The End 10: The End…Again?

As 2020 began there was unrest in the MST3K community but also in the world in general. As MST fans tried to learn if there was any opportunity for more new episodes there were news stories coming out more and more frequently that some type of pneumonia of unknown origin was initially identified in China and was spreading quickly. Within a few months much of the world would be enforcing stay-at-home orders trying to contain the pandemic of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. How this would affect not only the shows but also all the individual cast and crew was yet to be determined. Only time would tell. On 1/2/2020 the fine folks at the Satellite News announced that they would be scaling back on a few of the features we had all become accustomed to over the years. Most of the changes were related to discussions about the episode guide and weekend discussion threads while other fan favorites would continue thanks to the dedication of Chris Cornell (Sampo) and Brian Henry (Erhardt). The International Film Channel (IFC) announced they were to begin airing episodes of MST3K on 1/7. They started with a week-long nightly show and then settled into two or three episodes every Saturday morning. Throughout the year the schedule would be somewhat sporadic, but they continued to air episodes a few times every week.

On 1/17 Kevin and Bill hosted a Riffapalooza at San Francisco Sketchfest at the Brava Theater Center. Joining them to help riff were Trace, Frank, Mary Jo and Jonah.


The next night Jonah had a show at the Café du Nord to perform his album You Can’t Call Me Al. Kevin joined him onstage to perform a mellow version of AC/DC’s You Shook Me. Jonah’s wife Deanna Rooney also appeared dressed as Weird Al himself.


And to close out SF Sketchfest on 1/19 at the Marines’ Memorial Theater there was a stage reading of Plan 9 From Outer Space. Hosted by Dana Gould it would include Bill, Kevin and Jonah along with Paget Brewster, Jeffery Combs, Dave Foley, Tom Kenny, Eban Schletter, Paul F. Tompkins and Janet Varney.

The on 2/18 Netflix announced that in March 2020 it will stop airing any of the original MST3K series episodes (Seasons 1 through 10). Netflix was not making many friends in the MST community.

On 2/20 Hampton's podcast Suicide Buddies officially changed its name to Y'all Ever. (They got tired of explaining to fans that they weren’t trying to glorify suicide.) (Also, co-host Dave Ross would be in his last episode of the show on 7/16/20, but Hampton would continue on with support from Aristotle.)

Hampton, Baron and Jonah performed live at the Dynasty Typewriter in LA on 2/22. The show was called Destroy All Movies and featured live riffing. (They planned to perform another show on 3/21, but that show was cancelled due to COVID.)


The latest RiffTrax Kickstarter ended on 3/21 and ended up fully funded for two shows, including Hobgoblins on 6/11 and Amityville: The Evil Escapes on 10/21, both to be performed at the Belmont Theater in Nashville. Nothing short of a pandemic could prevent these shows from happening.

In fact, during March 2020 stay-at-home orders were issued in most states as a result of the spread of COVID. Immediately almost every scheduled live show was either postponed or cancelled for the next few months. Joel let us know he was supporting the order by posting a picture of himself at home with his dogs Jonesy and Daisy.

On 4/1 the book The Art of Sketch Cards by Ingird KV Hardy was published. The book discussed various aspects of the production and hobby of collectible hand created trading cards, which was a very popular part of the MST3K card sets. Ingrid interviewed artists, card producers/ art directors and collectors, of which I was honored to be included. In fact, one of the cards I own of Joel Hodgson created by Kris Penix was featured on the cover of the book.


Felicia and Jonah appear in season 2 episode 7 of Hulu original series Into the Dark on 4/3. The episode was entitled Pookah Lives!


On 4/7 the inevitable was announced that due to COVID-19 the 6/11 RiffTrax Live riff of Hobgoblins was being postponed until 8/6. Most everyone was confident that the virus would be under control by then.

David Giancola, the director of MST fan favorite movie Time Chasers, released his latest film Axcellerator on 4/10. As a thank you for the support of RiffTraxians and MSTies they were granted a special 48-hour streaming sneak preview period beginning 4/8, before it was available to the general public.

