This week’s Shelf has a DVD box set celebrating a milestone in the annals of TV comedy, a box set bidding farewell to one of the darkest shows in TV history, and the release of the second part of a movie franchise about older people kicking ass. No, not that one. Also, chivalry on cycles and blind people playing with swords. What’s all this then, Shelf?
It’s no secret that without Mystery Science Theater 3000, most of us people who think comedy is great wouldn’t have nearly the same idea about it. For me, if not for MST3K and Monty Python’s Flying Circus, I’d be little more than a paper-pushing feeb wearing sweatpants and orthopedic shoes. I mean, maybe; who knows?!?! Anyway, the show is 25 years old this year and Shout Factory is continuing its fantastic box-set releases with this Limited Edition tin case set featuring four never-before-released titles and two old favorites from different eras of the series’ history.
Disc one features Episode 111 (meaning the eleventh episode of the first Comedy Central season) Moon Zero Two, a weird British sci-fi/western/comedy made by Hammer Films in 1969. The disc features an intro to the film by Hammer historian Constantine Nasr and part one of the three-part documentary, “Return to Eden Prarie: 25 Years of MST3K.”
Disc two features Episode 422 The Day the Earth Froze, a Nordic fantasy from 1959. The disc also has MST Hour wraps featuring Mike Nelson as Jack Perkins and part two of the documentary.
Disc three features Episode 802 The Leech Woman, the very second Sci-Fi Channel episode. The disc features part three of the documentary and another installment of “Life After MST3K, this time with Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester).
Disc four features Episode 909 Gorgo, the episode featuring Leonard Maltin and a British rip-off of Godzilla. The disc features a making of Gorgo and some stuff from Leonard Maltin.
Bonus Disc Five features two fan-favorite episodes: Episode 512 Mitchell and Episode 513 The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, the final Joel episode and the first Mike episode. Both are honest-to-goodness classics. Special features include “The Last Fight of Joel Robinson” about creator/star Joel Hodgson’s decision to leave the show.
As with all the box sets, this one also includes four mini-posters. It’s a must-own for fans of the series. Many belly laughs.
For more about the 25th anniversary of Mystery Science Theater 3000, check out my interview with creator Joel Hodgson. He’s a cool guy.
This summer saw the end of the long, strange, violent, and bald adventure that was Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan’s televisual masterpiece about a high school science teacher who becomes a meth kingpin. As if you didn’t know the premise. Today sees the release of the complete series on Blu-ray in a snazzy and awesome plastic barrel case, the kind you’d put your money or dissolve a dead guy in. The set comes with over 55 hours of special features, an all knew two-hour retrospective documentary, a 16 page booklet with letter by Vince Gilligan, Commemorative challenge coin, and a Los Pollos Hermanos apron. This is for you if you don’t have all the seasons already.
Also, the Final Season is available by itself in a regular Blu-ray case and featuring all eight episodes of the last days of Walter White on two discs. This is the season where everything comes to a head and no one is safe. If you thought someone was safe, you were wrong. Episode 6, “Ozymandias,” might well be the greatest hour of television of the last ten or so years. It’s jaw-dropping.
I’m not going to beat around the bush; I never saw the first Red. I worried for a few minutes prior to the start of Red 2 that I might have a bit of trouble being brought up to speed on who everybody was and where the events of the first film had brought them. I needn’t have worried. Red 2 does a good job of not hampering itself with the events of the first film. In fact, it doesn’t really hamper itself with anything save the exact thing we’re watching at that exact moment. It’s a movie that feels like edited highlights of some other movie, and at nearly 2 hours long, that larger movie would probably have to be Lawrence of Arabian.
The movie reunites Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovitch, and Helen Mirren and adds new players Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones and the mucho butt-kicking Byung-Hun Lee. Red 2 is all plot, action, and funny dialogue. There’s a thread about Willis and Parker’s relationship being put to the test, but it’s the thinnest of strands. Zeta-Jones plays a Russian agent and is described as “Frank Moses Kryptonite,” and one might assume that there will be a tug of war for his affections between his former flame and his new love, but there isn’t, really, at all. Zeta-Jones is quite superfluous, in fact. We get exactly who the characters are at the very beginning, and they’re more or less the same at the end; really, no internal struggle to speak of. It’s a lot of fighting, shooting, exploding, infiltrating, visiting glamorous locations (Paris! Moscow! London!), and getting in and out of scrapes.
It’s a mission movie, and in that it’s a lot fun, but there’s really no meat. I will say that it was refreshing to have an action movie with older characters where they aren’t forever griping about how old they are. Clearly, everyone is still at the top of their game, especially Mirren’s character, who is easily the most badass of the bunch.
The Blu-ray is pretty light, with only a few making-ofs and some other sundries. If you liked the first one, I’m pretty sure you’ll like the second one. Otherwise, it’s a rental rather than a buyal.
Knightriders – In the deal to make a third Dead movie, George A. Romero stipulated that he get to make this movie, an epic (some would say too long) adventure about knights in shining armor who ride motorcycles instead of horses.
Zatoichi Complete Collection – The Criterion Collection is kind of the best. They’ve been releasing really excellent movies on great Blu-ray editions recently. This here is a monumental example of their film-distributing prowess. All 25 films in the long running Blind Swordsman samurai series are presented here in new digital restorations and with the level of care that you’ve come to expect from Criterion.
The Horror Show – A late-80s supernatural slasher movie starring Lance Henriksen and Brion James.
Impractical Jokers: Season One – TruTV’s hidden camera show in which four best friends embarrass the crap out of each other with dares and challenges, all for you to laugh at and squirm over.