Thoughts on MST3K Season 11 Episode 1

As a backer of the #BringBackMST3K Kickstarter, I was one of thousands of people who yesterday got to watch a limited-run streaming of the pilot for the new series, and my reaction was “Well, that was an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

That’s intended as the highest possible praise, by the way.

Recent interviews across the interwebs have quoted Joel Hodgson and new host Jonah Ray as hinting at changes and making the show different from what came before, but those changes – while not inconsequential – don’t affect in any way the MST3Kiness of the new season. (Or, at least, they don’t affect the pilot episode.) Yes, the whole enterprise reflects a higher (but not high) budget and a bit of Hollywood pizzazz – the set looks purpose-built instead of glued together from discarded toys, the robot’s arms move, Wil Wheaton has a cameo – but the host segments, movie chosen, and riffing are classic Mystery Science Theater 3000.

(Admittedly, the host segments seemed faster-paced than under Joel or Mike, but I expect they were trimmed to allow more time for the pre-credits scene setting up the show’s premise, a scene I doubt will occur every week.)

Joel often says they write the riffs not worrying about whether everyone will get them, because they know the right people will get them. I was worried I might no longer be one of the “right people” anymore, but the jokes dropped enough references to Dungeons & Dragons, film history, and other Gen X concerns that my worries were allayed. The humor and the heart is truly the old MST3K revived.

(Honestly, the only part that seemed jarringly modern was the use of the word “kaiju,” and I can hardly fault the team for being up to date on movie monster jargon.)

I wish I could write more, but Joel wants us to keep the actual movie riffed a secret until the Netflix premiere – and I’m still digesting it all. I doubt that I’ll really have my feelings sorted until after watching the whole new season. Right now, though, I feel positive. I’m looking forward to not just the rest of this season, but to more seasons to come.


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