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.
The Magic Voyage Of Sinbad (1953):
This is not the Sinbad from the famous Ray Harryhausen films at all. It’s actually a Russian and Finnish film that Roger Corman got his hands on and dubbed to his own taste. The result is one of the most classic films for the gang on the Satellite Of Love.
Master Ninja I & II (1984):
This wasn’t actually a normal film. It was a very short-lived television series from 1984. John Peter McAllister (Van Cleef) was a Korean War vet who lived in Japan. Thirty years after the war, he finds out he has a daughter. But leaving his clan marks him for death. Max (van Patten) is his faithful companion on the quest.
Project Moonbase (1953):
It’s the future … well … 1970. The US is placing a moon base and Colonel Briteis (Martell) has been sent to look into the matter. Unfortunately, she’s brought along a double agent who might destroy the world.
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.
Introduction to The Magic Voyage Of Sinbad By Trace Beaulieu: (5:10) The show’s puppeteer talks about working on the show. He discusses Joel’s announcement around the time this episode was filmed that he was leaving. Apparently, it caused some tension.
Hour Wraps: (5:11)
New Interview With Master Ninja Guest Star Bill McKinney: (5:31) McKinney played the corrupt sheriff on the series. He talks about his own career and, of course, the show. Apparently he was unaware of the spoof episodes until he was approached to do the interview.
Tom Servo vs. Tom Servo Panel At Dragon-Con 2010: (42:37) The two Tom Servo players meet at the convention to talk the character. There’s some great evolution material here as Kevin Murphy and J. Elvis Weinstein have a blast.
Exploring The Look Of MST3K With Director Of Photography Jeff Stonehouse: (9:23) Jeff talks about getting the gig and reminisces about his time spent on the show.
4 More Mini-Posters
Shout Factory has started to mark these releases with more and more good stuff. You not only get another plastic replica of one of the robots and the mini-posters. Shout is beginning to create more and more new original features to go along with the releases. This is the best one to date. I’m going mad just waiting for the next release. The releases split the world into two camps. These discs are for the ones who “get it.”