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You did it: you brought back MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000! Thanks to you, MST3K shot FOURTEEN NEW EPISODES in 2016, including a new holiday special, and returned in 2017 on Netflix!
You did it: you brought back MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000! Thanks to you, MST3K shot FOURTEEN NEW EPISODES in 2016, including a new holiday special, and returned in 2017 on Netflix!
48,270 backers pledged $5,764,229 to help bring this project to life.

5 BURNING Questions About #BringBackMST3K

Posted by Joel Hodgson (Creator)

People of Kickstarter:

It’s been 48 hours in Kickstarter Land for #BringBackMST3K, and we're almost 75% of the way to our first goal of $2MM and 3 episodes! If you've already joined in: thank you for giving us such a fantastic start.

Today’s update is important, because I know there are a lot of unanswered questions about this Kickstarter, and about the future of MST3K

Questions like:

  • Why do you need so much money to make MST3K? Isn't it cheap? 
  • Are you doing this alone? Where are the other MST3K writers and actors? 
  • Why is there a new cast? I want the old cast back. 
  • We've got Cinematic Titanic and Rifftrax. Who needs more MST3K
  • Is there a Santa Claus? If so, is he contributing to help bring back MST3K?

These are all good questions, so let's start with the tough one: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Anyway, I know that these questions are still making some fans skeptical. I've seen all of the comments and questions here on Kickstarter. And Reddit. And Facebook. And Twitter. And... man, there's a whole lot of internet.

But hey, I get it. That's why I want to answer your questions the best I can.

If you're undecided about helping us #BringBackMST3K, I hope you'll take a few minutes to read this.

Question #1: Why do you need so much money?

Believe me, man. I hear you. If it really cost $2 million just to make three episodes, we'd be spending almost $700K per show! And you're right: by itself, an episode of MST3K doesn't cost nearly that much.

But the explanation is actually pretty simple:

A. We don't get to keep all of the money we raise on Kickstarter.

  • Out of the first $2,000,000, we have to pay about 8% – that's $160,000 – in CAMPAIGN FEES to Kickstarter and the credit card processor.
  • Then we have to cover all of the REWARD AND SHIPPING COSTS to design, produce, print, sort and ship all of the rewards we're offering in exchange for your pledge. (Those t-shirts aren't free, you know!) That costs about 27%, so that's another $540,000.
  • We're not charging you twice for shipping, I promise. Even though Kickstarter asks you to add more for shipping after you pledge, they count that money toward the total we've raised, but we still have to spend that money on, you know... shipping!
  • So, out of the first $2,000,000 we raise, we have to spend $700,000 just on the costs of this Kickstarter campaign!

B. Then, we have a lot of startup costs just to get the show into production.

To shoot new episodes, there's a lot we'll need to do up front: creating concept art and designs, building sets, making models, creating costumes, adding new features to upgrade the robots, and all sorts of other things. All of that work costs money, which is why that first $2,000,000 includes $550,000 for STARTUP COSTS. The good part is that every penny of that ends up on screen, where you can see it.

C. But... the more episodes we make, the less each episode costs!

We have to spend $550,000 up front, no matter how many episodes we make. If we only make 3 episodes, these costs increase the budget for each episode by $183K… but if we make a full 12, they only increase it by $46K each!

Anyway, once you take out the CAMPAIGN, REWARD and STARTUP COSTS, there's a lot less than $2M left. 

In fact, that leaves just $750,000 for THREE FEATURE-LENGTH EPISODES OF MST3K, which – I hope – sounds a lot more reasonable than $2,000,000!

At the end of the day, our goal is to make each feature-length episode of MST3K for around $250,000.

To put that in perspective, that means we're spending less to create 90 minutes of MST3K than even the lower-end reality shows spend to make 22 minutes! (Really makes ya think, don't it?)

And remember: that $250K isn't just to hire our writers, cast and crew, or rent equipment and space. It also includes the cost of LICENSING MOVIE RIGHTS, and that can get pretty expensive. Which brings me to the last point:

D. If we want the best cheesy movies, we have to pay for them.

Right now, none of the movies I'd like to include in the next season are in the public domain. That means we have to pay the owner of each movie a substantial amount to include it on MST3K. That would be expensive no matter what... and that's before the owners realize what we're planning to do with them!

