This time around, the four movies featured are: King Dinosaur, a "dinosaur" movie that uses mostly stock footage of everyday animals; The Castle of Fu Manchu, starring the decidedly non-Asian Christopher Lee as the title villain; Code Name: Diamond Head, a failed attempt at a television secret agent franchise; and Last of the Wild Horses, a Western that's just plain bad.
There's no central theme to the episodes; however, as relatively early episodes in the series, the bad guys are Doctor Clayton Forrester (Trace Beaulieu, who also voiced Crow T. Robot for these episodes) and TV's Frank (Frank Conniff). Joel and Mike split the "star/victim" duties through these episodes. For a chance of pace, during Last of the Wild Horses the episode spoofs Star Trek's "Mirror, Mirror" by sending Tom Servo and Gypsy to an alternate universe -- Where Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank watch the bad movie! -- and their evil counterparts are sent here! And the bad versions have goatees, of course:
These episodes also feature the two appearances of the Joey the Lemur puppet (friend to all mankind):
As always, the episodes here excel as finding the very funny from the terrible, While some of the references are dated (like repeatedly seeing Ian McShane in Code Name: Diamond Head and calling him "Lovejoy" after a short-lived series he starred in), there are plenty of other gems, from randomly funny observations ("Wow, the Amish are really hauling ass!") to hitting these movies' oh-so-frequent flaws and stupid moments. And there are plenty of extras: features of movie director Robert Lippert and television producer Quinn Martin; Frank Coniff discussing MST3K and Kevin Murphy discussing life after MST3K, the videogame Darkstar (which has several MST3K alums in in), and even some show promos from its Comedy Central days.
MST3K v.XXIII is another silly, fun bunch of episodes from this much-missed show. It's definitely worth checking out.
Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch