New MST3K First Impressions

It has finally arrived! The new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000! I have been a rabid fan of MST3K for years and I worship at the altar of Best Brains. I wasn’t always such a devout fan. Once upon a time, I thought the premise of the show was stupid. I figured it was just watching bad movies but one day I started watching the show when they cut it into two one-hour shows and that was when I began to warm up. Soon after that, I was taping every episode and soon had them all in my library. Today I own 98% of the dvd collections they have released. I love MST3K.

Now, that being said, let’s talk about the new season. I was going into this with an open mind. I saw Jonah Ray riffing at the MST3K Reunion show that was put on by Rifftrax and I was impressed. He seemed like a real good fit for the show. I was also prepared for a big adjustment with the changing of Tom and Crow’s voices.  I watched the first episode with a nervous stomach. Imagine my shock to see Wil Wheaton and Erin Gray. The first episode was rough, most first episodes are. There was much to explain and establish. Jonah Heston is another employee of Gizmonic and he is lured to the dark side of the moon by Kinga Forrester, daughter of Dr. Clayton Forrester, the mad scientist responsible for the experiment. She and her henchman, Max, aka son of TV’s Frank.

First off, the show is still funny and I hesitate to be too critical but there are just some issues I need to express. The look and feel of the show is totally different. The doorway sequence isn’t quite as exciting as the previous ones and the main set (the bridge of the SOL) doesn’t quite hit that same level of charm as the original. It just looks as though less work was put into it. Tom and Crow and Jonah are all very energetic in the theater, a little too much for my taste. Then we meet the bots and heard their new voices.  The problem here is that Tom and Crow sound shockingly similar. Their personalities are tremendously new.  I’m not sure I can pinpoint the issue here. Watching the original shows and the news ones together helps to see the change. Tom Servo is more ‘street’ and doesn’t carry himself as the over-educated,  pseudo-intellectual we came to know and love. I also have a problem with how the bots are used. Eight episodes in and I still can’t see their personalities shine. They both seem to be very indistinct characters at this point, but then Trace and Kevin had been doing this for a long time and the new guys are just getting started. Crow and Tom both had very distinctive and memorable personalities in the original series to the point they felt almost human and the chemistry between them and Mike and Joel was so organic and easy. In this version, they seem to be trying to make that chemistry happen. The bots don’t seem to have that rapport with Jonah.

As for the riffing of the movies, it’s a new style but they do hit a lot of high points in the theater. Jonah sings more than I’ve ever heard on the show, as do the bots, but they mercifully quick. They still seem a bit disconnected with the movie, but again, the original guys had been doing this for years.

Ultimately, I must say while I was hoping for more, I’m still happy with what they accomplished. It’s rough and choppy a bit here and there, but it is growing on me. I’d like to hear an explanation about how Tom and Crow wound up back on the Satellite of Love after the events of the last season on the Sci-Fi channel, but that’s for another day. I take it all with a grain of salt and I’m still entertained and it can only get better from here on out. I will be posting another review once I’ve finished with this season. You have a first impressions review and then a final thoughts review. Welcome to the Netflix age.

 

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