After 18 years, Mystery Science Theater 3000 has finally returned with a 14-episode season on Netflix. I grew up watching old reruns of the show on Comedy Central as well as the last few seasons on Sci-Fi, and I was very excited for this revival. And, I’m extremely glad to say that it lives up to the legacy of the series. The new season was produced by original creator Joel Hodgson and captures the retro, low-budget, and lighthearted feel of MST3K. It does this while updating the riffs with modern references and providing a whole new lineup of terrible B movies to mock and enjoy.
The core cast is perfectly enjoyable and proves to be an excellent crew to transition the show into the new era. Comedian Jonah Ray plays Jonah Heston, the latest kidnapped bad movie victim. While it takes a few episodes for Ray to really hit his stride riffing, his everyman blue collar vibe is really endearing. Accompanying him are his trusty sidekick robots Tom Servo and Crow voiced by Baron Vaughn and Hampton Yount. His captors are mad scientist, and daughter of the original series’ antagonist Dr. Clayton Forrester, Kinga Forrester and her trusty henchman “TV’s Son of TV’s Frank”, also known as Max. These two are played by geek icons Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt, and provide their fair share of the show’s laughs.
Kinga Forrester (Day) & Max (Oswalt)
The movies for this season are, for the most part, all pretty great selections. The list includes long-awaited Reptilicus, the Star Wars ripoff Starcrash, and, my personal favorite, a story of a boy and his friend Bigfoot titled Cry Wilderness. While not every film provides A+ riff material (a few can drag on a bit), but the writers, and cast, make the most of each opportunity.
Overall, the new season is a wholly satisfying return to the Satellite of Love. It packs in about as much fan service as possible without pandering, and features numerous entertaining cameos. You can honestly tell this return was devised and crafted with love. While it’s not perfect, the new season truly strives to deliver an experience fans of the show will enjoy.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return is now on Netflix.