'Mystery Science Theater 3000' Season 12 Movies: Jonah Ray Reacts to Latest Picks

Mystery Science Theater 3000 returns for its second season on Netflix on Thanksgiving Day, (Nov. 22) with host Jonah Heston, played by Jonah Ray. Season 12 includes six episodes, with Jonah and the bots riffing on Mac and Me, Atlantic Rim, Lords of the Deep, The Day Time Ended, Killer Fish and Ator, the Fighting Eagle.

"It's like a nice mixtape of movies this year," Ray told Newsweek, calling from the road with Mystery Science Theater 3000 creator and original host, Joel Hodgson, who were travelling the country on a 30th anniversary live tour. That's right, this Thanksgiving it will have been 30 years since Mystery Science Theater 3000 first debuted on KTMA in Minneapolis, the first of the show's many incarnations.

Overall, this season's picks are a more contemporary selection than the first season of MST3K: The Return, which spanned from 1956's The Beast of Hollow Mountain to 1989's Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II. This season's oldest film is 1979's Killer Fish. We'll get to its newest, an MST3K first, in a bit.

In addition to being an all-around skin-crawling and terrible knock-off of E.T., Mac and Me has a bizarre origin story to match. Producer R.J. Louis, a veteran of McDonald's advertising campaigns, believed he could position Mac and Me as E.T. for the McDonald's generation, negotiating the rights to slap McDonald's all over the movie and pitching the project as cross-promotion. Just wait until you get to the extended dance sequence in a McDonald's parking lot, complete with a Ronald cameo (Crow pretends he's imaginary).

"It's been a long time coming," Ray said. "It's our first episode and it's really deserved the MST3K treatment for a long, long time."

But what's even more surprising is seeing MST3K finally enter the age of cheap, CGI knockoff "mockbusters" perfected by studios like The Asylum, which first struck gold with titles just similar enough to trick grandma, like The Da Vinci Treasure, Snakes on a Train, Transmorphers and Pirates of Treasure Island, before perfecting the SyFy formula with movies like Sharknado. MST3K's entry is 2013's Atlantic Rim, which looks more like a Playstation 2 cutscene than a movie.

"I remember when they told me," Ray said. "With an old, bad movie you're like, 'Oh, that's cute.' But a recent movie it's more, 'What! No, that's terrible!"

This latest crop of bad movies are presented with a twist: what Kinga Forrester (Felicia Day) calls, with a menacing flourish of her hands, The Gauntlet.

"I'm going to resort to Wikipedia," Hodgson told Newsweek. "The Gauntlet means you go through an intimidating or dangerous experience. And that's what this is, because for Kinga and Max it's finally dawned on them that they're on Netflix and they want to exploit the way people binge watch movies, but there way is to intimidate the audience into thinking they have to watch all six in real-time."

"If people are going to binge watch all these shows," Ray said, describing Kinga's warped concept, "maybe the show ought to binge-make itself."

Unlike past tortures devised for the prisoners aboard the Satellite of Love, there is no reprieve from The Gauntlet. Instead, Jonah, Crow and Tom Servo are forced to watch all six movies back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Of course, you, not being a prisoner of Kinga, have other options. Or maybe not.

"If you have to eat, sleep, or feed something, forget it," Hodgson said.

All six episodes of MST3K Season 12 will be available for streaming on Netflix Nov. 22.

'Mystery Science Theater 3000' Season 12 Movies: Jonah Ray Reacts to Latest Picks | Culture