Season 5.5 - 7

 

Season 5 (continued)

As Mike’s premier had been approaching Comedy Central found out about a Halloween party being held at Debbie Tobin’s home in Edina, MN. Debbie had worked at BBI for a time and was an active member of the on-line community. The party was to feature a few dozen Prodigy and AOL MSTies dressed up as their favorite MST related characters. Since Comedy Central had not been able to get bumpers made by BBI they asked if they could tape promos at the party. On 10/30/93 they placed a huge inflated Comedy Central logo in Debbie’s front yard and started taping. They also catered the party with a complete Thanksgiving dinner that was unfortunately ruined by the bright lights by the time the filming was completed.

93mween1.jpg (31452 bytes)      93mween4.jpg (30358 bytes)    93mween2.jpg (32216 bytes)

93mween3.jpg (18005 bytes)

As the filming stopped that evening at 6 PM the MSTieween ’93 folks, as well as MSTies across the country turned on Comedy Central to watch The Brain That Wouldn't Die (513). In Mike’s first episode at the helm of the SOL we were treated to a new intro, theme song and door sequence. Fans also immediately noticed a different dynamic between the bots and their human companion. Where as Joel had created the bots and was a somewhat fatherly figure, Mike was a rookie who had to rely on the bots to show him the ropes. The opposite can be said for Mike’s rapport with the mads. Joel was effectively their slave who never really challenged their authority. Mike on the other hand openly defied them, even though the results were still the same.

This episode also introduced us to perhaps Mary Jo’s funniest MST incarnation, Jan in the pan. Of course MSTies would be seeing more of Mary Jo later (‘cause Jan was just a head ya see. Never mind.)

 mike3.jpg (25330 bytes)                 513.jpg (19200 bytes)                 513a.jpg (20336 bytes)

513-01a.jpg (23526 bytes)     513-02x.jpg (14682 bytes)     513-07x.jpg (21797 bytes)

Almost immediately on-line discussions began to focus entirely on who was the better host, Mike or Joel. Friendly, yet fervent, discussions soon developed into the Great Joel vs. Mike Flame War of 1993. The two sides were basically those willing to accept the change and those fiercely loyal to Joel. The issue could never be settled, of course, and eventually the fans had to decide for them selves to continue to support the new version of the show or simply enjoy their tapes of the Joel episodes. In hindsight there must have been many that liked Mike since the fan club continued to grow at a record pace.

517.jpg (20384 bytes)     005b-01.jpg (25785 bytes)     005b-02.jpg (18760 bytes)

005b-03.jpg (25498 bytes)     005b-04.jpg (20162 bytes)    

Another addition at Best Brains around Halloween was Minnesota native, Barb Tebben. Sent to BBI by a temporary agency to do computer entry, the self-proclaimed sci-fi enthusiast was hired and would eventually begin assisting Julie Walker with the information club.

The Holiday 93 Issue (5.2) of The Satellite News came out about the same time and featured a lengthy article by Jef Maynard describing how Mike’s doorway sequence was assembled.

tsn5-2-sm.jpg (132530 bytes)

Finally, at 6 PM 11/24/93, the 30-hour Turkey Day Marathon began with The Magic Voyage of Sinbad (505). The bumpers filmed a few weeks earlier were a scream to the MSTies who participated, but were generally a disappointment to most fans of the show who were hoping to see more of Mike and the bots. Susan Schneider of Jackson, NJ, the winner of the Pick the Wisecrack Contest, was also featured in a few promos. The marathon concluded with Teenage Strangler (514) that began at midnight 11/25/93.

    td93-logo.jpg (16522 bytes)

td93-a4a.jpg (22230 bytes)         td93-04.jpg (22935 bytes)        td93-03.jpg (23721 bytes)

td93-02.jpg (20244 bytes)         td93-05.jpg (26755 bytes)

