MST3K 20th Anniversary set better than anticipated

After scoring $45 in Best Buy gift certificates (thank you, Reward Zone!), I finally broke down and bought the Mystery Science Theater 3000 20th Anniversary set.

While I stand by my earlier statement that the movies themselves are not memorable, I should amend my earlier statement of "meh" to that of understanding why some of these episodes were chosen.

"Laserblast" marks the end of MST3K's tenure on Comedy Central, as well as the end of Trace Beaulieu's run on the show as Dr. Forrester and Crow. It also features a supremely weird, "2001: A Space Odyssey" style ending.

"Future War" is the most recently-produced film ever featured in MST3K. It came out in 1997 and was simply AWFUL.

As for "First Spaceship on Venus," I guess I can say the host segments are pretty classic (especially Joel's "starter junk drawer" invention), and "Werewolf"...well, I'm not really sure why that one was included.

What's worth the price of admission, though, is the 90 minutes of "oral history" of MST3K, as told by all the key players from the show, even those who were only involved during the extremely experimental KTMA years that have never been rebroadcast or released on DVD. They really go in-depth, and I learned a LOT about the show. The only disappointment is how they gloss over the reasons Joel and Trace left the show - it's obvious there's MUCH more to the story than what they reveal in the 30 seconds devoted to each. But regardless...a great documentary that was long in the coming. There's also a (shockingly short, at 37 minutes long) recording of a panel the group did at San Diego Comic Con this year. Patton Oswalt does a fantastic job as moderator, asking questions I never would have thought of and keeping things interesting. Finally, there's a briefly-amusing compilation of all the theme songs they've ever had, played back-to-back. It's interesting to note the subtle differences.

So at the end of the day, while the movies themselves are kind of meh, the special features are well worth the price of admission, along with the statuette of Crow (now widely admired sitting on my desk at work) and cool lobby cards (one of which is also on display at work).

Shout! Factory has announced their next release already - containing "Mad Monster," "Soultaker," "Manhunt in Space," and "The Final Justice" (the latter of which is an episode featuring Joe Don Baker that's so bad even the riffs can't make it watchable). Special features include interviews with some of the movies' cast and crew, as well as an interview with Mike and the 'bots on an ESPN Show.

Again, the episode choices don't "wow" me. I really hope they're able to get a deal to put some of my favorite episodes on DVD, like:

  • "Fugitive Alien"
  • "Star Force: Fugitive Alien 2"
  • "Monster A-Go-Go" (the first episode I ever saw)
  • "The Day the Earth Froze"
  • "The Attack of The The Eye Creatures" (yes, the second "the" was actually in the title)
  • "Lassie: The Painted Hills"
  • Any of the "Hercules," "Gamera," or "Godzilla" films. (I know, they had problems with "Godzilla v. Megalon" and had to pull it from the shelves. Sigh.)

It would also be nice if they pulled more from the earlier seasons of the show.

And as for future special features, a compilation of the classic "Turkey Day" shorts would be fun, as well as more behind-the-scenes footage if they've got it, or the live show (which yours truly attended, sitting in the front row, even!).

What would you like to see on future sets?