Now, I know that was a lot of detail. If you're as worn out from reading about this as I am from writing about it, here's a wicked cool graphic that sums the whole thing up:

I know not everyone will want this much explanation, but I'm asking you to trust me with your money, so I think it's important to be crystal clear about how we're using it.

Finally, if you're thinking that $250K per episode still sounds like a lot, remember: even in the ‘90s, an episode of MST3K cost us between $100K-200K, and with inflation, everything costs more now.

Plus, when MST3K started, we were able to get better rates. As the show got more popular, licensing cheesy movies suddenly began to cost us a lot more. Hmm...

Anyway, I hope $250,000 per episode feels more reasonable than "$2M for three, " which is how it might have sounded at first.

Question #2: What about everyone else? Are the other MST3K writers and actors coming back?

This is the hardest question to answer, because there are several moving pieces involved.

Right now, I don't know who will agree to come back and work on the next season of MST3K… but if the Kickstarter is successful, everyone will be invited to take part.

Until yesterday, I wasn't even sure this whole Kickstarter idea would work. I've reached out and spoken with some of the old cast and writers, but until I knew how much money we'd have to work with – and when we'd start writing and shooting – there was just no way to make the specific offers that I hope will bring many of them back.

Plus – as many of you know – so far, the old cast haven't been compensated as well as they (or I) might have liked. I wish I could go back and fix that, but if I'm going to ask them to participate in the next season, I want to be certain we can pay them what they deserve this time. As soon as we pass our initial goal of $2,000,000, I'm hoping to start making the invitations official, and I hope some of them will be able to join us before we start working in January.

But there's another thing I should say here:

As much as I love the old seasons, we're not just trying to make an "MST3K reunion episode." Even if we do get our entire old cast and staff to come help out, I think it's important – essential– that we bring in new talent to keep the show fresh, and to help it evolve.

To do that, it's important that we bring in the next Host, the next Mad, and the next robot voices. And if everything goes well, there'll be a dozen more after them. (I'll come back to this in the next question.)

At the same time, I'd love to work with the entire old team again. Mystery Science Theater 3000 became the show you know and love because our writers and actors were – and are – some of the smartest, funniest people I've ever worked with. If they have time to come back for the next season, I'll be so excited to work with them again.

But even if everyone comes back, we'll never be able to reproduce the magic of how those old episodes feel to you. No one ever could. People usually think that the “best year in music” was they year they turned eighteen. In the same way, the “best year of MST3K" – for you – will probably always be the year you turned 13, or 16, or 18, and your parents finally sprung for the good cable package. To misquote Rick James, nostalgia is a helluva drug. We can't compete with your memories, and it would be kind of silly to try.

But we can try to make something that today's kids (and adults!) can discover, that will give them the same feeling you once had. And hopefully give you long-time fans something new to enjoy, too. That's the goal, anyway.

3. Why is there a new cast? I want the old cast back. It's not MST3K without them.

I've gotten a lot of messages asking – or complaining – about the decision to bring in a new cast. This came up a few times on Tuesday during my Reddit AMA, but I don't know if I explained it as well as I'd like, so I want to take another minute to talk about this.

The funny thing is, this isn't the first time we've gotten these complaints.

When we first imagined Mystery Science Theater 3000 back in 1988, my hope was to launch a show that, in success, could be as enduring as Saturday Night Live. We had a simple format that could evolve over time, with each new generation of actors and writers finding their own take on the basic concept.

If MST3K hadn't gotten canceled fifteen years ago, it’s possible we could have had 4 or 5 hosts by now, and it would be just like Doctor Who: even if you had "your Doctor," you'd still be able to appreciate the different flavors that each new Host or Mad or robot added to the show. It's part of what makes a show like Doctor Who or SNL last. I’m a Tom Baker fan myself, and no one is funnier than Dan Aykroyd. (To me.)

The problem is that MST3K got canceled after just two hosts, and instead of becoming a proud tradition, some audiences started to see it as a competition between "Team Joel" and "Team Mike." I think that if MST3K had lasted long enough to have a third host, this wouldn't have happened. It makes me sad that it did.

