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Almost there! MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 will return... and if we can get to $5.9MM, we'll get THIRTEEN new episodes of MST3K!
You did it: you brought back MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000! Thanks to you, MST3K shot FOURTEEN NEW EPISODES this year, including a new holiday special, and will return in 2017 on Netflix!
You did it: you brought back MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000! Thanks to you, MST3K shot FOURTEEN NEW EPISODES this year, including a new holiday special, and will return in 2017 on Netflix!
48,270 backers pledged $5,764,229 to help bring this project to life.

We've got 5 DAYS LEFT, we're 74% FUNDED and Joel answers 3 BIG QUESTIONS about the new episodes. Plus: bonus reward unlocked!

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  • We've got 5 DAYS LEFT before the end of our Kickstarter! 
  • We're at 74% OF OUR FINAL GOAL: almost halfway to the Red Zone! 
  • BONUS REWARD UNLOCKED: Songs in the Key of MST album download! 
  • Plus: ANSWERS TO 3 BIG QUESTIONS about the new episodes:
       • What will the new episodes look like?
       • Will the new episodes be in HD? (And why does it matter?)
       • What kinds of movies will the new episodes riff on?

Happy First Night of Hanukkah, Everyone.

There might be eight nights in the Festival of Lights, but we don't have that much time, Revival Leaguers. Now we've got just 5 DAYS LEFT.

But first, let me start with some good news:

You've already made great progress on the Red Zone Challenge! 

Since Friday's update, we've raised another $75K from Add-On Rewards, for a total of $225K in Add-Ons. (From now on, we'll keep updating that in the picture at the top of our page, where it's easy to find.)

But if you do the math, it's pretty encouraging!

We've now raised $4.05MM, putting us almost 74% of the way to our goal!

Oh, and just like I promised, here's an updated version of our progress meter –

And you know what? We might not be in the Red Zone yet, but we're getting there – and since Friday afternoon, you've already unlocked the first new Bonus Reward, and you're just 20K from the next one:

That's right, team! You've unlocked the next Bonus Reward! So now...

Everyone who pledges for EXPERIMENT 035 or higher will also receive a digital collection of ballads and ditties we’re calling Songs in the Key of MST.

Yeah, it’s getting pretty late.

But, it does feature over an hour of your favorite songs from the old seasons of MST3K, including such crowd-pleasing classics as "My Creepy Girl," "The Waffle Song," and "Hired: The Musical!" This downloadable album will also include the "MST Love Theme" and all of the versions of our main theme. And you know what? We'll even throw in Ashley's lovely updated version of the theme from the Turkey Day '15 Marathon. It's like having an MST-a-Palooza at Bridgeman's.

And now, you're just $20K from unlocking the next Bonus Reward!

If we pass $4.08MM before Tuesday at 8am PST, I'll make sure that anyone getting the OFFICIAL T-SHIRT REWARD gets two designs to choose from. 

You've already seen one of the designs we're working on, but the second one will be a surprise. A coooooool surprise, Daddy-O.

So, if you want to be sure you'll get both designs and help unlock the Bonus Reward even faster, now's a great time to upgrade to EXPERIMENT 050, or get a few extras using the Official T-Shirt Add-On Reward.

OK. Now that we've got all that official Kickstarter business out of the way…

I thought the weekend would be a good time to answer a few more questions and tell you a little more about how I'm imagining the next season of Mystery Science Theater.

And hey, you're not the only ones with questions... 

Jonah, Crow and Tom Servo have questions too!

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Like I said to those guys, some of the questions you're asking might already be answered on our Kickstarter page… but even more of them are probably answered in the new FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS section we've added to MST3K.com!

We're updating those every day or two, so if you've still got questions, be sure to look there.

Anyway, I'm actually glad Crow and Servo asked those questions, because I think the technical and creative details are one of the coolest parts of bringing back MST3K. So, if you're curious, how about I share a little bit more about what you can expect in the new episodes?

What will the new episodes of MST3K look like?

One of the big questions you've been asking is what the episodes will look like, and whether we'll still use the "miniature golf" aesthetic you came to know and love in our original episodes.

The answer is “Yes!” We’re just going to use modern techniques to do it.

I love how the old episodes look, because I think you can tell how much fun we had making all of that stuff. But, just like MST3K wasn't meant to have the same cast forever, it also wasn't meant to permanently look like it was made in the ‘90s! So, I think it's really important not to "carbon-freeze" the look of MST3K by trying to make the new episodes some kind of tribute to the way we made things back then.

Truth be told, we weren't trying to make the show look tacky -- we just didn't have a lot of experience or budget, so I guess our show didn't look like something Hollywood pros would make. But, I think the reason that look worked so well is because it was genuine: we were just trying to make the best show we could, with whatever we could get our hands on. If we did that now, we'd be faking it, and I think you'd be able to tell the difference.

At the same time, I think there were some conscious decisions we made back then, and those have stayed with me. So, I think the easiest way to describe the design parameters for the next season is that we will try to do as much as we can "in camera" and using practical effects. That's pretty much how we did it back at Best Brains, and it worked great, so I think the plan will still be to design Mystery Science Theater as a show that can be performed live… or live on camera, anyway.

Crow was made out of Tupperware, a plastic bowling pin, a soap dish and a lacrosse mask. And by god, it worked!
Crow was made out of Tupperware, a plastic bowling pin, a soap dish and a lacrosse mask. And by god, it worked!

One other thing we did a lot back then was our own version of "rapid prototyping."

For example, when we made the robots, we never went through all of the extra steps some shows prefer: having a concept artist sketch it, then having a sculptor make a clay maquette, and then having some expensive craftsman manufacture them for us. We just collaged the robots together out of found objects, because it was the fastest way to get to our ideas.

Twenty years later, we're in a totally different world.

For instance, I'm starting to mess around with some new ideas for robots that may (or may not) visit the world of MST3K. And the way I'm doing it in 2015 is pretty much the same as the way we made Tom and Crow and Gypsy: by collaging found objects together with a glue gun.

The big difference is that now, once the character is there, I have a few more options. I can do a 3D scan of the robot and bring it into the computer. I can scale each model up or down to better suit each robot's purpose, or better fit its character. I can try lots of different paint jobs in the computer, and experiment with animating different parts, like moving eyes, winkers, blinkers and nods. And then, using a 3D printer, I can output the robots in different sizes to fit our needs.

By the way, 3D printers also make it a lot easier to create the exact parts we need for puppets. When I made the first Servo and Crow, their mouths were made out of rubber bands, string, PVC tubing and a coat hanger! So even if we're not planning to use computer graphics and editing, we can use a lot of the cool stuff that exists now to get closer to building the stuff we always imagined.

We'll still do the best we can with what we've got. We just have a lot more freedom now.

So, I guess maybe the best way to summarize my design philosophy for MST3K – then and now – is, "We will endeavor to use what works." And, "If it's not fun, we probably aren't doing it right."

Are cheesy old movies any better when we riff them in HD?

This is kind of a philosophical question, huh?

Actually, I'm pretty excited that television technology has come such a long way, because I think HD will let us make MST3K even better. ("We have the technology!")

The first big change you'll notice about the new episodes is that the screen is just bigger. The original show needed to fit onto TV screens in the ‘90s, which were more square than they are now. To help you imagine the difference, the aspect ratio of the original MST3K was 3 squares high by 4 squares across. Now, it's different. Most TVs and phones have an aspect ratio of 1 by 1.85, which is much wider than before.

Here, let me show you:

So, in the new episodes, you will see a full 1/3 more of the screen. This is good news for those of you who like to see things.

Another big change is that, back in the ‘90s, a lot of televisions would cut off the edges of the picture, due to a process some TVs used called “overscanning.” So anything really important had to be closer to the middle of the frame, in what was called the “TV Safe” area. For MST3K, that meant the silhouettes – our host, bots, and even the theater seats – had to be bigger.

In fact, if you've seen any of the original episodes from KTMA, you might have noticed that the silhouettes started to get bigger. Here's a comparison from Gamera vs. Zigra, which we riffed at KTMA and then again, three years later, on Comedy Central:

See how much space we ended up using by 1991?

Yeah, well, that was a huge waste of MST's visual playground. Sure, it’s good to see the silhouettes, but then they ended up covering more of the screen image! The whole thing made me crazy!

Fortunately, all of those problems are behind us now, so when you watch the new episodes, you won't have to worry about your TV cutting off the bottom half of the theater seats, or the top of Mitchell's head when he's dreaming about beer. You'll be able to see exactly what we make.

So anyway, putting MST3K on a wider screen means we won't lose as much of each movie we riff. See, many of the films we riffed back then were shot in widescreen, but to show them on smaller televisions, they had to be put through a process called "pan and scan." That basically means that, since the whole widescreen didn't fit, someone tried to pick the most important part of the frame in each shot. But that means that you never actually saw almost half of the movie!

Let's use Hercules Unchained as an example. The film was originally twice as wide as the version you saw on MST3K, so you actually never saw half of the original film. That's why there are so many scenes where someone is having a dialogue with someone who isn't even on the screen!

