Since Thursday’s FOTD was a bit of a downer, let’s end things on a high note with a fact about my favorite show, Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Did you Tom Servo was originally called Beeper and did not speak, but was interpreted by Crow ala C3-PO and R2-D2?
The pilot episode that Jim Mallon and Joel Hodgson pitched to Minneapolis KTMA-23 was pretty much what the show became and would be for 10 years. One major difference was that instead of Tom Servo, there was a robot called Beeper. Beeper only spoke in beeps that Crow would interpret. Here is what was written Christopher Cornell and Brian Henry, the administrators for the MST3K fan site Satellite News. They did a very thorough history of the show piece many years ago. This part is from Section 2:Genesis.
The group filmed a very primitive “movie sign door sequence,” a crude host segment — in which Joel explains that he himself had built the Satellite of Love and voluntarily blasted it into space — and a theater segment featuring about a half-hour of the 1969 movie The Green Slime. The supporting cast included a very rough version of Crow (whose name came from a friend of a childhood acquaintance of Joel’s), an equally rough version of Gypsy (named in remembrance of a pet turtle), and a proto-Tom Servo character called Beeper, who spoke only in beeps (hence the name) — which only Crow could understand.
Despite the rough edges, Mallon was able to convince his extremely dubious bosses to let Hodgson give it a try.
Hodgson and crew immediately set about refining the product. The group threw together the sets, the first model of the Satellite of Love and, of course, the robots. First to be changed was Beeper, whom everybody agreed was a very unsatisfying character: Joel was unhappy with it and Josh wanted to have a larger speaking role in the show. By the first episode, Beeper gained a voice and was renamed Servo (after a vending machine they’d spotted in a mall named “Servotron”); which Weinstein later expanded to Tom Servo. Joel admits that the robots were completed during an all-nighter the day before the first episode was shot. In fact, Joel once noted that the “sleepiness” of his character grew out of the fact that he was indeed very sleepy when the first episode was shot and “it just stuck.
For the longest time the pilot was never seen outside of those who were involved with the show and those at KTMA. The only footage we ever saw was from the MST3K Scrapbook, a VHS tape that was sold to members of the Info Club.
Here is the KTMA portion with the clip from The Green Slime, courtesy of YouTuber Rebecca Erdmann.
I also discovered that the full pilot has been getting seen at various conventions. Here is a video posted by Tyrantulas posted from a Gateway Con panel. The panel consist of Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Josh Weinstein and Mary Jo Pehl.
I’m happy they made the change. I can’t imagine MST3K without Tom Servo, voiced by Mr. Kevin Murphy. A beeping R2-D2 wannabe would not be nearly as good.
I can only hope that one day we use space travel for it’s noble purpose the engineers and astronauts wanted it to be used for. To trap a man in space and force him to watch bad movies with robots. The way things are going i’m sure it will be a reality show in the next 20-30 years. And with that we end another week. I hope everyone has a great weekend and I will see you all on the next Fact Of The Day.
Fact Of The Day is the daily column where RobGronkowski’sPartyBusDriver shares some random tidbit of science fiction, fantasy or horror knowledge. If there is a show or movie you would like to see done, leave a note in the comments below. You can see the full archive of past columns here.