Release Date(s)Various (November 25, 2014)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: B-
- Audio Grade: B-
- Extras Grade: B+
- Overall Grade: B+
WE'VE GOT MOVIE SIGN!!!
Being a Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan during the show’s original run was a fantastic time for a lot of viewers. They got to sit down and make fun of some of some of the most boring and badly-made movies with some of the wittiest folks on TV. What was even better was every year it became a tradition that there would be an MST3K marathon all day for Thanksgiving. And now for anyone else who wants to get totally stuffed on the history of the Turkey Day marathon (or wants to create one of their own), you now have the option of popping in discs from Volume XXXI of MST3K entitled The Turkey Day Collection.
Becoming an MST3K fan after the show left the air has its drawbacks. The main drawback is that if you were around during the show’s original run and had no idea that it existed. That can be a bit of a bummer. A lot of it might be because not a lot of folks had Comedy Central or the Sci-Fi channel in those days, especially on the east coast. But now, thanks to the internet, that tradition seems to be returning. After the successful YouTube stream of 2013’s Turkey Day marathon hosted by Joel (with a surprise appearance by the bots), it’s coming back in 2014. Yet still, there are a lot of fans who live in areas where the internet selection is pretty poor, or they simply just want to do their own marathons.
The Turkey Day Collection is as good a place to start as any, especially if you’re watching it with strangers to the show. It’s the usual type of boxed set of episodes that are released tri-annually from the good folks at Shout! Factory, usually containing four of the show’s episodes, plus some extras. The boxed set for The Turkey Day Collection is no different. With this release, you get the following four episodes: Jungle Goddess (Season 2, Episode 3), The Painted Hills (Season 5, Episode 10), The Screaming Skull (Season 9, Episode 12), and Squirm (Season 10, Episode 12). Squirm was also recently released by Shout! Factory as a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray on their Scream Factory label, which I also recommend you check out.
The episodes in these boxed sets usually feature two hosted by Joel and two hosted by Mike, which is a good balance. The quality of each episode varies here and there with some episodes being better than others. The Jungle Goddess is perhaps one of the better Joel episodes while The Painted Hills, at least for me, is one of the least-interesting Joel episodes, mainly because the movie itself is incredibly bland (despite the presence of Lassie). The Screaming Skull is a very enjoyable episode from the Mike-hosted years, featuring some terrific wrap-around segments, as well. And while Squirm is a favorite episode of many MST3K acolytes, it’s not one of my personal favorites. It’s enjoyable enough, but not one I’ve wanted to see that many times.
As far as image and sound quality, everything is sourced from the original master tapes, which were on video. The episodes look generally good, especially in the latter years of the show, with an occasional minor green band or video-source anomaly here or there. Unfortunately, there are no subtitles. Short of Shout! Factory putting some extra money into producing these sets in high definition, these are definitely a major step up from circulating bootlegs of the show.
As for the extras, you get a few of them from disc to disc, most of them newly-produced just for this set. Every disc also comes with a newly-created Turkey Day Intro before each episode featuring Joel and the bots. For Jungle Goddess, you get the featurette Undercooked and Overstuffed: Inside the Turkey Day Marathon!. For The Painted Hills, you get a collection of commercials for previous MST3K Turkey Day marathons entitled Turkey Day Through the Years. For The Screaming Skull, you get two featurettes: Gumby & Clokey: The Making of Robot Rumpus and This Film May Kill You!: Making The Screaming Skull, plus the film’s original theatrical trailer. And for Squirm, you get a Squirm Talk With Don Scardino interview and the film’s original theatrical trailer. Also included (as is standard with all of the MST3K boxed sets) are 4 paper insert reproductions of the artwork from each DVD in the set. And if you bought this set at launch, you get a collectible metal tin to house it all in.
I wouldn’t call this one of the better collections of MST3K material on the market, but regardless, all of these sets are must-owns, especially for fans. Sure you can go the cheaper (and illegal) route of getting episodes of the show, but I, for one, enjoy supporting my favorite show and the company that’s putting it out. This is a great set of material and is well-worth your money. Now push the button Frank.
- Tim Salmons