Joel Hodgson is rebooting Mystery Science Theater 3000! At last, after fifteen years of other riffing entities filling the MST3K-shaped void in all of our souls, the show that put Comedy Central on the map, helped define nascent internet arguments, and probably made a lot of our childhoods more bearable, will finally come back to us. But of course, with a show that was always so much about putting the power in the hands of the audience, Hodgson is counting on fans to revitalize the SOL!
Hodgson set up a Kickstarter for the show called Bring Back MST3K, with a simple plan: the more money he gathers, the more episodes he and his team will produce (more about the team in a sec): $2 million for three episodes, 3.3 million for six episodes, $4.4 million for nine episodes, and $5.5 million for twelve episodes, with the ultimate goal to “adopt a real live teenage boy and “Truman Show” him into believing he is the Pumaman!” if they get a billion dollars. The rewards include getting your favorite inside joke on the show, appearing on the show, and winning original Crow T. Robots and Tom Servos. Now, the obvious question here is: who’s going to star in this thing? Which Crow will be Crow? Will Forrester, Forrester, Dr, Clayton Forrester rise from the dead? Perhaps Pearl, Brain Guy, and Bobo will pull up in their RV? And whither TV’s Frank? Hodgson talked to Entertainment Weekly about his casting ideas for the reboot, which sound awesome and inclusive:
Basically, I’m trying to blend the old with the new,” says Hodgson. “Mystery Science Theater has already refreshed itself once with a completely new cast, so I think it deserves to do that again. The original cast is going to be invited back to write, produce, and do cameos as their mad science characters, and then there’s a new cast with new talent.
For me personally, this is a wonderful moment in pop cultural history. I remember the dark, pre-Youtube days when fans relied on the copies of tapes they had. With few DVD releases, and seemingly little interest from the larger geek culture, I began to feel that MST3K was a weird blip that wouldn’t have the constantly-refreshing popularity of a franchise like Star Trek…or even Supernatural. In some ways this was fitting, since it’s a two-hour long show packed with obscure references and jokes about Minnesota, but it also depressed me to think that something that was a cornerstone of my youth had fallen by the wayside. So to see complex oral histories, roundups of best episodes, and two different movie riffing entities all flourishing now is fantastic. I am also quivering with excitement at the idea that Hodgson is getting the band back together. But really, leave it to Hodgson himself to sum up the importance of the reboot:
When all the “pistons were firing,” I think MST3K offered a pretty good model for how to survive the cheesy movie you sometimes have to live through. If you have a few friends that you think are funny, and who share your worldview, riffing can make the whole thing tolerable. Is it too much to say that MST3K was about friendship?
I don’t want to get too maudlin about it, because being too serious is the enemy of comedy. “Job one” was always to make a funny show. But while we did, I hope we also helped show the kids that society, and the stupid things we say and do to each other, are actually “just a show, and you should really just relax.”
Hodgson will he answering questions an reddit at 4:00pm today if you have anything urgent to ask him, but in the meantime, thanks, Joel, for helping us laugh about love…again.