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Sampo & Erhardt

Sci-Fi Archives

Visit our archives of the MST3K pages previously hosted by the Sci-Fi Channel's SCIFI.COM.

Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Episode guide: 1009- Hamlet

Movie: (1961) A dour production of Shakespeare’s play produced for German TV. A prince returns home for his father’s funeral and doesn’t like what he finds.

First shown: June 27, 1999
Opening: Tom Servo is now Htom Sirveaux
Intro: Crow has a name change too; Mike interrupts Pearl’s plan with Three Card Monty — which she loses, allowing Mike to pick the movie. He chooses unwisely
Host segment 1: Crow and Tom’s plan to be the ghost of one of Mike’s dead relatives quickly unravels
Host segment 2: Crow and Tom give Mike a preview of their percussion version of “Hamlet”
Host segment 3: Time once again to play “Alas Poor Who?”
End: Crow and Tom show off their Hamlet action figure, with real soliloquy action; in Castle Forrester, a snotty Fortenbras demands his due
Stinger: Claudius does a double take
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (406 votes, average: 3.48 out of 5)


• I’m going to come right out and say that this episode is not nearly as bad as its reputation. Yes, the movie is particularly dour, but Kevin, in his comments on this one, is right: You can’t hurt this thing no matter how hard you try. As happens every time I see this one, I got drawn in to the classic tale, which for me was made all the more fun by the overlay of some pretty solid riffing. The host segments, aren’t bad either. I know plenty of you can’t wait to start trashing this one, but I’m not on board. That said, I don’t have a lot else to say about this one.
• Kevin’s thoughts are here.
• This episode was included in Rhino’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 4.”
• Callback in the opening host segment: “You think you can take me? Go ahead on.” (Final Justice)
• I like segment 1 a lot. It’s fun, fast and it’s over quick. Really liked it even more this time.
• Segment 2, on the other hand, is a pretty good example of the more-clever-than-funny segment. Clearly they wanted to say something about the many many avant garde stagings of “Hamlet,” and they did say something, but I’m not sure it added up to a comedy sketch.
• Yes, that’s an uncredited Ricardo Montalban doing the voice of Claudius and John Banner, of “Crash of the Moons” and “Hogan’s Heroes,” doing the voice of Polonius. Happily, the Brains noticed. They made two John Banner jokes and one Montalban reference.
• Segment 3, feeling very season two-ish, goes on a little long. But it’s a cute idea.
• Kevin is hilarious as Fortinbras in the end bit.
• Cast and crew roundup: Nobody involved in making this movie worked on any other MSTed movie.
• CreditsWatch: Directed by Mike.
• Fave riff: “Hamlet faxed me a sililoquy!” Honorable mention: “Nice play, Shakespeare.”

284 Replies to “Episode guide: 1009- Hamlet”

  1. SuperSwift says:

    Hamlet is what made me stop caring about this TV show. Morons.


  2. ck says:


    repeat to yourself it’s just a show.
    I should relly just relax. :lol:


  3. ck says:

    Or even, “really” :grin:


  4. fireballil says:

    To Mike in Portland: The premise of Segment 3 wasn’t bad, it was just wrong. Hamlet knowing who Yoric was with just his skull was wrong; the gravedigger told him who it was so the premise of the game was wrong to begin with.


  5. losingmydignity says:

    Ya know, when i they didn’t introduce mary ann and the professor in the intro to Gilligan’s Island I so Quit watching that show….

    SPam Spam spam spam spam spam spam

    Get on it, Sampo…

    We can’t.

    Thank you.


  6. The Toblerone Effect says:

    I’ve always tried to give every episode of MST (as well as all the new CT and RT releases that come out) at least three or four viewings before making a firm decision about it’s comedic value. But this is the exception to the rule…I simply cannot sit through this one with complete attention. And I think it’s the “perfect storm” of failure, so to speak, from my view: I’ve never been a fan of Shakespeare’s works. (I was forced to participate in a class play of “Julius Ceasar” in high school and hated every minute of it). The German TV interpretation left much to be desired. And the riffing did little to add any entertainment value; it’s as if the three were just sitting back at times, astonished that they were actually riffing anything to do with Shakespeare.

