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Bring Back MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000

Created by Joel Hodgson & Team MST3K

Bring Back MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000
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48,270 backers pledged $5,764,229.38 on Kickstarter

You did it: you brought back MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000! Thanks to you, MST3K will be able to shoot FOURTEEN NEW EPISODES next year, including a new holiday special!

Raised in Kickstarter
$5,764,229.38 / 48,270 backers
Raised in BackerKit
$630,154.47 / 46,926 backers

Learn About Our Project:

 
  • DEC 10: MST3K's Next Big ... CAMEOS!
  • DEC 9MST3K's Next Big ... ARTISTS!
  • DEC 9: MST3K's Next Big ... WRITERS!
  • DEC 9: WE'RE AT $4.4MM = 9 NEW EPISODES
  • DEC 8: MST3K MIMOBOTS® & REWARD UPGRADES
  • DEC 7: FINAL COUNTDOWN WEEK & TELETHON
  • DEC 6: MORE 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?
  • DEC 4ADD-ON REWARDS & EXCLUSIVES
  • DEC 2: WE'RE AT $3.3MM = 6 NEW EPISODES!
  • NOV 30PATTON OSWALT JOINS MST3K
  • NOV 28SECOND BIGGEST FILM KICKSTARTER EVER!
  • NOV 23: THE NEXT MAD, CROW & SERVO
  • NOV 18: THE OFFICIAL CAMPAIGN POSTER
  • NOV 16: THE NEXT HOST
  • NOV 12: ANSWERS TO 5 BIG QUESTIONS
         • Exactly how Joel will use the Kickstarter funds..
         • Why the old cast and writers haven't signed on... yet.
         • Why a new cast is so important for the next season!

Hello, People of Earth. 

Welcome! I'm Joel Hodgson. 

Once upon a time, a television series called MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 was born. We debuted on Minneapolis' KTMA, local television, on Thanksgiving Day 1988, as the world was in the final throes of Teddy Ruxpin-mania. That was almost thirty years ago, but for some reason, people still seem to like the show – it’s a mitzvah!

Our show has had a long, strange run. Across a UHF channel, a cable network, cancellation, a feature film, then another cable network, the show lasted for 12 years, two generations of hosts and puppeteers, 2 Emmy nominations and a total of 197 episodes before we got canceled again for good in 1999. Sadly, it was just as Prince predicted.

But maybe that's not where it all ends.

Starting today, we finally get a chance to bring back MST3K.

With your help, we can create a new season of MST3K, prove there's still an audience, and maybe even convince a network to bring us back for more.

Great question.

The simplest answer is that there are a lot of cheesy movies left to riff, and a lot of people who would still enjoy watching them with us.

Plus, I think there's a place for us. Nowadays, riffing is everywhere! Many people claim that MST3K created a shift in the way people watch TV shows, and that now, as a result, the fields of entertainment have been plowed and readied for a riffing renaissance.

I mean, look at the influence it’s had... Everyone riffs on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Hell, there are ten to twelve people who are still, unironically, riffing on MySpace and Friendster.

In a world where riffing has become as common as our national pastime, baseball, it makes sense: like baseball, everyone knows how to play, but sometimes it feels good to just sit back and watch the original movie riffing team take a whack at it. And if we came back, imagine all the riffs we could make about things like Uber or Cards Against Humanity!

Also, there’s a pile of scriptural evidence in whichever sacred text that you hold dear to prove that we need more seasons of MST3K… so when you share on social media, you know you’re not going to offend anybody.

You know, I just read that last sentence... and actually, I’m pretty sure you’re going to offend everybody. But at least you can rest assured that you’ll offend everyone equally.

We do, and here's why: I think it's because MST3K is more than just movie riffing. It's a stranger and denser recipe than just saying smart aleck things to a forgotten movie, but I think this is the secret ingredient: we believed that it's easiest to survive the cheesy movie that we're living in with friends who keep us from taking it all too seriously.

Now, I don’t want to get too maudlin about it, because being too serious is the enemy of comedy. We weren't trying to send a message: job #1 was always to make a funny show. But while we were doing that, I hope we also helped show the kids that society, and the stupid things we say and do to each other, are "just a show, and you should really just relax.”

Yeah, this is what I was afraid of. Now I’m starting to sound like the Dr. Bronner's label. Next question?

The simplest answer is: until now, we couldn't bring MST3K back.

I've been thinking about ways to re-animate MST3K for over a decade... and over the last 15 years, I've met thousands of you who said that you wanted MST3K back too. But two things have finally changed that make this the right time. And I'm not talking about the legalization of marijuana or the proliferation of water jet pack use.

1. Crowdfunding gives fans the power to get what they want.

In less than two years, I've watched fans use crowdfunding to bring back Veronica Mars, Reading Rainbow and Super Troopers – all cult favorites, like us – and it made me wonder how MSTies would respond if we had the chance to return. Now we're going to find out… and then maybe LeVar Burton can finally stop acting like he’s so much better than us.

2. We had to work through some complicated legal issues.

Even though we've always wanted to bring MST3K back, it wasn't that easy. Thanks to the Last Will and Testament of one eccentric old heiress, the rights were tied up for years. It took time to work those issues out, but with the help of my friends at Shout Factory, a special chokehold I perfected in WuDang that I like to call “The Persuader,” and a night I had to spend in a haunted house as a term of the the old lady’s will, we succeeded.

This summer, we finally got all of the rights cleared up… and now, like Orpheus, we can now descend into hell to hang out with a couple of wisecracking robots.

Now we're talking!

Our Kickstarter campaign has two really important goals.

As soon as we reach our minimum goal of $2,000,000, we'll be able to make three new feature length episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. But then, for each additional $1.1 million we raise, we can make three more... up to a full season of 12 episodes!

(If you're wondering why new episodes cost so much – especially the first three – keep going down the page to "HOW WE'LL USE YOUR MONEY," or take a look at the Backer Update where I explained the budget in detail.)

Here's a simple diagram to help you remember our goals:

If we can raise even more than that, I'd love to shoot some (or all) of the new season LIVE in front of an audience – and maybe even stream the show live on the internet! (Oh yeah: I just saw your eyes light up.)

