Fans of the original Mystery Science Theater 3000 took on the show’s sarcastic sense of humor whenever they watched bad movies on their own. I can recall many lazy Sundays making fun of some bad science fiction rip off (Badly, I might add). Those movies were fun to watch, even if they were awful.
So what happens when Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return takes one of these movies? The hilarity doubles…quadruples…uh…billion-uples?
Let’s just say it’s funny.
Wizards of the Lost Kingdom is a strong episode, as Jonah, Tom and Crow create a fun atmosphere around the already hilarious bad fantasy flick. They manage to riff through their own chuckles, just like a bunch of regular guys hanging out in their living room.
“It’s Like the Lord of the Rings Without All the Fancy, Good Stuff.”
Wizards of the Lost Kingdom is a poorly done fantasy movie that comes off as bad “larping.” It follows young, lavender clad wizard-to-be Simon, Kor the Conqueror (AKA Fat Sting) and white Chewbacca rip off Gulfax as they try to save the the kingdom of Axhome from the evil wizard Shurka. That description is probably the most exciting thing about the film as the cheap look, bad acting and lazy story seemingly goes through the motions. However, its terrible-ness is funny on its own.
Jonah and the bots don’t have to try too hard to make us laugh in this episode, but when they do, it’s amazing. Young Simon is a fun target, as they portray him as a spoiled millennial who can barely take care of himself. The guys also give evil wizard Shurka a hilarious sidekick in “Crabby,” the villain’s ridiculous hat. And for some reason, Jonah and the bots make Crabby a guy from New York City. It’s a very funny touch, and whenever Shurka is hatless, you begin to miss his over the top sidekick.
However, the chief source of comedy is Bo Svenson’s Kor the Conqueror. The guys point out that the character is barely able to conquer anything. He is over weight, lazy and relies on tripping his foes in poorly choreographed fights. Jonah and the bots constantly bring up that last trait at the right moments, drawing a number of belly laughs. They laugh at both the movie and their own jokes whenever Kor is onscreen.
That’s the best thing about this episode. The guys just have fun riffing on the movie, possibly the most fun they have had thus far. There has always been a laid back atmosphere to the show in general, but it feels much more pronounced in this episode. And that fun is infectious.
A New Element
The skits outside the theater are also pretty strong, though not everything works. There is another strong musical number, more Kor shaming, and the introduction of an intriguing new element. This last element is a nice throwback to the silly subplots that the original show featured.
This episode surprisingly opens with Max (Patton Oswalt) discovering a snake-monster…thing in the bowels of Kinga’s (Felicia Day) fortress. It’s a strange moment, but also very interesting. Will this lead to some new plot twist? Has the game changed? And what is this game I’m speaking of? It’s probably going to be something silly…and I can’t wait to see what it is.
Jonah’s musical number is another example of the show’s fun musical roots. It’s oddly catchy and funny at the same time. Dressed as Kor, Jonah sings about “sharing the magic inside of you” to Tom/Simon that hilariously comes off as an overly naive sex talk out of an after school special.
The rest of the skits are strong, as The Return’s crew seem to be getting into a groove. The letter segment, utilizing the original show’s fan mail, is a nice throwback, but the strong point is the further destruction of Kor’s conquering status. The guys pick him apart, suggesting that the character’s conquests are either coincidence or easy.
On the other hand, the invention exchanges are not improving. While they are cute, they are beginning to feel a little lazy. The verbal smoke bombs draw some chuckles while the sponsor clock feels like a repeat of earlier jokes.
Our First Sequel!
The original show often tackled sequels often, so it should be interesting to see how The Return handles it. If Jonah and the bots can have even half of the fun they did with Wizards of the Lost Kingdom, it should be great. Or at least a hilarious disaster.
SCORE: 9 OUT OF 10
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return is currently streaming on Netflix