A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Pretensions and bad behavior are mocked constantly on this show; creativity, uniqueness, and kindness are frequently praised. Some jokes are slightly un-PC: When a man says he'd appreciate if a visit were cut short, Crow says, "I have adult ADD." Other quips skewer sexism, racism, classism: "I think diversity then was more about height and shoe color," says Tom, noting one movie's all-white-male scenes.
Positive Role Models
Characters are wacky and jokey but also largely treat each other with respect. Crow can be a tad sarcastic, but he's never vicious or unkind. The villains of the show, Kinga and Son of TV's Frank (aka Max), are only slightly villainous and have a somewhat friendly relationship with their captives Tom, Crow, and Jonah.
Violence & Scariness
The violence on each show depends largely on which movie is being mocked. Some movies have blood and gore, guns, battles; a mythological creature is blown apart, and the camera lingers on a disembodied bloody hand.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some movies have romantic subplots: kissing, flirting, references to sex. Back on the Satellite of Love, some jokes are slightly off-color: when someone in a movie says "reptile," Tom chimes in with "dysfunction," or they point out that a yellowish fluid in a lab appears to be pee.
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No cursing, but the occasional mild vulgar word: "pee," "fart."
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Products & Purchases
Jokes mention brands: Applebee's, Smucker's.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Jokes may refer to drugs and alcohol: "I like to get high and eat" say the robots about a goofy man; a woman wants to celebrate a business triumph with champagne.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that on Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return characters talk over terrible old movies, and the amount of potentially offensive or inappropriate material largely depends on which movie they're watching. Some have violence (guns, battles, bloody fights with monsters) or sexual content (jokes, kissing, references to sex). On every show, jokes may veer toward the vulgar/adult, with jokes about drugs ("I like to get high and eat," says Crow about a dorky movie character), bodily functions, sex (when someone in a movie says "reptile," Tom chimes in with "dysfunction"). They're also so quick that young viewers won't catch most of the humor, and the show frequently depends on viewers understanding vintage references: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, old TV ads, or plot points from original Star Trek episodes. Even if kids/teens don't understand all the jokes, they're rapid-fire enough that if you don't get one, there'll be another in a few seconds -- and kids of any age can appreciate the humor of a man who spends all his time with a pair of wisecracking robots.
Is It Any Good?
Here's the answer to the one question every single fan of the original wants to ask: Yes, it's still funny, even with different hands operating the robot arms. The jokes are just as rapid-fire and absurd, the references just as wide-ranging: In the first five minutes of the first episode, the bots and Jonah name-check the theme song to The Munsters, The Wicker Man, Stretch Armstrong, Star Trek, vintage ads for Smucker's and DiGiorno pizza, Prince, and North by Northwest. What's different? Not much. The actors, of course, have been switched out, although the show takes pains to point out how they're connected to their predecessors -- Max is the son of TV's Frank (played in the original by Frank Conniff); Kinga, who calls herself a "third-generation supervillain," bears the Forrester family name; Jonah, like Joel (Joel Hodgson) and Mike (Mike Nelson) before him, was a low-level worker before winding up on the Satellite of Love. Other differences: Jonah and company are now marooned on the Moon 13 Research Station instead of deep space, and Tom Servo's hands now appear functional instead of being mounted on Slinkies.
Otherwise? Same vibe, same style, similar sets, each episode ends with a "button" (a clip from the episode's movie), and the movies haven't gotten any better or better known (the first movie skewered is Danish monster movie Reptilicus, which of course gives Jonah and the bots a chance to sing a surprisingly catchy song about how each sovereign nation boasts its own giant monster). Best of all, the gags are just as sharp and unexpected, whether they're stupid-funny, surprisingly erudite, or oddly philosophical. This show hasn't lost its edge; Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return is just as much as a hysterical, lightning-quick, geek-freak cult artifact as it ever was. Thank heavens.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.