On 11/29/93 a new facet of MST3K history debuted. The MST3K Hour first aired at 7 AM and repeated at 6 PM with Cave Dwellers (301) neatly divided into two 1-hour installments that were hosted by Mike Nelson, in his now famous Jack Perkins persona. BBI had originally resisted this treatment of their show, but finally agreed since it would allow Comedy Central programmers to add some MST airtime and would also eventually open the door for syndication possibilities.  Sadly, in order to fit into the one hour time slot and still leave time for the Jack Perkins segments up to seven minutes were trimmed from some episodes.

hour-03.jpg (20513 bytes)     hour-05.jpg (16661 bytes)

As December progressed there were some other changes in the show. The biggest for many fans was that The Outlaw (519) featured the last invention exchange. Mike had carried on the tradition for a while, but after all Joel was the real Gizmocrat and when he left he took the concept of the Gizmonic Institute with him. Even the familiar Gizmonic logo on the mad scientists’ lab coats had been changed to a Deep 13 logo in Mike’s first episode.

005b-05.jpg (24861 bytes)     005b-06.jpg (22188 bytes)     005b-07.jpg (21705 bytes)

005b-08.jpg (17450 bytes)     005b-09.jpg (22216 bytes)     005b-10.jpg (28502 bytes)

520a.jpg (23003 bytes)

The movie negotiations seemed to be close to a conclusion, but would actually carry on for over a year. Also, in December, Catalina Caper (204) aired for the last time. The rights had run out and were now too pricey to extend. The best news at this time was that BBI had signed up for another 24-episode season, their sixth.

A special Christmas double feature was shown on 12/24/93 with a repeat of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (321) and the premiere of the unusual Mexican offering Santa Claus (521). The newer Santa Claus gave Patrick a chance to show up on screen for the first time as part of a Nelson family (not THE Nelson Family), along with Mary Jo and Timothy Scott. Paul Chaplin also presented his most memorable character, Pitch.

005b-12.jpg (29232 bytes)     005b-13.jpg (20067 bytes)     005b-14.jpg (23939 bytes)

005b-15.jpg (21685 bytes)     005b-16.jpg (28607 bytes)     005b-17.jpg (25872 bytes)

At the end of 1993 Comedy Central finally stopped the practice of placing a station logo in the lower right hand corner of the screen during MST. They had been doing this during host segments since mid- 1992 and although this wouldn’t detract from most shows, in MST3K it was directly over Crow during the theater segments when the logo was left on "by mistake."  The logo would pop up a few times in early 1994, but very infrequently. 

The Info Club had reached 35,000 by January 1994. We learned that Steven Spielberg was a fan who enjoyed watching the show with his kids. BBI was also in the process of expanding the studio by adding some additional office space.  The MST Hour switched to 9 AM and 8 PM on January 3rd. A few weeks later MST continued the now annual event of losing the Cable ACE award, but this time in three different categories, Best Comedy Series, Best Writing in a Comedy Series and Best Art Direction in a Comedy Series.  Comedy Central's special This Is MST3K was nominated for best Musical or Comedy Special, but it also lost.

                           

Alien From LA (516) was shown on MTV on 1/23/94 as part of their MTV Comedy Weekend.  They had the forethought to place their logo in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen.

The final episode of Season 5, 12 to the Moon (524), aired on 2/5/94 along with the short Design For Dreaming. Bridget gave a lively performance as Nuveena the girl of the future from the short. 

005b-19.jpg (22711 bytes)

In early February Comedy Central introduced another distraction by adding a running crawl, called "News Bites" across the screen during the show that featured advertisements, programming notes and even jokes. MSTies were incensed and a heated letter writing and phone campaign convinced Comedy Central to stop both annoyances by early March 94.

Later with Greg Kinnear debuted on 2/28/94 with Josh as a member of the writing staff.  He would be promoted to head writer for the second season.

By the Spring of 94 the negotiations with Universal had ground to a halt. Just when it seemed a contract was close the studio had second thoughts. BBI sent out a postcard to all of the members of the info club suggesting letters be mailed to Universal Studios head Casey Silver requesting that they complete the deal. Thousands of letters would be sent, but there would still be months of anxious waiting.

help94.jpg (38220 bytes)            help94-2.jpg (44156 bytes)

Internet fans would be happy when fellow MSTie Julie Walker, formerly of Microsoft, joined the BBI staff in February 94 as marketing director. Juliewa was officially introduced to the newsgroups on 3/16/94.