Finally, if we raise $1 BILLION – stay with me on this one – we’re going to adopt a real live teenage boy and “Truman Show” him into believing he is the Pumaman!

Hear us out, because this goal is just as important: we're not just crowdfunding because we need funding. 

We're also doing it because we need the crowd!

If we want a lot more MST3K, we need to work together to prove that there's still an audience out there that wants MST3K – and that this isn't all some pitiable delusion – so that we can find a network or online platform who will agree to pick up the show and keep it going… hopefully for another 200+ episodes.

Even if you can only spare $5 or $10, every extra backer helps us send a message to the networks: it's time to #BringBackMST3K.

____

Okay. It's time for me to put away the grease gun and give you your marching orders.

If any of this rings true to you, we need your help now to spread the word. Back in the day, every episode of MST3K ended with a message that encouraged fans to “Keep Circulating the Tapes.” And you guys did.

Those grassroots efforts helped MST3K find friends and fans at a time when the rest of show business didn’t quite know what to make of us. It was social media in its most primitive form... and because of you, it worked.

Today's, it's time to update that phrase for the internet age. If you're with us, this is your call to action, MSTies.

And while you're at it, you can help out even more by taking a minute to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. (Apparently those matter more than Nielsen ratings, now!)

Listen, I know this Kickstarter idea isn’t for everyone. Neither was Mystery Science Theater 3000. But just like MST3K itself, I know the right people will get it.

Thanks for reading. I hope you'll join us. 

Joel

Dear People of the Internet,

Welcome to my first-ever Official Crow-Funding Campaign. Tee Hee!

As #1 Golden Shiny Boy Champion, I need a place to shine bright and inspire. I want to be a part of your life again, serving in both a wind-beneath-your-wings and an ASRM capacity. You know you still want me, baby, but allow me to tell you why.

  • First, I like POP! Figures. I intend to roll most of the money into Funko stock. Plus a few hat parties.

  • Also, I’d like to open up a long-overdue public dialogue on Cee-Lo Green and his fashion choices.

  • Then, I plan on turning at least a thousand dollars’ worth of funds into pennies, which I will press into elongated souvenir coins at theme parks and fairs.

  • Finally, if you are still undecided, I ask you to consider this: after years of waiting, I will finally get to decide who lives and who dies. You don’t want to be on the wrong list, do you?

I look forward to your loyal service in the many years of the New Golden Age to come.

Your Future Supreme Being,
Crow T. Robot

Hello, Ladies.

I'm pleased to be with you again. It's been too long. Now that we're about to be a huge crowdfunding hit, I've got a few things I'd like to discuss with you.

It turns out that the last 15 years have been kind to our legacy: we're famous now. And not internet famous, either. Real famous. I have lots of female fans.

Angelina, Scarlett, and many women named Madison: I've got parts in the new show with your names on them. You can come over and we can run lines in my bungalow, and I’ll make us a curry. Then if things get “consensual,” so be it.

I’ll also pretty much be the “troubleshooter” on this Kickstarter campaign, because I understand how you think and I’m a master of social media. My god: you do realize that I’m the uncredited creator of both memes and avatars?

I’M ALSO THE FIRST SENTIENT BEING TO TYPE A MESSAGE IN ALL CAPS.

What are you waiting for? Get out to the Kickstarter polls and start voting.

Yours,
Tom Servo

Hey everyone. It's Joel again.

Look, I know what you're wondering, so go ahead… just say it.

Believe me, man. I get it. If it 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. 

The real explanation is pretty simple.

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

  • CAMPAIGN FEES: Out of the first $2,000,000, we have to pay about 8% – that's $160,000 – in fees to Kickstarter and the credit card processor.

  • REWARD & SHIPPING COSTS: Then, we have 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, they count that money toward the total we've raised, even though we still have to spend it 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!

2. Then, we have to spend a lot on startup costs just to get the show going. 

To shoot new episodes, there's a lot we'll need to do: 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 our 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.

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

We have to spend the same amount 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 $2,000,000 left. In fact, that leaves just $750K for three episodes, which – I hope – sounds a lot more reasonable than $2,000,000!

At the end of the day, our goal is to make each episode for around $250K.

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

Now, if you're as tired of reading as I am of writing, here are some wicked cool graphics that explain all of this:

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

Plus, $750K for each set of three episodes feels a lot better than $2,000,000. 

(But man, I'd hate to try to sell a car to you people. Tough crowd!)

Hopefully by now, you're already on board. Maybe you're not even reading this. Maybe you've already made your contribution, selected your rewards, and are now rushing around the internet helping spread the good word to all of your MST3K-deprived friends!

But if you're still on the fence, maybe I can make it easier for you.

Personally, I think the most compelling reason to help out is that you want to see new episodes of MST3K… and not just for you. Think of the friends and family who you can finally introduce to the new MST3K: the one with a fresh new cast, fresh new riffs, and zesty new cheesy movies!

On the other hand, let’s not any of us forget: this is Kickstarter. I know that you know that that’s gonna mean some cool rewards for helping us out. And for a show that’s never really been about cool merch...I think we’ve finally got some!

UPDATE! We've gotten a lot of questions asking exactly what's included with each package, so we've put together another helpful little chart:

You can see all of the rewards on the right side of the page, but here are a few highlights:

Become... Part of MYSTERY SCIENCE HISTORY!
All backers – no matter what you pledge – will be invited to join the new MST3K Information Club. (It's like the old MST3K Info Club, only better. And modern. And more exclusive. And wider in the hips.) Over the next year, we'll invite you to help us rediscover MST3K and get it oiled up and running smoothly. You'll be part of the process!

Read... Our Page-Turning Insider Updates 
We don't just want to take your cash and walk away: we want to take your cash and talk away! Most Kickstarter projects promise "exclusive behind-the-scenes updates," but this time, I mean it: I've already started planning things I want to share with you. It'll be like getting email from me, Crow and Servo for at least a year.

Possess... Amazing, Terrifying, Heart-Warming New MST3K Swag
Before the end of the campaign, we'll start sharing the designs we're planning for some of the #BringBackMST3K swag you can get, including the OFFICIAL T-SHIRT ($50+), OFFICIAL MUG ($75+), OFFICIAL KEYCHAIN ($100+), OFFICIAL POSTER ($150), and many more. We've got several amazing artists working on this stuff. I can't wait for you to see it.

Take Control.... of the New Episodes!Bringing back MST3K isn't enough power for you? Great! For real high-rollers, we're offering all sorts of ways to be part of the episodes themselves. You can…

  • Steal the hearts of millions when you... APPEAR IN AN EPISODE! 
  • Throw your weight around and… BECOME A PRODUCER! 
  • Kickstart your new riffing career and… HELP WRITE AN EPISODE!
  • Immortalize your favorite inside joke with… A PERSONAL RIFF!

Own and Command... Your OWN Robot Friend!
This one is difficult for me, but I want to make sure this Kickstarter succeeds, so I'm willing to make the sacrifice: a very limited number of you can KEEP THE ACTUAL CROW and/or SERVO FEATURED IN A NEW EPISODE! They'll record a personalized video for you, and then we'll ship them off to your doorstep. When we're done shooting.

1. FOLLOW "@MST3K" ON ALL OF OUR SOCIAL CHANNELS.Be sure to follow our official accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Ask your fellow MSTies to follow them too! Tell them that those numbers have a really big impact when we start asking networks to #BringBackMST3K for more new seasons.

2. CIRCULATE THE MESSAGES AT THE END OF EACH UPDATE. At the end of each Backer Update, Crow or Servo will share a message or image that you can copy and paste to share with your friends, to help spread the word.

3. KEEP CIRCULATING THE FACTS… NICELY! I know there are still some fans out there who are skeptical about this Kickstarter, about why MST3K costs so much money and how we'll spend it, about bringing in a third cast, about who is and isn't going to be involved… So, like they say on the subway, "If you see something, say something!" If you hear fans insisting that $2MM is more than we need to make three episodes, or that the old team isn't invited back, I hope you'll share the facts with them. (Please be nice, though! The internet needs a lot more of that.)

4. JOIN (OR START) A LOCAL MST3K MEETUP GROUP.
The internet is great, but sometimes riffing is even better when you can meet old (and new) friends in person! There are already a lot of MST3K groups on meetup.com, but if there's not one near you, start one now and invite your friends! We've got some events planned for this month, and we'll be calling on all the local groups to be part of them.

As long as we have the funds we need, we'll be able to produce new episodes. That part is easy! But over the last month, I've had lots of time to think about all the possible risks and challenges MST3K could face...

MAYBE THE WORLD HAS CHANGED!
MST3K has been away for a long time. YouTube didn't even exist when we shot the last episode of MST3K. (Yes, Virginia, there was a world before YouTube. People laughed more back then. Colors were brighter. There were concerts in the park.)

I've imagined many hypothetical risks:

  • What if no one enjoys watching B-movies anymore? 
  •  What if you don't want us talking while you do? 
  •  What if there is an unknown virus that has killed mankind's ability to enjoy a good solid ironic viewing? 
  • What if kids playing in “Garry’s Mod” on Twitch have made the whole thing meaningless? 
  • What if robot-shaped puppets don’t have the overwhelming cultural significance they once did? 
  • What if our collective consciousness can’t take the excitement, and the entire world becomes a flash mob, and we all steal our own TVs?
  • What if all eight billion people on the planet become a single “Improv Everywhere” troupe, but don’t have anyone left to surprise?!?

As you can see, this whole endeavor is fraught with risks.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

BIG NEWS: Mystery Science Theater 3000 will return on APRIL 14, 2017 on NETFLIX.
3 days ago – Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 11:34:28 PM

Dear MST3K Revival League,

Joel here. It’s been a really busy couple of weeks, and we just finished our third (and last) “Red Carpet Kickstarter Screening” of the first new episode of Mystery Science Theater, Experiment 1101. I’ll tell you more about those very soon, but right now, I’m writing to share some very important news:

The new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 will premiere on Netflix on April 14, 2017.

You know, I always promised that I’d tell you as soon as I found out, and Netflix actually just told me as we were finishing the Q&A session for our screening here in Los Angeles. So, I wanted to write and tell you right away.

Anyway, I’m off to meet some of the wonderful backers who came out for tonight’s screening, but I wanted to make sure you heard the news from me before you see it somewhere else. I’ll have more news for you soon.

And just so you don’t worry, we promise: if your rewards include the new episodes – or the livestream screening of the first new episode — we’ll make sure you have them by April 14, when the new episodes premiere on Netflix.

None of this would be happening without you. I’m really grateful.

Cheers & Thanks,

Joel

Some Notes on the "Lost" KTMA Episodes
3 months ago – Mon, Dec 05, 2016 at 11:03:09 PM

Dear MST3K Revival League,

I'm really pleased to hear that so many of you are enjoying the lost KTMA episodes! Now that you've had a week or two to watch them, I thought it would be nice to share some notes I wrote down a few weeks ago, when I was re-watching the episodes again for the first time.

Before I do that, though – I know that some backers have had trouble figuring out how to access the KTMA episodes, so Ivan asked me to share these reminders with you:

  • If you pledged $35 or more on Kickstarter (not on MST3K.com), your rewards include the lost KTMA episodes for free. You don't have to pay anything else. You'll find them in your collection of "Classic Bonus Episodes" on VHX.
  • The KTMA episodes are not available for purchase, but you can still make a $35 pledge on our MST3K BackerKit site. If you do, you'll get access to most of the rewards from that package, including the KTMA episodes. You can make a late pledge here, by choosing EXPERIMENT 035.
  • If you haven't activated your free VHX account yet, you'll need to do that first. If you're not sure how, Ivan sent instructions back in Update #34, so look there.  If you already finished filling out your BackerKit order form, you'll need to go look there. If you don't remember how, you can have the link sent to you again in email.
  • If you've got ANY questions or need help, please email kickstarter@mst3k.com so our support team can help you. Please do not contact Kickstarter or VHX support, because they won't be able to help. They'll just tell you to contact our team!

If you still haven't gotten to watch the episodes, I hope those instructions will help.

About the Lost Episodes

Also, before I share some specific notes about the "lost episodes", I wanted to point something out: Invaders from the Deep is considered Episode #1... but is it really?

Prior to this we made two other “tests” of MST3K:

THE PILOT

This is called the “pilot,” even though it really isn’t. It was actually a fifteen-minute “proof of concept” tape we made to explain the premise to Donald O'Connor – not the “Francis the talking Mule” Donald O'Connor, but the station manager of KTMA. Fortunately, Don liked this brief tape, so we were off and running.

The movie was Green Slime, but actually, we never really riffed much of it, and then we never riffed the full-length movie later because we lost the rights to use it. So mostly, the “proof of concept” included the sketch ideas, along with a rough version of the doorways, plus Crow and me and the robot-who-was-to-become-Tom-Servo walking in and sitting down. I remember we only did a few riffs in that, and dropped a couple of references to Star Wars. (“That’s no meteor, that’s a battle station!”)

If you want to see it, it looks like there are some links on YouTube to a panel where we showed the "Pilot" at a convention once.

EPISODE #0

The weird thing is that there may also be a still-missing KTMA Episode ("Episode #0"), which was a full-length episode but without the theme song. I remember after we viewed it, it was obvious the whole idea of MST was probably hard to understand for a first-time viewer, and Jim Mallon and I agreed the show needed some more explanation in the form of a theme song like Gilligan’s Island. This was in lieu of doing endless exposition about who we were, and what we were doing in space while watching bad movies.

So, Josh (J. Elvis) Weinstein and I wrote the MST3K lyrics, and Charlie (Chuck Love) Erickson composed the music with me. The theme song emerged into the body of the show on this episode. We roughed out the rest of the concept with some new model shots as well as including Trace and Josh as “his Bosses didn’t like him, so they shot him into space” and me dusting in the control room of KTMA.

.
To tell you the truth, though, I'm not sure if there was a different "Episode #0", or if we just added the theme song to the beginning, and then called that Episode #1. What I mean is, I don't remember if there was another movie we riffed, or if Episode #0 was just Invaders from the Deep, but without the opening song.

I'm kind of guessing that's what happened, because I’m pretty sure I re-used the “Vacuum Flowers” narrative idea for the sketches from the fifteen-minute “proof of concept” pilot, which makes me think that there wasn't a different Episode #0. If we were going to use the vacuum flowers, why wouldn't we have put them into the next episode we made, and come up with new stuff for Episode #1?

.
Actually, I’m starting to think that if that episode ever emerges, it’s likely the whole “vacuum flower” sketch pieces are in that show too, and maybe, because the theme song turned out so nice we just treated this Episode #1 as a total “do over” and grabbed all the sketch ideas from 0 and plugged them right into #1. Maybe.

Anyway, here are some notes on these two “long lost” episodes, Invaders from the Deep and Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars, that I took while watching them for the first time in a long time.

Episode 1: Invaders from the Deep

It appears as if Trace wasn’t with us this day, as J. Elvis is running all the puppets. This was pretty common for us at KTMA. Sometimes Josh would have to leave for a family event, as he was still in his teens when we started. So we would find ways to work around his absence too.

Also, it’s clear I was trying to emulate some ideas from the Douglas Trumbull film, Silent Running, which was very inspirational to the show. If you ever check it out, you’ll see LOTS of connections.

Also, the idea of the “Vacuum Flowers” was inspired by the title of the science fiction novel by Michael Swanwick, though I have never read it. I just thought it to be a hauntingly beautiful couple of words.

THE SHOW OPEN 
I’m surprised how much the Show Open has remained pretty much the same throughout the almost 200 iterations of the show. Thanks Charlie, and thank you Josh!

THE SATELLITE OF LOVE 
I made the original SOL from some Christmas tree lights, a couple of badminton rackets, and a game called Gnip Gnop:

 .

THE TITLES
The Original “Mystery Science Theater” letters were pretty big, probably about 12 to 14 inches tall:

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I carved those out of Styrofoam in my backyard on Snelling Avenue. I was trying to emulate some stuff I saw on Sid and Marty Kroft’s Land of the Lost – it was a bear. I used a carving knife with a serrated blade to try to make them look like rocks. Tough going. I remember bailing after constructing the words MYSTERY, SCIENCE, and THEATER, and asking Kevin if it was possible to just put the 3000 in during post:

.
(Also, just so you know, it was never, ever called Mystery Science Theater 2000, because, simply... that would be lame.)

THE ROCKET
The rocket is made of a traffic cone and one of those weird, plastic toy golf bags:

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I was unhappy we had to use the “digital” looking background plate, which was an element we found at KTMA, as I felt it broke with the show’s “puppet aesthetic,” but it was a time/money consideration. We rented a Rosco fogger at a place in Minneapolis called Norcostco, and I rigged a big, vinyl tube connector to it with duct tape so the smoke came out in the right place on the rocket.

THE MOVIE
I was thrilled to be working with Invaders from the Deep because, like many people my age, I grew up loving the work of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. But obviously, these types of films were pretty hard to riff on.

I think mostly there are no expressions for the puppets on screen, and it’s really hard to say anything other than, “Hey, that puppet does his own stunts.” I remember we had a chance to re-riff this film and Mysterons later in the Comedy Channel days but I decided against it.

(Also, in the body of the theme song we show a few shots from Invaders from the Deep, so that’s further evidence it’s the first time we used the theme song.)

CROW
There's lots of stuff intact from this version of Crow that we’re still using on the new MST3K: the lacrosse mask, the empire plastic bowling pin, as well as the Tupperware elements that made up his shoulders and chest area:

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TOM SERVO
Tom is still made using the bubble gum bank and the “money lover’s barrel":

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GYPSY
Gypsy is still made from an infant car seat carrier, though a different style.

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THE SET
The background “action” has some unique “kit bashing” elements too.

