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With ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ Reboot, Lightning Strikes Twice

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Mystery Science Theater 3000,” the show about riffing on bad movies, is back in spectacular kick-ass fashion, straight out of its record-breaking Kickstarter campaign, where fans of the ’90s run came together and raised more than $5 million, making it the largest Kickstarter campaign for Film and Video. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the original show, it revolves around a human captive (originally played by series creator Joel Hodgson and then Mike Nelson in later seasons) who is kidnapped by his evil scientist bosses and shot into space. There, he is forced to watch bad movies aboard the Satellite Of Love, where countless hijinks ensue. He is joined by two robot companions, Crow and Tom Servo. Yes, I know that all sounds like the ramblings of a drunk 8-year old, but the show knows this, and the theme song even says, ¨Just repeat to yourself it’s just a show, I should really just relax.”

Does the revival season (now streaming on Netflix) hold up to the OG series? Well, if you’re a fan of the original series, that’s for you to decide, I’ve seen die-hard fans embrace the revival, while others have criticized it for the new voices of the bots, or have just simply felt it wasn’t for them. Personally, I love both iterations of the show, and I’ve been trying to spread it to as many friends as possible. One change I like the most is that the jokes comes faster than in the original series. Instead of waiting for two minutes to tell a joke, it’s almost like they never stop talking, constantly shooting off gut-busting jokes at every moment.

Episode Four, a personal favorite of mine, features the 1978 film “Avalanche.” This train wreck, starring Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow, attempts to tell a story about a greedy ski resort that causes an avalanche, but instead it ends up being a stock footage-filled mess with rapey undertones (Hudson and Farrow portray a divorced couple, and he repeatedly grabs and kisses her throughout).

Another of my favorite episodes features the movie “Carnival Magic” (1981), starring Don Stewart, which is about a talking monkey, so riddled with subplots and scenes that go nowhere, that this is the only scene I remember. I’ve only mentioned two films, but this 14-episode season has movies that are way worse than the ones I just described.

Aside from the new aesthetic and setting, we have to talk about the new cast: Jonah Heston, the new human test subject, played Jonah Ray, is joined by comedians Hampton Yount, and a personal favorite, Baron Vaughn, both as robots — Crow and Tom Servo respectively. The two largest names on the show, Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt, play the MADS, the evil scientists who terrorize Jonah and the bots by sending them the worst films ever made.

All of the casting choices were pretty spot on, and the only problem I had was in the first episode when I kept confusing Jonah and Tom Servo’s voices, but I quickly distinguished the two as the episode went on. Other than that, Yount is the perfect choice for Crow T. Robot as his wit and timing are impeccable, and Vaughn perfectly encapsulates the bravado and self absorbed attitude of Tom Servo.

Jonah Ray is a great addition, too, as he proves that he has the charisma, comedic timing and musical ability needed to be a “hostage” on the Satellite of Love. Unlike former hosts Joel and Mike before him, Jonah’s lighter sense of humor is a much-needed deviation from the sometimes cynical and narcissistic personalities of his co-stars.

This revival is a much-needed spark of life for a long dormant franchise, and it’s helped me fall in love with the show even more.

Kenneth is a rising senior at Druid Hills High School who enjoys mocking people who comment “first” on YouTube videos.

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