Poffy The Cucumber


Eighteen years later – we’re still playing with dolls on TV.

A Season with eighteen years seasoning.


Puppetry devilry.

Season 10 wrapped on September 12, 1999. EIGHTEEN YEARS LATER, Season 11 is shot from a cannon on Apr 14, 2017. Has there ever been a longer downtime between Seasons than MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000?

Technically termed “THE RETURN,” Joel Hodgson (through the magic of Kickstarter and a few thousand fanatic souls) fires up the MST3K riffwagon once more on Netflix – same format, brand new crew, new voices for familiar old friends, and, of course, the worst movies made by Mankind.


Joel Hodgson, Jonah Ray

The Old Boss:
Joel is the creator, producer, co-director, co-writer, and cameo presence. He comes to us from his other riffing creation, CINEMATIC TITANIC, which was spawned in 2007. Before that, from the original Mystery Science Theater 3000, which he started in 1988 on KTMA Minneapolis; by 1993, during the 5th Season on Comedy Central, Joel left the show, to be replaced by Mike Nelson (and that opened up a whole new can of hamdingers). Were it not for creative differences between Joel and original MST3K co-producer Jim Mallon (which caused Joel to jump ship – literally, in an escape pod from a box labeled “hamdingers”), he might still have been the Man in Space when the series ended in 1999.

The new Man in Space:
Jonah Ray as Jonah Heston (did they choose this character name because of Chuck, who was stranded on a planet where apes evolved from men?), a TV series veteran, and standup comedian.


Felicia Day, Patton Oswalt

The new Mad Scientists:
Kinga Forrester is Felicia Day (also a TV veteran, including DRAGON AGE, where she stirred our loins wearing pointy ears and a push-up bra). It is implied Kinga is the daughter of Dr. Clayton Forrester (Trace Beaulieu), as she often references her grandmother Pearl (Mary Jo Pehl, who cameos occasionally).

Kinga’s sidekick is “TV’s Son of TV’s Frank” aka Max (Patton Oswalt, famed standup comedian; also TV series (AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D) and film (RATATOUILLE, KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES)).

Dr. Forrester and Frank were holed up in Deep 13, a subterranean offshoot of Gizmonic Institute. The new Mads reside on the far side of the Moon, in an underground base called Moon 13.


Hampton Yount


Baron Vaughn

Old Bots, New Voices:
Crow is Hampton Yount, sounding uncannily like Bill Corbett, who in turn sounded uncannily like the original Crow, Trace Beaulieu. Bringing the same spirit of narcissistic devil-may-care to Crow, the 33-year-old comedian and writer is relatively new to the TV scene, his imdb page listing MST3K as only his third project.

Tom Servo is Baron Vaughn, with probably the biggest shoes and biggest throat to fill; a 37-year-old standup who has been around the TV series block, in his first few MST episodes, Vaughn pokes around trying to find Servo’s loquacious, brainy innocence; he also gives the pipes a twirl, and does Tom proud, though anyone would admit trying to match Kevin Murphy’s pristine voice may be harder to do than lifting things with tiny little springy arms.


Rebecca Hanson

Gypsy is Rebecca Hansen, a newbie who also plays the clone of Pearl Forrester, Synthia. And damn, she looks just like Pehl in that mad scientist makeup!

On Netflix, we can binge the whole Season at once, and you know what that means: it’s gonna feel like EIGHTEEN YEARS before the next Season…



1101. Reptilicus
1102. Cry Wilderness
1103. The Time Travelers
1104. Avalanche
1105. The Beast Of Hollow Mountain
1106. Starcrash
1107. The Land That Time Forgot
1108. The Loves Of Hercules
1109. Yongary
1110. Wizards Of The Lost Kingdom
1111. Wizards Of The Lost Kingdom II
1112. Carnival Magic
1113. The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t
1114. At The Earth’s Core

(S1, Ep1 | 1101)

Danish Daikaiju! A snake-like puppet with teeny non-utilitarian front legs terrorizes Denmark, while an over-enunciating general tries to look kewl for the chicks in pointy bras.
• Full Review by Poffy The Cucumber

