The MST3K Turkey Day Marathon Returns TODAY, starting @ 12pm ET! PLUS: What Joel is thankful for this year.
about 2 months ago
– Thu, Nov 23, 2017 at 11:30:34 PM
Dear MST3K Revival League,
Joel here, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving! (And of course, by "Happy Thanksgiving", what I really mean is "Happy Turkey Day!") Turkey Day has such an important place in the history of Mystery Science Theater that I really wanted to make sure we sent out an update today, and also a reminder of one of our most important annual traditions…
TODAY: The Annual MST3K Turkey Day Marathon!
I don't know what your plans are today, but you know, it wouldn't be a real Turkey Day without our annual MST3K marathon, where we reheat some of our favorite old cinematic turkeys and carve them up together.
This year, I'm happy to have some company to host the marathon: I'll be joined by the wonderful Jonah Ray (Jonah Heston) and Felicia Day (Kinga Forrester), who will help me (Joel Hodgson) introduce six classic cheesy MST3K episodes.
Also, in between movies, I hope you'll join us as we "count our blessings" by recounting some highlights from the past year, which brought new episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 for the first time in almost 20 years. It's truly a "Turkey Day Miracle," and we can't think of a better way to celebrate than by spending it with all of you backers who made it possible. So yeah, I hope you'll join us.
You can join us right here, starting at 12pm ET / 9am PT!
Also, while you're here, I thought maybe I could take another minute to share a little bit more about what I'm thankful for this year – because if you're reading this, my friend, I owe it all to you.
5 Big Reasons to be Thankful
1. We got to make new episodes. The most wonderful thing that happened this year, of course, is that Mystery Science Theater 3000 returned – thanks to you! – with fourteen new episodes on Netflix.
And you know, if that's all that had happened, it would have been enough. But...
2. We got a really great response. What's been just as wonderful is how much everyone seems to be digging the new episodes. A few weeks ago, Business Insider reported that – based on reviewer and audience data from Rotten Tomatoes – Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return is actually the highest-rated original show on Netflix!
Anyway, the really positive response is also why…
3. We got to take MST3K on the road! Along with Jonah, Hampton, Rebecca, Grant and Tim, I had the chance to be part of this summer's "Watch Out For Snakes" live tour, which gave us the chance to riff both an old favorite (Eegah!) and our new super-secret mystery movie (Argoman the Fantastic Superman).
Now, even though we got to perform 36 shows in 26 cities, and meet about 40,000 MSTies, I know we didn't make it to cities near all of you. But the good news is, we had so much fun – and got such good feedback – that we're already starting to figure out plans, and are hoping to do another tour next summer or fall!
Also, I know I haven't had a lot of updates for you since the tour, because we've really been focused on discussions with Netflix, and thinking a lot about the future of Mystery Science Theater – but…
4. We've been working on a new MST3K experiment. I wanted to tell you that our team here at Alternaversal spent a lot of September and October working on a really neat concept for the MST3K comic books, which should be out next year as a 6-book mini-series through our friends at Dark Horse Comics.
I'll have more to share about that as we get a little farther into production, but I want to give you a heads up now: the comic will not be a comic book version of Jonah and the Bots riffing on a movie. All you have to do is think about it for a minute to realize that wouldn't make a very good comic series. Instead, Kinga and Max have found a new use for their liquid media "Kingachrome" technology, which puts Jonah and the bots in a situation that I think will be a lot more interesting -- and will give us a chance to experiment with how riffing works outside of the world of video, and inside the world of comics.
I'm proud of what we're putting together, and hope that next Turkey Day, we'll all be able to celebrate the new ways in which the Mystery Science alternaverse has continued to grow. Speaking of which…
5. Next year is our 30th anniversary! One last thing I should point out about next year, is that 2018 is actually the 30th anniversary of MST3K! I just want to take a moment to admit how cool it is, and how grateful I am, that our show is still alive after 30 years!
Now, before I wrap up, I know some of you still have some questions about the final round of Kickstarter rewards. I don't want to make today's update too long, and I also know that a lot of those details only concern some of you, so I've asked Ivan to send another update next week to answer all of your remaining questions. Until then, just know that we're working hard to make sure we solve any remaining issues, and to make sure you're all satisfied, and get everything we promised you during the Kickstarter.
As for today: Turkey Day has always been an important part of Mystery Science Theater, and now that it's been two whole years since our Kickstarter, a year since we finished shooting a new season of MST3K, and seven months since new episodes debuted on Netflix, it seems like a good time to survey the last two years, and to ask ourselves if joining together to bring back Mystery Science Theater was a successful experiment.
I think it was, and I hope you do too.
This year – and every year – I'm so thankful to you, to the whole Revival League, and to MSTies everywhere. We have one of the best communities in the world, and I'm thankful for you, and for your ongoing belief in MST3K.
As you know, we simply couldn't have gotten here without you.
I hope you'll join us, starting at noon ET, for this year's Turkey Day Marathon.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Netflix Renewal Status, Final Kickstarter Rewards & Last Call for Add-Ons. PLUS: A Summer of Snakes!
5 months ago
– Sat, Aug 26, 2017 at 10:50:59 PM
Dear MST3K Revival League,
Joel here, just back from our first-ever MST3K Live summer tour. I know it's been a little while since the last update, but I have an excellent excuse: I’ve been on tour, and Ivan has had a much needed vacation in Japan. As you know, we really collaborate on these updates. So I wanted to give the guy a much-needed break from MST3K, because he’s done an amazing job for the last two years. I hope you've been keeping busy too, and had time for a vacation as well.
Anyway, now that I'm back, I wanted to tell you a little bit more about our experiences on the road … but first, I also wanted to give you some quick updates about questions I know some of you are wondering about. So yeah, let's get those out of the way first.
Q: What's happening with Netflix? Will there be more new MST3K?
I know everyone's number one questions are, "Joel, what's happening with Netflix? Are they going to make more new episodes? And when?" Those questions came up a bunch during the live tour, so I know they're on everyone’s mind.
The short answer is, we're still working on it! I wish I could tell you more, but I have a whole phalanx of lawyers parked in my living room waving their hands and mouthing the words, "Not yet," so I guess I'd better not say anything. But of course, I promise that when I'm able to, you will be the first to know.
We know that you worked hard to help us #BringBackMST3K, and now that it's back, we're going to work hard to keep it going! Thanks to our summer tour, I got to meet thousands of you, and pretty much everyone wants it to keep going … so, you know, I guess we all have to try to "just relax" and think positive thoughts.
Also, while we work through all of those details, our team at Alternaversal has also been busy developing plans for the first-ever MST3K comic book series! As you might know, my business partner Harold actually used to be a vice president at Archie Comics, and that's how we first met: Harold wanted to talk about doing an MST3K comic years ago!
So, it's been a long time coming, and we're pretty excited about it. We're trying to make it as good as the TV show, with really cool innovations too. Comics also really open up some new possibilities, so some things we could never attempt on the show are going to be happening to Jonah and the bots. Right now, the initial plan is a series of six issues, and it's slated to come out from Dark Horse Comics in the spring! More on that as we get closer.
Q: When do we get the last of our Kickstarter rewards?
This one is a lot easier to answer, friends:
Almost all remaining Kickstarter and "Last Call Add-On Rewards" are still right on schedule, and should be shipped out by early November!
To be more specific, here are the rewards that we'll be shipping by November:
- The Collector's Set: Season 11 (on DVD or Blu-Ray)
- The Collector's Tape: Episode 1101 (on VHS)
- The MST3K MIMOBOT® USB Drives
- The MST3K Mystery Gifts
- The Art of MST3K: 18-Month Calendar (1/18-6/19)
- The Last Call Add-On Rewards (shirts, hoodies, posters + the above)
Once these rewards are shipped out, the only remaining reward will be the OFFICIAL MST3K COFFEE TABLE BOOK*, which I'm really excited about. You know, we probably could have rushed this and gotten it out in November, but like the show, I'd rather take a little longer to work on it, because I want to make sure you get something really special. So, for those of you who ordered the book, I appreciate you being patient for so long. I think you'll be really pleased once you get the finished product.
*Don't worry, we haven't forgotten the digital soundtrack collection. More on that next week!
