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Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXIII
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Much like the country that spawned it, Mystery Science Theater 3000 is a melting pot. In every imaginable genre, Joel, Mike and their robot pals Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot have seen the promise of cinema mutilated by mediocrity. Nowhere is this highfalutin concept more hilariously exemplified than in this 23rd collection of episodes from the beloved cult comedy television series. You want a Western? Its here. Space adventure? Look no further. Well even throw in a failed TV pilot and a barely coherent science fiction-horror-thriller. All genres are treated with equal disrespect by the luckless crew of the Satellite of Love. They pledge allegiance only to funny, with justice (SoL style) for all.
The Castle Of Fu Manchu
Code Name: Diamond Head
Last Of The Wild Horses
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* 210 KING DINOSAUR (with short: X MARKS THE SPOT)
King Dinosaur is a black and white 1955 SF film loaded with stock footage and endless walking scenes to pad it out in spite of its sparse 63 minute running time. Ordinary lizards masquerade rather badly as dinosaurs and the Tyrannosaurus Rex of the title is played by an iguana thanks to the animal enlarging talents of Mr. B.I.G. (Bert I. Gordon). A new planet, Nova (clever name for a new planet since it means "new", eh?), is discovered and astronauts are sent to explore Nova via some stock footage of post-WWII captured V2 rocket tests. A tepid romance between two of the astronauts is featured as the secondary plot. The astronauts do a lot of walking, male to female condescending, smooching, and panicking while exploring a planet that looks suspiciously like southern California. Bronson Canyon is again used as it is in so many movies of this type. A kinkajou appears prominently in the film and tags along with the astronauts though Joel and the 'Bots stick him with the monicker, "Joey the lemur", for many jokes during the film and one hilariously memorable host segment. Spoiler alert, amazingly the astronauts bring a nuclear device along with them because, you know, when you are exploring a new planet if you don't like the native flora or fauna you want to annihilate it rather than just leaving. X Marks The Spot is a 1944 driving safety short with the ulterior motive of keeping workers out of the hospital or morgue so they can stay at their jobs in factories to support the war effort. It's the first of many hilariously mocked short subjects used on MST3K. This episode is a MSTie must-have!
* 323- THE CASTLE OF FU-MANCHU
This 1969 (released 1972) color film features the great Christopher Lee and a bunch of lesser known European actors from a variety of countries that collaborated on this badly pieced together jigsaw puzzle of a film. This is one of those episodes that MSTies tend to love or hate and I'm in the love it camp. The movie is a bit of a convoluted collaborative mess and the dubbing on all the non-English speaking actors certainly adds to the confusion, but for my taste it's the good kind of bad that is perfect for MST3K. It's lively and silly fun and because you'll have zero emotional involvement in the characters or story and you'll be able to focus 100% of your attention on the jokes. Fu Manchu plans to freeze the Earth with his latest evil scheme and Nayland Smith sets out to stop him. Along the way much convoluted mystery and intrigue occurs. The biggest mystery is "what did I just watch?" when the film is over! Who cares, MST3K makes it extremely funny.
* 608- CODE NAME: DIAMOND HEAD (with short: A DAY AT THE FAIR)
This 1977 Quinn Martin TV movie pilot stars Roy Thinnes (The Invaders), France Nuyen (Star Trek, Elaan of Troyius), Zulu (Hawaii Five-O) and Ian McShane (Lovejoy). The pilot failed and did not go to series. It stars many well-known talented actors who luckily have all been in many much more exciting projects than this one. Based in Hawaii, counter spy Diamond Head must stop the evil Tree from stealing nerve gas. Sadly, the intrigue never gets particularly suspenseful or compelling, but the plot at least can be followed. One of the blander offerings from Quinn Martin, it does provide some laughs nonetheless from Mike and the 'Bots. Tom and Crow get to see what it would be like if Mike was not quite so nice in a variety of amusing host segments. The 1947 short, A Day At The Fair is particularly funny with lots of good laughs at the expense of this 1940s farming celebration. Are farm animals someone's dates? Is the fairground where the fair is held? Watch the short to find out. The farm fair short is more exciting than the spy thriller of a movie.
