Mystery Science Theater 3000 debuted on Comedy Central in 1989 and quickly developed a devoted cult following. The show’s premise was simple: a human janitor and two robots are trapped on a space ship and forced by evil scientists to watch horrible B-movies, and we get to watch them watching the movies and making fun of them. The show ran until 1999, moving from Comedy Central to the Sci-Fi Channel (as it was then known) for its final three seasons, before the plug was finally pulled.
Though the show disappeared from television screens, the legacy of MST3K lived on and only grew in strength as the internet became more and more of a thing. Old episodes were shared online, terrible movies that were featured on the show became latter-day cult phenomena thanks to wide availability, and a whole new generation of fans was turned on to the exploits of Joel, Mike and their riffing bots. Now, thanks to a highly successful crowdfunding campaign, MST3K is coming back for a 14-episode run.
Netflix will be the carrier for the revival episodes, which feature a new lead (Jonah Heston as Jonah Ray), new voice actors in the roles of the bots and new villains to torment our heroes, by sending them terrible movies to watch and mock. The new bad guys or “Mads” in the show’s parlance, played by Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt, are featured in an image shared by Day on Twitter. Day plays Kinga Forrester, daughter of original series villain Dr. Clayton Forrester, while Oswalt plays TV’s Son of TV’s Frank (his description is contained in his name). Patton Oswalt appears to have used the same stylist as Jeff Goldblum in Thor: Ragnarok.
Production on the MST3K revival began in early 2016, with 20 films initially being selected as targets. The show went before cameras in September of 2016 and is set to begin running on Netflix on April 14, 2017. Creator Joel Hodgson says the show will retain the DIY look and feel of the original MST3K, which featured comedic skits interspersed throughout the snarky riffing sessions.
It may seem strange that a tiny little show about a janitor and his puppet robot friends could have such a wide-ranging influence, but just look at the roster of people expected to be involved in the revival. According to creator Joel Hodgson, comedy big-shots Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Justin Roiland (Rick and Morty) and Dana Gould are signed on as writers. Jack Black, Bill Hader, Neil Patrick Harris, Jerry Seinfeld and Mark Hamill have said they’d love to make cameos. Clearly, the show made an impact on some pretty talented and important people.
The concern with this show as with any revival is that it will lean too heavily on nostalgia and fail to assert its own new, interesting identity. In some ways, the original MST3K now feels quaint and slow-paced, and frankly the art of riffing/snarking on movies has come a long way since the show went off the air in 1999. We’ll see if the Mystery Science Theater 3000 revival, with all the talent involved in bringing it to life, can live up to the original’s surprisingly strong legacy.
Source: Felicia Day
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