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


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#1 of 21 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted April 12 2003 - 10:59 AM

Posted Image

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.

Posted Image

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....

Posted ImagePosted Image

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.

Posted ImagePosted Image

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.

Posted ImagePosted Image

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.

Posted Image

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

Posted ImagePosted Image

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

Posted Image

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

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 21 OFFLINE   Adam Tyner

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Posted April 12 2003 - 11:04 AM

Not to nitpick, but... Posted Image

    [*]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 of 21 OFFLINE   Jeff Kleist

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Posted April 12 2003 - 12:15 PM

Another quicky Posted Image You mention Mike as the host of the show underneath a picture of Joel Hodgeson Posted Image 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 Posted Image

Posted Image

#4 of 21 OFFLINE   Kenneth Cummings

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Posted April 12 2003 - 01:29 PM

Someday I will get all missing episodes of MST3K. But I have so many fricking dvds to get that I must wait...
I need a new signature.

#5 of 21 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted April 12 2003 - 08:47 PM

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

 

Ronald J Epstein
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#6 of 21 OFFLINE   Walt Riarson

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Posted April 12 2003 - 09:35 PM

[quote] If this is any indication of what appears
on the rest of these discs, this DVD is an absolute
winner! [quote]
If you only watch one of the other films included, be sure to watch Cave Dwellers. Aside from being one of the absolute funniest episodes ever, it's also presented in the 'shoebox format'. Posted Image

"My advice to young film-makers is this: Don't follow trends. Start them!" -- Frank Capra

#7 of 21 OFFLINE   Bruce Hedtke

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Posted April 13 2003 - 05:04 AM

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" Posted Image

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
The Mads are calling

#8 of 21 OFFLINE   Sean_J

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Posted April 13 2003 - 06:17 AM

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).
Thanks and please reply,
S.J.

Email - Coolen88@hotmail.com
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#9 of 21 OFFLINE   Adam Tyner

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Posted April 13 2003 - 06:27 AM

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 of 21 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted April 13 2003 - 07:26 AM

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?

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#11 of 21 OFFLINE   Adam Tyner

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Posted April 13 2003 - 07:51 AM

Ron: Stranded in Space sounds somewhat similar.

#12 of 21 OFFLINE   Todd Phillips

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Posted April 13 2003 - 09:24 AM

(Edit: I misread Ron's post.)
"Safe? Who knows what's safe? I know a man who dropped dead from lookin' at his wife. My own grandmother fought the indians for sixty years, then choked to death on lemon pie."

#13 of 21 OFFLINE   Mark Zimmer

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Posted April 14 2003 - 03:20 AM

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 of 21 OFFLINE   Jeff Kleist

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Posted April 14 2003 - 03:49 AM

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 of 21 OFFLINE   Christopher Bosley

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Posted April 14 2003 - 04:12 AM

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 of 21 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted April 14 2003 - 07:55 AM

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!

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#17 of 21 OFFLINE   Todd Robertson

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Posted April 14 2003 - 08:14 AM

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!!
My DVD/Film Library
dvd folders under construction:wink:

#18 of 21 OFFLINE   Inspector Hammer!

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Posted April 16 2003 - 09:37 AM

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! Posted Image

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! Posted Image

Sean,

Soultaker was on this past weekend, the boys constant ripping on poor Joe Estevez had me rolling!! Posted Image

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."

Posted Image
"That's Jack Bauer!!!!!! He's coming for me!!!!!" - Charles Logan

#19 of 21 OFFLINE   Jeff Kleist

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Posted April 16 2003 - 10:22 AM

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 of 21 OFFLINE   Doug Fogle

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Posted April 18 2003 - 06:19 PM

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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