Thanks to a record number of Kickstarter donations, Mystery Science Theater 3000’s Satellite of Love will be taking flight again in the not too distant future. Now that the fundraising is over and the hard work beings, series mastermind Joel Hodgson has published an update outlining how distant that future will be. According to Hodgson, work on the revival series commenced promptly on Jan. 4 at 10 a.m. and things are humming along nicely in the second month of preproduction. “For the first few weeks, it felt like everything was happening very slowly,” he writes, adding that his first priorities included finding new office space for the writers and production workshops for the crew. “But now, it finally feels like everything is starting to happen at once.” He’s not kidding — his lengthy update is packed with helpful details about how the series is coming along. Here are the four big things you need to know.
The Satellite Of Love (and the Opening Credits) Are Gonna Look a Little Different
Much as we all loved the original Satellite, after nearly two decades in deep storage, it’s due for an upgrade. Hodgson shared a sneak peek at the following piece of concept art by Guy Davis, which depicts the spacecraft being tethered to a large group of what resemble balloons.
The writer also revealed that the opening and closing sequences will be given an overhaul, no doubt to feature new cast members like Jonah Ray and Felicia Day. A quick glance at these storyboards for the new title sequence suggests that the lyrics for MST3K’s theme song are thankfully remaining the same. “We’re not changing things too much,” Hodgson reassuringly cautions. “The general format of the show hasn’t changed, because it seems to hold up so well.”
There Are 20 Movies In Contention for the MST3K Treatment
Viewers may not realize that many of the bad movies Joel, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot were subjected to didn’t come free. MST3K has to license films for the cast to ridicule, which can be a tricky proposition. So before preproduction started, Hodgson put together a list of 20 films for the new season’s 14 episodes. “So far, we’ve been able to work out the rights we need to use about half of them. But for the other half, it got a little more complicated: the owners were willing to let us use the films in the United States and Canada, but not the rest of the world’s English-speaking territories. And I’d rather not make new episodes of MST3K that only our American and Canadian friends can watch!” According to Hodgson, Shout! Factory (the new owners of the franchise) is working to clear the rights for remaining films, and if they can’t, he’s got backup titles ready to go just in case. One of them has to be The Room…please?
The Revival May Not Be on Terrestrial or Cable Television
MST3K got its start as a public access show on a local Minneapolis television station, before moving into the cable realm, first on the Comedy Channel (later Comedy Central) and then Sci-Fi. The revival most definitely won’t follow a similar trajectory. Hodgson writes that several network and online distributors are circling the series, and he’s currently weighing offers. “The world of ‘television’ has changed a lot since MST3K started, and there are all kinds of different business models and ideas about how television can work now,” he writes, subtly suggesting that fans shouldn’t expect a traditional weekly release schedule. It’s worth noting that Shout! operates its own streaming site as well, so it’s possible that new episodes might live there, even if they premiere somewhere else.
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait
In this age of on demand viewing, we’re used to getting new episodes of stuff we love…well, on demand. But Hodgson emphasizes that fans are going to have to learn the value of patience, as he’s taking pains to avoid the slapdash nature of MST3K’s first season on cable television. And let’s not forget the fact that he’s also working around the schedules of guest writers like Dan Harmon, which might inspire some delays. “I don’t want to rush things to get you shows sooner if that means they won’t have the chance to be as good. The schedule might change along the way, but if it does, I’ll always try to explain why, and to tell you what’s happening.”