You may well ask what MST3K is. Well, here's an explanation! (Sing along...)
In the not too distant future
somewhere in time and space
Mike Nelson and his robot pals
are caught in a nasty place
They try to survive the wrath of Pearl
Just an evil gal who wants to rule the world
From her castle below, she sets her sights above
Just to torture all the captives on the Satellite of Love!
(GET ME DOWN!!!)
"I'll send him cheesy movies,
"The worst I can find. (la la la)
"He'll have to sit and watch them all
"And I'll monitor his mind. (la la la)"
Now keep in mind Mike can't control where the movies begin or end. (la la la)
He'll try to keep his sanity
with the help of his robot friends!
ROBOT ROLL CALL!If you're wondering how he eats and and breathes,
CAMBOT ("You're on!") GYPSY! ("Oh, my stars!")
TOM SERVO! ("Check me out!") CROOOOW! ("I'm different!")
and other science facts (la la la)
Then repeat to yourself, "It's just a show,
"I should really just relax...
"For 'MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000'!!!!!!"Previous MST3K Theme Songs
LATEST MST NEWS!Five years after it ended its ten year run on cable (seven on Comedy Central, three on Sci-Fi Channel), Mystery Science Theater 3000 is still adored by legions of fans who continue to "circulate the tapes" (or lately, DVDs). Rhino Home Video has continued to release episodes on DVD, but until recently, they were all episodes which were previously released on VHS. With Volume 5 of the Rhino MST3K series, we finally saw some episodes unreleased on VHS, but they were Sci-Fi Channel episodes which had been seen in reruns fairly recently. Now, we're finally getting Comedy Central episodes again (unseen on television in eight years).
Aside from the previously-released "Gunslinger," one of a handful of Westerns viewed by the crew of the Satellite of Love, it's all stuff that most fans haven't seen in a long time, making it one of the better MST3K collections released thus far (rivaled only by the recent "Essentials" collection featuring the previously-unreleased "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians," and classic of classics, "Manos, the Hands of Fate.") All episodes feature original host Joel "Robinson" Hodgson, aside from a few things on disc three, which I'll get to in a second.
The first disc has "Attack of the Giant Leeches," a very early episode with the quite-memorable short "Undersea Kingdom, Chapter 1." This was a Republic Pictures serial apparently made to challenge Flash Gordon's success at the box office in the mid-'30s, with a character named "Crash" Corrigan. Apparently much of it's "under the sea," but much of it appears shot on land in Southern California. After that we get the utterly horrendous "Attack of the Giant Leeches," which rivals "Red Zone Cuba" for soul-sucking dullness, and "The Creeping Terror" in terms of craptacular "special effects." A top-notch episode, but not as great as...
...What can be found on disc four, the true classic "Teenagers from Outer Space." Apparently the "really old teenagers from outer space," as Crow puts it, decided that they would deliver their lines as though they're doing Shakespeare. A truly preposterous movie - a great fit for the MST3K treatment. At this point in the series, the gang was going on all cylinders, so this represents the show at its best.
Disc two is the aforementioned "Gunslinger" with Beverly Garland playing a female sherriff in a Roger Corman production. This was Joel's penultimate episode and so it's another winner, and highly recommended if you don't have the tape.
Disc three is "Mr. B's Lost Shorts," which I believe has never been sold in stores, but was only available on the fan club catalog. It features one of the best shorts ever MST'ed, "Mr. B Natural," which must be seen to be believed. The problem with these shorts, though, is that some of them went along with some hilarious host segments, which are missing. We see the beginning of Tom and Crow's debate, "Mr. B Natural: Man or Woman," but never see it played out. We also get Part 1 of the fan favorite, "Hired!" but not "Part 2" (you can see that on the "Manos, the Hands of Fate" episode), plus we don't get the host segment, which turned the short into a very amusing musical. Aside from these quibbles, it's all great, though "X Marks the Spot," from an early episode, tends to drag in places. "Design for Dreaming" and "Are You Ready for Marriage?" are the only segments taken from Mike-hosted episodes, but they're two of the best from the series' later years, and "Johnny at the Fair" is a great short to show newbies to the series (somewhat surprisingly, "Mr. B Natural" probably plays better for those used to the show's sense of humor).
Overall, this sets gets an A-, if only for the loss of host segments which would make it seem more complete. But definitely a must-have for the MST3K fan in your life (or, er, you, if you're a big fan yourself).
