Last week, Mystery Science Theater 3000 creator Joel Hodgson announced Season 12 of the beloved movie-riffing show would be 6 episodes instead of Season 11’s 14-episode count or the miraculous 23-episode seasons the show pulled off twenty-five years ago. To some fans, the news suggested Netflix, who will release the new season, has lost faith in the show. Others, of course, were just happy to get six more episodes with new star Jonah Ray and movie-riffing Bots Crow T. Robot (voiced by Hampton Yount in season 11) and Tom Servo (Baron Vaughn).
In another update to Kickstarter backers on Monday — in which Hodgson revealed the show is going on the road for a Fall live tour — he clarified why the decision was made to shoot fewer episodes this season. “Shorter seasons don’t mean we’re going to make fewer episodes, they just mean we’re going to make fewer at a time!” he explained. “And like I said last week, that also means we should be able to get them out sooner, and not make you wait so long in between seasons. It’s also, we feel, the best way to help grow the MST3K community – and obviously, that’s a really important goal so that the show can keep on having a long and productive life. ” One phrase which should immediately pop out at fans is “between seasons,” suggesting a season 13 is already in the cards; just as another six as opposed to another mega-dose of 14 episodes.
As it happens, Season 11 only became 14 episodes long because of the wildly successful Kickstarter campaign Hodgson launched in 2015. Initially asking for funds to make just 3 episodes, fans eventually contributed enough cash for Hodgson and his team into extending the season first to 6 episodes and then 14 by the end of the campaign.
But for Season 12, Netflix and Shout! Factory, who distributes the series on home video, are footing the bill and it is easy to see why they would want smaller episode counts more often. Also, as mentioned last week, certain parts of Season 11 felt rushed — a situation which can easily be corrected if the production make fewer episodes at a time. Additionally, cast members like Ray, Patton Oswalt, and Felicia Day have other commitments which prevent them from devoting their schedules to the series full time.
Meanwhile, the Fall live tour will see Hodgson putting on the red jumpsuit as his MST3K character Joel Robinson and joining Jonah and the Bots for a live-riffing of Canadian film The Brain and the classic cheesy Conan rip-off Deathstalker. Ticket details will follow.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 returns to Netflix in the not-too-distant future.