The poor schlub that ran the camera had to decide who we should look at during the conversation, and the effect is kinda eerie. So, think about this: we could probably do a completely new riff based just on the parts of Hercules Unchained you never even saw! Finally, we'll be able to show you these films exactly as the director intended, however misguided he might have been.

Oh yeah, and speaking of misguided films...

What kinds of movies will we riff in the new episodes?

So, you know, I think this is probably the question I've gotten the most this month.

Well, no … the real question is usually, "What specific movies will you riff?" And hey, I guess I understand why some of you are asking. Maybe you wanna know what to expect from the new episodes, or try to decide if we're gonna do something different than before. Like, maybe something you wouldn't like as much. But I've gotta tell you...

I don't want to tell you the specific movies in advance!

It's not because I don't think you'll like them. (Believe me, the movies we're hoping to riff in our next season are just as cheesy as ever.) But if I tell you the movies now, it'll spoil a lot of the fun that comes from discovering the movie when you watch it for the first time.

In today's media-dense world, we rarely – if ever – see a film we don't already know pretty much everything about. It's de rigeur (a French word) to be pre-sold a film before we ever step foot in a theater or see it at home. We see the whole film laid out days, weeks, or months ahead of time, in trailers, or interviews, or news stories, because that's supposed to make us want to see it.

MST3K works like that, only in reverse: the less you know about what's about to happen, the better! See, I've always felt that MST3K took advantage of what I’ll call "The Haunted House Theory." Watching a really good episode of MST3K is like exploring a haunted house at the edge of town with three companions.

I just think that if you know what's coming, it can't be nearly as good. So, I won't be announcing the films ahead of time, or trying to say, "Oooh, just imagine all the fun we're going to have with this clunker of a movie! Start dreaming about how funny it's gonna be!"

Still, if you wanna try to draw some conclusions, that also probably means I'm less interested in featuring movies everyone's heard of. So, I doubt we'll be riffing big blockbusters or franchise movies any time soon, no matter how bad they are. (And even if we wanted to, I don't think we could afford the rights!)

Here's the last thing I'll say about this: ever since we started MST3K back at KTMA, I've really felt that movie riffing can work with any kind of movie, and I still feel that way today. 

So actually, I guess there aren't really any "rules" on what kind of movies we can riff.

It's getting pretty late, so this is probably a good place to stop. If you've been wondering what you can expect from the next season of Mystery Science Theater, or whether it would be the same or different from the old show, I hope this gives you some peace of mind.

I guess now we can all go back to worrying about science facts!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and remember: just FIVE DAYS LEFT until it's all over, so please…

KEEP CIRCULATING THE URL.

Cheers and Thanks,

Joel

Tom Servo, high-definition robot … of the future! Or, I don't know, maybe in the future we're called droids. So look, I bet you're expecting me to give you some messages to post on Twitter and Facebook, right? Yeah? You think you know me, huh? Well fine, let's spice things up and do something different tonight.

Here's a new way to help, suggested by one of our backers:

Oh. He's right: that is a good idea.

So? You heard John: get out there! Convince four MST-curious friends, co-workers or total strangers to give just $1 each! I know there are bunch of people that are wondering what we’re up to, and just a dollar gets them on the mailing list and gets them updates for a whole year!

And if you won't do it for MST, do it for your fellow backer. Do it for John!

Okay, fine, you want a tweet too? Here you go: 

5 DAYS LEFT & we're at 74% of our final goal to #BringBackMST3K. @JoelGHodgson reveals more about the new episodes! http://mst3k.com/kickstarter/update15

Joel Hodgson, Brent, and 146 more people like this update.

Comments

    1. Philip Frey on December 8, 2015

      @Nathan I don't know if it's true or not, but I always assumed that the Gamera Song (and other times they sang songs to music from the movies) was not included because of rights issues to the music. If it hasn't been officially published, they can't release it without getting permission.

    2. Nathan Filizzi on December 7, 2015

      @Joel Well, The Gamera Song is probably my favorite song that isn't on Clows in the Sky, so I'd like to suggest that one.

    3. ginger j fitts on December 7, 2015

      Does anyone know if the set of three mission patches are going to be embroidered or screen printed? I like embroidered patches, but for $15.00, I was wondering about that.