Unsolved Mysteries: Bizarre Murders DVD
One of the most recent "Unsolved Mysteries" DVD releases is "Bizarre Murders," a collection of segments of the long-running NBC/CBS/Lifetime series (it actually ran for 15 years!). This show would vary from creepy to cheesy but it was never boring. The dramatizations and music would mean many a sleepless night for this young viewer in the early days of the show. "Bizarre Murders" certainly brings back the memories of how truth could indeed be stranger than fiction.
The late Robert Stack, of course, hosts all the segments in this multiple-DVD set. Every true story ranges from the merely strange to the truly disturbing.
Matthew McConaughey makes an appearance as a murder victim in one segment... this was one of the segments which finished off with a somewhat "happy" ending as Unsolved Mysteries viewers tipped off the authorities on the wanted man's whereabouts... Fox's America's Most Wanted continues this service today, though with less of a budget.
One segment, which could easily be a full-length TV-movie [in fact, it was, in 1991 with Judith Light], concerned a seemingly normal mother named Marie Hilley who quietly, slowly poisoned her family members for the insurance money. She killed her husband and nearly killed her daughter. When she was close to being fingered for murder, she slipped away and assumed a new identity and a new life in another town. And that's not even the weirdest twist in this story...
Then there is the story of Danny Casolaro, a reporter who was found dead in his hotel room after obsessively investigating a Reagan-era Justice Department scandal. There were certainly some strange circumstances surrounding the death, which was officially ruled a suicide, though Casolaro reported death threats and even told his brother that if something happens to him, it wasn't an accident. This story has been fodder for conspiracy theorists for years, and the theorists added to the "conspiracy" after Clinton came into office. It's hard to take the Unsolved Mysteries treatment of this story with a grain (or more) of salt, but clearly one should. It's also difficult to believe that Oliver Stone hasn't made this one into a movie yet either.
For a flashback to one of the most successful true-crime/paranormal-related shows (that paranormal part is what's missing from America's Most Wanted), you can do far worse than to see the "Unsolved Mysteries: Bizarre Murders" set. It's just too bad that they don't package full episodes though, for those of us who like some variety in our "unsolved mysteries." It's also unfortunate that there appear to be no extras and chapter stops are placed every 15 minutes, instead of between segments.
Soundtracks based on Elmore Leonard novels tend to have pretty good soundtracks, most notably Quentin Tarantino's "Jackie Brown" and Steven Soderbergh's "Out of Sight." The soundtrack to "Be Cool," the sequel to Barry Sonnenfeld's decade-old "Get Shorty," is not quite as memorable as those but it has some great tracks nonetheless. First off, we have three genuine classics: Earth Wind & Fire's "Fantasy," James Brown's "The Boss" and Kool & the Gang's "Hollywood Swingin'"... three great acts at the top of their game. As for newer material, Baby Bash's remix of the hit "Suga Suga" is included... it's interesting but I'm unsure why it's here. The Black Eyed Peas are here, like they're everywhere else, with "Sexy." Not really their best work. Christina Milian (who has a role in the film), however, shines with two tracks, "Ain't No Reason" and "Believer." Milian is a real talent. We have a pair of catchy hip-hop tracks as well: 777's bouncy "Brand New Old School" and "G's and Soldiers" by Planet Asia featuring Kurupt. The latter is closer to gangsta rap, but both are worthy additions to the soundtrack. The CD ends on a decidedly country note, with Sonny and Cher singing "A Cowboy's Work is Never Done," and The Rock, believe it or not, very much in character singing "You Ain't Woman Enough." The score track by John Powell is good, but if you've heard the score to any other Elmore Leonard-inspired film, you've basically heard this one too.
The second season of the mystery classic "Columbo" is now out on DVD. Emmy winner Peter Falk plays the legendary detective. One can see why he received such kudos through the years. Columbo is one of a kind. His series is as well, as the audience usually learns the guilty party ahead of time. The fun is in how this unkempt detective figures out "whodunit." In this season, among other things, Columbo investigates a rich man's death. He suspects one of a set of twins, but who is it? Oscar winner Martin Landau portrays both twins. Columbo also investigates a death in Hollywood, and a case involving a world class chess master. This is must-have for fans of great mystery. However, there are no special features here, so you'll have to make do with the eight hour-plus episodes alone.
