DVD Review: MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 volume 15.

Shout! Factory
Release date: July 7th, 2009
MSRP: $59.99

Stars: Joel Hodgson, Mike Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy

Gather round kiddies, it is time for another collection of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000. The fine folks are Shout! Factory present the fifteenth (or XV for Roman lovers) release for the epic show.

A mad scientist has stranded a man on a space station and forces him to watch B (and C and D) movies. To keep his sanity, Joel (and later Mike) created a couple of robot companions, Tom Servo and Crow T Robert. The three of them provide snarky running commentaries over the cheesy flicks.

Once again, we get two episodes for the Joel Hodsen era and two from the Mike Nelson years.

First up is Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy. This ep was the second one to air nationally. For those that don’t know, my great state of Minnesota was home to MST3K. The show was regional before being picked up by the Comedy Channel (Aka Comedy Central).
Looking back, you can see the crew had not fully developed their chemistry yet. There are some great lines, but the overall pacing is slow. Tom Servo is played by Joel Weinstein, who uses a more robotic voice. If I had not heard Kevin Murphy doing Tom, it might not be bad, but Joel tries to sound like…well, a robot. It simply does not work with the snarky lines.

The Girl in Lovers Lane (from the fifth season, Joel’s last). At this point, the chemistry is there and the jokes rock. The story is about a Danny, a youth that ends up riding the rails under the supervision of Bix Dugan, a veteran hobo. They wander into a small town and trouble ensues…as well as crappy acting.. Next up is Zombie Nightmare finds some wild haired 80s youth struggling with the undead body of a man they killed. This is the first of the two episodes from the Mike Nelson era. While I have very fond memories of Joel, Mike’s humor is closer to my own, with more of an edge to it. Finally we get Racket Girls a tale about womens pro wrestling that is as bad as anything I have ever scene. Ed Wood would be agast at the level of wretchedness of Racket Girls.Not surprising, the crew go hog wild on this puppy. The story includes organized crime in addition to wrasslin’. I have to say the wrestling scenes are as brutal as the actual dialogue with women wearing outfits that are simply not meant for ladies of their shape and age (great line: Those of you who never associated sexuality with your great-aunt… here it is”). As the ep goes on, Mike and bot’s blood lust just gets worse. I swear. This must be what a pack of sharks in a feeding frenzy are like.

Video:
Picture quality is ok. The older clips look the worst, but all of eps are certainly watchable. One must keep in mind that the films themselves were often poorly stored with a lot of dirt and scratches.

Audio:
Sound is presented in a 2.0 track where does a decent job since very little is asked of it. Again, the earlist ep (Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy) has some issues but since it is the weakest episode, it is not a big deal.

Extras:
This set certainly falls short after the 20th Anniversary release.
RvTAM gives us some old promos, including an old commercial for the show’s Comedy Channel run. Also included is Glimpses of KTMA: MST3K Scrapbook Scraps I. This gives us a look at footage from the show’s UHF days, with some phone messages the station got regarding MST3K.

The Girl In Lovers Lane has Behind the Scenes: MST3K Scrapbook Scraps II which has footage from the days at Comedy Central. I have to say this includes Joel and the boys doing A PATRICK SWAYZE CHRISTMAS!!!!!

For ZN, we get Zombie Nightmare = MST3K Dream is a twelve minture segment that mixes film footage with interviews with some of ZN’s cast.

Lastly, Racket Girls has a theatrical promo as well as Sneak Peak: Hamlet A.D.D., a film that features voice work from Trace Beauliea and Kevin Murphy. The film may be great, but this bit does not have me lining up to see it.

While not all four of the eps featured here are home runs, Zombie Nightmare and Racket Girls show MST3K at it’s finest. The show draws from every source imaginable: Sports, art, history, philosophy…all provide material for Mike/Joel and the bots to tear apart these insanely bad films. If you have no clue about MST3K, pick up this set and be prepared to laugh your fanny off.

Order volume 15 of MST3K.

Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.