Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2018
 Where: Lombard, Illinois, USA
 When: 23 November 2018 9:00 pm CST
 Episode Number: 41 (201802)
 Story: "State of Decay" (1980)

By Steven Hill

Something about this show was incredibly smooth, we felt good going in and even better when it was done. Some great on-point ad-libs and sharp writing to start with; even though there were fewer vampire-related riffs than I expected (and more e-space riffs) I think we all agreed that this show was excellent.

 Convention: The 29 Voyages of Gallifrey One
 Where: Los Angeles, California, USA
 When: 17 February 2018
 Episode Number: 40 (201801)
 Story: "42" (2007)

By Steven Hill

Given our 45 minute time slot, we decided to riff a Chris Chibnall episode. Description will be added at a later date.

 Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2017
 Where: Lombard, Illinois, USA
 When: November 2017
 Episode Number: 39 (201702)
 Story: "Logopolis" (1981)

By Steven Hill

Description will be added at a later date.

 Convention: Gallifrey One: 28 Years Later
 Where: Los Angeles, California, USA
 When: 18 February 2017
 Episode Number: 38 (201701)
 Story: "The Bells of Saint John" (2013)

By Steven Hill

The second time we've tried riffing a "new series" story! Description will be added at a later date.

 Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2016
 Where: Lombard, Illinois, USA
 When: November 2016
 Episode Number: 37 (201601)
 Story: "The Daemons" (1971)

By Steven Hill

A very special show for our Twentieth Anniversary! Description coming at a later date.

 Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2015
 Where: Lombard, Illinois, USA
 When: November 2015
 Episode Number: 36 (201502)
 Story: "Terror of the Zygons" (1975)

By Steven Hill

Comments will be added at a later date.

 Convention: The 26 Seasons of Gallifrey One
 Where: Los Angeles, California, USA
 When: 13 February 2015
 Episode Number: 35 (201501)
 Story: "Attack of the Cybermen" (1985)

By Steven Hill

For this show we will be enjoying the debut of a new 337 performer, someone you may already know (and who has been writing for the show for years now already) - Jennifer Kelley will join me, Rob Warnock, and Arnold Blumberg for a roasting of Cybermen and Cryons.

 Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2014
 Where: Lombard, Illinois, USA
 When: 29 November 2014
 Episode Number: 34 (201404)
 Story: "The Tomb of the Cybermen" (1967)

By Steven Hill

One of our best shows in a year with an unprecedented FOUR performances! Only our third time with a black and white story, too. Okay, we were worried going in because we only managed to get two full writing sessions in, and no written contributions from outside (there have been times when I've juggled up to six additional contributor scripts at once). The script had a lot of white space. Live and learn, and learn we did - the white space actually encouraged us to be freer with ad-libs, knowing that we wouldn't be stepping on any upcoming scripted lines, and fortunately we managed to come up with good stuff on the fly. Turned out great! A lot of nice shadowplay too. And after the show ended, Frazer Hines - who, of course, is IN the episode - told us he enjoyed it and gave us all a handshake. Nice way to cap off a superb show! (And then I discovered that I never hit "record" on the audio recorder. Oh well!)

 Convention: CONsole Room
 Where: Minneapolis/St Paul, Minnesota, USA
 When: 17 May 2014
 Episode Number: 33 (201403)
 Story: "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy" (1988)

By Steven Hill

New convention! New 337 show! We picked this one mostly because Sophie was a guest at CONsole Room 2014. It was a fun time, although I don't think the compressor/limiter was working properly (it didn't seem like the playback sound was ducking much, if at all). Not a big deal, though. Small crowd but a small con. Cast was me, Rob Warnock, Arnold Blumberg, and joining us by special invitation for the first time in many years was original cast member Dave Broucek. (A shout-out to Rick Kellerman, our other original cast member, who was also supposed to join us for this reunion show, but couldn't get out of a work commitment that came up at the last minute.) Onward...

 THE FIVE DOCTORS Special Edition
 Convention: UK Expo 2014
 Where: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
 When: 12 April 2014
 Episode Number: 32 (201402)
 Story: "The Five Doctors" (1983)

By Steven Hill

About three years ago (?) I heard about this convention and sent them an email asking if they'd be interested in having Mysterious Theatre 337 perform at their next event. I didn't hear anything up until something like a month before this con was scheduled to happen, when they asked us to join their show. I agreed, but told them we didn't have enough time to prepare a new show; instead we'd have to use a previous script. Having just done The Five Doctors in Chicago in November, I still had the printed and annotated scripts laying around (actually, I fished them out of the trash bin), and the playback file would only need new credits. The cast was me, Rob Warnock, and Nick Seidler. They were set up for rear projection, which was nice. When we began, we discovered immediately that their DVD player had only been connected for video, not for audio, so for the first 20-25 minutes, we actually did the show with no playback audio. But since we had the dialogue transcribed in our scripts, WE took on the job of doing both dialogue AND jokes. Fun, silly, frantic... not easy! Then the teshnician got audio working and we finished as normal. Crowd was tiny - 20 to 25 people, I think - but that's about as many as attended the convention's costume contest, too, so relatively speaking it was nicely attended.

 Convention: Gallifrey One: 25 Glorious Years
 Where: Los Angeles, California, USA
 When: 14 February 2014
 Episode Number: 31 (201401)
 Story: "Timelash" (1985)

By Steven Hill

We first announced Timelash for Gallifrey in 2011. After several instances of pushing it back (for various reasons), we finally did it in 2014. A nice show, I can't think of any problems; a nice crowd of about 180-200 people, and a ripe episode. Taste the rainbow!

 THE FIVE DOCTORS Special Edition
 Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2013
 Where: Lombard, Illinois, USA
 When: 30 November 2013
 Episode Number: 30 (201302)
 Story: "The Five Doctors" (1983)

By Steven Hill

An excellent show, despite the karaoke starting too soon and trying to drown us out, and despite us starting over an hour late yet again. I felt our timing was particularly good this time, with very few exceptions, and there was very little accidental overlap or stepping on other lines. The compressor/limiter wasn't working but things seemed to work okay anyway. We hope you enjoyed it!

 Convention: The 24 Hours of Gallifrey One
 Where: Los Angeles, California, USA
 When: 15 February 2013, 10:30 PM
 Episode Number: 29 (201301)
 Story: "Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D." (1966) (Second Peter Cushing Dalek film)

By Steven Hill

A bit of a slow middle but we had what I felt was a superb opening half hour and closing half hour. And that leaves only about 18 minutes of weak stuff in the middle, so there! Thanks to our audience of approximately 150 people...

 Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2012
 Where: Lombard, Illinois, USA
 When: 23 November 2012, 9:30 PM
 Episode Number: 28 (201202)
 Story: "Time and the Rani" (1987)

By Steven Hill

I'll remember this one as having a lot of ad-libs that worked very well, and (for some reason) the number 953. A great show, thanks for coming!

