Why write the whole season up front?

One of the things that bugged me a little about the Netflix seasons was that there was a slight feeling of things being rushed to the production. I attributed this to the fact that there was a tight schedule for filming and it was a bit of a “build the airplane while we’re flying it” situation.
With this kickstarter, the schedule seems potentially a lot more relaxed, so I’m wondering why the production wasn’t slated more like “write an episode, create props for an episode, film an episode, repeat” instead of what seems to be going on, more or less a carbon-copy of the Netflix methodology, i.e. do all the writing, do all the pre-production, do all the filming etc.

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My guess: Cost.
Filming, for example, requires a lot of equipment, space, and other resources that it may not make sense for Alternaversal to outright own. They can rent the gear and space and hire the filming crew for a solid chunk of days/weeks, knocking out all the required filming without having to pay the startup costs again and again. It would be much more expensive to gear up, film a bit, wind down, and do it all again later.

I don’t have a film/television background though, so I’m mostly guessing.


I think part of it must also be trying to make the story arc as coherent as possible. Seems that’d be more likely if it’s all written out first.


Immense difference in cost. In the first Netflix season, the non-theater filming for the whole season was done in a week. That means they only needed the studio space for a short time.

And let me tell you, they didn’t have any more space than they needed.

I think the quick and dirty low budget effect is part of what makes it so familiar. The pacing was different of course, and that was apparently intentional, and they have calibrated somewhat since then.

The old seasons didn’t exactly seem like they had the luxury of tons of time and lots of takes.


nods True.


This is probably indeed a factor, though honestly I could do without the story arcs. The first seven seasons were beautiful without them. Those were truly the days of building the airplane while flying it, and they excelled at it.

I don’t dislike the arcs, they just feel unnecessary to me. A pox on whichever stuffed suit at Sci-Fi forced their hand with this in season eight. (To the Brains’ credit, many of the arcs/stories they came up with were brilliant and hilarious.)


Yeah, on a filmmaking level, it just makes more sense to do things in one bunch. Like, say you’re using a set and you find out you wanna use it again in a later episode. If you already know you will need it, you won’t strike the set and then need to rebuild it in some way.


With this season having 3 different hosts, I think that’s where the story arc could be coming from, explaining the how, what’s and whys of that.

I too, prefer the stand alone host segments.


Even big budget films don’t film in chronological order. If part of the story takes place in one location, every scene that takes place in that location is filmed at once. It’s a waste of time and money to film one scene in the bedroom, the next in the living room, then back to the bedroom, etc.

Since in this iteration of MST3K, the writers are not the actors (for the most part) it makes sense to do all the writing at one time, then all the Gizmoplex scenes, then all the SOL scenes, etc.

Maybe study up a bit on filmmaking and then it will all make sense to you.


The only constant is change, MSTie. :slight_smile:

I liken it to my picture (still image) making process. Do I want a single image in the space to try and tell a story, or do I want a single space with multiple smaller sections to tell it? (More like a comics page.) Either one is valid.

Since there’ve already been arcs in single episodes since the show’s early days, I can’t really fault them for stretching out. It probably helps alleviate boredom, which can’t be bad.

Based on some fan reaction videos I’ve seen, it’s also possible that younger viewers like a continued story more than oldsters do. Because they came to the series later and it’s what they’re most accustomed to. :thinking:


wholeheartedly agree


only guessing myself, but yeah the story arc part makes sense, but the best example i could give is Kinga and Max basically stealing all their invention exchange ideas from riffs in previous movies. Great easter egg if you caught it before the reveal mid season, but a bit like that needs to have the movie riffs written at least up to that point for it to gel together.

i was a fan of the story arcs in previous seasons as well, fwiw, even tho i am far from a younger viewer haha


Personally, I like low tech. Isn’t that the show’s ethos? I mean, Crow’s head is a lacrosse mask and a plastic bowling pin.
It would be fine if they filmed everything in somebody’s garage on a smartphone. Then where’s the big expense? I’d much rather they have an organic and relaxed creative process, where they could iterate and improve rather than shoving everything through a pipeline


Makes sense to me to do it in stages. Like a chef doing proper mise en place. Prepare everything first, then move on to the next step.

