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I honestly don't know how they choose the episodes for these Mystery Science Theater 3000 box sets -- it seems like they set a hamster loose on the titles, and chose the ones that the hamster tried to eat.

But you gotta admit, there is some small connection between the episodes in "Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XX" -- they're all Joel, all the time. The collection is still small and expensive, but the episodes here are lots of fun, with a splattering of bad ninja TV movies, boring science fiction, and a lame Russian fantasy movie.

First there's an episode from the early days. After the invention exchange ("I think you could bruise a child's tender psyche." "THANK YOU"), the Mads sentence Joel and the bots a tedious, obnoxiously sexist movie called "Project Moonbase." Basically two men and a woman are sent on a rocket to an orbital space station, only to have one of the guys turn out to be a spy. It's a lot less exciting than it sounds.

Then there's "Master Ninja" and "Master Ninja 2," a pair of horrible TV movies made out of old TV episodes sandwiched together. Basically some old white guy who was trained as a ninja travels around with an annoying teenager, and they defend the commonfolk against evil. And occasionally, against other ninjas (actual Asian ones).

And after the usual hijinks for the Mads and the Satellite of Love folk (chin-underwear!), there's "The Magic Voyage of Sinbad," about a seemingly insane man who is obsessed with bringing happiness to the masses. As he goes off in search of the bluebird of happiness, he shamelessly leeches off a sea nymph and leaves his girlfriend to stand on a rooftop for six years.

All these movies are bad in different ways -- "Sinbad" is ornately and pretentiously absurd (like Sinbad himself), "Project Moonbase" is so boring and sexist (an army officer seriously threatens to SPANK a female astronaut) that you'll want to impale yourself on something, and the "Master Ninja" movies are just baaaaaaaad, soppy, clumsy TV.

And as usual, Joel and the bots are absolutely hilarious. Their little goofy intermissions are just hysterical (the gang dons big furry hats and big furry beards), and their constant mockery of the movies is gutsplitting -- just listen to all the pretend lines from the ninja sidekick's hamster ("He soldered me in here!"). Although you gotta admit that the Demi Moore jokes haven't aged well, especially since apparently when she was young she ate Brillo pads. How else can you explain that voice?

"Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XX" is a solid collection of two horrible movies and two horrible TV movies -- fun, wild and delightful. If only I could get full season collections...
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