    Before anyone gets on my case, I just want to say that I’m not trying to ruffle any feathers here. It’s simply an opinion. This is the only episode I’ll ever give a two-star rating to.


  7. Nutcase says:


    Servo: GAH! A finnish Scud Missle went off!


  8. Tigermilk says:

    #151 Really? Freaking REALLY?!?


  9. GizmonicTemp says:

    Iggy Pop’s Brother Steve Pop #97 – Most of the movies in the first few seasons were black and white 50’s films that required minimal cutting.

    My hypothesis is that, since the Brains were sort of B-movie connoisseurs, most of them had already seen the entirety of whatever movie they picked, so they had a pretty good idea of what parts to cut.

    With as many writers as they had, I wouldn’t be surprised if they riffed the entire film, and then edited the film to make the most sense. So yes, there are likely hundreds if riffs we’ve never heard and never will. :cry:

    That’s what I think.


  10. Tombomb says:

    I’ll pass on viewing this one, especially since the fans have spoken so critically on it. I’ll wait for next weeks episode discussion. BOOM!


  11. Really old Teenager from Outerspace says:

    Hated it. :|


  12. This Guy says:

    #150: A playlet worthy of Crow T. Robot himself! Incidentally, the professor who taught my Old English course is a Tolkien scholar. Didn’t bother me a bit, of course.


  13. Iggy Pop's Brother Steve Pop says:

    Gizmonic Temp (#159): “Most of the movies in the first few seasons were black and white 50’s films that required minimal cutting.”

    Sure. That would be why many of them were accompanied by shorts. What point are you trying to make? I didn’t say all, most, or even many. I talked about whenever they had an overlength film.

    “With as many writers as they had, I wouldn’t be surprised if they riffed the entire film, and then edited the film to make the most sense.”

    My point was, maybe it occurred to them IN LATER SEASONS that it could save them time by having someone else “edit the film to make the most sense” prior to their riffing on it. Which is why I don’t know what point you’re trying to make. If anything, you’re pointing out one of the reasons pre-trimming would have been desirable in later seasons: the films in later seasons, on average, were longer than the films in earlier seasons. Why waste time, no matter how many writers they had? (“Mitchell,” maybe the most obvious case of their making fun of a plot hiccup caused by BBI’s own edit, was originally 97 minutes– about 22 minutes overlength.)


  14. Creeping Terror says:

    @ 145:

    Oops! Yes, Hecate is a woman. I was mistaken because I skip Hecate’s scenes when I read “Macbeth.” I probably haven’t read those scenes in over 10 years. It’s obvious to me (a dabbler in Shakespeare reading) that the scenes weren’t written by the Bard.

    @ 147:

    You’re right. But I sometimes tend to overanalyze movies I see, TV shows I watch, and plays I read/attend. A perfect example of this tendency is in my comment on “The Undead” on these forums. I think I put more thought into that movie than Roger Corman did.


  15. Richard the Lion footed says:


    Who died and made YOU episode reviewer????

    Oh, yea, Right . . . Sorry :oops:

    I am actually on board with you on this. I thought it was an ambitious movie to try and riff and that Mike and the Bots did a good job of it.

    Side note:

    This was actually a good way to get my kids interested in Shakespeare.

    Growing up in the American education system, they no idea who he was or what he wrote.
    Using this as an introduction, I showed them other movies and got their interest.
    I also was able to show them “Renascence Man” and they enjoyed THAT movie even more.

    SO take THAT Mister “television is an intellectual wasteland” !!!!!

    (And WOW! 164 responses in a day. We were all waiting for this one, weren’t we?) :mrgreen:


  16. spap oop says:

    i tried watching this at least three times. fell asleep everytime. my conclusion? shakespeare kinda (really)Sucks.
    not even mike and the bots can rescue a Turd like Hamlet.


  17. Mighty Jack says:

    I want to love every episode of MST3K and I have tried to love this one but it doesn’t do it for me. It is easily, and sadly, one of those rare MST failures. It simply doesn’t tickle my funny bone, and if your watching comedy and not laughing… well, that’s a bad sign ;-)

    Thankfully there’s only a handful that fit that criterion.


