HTF REVIEW: "Mystery Science Theater 3000" Volume 2 (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Apr 12, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    Mystery Science Theater 3000
    Volume Two






    Studio: Rhino
    Year: 1993
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 380 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
    Subtitles: None




    I was sort of surprised when a week ago I opened
    up one of the many screener packages I normally
    receive and found a copy of Mystery Science
    Theater 3000 Volume 2
    inside. Since the set
    had been released weeks before the screener was
    sent, I really didn't care to write a review.
    Those that had wanted the set already bought it
    and knew exactly what was already inside.

    A funny thing happened between the day I received
    that set and today. With the insistence of MST3K
    fans of this forum, I found myself sitting down
    and sampling the material on this DVD collection.
    It wasn't long before watching MST3K became
    a nightly ritual as I watched chapter after chapter
    of the assortment of short films that comprise
    Shorts One. Man, this stuff is funny!

    For those of you unfamiliar with Mystery Science
    Theater 3000
    , it was originally an idea
    conceived by Joel Hodgson, a stand-up comedian, and
    Jim Mallon, a production manager at a Minneapolis
    UHF television station. The show debuted in 1988
    and quickly became such an underground hit that
    within a year it had moved to The Comedy Channel.
    Over the next three years the show received five
    cable Ace and two Emmy award nominations. In 1994,
    the show won the prestigious Peabody Award.

    [​IMG]

    So what's the hype all about? Imagine a series
    where the hero (Mike Nelson) is a hapless guy who's
    trapped on an orbiting satellite and forced by evil
    scientists to watch horrible movies as part of a
    diabolical experiment. He sits watching the movie
    with a pair of the ship's robots (Tom Servo and Crow).
    The only way they can keep sane is to make fun of
    the movies. This is where the comedy ensues as the
    three offer an offbeat combination of wisecracks and
    brainy satire.

    I admit that I really haven't been aware of these
    boxed sets being released. I have only received
    Volume 2 and already as I write this review,
    I discover that Volume 3 is already shipping.
    Since I am only vaguely familiar with this show
    (I have watched it only a few times on The Comedy
    Channel), I really can't comment on how well Rhino
    has compiled the material here. I'm going to do
    the best I can based on what is in front of me....

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Mystery Science Theater 3000 arrives in
    a rather deluxe 4-disc boxed set. The outer
    slipcover cardboard packaging is somewhat sturdy
    and I really dug the fact that it contained a
    fun little picture wheel that enables you to turn
    the cover artwork to your liking.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    The innards unfold to a 4-pane gatefold that
    hold the 4 discs in raised plastic hub housing.
    The outer panes contain fun pictures of Joel
    Hodgson, Mike Nelson, Crow and Tom Servo. The
    back pane contains a full description of the
    included movies/shorts, Angels Revenge, Cave
    Dwellers, Pod People
    and Shorts One.
    A outer pane pocket contains an 8-page booklet
    that breaks down these features by chapter number.
    The only thing that seems to be missing here is
    any indication of the show's original air date.

    As I noted above, it wasn't my intent to do a
    review of this boxed set, but I had such a great
    watching Shorts One, that I felt I should
    make an appearance here and talk about how much
    fun I had watching this particular disc.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Shorts One is a collection of seven really
    bad short films. These are the kind of bad,
    low-budget wholesome films that many of you
    probably remember from your earliest school days.
    All sorts of subjects are tackled here from
    personal grooming to making a date with your
    family. I particularly enjoyed the gang making
    fun of two young boys getting hog-tied into putting
    on a rodeo for the locals, and a student council
    President who is cited for cheating on his exam.
    Once you begin watching just one of these shorts,
    I promise you'll laugh so hard that you'll quickly
    finish them all. This is some seriously good
    entertainment here!


    How is the transfer?

    First, let me state that I am basing this
    review based upon the 4th disc in this collection,
    entitled Shorts One.

