I’m unabashedly 90s-centric, riding the nostalgia train with no signs of getting off any time soon. What could be more 90s than a Saturday night spent gnawing on popcorn while the Satellite of Love crew lampooned increasingly terrible movies?
I’m the sort of girl who makes it a point to chase down Mike or Joel cosplayers to compliment them on their fantastic homemade Toms and Crows whenever I see them at conventions. And for years after the cancellation, whenever I saw a gumball machine or bowling pin or Nylabone, I’d feel a twinge of loss. So when I heard that MST3K was making a comeback, I legit swooned. No, really. There was actual swooning.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return manages to keep the original kitschy aesthetic and vibe without feeling like they’re trying too hard or shoehorning anything in where it would be a bad fit, which was my biggest reservation before seeing it. The theme song and premise fit well with the original series while adding new elements.
Jonah Heston (played by Jonah Ray) has succeeded Mike Nelson as the centerpiece of the show, teamed up with the familiar Tom Servo and Crow. The new villainess Kinga Forrester (Felicia Day) is the daughter of Doctor Clayton Forrester, and her loyal henchman Max (Patton Oswalt) is the son of TV’s Frank. Day and Oswalt have a great dynamic in particular.
The movies are suitably cheesy and the commentary is so on point it’s almost eerie. They do take some time at the beginning of the first episode to set up the premise for the new season, but it jumps very quickly into the movie. Newbies to the show could possibly be a bit confused by the exchange between Day and Oswalt, but I think it was a good choice not to dwell too long on the hows and whys. As the theme famously tells us, “Just repeat to yourself, ‘it’s just a show, I should really just relax.‘”
My only major complaint (c’mon, you knew there’d have to be at least one): They changed the voice actors for Tom (now Baron Vaughn) and Crow (now Hampton Yount) again. Maybe it’s because I’m so much older now than the last time the torches were passed (when you’re a kid, you tend to accept casting changes with a shrug), but during the first few episodes it felt really jarring whenever they were talking. I get that time marches on and adaptations aren’t meant to be exact copies of the shows they were sourced from. Vaughn and Yount do admirable jobs, and I think once some time has passed I’ll be able to settle in and accept the new additions.