Comedy Central Years

The people who are mentioning that the Comedy Central era film selections seemed looser than the Sci-Fi Channel era are correct: from what I’ve read, Sci-Fi insisted on several changes to how the show worked, from selecting primarily sci-fi/fantasy films to introducing more serialized storytelling in the host segments. The first part wasn’t so bad, and Season 10 eventually did give us Girl in Gold Boots, Final Justice, and Hamlet – but this was never a show that needed an ongoing story in its host segments so much as a place to periodically regroup and break up the visual “sameness” of the movie (often a B/W or muddy-colored movie) running under silhouettes.

All of Season 8 features a “chase” between Mike’s team and Pearl’s, and the host segments are weaker for it (IMO) – the blocks of several episodes on the planet of the Observers, Roman Times, et al don’t really generate as much fun as the looser, more random host segments from the earlier days. Returning the show to “Castle Forrester below, the SOL above” in Season 9 definitely suggests a cast that was told “just TRY doing it our way” rather than something they decided on their own to shake things up.


I think one of the reasons “The Chase” of Season 8 isn’t more fondly remembered is that you only had a chance to see the storyline as it was intended to be told once. The episodes were rerun out of order and if you try to rewatch episodes from that season you’re going to have to find episode guide and figure out what order you’re supposed to put them in. Otherwise it’s “huh last time they were on the Planet of the Apes, now they’re in Ancient Rome, huh I missed something.”

Which is a pity because there’s some real classic episodes in that season: The Giant Spider Invasion, Prince of Space, Space Munity, and Time Chasers just to name a few.


I’m curious what they were surrounded by. Daily Show and South Park don’t come in until around when CC cancels MST3K. Was it a lot more standup specials and SNL reruns? Because it feels like the standup specials had a bigger presence before the other originals and acquisitions come in and slowly push them off to being Friday nights only (whereas MST3K got axed)


Well, Kids in the Hall was one other thing besides MST they had at the time.

I also remember from my copy of the episode “Teenage Caveman” that had the original commercials that there was a show called “Inside the Comedy Mind”.

Other than that, all I remember was movies and stand up specials (which given the backstage drama about it is kinda funny when you follow an episode of MST with a Gallagher special).


Eh the beginning of MST3K’s end on Comedy Central was the one-two punch of Absolutely Fabulous and Politically Incorrect. Absolutely Fabulous despite it’s relatively short run basically let them say “hey advertisers, our Network isn’t just a silly puppet show. We’ve got a sophisticated audience that even likes foreign shows” while Politically Incorrect was their first real effort at a late night topical humor which eventually gave rise to the Daily Show and eventually The Colbert Report.

MST3K had this weird duel role as both this late night hipster comedy and this daytime show that 90s kids enjoyed on the weekends. Comedy Central never catered to the family audience so MST3K’s appeal with the younger crowd was just sort of a happy accident. The late night crowd however was something Comedy Central really hung their hat on so when Politically Incorrect came along and was a hit MST3K sort of got crowded out.

Ironically Politically Incorrect would wind up getting snatched up by ABC in '97 the year that MST3K jumped to SyFy. Around this time Absolutely Fabulous reruns started popping up on PBS so a running gag in the trade media that year was that Comedy Central was exporting all their best shows to other networks.


Aside from MST3K, the only things I remember from Comedy Central were SNL reruns, Ab Fab, and Kids In The Hall


And Penn Jillette’s voice.


The Omnipresent Disembodied Voice of Penn Jillette still narrates our lives. We just don’t always hear it.


There were lots of 3-5 minute bumpers of random silliness.


In the mid-90s, predicting when it was on strained one’s patience. Getting a bead of when and what day felt like gambling in Atlantic City.