When I first left MST3K and Mike took over as host, some of you said you were done watching – not because he was bad, but because he was different. Then, once the shock wore off, a lot of you realized he brought something new and great to the job. Many of you even liked his episodes better! And when Kevin took over as Tom Servo, there was hate mail, but for many of you he became the definitive Servo! I could go on.

So yeah, we've been through this before, and I get it. Different can be scary, especially if you really loved the old seasons. But just think: if you had never given Mike or Kevin or Bill or Frank or Mary Jo a chance in their roles, you'd have almost 100 fewer episodes of MST3K to enjoy today. I'm not asking you to like the next cast better than the last one, but I hope you'll give them a chance, and see what they can do.

Then, when their time is up, I hope you'll give the next cast a chance too.

Anyway, I think we've found great new people to act as our next Host, Mad, Crow and Servo, and I'll introduce you to all of them before the end of our Kickstarter. And if the old cast are up for it, we'll look for ways to bring their old characters back for cameos. (Anything's possible! Even Servo and Crow could have "software glitches" from time to time and temporarily boot with their older personalities.) But the reason I hope a lot of the old team will come back is to help guide the next generation as they learn the ropes.

Here's the thing: I don't want us to make a whole different MST3K. We love the old seasons for a reason, and so did you. But I also don't want us to make the same exact MST3K again either.

As I've said before, it's like Heisenberg's uncertainty principle as applied to MST3K: if it doesn't change, it's not the same show. So to stay the same, we need to keep changing. Make sense?

4. Cinematic Titanic and Rifftrax are great. Who needs new MST3K?

To me, this has been the weirdest question to try and answer, because some people are acting like we're asking you to choose between Cinematic Titanic, Rifftrax and MST3K, or to convince you that MST3K is the "one true riffing show." And guys, this might be why we can't have nice things.

With Rifftrax, Mike, Bill and Kevin have brought riffing to a whole new set of movies, by finding a way to riff the kinds of flicks we were never able to include in – or afford for – MST3K. And they're great at it!

Cinematic Titanic was all about a live riffing experience that performers could share with fans in the house. It was an incredible thing to be part of, and even with so many great MST3K veterans involved, it still had a completely different flavor.

I will always support good riffing, and the world will always need more riffing – especially under the imminent Trump/Carson Administration. Plus, it's exciting to watch so many MST3K vets out there doing their thing, and making people laugh, in whatever form they enjoy most. We're better off with more riffing shows out in the wild – and even if our old team comes back, they'll still be free to continue their other projects.

But I know there's still a place for Mystery Science Theater 3000 right there next to them, because the world will be more fun – and more bearable – with Crow, Servo, the Mads, and more cheesy B-movies.

No one is asking you to pick between Rifftrax and MST3K, and no one ever will. There's room for both of them.

5. Is there really a Santa Claus?

Droppo, you are the laziest man on Mars.

Anyway, that was a lot to read, but I think it was important to tell you all of that. If you made it this far, I hope I've eased your mind.

If you have more questions, I want to make sure I'm answering them, so please be sure to post in the comments. And if this all makes sense to you, I hope you'll help share these explanations with others, when you see them asking these questions.

I'll have something fun to share with you tomorrow.

Cheers and Thanks,


Capaneus, Heather Brown, and 572 more people like this update.


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    1. Missing avatar

      Chris Thomas on

      I confess I was originally torn by the concept that without the "right" voices for the bots, it "just wouldn't be MST3K", but your answers showed me the light. You're 100% right. Nothing can ever take the place of the old episodes in my heart, but I'm excited now to see what the new ones have in store. I also really appreciate how clear you are about there being nothing but love for the Rifftrax gang, because they're swell, too. Thanks so much for all the hard work and care you are obviously putting into this, and for the many MANY hours of joy you've already brought me and my friends, and all the not-so-inside jokes we still share all these years later. <3

    2. Missing avatar

      Greg Wheaton on

      I still giggle like a school girl every time I remember that my favorite show is making a comeback. I am with you on all your points.... I have not a single complaint from the crawling eye to diabolik. Thank you Joel... From the bottom of my 16 year old (39) heart...Watch out for snakes!!

    3. Matthew Grostick-Bryant on

      This needs to happen, world!

    4. Missing avatar

      Andrew on

      Any chance of more merchandise of Servo and Crow being available out of all of this? Statue? Action figure? Dog toy?