Comedy Central ran a 10 1/2 hour MST marathon of every Gamera episode called Candid Gamera on 3/27/94.

More big news was announced on 3/31/94 when the 1993 George Foster Peabody award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing for a Variety or Music Program was awarded to MST3K by the University of Georgia based foundation. After receiving the award on 5/17/94 at a ceremony hosted by Ed Bradley at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City it would be proudly displayed at BBI studios in a frame built by Jef Maynard that featured little gold shriners around the border.

peabody2.jpg (22961 bytes)

Issue 6.1, Spring 94, of The Satellite News was mailed out in April. The big announcement was that there would be the first ever MST3K ConventioCon Expo Fest-A-Rama to be held in Bloomington, MN on September 16-17, 1994.

tsn6-1-sm.jpg (148106 bytes)    94con-ad.jpg (48713 bytes)

The Free Cheese College Tour was conducted from 3/31 to 4/19/94 with viewings of The Outlaw held at a number of schools.  Members of the cast attended shows aired at the University of Minnesota and NYU.

Late April brought more concerns to MSTies. Since early February 1994 the only episodes aired were from seasons 4 and 5.  Then it was learned from a Comedy Central insider that the channel was planning on trimming five to seven minutes from some of the season 2 and 3 episodes that originally ran a little long. They also had not contacted Best Brains to let them know they were going to cut part of the shows. Again faithful fans let their feelings be heard and by 7/5/94 Comedy Central backed down from the plan. They instead eventually decided to advertise that shows immediately following the midnight MST3K broadcasts would begin 2-ish.

2-ish.jpg (21273 bytes)

On 5/10/94 Mike and Jef Maynard made an appearance on Focus On U, a student run news show at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls.  The show was hosted by Melanie Waldoch and Jon Fuith, who repeatedly brought up that Mike had attended, but not graduated from the school.

focus1.jpg (20869 bytes)     focus2.jpg (20852 bytes)     focus3.jpg (23266 bytes)

On 5/16/94 Comedy Central moved the MST Hour to the less accessible 4 PM time slot.

In June a couple fun, new promos were made to promote the American Red Cross.

redcross1.jpg (20885 bytes)                        redcross2.jpg (22168 bytes)

redcross3.jpg (25264 bytes)     redcross4.jpg (16226 bytes)

Season 6

Girls Town (601) kicked off season 6 on 7/16/94. In Deep 13 Dr. Forrester introduced us to the Umbilicus (or Umbilicon, or Umbiliport), a 270-mile tether attached to Gypsy that would serve as a physical link between the mads and the SOL.

006-01.jpg (26146 bytes)     006-02.jpg (27000 bytes)    

006-04.jpg (25994 bytes)     006-05.jpg (22566 bytes)

Julie Walker was acknowledged as the Info Club Coordinator in the credits for Colossus and the Headhunters (605), but would gain her more familiar title of Info Club Poobah by High School Big Shot (618). There was also a complete make over of Deep 13 for Bloodlust (607) in preparation for a visit by Dr. Forrester’s mother Pearl, played gleefully by Mary Jo.

006-06.jpg (23953 bytes)         006-08.jpg (26822 bytes)

006-09.jpg (26796 bytes)     006-10.jpg (25195 bytes)     006-11.jpg (20721 bytes)

006-12.jpg (24243 bytes)     006-13.jpg (23013 bytes)     006-14.jpg (22676 bytes)

To help promote the convention, Comedy Central started the Go To Where the Cheese is Made Contest in August. The winner was Teresa Lee Combs of Thayer, IN. Of course Comedy Central announced this using a crawl across the bottom of the screen on 8/26/94, during a broadcast of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (321).

cheese1.jpg (19352 bytes)      cheese2.jpg (25291 bytes)     cheese-winner.jpg (30190 bytes)

On September 11th the Brains attended the 46th Annual Emmy Awards in Pasadena, CA where they were nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Writing in a Variety or Music Program. Even though they did not win, Comedy Central picked up the bill for all ten writers and a guest to fly to LA and attend the festivities.

