After three and a half decades and almost as many cancellations, the cult favorite comedy show Mystery Science Theater 3000 proves that sometimes a premise is just too damn good to die. To promote the fifth iteration of the popular series, the cast – including creator Joel Hodgson, returning host Jonah Ray and newcomer Emily Marsh – recently took to Rolling Stone’s Twitch channel to discuss the latest revival.
Originally aired on local Minneapolis station KTMA-TV from 1988-1989, MST3K has always been a rowdy heart. In the show’s premise, creator Joel Hodgson played the character Joel Robinson, a janitor at the nefarious Gizmonic Institute who is killed by mad scientists (affectionately and canonically referred to as “The Mads”) Dr. Clayton Forrester (Trace Beaulieu) and Dr. Laurence is kidnapped by Erhardt (J. Elvis Weinstein). your goal? Test the limits of Joel’s mental wits by forcing him to watch truly lousy B-movies – which in turn the viewer has to suffer through themselves. All of this is made bearable by Joel’s game of desperation: he builds cybernetic companions Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot to mock the features, ripping through each stripe in iconic silhouette. It’s an elevator pitch, aptly summed up in the show’s opening theme, and a relatively inexpensive concept that would keep the show alive for much longer than anyone expected.
After jumping from KTMA-TV to fledgling Comedy Channel (eventually Comedy Central) for seasons 2-7 culminating in theatrical release Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, the show was canceled before being revived by Sci-Fi Channel, where it lived until its final cancellation with Season 10. For the better part of two decades, the series continued to garner a cult following, with fans keeping the flame alive with the distribution of fake VHS tapes of their favorite episodes. “Keep Circulating the Tapes” became the mantra for fans, who often didn’t have a chance to view the vast archive of previous episodes due to licensing issues and a general lack of complete collections available for purchase.
In 2016, after a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, Netflix announced it would be reviving the series under the direction of Hodgson, who returned to help fund the show’s funding campaign and development after departing in season five. The new series, hosted by newcomer Jonah Heston (Jonah Ray), would continue the premise that originally began with the torture of new maniacs Kinga Forrester (Felicia Day) and the incredibly named TV son of Frank (Patton Oswalt), both descendants of the previous heritage, was established figures. This newer, flashier version of the show saw a noticeable increase in production value – with larger sets, higher quality set design, and even a full band performing a revamped, open-minded version of the show. Though some fans had issues with the new cast and glossy makeover, the show was generally well received by fans and newcomers alike, but like most Netflix shows with a cult following, it was canceled after just two seasons.
during her Rolling Stone on Twitch Appearing, the returning cast reflects on those Netflix seasons, with Hodgson saying, “It really felt like a little speed bump for us as a community and as a group. And I think it was very confusing for a lot of people because the old fans just got used to seeing it new every week or every few weeks, so getting them all at once was a completely different experience.”
But much like a plot point of a terrible movie they’d riff on, the show was revived thanks to another hugely successful Kickstarter campaign by Hodgson. The difference this time, though, is that the team wants to do things their own way without liking a network or streaming service overlord. It all leads to The Gizmoplex app, which now not only includes the latest season, but makes available to subscribers a massive back catalog of archived episodes from all eras of the show. And, learning from their experiences with the “binge model” approach, new episodes will be released monthly with an event-like focus, first via livestream before becoming available on-demand.
Speaking about the Gizmoplex app and livestream premieres, host Jonah Ray said, “It’s that form of community that’s so great about MST, and people really want that.” He continued, “If you watch a bad movie, make jokes, it starts conversations, you have fun – it hangs.”
The Gizmoplex app is now available on most streaming devices, with episodes 1-3 viewable with a subscription.
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https://www.rollingstone.com/tv/tv-news/mtsk3-cast-interview-rs-twitch-1351347/ The cast of MST3K Talk Season 13 on Rolling Stone’s Twitch