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You may notice some of these same pieces ended up on the set in season two on Comedy Central, as I took many of the pieces from the KTMA set, saved them, and then built them into that set: Notably, a “slush-molded” reindeer I cut in two with a band saw, as well as a plastic snow saucer.

PROPS
The man-eating flowers, airbag for motorcyclists, and reptile thermometer were things in various stages of development from my stand-up act:

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Naturally, none of this would have existed without Jim Mallon and Kevin Murphy having the keys to the studio at KTMA. I really just did the conceptual stuff and art direction (what there is of it) and they supplied the technical know-how. Special thanks to them.

Episode 2: Mysterons from Mars

To quote David Lynch’s Dune: “The beginning is a very delicate time.”

I recruited Trace and Josh from the Minneapolis comedy scene. I picked Josh because, even as a teenager, he was a stone-cold joke writer. I picked Trace because he might be the funniest improviser I ever met. This remains true for both of them to this day.

I remember writing these initial sketches based on what I knew I could easily put together prop-wise, but after a while Trace and Josh got more involved, because frankly, I really don’t enjoy writing stuff by myself. Also, further downstream, Kevin and Jim started suggesting ideas for jokes in the sketches too.

SHOW OPEN AND SKETCHES
Some nice themes emerging, and everyone figuring out their parts. Love that it’s so much about thanksgiving!

MOVIE RIFFING
The first thing I notice is how few riffs there are. Also, we seem to be sort of whispering and timid, like we don’t want to piss anyone off or disturb them from the movie. Interesting: Thinking back, I’m remembering that I seriously didn’t know how many interruptions caused by riffing the audience could tolerate – what’s possible? It wasn’t obvious to me. So, as you’ll see, in the beginning, it’s very slow going. Still, I’m seeing a few riffs I really like.

Example: There are these timpani drums playing, and this sort of quick intercutting to this really funny looking model of a space station, and I just whisper, in awe: “Cloud Base!”

I’m also seeing some forgotten ideas I’d like to include back into the next iteration of the show, if we’re fortunate enough to get another new season.

The demon dogs in the show opening was a bit from my live show, “Spookfest ’87.” They were florescent because they were used in a “black art” music number:

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They sang and danced to the song Uncorrected Personality Traits by Robin Hitchcock, which I believe Josh Weinstein was a puppeteer on.

Another example: 

Why do they call him Captain Blue? (Really long pause.) His language?

Also, these two films are spellbinding and intensely interesting, mostly because of the brilliant model work by the great Derek Meddings.

THEATER SEATS
I also like it with us having nine seats across, so the silhouettes are smaller. To me, it allowed more screen area for the film, as well as emulating a wide screen of a movie theater. I think later, we made the adjustment to making the silhouettes bigger to accommodate a “TV safe” area, but I didn’t like it as much. Too much of the silhouettes, not enough movie screen:

I’m happy to report, with the new shows we now have ten seats across, so we are back to a very similar aspect ratio for the host and the bots.

Anyway, those are the notes I took. Thanks for reading, and have a good week everybody. 

Cheers & Thanks,

Joel

The MST3K "Black Friday" Special: Your Top 100 Episodes. PLUS: The Long-Awaited Turkey Day Surprise!
3 months ago – Fri, Nov 25, 2016 at 11:36:55 PM

Dear MST3K Revival League,

First, I hope you had a wonderful Turkey Day, and – if you got a chance to join us – that you enjoyed this year's MST3K Turkey Day Marathon! I'm still recovering from yesterday's big meal, so I'll try to keep this update short. There are just two things I promised I'd talk about today.

 

First, like I said on Monday, this year's Turkey Day Marathon lineup was a little bit different, because it was actually chosen by you, when you voted for your "Top 10 MST3K Episodes."

In case you weren't able to join us yesterday, Jonah and I counted-down the TOP 6 EPISODES, based on your votes, which were:

1. Manos: The Hands of Fate 
2. Space Mutiny
3. Final Sacrifice
4. Mitchell
5. Pod People
6. Pumaman 

Now for a little confession: Our lineup actually wasn't in the exactorder of the vote, because I wanted to keep up our Thanksgiving tradition of alternating between "Joel" and "Mike" episodes. But, those were the Top 6 Episodes – I was really pleased to see that your Top 6 naturally included three from each of us. It just seems right, you know?

Anyway, I didn't want to ruin yesterday's lineup by announcing the voting results ahead of time, but now that this year's Turkey Day Marathon is behind us, I wanted to go ahead and share the complete list, so you can see where the Revival League ranked your favorite episodes.

Here's how it all turned out:

THE REVIVAL LEAGUE'S DEFINITIVE
TOP 100 EPISODES OF MST3K

1. Manos: The Hands of Fate - (424)
2. Space Mutiny - (820)
3. Mitchell - (512)
4. The Final Sacrifice - (910)
5. Pod People - (303)
6. Puma Man - (903)
7. Santa Claus Conquers The Martians - (321)
8. Werewolf - (904)
9. Cave Dwellers - (301)
10. Time Chasers - (821)

11. Overdrawn At The Memory Bank - (822)
12. I Accuse My Parents - (507)
13. Eegah! - (506)
14. Gamera - (302)
15. Prince of Space - (816)
16. Hobgoblins - (907)
17. Laserblast - (706)
18. Soultaker - (1001)
19. Godzilla vs. Megalon - (212)
20. Jack Frost - (813)

21. Santa Claus - (521)
22. Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders - (1003)
23. The Brain That Wouldn't Die - (513)
24. The Touch of Satan - (908)
25. Teenagers From Outer Space - (404)
26. The Day the Earth Froze - (422)
27. Warrior of the Lost World - (501)
28. The Giant Spider Invasion - (810)
29. Catalina Caper - (204)
30. Fugitive Alien - (310)

31. Master Ninja I - (322)
32. Time of the Apes - (306)
33. Gamera vs. Guiron - (312)
34. Final Justice - (1008)
35. Boggy Creek II - (1006)
36. Riding with Death - (814)
37. The Sidehackers - (202)
38. Outlaw (Of Gor) - (519)
39. Future War - (1004)
40. Monster A-Go-Go - (421)