emmy46-sm.jpg (38075 bytes)

At last on Friday, September 16, 1994 registration for the ConventioCon began at the Radisson South Hotel in Bloomington, MN. This was truly an event for the fans, but would also hopefully help impress the representatives from Universal Studios that were also attending. Pins proclaiming "MST3K has Universal appeal" were every where. The schedule was full of entertaining opportunities starting with a keynote speech where the entire writing staff was introduced and answered questions.

con94-prog-sm.jpg (42375 bytes)    con94-prog2-sm.jpg (47064 bytes)     con94-prog3-sm.jpg (51374 bytes)

    94con01.jpg (18218 bytes)   

Throughout the weekend there were three rooms set up showing episodes 24-hour a day. Years worth of props and costumes were displayed in the Museum of Mystery Science Theater and Industry. Gypsy’s Basement sold MST merchandise at a feverish pace. There was also a "photo opportunity" that most fans realized were cardboard cut outs of the cast.

sm148-props95.jpg (13363 bytes)   sm147-gypsbasement.jpg (18284 bytes)     94con.jpg (22430 bytes)

Saturday, September 17 began with a 2-hour autograph session that the Brains graciously stretched to 4-hours. A celebrity panel featured David Worth, the director of Warrior of the Lost World (501), John Humphries, the enigmatic Mikey from Teenage Strangler (514) and Beverly Garland, My Three Sons mom who had appeared in three MSTied movies. Kim Cattrall was scheduled, but was unable to attend breaking Crow’s fragile molybdenum heart. There were also studio tours conducted all day back at Best Brains.

94con-02.jpg (26553 bytes)    94con-03.jpg (16561 bytes)     94con-04.jpg (21084 bytes)

 sm156-bbi95.jpg (14938 bytes)

tour94-labbook.jpg (31870 bytes)  tour94-sol.jpg (32214 bytes)   tour94-deep13.jpg (39305 bytes)

tour94-writing.jpg (23002 bytes)     tour94-choir.jpg (27754 bytes)

Although live performances were presented on the 15th and16th, the primary show for the MSTies was held at 7 PM September 17 at the Historic State Theater. The show featured a live riffing of Universal Pictures’ own 1955 classic This Island Earth. Back at the Radisson, immediately following the performance, was a costume ball sponsored by Comedy Central. A variety of awards and prizes were given out and the "Parade of Torgos" was equal parts sad, scary and hilarious.

con94-liveticket.jpg (31266 bytes)    94con-05.jpg (26175 bytes)   94con-06.jpg (13005 bytes)   

sm163-tielive.jpg (11381 bytes)     sm161-matblive.jpg (12336 bytes)       94con-09.jpg (8863 bytes)

94con-12.jpg (12055 bytes)      sm164-clowning.jpg (15184 bytes)

A few mischievous MSTies paid a visit to Best Brains studio late that night and left chalk messages on the sidewalk and a plethora of pink flamingoes, harkening back to Jim’s early college antics.

flamingos.jpg (35086 bytes)

In all 2036 fans attended the convention from 43 states and elsewhere and rumor has it a splendid time was had by all.

Even though Zombie Nightmare (604) had been announced back in July its first broadcast was delayed so that it could be used from 9/21/94 to 11/11/94 for the Fresh Cheese College Screening Tour. Some of the staff took the movie to schools around the country for a sneak preview and a question and answer session.

freshcheese.gif (22100 bytes)

There was another reason this particular episode was delayed though. The Holiday 94 (6.2) issue of the Satellite News came out during this time and gave the schedule for another Turkey Day Marathon. Best Brains was again offered a low amount of money to produce bumpers and again turned it down. Comedy Central was lucky to find that Adam West, TV’s Batman, who happened to be a star in this movie, had no previous engagements and could fill in as host.

