The whole of the pop culture world was paying attention to two things today: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Sheldon and Amy’s unexpected hookup on The Big Bang Theory. Nonetheless life went on in Hollywood, and even realms beyond if you’re a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The cult series, which aired from 1988-1999 on Comedy Central and Sci-Fi (now SyFy), has been running a Kickstarter campaign to produce 12 more episodes. Today SlashFilm announced that enough has been raised to produce 14 new episodes, exceeding the original goal of $5.5 million funded by more than 48,000 donors. The final total of $5.76 million breaks the record for video-project crowdfunding, earning more than campaigns for Veronica Mars ($5.7 million), and Reading Rainbow ($5.4 million). Reading Rainbow still holds the record for the most donors with almost 106,000 participants.
Even if you don’t think you’ve seen MST3K you probably have. It’s the series which involves a human and two robots, in silhouette form in the front row of a theater, giving commentary on the worst B-grade sci-fi films. (They call it riffing.) The backstory is that two mad scientists captured their poor human subject, a janitor, and are subjecting him to watch bad movies in an effort to determine which one will help them take over the world. To maintain his sanity the janitor constructed several robot sidekicks and they handle the bad cinema as we all do – by mocking it.
They’re trapped on a ship called the Satellite of Love. I have to think that somehow plays into the bizarre skits they make which are interspersed throughout the films:
Though I grew up during the heyday of MST3K I wasn’t a regular viewer, but the gimmick has still become a staple of my life. When we can’t find a movie we’re really interested in watching at home I pick out one I know to be passable-but-laughable, and tell my husband we’re going to have a MST night. Action flicks are the best (see San Andreas, the new Total Recall) and occasionally we’re surprised by a Europa Report or Ex Machina.
According to MST3K creator Joel Hodgson the campaign, “isn’t just about making one new season: it’s ab -pout convincing a ‘conference table full of executives’ to give our show a home, so that we can make a lot more seasons.” Even before MST3K first hit the airwaves Hodgson was experienced in the ways of the entertainment industry. He was featured alongside Paula Poundstone and Bill Maher in an HBO young comedians special, he co-wrote an HBO standup special with Jerry Seinfeld in 1986, and was considered for a role in Cheers.
For this new season Jonah Ray (Rotten Tomatoes News) will step in as the human film critic, Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn (Comedy Bang! Bang!, Fairly Legal) will voice his robot buddies. Patton Oswalt and Felicia Day will fill the mad scientist roles. The coolest news however is the caliber of stars clamoring to make guest appearances on the show. Mark Hamill, Neil Patrick Harris, Joel McHale, Jerry Seinfeld, and Jack Black have expressed interest. I have to assume that with the popularity of genre programming guest opportunities could be endless.
Writers are also lining up to participate, including names like Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind), Rob Schrab (The Sarah Silverman Program), and Nell Scovell (The Muppets, Warehouse 13).