Most of Appellate Judge Tom Becker's reviews are written with the help of his robot friends.
Our reviews of Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XIX (published November 9th, 2010), Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XV (published July 3rd, 2009), Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XVI (published November 27th, 2009), Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XVII (published February 22nd, 2010), Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XVIII (published July 1st, 2010), Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XX (published March 3rd, 2011), Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXI, MST3K vs. Gamera (published July 25th, 2011), Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXII (published November 24th, 2011), Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXIII (published March 16th, 2012), Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXIV (published July 17th, 2012), Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXV (published December 5th, 2012), and Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXVI (published April 1st, 2013) are also available.
If you're wondering how he eats and breathes
Four more reasons why Mystery Science Theater 3000 was one of the smartest and funniest shows to ever grace the airwaves.
The Mad Monster (1942; Episode 103)
Tom Servo falls in love with a blender, and Joel helps the bots try to figure out the biology of wolfpeople.
Short: An installment of the serial Radar Men on the Moon ("A little tweak on the nipples, and I'm outta here!")
Manhunt in Space (1956; Episode 413)
The bots want Joel to play soap opera; Winkie visits the Satellite of Love.
Short: Creepy goings on in an early episode of General Hospital. ("Here comes Nurse-feratu.")
Soultaker (1990; Episode 1001)
Mike and the bots have a wet t-shirt contest, and the Satellite of Love gets a Very Special Visitor.
Final Justice (1985; Episode 1008)
Tom Servo's exploration of the song, "Owner of a Lonely Heart" takes a troubling turn, and Maltese culture takes a beating—in more ways than one—at the hands of the bots.
A quick update for the uninitiated: Mystery Science Theater 3000 was the brainchild of comedian Joel Hodgson. Joel starred as Joel, a guy trapped on a space ship (the Satellite of Love) with robots (Cambot, Gypsy, Tom Servo, Crow). They are all forced to watch terrible movies. Joel, Servo, and Crow, riff along with the awful films and take a few breaks for some sketch humor. Joel left the show in 1993 and was replaced by Mike Nelson, the series head writer. In some fanboy circles, this was cause for meltdown, though in retrospect, the transition was far smoother than it had a right to be. Mike's character was different enough from Joel that the series was able to get a fresh start while not losing its focus.
If you're not a full-on MSTie or if you're just getting your feet wet, Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XIV is a good place to start. The set contains one of the earliest episodes, a solid entry from the midway point, and two episodes from the last season, one of which—Soultaker—is an MST3K latter-day classic.
The Mad Monster is from MST3K's first season televised nationally over the now-defunct Comedy Channel. (The real "first season" was broadcast locally on a Minneapolis UHF channel.) The Mad Monster is a fun episode, and Radar Men on the Moon a cool treat, but this is definitely the weakest episode in this set. The jokes just aren't as sharp, and the guys don't seem as in synch as they do later. Not helping matters is that the film itself is in wretched shape and barely watchable, full of scratches and jumps. The Mad Monster is one of two Joel episodes on this set. The other, the fourth season's Manhunt in Space, is far better, a natural target for the hip and sarcastic MST style.
The two episodes from Season 10 are the best here.
Soultaker, with its low-budget pretensions and famous-relative star, is a riot, and an "important" episode in the MSTie canon, as it features the return of Joel and the only time Joel meets Mike.
In a likely unintentional, shot-in-a-warehouse-ran-to-a-theater type of coincidence, the fourth movie on this set, the hilarious Final Justice, stars Joe Don Baker, whose film Mitchell was featured in the episode where Joel leaves and Mike takes over. At the end of Final Justice, Mike references Mitchell and Joel's departure, meaning Joel, in presence or in spirit, turns up on every disc in this set.
The shows look and sound exactly as they did when broadcast, down to the pop up with the address for the MST3k fan club.
For extras, we get the trailer for The Mad Monster; interviews with Joe Estevez and Greydon Clark, writer and director of Final Justice; and Mike and the bots giving the MST treatment to a segment of ESPN's Cheap Seats Without Ron Parker, which was itself a riff on MST3K. Frankly, none of these extras is especially compelling. The interviews are the kinds of bland supplements you might find on a regular DVD release of these films, and the Cheap Seats bash, while funny, just kind of comes out of nowhere. If you're not familiar with Cheap Seats (I wasn't), it's not going to make a lot of sense. Each disc comes in its own slimline case, and we also get "limited edition" mini-posters for the MST versions of the films.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XIV is a great sampler of this great series. Here's to more sets from Shout! Factory.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
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