Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return – Season 1


Whew, I finally did it! I made it through the new season! I wasn’t expecting this to be such a chore, but I think that’s largely because it’s hard to dedicate time to a 90-minute TV show anymore. I’ve found that I much more enjoy watching 30-minute bad movie reviews on YouTube. I really am a sucker for critiquing bad movies, though. I grew up on the original MST3K show, but those episodes are hard to rewatch, because a lot of the humor was timely. So a reboot/return was definitely due. While you could argue that RiffTrax has been a great alternative, nothing beats an actual guy and his robot buddies sitting in front of a screen and physically pointing out the absurdities.

That is, until the new cast spoke. Their voices were so off-putting. Tom Servo’s voice actor didn’t even try to do a “Tom” voice, and he ends up sounding too much like the new host, Jonah, making it difficult at times to keep track of who’s talking. Crow still sounds somewhat Crow-like, though, a feasible jump similar to Beaulieu being replaced by Corbett in the show’s original run. Gypsy is also completely wrong, and her occasional pop-ins during the movie segments never worked for me. They really hammed up the “people sitting in front of a screen” shtick, as the characters interact with the movie way more (and way more distractingly) than they ever did before.

But with MST3K, the setting is all fluff, anyway. It’s the jokes that matter! And the jokes are a mile-a-minute in this new iteration. There’s rarely a moment where Noah and the bots aren’t saying something. However, that means that fewer jokes actually land. Singing a line from a song isn’t even really a joke, and yet it’s something they fall back on time and time again. Many jokes are also obviously scripted. Yeah, I know, the show’s been scripted from the start, but at least the original episodes felt organic. Mike Nelson constantly broke character and laughed, which made it more funny. There are a few moments like that in The Return, but maybe the problem is that the new cast just hasn’t fully warmed up to the system yet.