Friday, May 5, 2017

Review: MST3K: The Return

Answering the most dangerous question: Does it live up?
Look, ma, no commercials!

Spoiler alert: yes. But let's talk about how, and why.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 exists in a very specific, and special place in media- equal parts satire, social commentary and campy humor. For (I assume) the vast majority of us, the experience was largely similar- one friend had them all recorded (maybe you were that friend!) and the tapes got passed around, frequently at the behest of the show itself. We watched the comedy central run, and reruns. And hoped for an update.

By the time news broke that and update was coming a year or so ago, well, let's be honest: we exist in a post-prequel world and old is new again is not always welcome news, as much as we may want it to be. But there it was, MST3K was coming back. With a new cast.

Gulp.

Like I said, it exists in a special place, largely thanks to the chemistry of the cast and their ability to have chemistry with a quasi-anthropomorphic gumball machine and a... whatever the hell Crow is. It's not easy, is what I'm saying. How does the new cast measure up? Jonah raps about Kaiju-esque monsters- in the first episode. That sentence is, of course, brilliant, stupid and absurd all at once, which sums up the entire show. So, yeah, he fits.
The invention exchange was always dumb, though

In the theater, with the bots, is where it really shines. Or, sort of, doesn't. It feels the same. The voices are different, certainly, but you stop noticing about halfway through the second episode (or, at least, I did). The jokes are great, and it's refreshing for a lazy millennial like myself to hear Harry Potter jokes and other up-to-date references on the show.

For me, that was my biggest concern: would the show feel the same? And, in my semi-humble opinion, it 100% does. The door sequence is still practical and sorta clunky. The space animations are still what they are.

Which brings me to my second biggest concern: The Mads. Look, if the movies are bad, and the jokes are good, the Mads could be terrible for all I care. At the same time, though.... And then it's announced that it's Felicia Day(!) and Patton Oswald(!). And then I worry about the casting. While those two aren't A-list Hollywood stars, they are pretty nerd A-list (and that's the list we're concerned about here at NoaF)- so would their precence overshadow their corny characters and joke set up?

Nope, nope and neeeeewp. They may actually be my favorite part of this. For cheesy, campy characters who essentially exist to set up the fact that a dude is in a theater with two robots, Day and Oswald are brilliant. They have great chemistry, great jokes, and I want a movie just about their hijinks. They have a lot of self-aware jokes (Day's Forrester observes with a sigh "should have just rebooted), are on a quest for ratings ("there aren't ratings on Netflix", Max informs her) and they are as incompetently evil as their forbears.

The Math:

Baseline assessment: 9/10

Bonuses: +1 for actually being an update that holds true

Penalties: -1 because I'm a dick. Look, it's pretty dang perfect. But 10 says outstanding in its field, and this is an update that is congruent, but doesn't soar to new heights. If you want an actual penalty, it's for Episode 3 being one of the worst movies they have done. But that's a bonus, too.

Conclusion:  9/10. You probably already binged it, though.

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