Mystery Science Theater 3000
Film Length: 380 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
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.
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
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....
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Release Date: NOW
All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality