In news that may give the Mystery Science Theater 3000 faithful some pause, Season 12 of the beloved movie-riffing show will be six episodes long according to creator Joel Hodgson.
The show returned last year after an 18 year hiatus thanks to a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign in 2015. Initially asking for funds to produce just three episodes, Hodgson and his team raised enough cash to make fourteen episodes. The enthusiasm from the campaign led to a deal with Netflix, where the show debuted in April of 2017. Late last year, the streaming giant commissioned a second season, though the particulars of Season 12 were not disclosed at the time.
In a letter to the Kickstarter backers, Hodgson explained the reason for the seemingly truncated season. “This time around, we’re able to get them written, shot and edited a lot faster! That hopefully also means we’ll be able to show them to you a lot sooner,” he explained. Additionally, the show itself will address the shorter season as Kinga Forrester (Felicia Day) experiments with the very idea of binging on Netflix shows; much the same way Clayton Forrester (Trace Beaulieu) experimented with the idea of Saturday afternoon cheesy movies in the original series. “The entire ‘concept’ of the season will be a little different, and warped in a really fun way, which I think will make the whole series of movies ‘hang together’ as a season,” he added.
“Truth be told, as much as I loved making 14 feature-length episodes of MST3K, it’s hard sometimes to get your arms around that much content all at once,” he continued. The original series was produced in a weekly format with built-in production pauses whereas Season 12 was produced in one giant block. Some of the episodes — and even individual segments — of Season 11 reflect the pace of the production.
But fans wondering if this reflects a certain doubt on Netflix part should note the way it commissions shows differs from how it releases them. As a recent example, the second season of the documentary series The Toys That Made Us, which debuted last week, was made at the same time as the first season. In fact, the theme song even refers to the show as an “eight-part” show despite Netflix releasing only four of the episodes last year. Similarly, the new season of Queer Eye received a debut date — June 15th — which could only be possible if the two seasons were made at the same time. Also, the platform’s animated series Voltron: Legendary Defenders switched to seven-episodes seasons last year for the same production reason Hodgson cited: getting episodes completed in shorter blocks means they can be released quicker.
All of which suggests subsequent season of MST3K could already be in the works. In fact, Hodgson mentions in the letter that the show will be 30 years old in November, which would be a swell time to release Season 12 and/or announce Season 13.
As for the films Jonah (Jonah Ray) and the Bots will be riffing, Hodgson offered a clue to one film: “[It’s] one that I know a lot of you have asked us to riff in the past, and also one that was made in the last five years!”
Mystery Science Theater 3000 returns to Netflix in the not too distant future.