    5. Dan Aleksander on

      Dear Joel,

      Please tell us you are going to find another Joe Don Baker movie to riff. Please.

      Dan (and America)

    6. James Closs on

      Good reply to all the above questions. This is the tragedy of geekdom that the bitterest disputes come up over preferences and, largely, when someone "Got on the satellite" so to speak.

    7. Andrea Giesbrecht on

      Joel, your reasoning for each of these is excellent, especially the part about not wanting to make the exact same MST3K. I was wondering what you'd want to do, and a new host makes sense. I hope the new crew has good chemistry, and I hope the old veterans are able to be involved!

      I look forward to seeing this happen. Long live MST3K!

    8. Elizabeth Bradford on

      The short subject films were always among my favorites.
      I hope you can show a few on the new show!
      An archive of Jam Handy Productions - the creators of "Hired" and "A Case of Spring Fever" (LOL "No Springs!!!") can be found here:…

    9. Jeff Chasick on

      glad I did a search on KS today and found this!!! I have missed MST2K and love to see MST3K making a comeback... for those to young to remember MST2K, you missed a great show.. and with all thats going on in the world today, MST3K is just what the doctor ordered (and so did I...)

    10. James Jackson on

      We're so close!!! Please keep circulating the URL, everyone.
      My dream scenario is for MST3K to end up on Netflix. No ads; binge watch whenever you want; watch on any device. If it ends up on Hulu, I'll have to spring for that, too.
      A cable home like SyFy or Adult Swim would be okay, but as a cord-cutter I would feel kind of left out.

    11. Missing avatar

      Justin Farrell on

      Or have fans watch the movies and contribute jokes.

    12. Missing avatar

      Justin Farrell on

      At some point to maybe have a message board asking fans to contribute props for the Invention Exchange or something along those lines. The more "work" you can give the audience the more attached to the show they'll become. Basically when you can have the fans do stuff for the show.

    13. Missing avatar

      donna schultz on

      Joel, I love you to pieces! Just made my contribution. Your are so right about room in the tent for all the riffers! Why complain about having new people to make us laugh. Especially if the originals pop in every once in a while. Good luck! And may you find your beer on the sun.

    14. The Bionic Lemming on

      Joel, I respect that. I really do. I see things a bit differently, that's what the terrorists want - to disrupt and focus everyone's attention on them. I'm eagerly awaiting MST3K to return, and I put my money on it. Thanx!

    15. Missing avatar

      James Belcher on

      Right on, Joel. Thanks for being human.

    16. Joel Hodgson Creator on

      Hey everyone. I know I said there would be another update today, but I just saw what's happening in Paris, and feel kind of uncomfortable trying to share fun details right now. My thoughts are with everyone in Paris, and especially the affected families. I'm going to wait and send today's update tomorrow. Thanks for understanding.

    17. Henry B. Tindall Jr. on

      great update. the only thing missing was the "mic drop" !!

    18. Owen Smith on

      Spare no expense on the Satellite of Love renovations!

    19. scott Clancy on

      Wow, this was a very good update . Thank you so much for breaking it all down . Every kickstarter should take note

    20. Alex on

      Long live MST3K!

      ...can we still circulate the tapes?

    21. Vince Caruso on

      This is simply awesome, Joel,
      as a fan since the beginning, an avid rifftrax listener, and a four-time cinematic titanic audience member, I can't tell you how excited I am (and obviously we all are) to see this next iteration of riffing.
      Cameos from past shows would be uber-awesome... I'm pretty sure you will be able to actually SEE the happy you'll create if any of the old casts return even for just a bit part.
      oh... and please... watch our for snakes...

    22. Joel Hodgson Creator on

      @Adam: I'll answer that soon. ;)

    23. Nicole Kiser on

      Very well stated. You can never compete with nostalgia, so it's not worth it. I'm quite looking forward to the same format but with new faces and--yes--new writers. While having the old crew come back would be fun (especially if you did a "transition" episodes between cast), it's really not required. I'll just be happy if the movies are bad and the hosts are funny. :D

    24. Missing avatar

      Kei Salzer on

      With the matter of cast past and future so elegantly detailed, I have two new questions now:

      Can I be a host and thank you when do I start? ;)

    25. Dianne Hackett on

      I don't mind how you do it or who's in the new cast- just SO excited at the possibility of more MST3K! I watched the Joel seasons with my oldest kid, took one of the Mike seasons DVDs into the delivery room when I had a 2nd baby a few years ago, and still watch classic shows whenever I need a guaranteed laugh. #fan4life!