  18. MiqelDotCom says:

    This is the first time i remember since i’ve been on this board that an episode has scored LESS THAN 4 STARS!

    I was starting to wonder if that would ever happen, though when we get back around to the KTMA episodes I predict a few will be rated 2 stars or less. Especially the one where it’s Joel all alone – sometimes it goes 5 minutes w/out a riff!

    I guess since this episode is the most polarizing this thread was sure to get some idiotic comments. The more we ignore the inflammatory comments from the occasional troll, the less we feed their attention-seeking addiction.


  19. MiqelDotCom says:

    Oh, and I forgot to say that i tried 3 times this week to watch this episode, and failed each time. After 15 minutes my mind begins to wander. or I get sleepy.
    I can’t give it a rating because I literally can’t get through it. Glad to see some people enjoy it!


  20. Rachel says:

    “Unstaple yourself!”
    “Hey c’mon man we’ve seen like eight ghosts, none of them have even been close to my dad.”

    Great episode. Crow as Polonuis’ “I can’t get rid of them, it’s hopeless” gets my boyfriend and I every time.

    “So uh, how’s the play going?”


  21. spap oop says:

    unlike some posters who come here and comment on a mstied movie they didnt like and tell us all about it,i love every episode of mst3k.
    however,ive tried to watch Hamlet three times and fell asleep everytime.
    tonight i’ll mix up a double shot cappucino and maybe a double shot of something else,and try again.


  22. Cornjob says:

    This version really is a death march through Shakespeare, but the riffing is good. I did some Drama in school and have been in more than one production of Hamlet. At this later stage of my life I am struck by what a weak hero Hamlet is. A little bit of decisiveness would have saved everybody a lot of grief.


  23. Green Switch says:

    I enjoyed this episode, more or less. It’s not one of my top 30 episodes, but it’s certainly not deserving of the “WORST EPISODE EVER” title. I’ve read the play a lot, so that influences my opinion.

    On this site, this has become the most commented-on episode as of yet (surpassing “Werewolf”), even though we still have yet to talk about the series finale and the series premiere, as well as such important episodes as “Godzilla Vs. Megalon,” “Cave Dwellers,” “Pod People,” and “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.”

    It’s interesting that this episode has fostered so much discussion here.


  24. MST3KnISLESfan1 says:

    I LOVED THIS EPISODE.I’ve watched the DVD several times and it’s still funny each time I watch it.The host segments were very good.Htom Sirveaux= too funny.”Alas Poor Who?”I don’t think Merv Griffin or Goodson & Todman (RIP)would’ve ever come up with a game show concept like that.And the riffing was spot on.When I showed this DVD to a friend of mine,she was worried she was gonna cry on acconut of it was “Hamlet”.I told her the only tears you might shed from this is from laughing too hard and I was right.

    Some of my favorite riffs:
    Htom:”Tonight,I’m gonna unleash the great dane.”
    Crow:(As Polonius walkls in on the king and queen)”What it is cold water on the groin,I mean Polonius?”
    (During the sword play as Crow becomes agitated by the lack of action.)”WILL YOU JUST FIGHT!!!!”

    And of course all the riffing during Hamlet’s “To be,or not to be” soliliquy was some of the best.Especially,Mike figuring out what it all meant.
    “So,I’m a chicken for not stabbing myself.THAT’S ALL YOU NEEDED TO SAY!!”


  25. bdtrppr6 says:

    not the greatest but i do enjoy this ep. probably just the sheer darkness/tediousness of it, but it is hamlet. i love the “femcing” scene.

    and, yeah, why would you be reading and commenting on this site if you have only watched two episodes and hated both? “morons”


  26. Tigermilk says:

    I just watched this episode last night, and I will again today. It IS a solid episode, with a few really good belly laughs. And it watching it again makes me want to read the play all over again.

    “Thank you for cooperating with the Copenhagen police, you can take off the wire now.”