* 611- LAST OF THE WILD HORSES
This 1948 black and white film is about a cowboy trying to clear his name and bring a real criminal to justice. Romance ensues. Wow. The film is competently done if a bit formulaic and uninteresting. However, this is a MSTie must-see thanks to the Star Trek "Mirror, Mirror" episode themed host segments tying the whole movie watching experience together including a segment with Forrester and TV's Frank in the theater riffing on the movie! Plenty of good riffs and an in movie face whipping make this a strange and funny episode of the show.
This set is loaded with cool extra features including:
4 Exclusive Mini-Posters By Artist Steve Vance
New Introduction By Frank Conniff
The Incredible Mr. Lippert (a Ballyhoo Production)
Vintage MST3K Promos
Life After MST3K: Kevin Murphy (this is the first installment of a new series)
Code Name: Quinn Martin
DARKSTAR: Robots Don't Need SAG Cards
Be careful which Volume you are ordering.
176 episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 were cablecast between 1989 and 1999 on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel.
Rhino started issuing selected episodes on DVD in 2000, reaching Volume 12 in 2007 before Shout! Factory took over the project.
The series is now up to Volume 38.
Shout! is also reissuing the old Rhino Volumes - up to Volume 6 so far (Volumes 7-12 yet to come).
-- 133 Episodes are currently on Shout!
--- 28 Episodes previously on Rhino are out-of-print (a temporary situation).
--- 15 Episodes have never been released by Rhino or Shout - I hope some of them will appear in future volumes (but I am an incurable optimist).
-- MST3K EPISODES IN BROADCAST ORDER see Comment One (click on "Oldest first")
-- MST3K EPISODES IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER see Comment Two
-- OUT-OF-PRINT EPISODES ON RHINO see Comment Three
-- EPISODES NEVER COMMERCIALLY ISSUED ON DVD see Comment Four
SHOUT VOLUME V is a straight reissue of Rhino Volume 5 from 2004.
No new bonus features were created, but all the old ones are carried over.
Shout has a big price advantage: $27 (new) vs. $129 for Rhino.
Another advantage: Shout has closed captioning (not SDH subtitles - see "Assorted Topics" below).
Contents of Volume V:
-- Time Chasers (Episode 821)
-- The Touch of Satan (908)
-- Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders (1003)
-- Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues (1006)
All four are from the Sci-Fi Channel era with Mike Nelson.
Pearl Forrester is the villain, aided by Brain Guy and Professor Bobo (exception: Babysitter Steffi is guest villain in Episode 908)
-- Episode 821: "Time Chasers", Crow uses a time machine to travel back to Wisconsin in 1985, where he alters history, causing unexpected repercussions on the Satellite of Love.
-- Episode 908: "The Touch of Satan", Pearl Forrester is out-of-town and Steffi the Babysitter (Beez McKeever, photo 7) is left in charge of Brain Guy and Bobo.
The only episode without one of the principal villains.
-- Bonus: Thirty minute interview from 2004 with Kevin Murphy and Mike Nelson.
SHOUT VOLUME VI is a straight reissue of Rhino Volume 6 from 2004.
-- Attack of the Giant Leeches (Episode 406)
-- Gunslinger (Episode 511)
-- Teenagers from Outer Space (Episode 404)
-- Mr. B's Lost Shorts
All three episodes are from the Comedy Central Era with Joel Hodgson.
Dr. Clayton Forrester is the villain, aided by TV's Frank.
Instead of a fourth episode, Rhino cheated by including "Mr. B's Lost Shorts", a collection of short films (they did the same with Volumes 1 & 2).
Unfortunately, Shout reissues perpetuate this hoax.
Thankfully, Volume 6 was the last time that we will have to put up with this.
OCD compels me to put things in logical order.