 Convention: Gallifrey One Network 23
 Where: Los Angeles, California, USA
 When: 18 February 2012, ~10:30 PM
 Episode Number: 27 (201201)
 Story: "The Creature from the Pit" (1979)

By Steven Hill

This one was billed as "MT337 After Hours" which means we were a bit raunchier than normal...and we picked an episode that was ripe for rude and naughty jokes. The show was very well received and I think our audience was around 200 people. Thanks for being there!

 EARTHSHOCK Special Edition
 Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2011
 Where: Lombard, Illinois, USA
 When: 26 November 2011, ~10:00 PM
 Episode Number: 26 (201102)
 Story: "Earthshock" (1982) - The Special Edition

By Steven Hill

Originally we picked Earthshock not just to work in conjunction with the convention guests (which were to be Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding) but also so we could bring back Ruddiger the Cyberman! Ruddiger's only appearance on our show was when we did the Doctor Who TV movie in Chicago in 2004. Before we got too far in the process, we unfortunately learned that Scott Alan Woodard would be unable to join us, which meant losing Ruddiger (portrayed by Scott). Instead, to make up for it, I decided to modify Earthshock a little bit. First was the addition of party music over the end credits, and what better than the thumping beat of "Doctorin' the Tardis"? Next was taking "Episode 5" from the extras on the DVD release and editing it into the episode in its proper place. Finally, we were inspired to add another flashback to the scene with the Cyberleader showing the Doctor's past incarnations to the Cyberlieutenant. We talked about adding Tennant, or Smith, but I thought it would be most fun to put Rory in there! So the third change to Earthshock was adding Rory's "Would you like me to repeat the question?" scene in the flashback, all grainy red in a bubble in the Cyber viewer. It got a nice loud reaction, as we expected it would. From the tech side, I admit we didn't devote enough time to audio setup as we should have done, leading to some sound problems early on that probably distracted me more than it distracted the audience. But overall the show was very well received. And since it started nearly two hours later than scheduled (don't get me started), we were very grateful that we had an audience at all!

 Convention: Gallifrey One's Catch 22: Islands of Mystery
 Where: Los Angeles, California, USA
 When: 18 February 2011, ~10:00 PM
 Episode Number: 25 (201101)
 Story: "Castrovalva" (1982)

By Steven Hill

Castrovalva was a lot of fun to write for, and a blast in rehearsals, but somehow I think we found it funnier than the audience did! Well, hopefully our own laughter is infectious. A good show, though I really do miss the rear projection setup we have in Chicago!

 Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2010
 Where: Lombard, Illinois, USA
 When: 26 November 2010, ~9:00 PM
 Episode Number: 24 (201002)
 Story: "Robot" (1974)

By Steven Hill

Tom Baker's debut story made a pretty good choice. For some reason this one doesn't stick out as anything particularly great or bad, but at least it worked well. Not much more to say!

 Convention: Gallifrey One: Blackjack 21
 Where: Los Angeles, California, USA
 When: 26 February 2010, 11:00 PM
 Episode Number: 23 (201001)
 Story: "Aliens of London/World War Three" (2005)

By Steven Hill

See, I don't think new series stories are as fit for the purpose as the old stuff. We even went back as far as we could (with the exception of "Rose") and, well... a mediocre show. It did NOT help that there was a live band on before us, and we didn't have enough time to set up our equipment properly, and started very very late. I don't think we'll be trying another new series story again for a while.

 Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2009
 Where: Lombard, Illinois, USA
 When: 28 November 2009, 9:00 PM
 Episode Number: 22 (200902)
 Story: "The Android Invasion" (1975)

By Steven Hill

With a guest list headed by Paul McGann, the choices of story to skewer were severely one. And, as it happens, one that we'd already performed twice. So, we decided to (more or less) randomize the choice. This story was on our short list back in 2007 (when we ultimately settled on Destiny of the Daleks) and when Arnold suggested it just after episode 200901, we immediately concurred.

The nice thing this time was that we were able to do a full technical rehearsal on Friday night, which certainly aided in our performance on Saturday. It was a doors-closed thing, which was good because the profanities were flying by the end. Ultimately we got most of the lines in, didn't step too much on each other, and had a good batch of improvised material throughout. It was a pretty good show. As it happens, we had what we believe is our best crowd ever - 200 people were on hand for the fun. Thanks so much!

 Convention: Gallifrey One: 20 To Life
 Where: Los Angeles, California, USA
 When: 13 February 2009, 9:40 PM
 Episode Number: 21 (200901)
 Story: "Planet of Fire" (1984)

By Steven Hill

Peri's introduction story was a fitting subject with Nicola Bryant's presence as guest of honor at the convention... and it became a great show. With an audience estimated at about 130 people - or about 10% of the convention's attendees - we had a good response from the crowd. This was only the second time we've done a show with three performers (instead of four) since 2002 (our debut at Gallifrey One). Sometimes that can create a challenge during line attribution, but we sailed through it. The gags for this one tended to be more dialogue-related than visual, but ad-libs often turn out to be visual gags so it helps balance out. I'm happy to say that tech-wise, our audio limiter worked a charm again and it really, significantly improves our performance, in my opinion. Thanks to those who attended. "Wretched citizens of Sarn! Vote Saxon!"

 Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2008
 Where: Lombard, Illinois, USA
 When: 29 November 2008, exact time TBA
 Episode Number: 20 (200802)
 Story: "The Trial of a Time Lord" parts 9-12 (Terror of the Vervoids) (1986)

By Steven Hill

With Colin Baker as the guest of honour, our selected story was the first pairing of the Sixth Doctor with Mel. It was only the second time we'd done a Colin Baker story, and the first time doing one at a Doctor Who convention (we performed The Twin Dilemma in St Louis in 2000 at an MST3000-centric convention). So he was overdue!

The show went well, starting out a bit slow but getting better once we got into the second episode. (Some audio problems being corrected helped the improvement.) As a first-timer, Shaun did a great job. His microphone stopped working in the last few minutes of the show, so he got a wireless mic which unfortunately was not in line with the recorder, so his voice is missing from the end of the audio recording. And anyway, the recorder was accidentally connected to the main out, which means it's got the episode audio mixed with us, so it might not find its way onto the site for download, sadly.

Time War. Rhino.

 Convention: Gallifrey One's Nineteenth Symphony Opus 2008
 Where: Los Angeles, California, USA
 When: 16 February 2008, exact date and time TBA
 Episode Number: 19 (200801)
 Story: "Silver Nemesis" (1988)

By Steven Hill

With Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Andrew Cartmel as con guests, we have dutifully selected the divisive Silver Nemesis as our first show of 2008. Excellent.

 Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2007
 Where: Rosemont, Illinois, USA
 When: 24 November 2007, 9:30 P.M.
 Episode Number: 18 (200702)
 Story: "Destiny of the Daleks" (1979)

By Steven Hill

Spack off! An interesting show, with some added drama going on backstage. We had our first writing session in July, and another two sessions in October and early November, but due to severe time constraints this year, we didn't actually have a finished script until 4:15 AM the day of the show. And even then, I didn't realize until the afternoon that I hadn't done any line attribution, so our rehearsal time turned into a line attribution session instead. This is the first time line attribution has been a group experience (previously it has been done by me alone) and I liked the way it worked, so we might do it again in future (time permitting). There were a couple of stretches where we had very little material, but it wasn't too noticeable and overall I think the show went very well and was one of the better (though not one of the best) MT337 shows.

