How could I forget to offer my highest possible praise to two pricey (but worth it!) DVD box sets released last Tuesday? For some of us, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Twentieth Anniversary Collection and Volume 6 of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection are as necessary as oxygen.
Regrettably, the MST3K box only includes one episode from the original incarnation of the show, hosted by its creator, Joel Hodgson. And that episode, featuring the Eurotrashy space epic First Spaceship On Venus, expertly torn apart by Joel and his robot pals, isn't really one of the best. Still, it does feature this wonderfully WTF host segment, a deranged parody of the mostly-forgotten recipe segments from the old Kraft Theater specials fo the sixties and early seventies. If the concept of Skin Mittens doesn't simultaneously creep you out and make you laugh, I have no idea what to do with you.
MST3K is probably the thing I can most count on to make me laugh out loud when I'm feeling down. (It was, among other things, the first thing I turned to after my mom passed away, and boy, that laughter sure felt good.) But my sense of humor was pretty much forged by endless childhood exposure to the great and glorious cartoons cranked out by the mad geniuses at the Warner Bros. cartoon factory in the forties and fifties. These are some of the greatest things ever committed to film, period. This short, brilliantly directed by the great Chuck Jones, is a marvel; the animation is superb (note how characterization is largely defined through movement), the staging elegant and the story...well, this cartoon's amazingly bitter tone (and cosmically cruel final gag) certainly taught at least one young boy everything he needed to know about how unfair life can really be. And this is only one of the many gems available on this extraordinary set, reportedly the last Warners will issue under the Golden Collection banner. Absolutely essential.