Monday, November 16, 2015

In A Not-Too-Alternative Future, What If MST3K Still Existed?

As the revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000 revival  is poised to hit its first goal of $2 Million, let's take a look at what he said during his second update on Kickstarter:

If MST3K hadn't gotten canceled fifteen years ago, it’s possible we could have had 4 or 5 hosts by now, and it would be just like Doctor Who: even if you had "your Doctor," you'd still be able to appreciate the different flavors that each new Host or Mad or robot added to the show. It's part of what makes a show like Doctor Who or SNL last. I’m a Tom Baker fan myself, and no one is funnier than Dan Aykroyd. (To me.)
When I first left MST3K and Mike took over as host, some of you said you were done watching – not because he was bad, but because he was different. Then, once the shock wore off, a lot of you realized he brought something new and great to the job. Many of you even liked his episodes better! And when Kevin took over as Tom Servo, there was hate mail, but for many of you he became the definitive Servo! I could go on.
So yeah, we've been through this before, and I get it. Different can be scary, especially if you really loved the old seasons. But just think: if you had never given Mike or Kevin or Bill or Frank or Mary Jo a chance in their roles, you'd have almost 100 fewer episodes of MST3K to enjoy today. I'm not asking you to like the next cast better than the last one, but I hope you'll give them a chance, and see what they can do.
Then, when their time is up, I hope you'll give the next cast a chance too.
So, let’s speculate how (and maybe when)  there would have been changes of the guard at MST if it stayed on the air on SyFy.
It’s safe to say they’d never run out of bad films. We can assume real gems like Hideous Sun Demon, The Bermuda Triangle, Supersonic Man, ROTOR, Braniac, Rock and Roll Nightmare, Birdemic,  and Death Promise would have been experiments on the show.

First, how long would Mike Nelson stay on the Satellite of Love? Let’s say he stays until 2004, or about ten years aboard the ship. The Nanites are still busy maintaining the ship and keeping it up-to-date.
On the final episode of season 15, where they take on The Day The World Ended, Pearl tries to kill Mike because she’s got nothing better to do. Bobo and the Observer try to stop her, but she tries to kill them. So, the Observer uses his brain power that’s boosted thanks to his brain soaking in Red Bull. He zaps Mike to safety, or actually next to Nuveena. They spend the rest of their lives in that Designs for Dreaming short. It also blows up Observer's brain, so he's just a chalky-looking alien.  Pearl, though, is zapped into the Satellite of Love, which means she has to endure the bad movies Bobo and Observer give her.

MARY JO PEHL:  2004-2008

The picture is from the "Quest of the Delta Knights" episode.
During Pearl’s time, she’s angry at this new situation, and tries to find ways to take control of the SOL. Naturally, she’s very hostile towards Crow and Servo, but this changes in time, and they all try to plot against Bobo and Observer, It also looks like Bobo is the dominant mad scientist, while Observer slowly regains his intellect but not all of his powers.
This continues until she starts to feel strange. The bots claim she’s having conversations with her son Clayton, but only she is there. It turns out she absorbed Clayton when he was a star baby, and now Pearl starts looking like her son. At one point, Trace Beaulieu cameos as Pearl. Eventually, she has an extra head that looks like her son, and they actually riff in a segment in the season 19 finale. The two-headed Forrester, though, is able to take control of the SOL and land it. They and the bots chase after Bobo and Observer, and that’s the end.
Or is it? 

COLE AND JANET:  2008-2011

A couple, played by Rifftrax vets Cole Stratton and Janet Varney, go inside the SOL and accidentally launch it into space. Bobo and Observer get back, but don’t mention what happened to Pearl or the bots. However, Servo and Crow suddenly show up in the third episode, thinking Cole and Janet need a little help in the riffing (or the bots feel threatened). Bobo and Observer show the lousy movies because, mainly, it’s all they know. They do give Cole and Janet satellite TV and a modest salary in exchange for doing the experiments, and they readily agree because it sure beats getting a job. They also happen to be fans of movie mocking. There’s also romance, which really worries the bots because they’re afraid they may have to babysit eventually. 
There is a 20th anniversary show, where they re-riff the first episode, The Crawling Eye. We find out Pearl got rid of the second head, and it’s being used for scientific experiments and displayed a la Futurama. As for her, a shadowy group keep her contained, fearing what she’ll do next. Actually, she’s back to her old self, but the group just likes to lock people away. The staff includes a guy who looks suspiciously like Dr. Ehrhardt, who says he never liked Pearl. The 20th season also includes cameos from Joel, and even Mike and Bridget, who’s had enough of their “Design for Dreaming”. They do mention they created something new called Rifftrax. The bots say it’ll never work…without them. Then Mike introduces the bots to Kevin and Bill. 

They continue until 2011 when that shadowy group is revealed as CORPS, which includes a soldier named Rikk.  It takes over and ends the experiment. Cole and Janet decide (or are forcefully encouraged) to join CORPS, while Bobo and the Observer are taken somewhere.  As for Crow and Servo, they’re turned off, and placed on a shelf. However, unknown hands take them, and the person says, “Don’t worry, I’ll take you to Joel. He’ll know what to do.” This is signaled as SyFy’s decision to close MST for good, but a massive social media campaign changes its mind, sort of.

RIKK WOLF:  2012-2015

They try a new version called “Cinematic Titanic” in 2012, but the pilot doesn’t work. So, since SyFy only has the rights to the title of the show, it tries something completely different: it changes the premise to a soldier trapped in a zombie invasion, and finding an abandoned movie theater. Yep, it’s Incognito Cinema Warriors with Rikk Wolf of CORPS, Johnny Cylon and Topsybot 5000. SyFy figures changing the show and adding an edge would create new interest. After all, if Comedy Central could continue The Man Show without  Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel, then MST3K with new people would be the same thing, right?

Well, yes and no. The MST fans give Rikk and his bots a fair chance, but after two and a half years, and lots of cast changes and premise changes (especially who would be their nemesis), the show ends with the zombies breaking through. Some of them look familiar, like Joel, Mike, TV's Frank, the bots….and Pearl. However, they just wanted to go inside and see the movie.  Rikk, Cylon and Topsybot sneak out, but the theater is suddenly blown to pieces by a rogue CORPS squadron. Rikk joins them, and the show ends the way it began.

Suddenly a shadowy figure says, “For the past two and a half years, you had been watching a show that pretended to be Mystery Science Theater 3000. Mark my words, there will come a day where the true experiment will return. I am the new Dr. Forrester, and I will be your master, driving you insane through bad movies. It will work this time. I will not fail…ah, who am I kidding? Sharknado and that movie about a Werewolf Whale prove you can take anything. Some of you even made bad movies so you could mock them. Still, you want the real thing, and I will give it to you. Just be patient. I just need the right subject…and those bots.”

Then another shadowy figure appears, with a big box.
The screen goes black, but a hashtag appears:  #BringBacktheRealMST3K. 

So, that's how MST3K would have survived if there were plenty of TV executives who get it. Now, other fans would have had different ideas on who would have hosted after Mike Nelson, but I based my choices on Rifftrax and ICWXP. You're welcome to suggest who'd be better. 

Oh, and Joel has confirmed that Jonah Ray will likely be the next captain of the Satellite of Love now that three episodes are guaranteed. Apparently they met at the Nerdist podcast, and they talked about MST3K. Apparently Jonah won the job after he did an impression of Joel pretending to be him, and getting to know each other. Anyway, his TV name will be "Jonah Heston", and theoretically, this is what he'll be doing next year:

Hopefully,  he'll be part of the Turkey Day marathon next week. 

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