Episode 1009: Hamlet, Prinz von Dänemark
First aired: Sci-Fi Channel on 27 June 1999
Availability: iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon DVD (Solo), Amazon DVD (Volume 4), Rhino (Volume 4/out of print), Shout (Solo), Best Brains (Solo)
|To riff, or not to riff...|
So, why would the MST3K crew poke fun at one of Shakespeare's most famous plays?
Simple. Because they can.
But, with the entire premise of the show being that they show really bad movies, how do you work in one of Shakespeare's greatest works?
|"To be, or not to be..."|
They had Mike winning a bet with Pearl, and him getting to choose the movie. He chose Hamlet. Didn't matter which version. Only it did. Pearl sent the Maximilian Schell version.
Not familiar with that one? It was made for German TV in 1961. That should tell you a lot.
So, what's this version about?
Duh, it's Hamlet.
|"Alas, poor Yorick!"|
|"Lay on, Macduff!" Oh, wait. That's a different play.|
They had some serious fun with the production, poking fun at the outfits, like the ghost looking like Patti Labelle; at the accents, like Claudius being dubbed by Ricardo Montalban and Polonius being dubbed by John Banner; and the overly-long talking scenes, like the talking Hamlet doll with the pull-string that extends to the far reached of the ship.
This may be one of the worst versions of Hamlet you've seen, excluding any put on by amateurs. And, what makes it so bad is the sound and video quality of 1961 television. Oh, and it's in another language. Of course, most of the writing from Elizabethan England sounds like another language. But translated to German, then dubbed back into English? Yeah, that might make it MST3K-worthy.
This episode aired 11 times from 1999 to 2003, and I saw a lot of those airings. Part of the time, I watched it just to watch Hamlet. Most of the time, though, I watched it for the riffing.
Trust me on this: watch it for the riffing.