Also, if anything was missing from your previous rewards and you contacted our Backer Support team, your missing rewards will also be included in this shipment of rewards. If you're still missing something that isn't on the list above, be sure to let our team know as soon as you can by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
And of course, don't forget that you can always see a full, up-to-date schedule about reward shipment and timing right here, as part of the MST3K KICKSTARTER FAQ.
Q: How much longer do we have to get Add-On Rewards?
Wow, another good question! If you're still wishing you had gotten some of the Add-On Rewards during the Kickstarter, or that you had picked up both of the t-shirt designs, then I hope you're still reading, because I'm pretty sure this is your last chance to grab some of our best Kickstarter Add-On Rewards:
You can still order selected MST3K Add-On Rewards for one more week, until SEPTEMBER 1, 2017!
Ivan tells me this will be your absolute last chance to get the official #WeBroughtBackMST3K t-shirts, hoodies, posters, and calendar, so be sure you don't run out of time. All of these Add-On Rewards will ship by early November, so if you want to beat the rush, you can get all of your MST3K holiday shopping done right now!
(After September 1st, you'll still be able to order the MST3K COFFEE TABLE BOOK, until we send the final proof to our printers and place the order for our one-time print run.)
Anyway, now that all of the official business is out of the way, I thought maybe I could tell you a little bit more about how the cast and I spent our summer … traveling around the United States and meeting a lot of you!
Behind the Scenes of our MST3K LIVE TOUR!
It was a six-week bus tour, with two separate new shows, visiting 26 cities, and playing 36 shows in all. And, you know, we only had about two and half months to plan it. Whew!
As I think I mentioned in some of the updates this spring, we started working on the idea for the live tour right after all the press simmered down for the Netflix series. So it was in mid- April that we began work in earnest for the “Watch Out for Snakes Tour.”
There were lots of new challenges along the way, but the biggest were:
- How do you bring the full MST3K show experience to the stage?
- How do you build the show so it can travel and be repeated daily?
Then, as you start to figure those questions out, there's a lot of new work that has to be done:
imagining this new iteration of the show, as well as finding the two films we would be riffing, which meant working and planning with the cast, crew and writers. Then there's design, planning and communication, including the design and construction of props, sets, roadworthy puppets and costumes; seeking better prints of films, pre-produced ("taped") segments with Felicia and Patton; and (of course) designing some killer merch, man!
But, I'm happy to report the "vision team" at Alternaveral handled the entire affair, and everyone and everything appeared at our offices on time and on budget, so we could start rehearsals with the cast on July 1st. So, one thing I really want to say is how grateful I am for my team at Alternaversal: Harold, Sharyl, Matt, Seth and Lesley.
Also, I really want to thank our production partners at AEG -- they're the group that would book each venue, promote each show, and set up all of the complicated travel plans to transport us and our show over 6,000 miles of highways and byways to appear in "theaters near you." Or, near many of you. Without them, we wouldn't have been able to do a tour at all.
So, that's all the basic stuff. But once we had all of that figured out, my biggest question – and biggest fear – was: how in the heck do I live on a tour bus?
Life on the Road
Just so you understand, a “bus tour” doesn’t mean you ride on a bus and then sleep in a hotel, like a marching band tour to Disneyland. On a bus tour, you sleep on the bus! And you do it practically every night, except when you have a day off.
I don’t know why, but the whole thing was blowing my mind.
It seemed like something was missing from the whole equation, as all I ever had to compare it to were my shows doing stand-up, Cinematic Titanic, my one-man show ("Riffing Myself"), and years worth of Comic-Cons. (I think of those as “Weekend Warrior” shows: go out on a Thursday or Friday, and return on a Sunday.)
But living on a bus seemed to me the equivalent of going into space. Something inside me made me feel like I would never ever actually be anywhere. It just didn’t seem possible.
I’m on the other side. I understand it now.
The truth is, doing a bus tour is wildly efficient. You omit most of the usual “busy work” involved in traveling to other states for a show. When you travel by bus, I have learned, you are actually sleeping while you are doing the most exhausting part of travel -- the travel. The bus takes everything you need for the show – the cast, the crew, the sets and props, and sometimes even the merch and the merch crew – and delivers it from theater to theater AS YOU SLEEP. Contrast that with my previous experiences traveling to a show: drive to the airport, fly to the show, Lyft to the hotel, unpack and shower, take the shuttle to the show, do the show, take the shuttle to the hotel, and then Lyft to the airport, fly back home, drive home.