41. "Parts": The Clonus Horror - (811)
42. The Killer Shrews - (407)
43. The Giant Gila Monster - (402)
44. Deathstalker and the Warriors From Hell - (703)
45. Red Zone Cuba - (619)
46. The Girl in Gold Boots - (1002)
47. Alien From L.A. - (516)
48. Hercules Against The Moon Men - (410)
49. Diabolik - (1013)
50. Horror Of Party Beach - (817)

51. The Amazing Colossal Man - (309)
52. Danger! Death Ray - (620)
53. The Creeping Terror - (606)
54. Daddy-O + Alphabet Antics - (307)
55. The Incredibly Strange Creatures… - (812)
56. Lost Continent - (208)
57. Attack Of The Eye Creatures - (418)
58. Squirm - (1012)
59. Star Force: Fugitive Alien II - (318)
60. Zombie Nightmare - (604)

61. Hercules Unchained - (408)
62. Quest of the Delta Knights - (913)
63. The Beast of Yucca Flats - (621)
64. The Screaming Skull - (912)
65. The Magic Sword - (411)
66. The Mole People - (803)
67. Operation Double 007 - (508)
68. Wild, Wild World of Batwoman - (515)
69. The Beginning of the End - (517)
70. Magic Voyage of Sinbad - (505)

71. Agent for H.A.R.M. - (815)
72. Girls Town - (601)
73. Devil Doll - (818)
74. Hamlet - (1009) 
75. Night of the Blood Beast - (701)
76. The Beatniks - (415)
77. Secret Agent Super Dragon - (504)
78. The Starfighters - (612)
79. Bride of the Monster - (423)
80. It Conquered The World - (311) 

81. Rocketship X-M - (201)
82. The Crawling Eye - (101)
83. Moon Zero Two - (111)
84. Godzilla Vs. The Sea Monster - (213)
85. Gamera Vs. Zigra - (316)
86. Robot Holocaust - (110)
87. The Incredible Melting Man - (704)
88. Escape 2000 - (705)
89. Gamera Vs. Gaos - (308)
90. Gamera Vs. Barugon - (304)

91. Tormented - (414)
92. Samson vs. The Vampire Women - (624)
93. Angels' Revenge - (622)
94. Horrors of Spider Island - (1011)
95. Invasion of the Neptune Men - (819)
96. Devil Fish - (911)
97. Master Ninja II - (324)
98. The Deadly Mantis - (804)
99. San Francisco International - (614)
100. Wild Rebels - (207)

So, there you go! Your official Top 100 List, based on thousands of ballots from backers.

Now, I've got to tell you, I also had a little bit of an ulterior motive when I asked you to vote on your Top 100 Episodes. Now that we're in post-production, it’s really not that long until you'll finally see 14 new episodes, and I've been thinking a lot about how hard it can be to compete with nostalgia. One of the things I'll be really curious about, once you have seen the new episodes, is where you'll decide they rank against this list, taken from the first 11 years of the show.

There's no way for me to guess how these new episodes will live up to how you remember your favorites, but what I can tell you is, I'm feeling pretty good about all of them. And, since we're working with a whole new team, and new writers, and so much time has passed, I'm trying to set a realistic goal for us. So, I think we'd be doing pretty great – and on par with the original run – if about half of our new episodes end up somewhere in the Top 100. That's kind of my goal. If we can do that, I think we'll be doing pretty good. But once the episodes come out, you'll tell us what you think, and that'll help me figure if we got off to the right start this time.

Now, let's get to today's other big announcement.

Your "Black Friday" Bonus Reward!

On Monday, I also promised that – since we didn't have any new episodes ready to show you on Turkey Day – I'd send a special treat on Friday to make it up to you.

And you know, I know it's a treat some of you have been wanting for a long time – maybe even since we first ran this advertisement in The St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch on Turkey Day of 1988, when our very first episode, Invaders From the Deep, premiered on KTMA:

.

So yeah, some of you already guessed it, but let's make it official:

I'm happy to tell you that we finally found master tapes for two of the three "lost KTMA episodes" of MST3K: Invaders from the Deep, and Revenge of the Mysterons from Mars.

I actually thought we had discovered copies of these episodes at one point during the Kickstarter last year, and I was really excited that I'd be able to finally share them with you… and then it turned out that we hadn't found them, and it was a real bummer. But then, earlier this year, a few final boxes turned up. And there they were: the very first episodes of MST3K ever made.

So yeah: If your Kickstarter rewards include any of the "Classic MST3K Bonus Episodes", the two "lost episodes" are now waiting for you – a special "Happy Turkey Day" present from all of us at MST3K. (Just remember, though, these are really old episodes, so I hope you can look at them like a "first draft" of what the show would turn into.)

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Just log into your VHX account, and you'll see them in your collection of Classic Episodes. You can stream and download them, whatever you want.

I don't want to give you more reading for today, so I'll just say that I really loved getting a chance to see these early episodes again. You can see Josh and Trace and me just wading into “movie riffing” and starting to play with all the elements and dynamics of the show and the set pieces. Obviously, it’s pretty slow. We didn’t pre-watch any of the films or even attempt to write any jokes; it’s just us, starting out, “blue skying” it.

(Naturally, if I could have known that, almost 30 years later, there would be a group of about 50,000 folks looking at these as a sort of “historical document,” I probably would have tried to find ways to put more time into them. But, as they say, it is what it is.)

Also, I have to tell you: This week was the first time that I’ve watched these in a long time. Seeing them now, I’m so proud we took the leap of faith and tried it. The cast and crew are suiting up in the gear and giving it a whack, and even this early on – as primitive as it is – you can sort of feel where this is all going.

Anyway, I took some notes when I watched them, and I'd like to share those with you. But I thought maybe I'd wait until next week, and give you this weekend to watch them first.

If you do watch, I hope you'll let me and your fellow Revival Leaguers know what you think in the comments. I'll be really interested to hear your take.

Anyway, that's all for today.