    4. Ralph Carusillo on December 7, 2015

      Joel and fellow backers....I just bought as an add-on the Blu-Ray collector's box set. I didn't want to wait to bump up my contributions to the effort...and, selfishly-like, I want the mystery gift. Any clues on what the mystery gift will be? Even a teensy-weensy widdle hint? I know already that it will be incredible. :-)

    5. Chris Taran on December 7, 2015

      The more I hear them the more I love the bots new voices <3

    6. Missing avatar

      Bailey Utecht on December 7, 2015

      Hey joel, if I may make a suggestion for the album, please include the "Oh Tibby" and all versions of the gamera song. pretty please?

    7. Missing avatar

      George E. Sutton on December 7, 2015

      Ok, I bumped up another $65. I encourage others to go through their roommates pockets too (when they are asleep of course).

    8. Missing avatar

      Brian on December 7, 2015

      Please do Infra-Man. Please do Infra-Man. Please do Infra-Man. Please do Infra-Man. Please do Infra-Man. Please do Infra-Man. Please do Infra-Man. Please do Infra-Man. Please do Infra-Man. Please do Infra-Man. Please do Infra-Man. Please do Infra-Man. Please do Infra-Man. Please do Infra-Man.

    9. Ralph Carusillo on December 7, 2015

      I like not knowing what the movies are. I do hope there are shorts and would guess there will be, since many are public domain and they were so popular before. All of this has been fun. �

    10. Daniel Daley on December 7, 2015

      If the soundtrack is now on the cards a version of the utterly funky backing music you use on these kickstarter videos would be very much appreciated by myself :)

    11. christina kolling on December 7, 2015

      I just... I just want "Sing the Praises of Pants". that's all. just that. and maybe the Rowsdower song. But that's all. And I will be happy.

    12. MadJo on December 7, 2015

      I don't have friends that watch MST3K, I have tried, they just don't get it, not being fluent in English. :( I need to find more friends.

    13. ginger j fitts on December 7, 2015

      I've always loved that "Haunted House" analogy. Thank you for all the updates!

    14. Justin Christiansen on December 7, 2015

      If I had one song to suggest for the album it would be the different styles of the Gamera theme song that were sung in the ending host segment of 316 Gamera vs. Zigra. (Coincidentally the same episode you posted a screenshot of in this update) It has a special place in my heart as this was the first episode of MST3K I ever watched at 4 years old. I still have the VHS my parents taped it on too.

    15. Wendell on December 7, 2015

      Good to see that just about any type of movie will be up for grabs. I seem to remember when the show moved over to the Sci-Fi(now SyFy) they wanted only that type of genre to be done.

    16. Noel Schornhorst
      Superbacker
      on December 7, 2015

      Dear Joel, while we're on the subject of movies to riff, I would *love* if even one episode was an animated feature. We never saw much in the way of animation on MST3K, aside from a few credits sequences and the Gumby short. "Food Fight" or either animated "Titanic" movie seem absolutely horrid and likely wouldn't cost a lot rights-wise. But aside from that, even an animated short would be fun. I'm sure you have it all mapped out, but just a kernel of thought for consideration, if you please-- especially if/when MST3K is picked up for additional season(s)... ;)

    17. Nate on December 7, 2015

      Just finished "Hercules:Unchained" and starting "Hercules Against the Moon Men". Thanks for the (hidden) episode suggestion in the update. (I enjoyed the rest of the update as well, thank you.)

    18. Missing avatar

      James K. Rossiter on December 7, 2015

      Well, let's see here. The song's not on the CitS discs, but listed on mst3kinfo.com's Song List are: (song & episode #)

      Clay and Lar's Flesh Barn - 104
      Sidehackin' & Only Love Pads the Film - 202
      Hike Your Pants Up - 307
      The Gamera Song - 312 & 316
      Slow the Plot Down! - 314 (Can never have too many sea shantys!)
      The Fugitive Alien Melody - 318
      Danger to Myself and Others - 406
      My Wild Irish Ireland - 516 (Or too many Irish songs!)
      Air on a Delta Night - 913
      Oh, I Am Sad - 1002
      Bobo Creek - 1006
      To Earth - 1013

      So it looks like there's a baker's dozen of songs that weren't included on either Clown In the Sky volume. So as many of those as possible would be my humble suggestion. Thank you, kind sir. :)

    19. jaybird3rd on December 7, 2015

      Thanks for the update, Joel! I'm amazed at the great rewards and incentives you've been able to provide throughout the campaign. It's been a rough day of fundraising today, so I think this is just the shot in the arm we need to start the last week. I'll be increasing my pledge again toward the end; I'd like to be in on what I hope will be a HUGE final push to the finish!

    20. Garret on December 7, 2015

      When I looked at the episode list for the add-on bonus, it reminded me of the Fugitive Alien Song. The medley version would make a great addition.