Every Country Has a MSTie…

MST3K 1101 | notes:
The establishing story: in a cold open, we see Wil Wheaton (STAND BY ME was a looong time ago) and Erin Gray (the Hot Chick in BUCK ROGERS 1979) as Gizmonic Institute staff, monitoring Jonah Heston’s space mission, towing asteroids back to Gizmonic. Jonah is feistily playing drums onboard his ship, when he receives a distress call from the dark side of the Moon. He dumps his load and rockets over there, only to be kidnapped and shot into the Satellite of Love. There, he is joined by the “bots” Crow T. Robot (the T stands for The) and Tom Servo, and they are made to sit in the Mystery Science Theater and watch bad movies. And we watch them watch the movies.

Kinga Forrester reveals herself as Jonah’s captor, with her trusty yet blunt sidekick Max (who prefers to be called TV’s Son of TV’s Frank). Being an evil scientist, Kinga’s plot is to monitor the effects of bad movies on Jonah and identify the movie that does the worst psychological damage on him. Her endgame: to release that movie unto the world to rule over said world.

The first Host Segment features a song about all the monsters associated with each nation. If we were feeling a little lost in trying to engage with the new EVERYTHING in MST3K, Every Country Has A Monster wins us over with its excellence, precision and detailed drawings.

(S1, Ep2 | 1102)

One badly-designed Bigfoot costume, one doughy guy who looks like a trucker, his irritating son who never listens, an Indian who “spent too much time at college rather than in the wild” and a muscled tracker wearing a mesh shirt to show off said muscles.
Bigfoot appears in a holy vision to young Paul, speaking English and urging him to save his father in the wilderness. Turns out Paul had nothing to do with his father being in danger OR saving him, which is all done by Bigfoot. Also, if Bigfoot does exist, and can speak, does he really go by the name of Bigfoot?
• Full Review by Poffy The Cucumber

Observer, Professor Bobo, Pearl Forrester – still alive!

MST3K 1102 | notes:
Cameo by Pearl Forrester (Mary Jo Pehl), Professor Bobo (Kevin Murphy) and Observer (Bill Corbett).

I can’t help but wonder at the dynamic between all these players and Joel. They were the ones who took over after he left in 1993. Joel started CINEMATIC TITANIC in 2007, while the MST3K crew, after their cancellation (Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett) went on to RIFFTRAX in 2006. Both these shows/ apps/ concepts were similar to MST3K. Mary Jo Pehl, one of the writers and actors on MST3K, has worked on RiffTrax and Cinematic. Same with some of the cameos here: Neal Patrick Harris, Joel McHale. I’m guessing there is no animosity between the Joel camp and Mike camp, and that Jim Mallon was the glycerin that ignited the nitro of the breakup.

In one of his video promos for the new Season, Joel remarks that all the previous MST on-camera personalities were invited to be a part of this Season, and it’s sad to see that the only people who have not accepted the invite (for whatever reason) are Trace Beaulieu (who played Dr. Forrester, and the original Crow), Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank) and Mike Nelson (once head writer, and Joel’s replacement as the Man In Space). (Josh Weinstein aka J. Elvis Weinstein, one of the founding members of MST3K, is also absent, but I was never a fan of his onscreen sidekick character, Dr Erhardt, or his rendition of Tom Servo.)

TimeTravelers_pic2THE TIME TRAVELERS
(S1, Ep3 | 1103)

Not to be confused with the vanilla TIME CHASERS (featuring that cleft-chinned Canadian anti-leading man), THE TIME TRAVELERS is one of those classic 1960’s thought experiments where scientists are accidentally trapped in a bleak, blasted future society of 2071 – a “future” which is closer to our present, so which seems pretty silly now, but which, metaphorically, they didn’t get far wrong.
• Full Review by Poffy The Cucumber

Ain’t nobody got time fo dat.

MST3K 1103 | notes:

It’s the 200th episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, including the KTMA episodes. As Max points out it’s technically only their third episode, Kinga maintains, “Come on! Disney celebrates fake anniversaries all the time – ‘Donald Duck turns 90!’ ‘Mickey and Minnie’s 25th Anniversary!’” She wants those celebration legacy dollars! I agree, Kinga: Joel deserves this. You saucy wench, you!