By Arnold T Blumberg

"Spack off!"

For my third go-round with the MT337 guys, it was time to skewer those scamps from Skaro. While I'm always thrilled to be part of the show, this time I was happier in that I was actually able to participate in some pre-performance writing. And although we didn't do a read-through with the whole story, I thought the group line attribution wound up being just as useful for rehearsal and perhaps even more so. Things felt even more coordinated between the four of us and cues were, in general, sharper and on target. As with past shows, it seemed like new series-related jokes always went over well, hence our tribute to the "I Can't Decide" scene with the Doctor wheeling poor David Gooderson around endless garbage bag-lined halls. My only regret is that there was a scripted sexually suggestive line involving Romana and some restraining equipment that I sadly had to skip due to timing issues. Alas.

 Convention: The Eighteenth Amendment of Gallifrey One
 Where: Los Angeles, California, USA
 When: 16 February 2007, 7:00 P.M.
 Episode Number: 17 (200701)
 Story: "The Krotons" (1968)

By Steven Hill

We finally tackled our last unriffed old series Doctor: Mr Patrick Troughton. For his inauguration we selected the Robert Holmes classic (snicker!) The Krotons. Despite a very fun rehearsal we were slightly disappointed with the result - much like the story itself, our show was rather average. But now you can find out for yourself, as it is our first downloadable show! Click to go to the downloads page and grab it.

 Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2006
 Where: Rosemont, Illinois, USA
 When: 25 November 2006, 8:30 P.M.
 Episode Number: 16 (200602)
 Story: "Battlefield" (1989)

By Steven Hill

Ah, Battlefield - a big laugh, a big boom, and a big noisy score. And, as we discovered through painful repeated viewings, the most appalling lighting of any story, and yes that does include Warriors of the Deep. So, at the risk of repeating myself, I've deliberately avoided Doctor Who's later years as selections for MT337 because of their speed and general loudness. Without those empty spaces it can be difficult to get our jokes in or get them heard. What we discovered was that it didn't work that way at all - the empty spaces can be difficult to fill, and when they're not filled adequately, they kill the performance. The speed of this episode (full of sound and fury signifying nothing) drove us to be speedy and really cram the script full of gags. I daresay this was our most dense script to date, in terms of quantity of joke material. Part of this was because I was panicking and pleaded the writing team for as much material as possible, in any format possible. Still, we had time enough for three formal writing sessions (often we only get two). Scott and Rob splitting the transcription duty was wonderful (and I got the satisfaction of knowing that they now understand how big a job it really is, heheh).

The script was only completed at about 3:00 am the day of the show. Yep. Cutting it close. We had time enough for a full rehearsal (oh, actually, we had to cut the rehearsal about 6 pages shy of the end, because it was 8:30). And when we started, everything just clicked. Arnold T Blumberg proved to be a perfect choice to add to the cast, and I especially complimented him on the impeccable delivery of one line - he nailed it exactly as I had imagined it. The line was "So you're not gay then. Huh," said to the Brigadier after he tells the Doctor he got married. Delivery in general was excellent, timing was great, mistakes were few, stepped-on lines were almost nonexistent, and ad-libs were effective (the Michael Jackson joke was an ad-lib by Scott that got a particularly big reaction). Somehow the M*A*S*H theme song joke worked much better than I expected too. Everything just went great, and we were very pleased to note that a great many attendees felt it was our best show. Audience count estimates varied from 120 to 220, with most people guessing around 200.

After the show we had a little Q&A session that was quite well attended and well-received. I think we'll try to do something similar (either a post-show Q&A or a separate panel like we did at Gallifrey 2006) for most conventions in the future. We were actually so galvanized by the success of this show that we launched straight into preparations for The Krotons - transcription is underway and we've already had a writing session for episodes 1 and 2. Thank you to all who attended and enjoyed the show!

By Dave Broucek

I found Battlefield an absolute joy to write jokes for and during the writing wished that I was able to perform. This was one episode I would have loved to have done live. This episode also got me watching many MST3K episodes in preparation for writing and to get in the mood. I only attended one of the writing sessions. This was the first time in 12+ years that I had actually watched Battlefield (I only recommended the episode because of the name, not because I actually knew it would work). There were maybe 5 or so jokes told, as we were mostly silent or talking about other things. Mainly since everyone else had already seen the episode several more time and was bored of it. In reality the story blows and sucks at the same time (not as bad as the FOX TV movie mind you), and so I understand why no one was interested. For me it was all about watching the episode and getting joke ideas, or passing of concepts on the group.

What really put the writing session was when I yelled out "ohhhh it's a snake" ala badgerbadgerbadger. Several people from the group had no idea what I was referring to, so I loaded the web page ( We were laughing and laughing. For the rest of the writing session I left the flash animation running. Talk about distractions :-) While the one writing session seemed so disorganized and uninteresting, in the end it actually had the effect of getting me thinking about the story and the jokes just flowing. Unfortunately I did not get all of my Jokes submitted in time, but no matter as the episode went off fabulously. p.s.

By Arnold T Blumberg

I was just thrilled to be invited to join the MT337 team for the "Battlefield" performance. For almost as long as I've been attending the Gallifrey and Chicago TARDIS cons, I've been a fan of the MT337 guys for capturing both the spirit and wit of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 series and have done my best never to miss a show. In fact, I know that Steve wasn't sure if I would agree to join the cast since I might prefer to stay in the audience and enjoy it!

I felt a bit bad that I didn't have much time to contribute any written material myself before actually getting to Chicago - I thought as the "new guy" I should at least hold up my end of things and make an effort prior to the trip, but time slipped away as usual - but I figured an adlib or two would crop up when the time came. I was also out of the hotel when the call for rehearsal went out (!), but I rushed back in time to take part in almost a full read-through before we headed into the main hall to put on the show. And Scott had even gotten me my very own lighted headgear so I could see my script in the darkness! I felt suitably "upgraded" for the evening.

Over all, the show was a real joy and one of the highlights of my convention-going to date. It was so much fun to hear the audience's enthusiastic response right from the start and throughout the performance. As Steve already called attention to it, I just knew that one line about the Brigadier's sexual orientation demanded a Crow-esque read, and I'm glad it came out that way. One of my favorite personal moments was throwing in a New Series-related adlib when the Doctor asks about silver bullets: "Wait a minute, silver bullets...werewolf...what a great idea for a Doctor Who story!" I was taken aback when I heard the crowd really go nuts for that one, but it was great to hear.

I want to offer my thanks to the whole MT337 team for welcoming me and making me feel right at home quipping away with the rest of the group. Oh, and I have my headlight stored away safe and sound; just give the word ("movie sign!") and I'll be happy to leave the audience and head behind the screen for another show!

