Mystery Science Theater 3000, the show that made riffing bad movies an artform is returning, thanks to Netflix, Shout Factory, Joel Hodgson, and the most successful “Film And Video” Kickstarter in the crowd funding site’s history.
The original series, created by Joel Hodgson, began in 1988 on KTMA in Minnesota. It was picked up in 1989 by The Comedy Channel (now Comedy Central), where it was part of the line-up until 1997. Then it moved to The SciFi Channel (now SyFy), for three more seasons.
Not counting the KTMA episodes, MST3K ran for ten seasons and 197 episodes, and one feature film. The original cast would continue riffing films with similar projects such as RiffTrax and Cinematic Titanic.
In 2010, Hodgson set out to regain the rights of the series from the original production company, Best Brains, with help from Shout Factory, the company that was releasing the episodes on DVD, and in 2015, a deal was made. He set up a Kickstarter campaign to get a pilot made, so the show could be shopped around to potential broadcasters – but by end of the campaign, not only did they have the money for the pilot, but there was enough money to produce an entire 13 episode season, plus a Christmas episode! By July of last year, Netflix announced that it had picked up the rights, with plans to show the show to English speaking countries around the world.
As a backer of the campaign, I got the chance to see the first episode of this new series. The new series will please long time fans of the show (“MSTies”, pronounced “misties”), as well as bring in new fans.
The new series stars:
- Jonah Ray (The Nerdist Podcast) as Jonah Heston, an employee of Gizmonic Institute, who winds up as a prisoner on the Satellite Of Love courtesy of the residents of Moon Base 13.
- Felicia Day (The Guild) plays Kinga Forrester, who is in charge of the base as well as the daughter of original MST3K mad scientist, Clayton Forrester.
- Patton Oswalt (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) plays Kinga’s right hand man, Max, wants to be called TV’s Son Of TV’s Frank, which despite being the most MST3K sounding thing ever, nobody does.
- Joining Jonah on the SOL1 is Baron Vaughn (Disney XD’s Right Now Kapow) as the voice of Tom Servo, Comedian Hampton Yount as the voice of Crow, and Rebecca Hanson as the voice of Gypsy, she also appears in a non speaking role on Moon Base 13.
This new cast does the show justice, and would make the original cast members proud.
In addition to the Mad’s new home base, the series also includes Gypsy’s coils now coming from the ceiling instead of the floor, her voice is also easier to understand, Tom Servo hovering (but only in the theater), both of which are explained at the beginning of the episode. Also, Crow and Servo’s arms now move. There are now several puppeteers who are credited as performing the puppets, giving the show that little bit extra that they couldn’t do in the previous seasons.
The show still has that homemade look, no big special effects or CGI. Everything that you loved about the show is there. The silhouettes, the invention exchange, the music, which includes an updated opening theme, an orchestral version of the closing theme, and a rather catchy song about monsters of the world. Most importantly, there’s the riffing of the movie. For the most part, the riffs were hilarious. I was laughing throughout the episode. And the stinger, that little clip from the film that gets shown at the end of each episode, is also there.
Although, I enjoyed the episode, there are a few minor nitpicks, very minor, which didn’t take away from my enjoying the episode. First, in the theater, it was a little hard to differentiate between Jonah and Servo’s voice, so at times, I couldn’t tell who was making the riff, unless you could see Servo’s mouth, or Jonah move while talking. Also, Servo’s hovering in the theater got old fast. It was kind of nice that they are able to do something like that nowadays, I’m afraid that it might become overkill. And not to post a spoiler, as I’d like to keep full details of the episode under wraps so that you can enjoy the episode spoiler free, the famous “Twang” that was at the end of the end title music is missing. It just didn’t sound complete without it. Maybe it’s because I’m old school, but I did prefer the way Gypsy sounded in the past, but Hanson is pretty funny.
Despite those minor nitpicks, Mystery Science Theater 3000 is back. If you are a fan of the show, you’ll enjoy it as well. If you have never seen an episode of MST3K, this new series is a perfect place to start.
And if you’re wondering how the ‘bots got back up on the Satellite of Love, why Gizmonic Institute isn’t doing a search and rescue mission, why the Moon Nazis haven’t noticed Moon Base 13 or any of those other type of facts, just repeat to yourself, “It’s just a show, I should really just relax.” And most importantly, enjoy.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 stars Jonah Ray as Jonah Heston, Felicia Day as Kinga Forrester, Patton Oswalt as Max
(TV’s Son Of TV’s Frank), Baron Vaughn as Tom Servo, Hampton Yount as Crow, and Rebecca Hanson as Gypsy. The show was created by Joel Hodgson and is produced by Satellite Of Love LLC, Shout Factory, Alternaversal Productions Inc, Abominable Pictures, and becomes available on Netflix April 14, 2017.
The official website for Mystery Science Theater 3000 is at http://www.mst3k.com/
1 Wait. “Satellite of Love”? “S*** Out of Luck”? “SOL”? That can’t have been an accident. — Ed.
Gary DaBaum, SCIFI.radio DJ, writer, and all around nice guy, can be heard on SCIFI.radio. He’s also on Twitter: @GaryDaBaum.