ACEG: SEASON SEVEN
DADDY-O'S DRIVE-IN DIRT
JUST THE FAQS
SCI FI ARCHIVES
Part 16: Electric Bugaloo (1996-97)
Only a few weeks later, the second official MST3K Con, dubbed Conventio-con II: Electric Bugaloo was held from Friday, August 30th to Monday, September 2nd, 1996 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Some 2,300 MSTies attended--short of the 4,000 BBI was hoping to attract. WorldCon, a major science fiction convention, was held the same weekend and siphoned off some potential attendees; also, a large number of scheduled attendees cancelled their reservations when the planned live MST3K show was cancelled due to the departure of Trace.
Events at the con included: A keynote session that featured the entire cast and writing staff (including Trace) and which featured a few words from SFC head honcho Barry Schulman and a wonderful farewell video of classic Trace moments. Also seated at the table onstage was a gentleman named Bill Corbett, who was introduced as a new member of the writing staff. BBI would not confirm rumors, rampant at the con, that Bill was to take on the role of Crow. (Incidentally, Bill wasn't *completely* new to BBI. While the Brains were preparing to film MST3K: THE MOVIE at the end of season six, they found that a good deal of their time was being devoted to that project, so they hired temporary writers to assist with the last few episodes of the season. We have Bill to thank, in part, for episodes 622- ANGELS' REVENGE, 623- THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN and 624- SAMSON VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN.)
A celebrity panel featured Kim Catrall (who appeared in episode 403- CITY LIMITS), Russell Johnson ("The Professor" from Gilligan's Island and costar of THIS ISLAND EARTH) and Rex Reason (star of THIS ISLAND EARTH). At another session, the scenes cut from MST3K: THE MOVIE were shown. There was also a session in which Mike Nelson demolished a number of lucky MSTies in the video game "Doom," while at the same time other lucky MSTies got to shop at the Mall of America with Mary Jo Pehl and Bridget Jones. The marvelous facility was also a star--a vast improvement over the cramped quarters of the Radisson Hotel, where the 1994 Convention was held. For example, there was enough room, this time, during the costume ball in the Center's huge ballroom, for MSTies to dance -- and dance they did, until the wee hours.
The convention ran extremely smoothly, thanks largely to the tireless efforts of Julie Walker. However, at the convention many fans learned that it was her final act as Info Club Poobah. She had tendered her resignation several weeks earlier, and departed from BBI headquarters only a few days after the convention ended. Like Trace, and like Joel, Josh and Frank before them, she said she was headed to California to find new opportunities. Stepping into her shoes was Julie's longtime assistant, Barbara Tebben.
As fall arrived, work on the new season got under way in earnest. And although a few other people were auditioned for the part, Bill Corbett was indeed finally tapped to take over the role of Crow, even though he had absolutely no previous puppetry experience. A great admirer of Trace's remarkably subtle puppetry, it was a terrifying assignment.
"Crow has apparently had a stroke," he quipped more than once to interviewers who asked how Crow will change in the new series. "If it takes me a season to get on my feet, I'm willing to allow myself that," he said in an interview as the eighth season was just beginning. "Or never! I really do think Trace was pretty ingenious with the puppet."
But as the team geared up to begin writing, it was forced to abandon most of the projects it was pursuing elsewhere. One such project was the MST3K CD-ROM. Hampered by the departure of Trace (who had been shepherding the project), delays and cutbacks at Voyager (which was to produce the disc), it was not nearly as far along by this time as BBI had hoped. The new workload now crowded it out, and the entire project was put on hold. A few months later, when Voyager drastically cut back its CD-ROM production department, the project was scrapped altogether.
But there was also good news: BBI had cut a deal with Rhino Home Video, which was planning to begin releasing the series on video tape. Rhino officials enthusiastically promised to release as many as 20 in the first calendar year
Meanwhile, on CC, the series was beginning to sink out of sight. In September, CC moved the 5 p.m. Saturday shows to 10 a.m. At the same time, suspicions began to grow that the alleged voting on CC's website was a sham. For several months in a row, none of the movies with the highest votes appeared on the schedule. At about this time even Mike Pearce, who had long defended, or at least justified, the actions of CC programmers, seemed to throw up his hands at CC's lack of interest in the series, and his monthly schedule announcements became increasingly tinged with frustration.
In October, CC sources confirmed that there would be no Turkey Day marathon on Thanksgiving (as most MSTies had already suspected). Some CC sources said there might be a small "farewell" marathon (four episodes) at the end of December. But in December, as CC axed the Saturday morning time slot, leaving only an early Sunday morning and a wee hours Sunday night-Monday morning showing, CC also announced that it would cease showing episodes completely at the end of December. The "farewell marathon" was never mentioned.
The final episode aired on CC December 30th. The attention of fans then moved to the Sci-Fi Channel. The schedule was announced: The show would air twice each Saturday, at 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. (eastern time). Though not in prime time (except on the West Coast), it was still a very prominent placement for the series.
With the February 1st premiere date approaching, Sci-Fi began to get into the riffing mode. On its "Dominion" website, it introduced "Caption This!" a program that allowed web surfers to submit humorous captions to Sci-Fi programming in real time.
In late January, on the weekend before the first episode, the channel took the Caption This! concept a step further with something called MST3K: The Home Game. The channel aired Roger Corman's THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED and set up a series of Internet Relay Chat (IRC) chat rooms to allow cyberfans to submit their own riffs on the movie. Though the humor level was hit and miss, the event seemed to solidify in many minds the refreshing feeling that somebody at the Sci-Fi Channel "got it."
| 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 |