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Mystery Science Theater 3000: 20th Anniversary Edition (DVD Review)

26 Oct, 2008 By: John Latchem

MST3K 20th

Street 10/28/08
Shout! Factory
$69.99 four-DVD set
Not rated.
Stars Joel Hodgson, Mike Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Jim Mallon.

For every good film, there are a dozen movies that don’t quite measure up. And just as there is an abundance of cheesy movies, there is no shortage of fanboys willing to make fun of them. At the center of the action was “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” the show that ushered in a new pantheon of film criticism by offering a different bad movie each week and a running commentary to make fun of it.

The show underwent several changes over the years, but the basic premise involved some evil scientist trapping an ordinary guy (first Hodgson, then Nelson) on a space station (The Satellite of Love) and forcing him and his robot friends to watch cheesy movies. In many ways the setup was almost as cheesy as the movies it lambasted. But that was the point: fun stupidity.

Starting in 1988, the show was a hit on local Minnesota TV before moving to the new Comedy Channel (now Comedy Central) in 1989, and later to Sci Fi Channel from 1997 to 1999.

This 20th anniversary collection offers four episodes representative of the show’s run: First Spaceship on Venus, the Comedy Central finale Laserblast, Werewolf and Future War.

Distinguishing this new boxed set from earlier collections is a three-part documentary detailing the complete history of the show. Rounding out the extras is a reel that collects every different version of the title song, often altered to reflect cast changes.

That the show was able to endure is a testament to the concept. Nelson and his pals continue to poke fun at movies with their “Film Crew” DVD series and at RiffTrax.com.

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