I've been watching all of the episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in original air date order. I didn't see all of the episodes when they aired, but I have since obtained copies of them all.
Not all of those have been commercially released. Those that haven't are available from fans. There are Websites set up specifically for that purpose. The better ones will offer non-commercial releases, but not any that are available commercially. There are some that will offer them all, but I don't deal with those.
Sounds sort of like piracy, huh? Well, we won't go there. It's ... complicated.
Where will we go? To my MST3K DVD collection. That is, my complete collection of every MST3K DVD that's been commercially released. Ever.
Not just every episode that's been released, but every DVD that's been released. There's a difference.
Let me explain.
Best Brains, Inc., the company behind MST3K, reached agreements with Rhino, and later with Shout! Factory, to release episodes.
For various reasons, mostly rights and money, many episodes have not been released. But a lot have. However, over time, the episodes go out of print or are pulled because they lost the rights to distribute the movie. Keep all this in mind.
Rhino released 10 episodes on DVD, each DVD containing a single episode. I own each of those Rhino solo DVDs.
Rhino also released multi-packs, usually four episodes per pack, numbered Volumes 1-12. Nine were 4-episode packs, while three were 3-episode packs that included an extra disc of shorts from other episodes ("Shorts 1," "Shorts 2," & "Mr. B's Lost Shorts"). I own each of those 12 multi-packs.
There was a 2-pack also released, containing a duplicate from one of the solo releases. I own the 2-pack, "The Essentials." More about "The Essentials" in a bit.
Rhino also released a different version of Volume 10. There was a problem with the rights to one of the episodes, so they released Volume 10.2 with Godzilla vs Megalon removed and The Giant Gila Monster in its place. I own Volume 10.2 as well as the original Volume 10.
Oh, and for fans that had Volume 10 already and wanted to also own The Giant Gila Monster but didn't want to buy the entire Volume 10.2 (because there'd be a repeat of 3 episodes) Rhino offered a single disc "upgrade" disc of The Giant Gila Monster. I own that, too.
When Shout! Factory took over distribution, they released Volumes 13 and following. Volume 13 is also known as the 20th Anniversary Edition, but it is the multi-pack that came after Volume 12 and before Volume 14, so it can also be called Volume 13 if you like. I like.
Shout! Factory is up to Volume 23 (though they use the Roman Numerals, like the Super Bowl does) with Volume 24 coming out in July. I own all of them. Including Volume 24. I've already pre-ordered it.
Shout! Factory has also released 11 solo episodes, every one a re-release. Seven were episode from a Rhino multi-pack that went out of print, while four were a Rhino solo that went out of print. I own all 11 of those.
Best Brains also released a documentary disc, plus a special Host Segments and blooper disc ("Poopie!"). I own both of those.
Then, Monday, I obtained the last disc in my collection. The Holy Grail of DVDs, if you will.
Remember I said I'd come back to "The Essentials?" Well, there were actually two different versions of "The Essentials." The difference? One version, available for a limited time, included a bonus disc of shorts.
Volumes 2, 3, & 6 were 3-episode packs that contained "Shorts 1," "Shorts 2," & "Lost Shorts." But the special release of "The Essentials" contained "Shorts 3." As I said, it was only available for a short period of time back in 2004. And I didn't get it back then.
Recently, though, I found someone on eBay selling a copy of the 3-disc version of "The Essentials." I confirmed that's what he had, and paid him what he asked for it. It came in the mail today. And it is indeed the rare episode.
Some MST3K fans and collectors suggest that either Volume 10 is the rarest of the commercial releases. Some suggest that the The Giant Gila Monster solo "upgrade" disc is the rarest. Me? I think the 3-disc "The Essentials" is the hardest to find.
But, it doesn't matter. I have them all.
Every MST3K commercial DVD ever released.
If you're not a huge MST3K fan, this doesn't mean much. But if you are... yeah, I totally rock!