It May Have Been Gone Nearly 20 Years But The Show Returns Without Losing Its Stride
Mystery Science Theater 3000 – 11.01 – ‘Reptilicus’
As Original Backer #19761, today I had the opportunity to watch the first episode of Season 11 of Mystery Science Theater 3000(MST3K). I have great news. The MST3K you know and love is back. Dare I even say… It’s better than ever!
As a lifelong fan of the show, I was cautiously optimistic about the revival season of one of my favorite shows. On the old show, I preferred Mike in the theater and most of his host segments with the exception of the invention exchanges. That’s where Joel always won me over at the beginning of the show. Somehow, Jonah seems to be a mix of both hosts, both with wittiness and his relationships with the bots. However, that’s likely to evolve over the course of this season.
The easiest transition for fans of the older show will probably be Crow’s new voice. Hampton Yount has somehow built a bridge between Trace Beaulieu’s Crow and Bill Corbett’s version. I’ve always been a Tom Servo fan, but as of right now Yount’s Crow has won me over right out of the bag.
‘Nostrils at full flair? Nostrils at full flair, sir!’
On the other hand, Baron Vaughn as Tom Servo may take a few episodes to get use to. Perhaps because Kevin Murphy gave his voice to the red gumball machine turned romantic for so long. Hearing anyone else’s voice coming from those succulent lips will be hard to swallow. However, when it came to preparing for the new cast and watching their standup routines, Vaughn came out ahead as my favorite. I also really like the actor on his other shows, most notably Grace and Frankie.
The opening segment telling the back story of how Jonah winds up on the ‘Satellite of Love’ alongside a souped-up rendition of the Love Theme from MST3K was perfectly done. The animatronics somehow manages to feel just right. If the show had never been canceled and we got to this point naturally, this feels exactly like it would have been.
Furthermore, the choice of Reptilicus as the first film experiment of the new season was just the right choice to get our new cast’s feet wet. The wacky Danish Kaiju film is horribly amazing. Jonah and the bots start off riffing a little slow. However, by the end of the film they are firing them out at rapid speed. With horrible monster puppetry and an oddly satisfying (or is it satisfying odd…) performance from Dirch Passer as Petersen, Reptilicus might just turn out to be a fan favorite episode. The kind of episode that makes Top 10 lists for years to come.
“He crushed the whole country of Luxembourg…
….because he is the size of Luxembourg!”
Now for some criticism. Perhaps the biggest issue with the newest episode of MST3K has to do with how long the show was off air. It’s obvious the bots have a little dust on them that needs to be knocked off. However, I was expecting this with an all new cast and new puppeteers getting familiar with how they work. I think the fact that they are a little more complex thanks to new and better technology and the HDTV requirements, it will take a little longer to get grease on the gears and get them moving with ease. The primary thing they need to focus on is the puppeteering while in the theater. With HD wide-screen they take up even less of the screen and sometime’s it’s hard to understand who’s saying what. Of course getting use to the new voices with time will help that as well.
All in all, if this first episodes is any indication, we might be seeing another 10 year run of MST3K on Netflix. Is there even enough bad movies out there for it to last that long? Of course there is. I look forward to what this new season has to offer. Hopefully more songs like “Every Country has a Monster” because I have been humming that song all day since watching the show.
If you’re a fan of MST3K, check out our podcast, Supchucks Presents Time Capsule, you’ll love it!