It amazes me just how many episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 have already come out on DVD, and it amazes me just as much to count how many have yet to. At this point, it’s safe to say that the bulk of the ones that can come out, have come out. While there will always be some, probably, that Shout! Factory will never get the rights to distribute and release, owing to whichever entity owns the rights to particular films, it’s nice to know that if it’s possible for people to own a 90-minute bit of Midwestern hilarity, people will get that opportunity.
Enter this month’s release, volume XXXIII (that’s 33 for you non-Roman people out there), which gives us four more episodes of Joel Robinson, Mike Nelson, Crow, Tom Servo, Gypsy, Cambot, and those dastardly Mads. As usual, it’s a good cross-section of the series, with two Joel episodes and two Mike episodes, and of the Mikes, one is from the Comedy Central days and one is from the Sci-fi Channel days.
First up, we have the seventh episode of the third season, Daddy-O a rock and roll teenie bopper movie from 1958. The movie is a pretty bog-standard flick of the time, with real-life crooner Dick Contino playing a truck driver who sings in a band and at one point, with his pants hiked up real high and with his belt off to the side, Contino sings the movie’s lone rock song, “Rock Candy Baby.” That leads to Joel and the bots doing a parody entitled “The Pants-Up Song.” It’s a thing of beauty.
Second, from that same season, we have episode 313, the Bert I. Gordon classic Earth Vs. The Spider wherein, true to form for Mr. Gordon, a process shot of a tarantula attacks poor humans who don’t know where the eyeline is. Truly, anytime a Bert I. Gordon movie gets featured, the writing on the show really starts to excel. In total, a whopping eight films by Gordon were featured on MST3K. These included King Dinosaur, The Amazing Colossal Man, War of the Colossal Beast, The Magic Sword, Tormented, Beginning of the End, and Village of the Giants, all of which have come out on DVD I believe. This episode also features, if one can rank these things, one of the best shorts they ever riffed, “Speech!” a thing about how to properly speak in public. Wowzers.
For the first of the two Mike episodes, we go to episode 522, Teen-Age Crime Wave, a movie made in 1955 before the word “teenage” was a thing, I guess. It’s one of a surprisingly popular subset of movies following Blackboard Jungle that focus exclusively on juvenile delinquency. A reform school kid escapes and goes on a kill-crazy rampage as he tries to get away, taking with him a girl in juvi for something she didn’t do. They eventually get to a farm house and hold the poor family hostage. Seriously, it’s much less interesting than it sounds. Luckily for us, though, Mike and the Bots are around to make sure we don’t have to suffer through this dirge alone.
And finally, we have one of the few Sci-fi Channel episodes I didn’t see on initial airing, episode 815, Agent for H.A.R.M. from 1966, which was meant to be the pilot to a TV series but ended up getting turned, miraculously, into a feature film. It’s about a secret agent named Adam Chance who has a grey streak in the front of his hair like King Faraday. He’s meant to stop evil scientists from harnessing deadly space fungus for use by the Russians. Yeah, it’s exactly what you’d expect a knock-off spy movie from the ’60s to be. The super boring “action” sequences are punctuated by Mike and the Bots taking turns loudly singing the James Bond theme. The wraparound segments for this one (since done during Sci-fi’s mandate of a story arc) have Mike on trial for his life by a creepy space judge for having destroyed several planets, with Bobo as his humble Southern defense attorney and Pearl Forrester for the prosecution.
The extras on this set aren’t the best, but I always applaud Shout for doing what they can. There are short retrospectives of Daddy-O and Earth Vs. The Spider along with MST Hour wrap segments, and interviews with the lead actors of Teen-Age Crime Wave and Agent for H.A.R.M.. I usually like them the best when they have reason to record new interviews with cast and crew of the show, but not every episode warrants that, and they’d probably just run out of things to say anyway. We also get new art for each episode as done by the excellent Steve Vance, who also provided the featured image above.
All in all, though, you don’t buy MST3K sets for the extras, you buy them for the episodes and all four of the ones in Volume XXXIII are top-notch and well worth the extra sheckles.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XXXIII is available to buy Tuesday, June 28th.