By Rob Warnock

It’s been a while since I’ve written a follow up to an MT337 show. I guess I just wasn’t overly impressed with our recent shows, so I never got around to it. Since this was one of our better shows, I figured it was high time I got around to doing it again.

As usual, we started talking about which stories we should consider months and months before the actual show. We knew fairly far ahead of time that Sylvester and Sophie would be coming to CT, so we had already decided we should pick a Seventh Doctor/Ace story. We just had to decide which one it would be. There was concern about doing a Seventh Doctor story since they tend to be rather fast paced compared to older stories, and full of a lot of incidental music. In the end, I think the faster pacing was actually a blessing in disguise. We did eventually narrow the list down to Battlefield and Silver Nemesis. Around June or July I watched both of them and told Steve I thought Battlefield would work better. After that, in typical MT337 fashion, we did nothing more for months. Around September Scott decided to start working on the transcript, but didn’t get as far as he would have liked for various reasons. So, around the beginning of November I began transcribing episodes three and four. So, again, in typical MT337 style, we didn’t actually start writing until about three weeks before the show.

We did eventually have about three or four writing sessions, and came up with a lot of jokes. Luckily quite a few people wrote jokes on their own which they sent to Steve. By the time everything was compiled, we had more than enough jokes, which is a bit of a rarity. Unfortunately, due to the faster pacing, we did end up cutting quite a few jokes simply because there wasn’t time for all of them.

For whatever reason, the morning of the show, Scott and I both had a good feeling about how things would go. As it turned out, the show went even better than we thought it would. I can’t honestly remember the last time that happened. When we got a great response to the first few jokes we knew we were on our way to a good show. In fact, quite a few people told us they thought it was our best show ever. Who am I to argue? When things are going that well, the time always seems to fly by. I was sad when we got to the point where episode four began because I knew it was almost over.

As mentioned, we did a short Q&A session afterwards. We were kind of surprised at how many people stayed around. One thing we didn’t get to do was ask the audience the list of questions we had about Battlefield. Once you’ve watched it a few times, you begin to realize it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. We wanted to see if anyone was able to satisfactorily explain it!

Thanks to everyone who continues to come to the shows. With any luck, The Krotons will be a good show as well. We’re off to a good start. (Ahead of time for once too!)

 Convention: Gallifrey One in the 17-1/2th Century
 Where: Los Angeles, California, USA
 When: 17 February 2006, 9:00 P.M.
 Episode Number: 15 (200601)
 Story: "The Robots of Death" (1977)

By Steven Hill

We had almost settled on Underworld for this episode... then we realized just how dull it was, and how short it is in omnibus format, and how staggeringly Pamela Salem-less it is. So we changed our plans and selected the much-loved The Robots of Death for a good skewering. I really enjoyed this one a lot. Feedback was positive, but the whole thing felt more sparsely attended than in previous years. My favorite two bits were the campaign sign held up after the "classic example of the inverse ratio of the size of mouth to the size of the brain" line, and the several-pages-long list of robots who kill. I've got pictures. I've been lazy. Soon.

 Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2005
 Where: Rosemont, Illinois, USA
 When: 26 November 2005, 8:50 P.M.
 Episode Number: 14 (200502)
 Story: "An Unearthly Child" (1963)

By Steven Hill

Another one of those slightly above average shows. This time the biggest problem was a lot of missed cues and missed lines. All the audience knew was that we were being surprisingly quiet for some passages. But when we weren't having that problem, the show went swimmingly. The sight gags with the campaign signs seemed to go well. One of my own blunders was forgetting the end-credit music that Rob did for our show. It'll be there for the next one. And I don't think we realized it at the time of the show, but yeah, we blocked an awful lot of the screen this year! Something to be wary of next time. Well, if anyone has any comments or reviews, please send them our way, thanks!

 Convention: The Sixteen Swashbucklers of Gallifrey One
 Where: Van Nuys, California, USA
 When: 19 February 2005, 9:00 P.M.
 Episode Number: 13 (200501)
 Story: "Terror of the Autons" (1971)

By Steven Hill

Well, we're on the other side now of episode 200501 Terror of the Autons, performed last weekend in Van Nuys, California. The verdict? The show was okay. Slightly above average, but nothing great. The first half was better than the second half. Performance-wise, we did very well - very few missed cues/lines, very little stepping on another's lines, and some good ad-libs. As usual, everyone who talked to us after the show said they enjoyed it, so we're being harder on ourselves than we should. As usual. One more thing... the pizza delivery gag didn't come off as we'd hoped. No, folks, we DIDN'T really order a pizza in the middle of the show. It was in the script. We dropped the idea to have someone come in and install a phone with a "long flex" too, and other scrapped ideas were to pass out plastic daffodils (couldn't find any) and to have a replica of the troll doll to pass around. The pizza delivery gag was originally there in case we needed to have a fifth commentator - the delivery guy would take the place of one of us mid-way through the show. As it turned out, there were only four of us anyway. Well, we hope you enjoyed the show if you were there. Our opening warning that it would be rated "R" backfired as people thought it was just another "Arrrrr" pirate joke. No, we really meant it, we were naughtier than usual this time. Sorry if that bothered you.

 Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2004
 Where: Rosemont, Illinois, USA
 When: 27 November 2004, 9:00 P.M.
 Episode Number: 12 (200402)
 Story: "Doctor Who" (1996)

By Steven Hill

Our latest show was a big success! Thanks first and foremost to the estimated 170 people who were in attendance for our most ambitious show to date. Why did we choose to repeat a story for the first time ever? Several reasons. The first reason is that it's the only story that could tie in to the Chicago TARDIS 2004 guest list. The second reason is that it was a big success in Los Angeles, and all of us get so busy before Chicago TARDIS that a new show would invariably suffer from lack of repeating, we'd have a lot less work in front of us. But I swore that I wouldn't repeat a show without making it worthwhile to those who might have seen the earlier performance. So back in the summer I was kicking around ideas to make this show more interesting, and at one point I asked Scott Alan Woodard, an experienced puppeteer, if he would be willing to perform the show as a puppet. He tentatively agreed, noting that it might be rough to do 90 minutes lying on his back holding a puppet. Then I suggested he do the show in character as a Cyberman. Well, I knew as soon as I thought of it that it was the right thing. We had some other character ideas, but the Cyberman was the most ideal. So Scott got to work on a cyberman helmet that would look convincing in silhouette yet still be open-face so he could read his lines. We were on our way to something unique, and we were really getting hyped up in the last moments before the convention. A new title sequence (read on) and even a special poster made things even more special.

Technical problems, rampant throughout the convention weekend, threatened to put a damper on our spirits just before we started the show. Previously, Scott asked me if I wanted an opening title sequence for the show. We've had rudimentary titles in the past, occasionally... typically just something I threw together at the last minute, nothing more than text on a screen. But no, Scott's vision was a full-out slickly produced title sequence, something that would be usable for future shows despite our ever-changing cast. I said "Sure..."

