‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ returns with original charm

There are many shows that are so beloved by fans that they seem to be immune to being cancelled. “Futurama,” “Community,” “Arrested Development” and “Family Guy” fall under that category. Shows that are so ingrained into people’s minds that it was only a matter of time before they were brought back from the dead, whether it was because of crowdfunding or the network itself reviving them.

“Mystery Science Theater 3000” is another one of those shows. Having been cancelled twice and airing on three different channels over a span of 11 years since its official cancellation in 1999, most of the hardcore fans had gotten used to life without “MST3K,” accepting that it was probably gone for good.

The robots are back 18 years later, this time on Netflix, providing commentary for some of the most hilariously bad movies ever made. This resurrection is all thanks to Joel Hodgson, the original creator of the show, who started a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $2 million for 12 new episodes. It ended with close to $6 million in donations and a promising future for a cult-classic that many people had learned to live without.

“We want to be in the world again,” Hodgson said in an interview with Vox, referring to the cast of the original show. “It is time to see how ‘Mystery Science Theater’ can function in this world.”

Adding new faces to the mix like Patton Oswalt (“The Goldbergs”), Jonah Ray (“Fantasy Hospital”) and Felicia Day (“Co-optitude”), the show has not lost any of its original charm, using intentionally bad live recorded special effects to give it that cheesy homemade look that so many of the fans fell in love with. The two robots are the same, Tom Servo (voiced by Baron Vaughn, “Grace and Frankie”) and Crow T. Robot (voiced by Hampton Yount, “Like. Share. Die.”) Jonah Heston is the new human character, who is trapped alongside the robots, on board a spaceship named Satellite of Love being forced to watch movies nobody should ever have to suffer through.

The trio sit with their backs to the viewer, casually tearing into every tiny aspect of each film shown. The timing of the jokes at certain points can be a little odd or out of place, and there are the occasional duds.

Many viewers, especially younger ones, will most likely find the show cheesy, especially if they are not familiar with the original series and its long run of success. That is to be expected, because “MST3K” was never for everyone. It was always an acquired taste, always a little too absurd and over the top for some people to get into.

While the commentary of the movies is funny most of the time, the segments inbetween are very hit or miss. These skits have a style of comedy that are very reminiscent of IFC’s “Comedy Bang! Bang!” with jokes so out of left field and off-putting it is like they are trying to alienate half of the audience. It might be best for the viewer to just skip over these parts and go right to the movies, which take up most of the show’s runtime. 

Fans of “Mystery Science Theater” have been overjoyed to see it  brought back, and for the most part they seem happy with how it was all handled. True-to-form revivals are hard to come by, so they should be appreciated when they happen.

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