All Good Things Must Come To An End
(August 10, 1999) For over a decade, a sardonic Everyman and his robot companions were trapped in a satellite, passing the time by mocking bad movies. This week* that crew returned to earth. And I'm not happy about it.
If you're a movie fan who spends any time in front of the TV, I'm sure you've noticed "Mystery Science Theater 3000." Many of you -- like myself -- are diehard fans of the program, which debuted some 11 years ago on a small Minnesota TV station, leapt to national prominence on Comedy Central, and continued the last few years on The Sci-Fi Channel.
To my chagrin (and the chagrin of every one of those aforementioned diehards), The Sci-Fi Channel thought it fit to cancel the series this year, making room for more pathetic "X-Files" ripoffs and the same-old Star Trek reruns. Those fans lobbied feverishly to keep the magic going, but recent reports show that Best Brains, Inc., the production company behind "MST3K", has auctioned off the props and backdrops that made up the Satellite of Love and other sets, indicating that the fat lady has sung to Mike Nelson, Crow T. Robot, and Tom Servo.
But enough frowning and sobbing, the Brains would surely want us to be upbeat and jovial, remembering the goodness that was (and is) "MST3K."
Joel Hodgson, a stand-up comic and magician, created the show in '88, wedding the practice of zinging bad movies from the peanut gallery with a bizarrely comedic sci-fi setting that found him trapped in a satellite with a handful of robotic puppets. The offspring was pure magic, and along the way the show managed to skewer some of history's worst movies. Not only did they pick on classic Z-movies like This Island Earth, Eegah, and Godzilla vs. Megalon, they also introduced us to tragically bad fare like Manos: The Hands of Fate, Teenage Strangler, Prince of Space, Jack Frost and the occasional industrial short film. They took no prisoners in their loving abuse of semi-celebrities like the Van Pattens, Joe Estevez, Clu Gulager, and the man with the largest face in show business, Robert Z'dar.
I admit to being a tough critic, but no show has tickled my funnybone like "MST3K." I can turn it on in the blackest of moods, and by ten minutes in, I'm laughing out loud and completely oblivious to whatever got me moody. My hope is that the show will somehow find a way back into production, either through a new network pickup, pay-per-view specials, straight-to-video efforts, or -- dare I say -- another feature release. I know it's a longshot, but without hope, I might go into a funk like none before. It's one of those shows that gets into your system and becomes part of your lifeforce. In fact, it's one of those shows that once you've found it, you just have to share it with others. I've forcefed "MST" to countless friends (and even strangers) and most of them have gone away owing me a big favor. But the biggest favor of all is owed to Best Brains, to whom I will always be indebted. Long live MST3K!
* Or, actually, in the not-too-distant future.
Check out Satellite News, the official MST3K info site.