As I mentioned in my review of “MST3K” Volume 23, the sets released by Shout! Factory so far tend to be doubles or home runs. Volume 24, like its predecessor, is a double. Okay, it’s a double during which the runner took third on an errant throw, thus overachieving a little in the process.
Yes, I’m done with my little baseball analogy. So, moving on to the contents of this four-disc set, we have some notable episodes: “Fugitive Alien” and “Star Force: Fugitive Alien II” were the only two-parter in the series’ history, and “Samson vs. the Vampire Women” features the last appearance of TV’s Frank, whose departure evokes a “2001: A Space Odyssey” reference, along with a brief nod to its much-aligned sequel, “2010: Electric Bugaloo” (um, “The Year We Make Contact”). “The Sword and the Dragon” rounds out the set because, hey, something had to.
As is the case with every other “MST3K” episode, plenty of laughs are to be had. Like any great comedy series, it’s tough to really say any episodes are better than others, in terms of the laugh content. However, memorable moments are where any TV series shines, and this set doesn’t offer as many of those as others. In fact, one of these episodes features a dud of a sketch that riffs on Ibsen and Ingmar Bergman; I’m sure it was funnier on paper than it appears on film.
There’s a smattering of bonus features sprinkled across these discs. The “Fugitive Alien” two-parter has “You Asked For It: Sandy Frank Speaks,” which offers an unsurprisingly unapologetic Sandy Frank talking about his career and the deals he swung to make a few bucks along the way. The guy obviously has a titanium set of balls, but that still doesn’t excuse the travesties that showed up on a few “MST3K” episodes. August Ragone also shows up to put those films in perspective, as he did so well in a previous “MST3K” set.
The “Samson vs. the Vampire Women” disc has another “Life After ‘MST3K'” segment, this time focusing on Frank Coniff and his career after the show. While other cast members seemed to flounder a bit after leaving, he was able to secure a bunch of writing gigs and keep himself going full steam. This disc also shines a spotlight on Mexican wrestler Santo, a star of this film who was a big deal way back then; Santo’s career is covered by a guy who loves Mexican wrestling so much that he apparently insists on wearing one of those creepy masks everywhere he goes.
Finally, “The Sword and the Dragon” offers a pair of “MST3K” shorts that previously appeared in other episodes: “Snow Thrills” and the creepily-titled “A Date With Your Family.” Seriously, what were people thinking back in the ’40s and ’50s when they made these bizarre shorts?