I hope you each had a wonderful Turkey Day, and that you know how grateful I am for everything you've done to help Bring Back MST3K.

Cheers & Thanks,

Joel

Post-Production Update, Turkey Day Marathon THIS THURSDAY. Plus: DOUBLE-CHECK your End Credit Listing ASAP!
3 months ago – Mon, Nov 21, 2016 at 11:33:11 PM

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Dear MST3K Revival League,

First things first: We've got a special occasion to celebrate!

The last year has been such a crazy ride that I didn't realize until a few days ago that our club – the MST3K Revival League – is now a year old. So, you know...

Happy Anniversary!

It's hard to believe, but we launched our Kickstarter all the way back on November 10, 2016… and by this time last year, the Kickstarter was almost halfway over, and we had just passed our first big goal.

Since then, so much has happened… and with Turkey Day coming up this week, I've been thinking about how grateful the whole Mystery Science team is for everything that happened. But you know, it's not Turkey Day yet, so I'll save that for later this week.

Today, I wanted to share a few important updates with you. Also, I know Ivan has one important update about your Kickstarter rewards, and I want him to tell you about that. Sound good?

Post-Production Update

First, I wanted to update you on how the new episodes are coming along.

As you know, we shot all 14 new episodes around the end of September, and for the last month and a half, we've been hard at work on post-production: editing the episodes together, mixing the audio, adding the music, fixing some transitions, that sort of thing. And man, I just have to say, they're coming out beautifully. I've been working with some very talented people, and they're almost finished. The episodes, not the people.

Anyway, there's a few more steps involved, because modern television needs to be at higher level of quality than it used to, but I'm happy to be doing it. I'm also thrilled to report that the new episodes feel like they've landed in the world of MST3K. I've been really happy watching them come together, and I think you will be too.

No, when we did last year's Turkey Day Marathon, I thought it would be great if we could show you our very first new episode on this year's Turkey Day Marathon. But I've got to tell you: they're just not quite ready yet. And like I've said all along, we all want to make these new episodes as good as we can, so I hope you'll be patient just a little bit longer. It'll be worth the wait.

There are still a lot of little twitchy details to deal with, but it's looking good. In fact…

Right now, we're on track to finish editing all of the new episodes by the end of January!

I know a lot of you are eager to hear when the new episodes will be available, both on Netflix and – if your Kickstarter rewards include them – to download. The answer is that we still aren't 100% sure, but we're getting really close, and I think you can definitely expect them in the first half of 2017. 

As soon as we have an official release date, I'll tell you.

And you know, even without our first new episode, it's still going to be a good week, because it's time for...

The MST3K Turkey Day Marathon 2016!

That's right, friends. This Thursday, we'll continue a time-honored tradition with another installment of our MST3K TURKEY DAY MARATHON! 

If you don't remember from last year, here's how it works: every year on Turkey Day, we select six great, classic Mystery Science Theater episodes, then reheat them and serve 'em up with new introductions.

This year, I'll be getting some help from the next host of MST3K, Jonah Ray!

So, be sure to mark your calendars, because...

This Thursday, November 24, the MST3K Turkey Day Marathon will start at 9am PT / 12pm ET, on ShoutFactoryTV.com!

And, since I was busy getting our new episodes ready, I asked all of you to help pick this year's menu, by voting for your "Top Ten" episodes of MST3K. And man, did you: with over 10,000 votes, we now have a DEFINITIVE LIST of the TOP 100 CLASSIC MST3K EPISODES!

On Thursday, we'll serve up the TOP SIX, based on your votes. Then, when this year's marathon is over, I'll share the entire TOP 100, so you can see how it all came out.

Anyway, if you need a break from football and want to spend some of your Turkey Day with your MST3K family, I hope you'll join us. Feel free to RSVP in the comments, and be sure to join us during the marathon on Thursday by posting with #MST3K.

A Friday Surprise!

One more thing: even though I don't have a new episode of MST3K ready to share with you for Turkey Day, I still want you to have something special to look forward to.

So, if your Kickstarter rewards include any "bonus classic episodes of MST3K," save some room on Turkey Day for a bonus reward that I'll send on Friday to go with your leftovers. I've got a pretty special treat to share, which some of you have been waiting a long time for.

Stay tuned for that!

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Now, that's all I've got for today, because I've got to get ready to go back to Los Angeles for the next few days. I'll be working with Jonah and some of our cast on "ADR", which is when we re-record some of the audio for their lines to make sure it sounds just right.

But I know Ivan has a pretty IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT about your Kickstarter rewards, so keep reading. I'll see you on Turkey Day.

Cheers & Thanks,

Joel

 

Hey Everyone!

I've just got one quick – but important! – update for you, because it's time-sensitive.

This update is for anyone whose Kickstarter rewards included a "Thank You" in the end credits (that's Experiment 085 and up) OR who claimed a "Thank You Credit" Add-On Reward on the MST3K website.

As Joel said, we're making good progress on all 14 episodes for the new season, and as part of that, we're starting to put together the end credits for each episode.

At this point, we've prepped all of the lists of names, and we need to lock them down in about a week. But a few hundred of you still haven't provided a name for us to use, and there's always a chance that a few of you had typos when you requested your name.

The last thing we want is for you to discover a problem when you're watching the new season, because it'll be too late for us to fix it! So...

Please take 30 seconds and proofread your "Thank You" credit for the new season right now!

Here's how:

1. Take a look at the MASTER LIST of end credits. 
2. Wait a minute for it to load, then use "FIND" to search for your name.
3. If your name is LISTED WRONG, please let us know ASAP using this form.

If your name is MISSING: 

Please be sure you've checked your BackerKit answers to confirm that your rewards included a name in the end credits and that you provided one. If both answers are "Yes", let us know ASAP at kickstarter@mst3k.com, not in the comments below!

Please let us know if there's a problem by MONDAY, NOV 28, or we can't guarantee we'll be able to make changes.

Happy Almost Turkey Day!

