Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume 12
Okay, we have all done it. You are sitting in the living room with your friends some Saturday afternoon. You have the beer, pizza and hot wings already but there is not a game in sight to watch. So you start flicking around the cable channels and find yourselves watching a really bad flick. Like a traffic accident you can’t seem to turn away. Since it is so bad you and your friends begin to mock the movie openly. You comments are more important than the actual dialogue in the film. You laugh and have fun with a film that is far from entertaining otherwise. This is the experience that was captured for years on the hit cable series ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’. The setup is simple, silly and extremely well known at this point. A human begin, Joel Robinson (Joel Hodgson) is stuck in deep space on a barely functional craft called the Spaceship of Love. On board Joel, and later his replacement Mike Nelson (Michael J. Nelson), only have a group of patched together robots for company. They include the Crow T. Robot (voiced by Trace Beaulieu and Bill Corbett), Tom Servo (voiced by Kevin Murphy or J. Elvis Weinstein), Gypsy (voiced by Patrick Brantseg or J. Elvis Weinstein) and the unseen Cambot. Crow is mischievous one, always up to find some way to make trouble. Tom is more proactive in the problems he provides for his lamentable human companion. Gypsy is the den mother and caretaker for the ship providing air, food and general guidance which includes steering the ship.
On the ground is a seasonally changing cast of low level bad guys that range from the evil head of Gimzomics, Dr. Clayton Forrester (Trace Beaulieu) to later on his sister Pearl (Mary Jo Pehl) and her minions Professor Bobo (Kevin Murphy), a talking man-ape scientist and the Observer (Bill Corbett) a man from the distant future who carries his brain (actually jell-o) in a bowl. In order to torment the human on the ship whoever he may be they send him bad movie and force him to watch. What we see is Joel or Mike along with Tom and Crow in silhouette watching the film of the day and letting loose with a free association form of jokes. In some ways this is the series that would not die. It started on a local television station in Minnesota. After that it came to Comedy Central and eventual wound up on the Sci-Fi channel. Now, we art in the 12th DVD volume set and the laughs continue as always. Typically of these sets there is a mixture of seasons represented several of the cast changes. In many ways this is a great idea rather than going with straight season releases. The fans of this series are adamant about which host is better or what films are the best to lampoon. With this release format you get to a more granular selection for what you want to see.
The Rebel Set
Season 4 episode 19 December 12, 1992
Joel reads the robots bedtime stories that include In Cold Bold but really gets to then with ‘Life’s Little Instruction Book’. They start off with a little short called ‘Johnny at the Fair’. This shows a young boy and his parents going to a local fair. Things get ‘tense’ when he wonders away from his parents. The film, The Rebel Set, is about a man who owns a coffee shop, Edward Platt, planning a robbery of an armored car. This flick features a heavy jazz beat set against some truly dismal acting.
Extra: Interview with a star of the Rebel Set, Don Sullivan.
Secret Agent Super Dragon
Season 5 episode 4 August 7, 1993
Crow and Tom try to build a new robot that can only speak a single voice. It is annoying and does not have an off switch. There is no short for this episode so the go right into the flick. Dr. Forrester is away at a school reunion so it is up to TV’s Frank (Frank Conniff) to make the weekly invention and send out the film. This film has the elements just ripe for humor; The CIA, a Venezuelan crime lord and a new hallucinogenic drug.
Extra: Jack Perkins Wraps. The A&E host of ‘Biography’ is imitated by Mike Nelson.
Season Six episode 12 October 29, 1994
Crow installs a new PC on the Satellite of Love. A lot of terms are tossed around but Crow is unable to get on the web. He tries tech support and is put on hold listening to music. In the film an Air Force pilot wants to be the best, most daring pilot around. He is met with opposition from his father who happens to be a U.S. Congressman. Ironically one of the stars in the flick Robert K. Dornan actually did become a congressman.
Extra: the MST3k Video Juke Box. A compilation of some very strange songs form several seasons.
Parts: The Clonus Horror
Season 8 episode 11 June 7, 1997
This is one of the Pearl era episodes. Mike tries to grow a mustache and gets a lot of kidding from the ‘bots. Planet side Pearl, Brain Guy and Bobo have to deal with a group of children with incredible mind control powers. The film is one of my favorites of the series. In a remote scientific encampment young people are used in covert cloning experiments. They are destined to become spare parts for the rich and powerful. It is basically the same theme as the more recent bomb, ‘the Island’. This flick has a staple of ‘B’ sci-fi, Peter Graves. There are a lot of shots of perfect men and young women in running shorts bouncing around.
If you have never experienced MST3K do yourself a favor and start picking up these box sets. Shout Factory is to be commended for their commitment to cult classic films and televisions and this is without a doubt one of their best serialized releases ever. The jokes never seem to get old. I watch this with friends and even if we can practically recite the jokes the still get to us. If you are looking for a good party flick this is definitely it. Invite those friends over and pop this in the DVD and have a great, fun evening.