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Mystery Science Theater 3000: 20th Anniversary Edition DVD Review

Mystery Science Theater 3000: 20th Anniversary Edition

November 17, 2008

Director: Jim Mallon,
Starring: Joel Hodgson, Mike Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy, Jim Mallon,

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DVD Review

Before the advent of DVD audio commentaries, Mystery Science Theater 3000 provided irreverent commentary on 198 schlocky B-movies of the science fiction and horror variety over 11 years. The premise revolved around a man and his two robot sidekicks trapped on a satellite in outer space, forced to watch a selection of sub-par movies. To preserve their sanity, the man and his robots crack jokes while watching these movies.

First up is an episode from Season 2 where Joel, Tom Servo and Crow suffer through First Spaceship on Venus (1960), which features a team of scientists going to Venus to investigate a cryptic alien message. Joel and the robots make all kinds of smart-ass comments but they lack in quality, despite some clever popular culture references.

Laserblast (1978) was featured on the final episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000’s run on Comedy Central. This time out, Mike Nelson and the robots sarcastically skewer a movie about a young man who discovers an alien weapon that gradually transforms him into a dangerous creature. The jokes are much funnier in this episode for a truly awful movie as they reference The Doors and the films of Hal Needham.

Werewolf (1996) is the next film and features a ludicrous story about a workman who discovers the skeletal remains of a werewolf on an archaeological dig. Pretty soon, he begins to show signs of a wolfing out. Mike and the robots have a lot of fun with the atrocious actions and lousy dialogue.

The last film in the set is Future War (1997), a weird tale about dinosaurs and their human slaves (?!). One slave escapes and encounters a race of cyborgs from the future. Mike and the robots have a lot of fun slamming the truly amateurish special effects on display in this movie.

The series finale aired in August 1999 as the MST3K was canceled due to a change in management at the Sci Fi Channel and despite a loyal fanbase and decent ratings. The hassles of getting the rights to broadcast certain movies were probably the biggest sticking point for the network. The show’s legacy speaks for itself with several imitators now existing on the Internet and fans that still champion the show. This box set (and another one recently announced) is a fantastic love letter to the fans with all kinds of goodies for them to enjoy.

Special Features:

Each disc has the original theatrical trailer for its respective movie.

“The History of MST3K” is spread over three discs in roughly 30 minute chunks. Part One examines the origins of the show. Joel Hodgson claims that he was inspired by a scene from the Charlton Heston film, The Omega Man (1971). All of the important people involved in the creation of the show talk about how it came together. Part Two takes a look at how MST3K got on Comedy Central. The network wanted to change everything and make it like an MTV clip show. Fortunately, the show’s creators refused and the network relented, leaving them alone to do what they wanted. Part Three examines Mike Nelson taking over for Joel and the subsequent fan backlash. In addition, the live show and movie are also discussed. there is a bitter feeling that everyone has talking about dealing with studio bureaucracy over the movie. Naturally, the transition from Comedy Central to the Sci-Fi Channel is covered.

Disc Four includes “MST3K at Comic-Con ‘08” with comedian Patton Oswalt MCing a panel discussion which reunites the cast and crew, including Joel and Mike. Oswalt asks questions and then opens the floor to ones from the audience. The entire panel riffs and has a lot of fun on this entertaining extra.

Finally, there is “Variations of a Theme Song,” a collection of the various incarnations of the show’s theme music and opening credits sequence.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 80%

Website: http://www.mst3k.com/

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