Following the most successful crowd funding campaigns in history, the cult classic Mystery Science Theater 3000 is finally set to return. A Fourteen-episode season is set to air as soon as production is complete and an outlet is announced. AND to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of Rifftrax, Joel Hodgson and many of the original Mystery Science Theater 3000 cast will appear together with Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy LIVE on stage for an MST3K REUNION SHOW set for June 28th!
But first, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Won't You?
For those unaware, Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a high-concept, very low budget comedy TV series that ran for eleven seasons on various networks from 1988 to 1999. The show was the brain child of comedian Joel Hodgson.
The show is about a man (originally played by Hodgson, later by Michael J. Nelson) who is shot into space by evil scientists. Marooned in space, he is forced to watch bad movies. To keep from going insane, Joel Robinson builds himself a pair of wise-cracking robot companions to keep him company. Every week the mad scientists (aka 'The Mads) fire off an excruciatingly bad movie for their orbiting lab rat and his robot pals, Servo and Crow, to endure. But that is just the set-up. All of that is merely an excuse to get Joel and the 'bots in a darkened theater to make fun of some of the world's worst movies - all for our enjoyment! After some banter between Joel and the Mads at the top of the show, an alarm would sound and Joel would loudly exclaim "WE'VE GOT MOVIE SIGN!" Get in the theater, fellas. It's time for the hilarity to really begin!
Let's be honest, it's something we've all done. Heck, I nearly got thrown out of Superman Returns for doing the same thing! Some movies are so bad, they seem to be begging to be mocked. And that is what made Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K for short) so amazingly funny. It seems silly, really. We the viewers are watching other people watch a movie. Its almost surreal. The results, however, are hysterically funny. The image of Joel (or Mike) and his robot companions in silhouette against a giant screen as they roast the hell out of some terrible movie is forever ingrained in every fan's memory. The series takes place in "The Not Too Distant Future" as the show's theme explains. Much like the old Gilligan's Island or Beverly Hillbillies theme songs, MST3K's theme explains the show's entire premise in musical format. But, in case viewers try to take it all too seriously, the theme reminds us to "repeat to yourself it's just a show. I should really just relax."
Its low budget fully on display, the series first aired on a local Minneapolis TV network way back in 1988. It ran for just one season before getting picked up by the fledgling comedy network Comedy Central. The network needed time to fill. MST3K, a two-hour program, seemed the perfect fit. It ran for seven glorious seasons before being cancelled in 1997. A fierce letter-writing campaign revived the show. Hearing from the fans, The Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy), came along and picked up the series for three more seasons until it was again cancelled in 1999.
After being cancelled a second time, it seemed the show would never return. Cast members went their separate ways.
Joel Hodgson (MST3K creator and original host) along with original cast members Trace Beaulieu (who played Mad scientist Dr. Forrester as well as the voice of Crow), Frank Conniff (Dr. Forrester's side-kick, TVs Frank) Josh Weinstein (original voice of Tom Servo) and Mary-Jo Pehl (Mrs. Forrester) went off to create a direct-to-DVD version of the show called Cinematic Titanic. Although it never made it to television, it evolved into a successful live show that toured the country.
Also wishing to keep the art of riffing alive, the later cast members, Michael J. Nelson (Mike Nelson), Bill Corbett (Brain Guy, voice of Crow) and Kevin Murphy (Professor Bobo, voice of Servo) went off to start a 'riffing' project of their own called Rifftrax. It is a little different from Cinematic Titanic or MST3K. Internet based, Rifftrax offered fans the opportunity to download audio tracks of them riffing on contemporary movies. It was up to the viewer to sync-up the track on a portable device with their DVD copy of whatever movie being comedically skewered. Offering the audio track freed Rifftrax from dealing with film licensing and copyright laws.
So, with the main players off doing separate projects, it seemed the original series that started it all would surely fade into cult TV obscurity...
THE RETURN OF MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000
That is until 2015 and following the most successful video Kickstarter campaign in history. Due to the massive success of the campaign, accumulating a sum close to 6 million dollars, Joel Hodgson set out to revive the cult classic series with new sets and a whole new cast.
Let's meet the new MST3K cast
Jonah Ray is a comedian and actor best known for his involvement in The Nerdist. Ray will be the new man who is forced to watch bad movies.
Known for her genre acting appearances on series ranging from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Eureka, and an all-around geek herself, will be playing the daughter of the original Mad Scientist, Dr. Clayton Forrester. It's her job to torture Jonah Ray by forcing him to watch bad movies.
The very funny actor/comedian, known for his stand-up act and his most recent appearances on MARVEL'S Agents of SHIELD will play side-kick to Day's character. He will be playing homage to the original show's TV's Frank character.
Hampton Yount is Crow T. Robot!
Baron Vaughn is Tom Servo!
For the 'bots, Joel Hodgson tapped two young comedians. Hampton Yount will be providing the voice of Crow T. Robot and Baron Vaughn will be playing Tom Servo.
The opening credits are getting a bit of a make-over, too. The opening sequence once featured the Joel's 'Satellite of Love' orbiting Earth. That bit is getting redone. The new craft will be held aloft by giant balloons, so the concept art by Guy Davis shows.
“We're not changing too much. The general format of the show hasn’t changed, because it seems to hold up so well.”
Besides a slew of new writers and guest appearances by classic series cast members, a few surprises are also in store for fans. Expect cameo appearances by Mark Hamill, Joel McHale and Jerry Seinfeld.
But much of the new series will look and feel much like the classic series. As Hodgson said in an interview in February, “We're not changing too much. The general format of the show hasn’t changed, because it seems to hold up so well.”
A new Fourteen-episode season, including a Christmas episode, are being prepared! The only question unanswered is where it will air. With the many video outlets available today, the show could wind up anywhere from a cable network to a streaming service like NetFlix or Hulu.
BUT that's not all…What about a LIVE Reunion Show!
"The timing seemed right. It never seemed right before, as busy as we've all been, or focused on other things, and it was just sort of an alignment of the stars."
To celebrate Rifftrax 10 year anniversary, the original cast members of Mystery Science Theater 3000 are joining the Rifftrax crew as well as members of the new series to do a live show. Tickets to the live show at the State Theater in Minneapolis are sold out. But even if you don't have a ticket, or live nowhere near Minneapolis, you can still see the show! The Live JUNE 28th show is going to be shown (via satellite) in theaters nationwide! Its not too late to get tickets. To find a theater near you, follow the link. MST3K REUNION SHOW.
When asked they all agreed to reunite after all this time, Kevin Murphy said, "The timing seemed right. It never seemed right before, as busy as we've all been, or focused on other things, and it was just sort of an alignment of the stars."
Even if you can't make the live show in person or at a theater near you, there is still plenty to be excited about. Mystery Science Theater 3000 is coming back after being lost in space for seventeen years! HUZZAH!!!!