This series from Comedy Central began as a low-budget film hosting show in a small television station in Minnesota. It was the brainchild of Joel Hodgson. It ended up running for 11 years and a feature film version.
Mystery Science Theatre is an acquired taste. For me, I’ve really got to be in that certain mood to watch it. That’s the beauty of these DVDs. You pop them in when you’re ready. The idea is pretty whacked. Depending on the season you’ve got, Joel or Mike is trapped in space on the “Satellite of Love”. Doomed to spend his life watching very bad films, our hero makes the best of a bad situation. He uses his resources to construct a couple of robot pals. There’s Crow T. Robot (Beaulieu), Tom Servo (Murphy), and Gypsy (Mallon). Part of an experiment together, they watch the films from the front row, constantly ranting throughout. If you’re like me, you’ve invited a few friends over to watch a schlock festival. The movies weren’t as important as the banter you created while watching. That’s exactly what you see here. The silhouettes of our host and his robots dominate the lower portion of the screen, where they provide alternative dialog and sometimes witty commentary on the action. The two evil station owners/mad scientists send them a new bad film each week to observe their reactions to the bombs. The films are broken up by off-the-wall skits and fake commercials to alleviate the tedium. This DVD collection is better than some because it includes films from four different seasons to give you a good sample of the overall series.
You get 4 discs, each with a different film:
Lost Continent, Crash Of The Moons, The Beast Of Yucca Flats, and Jack Frost.
Each episode of MST3000 is presented in its original full frame format. It doesn’t really matter what the original film intent might have been. These prints are far better than they deserve to be. Mostly the low-budget prints are surprisingly clean. Now that’s not to say they look good at all. Colors are always washed out. It’s just that these films really don’t warrant anything better than poor. Of course, colors and black levels are highly variable from episode to episode. The MST3000 stuff is pretty much nicely reproduced. We’re talking cardboard sets here, so they look pretty bad, but at least they look bad in nice color and definition. If you’re a fan of this show, you’re not here for the video specs.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is often terrible. Dialog on the films is often muted or unintelligible for a variety of other reasons. Musical scores are more often than not distorted. Dynamics is a word with no association at all to these productions. Still… that’s not what you’ll be buying them for. Fortunately, every word of wit and wonder from our hosts is clearly audible. Don’t take this the wrong way, but bad is good here.
Special Introductions By Frank Conniff and Kevin Murphy
Original Mystery Science Theater Hour Wraps
A Look Back At The Beast From Yucca Flats
4 More Mini-Posters
It’s hard to believe that it’s been so long since this show was on the air. It’s definitely the kind of concept that could go on forever. In this job I certainly know just how many bad movies there are out there. Of course, there were rights issues and other considerations to deal with. Let’s just hope we can keep getting our fix with even more Shout Factory releases to come. “Lalala.”