We see the new “rocket screen” descend from the roof – a digital viewing board powered by, uh, little rockets.

Cameo by Elliott Kalan (former head writer THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART) as Varno from the movie, and Joel Hodgson as Larry the marijuana farmer! (Joel – woo hoo!)

(S1, Ep4 | 1104)

We wonder how a movie starring Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow could ever end up on MST – then we watch the movie with Jonah and the Bots and see why.
A ski resort owner (Hudson) whines about his legal troubles, while his ex-wife (Farrow) comes to visit the resort and screws someone else (Robert Forster).
Then there’s a chromakey avalanche, which somehow covers the ski resort, causes traffic pileups and makes ice skaters fall on their butts. As Hudson runs around trying to unearth his guests, putting on Concerned Face No. 7, all storylines relevant up to that point are forgotten. Then the movie ends.

Neil Patrick Harris: his love for Kinga is even gayer than mine.

MST3K 1104 | notes:

The Mads’ Invention: The Don La Font-aine 3000, that turns any phrase into its respective movie font, reflecting the movie’s theme. One of the many insights that MST3K has always tossed off so lightheartedly, yet so shrewdly [evil laugh, denoting taking over the world with observational humor].

Bots dressed as Rock, in turtlenecks and yellow flannel, misinterpreting his misogyny toward Farrow as coolness.

Cameo by Neil Patrick Harris as Neville LeRoy, Kinga’s long-distance lover, in the sense that he wants to keep at a distance and never ever meet (because he loves her too much).

(S1, Ep5 | 1105)

Cowboys and dinosaurs! In a small Mexican town, a square-jawed American with a suitably steel-chested name (Guy Madison) puts the moves on the girl of the powerful Mexican cattle owner. Movie plays it like Square-Jaw is in the right, because – ‘Murrica!
After all the talk of disappearing cattle and fistfights between the two men, and cattle deals and Mexican comic relief characters, we almost forget there’s meant to be a “beast” lurking around that there Hollow Mountain.
With only a few minutes screentime left, a stop-motion tyrannosaur roars onscreen (animation NOT by Willis O’Brien, but definitely in his style), unceremoniously eats the comic relief, conveniently kills the Mexican cattle owner and is singlehandedly killed by the American Muscle.
• Full Review by Poffy The Cucumber

When bots go dangerously festive.

MST3K 1105 | notes:

The bots dress as Mexican festival-goers with bizarre masks and dance around Jonah wordlessly, scaring him to death. I don’t care what anyone says, Tom’s getup is HILARIOUS!

MST3K OUTRO: Kinga and Max appear at the end of every episode standing in front of a wall that houses all the “containers” of bad movies forced on Jonah and the Bots. The movies are represented as “liquid” for some unknown reason, and each container is carefully stacked into its slot by the Skeleton Crew. The movies are beginning to look like a real collection now. 5 and counting.

(S1, Ep6 | 1106)

A smoking hot chick in a bikini, a robot named Larry the Cable Guy and a guy with a perm to die for, go in search of Princess David Hasselhoff, who is the son of Christopher Plummer, the Emperor of the First Circle of the Universe.
Stop laughing.
• Full Review by Poffy The Cucumber.

Jerry Seinfeld: a freak masterstroke was getting him to do a cameo!

MST3K 1106 | notes:

In the Invention Exchange, Jonah introduces BB-Servo (styled after BB8 from THE FORCE AWAKENS). Unfortunately, before the first cutaway, Lucas’s lawyers have already called with their cease and desist orders.

Jonah as Akton, the doink from the movie who suddenly displays superpowers after getting his ass beat for the past ten minutes. The bots hero-worship Jonah/Akton (wearing a permed wig to die for) until they discover he has no superpowers.

Cameo: Jerry Seinfeld as Freak Masterstroke, an investor who finds inexplicable success with whatever he does: “Y’take this doofus, y’take his screwy little robot friends, and turn ‘em all into apps – now you got something!”