Actors began developing ways to keep active and provide entertainment for their fans. One of the first was Felicia Day. Being a regular performer on-line, she initially pulled together the original cast from The Guild to play Dungeons & Dragons streaming live on Twitch on 4/16. She also took the opportunity to make it a charity event for No Kid Hungry. Sean Becker prepared the layout so we could watch them all perform at the same time. The participants were (top row) Felicia, Amy Okuda, Robin Thorsen, (middle row) Sandeep Parikh, Jeff Lewis, Vince Caso and (bottom) dungeon master Amy Vorpahl. The actors all played in the persona of their Guild characters.


To meet the requirement of wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) when going out in public fans began creating MST based gear. MSTie Tine Carver made me a couple of these masks that I proudly wore when I needed to go to a store.

On 4/21 RiffTrax announced they were going to be presenting some content specifically for their Super Traxians and Ultra Traxian donors. The first exclusive offering was a sneak preview of Suburban Sasquatch with some chat with the cast and writers (Conor Lastowka, Kevin, Mike, Bill and Sean Thomason) on 4/23.


On 5/3/20 we were treated to the MST3K Live at Home Riff-Along. Joel, Emily Crenshaw (Emily Marsh), GPC/ Mega Synthia (Yvonne Freese), Tom (Conor McGiffin) and Crow (Nate Begle) performed a riff over the season 1 episode of Moon Zero Two. Also, a brand new riff of the short Circus Day was presented. Joel explained to us that the change from "Gypsy" to "GPC" was due to some concerns that fans had that the term "Gypsy" was now thought of as a cultural slur. After the riff lots of other fun people joined in to chat with fans, including Felicia and Jonah.



The MSTie run site shut down on 5/6 after years of providing high quality MST3K DVDs to fans. Politics and movie rights eventually resulted in the maintainer of Cheesyflix simply closing up his on-line store. (On a personal note, it was sad to see this as Michael had been a friend for many years and I worked with him to make some of my rare MSTie videos available to the community.)

Frank posted a picture of himself on 5/7 to let us know he was recovering well from his recent health issues and was handling the lockdown as best as he could.

Joel appeared on the new Disney+ show called Prop Culture on 5/8. He and the show host Dan Lanigan tracked down Fozzie Bear's iconic Studebaker from The Muppet Movie.

On 5/9 the 2-person play Hate Mail was performed live online by Paul F Tompkins and Rhea Seehorn. The play was written by Bill and Kira Obolensky and originally published back in 1997. The evenings event was hosted by Bill.


We saw the debut of an episode of Disney’s Spider-Man on 5/17 that featured Felicia providing the voice for Mary Jane. She would appear in two more episodes that season.

On 5/20 the RiffTrax team announced that their Facebook followers reached 10,000 members.

Mary Jo appeared on Pretty Much Pop podcast episode 45 to discuss movie riffing on 5/30. Then on 6/4 she and Bridget hosted a Zoom chat letting fans submit jokes that could potentially be included in their upcoming riff of Frankenstein's Daughter. Shorts clips from the movie were shown and fans could submit their jokes that fans could vote on and Bridget and Mary Jo made the final call on which would be used in the riff. (One of my riffs made the initial cut but did not make the final selection. Still fun to join in though.)


As June rolled on COVID was still causing havoc to any performers trying to schedule shows with live audiences. On 6/5 RiffTrax announced yet another change in the scheduled riff of Hobgoblins and Amityville 4. Now the plan was to record both shows in Nashville the week of 10/19 with the actual air dates to be determined.


On 6/18 the SyFy Wire premiered The Great Debate hosted by Baron Vaughn. He was joined by folks like Adam Savage and his MST buddy Jonah Ray to discuss a diverse number of topics and try to convince others their opinion was the best.


On 7/3 Felicia began a regular series of casual on-line chats where she would discuss her week and take questions from fans. On 7/22 she resumed her series called Felicitations podcast where again she would chat freely and answer questions from fans. (Felicia was kind enough to include some of my comments and questions during these chats (sometimes using my on-line handle mst3ktemple). Pretty fun for us fans to see our name come up on the screen.)