    “So I’m just gonna, uh, take off then, so uh, yeah, just gonna take off,” as crazy Hamlet backs out of Ophelia’s closet.

    “Wow, Jackson Brown-let.”

    **** out of *****


  27. Son of Bobo says:

    The MST Effect is still strong. Who knew how important of a seed would be planted into the network minds with the opening host segment. Tom Servo is now Htom Sirveux. Sci-Fi is now SyFy. Do not call it Sci-Fi, it will not respond to the old name.


  28. Lloyd's Lungs says:

    Loved this episode. As yet unmentioned riff that makes me laugh whenever I randomly think about it, guaranteed:

    “Before you die, does my hand smell like Cheetos?”


  29. dad1153 says:

    Saw “Hamlet” last night at 2AM after seeing “Racket Girls” for the first time (loved the latter: the ‘boing’ disappearing band in the short and stinger had me laughing like an idiot :mrgreen: ). The same thing happened than the previous five or six times I’ve tried to watch “Hamlet” from start to finish (going all the way back to the show’s Sci-Fi Channel premiere): I fell asleep halfway through the flick, awoke to watch the last 20 minutes and then watched the portions I missed afterwards. And Saturday overnights is when I’m usually most attentive to the movies I want to watch. Plus I really, really was in the mood to tackle it one more time with my eyes wide open.

    And yet I don’t think “Hamlet” is a bad MST3K episode (the good riffs really stand out among the mediocre one’s), just one in which the subject matter and dready B&W picture/sets combine to make it near-impossible to watch it in one sitting. It’s an experimental episode all right. It also doesn’t help that The Brains (a) reduce their jokes-per-minute ratio down to S1/S2 levels (maybe they didn’t want the audience unfamiliar with Shakesperean dialogue to be even more lost) and (b) their mockery seems stunted by too much respect for the source material. It just doesn’t feel like M&TB dig into this one with their usual zeal and creative juices flowing, but maybe there wasn’t enough lemonade that could be squeezed out of this sour German lemon. And maybe I’m high on World Cup fumes but for my money Maximilian Schell’s lead performance is very good (not Olivier good but decent given the scenery/language limitations) which limits The Brains’ ability to pile-on the riffs since Schell is on-scren most of the time. Ophelia on the other hand… :)


  30. DJurgServo says:

    Sitting Duck at 142 says/asks: “When Hamlet started his “To Be or Not to Be” soliliquey, Mike should have started walking out of the theater. Or would that have been too obscure a reference?” You’re talking about Mel Brooks “To Be or Not to Be”, right?? Loved that movie. Liked this episode. 3 out of 5 for me. Not the best, not the worst. Has anyone mentioned in the beginning when Hamlet and his buds are up on the “balcony” and Htom says something like, “There’s going to be railing kills!” Then I knew it would be all right.


  31. Howard says:

    I got the feeling that the Brains threw in the towel and just sacrificed themselves by making really stupid quips, like hopeless high school kids. Some of the jokes are very funny but the bad ones are truly annoying to me. Like, “before you die, does my palm smell like Cheetos?” This is a rare episode where I find myself trying to watch the movie and being annoyed by the cretins who won’t shut up and let me enjoy it. And yet there are a few jokes that always make me laugh. Near the end, when the King approaches Hamlet: “And now the King peels of his skin and becomes a dinosaur from Mars!” And for some reason I think all the skits are funny too.


  32. Sitting Duck says:

    DJurgServo, you would be correct. Though of course there’s also the orginal film starring Jack Benny. It’s a rare example of a good movie which had a good remake.


  33. BeefStumpKnob says:

    Well, tried to watch again Saturday morning, same lackluster results. May be my least-favorite ep., but still better than 99% of todays programming, and 100% of all reality cr*p!


  34. Howard says:

    #24: At one time the IMDb had the cause of death for the actress who played Ophelia as “suicide.” I wrote to them and asked them to correct it because it sounded like a Misty prank. Still does. She may not even be dead!


  35. Howard says:

    The IMDb STILL has Dunja Movar’s cause of death as “suicide.” She seems to have committed suicide on her 23rd birthday. I don’t buy it, but who can say? There’s no article about her in English on the internet.


