Q: When did the Sci-Fi Channel pick up
A: On June 24, 1996, the Sci-Fi Channel
officially released a statement that said, in part:
Sci-Fi Channel has rescued the
award-winning comedy series "Mystery Science Theater
3000" from cancellation, and brought it safely to
its original programming lineup where the series
will flourish with exclusive, original episodes...
Episodes began airing on
February 1st, 1997.
Q: Were any of the CC-era episodes shown
A: No. The deal was for new
Q: When the series first moved to
Sci-Fi, it was reported that the channel would only
let BBI select movies that fit the channel's
definition of "sci-fi" -- which included horror and
fantasy films as well. But later they were doing all
sorts of films. What happened?
A: As the channel got more comfortable
with Best Brains, they loosened the reins a bit; and
by season ten, they lifted the restriction completely.
Q: I've heard a rumor that BBI was told
not to criticize the movies too harshly, because
Channel executives feared alienating its viewers.
A: Of course not. BBI had as much
editorial freedom during the Sci-Fi Channel era as it
had during the CC days.
Q: When and how was the
Sci-Fi Channel's cancellation announced?
A: On February 24,
1999, BBI released a statement which read, in
part: After producing its 10th season of episodes,
Best Brains Inc. of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, will
close the curtain on its Peabody Award winning series,
Mystery Science Theater 3000, as the Sci-Fi Channel
will not be ordering any new programs.
Ten years is a great run for any series. We've had a
tremendous ride and it's time for Mike Nelson and the
'Bots to come down to Earth," Executive Producer and
Best Brain's President Jim Mallon said today.
"We'd like to thank our families, friends and our
tremendous fans for all of their support over the
years. We'd also like to thank the Sci-Fi Channel for
a great run which brought us to our 10th year."
Q: Why did Sci-Fi
Channel officials decide to stop ordering episodes?
A: Initially, network executives said
the issue was ratings, pure and simple. Later, they
also noted that the cost of acquiring the rights to
movies for riffing was getting too high. Many viewers
also noticed a change in the network after Barry
Schulman -- MST3K's chief defender at the channel --
departed, and Bonnie Hammer -- an executive from what
was then Sci-Fi's parent company, USA Networks -- took
over. MST3K apparently did not fit with
her vision for the network.
Q: How long did reruns of the show
continue to run on the Sci-Fi Channel?
original contract Sci-Fi Channel and BBI signed expired in
early 2002. However, in late 2001, the two parties
signed a two-year contract extension, allowing the
Channel to continue showing reruns through the end of
January, 2004. At that time, the show ended its run on
Q: What happened to
the idea of running an ad in Variety asking some other
channel to pick up the show?
happened, thanks to generous donations from 145 people
in 36 states, Washington DC, Canada and one from New
Zealand! A full-page advertisement appeared in the
Friday, June 18th, 1999, issue. If you didn't have a chance to see
the ad, click HERE to download a copy
in Adobe Acrobat's PDF format.
Q: Was there any
response to the ad from TV executives?
A: None that we know
Q: What's happened to the MST3K area on the Sci-Fi Channel's
has been deleted. The content from the site survives
on Satellite News.
Q: What about the "Caption This" feature on the Sci-Fi
Channel Web site?
1999, the channel said that it would
remain, stripped of its MST3K-related graphics. But ultimately it
was shut down.
Q: I live in the U.K. Wasn't MST3K running on TV over here
for a while?
A: Yes, MST3K ran on the British sister
network of the Sci-Fi Channel, known as Sci-Fi Channel
Europe (it later became independent of America's
Sci-Fi Channel and changed its name to Sci*fi) from January, 1998, to September,
Q: Sci*fi only showed episodes from season
eight and a few season nine episodes! Why didn't they
show the rest of the episodes?
A: The channel chose to purchase the
rights to only those episodes.
Q: Weren't Sci*fi executives talking about getting the
rights to the other episodes?
A: Back when Sci*fi was still a sister network with
America's Sci-Fi Channel, officials there publicly
declared that there would be no attempt to acquire any
more episodes. Then the channel became an independent
operation, and channel officials changed their tune,
claiming that they were
going to acquire
more episodes. But it never happened, and many fans
came to the conclusion that this was simply a lie
designed to placate the fan base.
Q: Why did Sci*fi stop showing MST3K?
A: Late in 2000, an official from the
channel posted the following message on the channel's
website: "One of the major problems we have in the UK
is clearing and licensing these films in the first
place -- the people who own the rights to the original
films are often not keen, as MSK3K does tend to take
the p*ss out of their product...[Also] whenever we do
schedule them, they rate incredibly badly. Obviously
there are not as many MST3K fans out there as you
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