A documentary written and directed by J Elvis premiered on 7/10. Michael Des Barres: Who Do You Want to Be? is described in the IMDS as “The son of a junkie aristocrat and a schizophrenic showgirl becomes a master of reinvention on a 50+ year journey through rock and roll, TV, and movies.”

RiffTrax presented a Patreon Exclusive Webinar on 7/16 of Avengers End Game where Super and Ultra Traxians got to watch the guys rehearse their upcoming riff.


The Mads presented a live stream of Glen or Glenda on 7/21. Trace and Frank roasted the old Ed Wood chestnut and chatted with fans in the first of what would become a monthly virtual event.


Also, on 7/21 fans saw the launch of a new and were introduced to the maintainer of the site, long time MSTie Lesley Kinzel. This site would be the place to come to see news and updates directly from Joel.


RiffTrax attempted to riff Stranger Things via Netflix/ Chrome Scener on 7/22. After some fairly dramatic technical difficulties and a few minutes of Mike singing and joking to fill time they were able to riff most of the show.


7/22 also saw the launch by Joel of a MIGIZI Kickstarter fund raiser to help rebuild a Native American community center in Minneapolis that was damaged in the recent fires there during some public unrest. In less than a day the initial goal of $10,000 was reached, which unlocked a riff of the short A Busy Day at the County Fair by Joel, Bill and Josh. $20,000 passed so we got Behind the Scenes at the Supermarket, which would be riffed later in the year. (Ended up raising $42,250.)


In the times of COVID, San Diego Comic Con became SDCC@ Home. On 7/23 Erik Adams (The AV Club) lead a discussion with Joel, Bill and Josh as they engage in some good-natured comparison of Servo #1 and #2 and some fan Q&A.


Meltdown Comics in LA burns down on 8/4/21. This was the filming location that was used for the grand finale of the Bring Back MST3K kickstarter. It had been closed since March 2018 and was scheduled to be demolished, but it was still sad to see a well-loved store go up in flames.

On 8/7 Felicia and Misha Collins co-hosted a special Supernatural Game Night on GISH (Greatest International Scavenger Hunt). A Zoom room full of cast members from the CW show Supernatural played Quiplash 2. The next day, on 8/8 Felicia played the Legends of Grayskull, the Masters of the Universe roleplaying game from Fandom Tabletop. Hosts Adam Bradford and Cam Banks were joined by Felicia, Phil LaMarr and Tiffany Smith. During the event they introduced a Felica based character named Fistina.



Mads Are Back live streamed the Vincent Price thriller The Tingler on 8/18. After the movie Trace and Frank were joined by host Chris Gersbeck and Vincent's daughter Victoria Price for a Q&A session. Victoria was a real delight to listen to and loved answering fan questions.


The first issue of new comic version of Voyage to the Stars was released by IDW Publishing on 8/19. Based on sci-fi comedy podcast created by Ryan Copple and James Asmus and including the characters performed by Felicia Day, Colton Dunn, Janet Varney, Kristen Vangsness and Steve Berg. A total of four issues would be released featuring cover variants and retailer incentive versions (Issue #2 released in Sept 2020, #3 in November 2020 and #4 in May 2021).


The guys from RiffTrax were busy at the end of August. First on 8/28 RiffTrax announced that the Super Traxian Patreon exclusive webinars are now called Hangin' Out with RiffTrax. Then on 8/30 Kevin shared his contribution to @playmusic_porch day by performing a mix of AC/DC You Shook Me and other popular songs. Finally on 8/31 RiffTrax released their third collector coin, this time featuring Bill in colonial garb and completing the set being sent to eligible Kickstarter backers annually since 2018.


