WASHINGTON, January 13, 2018: Plowing through our post-holiday backlog of TV and entertainment news, we made an exciting discovery. MST3K still lives! According to Deadline,
“Netflix is bringing back its reboot of longtime cult favorite Mystery Science Theater 3000 for a second go-round. Season 2 of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return will be available on Netflix in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK and Ireland ‘in the not-too-distant-future.’
“The renewal was announced at the conclusion of Mystery Science Theater 3000‘s annual Thanksgiving marathon, comprised of six classic episodes, by hosts Joel Hodgson, Jonah Ray and Felicia Day. You can watch the video above.”
Deadline’s short release also briefly noted the appropriately oddball way this onetime Comedy Central and Sci-Fi Channel tentpole series was brought to life again. Comedy Central abruptly 86’d the original show in 1997. Sci-Fi Channel picked up the series shortly thereafter, much to the delight of the considerable legion of fans who regularly followed the series.
Unfortunately, Sci-Fi s—canned the series (thank you, President Trump) just 3 seasons later in 1999. Like the original TV Star Trek, MST3K was over just like that with no further appeal. But, like old Star Trek and Monty Python re-runs, most of the original episodes continued to survive in various forms, keeping interest high over the series long years in exile.
I found myself addicted to the original series because it reminded me – plus a phalanx of like-minded Boomers – of my old college days here in the nation’s swamp capital. At least once a month on Friday evenings, a number of us pre-deplorable broke dudes from Georgetown who couldn’t afford to wine and dine the exquisite young ladies of Trinity College would hike down to the long-defunct Circle Theater on Pennsylvania Ave. which featured cheap seats for classic movie re-runs.
After consuming a few cheap views in random watering holes on the way (or a few random, then-illegal tokes of Acapulco Gold or its equivalent), we’d arrive at the circle, plunk down a very few coins for a ticket, and head into this decaying movie oasis to take in classic good stuff like the uncut version of King Kong – the one where the big ape removes and sniffs Fay Wray’s panties, something that I’m sure could only have happened back in that pre-#MeToo Hollywood era.
At any rate, given our collective state of mind, or lack thereof, we couldn’t resist helping the onscreen actors by shouting out random quips, comments and brilliant (so we thought) one-liners at crucial points in King Kong or whatever black & white, reel-to-reel classic was running that weekend.
The theater was usually packed, mostly with other unfortunates like us from Georgetown, nearby GW and other DC colleges. Unable to regularly afford the DC college dating game, the Circle was still a great place to have a good time, even though it was mostly sans female companionship.
But (regretfully) replacing the ladies with an endless barrage of “can you top this?” one-liners shouted to and fro across the theater seats and aisles generally made for a night of raucous and uproarious fun. That was true even though much of the perceived hilarity was likely the result of damaged brain cells seriously re-arranged by the over-consumption of alcohol and other controlled substances.
Which brings us back to the original MST3K. Each episode of the series found our hosts – first Joel, then Mike – trapped on the “Satellite of Love” along with their puppet robot buddies and forced by evil scientists to watch horrible Grade Z mostly horror flicks. Their only recourse at “movie sign” was to hurl, well, an endless barrage of “can you top this” one liners back at the screen, just like we did back in those thrilling days of yesteryear.
Seeing Joel, Mike and the ‘bots reprising our earlier Boomer brilliance – but with better writing – is what sucked many of us Boomers and more than a few Gen Xers into the original MST3K. That’s also why we mourned the series disappearance.
Since that sad day, Mike Nelson and a few of the earlier MST3K dudes reincarnated themselves in various formats, including RiffTrax, and kept at least the spirit of the show alive for years.
But more recently, the original show’s godfather, Joel Hodgson managed to overcome some legal hurdles giving him the right to reboot the old series for a new generation. The only problem he had was the usual problem: money. So, as Deadline explains,
“The first season of the rebooted Mystery Science Theater 3000 debuted last spring on Netflix, 18 years after its original series run ended, and thanks to a record-setting Kickstarter campaign, spearheaded by creator Hodgson and Shout! Factory.”
Last year’s Season 1 reboot was quite successful in our opinion. Sure, a couple of the episodes were lame, but that was true of the original series as well. Some of the movies the guys riff on are so awful there’s almost no way you can make them funny by supplying them with fusillades of snide faux-dialogue.
That said, the younger generation of that populates the new MST3K cast – Jonah Ray (Jonah), Felicia Day (Kinga), Patton Oswalt (Max, Son of TV’s Frank), Rebecca Hanson (Gypsy), Hampton Yount (Crowe T. Robot) and Baron Vaughn (Tom Servo) – plus a few surprising guest star cameos, successfully launched the Satellite of Love into an entirely different environment in 2017.
Happily, the jokes and one-liners were as old-movie centric as ever. That was, for me at least, a pleasant surprise, given the current generation of Millennials whose consciousness generally doesn’t include anything that happened before roughly 1980.
On the other hand, there are plenty of snide asides in the new series that presume a working knowledge of 1980s and 1990s classic TV series, cult films and, of course, hand-held devices and social media. That makes the pop culture references surprisingly challenging and well informed, requiring viewers from all generations to stretch a bit to keep up.
As of this date, it’s not exactly certain when Season 2 of the rebooted MST3K will show up for binge viewing on Netflix. Nor is it clear how many episodes we’ll get to see. Then there’s that cliffhanger from last season involving Jonah and… oh, never mind, we don’t do spoilers here.
Whatever the case, we’ll be there when the episodes show up and we’ll let our readers know what to expect. Meanwhile, enjoy the following YouTube video clip, released around Thanksgiving 2017, in which Joel, Felicia and Jonah enjoy the holiday plus a round of high-fives to celebrate the new, upcoming Season 2 of their favorite show.