Ivan

MST3K's new season will be on NETFLIX! Plus: the return of Pearl, Bobo and Brain Guy!
7 months ago – Tue, Aug 02, 2016 at 12:00:53 AM

Dear MST3K Revival League,

Joel here. How is everyone? I hope you all had a good weekend.

This update took a few days longer to write than I wanted, because I had a few personal matters come up just after San Diego Comic-Con, so I'm just getting home.

But, you know, even if you weren't able to "tune in" last Saturday night when we posted it, I'm hoping you've now heard the big news that we announced, because it seems like it got around pretty fast.

After going to a lot of meetings with a lot of networks, and talking with lots of board rooms full of open-minded executives, we've finally reached a deal I'm thrilled about:

I'm really happy to tell you that Mystery Science Theater 3000 has found a new home with our friends at Netflix!

Now, we just wrapped up this deal last Saturday – just a couple hours before our panel – so I don't have all of the details and answers for you just yet. But the most important thing I can tell you is that this is a really great outcome for our show. I'll tell you more in a second, but here are a few other specific details you might want to know:

  • WHERE: We've reached a deal with Netflix to distribute MST3K in what our lawyers call "the English-speaking territories," which means you'll be able to watch Mystery Science Theater on Netflix in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland. This is huge, because we’ve actually never been available outside of North America before.

(Now, if you're not in one of those countries, don't get too worked up yet. We're still looking at more international options. And no matter what, I promise: if your Kickstarter rewards include the new episodes, you will get them at the same time as everyone else, no matter where you live. We're not going to make you wait. You're not second-class citizens! You’re first class all the way.)

  • WHEN: The official announcement said that the new episodes will be released in "the not-too-distant future", and of course, I want to get them to you as soon as we can… but like I said earlier this year: I want to get these new episodes right, even if it takes a little longer to finish them. So, we don't have an official date yet, but we'll tell you as soon as we do.

Also, some of you are wondering what this means for your Kickstarter rewards, like the live-stream, the digital downloads of the new season, and the DVDs. But don't worry, my friends: We're going to do right by you. We made sure that Netflix knew about all of our Kickstarter promises, and made sure we'd still be able to honor them. So, even though the new season will be available on Netflix, it won't change when you get your rewards.

Why Netflix?

There are a lot of reasons that helped us decide Netflix was the best home for Mystery Science Theater, but I just want to tell you a few of the big ones.

I think one of the biggest reasons I'm glad we're on Netflix is length. See, MST is a lot longer than most television shows, because each episode includes most of a cheesy feature film. Back when we were first making MST3K, that wasn't a problem. In fact, it was really an advantage, because on KTMA, The Comedy Channel, Comedy Central and even Sci-Fi, there was a lot of unused airtime to fill up. So, having two-hour episodes was a good thing back then. But these days, broadcast and cable programming is really competitive, and it's a lot harder to keep one show on for two hours every week.

When we started talking to all of the different networks in December and January, there was a lot of enthusiasm about the show, but I think we figured out pretty fast that it would be best for MST3K to live on a digital platform. That way, no one would be worried about cutting the episodes in half or finding enough advertisers. Plus, the digital platforms are a little more comfortable with shows that are kind of weird, you know? Like, you don't have to be able to fit into quite as neat a box. That's good for us too.

Anyway, once we realized that Mystery Science Theater would work really well on a digital network, Netflix seemed like the best choice. They're kind of the 800-pound-gorilla in this space, and they've done a great job helping bring back some other cancelled shows. Also, I've been using Netflix for the past four or five years, and I think it’s great from a user perspective. And, even more important, lots of people already have Netflix – they're in over 80 million homes worldwide – which means that this gives us a really great chance for more people to discover our little show. And if more people start watching, it gives us a better chance of being renewed for more new seasons, which was always the goal.

Plus, Netflix is available in so many countries around the world, which made it easier to get the new episodes into a lot of those "English-speaking territories" at the same time, instead of trying to find a different network for each country. And you know, a lot of you wrote in over the last six months to tell us that you thought Netflix was the best new home for MST3K, so I felt pretty good about that, too.

And listen, I know there are probably still more questions about how this will all work, and what it will mean for the show. We’re still working through some of those details with Netflix, but as soon as I know more, I’ll tell you. For now, I just wanna say this again: I think this is a really, really good thing for us. I think Netflix will be a great place for Mystery Science Theater, and if they see enough people are watching the new episodes, I think it's really likely we'll be able to make more new seasons. So, I'm really happy about this, and I hope you are too.

But that's not all... I've got some more good news for you! 

During our panel last Saturday, I was really happy to finally announce something we've been working on for a while:

The wonderful Mary Jo Pehl, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett have agreed to visit and help out with the new season of MST3K!

Now, looking at some of the questions and comments on Facebook and Twitter, I think there was a little confusion about what this meant, so I'll tell you exactly what I announced at Comic-Con:

  • Mary Jo Pehl will guest star as Pearl Forrester. 
  • Kevin Murphy will guest star as Professor Bobo. 
  • Bill Corbett will guest star as Brain Guy.

And, to show our new team how the pros do it, Mary Jo and Bill have also joined the writing team for some of the new episodes, to make sure we've still got that "Original MST3K Flavor."

I'm really excited to have them back writing and on set with us, so it's great that we were able to make this work with their schedules. We're also in the process of working with other original cast members to see if we can get more of them to come back, because my goal has always been for all of the original cast to make it back to MST3K. If it doesn't happen this season, then hopefully it will happen in Season 12...

Now, there's a lot more fun stuff to show you and talk about from Comic-Con, but I want to write a little more about all of that, so I think I'm going to roll out the rest of it over the next few updates.

Before I finish, though, Ivan asked me to remind everyone:

All Kickstarter Reward Order Forms are due NOW, so if you haven't filled yours out, please finish it right now.

I guess we can't start making all of your rewards until we get most of the forms filled out, and there are still about 4,750 missing. And listen, I'm really pleased with all of the stuff we're making for you, so I want to make sure you get everything you paid for as soon as we can. Also, I think Ivan's going to go a little insane if we don't get this done... so, you know, help a brother out!

Okay. Have a good week, everyone.

Cheers & Thanks, 

Joel