The 9/1 edition of Felicia’s podcast Felicitations featured special guest Jonah Ray. They even used my questions asking if they had saved any special pieces of memorabilia from shows they had been on. Jonah shared that he saved his seatback from filming MST3K season 11 and the jacket he wore during the last live tour. He also kept a prop menu from his Hidden America series. The menu had been elaborately made by the art director and appeared on screen for a just a few seconds. (Felicia shared that she has the Talis outfit from Dragon Age (she had two, but had auctioned off one), Zaboo’s hat from The Guild plus lots of other Guild items, she stole some Eureka pins, and had something from Buffy but couldn’t remember what it was. Strangely she has nothing from Supernatural.)


Also on 9/1 Shout! Factory TV presented a monster movie marathon of all five MST3K episodes that featured Gamera movies.


On 9/2 COVID forced RiffTrax to make another change to their live show schedule. They announced that both of the previously planned 2020 live shows were being moved to 2021 due to the pandemic. The new tentative schedule: Hobgoblins in June 2021 and Amityville 4 in October 2021.

Felicia appeared on a live stream with Savannah Morgan as part of the London SWF365 (Screenwriter's Festival) on 9/3. She discussed her career, gave advice for screenwriters and answered a few questions from viewers.


On 9/4 the RiffTrax Facebook page got a new header celebrating their unofficial association with Golden Coral.

A lot of events were getting used to the Zoom process to present their events to fans. Felicia appeared at Dragon Con on 9/4 for a discussion with host Little Red Dot. Later that same day she appeared on Talk Guys along with Gary Whitta, Kate Stark and Amy Okuda. A week later The Mads appeared on the Silent Trailers Game Show on 9/12.


Season 2 of Tigtone debuted on 9/13 on Adult Swim and again featured the voices of Bill Corbett and Trace Beaulieu. The first episode of the new season was Tigtone and the Seven-Headed Serpent of Kloom.


On 9/15 the Mads Are Back live stream of Walk the Dark Street took place with special guest Jonah Ray joining for a Q&A at the end of the show.


Next on 9/23 the RiffTrax Patreon presented the Netlix series Daredevil episode one to try out the new Netflix Scener feature prior to next week's RiffTrax Live event of Starship Troopers.

9/28 saw the premiere of Felicia's new streaming show Women R. Each episode features four women from an occupation that has traditionally been seen as a “man's world.” They discussed how they got started and how they have been able to succeed. Over the next few months there were eight episodes in all. The topics, dates and guests are listed below (guests clockwise from the upper left):

1 - Pro Streamers
2 - Comic Book Creators
3 - Video Game Designers
4 - Dungeon Masters
5 - Board Game Designers
6 - Voice Over Actors
7 - Storytellers
8 - Showrunners
Kelly Sue DeConnick
Taneka Stotts
Aminder Dhaliwal
Leigh Luna
Lisette Titre-Montgomery
Chella Ramanan
Anna Anthropy
Bonnie Ross
Satine Phoenix
Aabria Iyengar
Jasmine Bhullar
Amy Vorpahl
Susan McKinley Ross
Victoria Cana
Elizabeth Hargrave
Fertessa Allyse
Erika Ishii
Kari Wahlgren
Tara Platt
Jennifer Hale
Victoria "V.E." Schwab
Tracy Deonn
Charlie Jane Anders
Fonda Lee
Gloria Calderon Kellett
Maurissa Taneharoen
Sera Gamble
Monica Uwusu Breen

On 9/28 we saw the RiffTrax Live presentation of Starship Troopers on Netflix Scener. There were some technical difficulties getting started, but the show was once up and running it ran perfectly.


Felicia had a busy week starting 9/8. First, she posed with her daughter Calliope in some new Halloween costumes. Later she appeared with the cast of Supernatural on a zoom call supporting a number of Democratic Party candidates running in the upcoming election. Then on 10/13 former Mythbuster Kari Byron appeared on her Felicitations podcast. Finally on 10/15 she hosted an episode of Just Chatting With… where she was joined by filmmaker Kevin Smith.


RiffTrax Patreon had their Halloween night on Netflix/ Scener a bit early on 10/15. They showed The Last Slumber Party (to Super and Ultra Patreons) followed by Sisters of Death.


