Everybody’s favorite catty puppet show, Mystery Science Theater 3000, has aired on a litany of channels over the years: Minneapolis’ KTMA, Comedy Central, and what’s now known as Syfy for some reason. Now, hopefully, you can add one more to the list: Shout! Factory, which owns the rights to MST3K, is trying to get American Public Television to pick up the show.
APT distributes shows to PBS and its affiliates. It prides itself on having introduced a broader and/or more American audience to a wide range of shows, including Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and The French Chef with Julia Child. The thought of MST3K having that kind of distribution and cultural heft is exciting, particularly since the fandom’s kept the show alive via underground tape circulation for many years. (Things aren’t quite so bleak these days, what with the resurrection of the Turkey Day broadcasts, and questionably-legal videos on YouTube — but still! Exciting!)
Right now Shout! is pitching four classic MST3K episodes to APT, all from the Joel era: Hercules and the Captive Women, Gunslinger, The Unearthly, and the ever-popular Manos: The Hands of Fate. APT won’t finalize what, if anything, it’s purchasing until mid-December, but reports say that officials at APT have sounded very positive so far.
If these four episodes get picked up, this could make it easier for Shout! to pitch further MST3K episodes to APT. But more importantly, it opens the floodgates to our strangest fever-dream MST3K/PBS mashups. Elmo chiming in on the Bots’ riffs? Dr. Forrester squaring off against the Doctor? Joel bringing the Invention Exchange to Antiques Roadshow? Come on, PBS, what do we pay you all these tax dollars for if not for this??