Mystery Science Theater 3000 is Back!
In case you didn’t know…
Joel Hodgson’s hyper-verbal, stupid-smart series—in which a group of space-marooned wiseacres riffed on atrocious movies—may have gone off the air in 1999, but by then, its wry, pop-culturally astute commentary style was already becoming the default language of the internet. For many returning fans, the new MST3K will immediately push all the right buttons.
What if I loved the Original?
The Return doesn’t coast on nostalgia; this is a show set in the not-too-distant-future, and Hodgson and his team wisely opt to keep things moving forward. It will likely take longtime fans a few minutes to adjust to Ray and the new performers, but once they do, they’ll find the latest MST3K host to be a likable mash-up of Hodgson’s workaday wryness with Mike Nelson’s gee-wiz good-guy vibe. Ray has the kind of Muppety spirit and polymath talents a show like this requires; by the time he performed a sweetly goofy rap about monsters from around the world, I was won over.
But is it Funny?
And as for the riffs? Oh, man—the riffs are so good. If you were at all concerned that the latest MST3K would sabotage itself with all kinds of cool-seeking modern-day references, have no fear: While there are a few nods to the web era (Twitter, photobombs, etc.), they’re now simply part of the show’s decades-spanning pop-culture continuum—a mix of the obscure and the over-familiar from TV, movies, and music that fuels every great MST3K joke-run. In Reptilicus alone, the gang invokes everything from Lil’ Abner to Prince’s “Starfish and Coffee” to Carvell Ice Cream commercials to Sailor Moon.
The one-liners come at you fast and loose, with an 80-85 percent joke-landing rate (which is, truth be told, pretty much on par with the original series). And while MST3K has always been one of the best-written shows on television, the new series benefits from having brought on a few longtime fans (including *Community’*s Dan Harmon) who know how to speak its excitable, egalitarian language. Thanks to those crackerjack riff-writers, as well as the cast’s “let’s put on a show while we put down a movie” energy, MST3K has been reborn, gloriously and ridiculously—kind of like Reptilicus himself.