Also, on 10/15 announced that this year fans would be able to select the movies to be shown on the Turkey Day Marathon by voting in a head-to-head tournament of episodes. Voting kicked off with Eegah! Vs. Boggy Creek II.


Frank's new book You're Ruining the Dystopia for Everyone was released on 10/26 and featured a collection of short stories.

10/20 saw the next The Mads: Night of Shorts stream. After a marathon of shorts, they were joined for a by guests Rich Koz and Jim Roche from Svengoolie.




Also, on 10/20 on the Sleepy Hollow International Film Festival/ SHIFF Virtual 2020 Dana Gould hosted Frank and Trace along with Glen or Glenda screenwriters Larry Karaszweski and Scott Alexander (“Ed Wood”). The group provided commentary for Ed Wood’s legendary Glen or Glenda?


On 10/21 RiffTrax (not live) was presented Jack-O at theaters by Fathom Events. To many it was still a bit odd to go out to a theater while COVID was still very prevalent, but others looked forward to finally having a reason to go out of the house.

Deanna Rooney (Dr. Donna St. Phibes) appeared on Reels of Justice on 10/22 to talk about the Clint Howard film Ticks and Gary Busey: Pet Judge, in episode 20 of the series. Later, on 11/5 Tim Ryder (bonehead and voice of Tom Servo on the first two live tours) appeared on the show to discuss Josie and the Pussycats. Then on 11/12 Emily Marsh also appeared to discuss the 2019 version of Little Women.

Joel hosted a screening of the MST3K riffed movie Gamera vs Zigra at the None Such Farm Drive-In in Buckingham, PA for the Big Brothers Big Sisters charity on 10/23. He performed the MST3K Theme Song sing-a-long and included a B-movie trivia contest.



Also, on 10/23 Jonah hosted the Risk live Halloween show, with guests Jacoby Cochran, Kate Cunningham, Kathleen Volk Miller and D'Arcee Charington.

For a while fans weren’t sure if this would happen, but on 10/29 an MST3K card series 4 Kickstarter began. This series covered all the short subjects used during the run of the show. In December an idea came out of the lively discussion of the MST3K Trading Card group on Facebook to create a subset of cards of the collectors themselves. Richard Parks and a MSTie named Ryan Andrew Poole took on the project to obtain photos and biographies from interested fans, distribute the cards and have them each signed by the fans and returned to Ryan for collating the sets.


On 10/29 SF Sketchfest presented a live (via Zoom) performance of Plan 9 From Outer Space. Hosted by Dana Gould and featuring Jonah Ray (as pilot Jeff Kent) and Baron Vaughan (as Inspector Clay and Colonel Edwards). Others appearing included Lorraine Newman, Bobcat Goldthwait and Paul F Tompkins.



And finally on 10/29 RiffTrax, having mastered the Scener technology, presented another scary, if not strange Halloween season movie. This time they showed Ghosthouse which of course featured an evil clown. Of course.


On 10/30 Joel's 2nd annual Puppet Camp was presented to fans online. The show included appearances by Joel, Bill and Josh and the premiere of two new shorts (promised as a reward for Migizi donations) A Busy Day At The County Fair and Behind The Scenes At The Supermarket riffed by Joel, Josh as Tom Servo and Bill as Crow. As other puppeteers and performers entertained additional donations for Migizi were collected and by the end of the show the total had topped over $51,000.





Felicia got into the Halloween act when she hosted Halloween at Your Haus and shared her new Oculus virtual reality gear with us playing Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners so we could enjoy watching her punch a zombie in the face.


On 11/5 Felicia appeared on her last episode (season 15, episode 18 - Despair) of Supernatural as her recurring character Charlie Bradbury. Charlie had consistently been a fan favorite character since she first appeared back in season 7, episode 20. The last we see her she disintegrates along with all others who had crossed over. Unfortunately, due to COVID plans for perhaps one final appearance by many characters had to be dropped. (The rumor is that "Heaven" would show us all the main characters living peaceably together in a quiet hometown setting.)



Patton hosted a movie marathon on Shout! Factory TV called Patton Oswalt's Six-Pack on 11/7. The basic theme of the movies shown appears to be that they had to be dripping with cheesiness.