And so, the title sequence began its genesis. "Rob could write the music" is one of our typical battle cries, and yes, of course he could. But rather than ask Rob Warnock to compose a cross between the Doctor Who theme and the MST3000 theme song, a task for which I'm sure he would have been more than capable, I wanted something different. I wasn't thinking of a song with lyrics at first, just music. I wanted something light and bouncy, something catchy... and at that moment, for some reason, the OMD song "Stand Above Me" popped in to my head, so I asked Rob to base something on it. Not more than a few days later, he did. He posted an mp3 to our discussion group, and Scott came back with some lyrics almost immediately. I tweaked the lyrics a tiny bit, half-sang them into a microphone and sent it off to Rob.

I know it took a lot of work on Rob's part from then on, as I kept asking for slight changes - lyrics too low in the mix, the sample of Tom Baker saying "Three! Three! Seven!" not loud enough, the phased voice saying "It's time for Mysterious Theatre 337" not sounding right. A final version was produced and shared with the group.

In the meantime, the visual part of the title sequence was moving along quickly. Working between Chicago and Los Angeles wasn't too bad, and the only thing that had to be sent via regular mail was a DVD containing various clips from past shows, as well as footage of Mike Olson, Rick Kellerman, Dave Broucek, Rob and myself to use for the cast shots. Scott hooked a talented animator at the WB! by the name of Brian Oliver to create an animated 337 logo based on the new Doctor Who logo, and just a few days before showtime he and editor Lon Moeller had produced the terrific sequence we now use as our opening titles. The last touch was to re-record the vocoder-like voice and re-lay the Tom Baker sample so it was on top of the sound mix.

I created a playback DVD for our show, which had the opening title sequence, followed by an NTSC conversion of the story (from PAL DVD), and closing credits done in Adobe Premiere Pro. And then, come showtime, we planned on having our cast out in front on stage to watch the titles with the audience... and... it wouldn't play.

No, Mike clicked on it, but it would just loop back to the menu. "But I tested it!" I protested. Darn DVD players, I miss VCRs. Someone (I wish I could remember who it was, thank you! - was it Andrew? Bill?) ran downstairs to the video room to grab the DVD player that had just been purchased that afternoon for $29, and Mike swapped out the Apex and popped the disc in. "If this doesn't work, I guess we go straight to the show," I said.

Blissfully, it worked! And got an enormous round of applause that raised the hairs on the back of my neck. I never expected to get such a reaction, and for that I am grateful. (You can download the title sequence from the downloads page.)

But now, on to the show. First of all, we lost cast member Rick Kellerman that afternoon when car problems prevented his attendance, so I recruited old friend Peter DePalma to take Rick's place. Pete was honored, and disappeared for a while to study his script (which really paid off as his timing was excellent throughout the show).

We had come up with a clever way of including five cast members into a show that can only accomodate four, and we were sure it would work brilliantly. (Actually it was Rob's idea of killing someone off, and I knew as soon as he suggested it that it would be perfect.) We started off by noting the absence of cast member "Ruddiger", and told the audience that Ruddiger would join us when he arrived. Ruddiger was Scott Alan Woodard who was of course there backstage, but the ruse was to delay the revelation of this show's gimmick: a Cyberman commentator! (More on the genesis of that idea in a bit.) So only three of us took our seats, leaving one seat empty for Ruddiger. Well, concern set up a home in my mind immediately upon the start of the show - I could not see my script! In the past we would set up microphone stands and attach lamps to them; this year I declined the stands, forgetting that they were our way of getting light backstage. The darkness, coupled with the fact that we were VERY close to the screen, and that the image is backward to us meant the three of us probably missed 50% of the scripted lines in the first few minutes due to being lost. Not a very good start to what we were touting would be our best show ever!

Fortunately, a few minutes in (and right on time as the script specified), Ruddiger the Cyberman appeared. The audience reaction was interesting... sort of a slow rising of laughter as what they were seeing really sunk in. From that moment on, despite the darkness still making it difficult to read, the show was pretty much an assured success. At somewhere around the half-way point, we took care of the cast change as planned - Ruddiger shot me with his cybergun and I was gone. (Thanks to John Lavalie for removing my chair so I could fall properly.) A few minutes of lag time was planned, then Pete (who had replaced Rick) called out for Rob Warnock, who had retreated to a seat in the audience after handling the sound effects up to that point. As planned, Rob ran across the front of the audience and went backstage to take the empty seat. We had originally planned for the audience to be able to see Rob drag my body away, but it was impossible to do from our height, so he just pretended to step over my body (I was actually already sitting in the audience by that point).

Rob, whose eyesight is far worse than mine, couldn't see his script at all until Mike Olson brought in another light for him. It was funny to see him bending over his script so low that his silhouette would disappear from the screen. But we managed to get through the rest of the show, and gave a quick curtain call to the audience (mainly for Scott to receive his accolades for his performance as Ruddiger).

An excellent show overall, plagued by a few minor problems that had us really worried at first!

By Robert Warnock

When we decided that we were going to repeat a story for the first time, we figured we were going to have to do something different the second time around. Fairly early on, Steve decided he wanted to have Scott be a Cyberman, and asked me if I thought we could treat his voice live. I knew we could, but I had to experiment for a while to get the effect right. At some point after that, Steve had also said that we might have five people this time, so we had to figure out a way to do that, and didn't think it would work to have five people commenting at one time. I asked him what he thought of the idea of having one of us get replaced after being killed by the Cyberman. Although we had a number of technical problems, this was another great show. Having Scott portray the Cyberman meant that almost anything he said got a response form the audience. Having an opening title sequence really helped too. After we got such a great response to it at the beginning of the show, I knew we were at least off to a good start.

By Peter DePalma

Let me start by saying I wasn't even supposed to be at Chicago TARDIS 2004. I wouldn't want to drive, airfare over Thanksgiving would be steep, and I have a nine-month old baby boy. Luckily, I happened to spot (on a whim) a fairly good rate for a flight… great news since I had not seen Steve and the Feds for some time. Either we last saw each other during a Visions convention in Chicago or the last PolarisCon in Minneapolis.

At the con, I offered to help Steve and the guys with anything they needed. They didn't really ask much… at least not until Saturday. Steve came up and asked if I would understudy for one of the MT337 gang. Anyone who knows the Feds can only give one answer… a resounding yes. If the Feds think you can handle funny lines and make folks laugh, you just got yourself a compliment. Steve made sure I knew this was just an understudy position, as Rick's car trouble might not prevent him from showing. Luckily for me it did… which is really too bad for Rick since it was a great time.

Steve returned later in the day with a script in hand and orders to keep it quiet… this made me extremely nervous. I've performed before an audience before, but I was more worried I might let the Feds down or prove Steve's trust was misplaced. I hid away in my room long enough to run through the script twice, to scribble notes for my lines and cues, and to go over everything again once more.

The guys were very casual about everything. Why, not? They had done quite a few of these to pleased audiences. This only made me more anxious, not to mention the gags were pretty good. Nothing like good material to make you worried that you can't be funny. If you make the audience laugh, you did your job… if you don't make them laugh, you ruined a perfectly good joke.

