1009. Hamlet (1961)

My hats are off to you! It isn’t easy to step outside your comfort zone. Hamlet (1961) isn’t the easiest to jump into. Them attempting The Bard in Season 10 is why it works so well. They are so on the ball the curveball of the language and the play fails to phase them much. It amuses more than it has any right to and that blame is Best Brains knocking it out of the park.

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I rewatched it too after seeing this thread, and the combination of Shakespearean English + thick German accents + a muddy soundtrack does not help it at all. I wasn’t really sure what they were saying a lot of the time, though the riffs were pretty decent. “Run DMC Everett Coop” was brilliant.

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I said, quality, not idiocy!

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This is more about the play than the episode but I was thinking the other day…what the heck kind of poison was poured in the king’s ear anyway? I’ve read/seen this play dozens of times but it just struck me how odd ear poison is.

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I don’t know if there is actually a story behind the ear poison, but weird things in old plays/stories/artwork always make me think of how the vast majority of pop culture has been forgotten. How many jokes, songs, plays, folk stories (“memes”, if you will) have we lost forever? And how many of those lost things survive only as references in the things we still have, which of course we’ll never actually recognise without something specifically saying so?

Think of all the jokes in MST3K that rely on knowledge of specific shows, or even local commercials. How many Weird Al songs are there that people don’t know are parodies? How many times has the parody overtaken the original?

Was ear poison the hot meme that year because of a joke or real life incident? “Hey, did you hear Lady Karen’s trying to say her maid was trying to poison her ear when she spilled that drink on her?” Chances are we’ll never know.

Sorry, this is just one of my pet weird archaeologist thoughts.

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The answer appears to be “poison.”

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My feeling about memes is that most of them stop being funny after the second or third view, and the faster they all get swallowed up by The Great Void, the better. (If I ever knew enough about their origins to find them funny in the first place.) And that warmed-over 4chan sh-t is the worst. Stop trying to “reclaim” trash which came from Nazis, People. It can’t be done. All you’re doing is helping Nazis disseminate more of their sh-t POV, because you’re too lazy to do your own crappy drawing and upload it.

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I love this episode. Not top 10 or anything, but there’s something cool about giving Shakespeare the ol’ MST3K treatment. It’s just a shame that this production sucks all the energy out of the play. (Although the read on, “To sleep… perchance to DREEEEeeeEEAM!” tickles me every time.)

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This one is the Deepest of Hurting for me. A part of the Trinity of Meh…With Castle of Fu Manchu and Red Zone Cuba. However, I adore Manos. To each their own, I guess🤷‍♂️

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Some time ago, I got the Shout Factory DVD box set which had Hamlet (included alongside fellow Sci-Fi era titles Space Mutiny, Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, and Girl in Gold Boots).

I have to say, I love how the DVD menu features the “to be or not to be” speech over the Mighty Science Theater theme, just like we hear over the episode’s end credits.

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Just rewatched this and it’s a rare ‘improved on second viewing’ for me. Here are two things it actually has going for it above most other MST3k material.

1: It’s a solid tale because… it’s Shakespeare. Unlike nearly everything else they’ve done this is actually a good story.

2: Schell and Montalban are great actors and even if it’s only in dubbing they add gravitas that’s missing in Zombie Nightmare or Sidehackers.

I think what really works against it is there’s nothing absurd in it. It’s low budget is all. It’s not Cave Dwellers or Attack of the Eye Creatures with absurdly stupid things to laugh and make fun of.

I will definitely take it over things like Castle of Fu Manchu or The Painted Hills, which nothing can save for me. It’s not great but it’s also not bottom tier for me.

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