    The shows are presented in their original full
    screen ratio. The overall transfer seems to look
    marvelous, but you could really only judge it by
    the brief amount of exclusive material shot for
    this Rhino video releases which features Tom
    Servo as the 'host.' These segments look well
    polished with vibrant colors and without a spec
    of added video noise. Once the lights go down
    and the features begin, we are at the mercy of
    the often distressing quality of these cheesy
    films. I can say that the show looks as good as
    what I would expect from a cable TV broadcast.

    [​IMG]

    The audio seems to be mostly mono here. Character
    dialogue is very strong in the center channel, but
    there is bleeding across the front mains. The only
    segments that I could detect any expanded audio is
    those featuring hosting narration by Tom Servo (with
    the sound of the ships engines in the rears) and
    the Main Menus (which feature the sound of a projector
    running in the rears). These sequences are apparantly
    recorded in Dolby Digital 2.0. The character dialogue
    is distinctively crisp, separating itself nicely
    from the main feature.

    Special Features

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    The specs on the Press release mentioned the
    inclusion of trailers for each of the film
    presentations. I did a search on all 4 of
    these discs and could not locate any trailers --
    at least -- these did not seem to be indicated
    on the chapter stops.

    Rhino has also neglected to offer and subtitles
    or closed-captioning for the hearing impaired.


    Final Thoughts

    [​IMG]

    I apologize to the fans of MST3K for being
    very brief in my overview of this set. You fans
    certainly deserved more. This wasn't, however, a
    review I intended to do -- that is -- until I saw
    the obnoxiously funny material on the Shorts One
    disc. If this is any indication of what appears
    on the rest of these discs, this DVD is an absolute
    winner!


    Release Date: NOW


    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
     
  2. Adam Tyner

    Adam Tyner Screenwriter

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    Not to nitpick, but... [​IMG]

    [*]It's "MST3K", not "MSTK3".[*]There's no "5.1 audio" anywhere that I can find. The feature itself is Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kps), and the menus (at least on the Shorts disc) are LPCM 2.0 (1536Kps).[/list]
     
  3. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Another quicky [​IMG] You mention Mike as the host of the show underneath a picture of Joel Hodgeson [​IMG] Mike was the second host.

    The Tom Servo footage was shot by Best Brains for their original internal release of Shorts One, which was later released to retail by Rhino, and then to DVD by the same

    I only wish the other internal releases will someday make it to DVD, like their documentary on doing the last episode, "Tom Servo's Favorite Host Segments" (v.1-4 of all the great stuff on features they can't get video rights for)

    Never want to lose a chance to show off my girl [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Kenneth Cummings

    Kenneth Cummings Supporting Actor

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    Someday I will get all missing episodes of MST3K. But I have so many fricking dvds to get that I must wait...
     
  5. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Jeff,

    Photos do not always match up with the text, as
    you will see in many of my other reviews. I usually
    place photos in the best available positions.

    As for the 5.1 audio -- it is listed on the specs
    sheet that retailers received. As noted in the review,
    the audio separation contained a lot of bleeding. I
    have updated the review to reflect the Dolby Digital
    2.0.

    Thanks
     
  6. Walt Riarson

    Walt Riarson Supporting Actor

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  7. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    If you liked the shorts, you'll like the full length episodes, probably more. Watch enough to start catching the self-referencing they do so well and that's where they are at the funniest.
    Example in the current set (Collection 3): The Atomic Brain-girl is walking through a wooded yard in a white flowing gown and Crow says "I'm looking for the Manos set" [​IMG]

    I liked the individual releases but the boxsets are definitely the way to go as far as future releases. Can't wait for the next!

    Bruce
     
  8. Sean_J

    Sean_J Agent

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    The episodes being released on DVD have UPSET ME. I believe there are better episodes that should be on dvd (ie SoulTaker, Space Mutiny, Squirm)... The episode choices for the DVDs are poor. Plus, I wish they would release season sets (although there are alot of episodes and there would probably be alot of dvds for JUST one season of MST).
     
  9. Adam Tyner

    Adam Tyner Screenwriter

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    Season boxes will never happen. Way too many rights issues to overcome.