The issue also mentioned that plans were already in the works for a second convention in 1996.

tsn6-2-sm.jpg (127696 bytes)

Viewers were treated to a spoof of the Star Trek episode Mirror, Mirror on October 16 in The Last of the Wild Horses (611). When Dr. Forrester tries to send a matter transference device through the Umbilicus, during an ion storm, parallel universes converge. What results is the only time we get to see Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank in the theater riffing on a movie.

        006-18.jpg (23104 bytes)

006-19.jpg (22476 bytes)     006-20.jpg (26878 bytes)

There were now 50,000 members in the info club including Henry Rollins, Neil Young and the late Frank Zappa. As popularity of the show continued to grow the Brains were finding it increasingly difficult, and expensive, to get film rights.

006-21.jpg (17149 bytes)         006-23.jpg (25284 bytes)

It was on 10/31/94 that Comedy Central stopped presenting the midnight showings. They had decided to overhaul the schedule in an effort to reduce repeats. They instead began showing an episode of the MST Hour at noon each weekday. Comedy Central also mentioned that they would be starting a viewer’s choice system they called Play MSTie for Me, that would be shown every Friday at 8 PM.

    play-01.jpg (22860 bytes)                 play-02.jpg (21557 bytes)

Angry fans frantically began calling Comedy Central about ending the midnight airings. The programming chief, Vincent Favale, made two on air appearances to defend his decision. The first was a 10-minute response on 11/4/94 immediately before the first Viewer's Choice show.  The second was a full half-hour show on 11/11/94 hosted by Mark Maron, which included responding to actual calls and complaints from MSTies. Neither appearance helped alleviate the anger of the MSTies nor did Comedy Central back down from their decision, yet.

MSTies received some more bad news on 11/4/94 when Frank posted on-line that he was leaving the show when filming of season 6 ended. He would be moving to Los Angeles by the end of 1994 to perform stand-up and to write for other shows.

bbi-cast93.jpg (83715 bytes)

Season 6 continued on and when San Francisco International (614) first aired on 11/19/94 it included a laugh-fest prompted by Mike’s flawless impression of Urkel. The infectious laughter was joined by Jan in the Pan (Mary Jo), Huggy Bear (Paul), Rooster (Patrick) and Nuveena (Bridget) on the Satellite of Love, while Santa (Kevin) and Pitch (Paul) visited Deep 13. Finally, Torgo (Mike) entered Deep 13 and reminded us all that Urkel just isn’t really very funny.

006-24.jpg (26782 bytes)     006-25.jpg (24988 bytes)     006-26.jpg (23175 bytes)

comcent td94.jpg (106581 bytes)

This year’s 28-hour Turkey Day Marathon began at 8 PM Wednesday, 11/23/94 with the premiere of Kitten With a Whip (615). Adam West introduced himself as "your cheesy gourmet" and was joined during the marathon by Beverly Garland, Robert Vaughn and Mamie Van Doren to help present their own MSTied movies. At 10 PM 11/24/94 Adam introduced his own long delayed movie, Zombie Nightmare (604).

   td94-logo.jpg (16944 bytes)     td94-01.jpg (20211 bytes)   td94-a.jpg (23429 bytes)   

td94-e.jpg (23305 bytes)     td94-f.jpg (24091 bytes)     td94-g.jpg (22647 bytes)

006-28.jpg (16833 bytes)     006-45.jpg (26468 bytes)

The 12/23/94 issue of Entertainment Weekly included an interview with Kathy Ireland, who had appeared in Alien from LA (516). Showing all the insight one might expect from the perky super model, she acknowledged being MSTied by saying "It’s a compliment, I guess…I hope."

006-29.jpg (17760 bytes)     006-30.jpg (25102 bytes)     006-31.jpg (22570 bytes)

006-32.jpg (20847 bytes)         006-34.jpg (26917 bytes)

006-36.jpg (27677 bytes)     006-37.jpg (25654 bytes)     006-38.jpg (17229 bytes)

1994 drew to a close without a contract for another season. With filming completed for season 6 Best Brains shut down. Not knowing the immediate future, many staff members were laid off and the now familiar studio tours were discontinued.  The only news from Comedy Central was that on 12/26/94 they were resuming the weekday midnight show, but they would be discontinuing the MST3K Hour, which went on "hiatus".  (The midnight show would then be switched to noon on 2/27/95.)

