The 20th anniversary of Mystery Science Theater 3000, MST3K for short was released in 2008 and features four finely riffed episodes from across the show's history, displaying about three distinctly different eras in the show's 10 year run. All of them have plenty to value, this was also one of my first exposures to the show and I have not turned back a single step in finding every volume released from this release onward. This volume contains 1 era Joel story from Season 2, the final episode of Season 7 which ended the show's run on Comedy Central and two episodes, one from Season 9 and the other from Season 10 on the Sci-fi channel.
Episode 211 - First Spaceship to Venus
Apparently before America got its hand on this German film it wasn't that bad and could handle its politics and story well enough, same can be said for what Sandy Frank did the Japanese. Regardless however this movie is unique in MST3K history for how diverse the cast is, a woman as a key character who is not just a damsel in distress and a black man (these movies aren't racist, just old so to note but black characters are rare, particularly ones with speaking roles). The movie concerns a need to go to Venus and the revelations uncovered there in a movie which pads out a great deal, is as slow as the first hour of the 2005 King Kong. However in come Joel and the Bots to, in their era, give this movie not so much of a tearing as Mike would in later seasons. Tom Servo gets his sarcasm thrown into the mix to make some potent riffs "Ah a Good movie, oh I don't think so" but he soon reverts to his usual whimsy "Look - it's the most advanced slurpy machine ever built!" As well as this we get a scene where a gorilla nearly boards the Satellite of Love, advertisement for food that would only be seen on MTV and nowhere else and the bots designing another bot. Is it the best MST3K episode ever done - no, it's quite average but there's enough riffs to make it worth your while and the host segements, whilst random do highlight the father-son relationship Joel and the bots had for each other which is quite endearing at times, also we get constant riffing at things just the Venus robots "We are a planet of novelty toys!" Overall a good, solid episode which is always worth looking in on.
Episode 706 - Lasberblast
How could Leonard Maltin give this film 2.5 stars? Well the bots continue to ask alongside janitor Mike in their last ride with Comedy Central and their original capture Doctor Forrester. Laserblast essentially is a movie about a big laser gun which turns an unlikeable yet somewhat sympathetic individual into a killer with green skin and worse breath. It's a vacuous movie which is depressing at times and non engaging at others. Meanwhile on the SOL we get the connection to their captors cut off with funding for the experiments gone the same way and it is somewhat depressing at the end of an era, but through the sadness of a potential last episode, we get a great segment of Mike going mad and dressing as Captain Cathryn Janeway from Star Trek Voyager. The movie has some good riffs and is considered many a classic, such as the cops who keep dogging our protagonist and the repeated football mentions.
Episode 904 - Werewolf
One of my favorite MST3K episodes and one of the best of all time, Werewolf combines a truly awful movie with some of the fastest riffing MST3K has ever done. The movie shows a group of archaeologists and psychopaths uncovering the bones of a werewolf, where one of them gets cut and ends up becoming one. We get a writer entering the fray who after a Security Guard gets it from the insane imagination of our antagonist, becomes one himself. This film is terrible, haircuts keep noticeably changing showing how drawn out production was, the acting is atrocious yet so fun to watch - particularly our leading woman who gives one of the most renowned line deliveries in MST3K history "Wirrwolf!" But then we have the riffs and this was great, they come fast and furious, never letting up and give us one of the best episodes in just how much they make fun of the film. "So are we to assume a full moon appears every few nights in Flagstaff?" and at any opportunity will just make the best of their content, "Crickets are drowning out the soundtrack - Go Crickets!" Continuity is mocked "Did the oil barrels leap out in front of him?" and effects will be lauded at "What is that, a bat, a bug, what is that!" at the sight of the Werewolf face. As for the host segments, we get one of the best MST3K songs with "Where of Werewolf" which is another chance for Mike to show his style in a 90s girl group scenario, we also see him becoming a were-crow and the gang choosing casting choices for their own werewolf movie. Overall, a classic and one of the best episodes of all time from this series.
Episode 1004 - Future War
One of my first MST3K episodes and it wasn't disappointing. Whilst the movie itself is almost crushing for sheer ineptitude in how it handles characters, arcs, dialogue and of course the infamous force perspective Dinosaur puppets, the crew of the SOL fight back hard and give us a good, well riffed episode, the best pouring into the opening and the Dinosaurs, as well as a fixation with boxes both the movie and Crow seem to have "He's boxed in!" "Well I'm card-bored!". We also get some good segements here, such as working out how much a lady Mike is, Crow masquerading as Droppy the Water Droplet after a single movie reference and Tom Servo attempting Kick-boxing sans functional legs. Overall, a great episode which battleda movie of large guys, nuns and bad sci-fi rip offs.