Alright, a gold friggin’ star to the person who thought of this one. With the new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 hitting Netflix today, most of the conversation has been dominated by lifelong fans of the show — fans like myself — who are some combination of excited and apprehensive about the return of their favorite television series. But what about the next generation of MST3K fans? How does Netflix introduce them to their service? Why, by riffing on another Netflix property that everyone already knows and loves, of course!
Mystery Science Theater 3000
You know Mystery Science Theater 3000 from ten seasons on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel. (They used to spell their name right.) But did you know that MST3K started on a local station in Minnesota named KTMA? The original version of the show ran for 21 episodes before KTMA filed for bankruptcy and the series was sold to the Comedy Channel, which later became Comedy Central. That’s just one of the facts packed into the latest episode of the ScreenCrush series You Think You Know TV?
It’s been almost 20 years since Mystery Science Theater 3000 was cancelled by the Sci-Fi Channel (this was back in the days when that station knew how to spell its own name). And bear in mind, this is after the show had already been cancelled once before, on Comedy Central, and its lone big-screen outting flopped in theaters. Just about any other series with that track record would be long dead and buried in 2017, but the legend of MST3K has grown over the years, aided in part by the ongoing popularity of its alumni, who’ve formed splinter groups like RiffTrax and Cinematic Titanic. Now, after a massively successful Kickstarter campaign, series creator Joel Hodgson is bringing MST3K back with an all-new cast on Netflix.
It was back in July that the news of an impending return from everyone’s favorite B-movie mockery program Mystery Science Theater 3000 first broke. Fans of Manos: the Hands of Fate and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians were atwitter with excitement for a revival of the long-running program last seen in 1999, breathlessly speculating on which schlock gems would get roasted this time around. And while the fodder for the upcoming eleventh season has yet to be named, Netflix has finally announced a release date and included a new press photo of the whole wisecracking robotic gang.
If someone asked me to trace my personal development as a cinephile, I’m pretty sure that Mystery Science Theater 3000 would be one of the most important stops along the way. I grew up watching the show; it instilled in me an appreciation for pointless pop culture knowledge as well as an affection for so-called bad movies. Mike, Joel and the bots may have spent their time mocking ’70s and ’80s films, but there was always an undercurrent of good cheer and low-budget kinship that I admired.
After 15 years off the air, Mystery Science Theater 3000 might finally return to TV (or television’s Internet equivalent). Today, MST3K creator Joel Hodgson launched a Kickstarter called “Bring Back Mystery Science Theater 3000.” It’s asking for $2 million, which create three brand-new episodes for MSTies everywhere. If the Kickstarter receives more money, they’ll make more; $3.3 million donated will result in six new episodes, $4.4 million will generate nine new episodes, and if enough people pony up $5.5 million, Hodgson and company will create a full 12-episode season of MST3K. If you want to see bad movies made fun of by puppets, this is relevant to your interests.