  36. swh1939 says:

    Kind of an offshoot of the naughty riffs thread, Hamlet contains at least two riffs that are not PC:

    > Ah-so, I Japanese.

    > How’s lesbianism going?


  37. Iggy Pop's Brother Steve Pop says:

    Howard (#184/185):

    If you’re going to tell the IMDb they’re wrong, maybe it would be a good idea to have evidence apart from the fact that you “don’t buy it.”


  38. mikek says:

    One last thing about this episode. A very funny line in the final host segment with Kevin as a very mincing Fortinbras. After Fortinbras dies from the poison Pearl gives him, Brain Guy says, “He made me look butch.” It’s said so quietly that I don’t think I ever noticed that line before.


  39. ReptilianSamurai says:

    When I saw this episode was coming up on the Tivo, I taped it to bring in to my high school English class. The teacher I had that year was awesome – he had shown an episode of Star Trek: TNG (Darmok) for a lesson before. We were reading Hamlet that year, AND were covering satire, so I thought MST3K: Hamlet would be perfect. He ended up showing a portion of the episode to the class, and the segment was hilarious and had everyone laughing.

    So I have great memories of this one, and have never understood why so many people loath the episode. It was a great experiment – doing a bad film of a classic play. Everyone knows Hamlet, and it’s awesome to see riffing on “To Be or not to Be” and other classic monologues.


  40. Howard says:

    Steve Pop says: If you’re going to tell the IMDb they’re wrong, maybe it would be a good idea to have evidence apart from the fact that you “don’t buy it.”

    I entirely agree with you, however there is a lack of evidence (apart from her filmography) on any aspect of her life whatsoever. Being naturally verbose, I did not simply TELL them they’re wrong. I questioned the cause of death and suggested they were a victim of disinformation. The problem with IMDb is that it’s like Wikipedia — information is submitted by volunteers and posted before it can be checked by people who “know” the facts. So the fact remains that I’m skeptical of the alleged suicide of Dunja Molvar on her 23rd birthday. I can find no proof that she’s alive OR dead apart from this one notation on the IMDb.


  41. ThorneSherman says:

    As Hamlet says, “the play’s the thing”…which is the whole point of the show, the movie’s the thing. Sure it’s a terrible production, badly paced, acted, directed, lit, etc, but watching M&TB do their thing makes it all worthwhile. I rated this lower than i usually do, but I still watch it now and then, because any episode of this show is good for whatever might ail me that day.

    It’s amusing and kind of sad to see a couple people come here and try to flame the fans, because clearly they don’t see the point of this site, or maybe the show itself. Certainly it can’t be expected for everyone to see these episodes in exactly the same light, different riffs will resonate with different people, and the movies themselves will be seen in different lights by most everyone here.


  42. bobhoncho says:

    Ah, the lastest episode that I have on DVD. I put this ep in the “Good-not-great” category myself. My aunt, who is a big MSTie, has said that this is one of her favorite episodes, go figure.


  43. ChaoticYak says:

    I’ve been watching MST3K episodes on YouTube for about the last year, getting in all the episodes I hadn’t ever seen, and reading this site to get the lowdown on the episodes. I’m surprised to read some of the vehemence about this episode.

    This is the second episode I ever saw back when MST3K was on the SciFi channel (the first was the excellent Werewolf), and while it was definitely slow in comparison, I really enjoy watching it. I like Shakespeare, but I think he’s often overrated and this gives M&TB a chance to poke at a play that is far from my favorite of the Bard. The riffs on the sets (or lack thereof), the costumes, the acting (or lack thereof) are a lot of fun (“I’ll cut his throat a church!”)…I think it’s wonderful to see them take on such a different type of movie, and I must admit that I’m surprised the SciFi Channel let them do it.

    I wouldn’t put it at the top of my list of favorite episodes, but I like it.


