Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XX (2011/Shout! Factory)
Picture: C- Sound: C
Extras: B- Episodes: A-
Shout! Factory continues their excellent MST3K releases with this, their
eighth volume since taking over the reins from Rhino in 2008.
Included are the following episodes:
#103 - Project Moonbase
#322 - Master Ninja I
#324 - Master Ninja II
#505 - The Magic Voyage of Sinbad
For personal preference, Iíd have to say my favorites here would be Master
Ninja I & II. †Originally shown
as The Master, a TV series on
NBC that starred Timothy Van Patten and Lee Van Cleef. †The short-lived show was later edited for home
video and sold under the new Master Ninja title, which is what we see
here. †The content is ripe for poking fun
at, and the crew is at the top of their game here.
My choice for runner up goes to The Magic Voyage of Sinbad, a Russian
film originally known as Sadko, with no ties to the legendary sailor or
the hit Columbia Pictures with Ray Harryhausen DynaMation. †This was until it was imported and humorously
re-dubbed by Roger Corman, who managed to shoe-horn Sinbad into the mix to
better sell it to an English speaking market. †It makes for a solid MST3K episode, but
the jokes donít come as quickly as youíd hope for, causing it to drag a bit.
The picture is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. †The quality is average for whatís been seen
before on the sets - soft detail, occasionally with video jaggies around the
silhouettes of the SOL crew. †This is
particularly noticeable on Project Moonbase, as the earlier episodes
usually suffer from more of this type of problem.
Audio is a tad better, but again, this isnít something youíll show to friends
when trying to impress them with your new surround sound setup. †None of these issues matter much, as the
nature of Mystery Science Theater doesnít require that the presentation
be high on audio and visual frills; so long as the fans can get a hold of the
episodes in a better format than the bootleg tapes and DVDs that most were previously
One thing that the newer sets have over the first 12 volumes is the inclusion
of special features. †While few of them
have been much to get excited over, any bonus content is still a welcome
addition. †The Servo vs. Servo panel from
Dragon Con 2010 is here the most fun and informative. †It features a live discussion between J. Elvis
Weinstein, the first to portray Tom Servo on the show, and his successor, Kevin
Murphy.† The recording quality is a bit
sub-par, and it seems to be contributed by an audience member, but itíll do.
Although Shout! Factory have yet to run into any rights entanglements, as Rhino
did several times toward the end of their distribution of the series, Iíd still
advise that anyone interested pick this one up immediately. †Better to be safe than sorry - and who knows
when these might be out again.
- †David Milchick