Monday, October 14, 2013

Mystery Science Theater 3000 - 20th Anniversary Edition DVD

Mystery Science Theater 3000 – 20th Anniversary Edition
[DVD Mystery]

For 11 years, starting on a Minneapolis-based UHF station, then moving to The Comedy Channel (before it became Comedy Central), and then finishing its run on the Sci Fi Channel, Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a brilliant, sarcastic, laugh-until-you-cry poke in the eye towards bad moviemaking. The set up of this low-budget show was that a couple of mad geniuses send a goofball maintenance worker to an orbiting satellite (The Satellite of Love), where they conduct psychological experiments on him by forcing him to watch really, really bad movies. He responds by cannibalizing some of the satellite's equipment to create several robot sidekicks (each with a different personality), who watch the movies with him. Joel Hodgson was the first host, alongside robots Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot, and Joel was later replaced with Mike Nelson. Each weekly episode featured comic bits with Joel/Mike and the 'Bots, followed by an airing of a cheesy old movie -- originally a mix of scifi, horror, or any other kind of bad 1950s and 1960s movies, but with the move to the Sci Fi Channel, the fare became exclusively science fiction or fantasy. Occasionally, if the feature film was too short, they'd also sit through and make fun of "shorts" (industrial training clips, short documentaries, safety films, etc.). As the movie aired, Joel/Mike and the 'Bots appeared as silhouettes sitting in movie theater seats at the bottom of the screen, and throughout the movie, they made mocking jokes about the dialog, lighting, plot, etc. The writers on this show were absolutely brilliant -- the jokes made about the movies ranged from the blatantly obvious to obscure Shakespearean references or quips about economics theory. But it never seemed high-brow   it was always accessible to the average audience. Joel and Mike, as "hosts", had quite different personalities -- Joel's humor was dry, soft-spoken and kind of spacy. Mike was more of a lovable, slightly dim-witted goofball. Over the years, the MST3K gang have released a large variety of their nearly-200 episodes, usually in packs of 2 to 3 "movies" per DVD set. This particular set, released to celebrate the series' 20th anniversary in 2008, contains four really strong entries, particularly Laserblast and Werewolf. You'll have to go hunting for the absolute best of MST3K though. My personal favorite is Manos the Hands of Fate -- one of the worst films ever made, and gloriously skewered by the MST3K crew. As this 20th anniversary set is the only set in the libraries' collection at present, I recommend it as a great introduction to the format. -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the book Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ official Mystery Science Theater 3000 web site ] | [ Satellite News: The Official MST3K Fan Site ] | [ MST3K episode guide at ]

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