After an immensely successful Kickstarter effort, “Mystery Science Theater 3000” will return with new episodes set to stream on Netflix beginning April 14. Along with much anticipated new material, the infamous character silhouettes will be back thanks to a grass-roots campaign that raised almost $6 million; that is a record for a crowd-funded film or video project.
The streaming service is the latest destination for this show that was created by Joel Hodgson and debuted on KTMA, a local station in Minneapolis, MN, in 1988. It centered on a man (Hodgson) stranded on a spaceship (Satellite of Love) and being forced to watch bad movies. The task was made easier with his two robot buddies: Tom Servo (Kevin Murphy), Gypsy (Jim Mallon) and Crow (Trace Beaulieu), and their collective commentary.
It gained a cult following locally but the station went broke a year later and the program was sold to The Comedy Channel (later Comedy Central). The show ran for seven seasons and also featured Beaulieu and Frank Conniff as Joel’s tormentors: Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank, respectively. Hodgson left the show in 1993 and was replaced by the show’s head writer, Michael J. Nelson. Fellow writers Mary Jo Pehl and Bill Corbett would also join the cast.
The show was cancelled by Comedy Central in 1996 but a massive write-in campaign by the show’s fans helped “MST3K” find a new home on the Sci-Fi Channel the following year. It ran there for three seasons until its most recent cancellation in 1999.
With the return of new episodes, the show could also be looking to get back in the awards race. During its time on Comedy Central, the show was nominated for Best Variety/Music Writing in 1994 and 1995. It lost both races to HBO’s “Dennis Miller Live.” The show was also recognized with a Peabody Award in 1993 for “providing an ingenious eclectic series.” And it reaped eight CableACE Awards nominations including four consecutive bids for Best Comedy from 1994 to 1997; “The Larry Sanders Show” won all those.
The new episodes come with their own impressive pedigree that could bode well for the Emmys. The show’s new head writer, Elliott Kalan, share in four Emmy wins as a writer on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015. “Community” star Joel McHale will join Corbett and Pehl, who were both nominated as writers for the original series, in the writer’s room along with “Community” creator Dan Harmon, who won an Emmy for co-writing Hugh Jackman’s opening number at the 80th Oscars. The cast will include Jonah Ray, who has worked extensively with Emmy winner Chris Hardwick; Felicia Day, from the Emmy-winning “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog;” and recent Emmy and Grammy winner Patton Oswalt.
Netflix has proven to be a powerful force at the Emmys in the last three years, winning 23 awards including two trophies for Uzo Aduba (“Orange is the New Black”) and honors for Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”), Ben Mendelsohn (“Bloodline”), David Fincher and Reg E. Cathey (both for “House of Cards”).
The fan following for”MST3K” has only grown since that cancellation in 1999 thanks to YouTube and various streaming services. If some of those fans are also voters in the TV academy, we could see a lot of love from them when we finally get movie sign again!
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