28 March 2018 | wolfy_the_black
Just because you can doesn't mean you should
Despite the review title and some of the things I'm going to get into about the new season, I am still giving it an 8 out of 10 because more than just being happy it's back, I'm happy it's on people's minds again. For close to twenty years MST3K was a niche show, a cult classic. I mention it to somebody and more often than not I just got a blank stare back at me. Now with the successful Kickstarter (of which I am a backer) you can find MST3K everywhere. It's streaming on several platforms, the DVDs got put out faster, there's real merch now, people know what I'm talking about and they want more and that can only be a good thing. That being said however, here's what I thought about the new season. Overall I liked it. Not as much as the original series but that's to be expected. It's certainly different, which doesn't mean it's bad, just different. It's like that Twilight Zone episode where the guy wakes up and everything is both the same and different at the same time.
-The writing is top notch with the movies themselves and with most of the host segments.
-The rapport between Jonah, Hampton and Baron. The jokes flow really well between the three.
-Also really enjoyed Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt as the new Mads.
-Hampton Yount as Crow in general, he's like right smack dab in the middle between Trace and Bill as Crow as far as voice and personality are concerned.
-Being new while also calling back to the original series. For instance they brought back Pearl, Bobo and Brain Guy a few times (although what was with Bobo's mask? Did they lose the original or get that on sale?)
-The movies riffed were a great selection. Definite favorites were Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II, Yongary, Starcrash and Cry Wilderness.
The Not Exactly Good, Not Exactly Bad But I Got Used To It:
-Moving the opening to before the credits instead of after. I guess with no commercials it makes that change necessary.
-The new opening credits in general. Why does Jonah apparently have to recreate it every time? Just roll the opening, it doesn't need an explanation too.
-The new door sequence.
-Baron Vaughn needs to distinguish himself more, at least in the theater because he sounds like Jonah a lot of the time.
-Speaking of Tom, the fact that his arms are stiff now instead of loose springs.
-The increased mobility of the bots in the theater, which seemed to be done just because they could rather than have it be organic.
-The increased amount of riffs with more pop culture based jokes. You can tell how young the writers room is, which isn't good or bad, just an observation.
-The lack of Minnesota based jokes.
-Gypsy's new voice, though she didn't actually show up a whole lot outside the "payload" bits.
What I Did Not Like:
-Speaking of Gypsy, the stupid nonsensical "payload" which served no other purpose then to get Gypsy in the theater. Why when that never had to be a thing before?
-The new SOL bridge. It's just so flat with no dimension to it and I miss the hexfield viewscreen. If the movie could make the bridge bigger while still maintaining it's distinctive look, there's no reason this shouldn't.
-The extra people in Moon 13. They never needed anything more than the main Mad and one or two sidekicks, everything else just seems like superfluous nonsense that again they added just because they could instead of stopping to think if they should (which is pretty much the main criticism I have of the season as a whole).
-No shorts. Given it's on a streaming platform instead of TV I can see why there aren't any but still, I think one could have been done.
-Like others have mentioned, the shear amount of riffs they have with this basic thought of filling every non-dialog second with a joke, some of it even being blurted out before whatever it is they're riffing actually appears on screen. It just makes it painfully obvious these guys are reading a script instead of supposedly watching the movie for the first time. The show (outside of KTMA) has always been written so why is it Joel, Mike, Trace, J, Kevin and Bill were able to make the riffing sound natural and these guys can't? The answer is there's too many jokes! Not everything on screen needs a joke. The pacing got better as the season went on, but they can afford to tone it down a bit. Hopefully with season 12 on the way they'll take this criticism to heart and find their groove so that it sounds more relaxed and natural. Also it's ok to speak over dialog occasionally.
-The "meta" ness of the whole thing. For example they make blatant references to Kickstarter, that this show is streaming, that it IS a show and that they're back from a previous show, the Mads have the MST3K logo on their sleeves, etc. I haven't seen every episode of the original series, but I don't remember them being so blatant about "this is a TV show" or even mentioning the title despite half the series had them reading fan mail. It was really off-putting.
-On that note, I miss the "homemade" aspect of the original show. The biggest concern I had when the Kickstarter to revive the show was first announced and Joel said it would be filmed in Hollywood with a new cast was that it would lose it's homemade charm. One of the things I liked most about the original series was how everything was done in house. Like all the songs were written and sung by the cast, the sets and props were done by Best Brains and if any other characters showed up they were always played by somebody from the crew. Unfortunately those fears were realized between the overabundance of Paul and Storm songs and guest stars, most of which had nothing to do with whatever else was happening in the episode, the more mobile bots, which aren't even controlled by their voice actors anymore, the aforementioned new sleek bridge set, and the overly produced miniature scenes, particularly the opening in episode 1. You can plainly tell those scenes were done by a professional stop motion studio instead of a bunch of guys with spray-painted crap found around the house. Again, it felt like they only did it because they had an abundance of new resources instead of asking if it should have been done at all. Less is more in this regard, especially with this show.
-This may be just me nitpicking, but I had this sense that they were deliberately not acknowledging Mike's time on the show. Not so much Mike's time as a whole since like mentioned earlier Pearl, Bobo and Brain Guy showed up several times, but Mike himself. Like bringing back Gizmonics and the invention exchange, which was Joel's thing and having Jonah be more Joel-like in general. Like before MST3K Joel was a prop comic, that was his thing so the whole invention exchange was an extension of that. When Mike took over he started to do it but it was clear he wasn't a tinkerer like Joel so they dropped it. Why would Jonah be doing it? I don't know anything about Jonah's history before he joined the show but I know he's not a prop comic. I know there isn't the best history between Joel and Mike behind the scenes but still, with Jonah clearly doing Joel's stuff, it just felt like they wanted you to forget about whatever Mike did on the show. I'm hoping as time goes on Jonah becomes his own host with his own characteristics instead of just being a rehash of Joel.
Overall though, I did like the new season and I don't feel I wasted the money I kicked in, I mean I got a whole bunch of neat swag to go with the new episodes so it's all good on that front even without the new season itself. It had some good things, some bad things but ultimately I'm happy with it and I'm happy it's getting another season. Hopefully Joel et al read these reviews and take the criticisms to heart.