The thirty-eight MST3K volumes are a special challenge.
A jumble of early and late shows, but you have the option of re-arranging the episodes in broadcast order (the host segments have ongoing story arcs) or alphabetical order.
-- Volumes I-XII are packaged in four-disc DVD cases, but attractive fan-created single episode covers are available on the internet (see "Assorted Topics" below).
-- Volumes XIII-XXXVIII: Each episode is already in an individual DVD case.
-- Joel Hodgson = 86 Episodes (101-512), Seasons 1-5a
-- Mike Nelson = 91 Episodes (512-1013), Seasons 5b-10
MAD SCIENTISTS ("Mads")
-- Dr. Clayton Forrester = 128 Episodes (101-706), Seasons 1-7
-- Pearl Forrester = 48 Episodes (801-1013), Seasons 8-10
[but Pearl's first appearance was in Season Six and she was a supporting character in Season Seven]
-- Dr. Laurence Erhardt = 13 Episodes (101-113)
-- TV's Frank = 109 Episodes (201-624)
-- Pearl Forrester = 6 Episodes (701-706)
-- Professor Bobo = 48 Episodes (801-1013)
-- Brain Guy (Observer) = 44 Episodes (805-1013)
1) KTMA EPISODES:
The first season on Comedy Central was actually the show's second season.
In 1988-89, 21 episodes aired on Minneapolis-St.Paul television station KTMA.
All but one survive, but the picture quality is poor.
For the curious, they are listed on Ebay.
In the Ebay search bar, under DVDs & Movies, enter: MST3K KTMA
Great concept, but the riffs are pretty hit-and-miss.
9 of the 21 KTMA films were re-done for Comedy Central, but with more laughs.
Fourteen episodes were produced in 2017.
Joel Hodgson is the producer, but the writers and on-screen cast are entirely new.
One good idea: Several episodes feature guest appearances by Mary Jo Pehl as Pearl Forrester, Bill Corbett as Brain Guy, and Kevin Murphy as Professor Bobo.
If you are not a member of Netflix, you can get a one month membership for free.
I haven't heard yet if there is a plan to release these episodes on DVD or Blu-Ray.
(I wish they would - I hate watching movies on my computer.)
3) SINGLE EPISODE DVD COVERS:
Do a google search for:
mst3k dvd covers joshway
4) CLOSED CAPTIONING:
Shout! Factory never publicized this, but in 2015 they started issuing DVDs with Closed Captioning (not the same as SDH Subtitles)
It was first used in Volume XXX.
MST3K Volumes 1-5 and 30-38 have Closed Captioning.
-- "Closed Captioning" is a forty year-old technology devised for broadcast television.
In order to see the closed captioning, press the "Captioning" or "CC" button on your TELEVISION'S remote control while the disc is playing.
One major problem:
Closed Captioning will not work if your DVD or Blu-Ray player is connected to the TV using the preferred modern method of HDMI cable.
It will only work with the older three plug (red-white-yellow) cable (or with ancient 75 ohm coaxial cable).
-- "English SDH Subtitles" were developed specifically for DVD.
When you load the disc, the Disc Menu gives you the option of Subtitles, or you can press the "Subtitle" button on your DVD PLAYER'S remote control.
"SDH Subtitles" are superior technology, but "Closed Captioning" is better than nothing.
PHOTO 1 = Dr. Clayton Forrester with Dr. Lawrence Erhardt (season 1)
PHOTO 2 = Dr. Clayton Forrester with TV's Frank (seasons 2-6)
PHOTO 3 = Dr. Clayton Forrester with Pearl Forrester (season 7)
PHOTO 4 = Pearl Forrester with Professor Bobo and Brain Guy (seasons 8-10)
PHOTO 5 = Joel Robinson with robot friends (seasons 1-5a
PHOTO 6 = Mike Nelson with robot friends (seasons 5b-10)
PHOTO 7 = Babysitter Steffi (guest villain in episode 908)