Universal DVD has released more so-bad-it's-good TV from the '80s, including the second seasons of both The A-Team and Knight Rider. These were two of the cheesiest programs of the quite-cheesy Brandon Tartikoff era at NBC (though they were actually hits compared to Manimal, Misfits of Science and Supertrain). The network was riding high on the success of the likes of Cheers, the Cosby Show and Miami Vice. Writer/producer Steven Cannell ("Greatest American Hero") introduced us to The "A-Team," a group of former Vietnam POWs accused of a "crime they didn't commit," as the opening sequence tells us. They "escaped from a maximum security prison to the Los Angeles underground," becoming "soldiers of fortune... If no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team!" This is best known as the series which gave the world Mr. T, one of the icons of the '80s. It also starred George Peppard, Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict. This show was a massive hit in the first half of the '80s and probably featured more stunts and violence than any show before. No one watched this for the dialogue or acting... it was all about the stunts, gunplay and explosions, and you get a lot of it through this season, when the show was at its zenith.
Unfortunately for another DVD release, "Knight Rider," it actually aspired to be a little bit more than a show with a talking car, going a 100 miles per hour. David Hasselhoff, for better or worse, was introduced here and the shows had more in the way of plots, which ranged from terribly unoriginal to staggeringly preposterous. Still, the show is a lot of fun. Most memorable is the two-hour season premiere, in which Hasselhoff's Michael Knight, owner of the talking car KITT, comes face-to-face with an evil brother, who owns a bad-ass truck named "Goliath." How do you know he's evil? The facial hair, of course! Hasselhoff acting against himself has to be one of the silliest sights in television history.
Another unfortunate thing about both of these DVD releases is the lack of extras, unless you count a bonus 2nd season episode of Knight Rider on the A-Team set (Knight Rider doesn't even have that much). But if you were a fan of these shows when they aired before, they're a great nostalgia trip indeed.
A-Team - Show: B
Overall grade: B-
Knight Rider - Show: B-
Overall grade: C+
"Miracles" was a shortlived show on ABC about a former priest (Skeet Ulrich) who began to have doubts about his faith after examining possible miracles. Then his life is changed as he meets a boy who can apparently heal people. The boy is killed after healing the priest, whose blood spells out the phrase "God is now here." After leaving the priesthood, he is approached by a man with a mysterious group, who examines miracles believing that they will lead to an upcoming "event," perhaps the end of the world. It's a geniuinely creepy program, for sure, putting the current "Revelations" on NBC to shame. It could have been a hit given a chance by ABC. Ulrich is great in the lead role. The DVD features deleted scenes and commentary.
Overall grade: B
The third season of one of the best sci-fi series of all time, "Quantum Leap," is now on DVD. Dr. Sam Beckett continues to leap from time to time and place to place, trying to get home, with the help of Al the hologram. The season begins with a classic episode, in which Sam leaps into his own body circa adolescence... he wins the big game and gets the girl... but his brother is still going to die in Vietnam. However, he leaps into his brother's unit in 'Nam in part 2 of this episode. All great stuff. Scott Bakula deserved multiple Emmys for his portrayal of Sam, one of the most likable and identifiable characters in recent TV history. If you're a fan of the show, definitely get it. If you're a fan of some of the recent sci-fi/fantasy like "Lost," this one is worth checking out as well. Sadly, no extras here though.
Overall grade: B+
BBI's latest venture
Here is the Mike/Bill finale chat and here is the Kevin finale chat.
My article on the end
Reader reaction to series finale
Mike Nelson wrote something for TV Guide here.
TV Guide Online interviews Joel here.
A recent interview with Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu and Josh Weinstein can be found here.
The chat with the Kevin Murphy Nov. 1 went splendidly and yours truly had the first question! The transcript is here.
The History of MST3K can now be found here.
The MST3K gang has helped Entertainment Weekly name the 10 worst sci-fi films of all time. Also, they made the top 100 sci-fi films and TV shows coming in at #67.
Official Mystery Science Theater 3000
Joel's Gizmonic Antsite
Timmy Big Hands
Tom Servo's Tape Tradin' Town!
MST3K Song Index
Low Budget MST3K Site
Sky Clown's Realm
Agent J's Workshop
MST3K: The Home Game
Tom Servo Fan Club
Rod's MST3K Stuff
Robinson and Nelson's MST3K Page
Deus Ex Machina
The Observers' Tape Trading Planet
My home page
More quality sites can be found in the Webrings above.
Cambot, put this up on StillStore: