Thursday, April 27, 2017

Hi-Keeba!

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is back on the air! Huzzah!

This past weekend I finally got a chance to watch the new season of MST3K, which is currently airing on Netflix. I'm only three episodes in, but so far I'm loving it. It feels
exactly like the old series, which is definitely a good thing. If it ain't broke, why fix it?

They're calling this Season 11, and that's just what it feels like. It's as if no time at all passed since Season 10, which aired wayyyyyy back in 1999 on the Sci-Fi Channel (back when it still had a sensible and comprehensible name). 

I was worried that they'd try to update the show for the new millennium, filling it with endless riffs about cell phones and Facebook and Adele and Uber and whatever the hell else is current and popular these days. Surprisingly, they kept such jokes to a minimum, as they made numerous Gilligan's Island and The Munsters shoutouts, and surprisingly even referenced riffs from previous old episodes ("Watch out for snakes!")!

Many people (myself included) worried about the new cast. That's pretty much par for the course with MST3K though. By the end of its run, literally EVERY single character on the show had been replaced at least once! Every one! If you don't like change, then MST3K is not the show for you. 

Fortunately the new cast is surprisingly good (with one major exception). I was totally sold on Jonah Ray as new human host Jonah Heston after just one episode. Hampton Yount as Crow is fine as well, and manages to do a reasonable facsimile of Bill Corbet's voice. I'm not completely onboard with Baron Vaughn as Servo yet though. Kevin Murphy had a very distinctive voice, as his Servo had the air of a pompous little intellectual. So far Vaughn's version of Servo has a pretty bland and unremarkable voice, with a personality to match. He's basically a clone of Crow at this point. Hopefully they'll work on this in future seasons (of which I hope there are many).

One small complaint: during the movie segments, I have a hard time telling which of the three characters are talking. I'm chalking this up to me just not being used to their voices yet. I'm sure after I watch a couple more episodes, I'll figure it out.

Naturally Patton Oswalt is great as Max, aka TV's Son Of TV's Frank, and is the logical replacement for Frank Conniff.

The only weak link in the cast (for me at least) is Felicia Day as Kinga Forrester, daughter of Dr. Clayton Forrester from the original series. The internet at large practically lost its collective mind last year when her casting was announced. 
Sorry, but I don't get it. Am I missing something here? Why is she so universally beloved by the nerd community? 

From what I've seen so far, she has little or no on-screen charisma, and seems completely wrong for the part of mad scientist. The Forrester family are all evil geniuses! They're campy, over the top characters! There should be no piece of scenery left unchewed after they appear! So far the best adjective to describe Kinga Forrester is... meek. She seems more like a timid little mouse than a mad scientist, and feels completely miscast here.

Hopefully she starts getting better quick. At this point she's worse than J. Elvis Weinstein's Larry!

The Kinga Forrester misstep aside, the show's awesome and I'm extremely glad it's back. Now let's hope it's successful, so Netflix renews it and actually gives them some money this time, so the producers don't have to beg Kickstarter again to fund it!

UPDATE: Reader Jeff Carter sent me a message saying that the new and "improved" Gypsy is anything but. I heartily agree, and completely forgot to mention her in my review above.

The old Gypsy was a likable character with a high-pitched, squeaky voice and a ditzy personality. This new version has a normal woman's voice, and a no-nonsense, serious personality that isn't the least bit funny. She's the second worst thing on the show, right after Kinga Forrester.

In the original series, Gypsy's seeming lack of smarts was due to the fact that she used her higher brain functions to run the ship, so there was little left over to interact with Joel, Mike and the other bots. 

Even though this made a certain amount of sense, it also meant the only female character on the show (before Pearl Forrester showed up) literally had "half a brain." 

That may have been able to get away with something like that back in the early 1990s, but that crap don't fly here in the hypersensitive, politically correct hellscape of 2017.

I'm betting they decided they'd better smarten up Gypsy fast, before the SJWs took to the internet and started complaining.

This is why we can't have nice things.

2 comments:

  1. I'm disappointed with what they've done to Gypsy. Before she had a very distinct personality (even if that changed somewhat over the course of the show) but now her quips are indistinguishable from the other two bots. ... and the body she occasionally drapes over her neck hose? ugh.


    other than that, I really do like the show.

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    1. I forgot about Gypsy! Yeah, not a fan of the new voice and personality either. I wonder-- the old Gypsy was kind of dumb because, according to Joel, she used her higher brain functions to run the ship, leaving little or nothing to speak with. Even though that made sense, it also meant the only female character on the show (before Pearl showed up) *literally* had "half a brain." I bet they were afraid that crap wouldn't fly in hypersensitive 2017, and they figured they'd better "smarten her up."

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