Mystery Science Theater 3000 (2008) - 20th Anniversary Edition

Genre(s): Comedy
Shout Factory || NR - 420 minutes - $69.99 || October 28, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-11-08


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): NA
Cast: Joel Hodgson, Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, Trace Beaulieu


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • The History of MST3K (3-Part Documentary)
  • 2008 San Diego Comic-Con International Reunion Panel
  • Original Trailers
  • Variation on a Theme Song


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Full Frame (1.33)
  • English (Dolby Digital Stereo)
  • Subtitles: None

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.::THE FILM::.

“Mystery Science Theater 3000”, the cult TV series that started on a TV station (KTMA) in 1988 to Comedy Central from 1989 – 1996 and its final two seasons (1997-99) on The Sci-Fi Channel, is now 20 years old but is still as popular today as it was back then finding a cult audience that can’t get enough. Through Rhino Home Video, fans have been buying up the sets which contain four episodes during the years. In fact, Volume 10 in this set had been taken out of production due to licensing issues and later re-released as Volume 10.2.

Now Shout Factory is releasing this “20th Anniversary Edition” with four more episodes where Mike Nelson (Joel for one of them) and his two robot pals, Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo, are made to watch truly awful movies while wandering in space on the ‘Satellite of Love’ ship. This collection includes the episodes: ‘First Spaceship on Venus’ (3.11), ‘Laserblast’ (8.6), ‘Werewolf’ (10.4) and ‘Future War’ (11.4).

A quick rundown of each classically bad/awful movies the MST3K team riffs:

FIRST SPACESHIP ON VENUS -- When a mysterious spool containing an unusual recorded message is found in the Gobi Desert, thorough testing is conducted to reveal the spool’s point of origin—Venus! Now an elite [ha ha] team of scientists launches a mission to the solar system’s second planet to uncover the truth behind the cryptic alien message and the beings responsible for its recording. Getting to Venus will be a challenge, but surviving once there will be a war!

LASERBLAST -- After a lifetime of constant abuse—both emotional and physical—by those around him, young Bill Duncan stumbles across an abandoned alien weapon that provides him with the ultimate method of revenge. But the weapon’s power source begins to mutate Billy’s mind and body, and soon no one can stop the deadly creature’s terrifying rampage.

WEREWOLF -- While on an archaeological dig in Arizona, a workman is accidentally injured by the skeletal remains of what is believed to be a werewolf. Within hours, he begins showing the deadly signs of lycanthropy, prompting his foreman to begin conspiring to create his own live werewolf.

FUTURE WAR -- Their dinosaurs were trained as trackers. Their humans were bred as slaves. Now one of those slaves has escaped, and a master race of cyborgs from the future has come to Earth’s present to find him, triggering a war against a group of vigilantes, street gangs and drug lords.

My overall feeling about this set is it’s a good compilation, though it is stacked in host Mike Nelson’s favor, 3 to 1 (which is fine by me). The riffs range from dumb and boring to utterly hilarious (my favorite by far was Future War). Of course, as most might agree, the skits are tedious and, well, stupid, but they do provide a little mindless humor for a break from the riffing.

What still confuses me, but I’m sure it something to do with obtaining the rights to certain films, is why Rhino/Shout release these out of order. It makes it difficult determining which set to buy and which to pass on (buying them all is fairly costly at ~$40 a pop).



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

This four-disc set comes in a semi-glossy slip case with four slimline cases. With space at a premium for some, it would’ve been nice if Shout had used two cases with two discs in each, but I digress... The set I’m reviewing here is just the case, but a Limited Edition has a collectible tin, figurine and what looks to be poster cards.

The biggie on this set is the 3-part History of MST3K (80:53). Writers and cast take the viewer from the beginning days of the series in 1988 through Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel where it was finally cancelled in 1999. They explain the whole Joel vs. Mike, how they wrote episodes and how the show exploded in popularity. This special feature alone is well worth the cast even for casual fans.

Next is the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con International Reunion Panel (37:57) in which damn near everybody who worked on the series took answered questions and basically covers the same ground as the “History” feature. And man, that Mike Nelson is one lucky guy...

Finally they’ve included the original trailers for all the movies they riffed as and Variation on a Theme Song.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The show is presented in full frame and given the range of age (from season 2 through 9), it looks fairly consistent, but when most of its runtime takes place watching old movies, I didn’t expect much anyway. It looks like a good transfer.

A Dolby Digital Stereo track provides for a festive audio experience as the team takes on all those lousy pictures! OK, it’s an average track, but what else is needed?



.::OVERALL::.

This is a good set of oft hilarious riffs and combined with these special features (read on), it’s worth it. I wonder if we’ll see a 25th Anniversary Edition or something... It’s obvious that “Mystery Science Theater 3000”, even 20 years later, is still going strong and as a rabid fan base. I for one enjoy the show and will no doubt check out future volume releases.