(S1, Ep7 | 1107)

British and German sailors in a captured German U-boat discover a prehistoric land where all the dinosaurs are trying to kill them – even the herbivores.
From the novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, many aspects of this film are noteworthy, like its portrayal of German and British troops in forced alliance in a mysterious land, its moral ambiguity, evolutionary intrigue, and an unexpectedly tragic ending, almost elevating it out of the MST3K dungheap. Almost.
Ironically, time has not been kind on the biggest aspect dragging this movie down – the dinosaurs. The special effects that time forgot…
• Full Review by Poffy The Cucumber.

Where’s Carl Sagan when we need him?

MST3K 1107 | notes:
The Jet Screen onboard the Satellite of Love proves incontrovertibly that all the Mads’ inventions are actually items that were mentioned by Jonah and the Bots during each previous “experiment.” Max: “It’s not a crime – it’s an Easter Egg.”

Jonah and the Bots all dressed in white turtlenecks, as per all the sailors in the movie, until they are attacked by a space robo-squid.

Moon 14 Mesozoic Ranch Dino-Steaks. The jingle keeps repeating over Kinga’s and Max’s promo, but I can’t stop watching Kinga grooving to the beat… oh, Kinga, please don’t torture me like this, but then, that’s what she’s so good at – torturing men.

(S1, Ep8 | 1108)

Jayne Mansfield’s canned-ham breasts seduce Mickey Hargitay’s petite skirt and oiled pecs. Hargitay is Hercules, who lifts kinda heavy stuff, while Mansfield overacts so much as the Greek Queen, it’s pretty obvious she only got the job for her massive mogadorians.
One of the Queen’s officers goes around killing people and framing others, while Hercules (dubbed with a suspiciously Schwarzenegger accent) moons after the Greek Queen, falls in love with the Amazonian Queen, kills a Hydra dragon puppet and battles Bigfoot in a cave. I know, right?
• Full Review by Poffy The Cucumber

M. Waverly enters unfriendly airspace.

MST3K 1108 | notes:

During a sketch where Jonah and the Bots are dressed as gossiping vestal virgins, a new robot enters stage right, a sassy little philanderer named M. Waverly. “I must’ve wandered into Hades – because there is a lot of hot stuff around here!” The Bots immediately bristle at Jonah trying to “Raven-Symone” them. Tom: “This isn’t a sitcom that needs a new kid when the old kid grows up!” (I personally call it the Bloated Cindy Brady Syndrome.) They dismantle M. Waverly with extreme prejudice.

(“M. Waverly” – the name is killing me!)

(S1, Ep9 | 1109)

Godzilla – South Korea edition.
Looks like someone was paying attention to what made Godzilla movies tick: giant reptilian monster created by radiation, toy city destroyed, toy tanks, toy planes; even the spikes on Yongary’s back resemble the Christmas tree-like ornaments on Japan’s favorite wrecking ball. On the periphery, there’s the Scientist, the Soldier, the Politician – and the Annoying Kid who Saves the Day, who tells the army what to shoot, tells politicians how to politic, and tells scientists how to science.
Whereas GODZILLA was a parable about man’s hubris, YONGARY is about fending off plagiarism lawsuits from Toho Company.
Full Review by Poffy The Cucumber

Tom’s night club idea can only be used once.

MST3K 1109 | notes:

The Mads’ Invention: promoting Hitler Coffee – Todd Hitler. Now that’s game!

A segment where Jonah discusses real life astronauts and their (fictional?) tastes in music, from Alan Shepard to Sally Ride and Yuri Gagarin, complete with little drawings on shaped blocks. We can laugh AND learn.

Jonah and Bots sing about getting through the pain of the movie, and are joined by Kinga and Max, and we learn a valuable lesson: that Patton Oswalt sings about as well as Oliver Reed in TOMMY.

(S1, Ep10 | 1110)

A wimp magician youth and his doughy warrior friend must journey through a forest of schoolyard swordfights to win the boy’s rightful kingdom back from a guy who runs the local Lebanese restaurant – no, wait, that’s the powerful wizard who killed the boy’s father.
Helping them achieve their not-too-urgent goal is a white-furred wookiee-adjacent thing, a dwarf, a mermaid, and a troupe of ambiguously Ralph-Macchio street urchins.

