3 Stars
Year Released: 2014
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 480 minutes
Click to Expand Credits:

Shout! Factory has done an excellent job with the “Mystery Science Theater 3000″ series since taking it over from Rhino several years ago, but I have to admit they stumbled a bit with Volume XXX. While the episodes are their usual funny selves, the bonus features are a bit lacking compared to previous quarterly releases.

But first, the episodes:

“The Black Scorpion” is the final episode in the first season, which featured Josh Weinstein playing the other mad scientist and doing Tom Servo’s voice. Watching a first season episode of “MST3K” is kind of like watching the “Seinfeld” pilot, which didn’t feature Elaine: It has most of the ingredients of what would make the series successful, but it’s not quite there yet.

“Outlaw (of Gor)” is a fifth season episode that features a film based on the long-running series of Gor novels. It’s the sequel to 1988’s “Gor,” and it features Jack Palance in a role that is of course heavily mocked by Mike and the bots. This was one of Mike’s first several episodes, though, so the series was in flux as the writers sought to move him away from many of the tropes that defined Joel’s tenure as host, such as the invention exchange.

“The Projected Man” led off the series’ ninth season by establishing Castle Forrester and allowing Pearl to stop wandering the galaxy chasing Mike. With plenty of stuffy British accents to ridicule, this is a very funny episode that showcases the cast at their prime.

“It Lives By Night” is a tenth season episode that, like “The Projected Man,” has Mike and the bots operating at a high level during their final tour aboard the Satellite of Love.

Now about those bonus features: “Outlaw (of Gor)” is hands-down the best disc in this set with three featurettes that dig into the history of the novels and this ill-fated low-budget film. Director John “Bud” Cardos and producer Harry Alan Towers weigh in with their thoughts, and Cardos offers a lot of “I did the best with what I had” excuses, which I honestly can’t blame him for.

The “Black Scorpion” disc comes in second with a nice, albeit short, making-of piece that puts the film in historical perspective. However, “The Projected Man” has an odd featurette that lasts just four minutes, with a narrator who speeds through his script as if he’ll get a bonus for finishing as quickly as possible, and “It Lives By Night” just has a trailer for “The Frank,” a short film that reunites many of the “MST3K” cast members. I couldn’t find much information about it online, though, aside from a news piece on a fan site.

Aside from a couple film trailers, that’s it for this set. No cast member introductions or other pieces that have made previous sets fun to dig through. Volume XXX isn’t a complete wash, but it doesn’t quite live up to the standard set by Shout! Factory during the past several years.

Posted on July 29, 2014 in Reviews by

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