  44. interval says:

    I’m with trickymutha, Movar was one hot chick. I’ve tried to find out more about her; info on her is very sparse. As trickymutha said she died young. All the detail I could find on her is that she was born in Leipzig on Mar. 30th, 1940, and committed suicide on her birthday in 1963. So there’s got to be a story there, I’m so curious to know what it is. She had roles in 5 German films before offing herself; Der Engel, der siene Harfe versetzte, O Wildnis, Lampenfeiber, Hamlet, and Die Kleined Fucshe. If anyone know more about her it would be great to hear from you.


  45. Maxwell says:

    I found this episode good, but not the nest. The thing I really found funny in this one is the host segments!


  46. robot rump! says:

    i agree with Sampo. given that it’s a 50’s-60’s german black and white adaptation, the movie/tv show isn’t as horrible as it could have been. granted a dozen or so flamboyantly dancing Hitlers might have spiced it up a bit…..


  47. Shrike says:

    It’s dour, it’s dreary, it’s dark and dank…and it’s friggin’ hilarious. I love this episode. For those who hate, I raise my epee and yell a hearty “Whatever!”


  48. Sean says:

    I still maintain that the worst episode they ever did was Final Justice. I actually really like this episode, even more so since we did it in my college class recently.


  49. Sitting Duck says:

    Hamlet fails the Bechdel Test. Gertrude and Ophelia are the only female characters with speaking roles (aside from the brief line from the lesbian clown), and they never converse.

    It’s been pretty well established that this episode is the most divisive example of Sampo’s Theorum. I’m firmly in the enjoy camp. However, I would like to add that I believe the MST3K presentation is the most authentic experience of Shakespeare theater. The sort of people who attended the Globe were not pretentious theater majors trying to delude themselves into believing that Edward de Vere was the real author. No, they were regular Joes like you and me looking for some quality entertainment. And they were not likely to restrain themselves from heckling the performers, perhaps even pelting them with debris for good measure.

    I don’t get the complaints about it being dour and dreary. It’s Hamlet! While not possessing the same wrist-slitting despair as King Lear or Othello, it is suppose to be a tragedy.

    Regarding the “Something is rotten in this state of Denmark,” riff, I came across a better alternative a while back. It comes from The Torch of Freedom by David Weber and Eric Flint, which is part of an offshoot from the former’s Honor Harrington series. Anyway, the protagonists are speculating on the motives behind the antagonist organization’s recent actions. Specifically on how their scheme to all appearances would have had no benefit even if had been successful. One of the characters concludes that there must be some deeper secret motive of which they’re currently unaware and finishes off by stating, “Something is rotten in this state of Demark.” Another character fails to recognize the reference and asks what a rotten state of Denmark is. Another chimes in saying that she thinks it’s that nasty cheese they make, but has no idea what it has to do with anything.

    Favorite riffs

    Is that Hamlet?
    No, that’s his friend Riblet.

    Censors were shocked by the blatant carnality in this film.

    You’re not my real dad.

    You can brood here. I’m done.

    Why were you looking at his like?

    Get him, Ham! Kick his ass!

    “My lord, I do think I have found the very cause of Hamlet’s lunacy.”
    He’s insane.

    “To sleep.”
    Yeah, that’s what we’re doing right now, bub.

    Danish clowns. The damp, smelly, silverfish-infested basement of the clown world.

    “About my brains…”
    Upon which I sit.

    And now The Tragedy of King Vitamin

    I’ll come back later to see if he’s drinking and whoring, and then I’ll kill him.

    “How wretched, rash, intruding fool.”
    Oh right, it’s my fault you killed me.

    Come on, you wuss. I didn’t cry after I killed your dad.


    “To cut his throat in a church!”
    Now see, that’s a little over the top.

    “Now the king drinks to Hamlet.”
    Hell, the king drinks to anything.

    But it’s Cherry Flavored Kids Poison. He should love it.

    My nipple came off, you jerk!

    Long blame the king!

    Hamlet will be back in Thunderball!


  50. itsspideyman says:

    I’m one of those that enjoyed this episode, and the last third from the moment they’re plotting the poison to the sword fight is gold.

    “My pattented spaz move!”

    “C’mon sweet meat! C’mon!”

    “Will you just go ahead and fight!?!?!!”

    Very good stuff. :)


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