My preparation and anxiety paid off, as I didn't get too lost and mostly kept on script. Oh, I probably dropped a quarter of my lines, but we were all adding a few improvised comments. We also occasionally would throw in some of each other's dropped lines if we found a nice spot for them.

After a few minutes of only paying attention to my cues and my lines I got comfortable and started to listen to everyone's lines as much as I could... initially as a performer's courtesy, but also to hear how they played out. Some of those lines were twice as funny when the crew dished them out, enough for me to have a little giggle. Some folks will tell you to avoid laughing in front of an audience, not to laugh at your own jokes… I couldn't help it. The MT337 gang know what's funny and clearly a lot of thought and work went into this script. Maybe halfway through the show I stopped trying to hold back.

The appearance of Ruddiger went well… once the audience started paying attention to his huge silhouette they really enjoyed it. All the “Excellent!” and “The Asian boy is LYING!” lines caught on well, not to mention the cyber-clenched fist. Clearly it was a memorable element of the show and Scott did a great job. Rob had a good gag, too… when he sat down he asked us (into the mic) what page we were on. I thought he was serious. (Acting! Genius!) The audience knew better, and of course laughed. I also remember getting a fairly good response from acting disgusted after the Master's icky soul-snake-thing looked like it slithered into my ear.

Photographs courtesy Dennis Kytasaari


 Convention: Gallifrey One's Fifteen Minutes of Fame
 Where: Van Nuys, California, USA
 When: 14 February 2004
 Episode Number: 11 (200401)
 Story: "Doctor Who" (1996)

By Steven Hill

I suppose the first thing I should say is "I'm sorry we started early!" Frankly, I still can't believe we did. Usually we're running late, and I don't think any of us actually looked at a clock to see that we were about 20 minutes early when we gave the "roll tape" signal. And we wondered why the room was so empty at the start, and we were equally startled to see so many people there when we turned around at the end. Nevertheless, it was a great show - one of our best.

The decision of story for this convention was a no-brainer: with guests Sylvester McCoy, Yee Jee Tso, Phil Segal and of course Paul McGann attending a TV Movie retrospective panel a few hours before our show, we had to go with the 1996 TV movie Doctor Who. This was quite similar to our The Five Doctors show: easy to write, very well-received, well attended, and all performers healthy. I feel it's probably our second best show, although there was one aspect in which this show excelled: ad libs. Now, we try to script as much as we can, but there are often large gaps on our script pages. When it's safe to do so (i.e. no other lines coming up soon that we might step on), we will ad lib. Typically, these don't always go over as well as the scripted jokes. Sometimes they work better than scripted jokes, though, and for this show we had a lot of ad libs, and virtually all of them went over big. Thanks again to Shaun Lyon for inviting us (again) and making it a convention featured event. Longer essay to come.

By Robert Warnock

This was another show that was a lot of fun to do. We definitely ad libbed more for this show than we ever had before, and a lot of the ad libbed jokes worked better than the scripted ones. I think it helped that we had a lot of McGann fans in the audience, when we realized that, I think we started to tailor some of the jokes specifically for them. After the disappointment that was The Three Doctors, it was nice to another great show with an appreciative audience.

 Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2003
 Where: Arlington Heights, Illinois, USA
 When: 29 November 2003, 8:30 P.M.
 Episode Number: 10 (200302)
 Story: "The Three Doctors" (1973)

By Steven Hill

The anniversary year celebrations continued, and MT337 made no exception. The 2003 Chicago TARDIS show (29 November 2003) was The Three Doctors. Things weren't nearly so rosy with this show. We could tell early on in the scripting that it would be a difficult story to write for. The transcription was finished extremely early - in March, I think - but we still didn't start writing until the usual time about a month before the convention. And the jokes just weren't coming easily. Nevertheless, we soldiered on, and had three full writing sessions before showtime. Even up to that point I kept considering scrapping the story and trying something else, but we were too committed to The Three Doctors to do a last-minute change. The show felt sparsely attended, although that's probably just an illusion. But it was received well, and as usual I was far more critical of the whole thing than any of the audience members, who seemed to enjoy it a lot.

One thing in particular that I remember is that the transcription and each writing session was done from the commercial VHS release - which is episodic - but the show was done to the movie format version from a PBS broadcast. When we sat down to start the show, we were instantly lost - there was a scene missing from the PBS version! I still haven't gone back to compare to see exactly what the difference was, but it really threw us off right at the start. Chalk up another lesson learned - always transcribe and write from the same video copy that will be used for the show.

By Robert Warnock

At first, doing The Five Doctors and The Three Doctors for Doctor Who's 4oth anniversary seemed like a good idea. As it turned out, it wasn't. Whereas coming up with jokes for The Five Doctors was a breeze, trying to think of ones for this one was near impossible. I think I watched this story more than any other in the past, and still couldn't come up with any decent jokes. All I can say is that after the great show we had with The Five Doctors, this was a huge disappointment.

 Convention: Gallifrey One - Episode XIV: The Faction Paradox
 Where: Van Nuys, California, USA
 When: 15 February 2003
 Episode Number: 9 (200301)
 Story: "The Five Doctors" (1983)

By Steven Hill

Now I can at last really, really BRAG about an excellent show. Everything just came together perfectly this time. Thanks especially to Shaun Lyon who gave the show feature status on the schedule, and put us in the main room too. We had about 200 people, easily double our previous best attendance. And there were a lot of lines that we had to abandon due to crowd laughter and applause. The crowd was really the star this time, the reaction and enthusiasm of the crowd really made the show work. But look at our material - the original video version of The Five Doctors was on tap. All of us doing the show know this one practically by heart, and a lot of the audience knew it very well too. Subversively, we didn't even start scripting this one in earnest until the day before the show! This was just BIG FUN. And we were all healthy. Even first-time performer Mike Olson did a great job. Thanks especially to Mike Kelly, Dennis Kytasaari and Brian Kimmel for their help writing, and to Greg Hart who set things up for us perfectly and monitored sound levels throughout the show. Full essay to come.

By Robert Warnock

This was probably our best show to date, just slightly beating the two performances of the TV Movie. For some reason, the jokes for this one just seemed to write themselves. I think we only had one rehearsal before we got to Gallifrey, and another one the day of the show, where we came up with a majority of the jokes. I remember a joke I had at the beginning, that I didn't even think was very funny, getting a huge response. From that point on, I knew this was going to be a lot of fun, and it only got better.

 Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2002
 Where: Arlington Heights, Illinois, USA
 When: 30 November 2002, 8:30 P.M.
 Episode Number: 8 (200202)
 Story: "Time-Flight" (1982)

By Steven Hill

Keeping up with the convention's theme (20th anniversary of the Fifth Doctor) we chose the overripe TIME-FLIGHT for basting and grilling. Mmmmm. And a good time was had by all, we think. We had decent attendance. My favorite bit was when Nyssa is asked to get the Doctor back inside the plane, and I screamed at the top of my lungs "DOCTOR, GET BACK IN HERE!" This show was really on loose footing from the start; stalwart regular Dave Broucek was unavailable and I failed to confirm replacement Dave Graham, so we press-ganged Scott Woodard (who has actual voice-over experience) into sitting in. There was also the matter of a deathly ill Rob Warnock, who, due to his condition, was unable to prep for the show at all, and was well zonked out on medicine during the show. Still he soldiered on. Overall, a pretty good show. Once again, the rear projection setup helped us out. Oh, I also want to give a special thanks to Steven K Manfred who contributed a lot of material to the script. Full essay to come.