Look, I’m getting tired just explaining it.
Anyway, on the bus tour, the whole thing is much simpler: you finish the show, walk out the door, get on the bus, and go to bed. Then, you wake up the next morning outside of the next venue, and do it again.
At the theater, your dressing room has most everything you need: a bathroom, a couch and a shower, and access to a washer and dryer if you need it. A runner is available to get you anything out of the ordinary. Simply put, you spend your time focusing on the show, not moving yourself and your gear from point A to point B and back again.
So yeah, the draining part of travel – the actual travel – is accomplished when you’re asleep.
This affords you a unique opportunity: the shows are then stacked up, and feel as if they are delivered to you daily. For a performer and showman like me, this is bliss.
The Value of Going on Tour
Also, being on the road really helped me understand even more how important our Kickstarter success was, and how valuable it was to have Season 11 run on Netflix. The word is out, and we had packed houses for just about every show!
Anyway, each night worked the same way: I would open the show, and I loved doing it. Mostly, I was the warm-up act. I would do announcements, talk about hard-to-demonstrate items at the merch table, explain the technical specs for the films, introduce local celebrities and friends, and answer questions from the audience. And, as a lot of you know, at every show I tried to stop everything to call out you, the backers, and have the audience cheer for you. I also ran the VIP event before and after each show, where I got a chance to meet many of you face to face.
During the show, I mostly just watched our cast: Jonah, Hampton, Tim Ryder (our “Malibu Servo”*), Grant and Rebecca work their magic with our audience and a cheesy movie. Naturally, we also had some really cool pre-recorded pieces from Kinga and Max to help us bring to life the complete world of MST3K.
*We called Tim "Malibu Servo" because he was our Servo over the summer, on tour. I guess we could have called him "summertime Servo" to be more accurate, but it’s not as funny.
Now, I had a few backstage tasks here and there. I would occasionally help with Gypsy, or lend a hand with props behind the desk. But mostly during the show, I would go out into the house and see how it all felt sitting in the audience... and I gotta tell you, that was just magical. I took notes, listened, marveled at Jonah and the bots and loved every minute of it.
One big opportunity for this tour was to demonstrate – to ourselves and to all of you – a “vision” of what the live show could be like, and to convince everyone that MST3K could be recreated as a great stage experience. Prior to that, it felt like our other experiments with live movie riffing were mostly effective, but structurally, felt more like “table reads” of an MST3K episode. Which is a great time, but I still wanted to see if we could re-create the full-blown Mystery Science Theater experience.
Another big opportunity the tour gave us, was the chance for the new cast to spend a few months working together as an ensemble to improve the show – a lot more time than we ever get to rehearse together for the recorded episodes!
That part of the experience was amazing. From the beginning, we moved from getting the show to its feet, to each person learning their roles, to being able to take that group effort and then using the force and energy of the bus tour, and ultimately, being able to anticipate and lean into the show with the intensity of each new day. This was like nothing I had ever experienced.
I also got to know these people and admire them for completely different reasons than just being really funny. I watched as they became an even stronger ensemble before my eyes, and – assuming we get the chance to make more episodes or go on tour again – I think you'll be able to see the difference too.
(And, just so you know, we’re already talking about doing another tour next year, and getting to some of the cities we weren't able to visit this time!)
So yeah, long story short: doing this tour has been among the most enjoyable and rewarding six weeks of my professional life. And, whether you were able to come see the show or not, I have you backers to thank for that. So, thank you.
And, since I'm thanking people, this is also the perfect time to thank our very perfect road crew:
- Tour Manager: Gerard Hentz
- Production Manager: Joe Werner
- Lighting Design: Chris Galante
- Sound: Ethan Chambers
- Transportation: Darrel Henderson
- Merch: Easy Partners
Anyway, that's all for this time, so again: thanks! I know some of you are impatient for answers about Season 12, but here's how I see it: between the Kickstarter, the Netflix series, the live tour, the comic, and – hopefully – lots more, the world of MST3K is becoming more dimensional, and going to more interesting places, than ever! I'm glad you're coming with us.
Cheers and Thanks,