I have said it before and I will say it again: I am a proud “mystie” (fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000). So of course a big smile was on my face when the latest collection from them hit my mailbox.
Here is a brief history: Mystery Science Theater 3000 is a comedy series created by Joel Hodgson that ran from 1988 to 1999.
The series features a man, Joel Robinson (Joel Hodgson) and his robot sidekicks, Crow and Tom Servo (Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy) who are trapped on a space station by an evil scientist and forced to watch a selection of bad movies, often science fiction B-movies. To keep sane, the man and his robots provide a running commentary on each film, making fun of its flaws and wisecracking their way through each reel in the style of a movie-theater peanut gallery. Each film is presented with a superimposition of the man and robots’ silhouettes along the bottom of the screen.
Series creator Hodgson originally played the stranded man, Joel Robinson, for five and a half seasons. When Hodgson left in 1993, series head writer Michael J. Nelson replaced him as new victim Mike Nelson, and continued in the role for the rest of the show’s run.
During its eleven years, 198 episodes and one feature film, MST3K attained critical acclaim. The series won a Peabody Award in 1993, was nominated for two Emmy Awards. Nuff’ said, onto the review of the latest collection.
Included in this release are Project Moonbase, Master Ninja I, Master Ninja II, and The Magic Voyage of Sinbad (which was the final episode to feature Joel Hodgson).
Let’s break these down, shall we?
Project Moonbase is just as bad as the name sounds. A vision of space travel and the future of man are depicted in this space travel adventure. Colonel Breiteis, a female rocket pilot, and Major Moore, her co-pilot, are selected to orbit the Moon to survey a landing area for a future expedition, but a ruthless Russian spy-scientist aboard the ship causes it to land on the lunar surface, stranded and out of fuel.
Master Ninja I is a re-editing of two episodes of a “Kung Fu” knock off. And, it has to be seen to be believed. Lee Van Cleef is a trained ninja searching America for his long lost daughter. He has a has a side kick (Timothy Van Patten). Look for an appearance by Demi Moore.
Master Ninja II is a back and has this ninja fighting union busters (yes, you read that right) and fighting a terriorist cell. Look for George Lazenby ( James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) in a unenthusiastic performance.
Rounding out this collection is The Magic Voyage Of Sinbad. This is one terrible flick and the guys have a blast with it. This has a special redub with dialogue provided by a young Francis Ford Coppola, at the time working for Roger Corman.
The “riffs” by Joel, Kevin, Bill and the gang area as fast, furious and funny as ever in this collection. Every film in the collection is a blast and filled to the brim with “winner” riff material. The jokes are solid throughout and this belongs on the shelf of any true “mystie”.
The films are presented in their original full frame aspect ratio. The image is decent, but not highly detailed. The image can be a bit soft, and colors not as vibrant as one may desire. The black levels are just okay. But, there isn’t a company that is going to invest in an expensive re-master for any of these films.
The films are presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. The dialogue is crystal clear in all films. While not the most dynamic way to present these films, it works well for the material presented here.
Packaging and Bonus Material
The dvd’s are presented in thin amaray cases inclosed in a cardboard slipcover.
There are some fun bonus material to explore here. Project Moonbase has Exploring the Look of MST3K with a look at how the show was filmed.
Master Ninja I has Interview with Bill McKinney, an actor that appeared in the film. He discusses his experience and how he feels about the “riffing” treatment of his film.
Master Ninja II has Tom Servo and Tom Servo Panel at Dragon Con 2010 presented in its entirety. It is a blast and fans will love it.
Rounding things out is The Magic Voyage of Sinbad: A New Introduction by Trace Beaulieu where he discusses the last episode Joel Hodgson.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Movies 8.5/10
The Video 5/10
The Audio 5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 7/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10