I started a bit later in my MST3K life, having discovered the show on Comedy Central at about the middle to end point of the Joel era and all the way through to Mike’s reign. It was part of my weekend ritual and something I had never seen before and am yet to see really effectively done since (YouTube “critics” try to get close, but ultimately miss the point of adoration for the recipient of their jabs in my view). Ever since, I’ve been a steadfast fan, looking forward to Turkey Day Marathons or just having marathons of my own on YouTube or Shout Factory’s Twitch channel. The show seated within me a deep love and appreciation for schlocky, goofy sci-fi.
On the subject of the current season, I find it to have been a series that was just finding its footing before Netflix seemed to yank the carpet from beneath it. In the first season, the gags did seem to come a bit too fast and furious, giving barely any time to process the references or lampooning, but by the time the series got to the movies Avalanche and Beast of Hollow Mountain, it started to feel like the new cast was hitting its stride.
The replacements for Crow, Servo, and Gypsy were familiar yet fun in their own way, while Jonah was a pleasant combination of Mike’s unflappable kindness and Joel’s sense of dry humor. And, of course, the segments in-between had their moments – of particular note for me personally were the song segments “Every Country has a Monster” and “Concepts.” And while some of the jokes didn’t feel quite as ad-lib or off-script as the original series’ did, it was still three fan geeks inviting you to their private movie theater to laugh at some of film’s most absurd releases. And, really, isn’t that what MST3K has always been about?
I got started far later than you, friend. I discovered MST3K in 1997, during the Sci-Fi run’s only Thanksgiving Day (not Turkey Day on that station) Marathon. I watched early every Saturday night as it got pushed later and later, eventually running into the wee hours of Sunday morning until suddenly it was gone. It would be another five years, when I was rooming with a MSTie who owned a copy of the Volume 1 DVD set, before I’d see it again. In my excitement I downloaded every episode I could find and bought every DVD set as it came out, singing the show’s praises to anyone who would listen (or pretend to).
It’s the kind of show that fiercely binds and divides those who love it, causing intense debate amongst fans on the occasion that a cast member was replaced. So, when Netflix announced a new show with an entirely new cast I had no idea how the community (and, honestly, I) was going to take it. Joel was back in the reigns of the project and passing the host torch along to another young nerd, Jonah. Tom and Crow sounded similar and yet quite different. Gypsy was actually voiced by a woman and making commentary during the movies!
Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!
Jonah is affable and dorky and the bots still enjoy messing with him, but not to the extent they did the original hosts. I adore Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt, but it took me a while to come around to them as our villains. They weren’t as good as I’d hoped, but they’re loved being evil and they portrayed that in their roles. The Skeleton Crew and Synthia Forrester were odd but enjoyable additions. Most of the elements of the new show didn’t seem as strong as the old one, but together they were really beginning to make something that really worked.
Season One (AKA: The Return) was rough around the edges. As Chris mentioned, the jokes were fired constantly with no chance to breathe or land before launching into the next one. I think that really hurt the show. There was little of that fun, improvised feel to it that made it so special. However, “Cry Wilderness” was a masterpiece and I will not hear you say otherwise. I honestly rank it up there with some of the better original run episodes, so you can imagine I had my hopes up for Season 2.
The trailer for The Gauntlet knocked it out of the park, blew me out of the water, all the cliches you can think of to say that I was excited. The Gauntlet used the binge-watching format in a very creative way, painting it as a series of increasingly difficult trials that you can go through with the crew “back to back to back to back to back to . . .” . It didn’t disappoint, with the writers having learned from their mistakes and slowing back down so that we could enjoy the jokes in this absolute treasure of a season. So many of these experiments were so danged god. Unfortunately Netflix pulled their season 2 choparoo and our beloved MST3K is once again reruns-only.. I know this is kind of their thing, but it still hurts.
I keep hoping that this show can be a bit like Dr. Who, cycling in new crew, villains, and ideas. Maybe we’ll get another one sooner rather than later.
Tell me, where is that clown in the sky…
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