exasperated MSTies, confirming the impression of cluelessness he gave in the first appearance. Many, at that point, concluded that Favale was not so much malevolent as he was simply hopelessly unteachable, and threw up their hands. A more muted outcry continued, though many came to grumblingly accept the schedule change as a fact of life. (Not long after this, Maron, who had often praised MST as host of a CC series called "Short Attention Span Theater" and seemed supportive of fans during the special appearance of Favale, quietly disappeared from CC.)

In March, Play MSTie for Me voting was quietly discontinued, but the network continued to call the MST3K showings Play MSTie for Me even though the network itself was choosing the episodes.

CC's president Bob Kreek joined BBI staffers in Los Angeles for a special event sponsored by the Museum of TV and Radio honoring the series. Those present that evening reported the group was jovial and not at all tense, and during a question and answer period, Jim Mallon assured the crowd that there would be a season seven, and mused aloud that one possible replacement for Frank might be Pearl, Dr. F's mom.

A few weeks later, season six concluded with Frank's on-screen departure, on March 25, 1995. Early in the episode, a mysterious delivery man arrived in Deep 13 with Chinese food, including a fortune cookie for Frank with a fortune that foretold of a celestial summons -- a message Frank dismissed. Later, while Dr. F. was asleep, Frank was visited by the delivery man again, and he was revealed to be none other than Torgo (a character first encountered in episode 424- MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE, the twisted lackey of a satanic leader); as impersonated by Michael J. Nelson, he had made repeated visits to Deep 13.

But now Torgo had somehow transmogrified into the angelic "Torgo the White" (a sly reference to a character in the J.R.R. Tolkien novel The Lord of the Rings). Taking Torgo's hand, Frank was assumed into "second banana" heaven, a "beautiful Push the button, where lackeys, toadies and whipping boys are forever safe and free from their oppressors."

At the end of the episode, he returned to Deep 13 one last time, in spirit form, to exhort oppressed workers everywhere to "wave your freak flag high." At a weepy Dr. F.'s request, he pushed the button one final time and vanished into the ether with a triumphant "Eeeyukaaeeee!"

As a long rerun season on TV began, there was excitement on another front. After much discussion, Universal finally greenlighted the movie project, announcing that it would be made for the studio's Gramercy Films division. A few weeks later, at Energy Park, a newly opened movie studio in St. Paul, filming began for MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: THE MOVIE. Production would run for a number of weeks, and then, after disastrous focus group tests by Universal and Gramercy (in which "average" movie goers called the movie "too long" and the host segments "confusing"), BBI would head back into the studio to reshoot several scenes, and then head to the editing bay to massively cut the movie down.

Back on CC, the fan complaints about the lack of midnight shows appeared to wear the network down: The channel returned reruns to the weekday lineup, but at noon (eastern and pacific time), instead of midnight. Since some people only received Comedy Central in the evening hours on their cable systems, however, pleas for a return of midnight showings continued. At the same time, the network put the Mystery Science Theater Hour -- which had been running in the noon timeslot -- on "hiatus." It never returned to CC's schedule.

Finally, for whatever reason, Comedy Central had a change of heart. Beginning in mid-June, weekday midnight episodes were returned to the schedule (with promos that referred to MSTies' "bellyaching"). But as midnight episodes returned, the network also cut 10 hours of other showings during the week.

| 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 |