Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Watches Hamlet

“Hamlet.” By Joel Hodgson and Paul Chaplin. Perf. Kevin Murphy, Michael J. Nelson, Mary Jo Pehl, Bill Corbett, and Patrick Brantseg. Dir. Kevin Murphy. Mystery Science Theater 3000. Season 10, episode 9. Sci-Fi Channel. 27 June 1999. DVD. Rhino Theatrical, 2003.

The main reason I never mentioned this Hamlet-related pop-culture artifact is that it's extraordinarily difficulty to cite properly! The title of the episode is "Hamlet," but that's the title of the film that the episode screens (as well as the title of its main character). Should it be underlined? Should it be in quotation marks? Should it be underlined and in quotations marks? Aargh!

The secondary reason is that seeing the episode was a fairly-extensive letdown. I was never an enormous MST3K fan, but I enjoyed the late-night hilarity whenever it came my way. This episode (very late in the program's run) is disappointing.

Yet there are just a few brilliant gems:

The best of them is this line: "'To be or not to be' . . . the verbal equivalent of 'Da Da Da Dum!'"

The other difficult part to cite is the film within the film. It's an English-dubbed version of a 1961 German television broadcast (entitled Hamlet, Prinz von Dänemark in German) that starred Maximilian Schell as Hamlet. The dubbing stars the voice of Ricardo Montalban as Claudius—and that is probably the best part of the film. The film itself doesn't seem to be available through normal channels in the United States.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the film from
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).


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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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