By Robert Warnock

I can barely remember anything about this show. I became deathly ill in the morning, and barely made it through the end. I think we got a fairly decent response, but I really don't know.

 Convention: The Thirteenth Floor of Gallifrey One
 Where: Van Nuys, California, USA
 When: 15 February 2002
 Episode Number: 7 (200201)
 Story: "The Invisible Enemy" (1977)

By Steven Hill

Our very first show at Gallifrey One. I think overall this was our most successful show up to this point, although I wish we could have had more space - the room was full for the duration and a larger room might have given us better attendance. We had an unusually long time to rehearse and come up with a lot of additional material (a lot of our lines in this show were handwritten into the script earlier that day) which is why the performance itself went smoother than ever before. And now we all know that Michael Sheard was too sexy for his virus..!

By Robert Warnock

Our first show at Gallifrey, this one was a lot of fun too. We were in a smaller room than we had been previously, but it meant that it seemed less sparsely populated than it might have been otherwise. If I remember correctly, we had the performance on Friday night, and there were only three of us, which was an anomaly also.

 Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2001
 Where: Arlington Heights, Illinois, USA
 When: 1 December 2001
 Episode Number: 6 (200101)
 Story: "The Claws of Axos" (1971)

By Steven Hill

Our first show with rear projection! Our presentation was besieged by sound problems - some of the audible kind, others of the hardware kind. We persevered and judging from the audience reaction it was a very enjoyable show. The added benefit of rear-projection enabled us to take our places backstage between the screen and projector, throwing our shadows up on the screen. This setup let us do some visual gags that would have been difficult to do with our usual setup, and the whole thing went over well despite the technical problems. Full essay to come. First and foremost, this show was the first one we ever did with a rear-projection setup. It changes the whole dynamic of the performance - it allows us to do a lot of visual things that we can't do while sitting in front of a screen. Even pointing at things on screen is questionable when sitting in front because the perspective of a person at the far right end of the front row is quite different from that of a person at the far left end of the front row - to them, we're pointing at two different things! But now instead of seeing the image projected onto our heads and backs, the screen is unobstructed, and our shadows are cast directly onto the screen.

It also changes a few other things - we need to sit much closer to the screen, so it's more difficult for us to take in the whole screen image easily (just like sitting in the front row of a movie theater). Even worse is the fact that the image is reversed to us, which is surprisingly difficult to adjust to after watching the story multiple times the right way round. So it does take more effort to maintain our places in the script. Darkness can also be a bit of a problem, but we usually solve that with small work lights attached to the microphone stands. (For this particular show, we used large halogen work lamps which, although strategically placed, cast a bit too much light onto the screen, washing out the image to the audience.)

On to this show's challenges. This is the only show where I really felt like I wanted to get up and walk out. Instead of having wired microphones, we had wireless mics, and they kept failing. Too many times one of us would say our line and the microphone would be dead. To the audience, we're just being all too quiet. Bill and Mike did their best to keep things running, but it was quite a trying show. The interesting thing is... after it started to really suck badly, I know I just sort of gave up, as did the others (I think), because we just started getting silly. We started ripping pages out of our scripts and throwing them up into the air, we started goofing off and laughing a lot amongst ourselves. And that actually made the show entertaining (not that that surprises me, but I didn't think anything could salvage that show by that point).

And finally, an explanation about our "mascot", the clementine orange. Trust me, this is one of those "you had to be there for it to be funny" things, so don't worry if you don't get it. Before the show started, we were backstage waiting in our seats. Some of us had cups of water on the stage riser in front of us. Instead of being on a riser ourselves, we were sitting on stacks of three chairs each (to raise us up). Rick Kellerman had found a clementine backstage that he began tossing up into the air and catching. One of the times it went up, but he missed it. It hit the riser, took one tiny little bounce and went "plop!" swish right into a cup of water without even jarring the cup. Well, this completely broke us up. (We can see it happen on the video footage, because our shadows are on screen at the time.) Dave Broucek observed, "Now THAT'S comedy." Dennis got a photo of the clementine in the cup of water, and it simply became our so-called "mascot" from that point on. It shows up in the title sequence now too.

Our mascot the clementine

By Robert Warnock

As far as I'm concerned, this was our worst show ever. We had problems with the audio from the outset, and the audience seemed totally unresponsive. I think we pretty much gave up at some point about two thirds of the way through. The only decent thing I remember about this show was the BBC Microphone Exhibit, and even that was only funny because I kept beating it into the ground.

 Convention: Chicago TARDIS 2000
 Where: Arlington Heights, Illinois, USA
 When: 25 November 2000
 Episode Number: 5 (200002)
 Story: "Full Circle" (1980)

By Steven Hill

Back again in Chicago after a lonely absence in 1999. Not a bad show at all - the ongoing presidential election recount provided some good material for ad-libs. "Where's Chad?" Full essay to come.

By Robert Warnock

This is another one that I don't recall very well. The only thing I really remember about it is that most of the people who saw it seemed to like it more than I did.

 Convention: Gateway 2000
 Where: St Louis, Missouri, USA
 When: 15 July 2000
 Episode Number: 4 (200001)
 Story: "The Twin Dilemma" (1984)

By Steven Hill

Probably our least successful show for many reasons, not the least of which being the poor selection of story and the tough, highly critical crowd (it was a Mystery Science Theater 3000-themed convention). But it did mark the first time we had ever been invited to put on a show for another convention after Visions. Full essay to come.

By Robert Warnock

I think I'm the only one of us who doesn't think this show was horrible. The fact that we performed at an MST convention meant that the audience was more critical than usual. That, coupled with the fact that a lot of people weren't familiar with Doctor Who meant that we had a really tough audience. I think if we had performed this at a DW con, we might not have such a negative opinion of it. I also remember that due to the circumstances, we were a lot more nervous for this show than we normally would have been. On a side note, this convention took place at the scariest hotel in the world!

Photographs courtesy MSTies Anonymous


 Convention: Visions '98
 Where: Rosemont, Illinois, USA
 When: 28 November 1998
 Episode Number: 3 (199801)
 Story: "Death to the Daleks" (1974)

By Steven Hill

A decent show, most memorable (to me) for the "Yaaarrrrr!" that became the unlikely battle cry of Dan Galloway (a character in the story). This was the best of the three shows we had done to date. Full essay to come.

By Robert Warnock

I seem to remember this being the first time that I thought we actually did a good show. Again, I'm a little sketchy on the details of this one; I just seem to remember that we were happy with it for the most part.