Boy Wizard Tom dons the festive pink robes of the hero of “Wizards.”

MST3K 1110 | notes:

During the riffing, Crow does a callback to Joel’s last episode, putting Joel’s sign-off in a wizard’s mouth, “I can’t turn back. I don’t know how it works! Goodbye folks!”

Jonah sings to Tom (who wants to “raise an army of deadly zombies”) on growing into his power, likening it to growing into puberty, in an original song that sounds oddly like Beauty School Dropout from GREASE in tune and theme.

(S1, Ep11 | 1111)

Like one WIZARDS OF THE LOST KINGDOM was not enough. Comes the sequel, only barely. With no recurring characters from the original, no continuity with the original, even worse efx, and no acting to be seen anywhere onscreen, we find it almost as hard to not care about this one as the last one.
David Carradine (who either has a house payment or a coke habit to support) stars as Dark One, who teams with a whiny, pre-pubescent teen boy, an old washed-up wizard, a Chippendale’s dancer, and a brazen wench to save a kingdom from two guys from a gay Mardi Gras float— no, wait, that’s how all evil wizards dress.

Barbarians even more lackluster than David Carradine.

MST3K 1111 | notes:

Jonah and Bots feature their Dark One’s Renaissance Inn & Grille: “If your customers survive – you’re doing it wrong!”

“You Might Be A Crummy Wizard” – in the style of Jeff Foxworthy’s “You Might Be a Redneck.”

Once again, Pearl Forrester, Bobo and Observer visit Kinga, who announces she wants to start her own family – and marry. Through a process of elimination, she settles on Jonah as the lucky Groom. Betrothal throughline To Be Continued.

(S1, Ep12 | 1112)

A low-rent carnival owner (who looks like a registered sex offender from the 70s) discovers that his resident ominous magician (who looks like Ritchie Blackmore, but with a more obvious wig) is harboring a talking chimp!
With the help of the jealous tiger trainer (who looks like Ralph Macchio as a man), a scientist (on accounta his European accent) steals the chimp to “study” him, but in reality, to vivisect him to discover how he talks. Hey gang, it’s time to get the Carny Squad together to solve this case!

The Gauche is strong in this one!

MST3K 1112 | notes:

Kinga gets it into her head that she wants to marry. While Max thinks he’s the lucky guy, primping and attempting to react accordingly humble, Kinga makes it clear he’s barking up the wrong tree, which crushes him. Kinga propositions Jonah, for which he is suitably horrified – of accepting the offer OR declining it. “Jonah, I’m just a megalomaniacal girl, standing in front of a kidnapped boy, asking her to love him – or she’ll shut off his oxygen.”

There’s a real disconnect with this Kinga-marriage thread, because… well, Kinga is hot. We’re talkin’ smokin’ hot. Yes, she’s crazy evil, but that wouldn’t stop any man from at least contemplating hitting it and quitting it before the fur flies. This is how we ALL do business, ALL the time. We never learn. We know she be crazy but we delude ourselves that she can’t be that crazy… Before Jonah can refute her advances – Invention Exchange!

The Mads’ Invention: drinkable sweat (and all I can think of is licking Kinga’s sweat off her perfect pearbottom – as does Max, who tries to discourage Jonah from wedding her).

A space three-ring circus visits – with ringmaster Mark Hamill as Phineas Tiberius Mindslap!

(S1, Ep13 | 1113)

Who knew? Santa’s a deadbeat renter! And the land baron that owns the North Pole wants his rent by midnight Christmas Eve – or he’s going to evict Santa, his wife and all his elves!
With the help of a lawyer, Santa must get a job to pay his rent, landing the gig as a Store Santa (who woulda thought?!) – until the land baron buys the store and fires him. It is up to the children of the world to donate their pennies to stave off Santa’s eviction.
So now we know what saved Santa’s holiest of days – lawyers and bailouts. I think we’re way past “forgetting the true spirit of Christmas” here…

I don’t care what de white man say, Santy Claus is Jewish.

