One thing that did interest me about the news of this new DVD was that there would be a piece featuring Joel Hodgson and some of the other Mystery Science Theater crew talking about the necessary change. Then, news began to percolate that this wouldn't be just "Joel Hodgson" talking, but that he would actually don the red jumpsuit of "Joel Robinson" and return to the Satellite of Love... all of a sudden, I was that much more interested in seeing the DVD. At the same time, I suppose I did wonder a bit about what it would be like to see these people that much older, having already thought that Joel looked "oddly older" when he made his previous "return to the show" practically a decade ago now... and also, perhaps, remembering a comment he made when leaving the series for the first time about not wanting to stay in the same costume forever.
Well, Joel Robinson and TV's Frank and Dr. Clayton Forrester do look older (although it's maybe not quite so obvious in Dr. Forrester's case), and yet they're all getting along the same as they ever did, outrageously mumbling over the name of the old DVD as they explain how to "upgrade" the collection. I've heard that Frank Conniff is actually puppeting Tom Servo in the segment, although it sounded at first to me like Josh "J. Elvis" Weinstein's early Servo. The resemblance may be helped by this Tom having the black plastic arms of his "first season" incarnation. With all that said, the blue-screen effects that recreate the Satellite of Love and Deep 13 (somewhat out of focus in Deep 13's case) let Tom actually hover into the air, and I was able to pick up on the tiny yet intriguing detail that Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank were wearing "Deep 13" patches, as they did when experimenting on Mike.
Oh, and as for the movie itself... in some ways, what I got most of all about "The Giant Gila Monster" was an odd sense of amiability about its colourful small-town characters, for all that when the "giant" gila monster, which Joel and the others give a peculiar voice I seem to recall them giving other "reptiles," is blown up by a (model) hot rod loaded with nitroglycerine Crow laments "Oh, they killed off the only likable character!" This, though, may make it a little harder for the movie to stand out in my mind. With an effort, though, I can begin remembering things like the movie's lead, as with some other movies shown on the series, being (more or less) promoted as a singing star, a "host segment" that actually features Joel getting fairly annoyed with the 'bots not helping him do a sketch, and a peculiar piece of fan art that led to a sort of on-screen in-joke in later years. As well, I was interested to hear several references to the brambly, leafless backroads setting (the better, perhaps, to make a few of the "giant" gila monster's settings look a tiny bit more realistic) as "Wisconsin"; it reminded me of "The Giant Spider Invasion," another episode in this collection.