 Convention: Visions '97
 Where: Rosemont, Illinois, USA
 When: 29 November 1997
 Episode Number: 2 (199701)
 Story: "Four to Doomsday" (1982)

By Steven Hill

I thought this show made a great follow-up to our debut the previous year. In particular there were some jokes that were (admittedly off-color but) hilarious. And of course the can't-miss gag when seeing the three Urbankan frogs for the first time: "Bud! Wise! Er!"

Naturally I can't really remember much of the pre-production process on this show. We were a little more comfortable with the process, having a better feel for what we needed to concentrate on and what we could get away with. We were still experimenting with the best way of handling writing sessions at this point (and for some years after). Rehearsal didn't happen until the last minute, but it didn't cause any problems for us. The show start time was MUCH more favorable this year, and some word was getting around since the previous year's show, so we had a much better crowd.

A flyer was not created for this show, to the best of my recollection. It's possible that we may have re-used flyers from 1996 (which featured a still from Revenge of the Cybermen) and just put the new showtime information on them. We videotaped this show from two cameras, and George Zahora mixed it live from the two cameras as well as the playback feed; unfortunately the result isn't as impressive as it sounds because both cameras were zoomed back quite far and the shots look similar, so cross-fading from one to the other isn't very visually dynamic.

By Robert Warnock

This show was better than the first one since we felt a little more comfortable the second time around. As with Revenge of the Cybermen, I really don't remember a whole lot about this one anymore, except for one line: "(sung) Kurkutji says, 'Love my Good and Plenty!' Kurkutji says, 'Really rings my bell!'"

 Convention: Visions '96
 Where: Rosemont, Illinois, USA
 When: 30 November 1996
 Episode Number: 1 (199601)
 Story: "Revenge of the Cybermen" (1975)

By Steven Hill

A gentle debut, sparsely attended mainly due to the lateness of the hour (I think the show started close to 10:00 PM). Reaction was good, but there was such a small viewership that we couldn't get a feel for how the whole thing went.

The seed of the idea of Mysterious Theatre 337 is explained on the about page, but I want to cover the first show in a little more depth here. First of all (and this will go into an eventual FAQ at some point), the answer to the riddle of the show title... "Why 337?" Look no further than the dramatic climax of The Keeper of Traken. The Doctor (Tom Baker) fails to input the whole code to stop the cataclysm, and when Adric gets a chance to finish the code, the Doctor calls out the last three digits to him: "Three three seven!" Well, for reasons I won't go into because they'd be impossible to explain, the number passed into local Federation inside-joke status (and it surprisingly pops up in many other places) and so became THE random number to use whenever a number was needed. It was a natural choice for the title.

Some of the approaches we took to this show - the pre-production process - were severely stripped back in future as we realized that they weren't necessary. The transcription of this story, for example, took forever because I transcribed every single shot - every SINGLE edit in the entire show - and numbered them in the script. So even if there was a shot that lasted less than a second, it was a numbered slugline in the transcription, and described in text form. I was also including time codes at periodic locations in the script, which are totally useless to us but I thought they might be useful at first. It also took a lot of time to figure out the right way to compose the actual script document - I wanted transcription on one side, scripted lines on the other side, but they had to move independently if you added a line to one it couldn't move the other, so columns wouldn't work. Without access to a page layout program like Pagemaker, and with a need to make the document accessible to everyone, I was pretty much stuck with using Word. The only way I could do it was linked text boxes, and I quickly discovered that Word limited linked text boxes to 32, which wasn't enough for the entire script. That's why each script is in two parts. I also originally used our character names for our script lines, which became confusing when we couldn't remember who was who. :) I reverted to our real names a few years later.

Writing sessions went through some experimental phases too. Our first session was both handwritten by me on a printout of the transcription AND audio-taped so I could catch the comments that I missed. And the comments came very fast. I scribbled as many as I could. When I went to review the audiotape, I couldn't maintain a good reference point with the playback video, and at times couldn't understand what was being said anyway. The audiotape was essentially useless, so we dropped that idea. Occasionally we've talked about trying it again, but we've got a good routine for writing now that seems to work - we gather in a room with a projector, and the others watch and just shout out lines, and I type them in directly to the script pages in the appropriate places. I do NOT mark down line attributions at this point (read how we do it for more information); that comes as the very last step. The person who comes up with the line is not necessarily the person who will say it during the show.

There were multiple script revisions for this, of course, more than were really necessary. The transcription was, as I've already said, unnecessarily verbose and painstaking. It's gotten a lot looser since this show, with one exception - if there are long periods of action with no dialogue, I must describe the action in detail. Two reasons - one, to maintain our place in the script, and two, to provide more space in which to write scripted lines on the right side of the page.

In the weeks leading up to the show, I kicked around ideas on how to introduce us, what sort of backstory we might "hang" our show on, and how to handle "host segments". The first firm decision was to discard the idea of host segments. That's three times as much work. That gone, I developed characters for each of us, with names and basic characterizations that we would use to color our line delivery and to help us tailor ad-libs to maintain a consistent characterization. (We sort of used the characters for a few years, then dropped them - I introduced the first few shows using our character names, and we would use them in some of our scripted comments. Now we use our own names, with the exception of Ruddiger for episode 200402.)

A backstory was more of a concern. The scenario I had worked out for the first show was this. A convention staffer (probably Jennifer Adams Kelley) would introduce the show to the audience. We would not be in the room. After a brief moment, the three of us would enter the room from the hallway, pretending to sneak in, pretending that the room was empty. One of us would be clutching a few videotapes, and we would have some scripted lines about being happy that we finally found a room where we could watch our own Doctor Who tapes because we didn't want to watch the ones in the main video room. Basically, we would pretend like we were surreptitiously using convention equipment to enjoy our own private theater showing of Doctor Who. Then we would take chairs in front of the screen, and start watching and making comments.

We didn't do any of this, and the biggest reason was that we ended up in the main room (huge!) rather than the much smaller secondary panel room that was our expected venue at the time of writing. We wouldn't have been miked as we came in the room, and nobody would have noticed us in the main room if we tried it. The other reason is that we never scripted such an entrance, so we were going to improvise it, which wouldn't have been a big deal really, but in the end it became very easy to just ditch the idea. So instead of the elaborate "backstory" opening, our show was introduced and I stepped into my character to introduce Rob ("Glum") and Dave ("Tycho"), then we took our seats and started.

We were understandably nervous for the show, but nothing went wrong - in fact, it was probably one of our smoothest shows. We didn't try anything ambitious, and we were only sitting in front of the screen so there were no technical concerns with a rear-projection setup. About the only problem was that we had to ask for the lights to be kept up so we could see our scripts, after the room went dark upon the start of the show. After it was over, we could all sense that it had successfully proved itself to be a worthy replacement for the Visions dance. Indeed, we were able to do it again the following year...

By Robert Warnock

We probably rehearsed more for this show than we have for any subsequent one, which is understandable since it was our first one. I honestly don't remember a lot of the details of this one. I seem to remember it went off fairly well, but at this point we were sort of finding our feet, so it's hard to judge. This contained the genesis of the, "Mmmmmm, beacon" and "I'm melting" jokes, which have pretty much been a mainstay ever since.

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