    26. Adam Salzer on

      Here's a question, who did the voices in the Kickstarter video above?

    27. Jeffrey Rush on

      I like Joel's plan, let's work with Joel this time!

    28. Mike H on

      Joel, that was simply perfect. Thank you!

    29. Matthew Hartman on

      I'm just happy that in this day and age of the interwebs that this is even a possibility! Can't wait to see what's in store for the new crew of the S.O.L. and if you need a sardonic writer on staff - feel free to drop me a line, the first joke is free and you can get additional jokes for a nominal monthly fee or agreed upon compensation. Take care Joel! Hoping this cracks the $3.3 million. Three new episodes is a nice taste, but 6 would be a fantastic feast - 12 would be joyful visual gluttony of the best sort, but I'll take what I can get!

    30. S.j. Fiene on

      I am so proud to call you son. Sorry, I meant to say, I think of both you and Mike AS SONS and could never choose one over the other. There is plenty of cheese, and right now the world needs all the riffing it can get. I want to see Riffed Movies as its own genre. Make it happen, won't we? Now, I should stop or my head my explode wondering if I am qualified to comment on such matters.

    31. "Filkertom" Tom Smith

      Excellent. Simply excellent. What you created has taken on a life of its own, far beyond anything you might have envisioned, and -- unlike V'Ger -- it isn't trying to kill us. Except when my lady friend and I are doing callbacks of old riffs and I can't remember the correct response. Then it's fry-pan-upside-the-head time. (Not really.)

    32. Lynn Knott on

      Perhaps instead of running the names of those who donated in the end credits of the show, you could perhaps have a wall at the back of the set when the "newbutnotbetter" "Joel" and robot pals are doing their thing. That way, every time the camera cuts to that part of the show, I could squeal, "Ooooh, I'm up there somewhere." Post the full list on the MST3K site first so people can make sure they're there, and then leave it there, too. (In case they DON'T want their name...witness protection program...etc etc)

    33. J.C. Young on

      So inspiring to see the great response Joel. And I admit I feel into the Team Joel / Team Mike trap so glad to read your take here.

      One hope as far as potentially changing casts etc. is the idea of possible 'celebrity' guests or even Mads / Hosts. Patton Oswalt championed this Kickstarter on Twitter. He, for instance, would make a hilarious guest cameo character for the Hexfield viewfinder etc. as himself or a character.

      With MST3K's cult status - I'm sure you'd have a list of folks chomping at the bit to pop in - like when Jerry Lewis or Sammy Davis Jr. leaned out the window on an old Batman episode.

    34. Missing avatar

      Tom Sellick on

      In the words of the Great Joe Don Baker: BEER!

    35. Justin "it's been fun" McLargeHuge on

      Joel, you are my ambassador of Quan. What a thoughtful response. You are a wise man and I couldn't agree with your position more, especially on the old cast. You can never go home. And by the way " It Stinks ".

    36. Clave Dark 5 - Phoenix Rising Scribbler on

      Wow, 28 Days to go, and the zombies are already snarking down our gates! I think we're gonna make it guys and that makes me feel great on a Friday the 13th!

    37. Lynn Knott on

      I can't believe how brainwashed I am to keep wanting to click a "like" button after each individual comment. :) That said, To: Peter words exactly. :)

    38. Alexis Mascitti on

      Just had to comment again to say this is update went above and beyond what I could have possibly hoped for, expected, or deserved. I cannot recall another example where a project helmed by someone such as yourself was addressed with such patience, depth, and emotional clarity. Thank you again for this Joel. I would pledge another $752 is I could possibly afford to.

    39. Missing avatar

      Peter Howell on

      This is exactly what I wanted to hear. I'd love to see all the old faces and hear the old voices, but I also know that if this is going to be successful, we're going to need some younger blood. References to the A-team and the Clinton administration are going to be funny to us old guys, and their still funny, but if the show is going to continue, we're going to need folks who can reference Sponge Bob, Manga, My Little Pony, and a dozen other shows we don't know about because we stopped consuming 10 hours of content a day when we grew up and got lives. If those go over the heads of us old farts, well that'll just be incentive for us to get hep with the jive, or whatever the kids say these days. Now when are we going to see the Kickstarter to bring back Kookla, Fran and Ollie? I could really get behind that one. And Maypo. Who moved my Maypo?

