Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return (Season 1) (2017)

Returning nearly twenty years after its cancellation, “Mystery Science Theater 3000” found a somewhat unlikely new home at Netflix, which premiered this reboot in April 2017 with a mix of new and returning characters, as well as brand new B-movies to sink its teeth into. The final result is a bit of a mixed bag – like the original show’s two incarnations, the jokes themselves are typically strong, coming at the audience with the speed of a machine gun, which makes some of them easy to miss and opens the experience up to repeated viewings. The B-movies themselves are a solid selection here, with a wide variety (respectively, at least) of cheesy content, from horror to foreign monster movies to children’s curiosities. However, the show’s inserts featuring host Jonah Ray and villains Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt are more problematic. For one, host Ray is pretty forgettable, bringing little energy or humor to the proceedings, and has a noticeable lack of screen presence or charisma. Worse still is Day, whose amateurish performance as main antagonist Kinga is frequently cringe-worthy, leaving poor Oswalt with little to work with. Oswalt’s enthusiasm for being on the show is so palpable that it makes Ray and Day’s weaknesses stand out even more, as Oswalt could have handled both roles simultaneously and brought much more passion and humor just playing against himself. Overall, a strong new start that some wrinkles left to iron out, but plenty of potential for a fun new series run.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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