The final episode of Supernatural was featured on the cover of the 11/19/20 issue of TV Guide. The entire cast was shown, including Felicia as Charlie Bradbury (in the upper right corner). Fans also got see some behind the scenes photos of the cast taken during Felecia’s last day of filming. There was also a video put together by the cast saying goodbye to fans and to each other. Felicia ended with her character’s popular phrase “Peace out bitches.”


On 11/10 RiffTrax began Turkey Tuesday in honor of upcoming Thanksgiving. To celebrate they shared their riffed version of The Happening.

In the Profiles In History: Icons & Legends of Hollywood TV and movie memorabilia auction on 11/13 a Tom Servo puppet screen used in MST3K: The Movie was put up for bidding. (It failed to meet the reserve bid of $8000.)

Jonah launched Let Me Watch Your Movie with You on 11/16. The premise was that Jonah sat down with the actors, directors and writers to watch their movies with them and to discuss their creative process and behind-the-scenes dirt as they riff along with the film.

On 11/17 The Mads presented their next zoom show featuring The Brain From Planet Arous with guest Dana Gould joining them for some chat and Q&A.


The tournament for fans to help select the episodes featured in this year's Turkey Day Marathon ended on 11/20 when Pod People beat out I Accuse My Parents for the most requested episode. It was also announced that two Jonah episodes would be added (since only Joel and Mike were used in the tournament) and that there would be a short riffed by Emily and the live tour cast.

Felicia appears at virtual GalaxyCon on 11/21. As it turned out, she was the first performer of the entire event. There was a live chat followed by a Q&A. (The power at her house was shut off by contractors mid-way through the live event, but she quickly adapted and was able to keep streaming.) Her public appearance was followed by One-on-One chats with fans including yours truly. (This was the first chance I had to speak with her, and it was nice that she knew who I was from my participation with her Discord group.)


The 5th Annual MSTie Turkey Day - Virtual Meet-Up ran daily from 11/25 through 11/29. Many MST alums joined in including Joel, Mary Jo, Frank, Trace, Rebecca Hanson, Tim Ryder and Jonah along with other fans and riffing groups. (The event had previously been held annually at the Dinosaur Hotel in Lakewood, CO, but COVID required this to be a virtual event this year.)


The Annual Turkey Day Marathon took place on 11/26 on Shout TV. This year was hosted by Emily Marsh, Servo (Conor McGiffin), Crow (Nate Begle), GPC/ Mega Synthia (Yvonne Freese) with appearances by Joel, Jonah, Rebecca and some other guests. There were some fan emails and pictures shared as well.





On 11/28 RiffTrax announced a new Friends (Through Eternity) subscription to stream hundreds of RiffTrax titles every month.

We saw a Fishing with RiffTrax sneak preview on 11/30 of the Kickstarter reward from earlier in the year. No fish were harmed in the making of this preview.

On 12/8 Felicia read Beowulf Part IX of the 25-part full reading of the classic literary work.


Also, on 12/8 Felicia joined a Supernatural reunion ZOOM in support of Stacey Abrams AND against voter suppression potentially affecting the outcome of two senatorial run-off elections in Georgia. When Stacey thanked all the participants, she singled out Felicia, whom she had met at Dragon Con in Atlanta back in 2018 (see fourth picture below).


The Mads performed Santa Claus vs the Devil (same crazy K Gordon Murray’s Santa Claus we have seen before) with post show guest J Elvis Weinstein and Andy Kindler.


On Christmas Day 12/25/2020 Jonah hosted Felicia and other cast members from the Into the Dark episode Pooka Live! on his Let Me Watch Your Movie With You series. In this case it was interested since Jonah costarred with Felicia in the episode.


Finally, to put a bow on the interesting and sometimes frustrating year of 2020 posted a lovely holiday greeting to fans on 12/25. Fans everywhere hoped that 2021 would give us some returned to normalcy. Time would tell, but there just might be surprises still in store for the new year and for MST3K.

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