Tom’s Temple of MST3K Stuff Presents:
A 20th Anniversary Tribute to MST3K


I wanted to come up with some sort of tribute to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the debut of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  What I decided to do was try to recreate, in a greatly condensed form, what a person in Minneapolis, MN on Thanksgiving Day 1988 would have seen on their TV throughout the day leading up to the first episodes of MST airing that evening.  

I wanted to be as accurate as possible so I first checked the archived TV listings in Minneapolis newspapers to see what aired that exact day.  I then spent quite a while (a couple years in fact) tracking down actual recordings of those shows.  I picked a few favorite clips from each show, came up with a photo montage to represent a break in the middle of the day for Thanksgiving dinner and, with the help of MSTie Michael Slusher, edited it all together into the 11 and a half minute montage I’m presenting here.  (I realize there is some copyrighted content in here, but I hope the owners don’t mind its inclusion in this brief tribute.)  As you watch you may see a few items I threw in that only fans of MSTie minutiae might catch.  Please give it some time to download.  After viewing you may want to read my notes that describe each clip and the idea I had behind using them.  Enjoy!



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Pretty much every video clip and sound bite is in here for a reason.  The following description is put together from my notes I compiled while preparing this tribute.  Lots of small, trivial details, but hey, that’s how I work.

First of all, 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that debuted on Minneapolis, MN cable station KTMA TV-23 on Thanksgiving Day November 24, 1988.  According to the creators of MST two episodes aired that day: Invaders from the Deep (K01) at 6:00 PM followed immediately by Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars (K02) at 8:00 PM.

The idea for the opening using a black screen with the “space sound” and simple white titles was first used by the folks at MST as the intro for the original pilot they prepared in the fall of 1988 to help sell the show to KTMA management.  Since it worked for them back then I decided why not use it again here.

The little clips of an old style TV changing channels were grabbed from the movie Amazon Women on the Moon.

All except one of the TV show clips I used is exactly what was shown THAT Thanksgiving day in Minneapolis.  I have to admit, finding some of these clips was extremely difficult, but the hunt was fun.

The Macy's Parade started at 8:00 AM CST on channel 11, the local NBC affiliate.  I’ve literally searched for years and have not been able to find a tape of the 1988 parade.  I ended up using a clip of the Albertville High School Marching Band from the 1987 parade.  That’s Willard Scott of course modeling his pilgrim hat.

The colorized version of It’s a Wonderful Life was shown on CINEMAX at 12 noon.  I used two clips for this tribute that were favorites of the MST writers.  (By the way, It's a Wonderful Life was one of the first films colorized back in the mid-1980's.  The clips I used in this tribute are from that early colorized version that was shown that Thanksgiving day.  Although the colors look very faded by today's standards it was considered one of the best efforts for its time.)

The Detroit Lions versus the Minnesota Vikings game began at 11:30 AM on channel 4 (CBS), actually before It’s a Wonderful Life, but I put it here so I could squeeze in the two different clips from the movie.  I’m sure the local football fans in Minnesota tuned in to enjoy watching their Vikings shut out the Lions 23-0.  Plus you have to love John Madden’s "Jerk" and “BOOM.”  Hopefully you noticed during the commercial that follows the clip the narrator saying “…in the not too distant future…”

Rankin-Bass had to create something for Thanksgiving so they came up with Mouse on the Mayflower narrated by Tennessee Ernie Ford.  The show came on at 2:00 PM on channel 29 (FOX).

The dinner scene is a tip of the cap to the Norman Rockwell vision of the Thanksgiving Feast.  Some of the pictures are from my own family’s Thanksgiving including the one of my nephew Rick Schumaker’s daughter Caitlyn (age 2 months at the time).  The music is the traditional Christian song of praise “We Gather Together” which has become known over the years as the “Thanksgiving Hymn.”  The crew on the Satellite of Love performed their own version of the song, with words modified accordingly, to help promote the 1991 Turkey Day Marathon of MST episodes shown over 30 straight hours on Comedy Central.  The same song was used to advertise the Thanksgiving marathon the following few years as well, with the 1993 version being sung by a large gathering of MSTies in Edina, MN.

Here’s the original first verse:

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

And the MST version created in 1991:

We gather together to watch cheesy movies;
At Comedy Central on Thanksgiving Day.
At Mystery Science (deep breath) Theater 3000.
It’s 30 straight hours and it’s called Turkey Day.

My family tradition is to have Thanksgiving dinner in the mid-afternoon then we go back to watching more football. (This also means that we can enjoy the first round of leftovers later that evening.)

The Dallas Cowboys lost to the Houston Oilers 25-17 in a telecast that began at 3:00 PM on channel 11 (NBC), so there was plenty of time to catch part of the game after dinner.  Again, this is a clip from that actual game.

Fans of MST3K don’t have much to see from the first two shows that aired on Thanksgiving 1988.  No fan tapes from that day are known to exist.  I wanted to give a flavor for what it was like that evening, even if only for the first few minutes, when MST premiered at 6:00 PM.

First off, that’s the actual KTMA TV-23 station ID from that era.

The intro to the KTMA episodes is pretty well known, but after that we only have a few seconds of the beginning of what we have been told was the very first episode, Invaders From the Deep (K01).  This clip is actually from a flashback used during a host segment in the episode Time of the Apes (K17). Since there were two episodes shown that day I also tacked on the first host segment from Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars (K02).  Then as the KTMA doorway sequence takes us toward the theater we fade out.

Finally, the music at the end of this tribute is the original KTMA closing theme played over the show’s end credits.