Why Hamlet is quickly becoming one of my favorite episodes

So I’m not a psychologist nor a mind reader, but here is why I think the hamlet episode is so enjoyable… Most people in High School likely read Hamlet (or rather were forced to read Hamlet)
and their public school experience likely led to a general distaste for Shakespeare…

Which makes the hamlet episode as a sort of forbidden fruit, as the episode’s riffs not only the acting but also poking fun at the strange vernacular, Poking fun at something in a way that your english teacher would find Blasphemous (although I personally think Shakespeare would understand it’s all in good fun and be okay with it…)

The episode doesn’t just give the mst3k treatment to a-made-for-tv-german-adaptation, it gives mst-ies, especially those who have bad memories of English Class, a chance to relieve the stress that memories of Shakespeare may invoke…


I agree. Hamlet is probably the lowest common denominator of classic English literature. Even if you didn’t study it in high school, it has been referenced so often in popular culture that you’re likely at least vaguely familiar with the plot and would recognize certain lines from the play.

Mike’s “I knew I had some rub left.” is still one of my favorite riffs.


While Hamlet isn’t a personal favorite episode of mine (although I did love studying the play and watching the Branagh and Olivier adaptations), I will say that it doesn’t deserve the typical across-the-board drubbing I’ve seen it receive over the years.


Hamlet is my least favorite episode by far. I’ve sat through it all the way twice, both times because I was doing a complete rewatch. But both times I had to watch it in chunks. I couldn’t make it through the original airing. I don’t know that I’ll ever watch it again.

But I don’t like Shakespeare very much to begin with. I’m a philistine.


I’m a philistine, too. I genuinely appreciate that Shakespeare contributed enormously to literature and theater, and as a result we’ve all benefited from his influence, but the meat of his work – or what little of it I’ve been exposed to – doesn’t really grab me.

I suspect it’s a bit like those “magic eye” posters with hidden images; if you see it from a certain perspective, the brilliance becomes apparent.

Hamlet is probably my least favorite episode as well, or close to it, but I’m glad it exists. I’m not sure what a lavish production of Hamlet would look like, but I love that the Brains could upturn expectations with this incredibly dour version of it.


After watching “Final Justice” I found “Hamlet” to be quite the palette cleanser.


I think my fondness for Hamlet comes from just the sheer nerviness of them taking it on while knowing the end of the series was near. The riffs are solid throughout, Schell is a honey of a leading man, and the sketches are above average for this period. The game show bit goes on a bit long, but I like it anyway for its deadpan weirdness.

It also helps that Sandy Frank didn’t dub this one.

I think some viewers, even without meaning to, will avoid episodes that are in B&W or have beastly awful prints. Often that’s what they’re reacting to, and not so much the story or how Our Heroes do at punting it back and forth.


And I love it for the entirely opposite reason. I LOVE Shakespeare! I’ve read ALL the plays (yes, even King John)! I volunteered for a Shakespeare company for years.

And yet this version deserves the riffing. Although obviously inspired by Olivier’s version, it’s just so dismal. The host segment about the absurd versions of Hamlet totally kills it.

I agree that Shakespeare would probably find it hilarious.


You wouldn’t put it 43th?

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I have always loved this episode. I can see where some might find it grimly unwatchable for many reasons, but I really like the “dubbed German Expressionist” eccentricity of it all. And as the OP points out, it’s a legitimate opportunity for riffing The Bard, something that is a rare bird indeed.


I do like this episode, but it’s a very dreary production. Hamlet can be a lot better than this (try the David Tennant one with Patrick Stewart as Claudius).


I used to rank Hamlet pretty low but in the last few years, it has risen to an above-average episode. I think a major problem is the quality of the print. I’d bet it wasn’t nearly that bad when first run. I think if it looked better it would be easier to get into.


Yeah it’s muddy and dim and the delivery of most lines is deadpan… The riffs make up for it though :+1:


It’s definitely something I have to “prepare” for, but Hamlet a very good riff on some really challenging material. I always end up feeling pretty good about myself after I watch it.


Hamlet was a good one! I read the play in high school. When my brother was taking college courses, he was studying Hamlet for one of his classes. He even asked to borrow my MST3K episode of Hamlet to watch!

Who says MST3K isn’t educational?


Hamlet (1961) divebombs down the Shakespeare hole and we as MSTies are met by good natured ribbing of arguably the greatest drama ever made. Mike and the writers obviously care for Hamlet. Knowledgeable of the play, nods to the text and its greatest hits precede where they fall or comment as they do. Any Shakespeare nerd will love this.

Non-lovers of The Bard won’t be so moved. The episode is dry livened by exceptional skits. I for one catch slow spots occasionally and salute the veering into theatricality and the humanities even if it’s not The MST For All Seasons. It improves as you watch it. My impression. A percentage won’t last that long. As my stepdad boasted on food I hated, “More for me!”

I’m happy to see Hamlet getting some love. I never hated it. One of my majors is English, and I was in The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) playing Hamlet before, so it’s right up my alley


Another potentially riffable Shakespeare movie is the George Cukor Romeo and Juliet from 1936. It could rival Ring of Terror for most geriatric riffs. For bonus creepiness factor, the Romeo actor and the Lady Montague actress are the same age.

It’s not too difficult to envision Shakespeare being joined by Richard Burbage, Henry Condell, and William Kempe to riff a performance of Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay.

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I absolutely love Hamlet (the MST3K episode). My first episode was Werewolf but my second episode (and the only other episode I caught on TV rather than online) was Hamlet. I didn’t know I was supposed to dislike it. I loved it from the moment of…

“Murder most foul.”
“He killed a chicken?”

And then the ending with Kevin twirling his wig as Fortinbras is so wonderful.


“I’m not leaving until I’m allowed to play my role!”