It was a moment 17 and a half years in the making: the return of Mystery Science Theater 3000!
Fans got their first look of the new era, new host, new theme song, new enemies and improved robots this morning, and several thousand Kickstarter backers got a chance last Sunday to get an early look at the first episode of Season Eleven. They also learned the hard way Europe can’t make big lizard movies.
MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
First off, we see Jonah Heston (Jonah Ray) living in the not too distant future, way past next Sunday A.D., working for Gizmonics until he answers a fake distress call on the dark side of the Moon by Kinga Forrester (Felicia Day) and TV’s Max (he’s really Son of TV’s Frank, played by Patton Oswalt). Jonah’s drafted to revive the MST3K experiment, designed to drive him insane. Too bad the New Mads just don’t understand it’ll never work. For one thing, Jonah, along with Crow (Hampton Yount) and Servo (Baron Vaughn), spit out riffs faster than machine guns.
Even after a very long break, the show is as sharp and silly as it ever was. Rifftrax and Cinematic Titanic may have filled in very well as the bad movie critics of record, but there’s nothing like seeing a guy and two bots make insults on movies so bad not even Elvira would get near them.
The first episode is set two months after Jonah was shoved into the new Satellite of Love, and he’s already making changes. Servo can levitate, even over air grates, Crow gets improved arms (no steroid RAM chips, honest) , and Gypsy (Rebecca Hanson) has a new voice and upgrades so she can even drop by for a riff or two. No word on whether she still loves Richard Basehart.
Then Kinga introduces herself and not-Max, and her goal to merchandise the show to the hilt and expect Disney to buy it. Her HQ seems to be an evil TV station called Moon 13, with her house band playing the best of “Play MSTie For Me.” Felicia establishes herself as the self-absorbed antagonist in the first episode. She thinks people want to see some poor guy in a yellow jump suit scream in pain after seeing a lousy Star Wars knockoff, and seems to be more concerned about being evil than hitting her goals. She doesn’t even offer anything in the Invention Exchange after Jonah’s Bubble Fan.
Maybe she’s not even paying attention to how Jonah and the bots respond to the movie.. Otherwise, she’d realize her sanity will shatter long before theirs because they can take it. Besides, the bots have nearly 30 years of experience.
Also, the New Mads wear big heavy coats. That’s because Felicia was pregnant when the host segments were made. If there’s a second season, they should go back to lab coats.
Patton as”Max” seems just as evil, and less bumbling than his famous dad. He’ll get into the evil swing of things soon. It won’t be long until they have nicknames, just like their dads.
Back to the SOL, Jonah and the bots are quick and sharp with their comments. The style is similar to Incognito Cinema Warriors, actually. They even throw out some callbacks to the old days, including a certain spy movie and the old “diarrhea” joke. We’re still not sure if these bots are the same who lived with Mike at the end of Danger Diabolik. If this is set 17 years after that moment, it would make sense they’ve been “restored” after being lost for a while. Joel, however, suggested in a tweet that maybe that last scene isn’t real. Let’s hope that scene was real. If it was a dream, maybe it inspired Mike to invent Rifftrax.
So, what’s first at bat?
It’s Reptilicus, also known as the Danish Godzilla. Some miners find a piece of tail from a dinosaur, and discover it can regenerate into a complete monster who looks like a mutated shrimp/lizard hybrid.
The host segments are pretty good. The gang do a rap on regional monsters, and even read some genuine viewer mail (according to head writer Ivan Askwith). There was also a segment where Jonah and Crow see if they can make more Servos from just his arm. The results out-class a similar attempt in Human Duplicators.
While my Rifftrax reviews have a lot of riffs, the MST reviews will look at three or four..
A shot of Copenhagen
There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark and it’s this movie.
Old Scientist: There is no doubt that it is alive
With the Sound of Music?
The monster shows up.
Either this film is in really bad shape or it’s raining tar
There’s also some stock footage to show the destruction of the monster:
You’re saying Reptilicus is responsible for blockading the Suez Canal?
There’s still a few things to talk about, like will anyone at Gizmonic notice Jonah’s missing? After all, Erin Gray is in charge, and it’s possible she might know Kinga as a former employee she’d rather forget. Also, why are the New Mads delivering the movies in liquid form, and what’s with the big board?
Was “Max” made from his dad’s other head? What does Gypsy remove from the theater floor, and why does it have a handle?
And above all, is Kinga really Clayton Forrester’s kid? His middle name is “Deborah”, after all.
Anyway, the season will feature special guest stars including Mark Hamill, Joel McHale, Joel Hodgson in a few unusual roles, and some others from the SyFy channel era.
The episodes will run about 90 minutes apiece. That means they’ll probably cut some scenes, which may be just as well. Reptilicus is proof of that, if you knew what they had to cut from the Danish version.
The return of Mystery Science Theater 3000 is underway at Netflix. This site will have more reviews, especially a major surprise at the end of the season.