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Rhino presents
The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Volume 10 (1991-1997)

"Well guys, I guess no matter how hard you try, there's just no way to make parallel parking exciting."
- Tom Servo (Kevin Murphy)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: November 16, 2006

Stars: Joel Hodgson, Michael T. Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy
Other Stars: Jim Mallon, Frank Conniff, Bill Corbett, Mary Jo Pehl
Director: Jim Mallon, Kevin Murphy

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (suggestive humor, giant monster violence)
Run Time: 05h:13m:20s
Release Date: August 29, 2006
UPC: 603497163229
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- BB+C C-

DVD Review

Love it or hate it, there's no denying that Mystery Science Theater 3000, with its snarky commentary on bad movies (and pop culture of all kinds) was one of the more influential programs of the 1990s. With hosts Joel (Joel Hodgson) and later Mike (Michael T. Nelson) and robots Crow (Trace Beaulieu/Bill Foster) and Tom Servo (Kevin Murphy) in silhouette mocking the onscreen activities, it is frequently vicious and almost always funny. Even if you suspect that it may be responsible for the spike in bad behavior in theaters, it's hard to resist the off-kilter sensibilities behind the program. This collection includes four more episodes from the course of the long-running series, with one program from the beginning and ends of each of Joel and Mike's respective runs, and all of them are memorable excursions in sarcasm.

In its earliest incarnations, the show made regular fun of Japanese giant monster movies, including the Godzilla and Gamera films. These long seemed unlikely for a legitimate DVD release, since the Japanese studios are quite protective of these pictures. But somehow, episode #212, featuring Godzilla vs. Megalon (which has yet to receive any Region 1 DVD release in proper form) makes it to this set. It's pretty absurd in its own right, with yet another small boy in short pants, a size-changing robot, Jet Jaguar, beings from the underwater world Seatopia who unleash gigantic insect Megalon to protest nuclear testing, and a surprise appearance by Gigan, to boot. Joel and the robots make fun of everything from Jennifer Beals to Kung Fu Grip in a free-ranging and hilarious commentary. It also includes the classic, if cryptic bit, "Rex Dart, Eskimo Spy" and a gut-busting English translation of the Jet Jaguar song.

One of Roger Corman's weaker low-budget opera, Swamp Diamonds (1955) is featured on the second disc. It has an interesting cast, though, headlined B-Queen Beverly Garland and Mike Connors (under the name "Touch Connors"). It's a ridiculous tale of a policewoman who goes undercover to provoke a jailbreak from a women's prison in order to try to retrieve some stolen diamonds hidden in the swamp. It's utterly ridiculous in both concept and execution and richly deserves all the contemptuous mud that Joel and the bots sling in this episode #503. But the best part of the episode is sending up the ridiculous sex ed short, What to Do on a Date.

The second Mike Nelson episode, Teen-Age Strangler (1968) is laughable even without the MST3K treatment, especially in its bizarrely out-of-place musical number Yipes Stripes and its phony mystery. As such, it's really too easy a target to be entirely satisfying, but the short film Is This Love? is given a truly savage treatment that's a highlight of the season.

The set winds up with episode #810 from the first Sci-Fi Channel season, The Giant Spider Invasion (1975), which is another easy target, thanks to an absurd lead performance by Alan Hale that invites a bit too much Gilligan's Island riffing. But the episode contains some laugh-out-loud commentary and it's much more enjoyable in this version than the original can possibly hope to be. The host segments feature a somewhat lame Invasion of the Body Snatchers parody that goes on too long, however. All shows feature the commercial break bumpers that were missing from some sets earlier in the series from Rhino.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The onscreen movies are panned and scanned as usual and seem to be taken from dupey 16mm prints for the most part, with sometimes marginal print condition. But that's part of the charm of the series. The host segments look fine, with bright and vivid color, though aliasing is frequently visible, especially on the bluescreened silhouettes in the theater. It looks about as good as one can reasonably expect.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: As usual, little attention is paid to the audio quality of the onscreen features (again, intentionally so as to increase the cheesiness factor). The host segments sound clean, and the commentary and riffing generally are clear and understandable. Noise and hiss are mild at worst. The 2.0 mono is undistinguished but gets the job done.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 80 cues and remote access
Packaging: Digipak
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo gallery
  2. Outtake reel
  3. MST3K Jukebox
Extras Review: Three of the four discs contain bonus materials. Disc 1 includes a weak photo gallery with about 20 stills from throughout the series' run. More substantial is the Disc 3 set of outtakes and bloopers from the Mike Nelson run, collected as Poopie Vol. 2, running about 15m. These range from genuinely funny to silly to overkill, but the look behind the scenes is always welcome. Finally, Disc 4 includes a jukebox feature that allows the viewer to select from 15 songs from the series' run (though weighted far more toward the later Mike Nelson years). A handy play all button allows a long set of material that is alternately bizarre and hilarious. The MST3K gang was certainly creative, but they weren't the best of singers (though When I Held Your Brain in My Arms is a quite proficient doo-wop parody that is very enjoyable).

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

Classic smartass humor spanning the series' history, with some entertaining extra materials and reasonably good transfers. Recommended for fans of the series (and not a bad first set for those wanting to try it out).


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