Shout! Factory’s latest pair of standalone “Mystery Science Theater 3000” releases offer two different looks at the series’ development: “The Wild World of Batwoman,” from season five, is Mike Nelson’s third as host, while “Girl in Gold Boots” is a season ten episode that showcases “MST3K” at its peak.

While the transition from Joel to Mike did not grab as many headlines as, say, the baton-passing from Jay to Conan, it did stir some strong opinions among fans of the show. Personally, I’ve always preferred Joel’s droll style to Mike’s “aw shucks” persona, but that’s like saying I prefer strawberry ice cream over chocolate: I like both, but I give one the edge. Both hosts had their strengths and weaknesses, and both played to the former to the best of their abilities. Both proved quite capable of the task.

“Batwoman” is an interesting episode because it shows Mike beginning to take control of his role and make it his own. While the invention exchange was still being used to kick off each episode, it was obvious that it was a concept unique to Joel Hodgson, who had a knack for creating goofy stuff out of everyday materials. That really wasn’t one of Mike’s strengths, and I’m surprised they let it linger as long as it did after he took over. They should have gotten rid of it much sooner.

The movie, as you can probably guess even if you haven’t seen it, is a shameless Batman rip-off. It was made in the late 1960s, when the cheesy Batman TV series was still popular. Unfortunately, there are no bonus features on this disc, which is a shame since it would be fun to hear a bit about the background of this movie.

A Shout! Factory representative has explained why these standalone discs don’t have bonus features, so I understand why this is a bare bones release. It’s just a bummer that they didn’t have the budget dollars to put into something extra.

Moving on, “Girl in Gold Boots” is another late 60s film that features a young girl who heads to Los Angeles to work as a go-go dancer but gets mixed up with drug dealers. This episode shows Mike fully settled into his role, with the series operating smoothly and the sets and camera work showing a level of sophistication that wasn’t present during the early seasons. (A bonus feature in one of the four-disc collections discusses the Director of Photography who joined the show during the Mike years and brought some extra pizzazz to the visuals.)

So, there you go: two more solid standalone “MST3K” episodes from Shout! Factory.

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