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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Science Fiction > Horror > Camp > TV > Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XX (2011/Shout! Factory)

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 accustomed to.

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


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