Not only is the second Netflix season a tighter, more focused and just plain funnier collection of episodes and movie riffing, but it’s also evolved the format of MST3K in ways that just plain work better for the streaming era. Just as the original MST3K made big strides between season 1 and 2, so has the Jonah Ray epoch of the show grown appreciably between season 11 and 12. There’s been no word yet on the renewal of MST3K for season 13, but it’s absolutely something that deserves to happen after seeing the results of season 12. Many of the MST3K faithful didn’t seem pleased to see the series tackling something this season from The Asylum, judging the Sharknado-makers to primarily specialize in making films that are “Bad on purpose,” but you should have no doubt that Atlantic Rim is genuinely incompetent and poorly executed enough to deserve an MST3K episode all its own. Atlantic Rim seems to be cited by some of the fandom as the weakest entry in season 12, but personally, I was surprised by just how well the crew was able to salvage an Asylum film with some of that old school MST3K absurdism, as exemplified by Jonah in the opening moments: “Due to illness, the part of the Atlantic will be played by the Caspian Sea.”. Cave Dwellers is the #1 episode of the entire Joel era on our master ranking of every single MST3K episode, so you’d better believe I was looking forward to the return of Conan-ripoff Ator in another sword-and-sorcery epic in season 12. The rhythmic improvements made to season 12 are on full display here, and the jokes land at a pace and timbre that feels like the best MST3K episodes of yore.

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