    40. Scott Taylor on

      You may consider me quelled as to the Mike, Bill, Kevin thing .. I sure hope they, and all of the old team make frequent guest appearances. I mean .. come on .. who the hell are you gonna get to play Torgo? .. Only Mike will suffice!

      And I appreciate what you're saying about more shows doing riffing .. my own TV show is gonna have to step up it's sh*t .. cos we ain't anywhere near your level yet (mind you we're only 5 shows old and public access .. we're in our own KTMA timeline :P).

    41. Missing avatar

      David Franklin Smith on

      Sounds good to me Joel, thanks for addressing my concerns with trying to get the old crew back. You were my favorite host, but I certainly <3 all the people of MST3k and RiffTrax.

    42. Missing avatar

      Jeffery Bradford on

      So there's no chance that you will be the next mad? I still find that it would be oddly poetic.

    43. Jorel Levenson on

      My thoughts at this point are that it will get funded and that will be enough for a network or online provider to want to back the rest. I think we shall see a future here. Hopefully many futures here.

    44. Rich Zapata on

      I'm all for new blood. We'll welcome them with open arms.

      But some "glitching" or "special guests" making cameos riffing aboard the S.O.L. (Or whatever) are going to be must-dos. I'm still all in!

    45. Ernest M Whiteman III on

      Thank you for that Joel. By the by:
      Could I throw my hat into the "future host" ring?

    46. Missing avatar

      Jane Georges on

      Joel, no need for ANY explanations. You are waaaaay too Minnesota Nice to the rude denizens of the internets. Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown. Just come back!!!

    47. Missing avatar

      LaVonne Bartling on

      Joel, I married an MST3K fan, before I knew what MST3K was. Amazingly, we're still married, mostly because he has the best sense of humor of anyone I've ever known. He made me watch your ridiculous show when we first married, and once our sons were old enough to enjoy the humor, we introduced them to the show too, via The Canadian Song, the feature film, and Soul Taker. I pledged in my hubby's honor for his upcoming 51st birthday. Thanks for all you do, and keep up the good work. MST3K forever!

    48. Hilary Aronow on

      Joel, thank you for providing such thoughtful responses to fans' concerns. I pledged immediately after reading it.

      I particularly loved this part:
      "(Anything's possible! Even Servo and Crow could have "software glitches" from time to time and temporarily boot with their older personalities.) "

      But, really, it's just so clear how much you understand what resonates with MST3K fans. I am proud to support you and trust in your vision for our beloved MST3K!

    49. Missing avatar

      Shane Wilson on

      In the interest of honesty, I was a HUGE Joel fan in the early days. I was young. The Comedy Central days of MST3K were my fav. When the Sci-Fi switch came I was angry. Not because of the change but because of the fact that my family couldn't afford the channel. I had to go to a friends house to watch. Once I did and realized that the voices were different I was pissed. STUPID CHANGE! I wanted Mike to burn in I was a Joel guy from start to finish. Eventually I grew to love Mike. The bots voice didn't matter as the jokes were always fresh and funny.I have grown to learn to love Mike. Especially since the "movie" I have grown to accept him as MST3K royalty. It sounds stupid, and it may have taken me an abnormal time to accept it but overall MST3K is the root of the love. Ive watched all Rifftrax Live movies (plus more) and the Cinematic Titanic movies and its really al the same. We all love the humor, we all love the style, and we all love the idea. MST3K IS the root of all riffs. I have never pledged any money to a Kick starter before, not even a Rifftrax, because they always make what they need and Im always a broke loser, but the first day I saw this I had too. I also had several friends from childhood that had to be looked up. The MST3K fans are a rare and uncommon breed and I can promise you that ANYONE I know that grew up on MST knows about this. I've talked this over with everyone and not that it matters but we all agree that a new cast is best. Bottom line is, not matter how it comes together, an MST3K return is the best thing to happen to TV since..........ummmm.........the premier of MST3K! Love ya Joel. Keep circulating the URL! It stinks!