In January 1995 Jim flew to New York City to meet with Comedy Central executives. Jim returned to Minneapolis confident that relations between the companies had improved. Negotiations began for another season and there was an agreement reached for BBI to produce their first special.  The CableACE awards aired on 1/15/95 and MST3K lost the award for Best Comedy Series.  The governing board of the awards decided to change their schedule to have the awards presented in the same year as the shows aired.   Starting later in 1995 another presentation time would be scheduled.

Two big announcements were made in January 1995. The first came on 1/23/95 that Tradewinds Television would begin syndication of MST3K beginning in the fall. Either the MST Hour or entire 2-hour episodes could be used. This would make MST available to millions of new viewers across the country. Action Media Group would be handling the advertising sales nationally. Then on 1/24/95 BBI announced that at long last a movie deal was signed with Universal Studios and that shooting would begin in March 95. The original plan was to release the film in the fall, but this target would prove to be a bit optimistic. There was, however, word that a book and a CD-ROM were also being considered.

Meanwhile, in LA, Joel was working on a pilot for a new concept in television he called X Box R & D, that would soon become known as The TV Wheel. It was the first collaboration with his brother Jim. It was a huge set designed to film shows live and air with no post-production. Joel would continue to look into new ideas for innovating television.

xbox1.jpg (10876 bytes)     xbox2.jpg (21882 bytes)     xbox3.jpg (15903 bytes)

xbox4.jpg (12393 bytes)     xbox5.jpg (17357 bytes)     xbox6.jpg (12373 bytes)

On March 7th Jim, Mike, Kevin and Trace were honored in LA by the Museum of Radio and Television. They showed a few short features and participated in a lively question and answer session where Jim tried to assure everyone there would be a seventh season and that Frank’s replacement may be none other than Dr. Forrester’s mother.  Trace also used the occasion to show how to field strip Crow.

museum-of-tv-sm.jpg (32918 bytes)     mus-tv.jpg (34013 bytes)    crostrip.jpg (19604 bytes)

On 3/15/95 Comedy Central discontinued the "viewer’s choice" part of Play MSTie for Me, but continued to use the name for the Friday shows.

On 3/22/95 the MST3K Little Gold Statue Preview Special aired at 8 and 11 PM. It was fitting that BBI’s first special would take on Hollywood’s elite heading into the Academy Awards.

 little01.jpg (22601 bytes)            special.jpg (32154 bytes)

little02.jpg (23744 bytes)      little06.jpg (19869 bytes)      little05.jpg (22897 bytes)

As the last few episodes of season 6 aired (622-624) viewers noticed a new name in the credits. Bill Corbett had been hired during the end of 1994 to help write some episodes while the regular staff was working on the movie script. Bill would eventually join the staff, but for now was credited as an additional contributing writer.

006-39.jpg (24168 bytes)     006-40.jpg (25849 bytes)     006-41.jpg (23413 bytes)

006-42.jpg (23837 bytes)     006-43.jpg (25363 bytes)     006-44.jpg (23848 bytes)

3/25/95 marked the premiere of Samson vs. the Vampire Women (624), which was not only the last episode of season 6, but also Frank’s farewell performance. After gorging on Chinese food Frank is assumed into second banana heaven by Torgo the White (Mike), which is a reference to JRR Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. Frank reappears at the end of the show to push the button one last time. Fans are left to wonder who will fill Frank’s tennis shoes in future episodes.

624-01.jpg (19645 bytes)     624-04.jpg (19879 bytes)      624-06.jpg (25239 bytes)

624-08.jpg (20358 bytes)      624-13.jpg (24251 bytes)      624-15.jpg (23465 bytes)

Fans would also find out that Jef Maynard had decided to leave to form his own company, Blue Thumb Scenic.  Jef would be used by BBI in the future though to help redesign sets.

WB01615_.gif (1039 bytes) WB01617_2.gif (1034 bytes)
To Season 2-5.5B To Season 5.5-7B
WB01615_.gif (1039 bytes)
To Directory