    21. Michael Rodriguez on December 7, 2015

      @Joel Awesome! Been hoping for some MP3 tracks for a long time - particularly the Love Theme! So excited!

      Question: I assume you'll need some crew and other positions filled for the new season. Will there be an opportunity to apply for any specific openings?

    22. Jamas Enright
      Superbacker
      on December 7, 2015

      The questions I have are:
      Will the shows still be 1 hour 40, or now fit the length of the movie?
      And, more importantly... Will there be Shorts??!!

    23. Victoria Jane Joyce on December 7, 2015

      Thanks Joel! Thanks Bots! Mads! and new guys! And fellow MSTie Kickers! This makes me so happy I could cry.

    24. Joel Hodgson Creator on December 7, 2015

      @Justin: If you read Update 14, it explains that we can't change the counter on Kickstarter. That's why the graphic now says "$225,000 Raised Outside of Kickstarter." Kickstarter and Kicktraq can't reflect the money we've raised on MST3K.com, but it still counts.

      @Nathan and @James: I think most of the tracks will be songs that were on "Clowns in the Sky", but if there are still specific songs you'd like to suggest -- like Philip did -- let us know, and I'll see if I can track them down.

    25. Daniel DiManna on December 6, 2015

      Hmmmm... that image from K07 looks pretty good in a 1st Generation copy kinda way, didn't it? B)

      Hey, a fan can dream...

      Fingers crossed that the issues with the KTMA episodes have been cleared up, and we hear about what Joel has planned for them soon! I'm insanely stoked at the thought of finally FINALLY getting 1st gen, quality copies of those amazing episodes not just in my own collection, but out there as a thank you to the backers who made the return of MST possible!

      Can't wait to hear more, Joel. :) Dare we hope to know more specifics next week?!

    26. Michael Southwick on December 6, 2015

      @Matthew you have the option to donate any amount to any Kickstarter, you just choose to donate then don't choose a reward

    27. Michael Southwick on December 6, 2015

      Any chance of getting one of Joel's new found object robot prototypes as a reward?? I would pay a pretty penny for that!

    28. Matthew London on December 6, 2015

      Hey, wait... We can donate just a BUCK??? $1? A Samolion? A Clam? 1/5 of a Fin? a Smackeroo? Half a Toonie? Four Quarters? Ten Dimes? Twenty nickles? One hundred pennies?
      Why didn't I see that option??

    29. Drew5oloDoLo"DIRK"StiCkEr"McBUFFNuggets" on December 6, 2015

      Loving the update!! MY Fiance and I jus watched video! And pumped for this new generation! SUPER HAPPY FUN TIME. (;

    30. Mike H on December 6, 2015

      These updates are terrific, Joel. Your love for the show is evident throughout and it's heartwarming & exciting to read as a fan. I can't wait for the new season and will continue to do my part to spread the word!

    31. Missing avatar

      Justin Moore on December 6, 2015

      Not to be contrary, but the Kickstarter page still says $3.84M, not $4.05M, same thing for Kicktraq. Is the public counter just stuck? Thanks.

    32. Missing avatar

      James K. Rossiter on December 6, 2015

      I second Nathan's sentiment. Other than the new MST3K Theme Song from Ashley (and what a wonderful version it is), will there be songs beyond the Clowns I & II discs?

    33. Josh Lukins on December 6, 2015

      Thanks for the update. Nice to get some answers and also a progress update :)

      It's not that late... it's only 3:30pm on a Monday. (Hi from Australia - We *are* from the future!)

    34. Philip Frey on December 6, 2015

      Joel, the two "Clowns in the Sky" CDs ignored songs from KTMA and season 1 and the second volume was released before season 10. I'd really appreciate it if songs from those seasons could be included on "Songs in the Key of MST". (Particularly "Clay and Lar's Flesh Barn" and "To Earth".)

      Thanks! Things are looking good!

    35. Brad on December 6, 2015

      Hey Joel, much love & respect from Austin, TX. Looking forward to a fundraiser that Master Pancake, a local riffing group, is doing for the KS Tuesday night! Gooo backers!!

    36. Nathan Filizzi on December 6, 2015

      Will Songs in the Key of MST have any songs that didn't make it into the two Clowns in the Sky albums? I'd be substantially more interested in it if I knew it wasn't full of songs I already have.

    37. Wack'd on December 6, 2015

      Any chance we could maybe see some concept art of new sets, or bot prototypes? I feel

    38. Missing avatar

      Anthony Weiman on December 6, 2015

      this is BIG to keep us all going loud and strong! THANK YOU JOEL