ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke with Mystery Science Theater 3000 stars and writers Felicia Day and Rebecca Hanson ahead of the show’s 2022 Turkey Day Marathon. The marathon will take place on November 24 at 7 a.m. ET/4 a.m. PT and will feature two previously Gizmoplex exclusive full episodes and one short film, as well as eight classic upscaled (or ‘Surgically Enhanced’) episodes and plenty of new host segments.
“This year’s annual Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day Marathon is the biggest event in nearly 30 years,” says the event’s synopsis. “Join your fellow MSTies along with hosts Felicia Day and Rebecca Hanson for a day stuffed with turkey … of the cinematic variety!”
Spencer Legacy: Felicia, you’ve played Kinga since 2017. As a fan of the series way before that, has that initial crazy excitement ever worn off? Or is every day still really exciting?
Felicia Day: The most exciting days are when Joel is on set and you can hear his voice behind you and I feel like the TV’s on because he has such a distinct voice. And so I’m like, “is he real? Is that real behind me?” But no, it’s really awesome to feel like I own Kinga in a way that I didn’t even in the beginning. And this last season, I definitely felt like I owned her — maybe even too much; I had way too much fun — but I’m hoping people are enjoying the new season, because it was very fun to do.
Rebecca, what’s the process of writing an episode of MST3K like? It has such a legacy and really revolutionized commentary and riffing. So what’s that like to do?
Rebecca Hanson: It’s like poking your own eye repeatedly. Repeatedly. No, kidding, kidding. Just kidding. The process changed a little bit this season from what we’ve done in previous seasons. What was great was [that] I felt like it was way more collaborative this time around. All of our writers’ rooms this season were Zoom rooms. We work on this program called Collaborate, where if you want to write ahead of time, you can. It’s also great once we’re in the room; sometimes, we generate ideas there spontaneously. We get to refine the writing process afterwards by doing some riff producing. Then there’ll be certain days where we’re pitching sketch ideas for host segments. It’s great to hear all the crazy things that people want to write about. Our head writer would assign us to different things, and we’d just [do them] right away. So there are a lot of layers. Am I making it sound too complicated or too simple?
It’s exactly what I hoped it would be like.
Felicia Day: It is pretty great. It is really fun because it was more collaborative. The last couple of seasons it was more like you send your rifts in and then they went through them and picked them. It was really fun to be able to just support other people’s comedy and just realize how brilliant the writers on the show are.
Felicia, how do you think your history with online media, whether it’s The Guild or all this stuff you’ve done, prepared you for this role? Especially now that MST3K is having its own online service?
Felicia Day: I think that I’m just a DIY girl, always trying to get into the system, but not ever quite making it in. So, I think after all these years, I think I kind of like this better. Mystery Science Theater has always been that sort of fringe, everybody knows about it but it’s not really part of anything. It just does its own thing. I feel like I definitely share that spirit. The fact that the fans have made this happen for a couple seasons now is just phenomenal. It just shows that just because Hollywood greenlights some things, doesn’t mean they really know what people want to watch. Regardless of what goes on in the future, I’m really grateful to have been Kinga and been part of one of my favorite shows.
Rebecca, you both act and write in the show. Do you have a preference for one or the other? Do they blend into each other?
Rebecca Hanson: They totally blend into each other. That’s my background. I come from an improv and sketch comedy background, so this is kind of right up my alley. It’s fun writing for others. It’s fun writing for myself. It’s fun writing with others and it’s really the dream scenario. Then to be doing this for MST3K, which is a show that kind of formed me comedically, it’s such a lovely trip to be on this side of it. So I like it all and I love being on camera and I love being in front of that live audience. I did the live shows and Netflix and then Gizmoplex season, like all of it. I love all of it.
Which of the remastered Turkey Day episodes was your favorite?
Felicia Day: Well, I haven’t seen the remastered versions of it, but I have to say Catalina Caper has always been one of my favorites. Also, Mitchell — they definitely hit the nail on the head with the top episodes. And I really love Santos and Beyond Atlantis. Those are going to be seen for the first time, or widely distributed because the season has been at the Gizmoplex, rolling out. So I think that’ll be really exciting to not only revisit classics like those, but also the new ones. I think people will have a really good time with them.
Rebecca Hanson: I mean, you can’t beat Mitchell like. Oh my gosh. Mitchell‘s just one of my favorite things on Earth
Felicia Day: You cannot.
Rebecca Hanson: And it is one of those that we just quote all the time. I’m a sucker for Catalina Caper. I will say, Parts: The Clonus Horror, that one I’m not as familiar with.
Felicia Day: I don’t think I’ve seen that one actually.
Rebecca Hanson: It’s been so long since I’ve seen it that I can’t wait to see it now that it’s going to look better and sound better, because that’s what part of the surgically enhanced thing is. The riffs aren’t changed, it’s just the visuals, like the actual movie’s going to be crisper, clearer. I’m excited to see some of these that it’s either been so long that I’m not as familiar with. It’ll be cool to see them better and experience those again at a crisper level.
Felicia, Kinga’s had her own journey throughout the seasons. What direction do you hope that she, as a person, would go in?
Felicia Day: I think she’d be a great mom. I feel like she’d be very nurturing and patient, and understanding with a child. It’s just perfect. She really has the temperament to nurture a small child and be the best that they can be. So I really want that journey for her.
Rebecca, you look like you’ve got something on your mind.
Rebecca Hanson: Oh, I’m just … yes, Kinga. Whatever Kinga says, I will agree with. Just hearing you say that, part of me wants you to have this fake child, but you think it’s real, and we all have to treat it like it’s real around you.
Felicia Day: Oh, that’d be really funny. That’d be a really good gag.
Rebecca Hanson: So she think she’s a mom, but we’re like, “oh boy.” Because, you know, Kinga has a bit of a temper. It’d just be funny to play that aspect of like, “Yes, this is her baby. It’s not a real baby, but that you’re a mom.”
Felicia Day: That would be really funny, actually. She’s a very damaged lady and that’s why I love the things that I got to do with Rebecca. I think Turkey Day’s going to be very, very fun, and people are going to really enjoy the shenanigans we get into.
Rebecca, MST3K strikes a really unique and great balance of earnest criticism and good-natured comedy. How do you go about keeping the critiques from ever feeling harsh or too mean?
Rebecca Hanson: I think the way I approach the writing is I try to maybe attack more of a character choice that’s being made in the movie as opposed to like, “This plot’s awful!” You know, just calling it out. I like to heighten what’s so annoying about a character — or maybe about the movie itself — heighten that aspect as opposed to just slam it, if that makes any sense. So if some character has a really annoying voice in my head, all the riffs are in that really annoying voice that the characters [do] just to make it even more grating on the watchers.
Felicia Day: The Watchers. That sounds ominous.
Felicia, you mentioned this a bit earlier, but what’s that Gizmoplex experience been like with that knowledge that fans are really directly contributing and funding and being really excited about this content?
Felicia Day: I just think it’s awesome. You get a lot of defeats in Hollywood, and you can’t really … I think the one thing I’ve learned is that you can understand the business aspect of something, but you can’t let it get to you emotionally and feel like what is being rejected is not worthy. Well, it’s worthy. It’s just not for them at that moment. So what I love is that Joel not only was like, “I’m going to keep doing the show, but I’m going to build a destination. I’m going to have a place where fans can always feel at home and can connect with each other.” And it was kind of old school, but at the same time feels even more pertinent now with Twitter collapsing. Like we’ve got to go back to the smaller communities where we actually can get to know [people]. It’s like the Cheers of online digital portals. I really appreciate what they’ve done. I hope to see many more seasons done on the Gizmoplex. That would be amazing.
Rebecca Hanson: And to that end, too, it’s been fun creating this bonus content that … I guess I knew it would happen, but I didn’t know to what extent. So, not to be a total jerk, but writing the Synthia Selects and doing those and having Mary Jo [Pehl] do Pearl Selects, and then maybe Kinga might be doing one. I don’t know.
Felicia Day: Who knows?
Rebecca Hanson: Then Mega-Cynthia doing hers, and then all the vault pics. There are these little blips of behind the scenes with like Jonah and his Botts and Emily and her Botts. So it’s fun to make this universe even richer within the Gizmoplex.
Rebecca, do you have a particular favorite riff that comes to mind when you think of all the ones you’ve done?
Rebecca Hanson: Oh, that I’ve done?
Felicia Day: Oh God, that’s a lot. That’s very specific.
Rebecca Hanson: I’ll think what always comes to mind is something I pitched that made the room laugh, but then it didn’t get into the episode. I will say, one that is quoted back to me quite a bit is probably the first time GPC drops down and she’s like, “that’s Mr. Filing cabinet.” It’s an honor to do that because GPC never riffed before, and in Season 11, they brought her in to do that. I didn’t write that one. I can’t take credit for it. I can only take credit for saying it, but it is funny and I love how many people will say that back to me and it’s really nice.
Felicia Day: I have one that didn’t make it in, but it was for my first thing I ever riffed and it was for Hercules and I took it way too seriously. Like I spent hours riffing. Over after a couple more seasons, you’re like, “girl, you don’t have to work so hard.” But there was one in Hercules where you get a sudden closeup on the woman and she suddenly has purple hair for some reason, and I made a Twilight Sparkle joke, which was a deep My Little Pony joke that I really wanted to make, but I’m 100% sure that Joel just didn’t understand where it was coming from.
Rebecca Hanson: I wrote on those too and I would’ve gotten that for sure!
If rights and funding were not an issue in any way, what would be your dream movie to riff?
Felicia Day: I will say Pretty Woman. It really is bad. I don’t think it’s … it’s obviously maybe not as family appropriate, but that movie does not hold up. It does not hold up and it’s clearly only because I saw it recently and I was like, “Ooh, oh no.” There’s a lot that happens that doesn’t hold up. That one does not hold up.
Rebecca Hanson: I have one called The Gnome-Mobile, it is a Disney movie. It’s an old-school Disney one and it’s a trip. It’s not on Disney+, so don’t try to look for it there … I think it’s a little too randy for Disney+. But yeah, The Gnome-Mobile.
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