Column by Steve Bennett
Posted by Steve Bennett on April 14, 2021 @ 8:35 am CT
Two weeks ago (see "Confessions Of A Comic Book Guy -- Cancel In Context") I mentioned how Mystery Science Theater 3000 had been canceled on three separate occasions. The third of which took place in the fall of 2919 when after two seasons Netflix decided not to greenlight a third. Given its track record for always coming back, it managed to do it after a fifteen-year ‘hiatus’, I would never bet against its chances of being revived again.
Though, admittedly, I had no idea where the series would go next. Netflix, a big streaming service with their emphasis on binge-watching, hadn’t been a particularly comfortable fit for the show. Although, given it had begun life on a Minneapolis UHF station KTMA-TV, I thought it might be fitting if it found a home on MeTV. However, apparently no one else did.
Given how the 2015 Kickstarter campaign funded the revival, raising over $6 million (holding the record for the most-funded project in the film & video category for quite a while), it was a pretty safe bet that there would eventually be another MST3K Kickstarter. So, I wasn’t exactly surprised when on Wednesday, April 7, Mystery Science Theater 3000 creator Joel Hodgson launched a new Kickstarter. And based on how fervid its fanbase is, it also wasn’t surprising when it managed to reach its initial goal of $2,000,000 to fund three new episodes in only 36 hours.
But what was surprising was where those episodes were going; the Gizmoplex, an "online streaming platformed created exclusively to feature new MST3K content."
The idea being that this "virtual multiplex" would serve as a means of delivering new episodes directly and immediately (no more waiting for an entire season to be filmed) to its fans. Joel is quoted as saying "If enough of you want more MST3K, maybe we don't need anyone to renew us" and "we want you to decide how long MST3K keeps going... We don't need a network to ‘let us’ make more MST3K. We can make it for you."
If this works, it would effectively render MST3K cancel-proof, which for a huge MST'ie such as myself is the embodiment of an answered prayer. But equally important, if this does work, it raises the question, would it work for other orphaned or abandoned projects (TV shows, movies, comic books)? Mother of Mercy, could this be the end of cancellation as we know it? I rather doubt it, but it’s certainly fun to think about.
For reasons I cannot begin to comprehend for some reason this image was married to the word "chungus" (coined by video game journalist Jim Sterling), and in 2019, Big Chungus became an implausibly popular internet meme. Well, with his inclusion in Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem, "a gacha mobile game with battle elements in which players try to obtain rare characters from the Looney Tunes canon and then pit them against each other in battle," Big Chungus seems to have become an official Loony Tune.
Well, technically he’s just another one of Bugs Bunny’s many personas (Baseball Bugs, Leopold, Super-Rabbit, Valkyrie Bugs, etc.), but thanks to his fans on the Internet, he’s taken on a life of his own. And I have to confess I find him kind of appealing myself, maybe because he’s the rare example of a plus-sized cartoon character who isn’t made the butt of constant fat jokes.
And while I admit it’s highly unlikely Big Chungus is going to be The Breakout Character of 2021, WarnerMedia would be smart to keep in mind just how much money they’ve made off of a formerly minor, obscure character named Harley Quinn. So while I’d love to have him star in one of the new Looney Tunes Cartoons on HBO Max, I’d settle for having him appear on the cover of an issue of DC’s Looney Tunes comic.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
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