Mystery Science Theater 3000 XXV
When it comes to television shows with an incredibly devoted cult following, it's hard to top Mystery Science Theater 3000. The wonderfully low-budget show, where a guy and his robot friends are forced to watch bad movies while providing running commentary, is such an inspired premise that it's no surprise that even after more than a dozen years, fans still happily buy each and every iteration. At this point, however, the archives have been mined rather meticulously, leaving only a few gemstones uncovered. Therefore, this 25th set, like so many before it, is a mixed bag. It isn't that any of the four episodes included are bad, so much as a couple of them are just ordinary — the gang sit and watch a bad movie and make a bunch of funny comments. The first episode is the perfect example. Robot Holocaust comes from the very first season on Comedy Central and, to be honest, the movie is actually more entertaining than the commentary because it's so incredibly bad. The chemistry between the cast isn't quite where it would be later on, but there's still some good moments. Operation Kid Brother is much better; it is a wretched attempt to cash in on Sean Connery's success as James Bond, starring his kid brother, Neil. Really. It turns out acting ability isn't genetic, so there's no shortage of good material for the riffing. Even more extraordinary is that there are quite a few Bond actors roped into making the film, in a surreal attempt to add authenticity, but everything fails; it's a very entertaining episode. Kitten With A Whip is the first of two Mike Nelson-led episodes, featuring some familiar faces, namely John Forsythe and Ann-Margret. It's the tale of a juvenile delinquent and a politician, and their out of control adventures together. It's not the usual type of movie to be given the MST3K treatment, plus the film is actually pretty decent, in a '60s kind of way. Finally, there's the best-forgotten sequel to The Creature From The Black Lagoon: Revenge of the Creature. This was the first episode after the show transferred to a new network, narrowly escaping cancellation, and they kicked things off with a strong showing. Even though there was a new set, an updated theme tune and some other little changes, there's familiarity to the on-form ensemble. The bonus material is a bit on the sparse side. Each episode has a short introduction from either lead character, plus a couple of catching-up segments with Josh Weinstein and Bill Corbett, and a 20-minute documentary on director Jack Arnold during his time at Universal Studios. This isn't the place for newcomers to start but then again, until a comprehensive "Best Ever Episodes" set appears (which is inevitable), there isn't a great place to start because it can take a while for a full MST3K addiction to develop, and four episodes just isn't enough.
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