and I’m pumped!
At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, it was announced that the new iteration of Mystery Science Theater 3000 is coming to Netflix.
On a certain level, this is an announcement I’ve been waiting 16 years for. I am sooooo excited that this is happening and was hoping that the Comic-Con panel would address the show’s new home.
Along with this proclamation, though, comes a lot of questions. I did not attend the convention and have only been able to find a handful of information on what was discussed. As of right now, I have not been able to uncover any footage from the panel either. It’s possible then that something I bring up here could have been addressed at the panel already. If there are any problems with that, you can have your money back.
Do they have creative freedom? Likely. The success of the Kickstarter campaign have given them the ability to proceed with production without other financial backing. Apparently, Netflix has given Adam Sandler’s production company free rein for the movies they are making for the streaming service. Seemingly, all Netflix seems interested in is content. So why not proceed in a hands-off manner with this team, that at least in part, has done this before.
Will this be the case for any future seasons? Time will tell on that one. When the original show moved to the Sci-Fi Channel (not yet Syfy). They insisted on the storylines that ran through the host segments. The Planet of the Apes components, Mike becoming the destroyer of worlds, etc. This lead to some interesting developments on the show that would not have happened otherwise, but it did change it some. It was a slightly different show than it had been. They also insisted on science fiction movies being shown exclusively. Now, there were some exceptions to that later on. However, it did limit them in what kind of movies they could riff.
Uncut movies and variable episode run times? Surely without the constraints demanded by a network schedule, the featured movies can remain intact. Rifftrax already does this with their releases. Why not follow suit and add shorts on shorter films like before? Not to defend the previous batch of movies, but some of them are hard enough to follow, let alone with being edited down. The original Hercules films were originally 2 hours long. That’s a half hour over the runtime of the entire show.
The other aspect of this is how will it play into the host segments. Traditionally, they were centered around the commercial breaks. Cinematic Titanic featured uncut movies and still added breaks for sketches. Mads-willing, the new show proceeds in a similar fashion.
When does the new show start? After sorting through some vague information being given on this, I found an interview with show creator Joel Hodgson where he confirmed the start of next year, 2017. Another interview states that all the episodes are written and that they are to commence filming in September.
Despite how excited I am for this and am trying to remain patient, I don’t see how the show could come out any sooner given that schedule. With the exception of adding new Saturday Night Live’s a couple of years ago after they aired, Netflix always releases an entire season worth of material at once. Now, that could change, but with the fan anticipation for this show, why would you? Give fans an embarrassment of riches. Which brings me to the next point.
How will streaming affect the show? This is something that may be a bigger issue than people realize. I’ve been wanting this for a long time. Now, odds are, that when this premiers, I’m going to binge watch it. Theoretically, I could consume this is one weekend. I’ve done it with several other series and probably will with this one too, even with a longer running time.
After waiting for this for so long, do I rush through it and find myself wanting more? How will this effect fan’s expectations. Especially if, God forbid, the show doesn’t live up to expectations. Now, I’m expecting it to, but there’s always the slim chance that it won’t. Remember the flash cartoons of mst3k.com? No. Then you’re ok.
After Arrested Development finally returned for a fourth season on Netflix, the show’s creator stated that viewers shouldn’t binge watch the show as it was not meant to be consumed that way. Well, guess what? You took your show to Netflix. That is what’s going to happen. Show creators need to understand that is how your content is going to be devoured now in this format. Does this change the format of MST3K? I can’t imagine a season long storyline running throughout that pays off in the final episode. Maybe it would be hilarious though.
Of course, some type of digital delivery system was going to happen one way or another. The show probably couldn’t survive in the current marketplace without it. Honestly, I would be disappointed if there wasn’t. Back in the day, I recorded new episodes on videotape (Google it) and would immediately watch it again after it aired. I just realized the other day that without a digital platform, I wouldn’t be able to do that anymore. (I don’t have a dvr.)
How will this affect the Turkey Day Marathon? I feel like this could be very promising. On Thanksgiving, like most holidays, I travel to a family member’s house. That means if I’m going to watch the Turkey Day Marathon live, someone is setting up a chromecast and going through all that in the middle of everything else going on that day. If it’s on Netflix though, that could make things way easier.
I’m not sure if Netflix streams live events like that, but why not make now the time? It’s not as if there wouldn’t value in that for the streaming service. Surely, live streaming events are only going to get larger over time.
Last year, it was stated that a new episode could premier at this year’s marathon. With the previously stated schedule, that seems doable. Why not debut the first episode to close out the marathon and get people hyped up for the new season?
Bonus, if Netflix can archive the marathon to view anytime.
Can Netflix support the show long-term? I don’t think a lot of people have thought about this one. Yes, MST is a relatively inexpensive show to produce. Yes, these are cheap movies they are showcasing. However, last I heard, Netflix operates in the red. Obviously, I don’t have access to Netflix’s books. Long term, the model that Netflix currently operates under, cannot sustain itself. Eventually, the bubble will pop.
I’m not trying to be a naysayer here. I love Netflix’s service and have subscribed to it for years. They are an industry leader, and hypothetically, they should be positioned to survive whatever results from the current upheaval with network/cable/streaming situation.
Hodgson has stated that he envisions the show rotating cast and going on for decades with the same concept. Ala, Doctor Who or Saturday Night Live. What those shows possess though is a network. That means big network advertising revenue. As I understand it, Netflix only sees an increase in profits when they increase subscriptions. Otherwise, there profits remain consistent.
Having said that is a network an appropriate home for Mystery Science Theater 3000? No, of course not. The limitation of episode lengths and creative meddling alone would be disastrous. This is a cult show that needs a platform that will let it be what it is. Ideally, Netflix will let it do just that. Without already having a long running series though, it’s impossible to gauge what kind of future the show will have under the best of circumstances.
Whatever happens, I can’t wait to watch new episodes of this beloved show. Despite their promises however, it feels like the too-distant future before we can.