MST3K 1113 | notes:

While the faux-Christmas episode unspools, Kinga’s marriage plans move ahead.

The Bots deride the ridiculous toys that we always see in Christmas movies – toy soldiers and rocking horses. Tom: “Don’t force me to use my imagination. Someone please tell me how to play with this thing!”

Joel! As Santa Claus! With a chunky speaking role, capturing that sleepy-eyed Joel of old we know and love! We also find out Santa is Jewish.

During the end credits, we hear a snatch of Crow’s Christmas song, A Patrick Swayze Christmas.

(S1, Ep14 | 1114)

All the synergy of the Season seems to collide in this final episode of Season 11, as we meet Doug McClure again as the star of the bad movie; Keith Barron (his captain in THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT) is here as a reporter; Carolyn Munro (whom we met nakedly in STARCRASH) is a cavegirl (who knew they had mascara and push-up bras at the Earth’s core? Is she the sexiest woman alive? Poffy says yes), and the movie itself, an informal sequel to LAND THAT TIME FORGOT, is also written by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
This time, McClure and a professor (Peter Cushing) arrive in a prehistoric land within the Earth and must battle natives and beasts to survive, and, uh – kinda like last time, I guess… but the monsters are actual “monsters” (not dinosaurs) and the rulers are giant telepathic bird-things (or maybe just guys in rubber suits), that McClure defeats with his Sweet American Right Hook.
• Full Review by Poffy The Cucumber

Women: they’ll kill you one way or another, from trapping you in a Satellite of Love, to marrying you…

MST3K 1114 | notes:

The last episode in Season 11, Crow assesses Jonah: “We were hoping for a combination of Joel and Mike, which would be a lot like T.J. Miller.” Tom: “But we got you instead, and that hasn’t been so bad.” This gives Jonah the confidence to try introducing another new robot pal, a green, piano-playing robot named Growler (who’s basically Rowlf The Dog from the Muppets), which the Bots, of course, hate with a vengeance.

Max calls on the Observer Hive Mind Manager (Paul Chaplin) to stock Kinga’s wedding with “guests” – 40,000 Observers.

Advising Max on how to be an alpha male, Joel McHale visits as Doug McClure in a flowery vest. And, like McClure, he’s at war with his shirt sleeves, which are nowhere to be seen. What can be seen, though, are his massive guns.

In a badly-acted finale, which may just be intentionally mirroring some of the objects of their derision, Kinga’s wedding ceremony progresses. Pearl Forrester, Bobo and Observer make a surprise visit, while Max stews over his love being lost to Jonah. (It is only now that I realize that Pearl was not, in fact, playing her clone as well, and that it is Rebecca Hansen, made up to look eerily like her, down to her weight (as MST does not have the budget to make Mary Jo Pehl and her clone appear onscreen so seamlessly — Is that an insult or a compliment?). Before quivering Jonah can say, “I do,” Max, in a pique of jealous fury, unleashes Repitilicus Metalicus, who eats Jonah and scatters the crowd.

The End (?)

MST3K-Season11_titleMYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 – SEASON 11 (Apr 2017) | TV-14
Directors: Robert Cohen, Joel Hodgson.
Writers (partial list): Joel Hodgson, Elliott Kalan, Jonah Ray, Baron Vaughn, Hampton Yount, Mary Robinson, Storm DiCostanzo, Tammy Golden, Matt Oswalt, Seth Robinson, Paul Sabourin, Paul Chaplin, Felicia Day, Bill Corbett, Rebecca Hanson, Mary Jo Pehl, Dana Gould, Joel McHale.
Starring: Felicia Day, Patton Oswalt, Jonah Ray, Baron Vaughn, Hampton Yount, Rebecca Hanson, Joel Hodgson, Neil Patrick Harris, Jerry Seinfeld, Joel McHale, Elliott Kalan, Mary Jo Pehl, Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett, Paul Chaplin.
MST3K SEASON 11 premiered on Netflix in Apr 2017.
Word Count: 3,800      No. 1,309
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