Comedy Central, Sci-Fi, and Gramercy Hate MST3K

I originally posted this on the MST3K Reddit 10 months ago.

Comedy Central originally loved Mystery Science Theater 3000 back when it aired there, but they‘re basically screwed by the network from 1993-1996. And here‘s why, along with Gramercy Pictures and the Sci-Fi Channel.

  1. CC stopped making Best Brains do promos for MST3K. Most later promos mostly consisted of clips from episodes.
  2. Penn Jillette voiceovers were played over Mighty Science Theater (the closing theme). The closing theme became louder in early summer because Penn voiceovers were broadcast despite the fact that more than simply the ending theme was playing. It Conquered The World had Peter Graves’ rambling about humanity were drowned out by Penn voiceovers. Daddy-O had a closing credits sequence where the ending button refuses to remain pushed, and Penn voiceovers played over it in its entirety. And then, Penn himself apologized for the voiceovers after reading a letter from MSTie Jonathan Whitney, aka El Mystico.
  3. Comedy Central gave small sums of money to the Brains to make Turkey Day promos, then Best Brains turned it down. Turkey Day 1993 was filmed at MSTie Debbie Tobin’s Halloween party (Debbie, are you still out there?), and Turkey Day 1994 was hosted by Adam West, who appeared in Zombie Nightmare.
  4. Comedy Central slapped their screen bug on the show, covering up Crow.
  5. And later, CC slapped a crawl on the screen, which consisted of jokes and ads for CC programming, covering up the Shadowrama effect (or more accurately, the silhouettes)
  6. Comedy Central tried to cut 5 to 7 minutes of Season 2 and 3 episodes, without Best Brains’ consent.
  7. Something called The Wheel of Fish had a booth at the 1994 MST3K ConventioCon. I know, this doesn’t have anything to do with MST3K or Comedy Central’s hatred of MST3K, but what even is The Wheel of Fish? A band whose music videos play on CC or MTV? A “Weird Al” Yankovic fan club? I have no idea.
  8. Comedy Central removed MST3K’s midnight time slots. After fans complained, the network responded with the next thing below…
  9. A viewer’s choice presentation called Play MSTie for Me (no relationship to the Best Brains VHS tapes), where viewers would vote for what episode they’d like to see. However, the same viewer-picked episodes started airing over and over again. Also, Comedy Central thinks MST3K viewers are rednecks in this promo for Play MSTie for Me: MST3K Play MSTie For Me Promo - YouTube (Starring TV’s Max himself, Patton Oswalt!)
  10. Comedy Central co-founder Vincent Favale said that CC removed midnight showings because of low ratings. Which is false.
  11. When Doug Herzog became the president of CC, he wanted to make CC younger and hipper. Also, he was why MST3K was canceled on Comedy Central.
  12. One ad for Turkey Day 1995 literally called Dr. Erdhardt “fake Frank” and called Joel the “fifth bot-tle” in a Beatles parody.
  13. Doug Herzog said MST3K was canceled on Comedy Central because of low ratings. Again, this is false.
  14. The MST3K Movie Special, which was basically just 4 episodes with clips from the movie sandwiched between them.
  15. Comedy Central’s second viewer’s choice presentation was basically fake, because none of the episodes with the highest votes never appeared on the schedule.
  16. MST3K got removed from Comedy Central.
  17. CC pretends MST3K doesn’t exist and wasn’t a key factor in their early success.
  18. Gramercy Pictures made the MST3K movie have no advertising, so they could advertise Barb Wire.
  19. Same as 4, but the Sci-Fi screen bug is covering Crow, and it was moved to the left.
  20. Same as 1.
  21. Barry Schulman, who loved MST3K, got replaced with Bonnie Hammer, who hated MST3K. And she canceled it.
  22. MST3K got removed from Sci-Fi.
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I guess that’s why TV executives can’t let us have nice things.

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Didn’t Gramercy go bankrupt shortly after releasing MST3K the Movie?

Good thing they don’t have anything to do with the show anymore and I don’t have to care.

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Good thing MST3K doesn’t need any of them.

I wonder if Bonnie Hammer sent Best Brains ideas like she did with WWE. Probably not, because she apparently didn’t like them, but I just like the idea of her sending bad ideas to everyone on her channels.

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I remember the MST movie didn’t make it to some cities. Fresno, CA for one.
That was Patton Oswalt, wow. They must’ve had comedians cutting promos for the channel.

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It lasted from 1992-2001, so the movie was right around the middle point there.

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I remember seeing the Daddy O Penn Jillette voice over. Did anyone capture that? How many times did it air?

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You seem to attribute maliciousness to a lot of standard TV network decisions.

Their screen bug was in that same spot on every bit of programming they showed. Nothing to do with MST3K.

Again, that screen bug was in that spot on all of the programming they aired.

Did CC have anything to do with putting on the 94 Con, or was that Best Brains? If it wasn’t Comedy Central putting it on, then you can’t use this as evidence they “hated” the show. Also, were you at that Con? Based on your “what was this” comment, I’m guessing not. So maybe it was totally (somehow) related to the show that just isn’t obvious 28 years later.

Do you have the ratings numbers from the time frames when they were evaluating renewals of shows to prove that their claims of low ratings are false?

You and I must have very different definition of “redneck”, cause there is nothing in that ad that says “we think you’re all rednecks”

Ultimately, sure, the president of the network can be blamed for shows getting canceled, but it isn’t (normally) like they are making the decision unilaterally.

Shows get cancelled, doesn’t mean that the network “hated” it.

So, a special to promote the movie that showed 4 episodes in a row with promos for the movie is a bad thing?

Not sure how they “pretend MST3K doesn’t exist”. After the show was cancelled there, what do you want them to do - advertise a show no longer airing on their network?

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I got all of that from Satellite News.

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The low ratings for the midnight showings on Comedy Central were explained as the audience for Politically Incorrect didn’t stick around to keep watching late night. Politically Incorrect was positioned from its debut to become the new flagship show for Comedy Central since it was supposed to be news of the day/topical-driven humor that Comedy Central’s new management team wanted to promote. So it probably wasn’t too difficult for Comedy Central’s management to use that drop in ratings at 12 AM as a ‘changing of the guard’ moment.

And both moved to different networks in 1997.