MST3K – The Return

Yes, I have finally started watching the Netflix original series, the “reboot/return” of Mystery Science Theater 3000, aka: MST3K.

MST3K poster.jpg

The show’s new host, Jonah Rey, is kidnapped and forced to watch really, really (sometimes really, really, really) bad movies in order for his captors, Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt, to monitor his brain.

Accompanied by his only friends, robots Tom Servo and Crow, Jonah maintains his sanity the only way he can: by ripping on the movies’ various shortcomings in acting, plot, dialogue, special effects….

You know, just like back in the old days when you and your friends took a risk on an unknown rental from Blockbuster and knew 5 minutes in that it was just going to suck, but since you plunked down $3 for it, you were damned sure going to watch it.

I was never a huge devotee of the original 10 seasons of MST3K, but I’d seen it, and could appreciate the effort that went into finding just-the-right zingers for just-the-right moments in the just-the-wrong movies.

But I never had to watch it, if you know what I mean. Part of that was that if one didn’t “get” every single snarky comment the boys made during the movie, it could get annoying, especially if you were trying to dissect for yourself exactly how bad the movie really was.

Also, though, was the fact that, during the show’s initial run on Comedy Central and SciFi/SyFy, I actually didn’t have regular access to those channels. Remember, these were the wild and heady days pre-internet, and you couldn’t just go find a show you’d missed or that your friends said you just had to see.

So, three episodes in, what do I think about the “Return” of MST3K? It’s… okay.

I mean, it’s enjoyable, and I’ll finish watching the season, but frankly, I don’t know if I’m as excited about it as a lot of folks.

This time around, I think my reasoning has changed a bit, though. I think part of the problem is I don’t really need the boys to tell me that the movie sucks, or how it sucks, so their direct commentary on the film isn’t as surprising or shocking as it might otherwise be. Also, their more “topical” commentary (which hasn’t been more than sprinkled in, thus far, thankfully) isn’t necessarily what I’m looking for in a show like this.

Maybe, and I’d have to go back and watch some of the original seasons, but just maybe this new season feels more… manufactured?… than the original. Like it’s been committeed and focus-grouped into something that looks like MST3K, but lacks the certain intangible something (that Je ne sais pas, as it were) that made the first go-round so memorable.

Again, that’s not to say the Return of MST2K isn’t entertaining: far from it. I’d recommend it easily to both fans of (really) crappy movies and those with a certain appetite for snark (something that is provided in spades, both by the boys during the movies, and, surprisingly, Felicia Day, in easily her most assertive role, hectoring Patton Oswalt’s poor sidekick, Max).

I would simply tell them to not be surprised if they don’t find themselves as enamored of it as some other people.


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