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'Mystery Science Theater 3000' Season 13 introduces new host, new platform

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'Mystery Science Theater 3000' Season 13 introduces new host, new platform
Emily Marsh hosts "Mystery Science Theater 3000" with Crow and Tom Servo. Photo courtesy of Alternaversal and Shout! Factory

LOS ANGELES, May 5 (UPI) -- Emily Marsh, who joins Mystery Science Theater 3000 in its 13th season, premiering online Friday, said introducing the show's first female host makes it more inclusive.

"I love thinking that this has made it possible for more people to start loving the show," Marsh said. "Aside from that, I'm so thrilled to get to be that person."

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Marsh joined the Mystery Science Theater 3000 live tours. She said meeting fans at those events, both women and men, told her that seeing a female host helped them introduce the show to their loved ones.

"People reach out just to say how nice it is to have this inclusion and representation for a group of the female passionate fans," Marsh said. "Or the male fans who are like, 'I'm so excited, there's somebody for my girlfriend to connect with when she comes to these shows or for my daughter to connect with.'"

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Mystery Science Theater 3000 began on Comedy Central in 1988. The premise of the show, created by Joel Hodgson, is that an astronaut trapped in space is forced to watch bad movies by the villainous Forresters.

Hosts like Hodgson, Mike Nelson and Jonah Ray watch the movies with robot companions. They make jokes throughout to riff along with them.

Marsh responded to a casting call for a singing puppeteer for a touring company. Marsh said she won over Hodgson in the audition with her sarcasm.

"My mom's reaction when I heard I was auditioning for this was, 'Really? That stupid show got a national tour?'" Marsh said she told Hodgson. "Apparently, it had the right East Coast delivery, as Joel said, and everybody behind the table laughed."

Season 13 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 changed Marsh's name to Emily Conner. Marsh said she suggested she be named after Chuck Norris.

"Joel came back and he was like, 'What about Emily Connor? Let's make it a female action star,'" Marsh said, referencing Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor character from the Terminator movies. "My runner-up choice was Emily Norris."

Netflix launched a revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 2017, but canceled it after two seasons. The revival introduced Ray as a new host, Jonah Heston, and Felicia Day as Kinga Forrester with her henchman Max (Patton Oswalt).

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After Netflix canceled the show, Hodgson launched a Kickstarter to fund a new season. He received enough donations to fund 13 full feature film episodes, and 12 additional shorts.

Day said she was excited to see an audience still exists for online video. Earlier in her career, she starred in popular web series, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and her own web series, The Guild.

"I am heartened to see that web video still has a beat because the heart is kind of dead right now," Day said.

She said once streaming services proliferated, most content migrated to them. Even Netflix previously hosted The Guild on its streaming service..

"Streaming services have 8 million shows on them, so we have so much more to choose from now," Day said.

Mystery Science Theater fans can subscribe to the Gizmoplex, via web or streaming app, on which new episodes will premiere biweekly. Fans also can rent individual episodes. Kinga even sings about the Gizmoplex in the show's new theme song.

"When they told me I was singing it by myself, I was like, 'what?'" Day said. "I was so intimidated."

The Gizmoplex also includes access to classic Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes, new bonus content and live events. Ray, riffed on short films, which he said led to darker jokes than feature films.

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"I don't quite enjoy the process of riffing on shorts because there's no characters really," Ray said. "For the shorts, every time I was writing riffs, I would be super dark, super fast. A lot of these shorts are all propaganda."

When riffing on movies like Robot Wars, Ray said he and his robot costars often end up improvising even more riffs. Puppeteer Baron Vaughn controls and voices robot Tom Servo, Hampton Yount plays robot Crow and Rebecca Hanson plays GPC.

Robot Wars features a location called Crystal Vista. So Ray and the robots joke about a Crystal Vista theme park composed entirely of '90s movie references. Ray said Vaughn improvised Servo asking if Titanic is shown in Crystal Vista.

"I say, 'Yes, every day except for one Thursday a month, it plays it backwards because it makes for a happier ending,'" Ray said. "So through improvising, we got in a couple more '90s references than were in the script."

Ray's character is imprisoned on the Satellite of Love. Conner finds herself trapped in the Simulator of Love with simulations of Servo, Grow and GPC. Conor McGiffin, Kelsey Ann Brady and Yvonne Freese operate the simulator robots.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Season 13 will alternate between Jonah and Emily episodes, with Hodgson returning on camera for some, too. As her original audition called for a singing puppeteer, Marsh also sings and raps in the TV series.

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"We had to get the whole rap in one shot," Marsh said. "I may or may not have personally messed up the take three times. Everybody was very flexible and accommodating to let me redo it."

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