Mystery Science Theater 3000 is coming back!
Right now, they’ve got the funding to make three new episodes, which will probably feature Jonah Ray from the Nerdist as “Jonah Heston”, the guy who gets shot up into space and forced to watch cheesy movies by Felicia Day’s Kinga Forrester, daughter of Clayton Forrester and grand-daughter of Pearl. (People have asked who the mother was; in my headcanon, she’s the Resusci-Annie from ‘Teenagers From Outer Space’.) Baron Vaughn and Hampton Yount will be Tom and Crow, respectively, and there’s still at least one casting announcement to come (for the henchperson role). They’re about $125K from funding episodes 4-6, and with twelve days to go that’s pretty much guaranteed, and we may see as many as six more beyond that although I would be surprised if they fund the full $5.5 million.
But I don’t care. The point is, Mystery Science Theater 3000 is coming back!
I have immensely fond memories of this show. I remember channel surfing one Sunday afternoon in junior high and coming across a science-fiction movie on one of the UHF stations. I stopped, because in those pre-Netflix years living in a household where cable simply wasn’t an option (my father remains philosophically opposed to it to this day) you took any sci-fi you could get. And I remember thinking, “What’s that across the bottom of the screen? Are those supposed to be theater seats? Who are those people in the corner of the screen? What’s going on here?”
And then they made a joke. And I instantly thought to myself, “This is the most brilliant idea ever.”
Because we all make fun of bad movies. It’s a natural human instinct, like breathing or sleeping or finding Donald Trump repugnant. So to see it done by actual comedians, really funny guys who also did sketches with these weird and goofy puppets, well…it was instantly charming. I’ve gone back and watched those early episodes, and they are definitely rough drafts for the concept, but I can’t tell you how impressive they were at the time. I was instantly hooked.
Then they went to cable, and I couldn’t watch them. Luckily, a few years later my dad came home with some videotapes that one of his students gave him, saying he thought they would be right up my dad’s alley. It was an off-air copy of one of the Turkey Day marathons, with ‘Viking Women vs the Sea Serpent’ and ‘Teenagers From Outer Space’, and I fell in love all over again. For several years afterward, I would beg my way into the home of a friend or family member for Thanksgiving with a stack of blank tapes, recording as much as I could stay awake for and watching those episodes over and over again in between Thanksgivings. (I practically have ‘Manos’ memorized.) I eventually moved out and got my own cable subscription, in time for the Sci-Fi Channel years, and I never missed recording an episode until the show’s eventual cancellation. (I was also finally able to settle a long-running debate between my mom and my aunt over which was worse: ‘The Day the Earth Froze’ or ‘Plan Nine From Outer Space’. The obvious answer was, of course, ‘Manos’.)
Ever since, I’ve greeted every spin-off effort with the greatest of joy, from ‘The Film Crew’ to ‘Rifftrax’ to ‘Cinematic Titanic’. There’s just a simple, uncomplicated happiness to this kind of comedy; they take a movie that you probably wouldn’t watch on your own, and walk you through it with entertaining comedic comments. You get a chance to see something that’s not always a classic, but frequently has its own unique charms–and where the movie fails, the riffing is entertaining. It’s fun at the expense of those old movies, but there’s also a little bit of love to it; I sometimes describe it as a celebrity roast for people who would otherwise be forgotten.
And it’s coming back. It’s a different cast, but ‘Diabolik’ featured absolutely none of the same people in front of the camera as ‘The Crawling Eye’. It’s a new writing crowd, but that’s only to be expected; one of the great things about the old show is that the people who worked on it went on to have long comedy careers of their own. It may not last beyond this run of 3-12 episodes, but that’s how the future works. You can never tell what it’s going to be like until it happens. The only thing we know right now is this: Mystery Science Theater 3000 is coming back. I have no snark, no reservations, nothing but uncomplicated happiness for this effort, and I don’t care who knows it.
UPDATE: OMG THEY ANNOUNCED THE HENCHMAN AND IT’S PATTON OSWALT HOW COULD THIS BE ANY BETTER?!?!?!