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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S 10 E 09 Hamlet

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Hamlet: To be, or not to be.
Mike: The verbal equivalent of "Duh-duh-duh-DUM"!

Film watched: Hamlet (1961 German TV Movie adaptation)

In the Amazing Colossal Guide, Best Brains acknowledged they found it strange Ricardo Montalbán did the English dub of Claudius. They didn't seem to know that John Banner voiced Polonius, or they would surely have made quite a few "I know nothing!" jokes at his expense note .


The episode is available on Shout! Factory TV here.

The Segments:

  • Mike introduces the 'Bots: Gypsy, Crow T. Robot, and... Htom Sirveaux?! It'll never catch on.

Segment 1

Segment 2

  • Crow and Servo decide to haunt Mike like Hamlet's father did. They run through his whole family tree trying to find a relative who's dead.

Segment 3

  • The 'Bots have plans to make their own adaptation of Hamlet, pitching several iterations to Mike.

Segment 4

  • Mike hosts "Alas, Poor Who?", where the 'Bots must identify famous people based on their bones.

Segment 5

  • The 'Bots introduce the Talking Hamlet action figure, whose verbose and longwinded speech comes with a very long pullcord. Pearl is harassed by Fortinbras, who is complaining about his role being omitted from the movie and insists on performing it live.

The MST3K treatment of Hamlet provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Pearl forwards mail to allow Mike to stay in contact with his family.
  • Alas, Poor Yorick: One of the skits has Mike hosting a gameshow called Alas Poor Who? where the bots are shown random bones and have to guess whom they belonged to. Servo guesses wrong in the final round, while Crow gets all of his right but is disqualified because he repeatedly fails to phrase his answer as "Alas, poor _____."
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Mike wanted to see a film version of Hamlet. Pearl complied... by presenting him with a poorly done version made in Germany.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: When the bots try to pass themselves off as the ghost of Mike's father. Upon learning that he's alive, they try every other conceivable relative and get the same result.
    Crow: Don't your relatives ever die?!
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  • Call-Back: When tricking Pearl into playing a fixed game of 3-Card Monte and raising the stakes for the final round, Mike imitates Geronimo's Catchphrase from Final Justice, the previous episode.
    Mike: You think you can take me? Go 'head on, it's your move.
  • Camp Gay: Fortinbras.
    Observer: He made me look butch.
  • Continuity Nod: It's established that Pearl is a gambling addict, so her Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny! reaction to Mike's Three Card Monte is in character.
  • Doomed by Canon: The first shot of Ophelia has Servo saying as her, "Oh, I love life!"
  • Ending Fatigue: Invoked by the crew during Hamlet's (admittedly quite drawn-out) death scene.
  • Exact Words: Mike should never have allowed Pearl to pick which production. He calls out Zeffirelli and Branagh, but gives Pearl enough wiggle (he DID, after all, say "your choice"...) and she chooses Observer's suggestion of one filled with "Germans" and "bratwurst".
    Pearl: Okay, you get Hamlet. Oh boy, do you get Hamlet!
  • Freud Was Right: In-Universe, Mike and the bots take the play's subtext to its funniest conclusion. It could also be they were just referencing another classic piece of theater.
    Tom Servo: Hamlet, get off your mom!
  • Glad I Thought of It: Pearl takes complete credit for the German version of Hamlet that Observer suggested to her; Observer is Genre Savvy enough to happily congratulate her for thinking of it.
  • Godwin's Law: Servo mutters if he sees "Reichsfuhrer" in the credits, he's leaving.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Used in one of the riffs.note 
    Hamlet: Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander till he find it stopping a bunghole?
    Tom Servo: Eww!
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": During Hamlet's "To Be or Not To Be" speech, Crow chuckles out "Heh-heh, you said 'bare bodkin'".note 
  • Limited Wardrobe: Invoked as the riffers point out how Gertrude wears the same dress for every occasion.
    Mike: [During Ophelia's funeral] Man, that really is an all-purpose dress.
  • Moment Killer: When Polonius walks in on Claudius and Gertrude flirting around, Crow responds "What is it, Cold-Water-On-The-Groin, I mean, Polonius?"
  • My Nayme Is: In the first host segment, Tom declares that his last name is spelled "Sirveaux" (still pronounced "Servo"). Then he reveals his first name is now "Htom" (pronounced "Heh-Tom", though Mike had thought it would be "T-H-O-M"). Crow looks at Cambot in disbelief, then declares "Well, Htom, why don't you hlick me?"
    Mike: So, we should start calling you "Sirveaux" now?
    "Sirveaux": That's right.
    Gypsy: What if we called you "Servo"?
    "Sirveaux": I won't respond.
    • Hypocritical Humor: After the commercial break, Crow decides to start spelling his name Cröe.
      Crow: No no, Cruuuuuuue, Cruuuuuuuee; purse your beak.
      Mike: I'll purse your beak!
  • Name's the Same: invoked A guy named Paul Verhoeven plays the gravedigger.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Despite managing to beat Pearl in Three Card Monte for the right to pick what movie they would do that day, even picking Hamlet for good measure, Mike manages to louse it up with just two words: "Your choice."
  • Oedipus Complex: This film talked Crow out of it.
    Crow: Well Mike, this has convinced me not to kill your dad and marry your mom!
  • Pungeon Master:
    • Mike and the bots have a lot of fun with the now-archaic-sounding Shakespeare-lingo:
    Claudius: Forgive me my foul murder.
    Crow: It's just that that turkey was mouthing off to me.
    • And:
    Claudius: Bring us the foils!
    Crow: We shall some potatoes bake.
    • Also:
    Hamlet's Father: It was murder most foul.
    Crow: He killed a chicken?!
  • Railing Kill: Servo gleefully assumes based on the set design there will be plenty of these.
  • Running Gag:
    • "Cut his throat in a church!"
    • Another is Mike and the bots' disdain for the many long monologues in the movie.
    • During Hamlet's meeting with the ghost of his father, 99% of the scene focuses on Hamlet himself (presumably interpreting the spirit as a delusion.) Mike and the 'Bots make jokes about the director making panicked orders to switch cameras to the ghost.
  • Shell Game: Mike's Three Card Monte of "find the lady [the Queen]".
    • Fixing the Game: Mike, naturally.
    • The Mark: Pearl, who falls for it hook, line and sinker.
    • Genre Savvy: Observer, who warns Pearl to no avail.
      Observer: It's a scam, you can't win.
      Pearl: Oh I forgot, you're also a total puss.
    • Comically Missing the Point: Bobo.
      Bobo: Oh, I get it! It's the QUEEN! The lady is the Queen!
      Pearl: ...Drink this. (hands him her vial of supervirus, which he downs immediately.)
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Ophelia whimpers "Woe is me...", Tom responds "Woah is me." in the same infliction as Joey Lawrence's character in Blossom.
    • As Ophelia is buried:
    Laertes: Hold the earth a while!
  • Take That!: When Ophelia enters during her Sanity Slippage, warbling poetry, Crow moans, "Oh, no. It's Jewel."
    • "Yay! Garrison Keillor's leaving Denmark!"note 
  • Weirdness Magnet: Pearl brings up the trope directly.
    Pearl: [after dealing with Fortinbras] Is it me? Am I a magnet for these idiots?!note 


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