    The episodes being released on DVD by Rhino are those that have already been released on VHS. The three episodes you named are all Sci-Fi-era episodes, and Rhino has yet to release an episode from season 8 and on on home video. Any future box set, assuming one is forthcoming, will presumably include previously unreleased material.

    I disagree that the episode choices are poor on these sets, but judging from your post, you didn't watch the series during its run on Comedy Central, and maybe that's influencing your opinion...? No offense, but I'd much rather pop in a DVD of material that's otherwise unvailable vs. something I can see every Saturday morning.
     
  10. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    I have a question....

    There was a film I saw on the afternoon movie
    as a kid.

    It was about an astronaut that crash lands on
    what he believes to be earth. The storyline is
    close to Journey to the far side of the sun,
    but here he meets an elderly man who needs to take
    insulin injections. At the end, he looks up at
    the sky and is dismayed to find two moons, now
    realizing he is not on Earth.

    I ask about this film because someone told me it
    is a film that was spoofed on MST3K.

    Anyone know of it?
     
  11. Adam Tyner

    Adam Tyner Screenwriter

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  12. Todd Phillips

    Todd Phillips Second Unit

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    (Edit: I misread Ron's post.)
     
  13. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    Do any MSTies out there know why there are separate shorts discs? Is this an indication that the features that these shorts went with originally are unavailable for release on DVD in an intact form? Or can we anticipate Rhino will be double-dipping and releasing the shorts in context of the full original shows too?

    While season sets are a complete impossibility, at least Rhino has stepped up the speed of releases so that there's a steady flow of MST goodness at our doorsteps.
     
  14. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Mark, I assume that if they can get the rights to some of these films they will, but for the most part Shorts are just the best shorts they've done (and in the public domain), and yes many of them fall into the "no way in hell" catagory
     
  15. Christopher Bosley

    Christopher Bosley Stunt Coordinator

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    Stranded In Space it is indeed, the first ever MST3K I ever saw. Needless to say, so damn funny I nearly pissed myself and was hooked thereafter. Haven't kept up with the DVD's b/c I taped quite a few though I may now try to with this box set (worth it alone for the shorts I imagine).
     
  16. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    That's it! Thank You. You guys are the best!

    By the way....

    Ever sinde I posted this review I have had feelings
    of guilt.

    It really was a review thrown together with very
    little thought. I'm not a huge fan of MST3K,
    but I did love the collection of SHORTS that Rhino
    sent me.

    Wish I could have done a better job on this review,
    but I wasn't really intending to review this set,
    that is, until fans asked that I look at the DVD.

    Still think it's a great purchase. Funny stuff!
     
  17. Todd Robertson

    Todd Robertson Second Unit

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    Thanks for the review Ron. I've been a huge fan of the show for years and still am very addicted. I hope they release many more dvds 'cause I'll buy them all. my fav episode is The Incredible Melting Man

    I guess it's just a dream that every episode will ever be released, but man, that would be outstanding!!
     
  18. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    Ron,

    if you get the chance, do yourself a favour and watch a couple of the films themselves, you'll have a whale of a time! [​IMG]

    I look foreward to Saturday mornings every week so that I can catch the show on the Sci-Fi channel, it's just too bad that they only have a select few episodes that they keep rotating over and over again, I would LOVE to see some of the old classics with Joel! [​IMG]

    Sean,

    Soultaker was on this past weekend, the boys constant ripping on poor Joe Estevez had me rolling!! [​IMG]

    One choice moment from Soultaker

    Setting is in an elevator...

    (in the film)
    Natalie...
    "Where are you taking me!?"

    Joe Estevez...
    "The seventh floor Natalie."

    Natalie...
    "But there is no seventh floor!"

    Joe Estevez...
    "Their is where I come from Natalie."

    Mike Nelson in response...
    "So he comes from a taller building then."

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    MSTie was in syndication for one season, then withdrawn over legal rights to a bunch of the films (basically only licensed for use on CC)
     
  20. Doug Fogle

    Doug Fogle Stunt Coordinator

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    It is definitely an addiction.I remember watching the whole turkey day marathons on CC.The only bad part was going thru withdrawal the next day.
     

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