TV REVIEW – ‘MST3K: THE RETURN’ (Season 11/2017)

In the not too distant future from where it last left off, and somewhere called Netflix in time and space, Mystery Science Theater 3000 has officially returned!

MST3K2017a

(image courtesy of Netflix)

The snarky, movie-riffing, semi-serious (at best) series created by Joel Hodgson back in 1988 saw its original 10-season run from 1988-1999 across multiple networks, and had perhaps one of the biggest cult followings of any series in television history. Thanks to, almost entirely, the fans of this series, and the power of crowdfunding (specifically Kickstarter), MST3K finally saw its return to the small screen after an 18-year absence earlier this year for its 11th season (dubbed “The Return”).

MST3K,  Photo by Darren Michaels, SMPSP

(image courtesy of Netflix)

Season 11 or “The Return,” while still masterminded by Hodgson, sports an entirely new cast… well, okay, an entirely new HUMAN cast, as robot friends Cambot, Gypsy, Tom Servo, and Crow all make their triumphant returns aboard The Satellite of Love… with Jonah Ray (of The Nerdist) serving as the new S.O.L. captive forced to watch cheesy movies and have his mind monitored by the evil mad scientists Kinga Forrester (played by Felicia Day) the daughter of Dr. Forrester and granddaughter of Pearl from the original seasons and her sidekick Max A.K.A. TV’s Son of TV’s Frank (played by Patton Oswalt) who is, well, the son of original baddie TV’s Frank, of course.

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(image courtesy of Netflix)

Now, while a lot has changed with the newly-reborn show, a lot more hasn’t at all. The overall spirit of the original 10 seasons is still very much intact, with a whole new lineup of less-than-stellar films with a hilarious running commentary on all of them, plenty of skits/bits in-between rounds of films to break up the routine, and lots of comedy that just absolutely works, regardless if it’s the 80s, 90s, or teens. And of course, if you’re somehow STILL “wondering how he eats and breathes, and other science facts,” you should STILL “repeat to yourself it’s just a show,” and “really just relax!”

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MST3K,  Photo by Darren Michaels, SMPSP

(image courtesy of Netflix)

The Bottom Line:
Overall, MST3K: The Return is exactly what has been missing from TV in recent years… which, well, is Mystery Science Theater 3000! This is the exact same show you probably (or at least should) remember, and it’s a wonderful thing! They don’t reinvent the wheel, don’t fix what isn’t broken, stick to their winning formula, and as usual, pick great people to play the parts. Joel Hodgson didn’t try to “remake” anything, he just brought back a great show that a lot of fans – myself included – really wanted and just let it be what it is. And for that, as well as another 14 great episodes of bad-movie-riffing fun, it’s pretty hard to complain about anything with the new season. No, Jonah Ray isn’t anywhere close to as good of a host as Hodgson or Mike Nelson was in the role, but he’s perfectly acceptable and everyone newly involved seems to get what this show is all about. At the end of the day, one can’t really ask for more. – 9.0/10

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-Dave Harlequin
Editor/Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine
@DaveHarlequin

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