It hardly seems possible, but it’s been 25 years since a quirky comedian named Joel Hodgson unleashed Mystery Science Theater 3000 on an unsuspecting Minnesota public. To commemorate the show’s 25th anniversary, Shout! Factory has issued the latest in its excellent series of DVD sets — appropriately dubbed the Mystery Science Theater 25th Anniversary Edition.
As with Shout!’s previous DVD sets, the 25th Anniversary Edition packages four episodes from the show’s run — Moon Zero Two (111), The Day the Earth Froze (422), The Leech Woman (802), and the scarcely seen Gorgo (909). That’s two Joel and two Mike episodes, for those who care about such things, and they are all fine choices. Each episode is packaged in its own standard slim clam shell case, and the whole set comes in an attractive collectible tin case.
So what makes this an anniversary edition? I’m glad you asked.
For starters, there’s a bonus fifth disc of material, featuring two more episodes — Mitchell (512) and The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (513). My fellow MSTies will recognize the significance of those two episodes immediately, as they marked the transition from Joel Hodgson as host to Mike Nelson, in a move that is still debated with slightly less fan fervor than Dave vs. Sammy, Kirk vs. Picard, or Dick Sargent vs. Dick York.
Then there are the bonus features, which should please any fan no matter which side of the debate they choose. Each of the four primary episodes is accompanied by original theatrical trailers and some neat extras. The best is “Return to Eden Prairie,” a three part documentary that covers the early history of MST3K, highlights key crew members, and provides a behind-the-scenes look at the various locations where the show was filmed. Key players in the show’s history are interviewed, such as Hodgson, Jim Mallon, Trace Beaulieu, and Kevin Murphy. Nelson and Bill Corbett are noticeably absent, but the film is no less informative or entertaining for their absence.
For your further viewing pleasure some more interesting extras featuring:
- An interview with Hammer Films historian Constantine Nasr, who provides some fascinating info on Moon Zero Two.
- An interview with Mary Jo Pehl called “Life After MST3K,” which is pretty much what the name says.
- A featurette covering Hodgson’s last episode as host, the aforementioned Mitchell.
- A short called Ninth Wonder of the World: The Making of Gorgo.
- Leonard Maltin Explains Something.
- The original Mystery Science Theater Hour segments, featuring Mike Nelson doing his awesome Jack Perkins impression.
Between the movie selection and the host of extras, this is pretty much the perfect gift idea for the MSTie in your life (even if that happens to be yourself). So how perfect is it that it comes out just as the Christmas shopping season gets underway?!
The Mystery Science Theater 3000 25th Anniversary Edition is out November 26th, and is available on Amazon.