Ben, having been involved in production, clearly knows the most here, but I can see how it would help if you had all the host segments written out ahead of time, so you could just film them back to back rather than needing to rent the studio and assemble the sets every week.

As others have said, it also helps to have throughlines and callbacks. You can organize things better that way.

Personally, I kind of like the story arcs, but I agree that the show works plenty well without them. I’ll be interested to see what we get this time, with so many different hosts involved. I do think Season 11 had a good balance, with some story continuity in the opening and closing host segments, but room in the middle segments to just goof around. (I was not personally a fan of “The Gauntlet,” but that has more to do with the aspects of the story itself than the mechanism by which it was done.)


[beholds dinky-ass computer screen and drive which is almost entirely choked with stuff I can’t throw away]

[studies empty bank account] [then list of fun projects I can’t afford to start]

Nah. EFF * ~* low tech *~ * [punches wall]

Okay, for real: I liked the bells and whistles on Netflix but not the obvious heavy hands of the suits. So… maybe now what we will get is a moderate amount of the former without any of the latter. So everyone can be pleased about something. :crossed_fingers:


I do have a film and production background and can say that comments talking about cost and efficiency are spot on with this.

It’s effectively really good project management.

In addition, being as a lot of the players on show have other jobs as well, scheduling would become a nightmare if people couldn’t just block off a set period of time to work on the show.


Because that’s the way Joel, Jonah, Emily and co. want to create the show. It allows them to make the show, and still go off and do other things- Jonah can do stand up and music, the writers can work on other projects, the actors can be in other things. The longer something takes, the less time the creatives have to be involved in more things.

Back in the olden days, this would have been fine, because they obviously were getting by, but now- it makes more sense to do it and get it done, rather than make one episode a month for a year or more.

This schedule will (hopefully) allow for the team to start in on the next season WELL in advance of the premier of the 13th episode. Otherwise, the looming issue of delays could have a huge domino effect, and create a timeline where a 13 episode season could end up airing across 18 (or more) months.

There are nearly 200 episodes made in the previous style, and with the “one at a time” process in production- enjoy those.

The Netflix episodes had a lot more available resources, but were obviously restricted by the network itself.

These new episodes are going to be something altogether new and different, unlike anything they have done or we have seen before.

And I, for one, am just excited for more new MST3K.


Were they really filmed one at a time? I would be surprised if that’s entirely true of Comedy Central days. But I don’t actually know.

Did Netflix really have much impact on the content of the show? Joel sold them rights to air it and call it a Netflix Original, but he had it fully funded by the Kickstarter and didn’t sell them ownership. (It was smart, but that’s probably also why it was canceled, since Netflix cancelled all the series they didn’t own outright, all around the same time.) Actually, now that I think about it, the first Netflix season was fully Kickstarter funded, but not the second. So maybe that’s where some influence could have crept in.

Joel has said that he adjusted some of the style of the show in order to better fit the world of streaming vs cable tv. Story arcs are one that make sense there, since people will all be able to watch the series in order. That was hard on “appointment viewing” tv. He also sped up the riffs per minute a lot, and that was because today’s TV and movies have a faster pace, and because people can pause, rewind, watch again, etc.

Some of the choices he made weren’t popular with a lot of the long time fans, but I don’t know if Netflix forced his hand. But again, I have no special inside knowledge here.

Personally, I’m thrilled that the show is evolving. Even the stuff that was initially jarring has generally grown on me.


Certainly not in the early seasons. They did two takes and that was it according to Joel. There are a lot of flubbed lines in season 1 and 2 that got left in.


I kind of feel like a lot of the changes came with the elimination of “appointment viewing” because if you missed an episode of a show in the 90’s- it could have been gone forever. But the pace and the story has evolved, and for me, improved- to help keep the show fresh.

Idk if Netflix had any real input, but I know that more money and more oversight just makes being creative that much more difficult.

I too am excited for the future of MST. I think (not to get TOO dark) that is also Joel’s vision: Looking to the future of MST after he is gone, or really, like now, able to take more of a backseat to the new creatives involved, so they can make the show their own, and continue making it for even longer!

MST3K already has a huge legacy, and the new season 13 and beyond will only cement it further!