09 May 2007

MST3K (1009)

1009 - Hamlet: Prinz von Dänemark - I was prepared to be bored out of my mind by this one. Generally considered to be one of the worst episodes of the entire cable series, it's also, arguably, the very highest of brow for subject matter on any of the show's experiments. Based on a 16th century play by the English language's most famous ambassador, Hamlet is wordy. Really wordy. It was hard to foresee how the guys were going to squeeze funny words of their own in there.

They managed. The riffing was noticeable lighter -- due to the heavy dialogue of the movie -- than normal, but they kept up a steady pace. Still, it took me about 50 minutes before I got it and began to crack smiles and chuckle. This is not a normal episode. You need to readjust your expectations and watch it differently than a regular MST3K show. Many of the riffs require that you pay attention to -- or are at least familiar with -- the Bard's play. However, the crew didn't suffocate the episode with Hamlet-specific riffs. There were plenty of fart jokes and "Before you die, does my palm smell like Cheetos?" type cracks to go around as well. It helped me, also, that I enjoyed watching the play itself again (guilty: English lit major here).

The choice of a dreary version of a 400-year-old work of literature was a risk for the show. It seems to have failed for them in most people's opinions. But, hey, they did nigh-200 shows over a decade. A little experimentation is good. What the hell? They're going down in flames in four episodes, anyway. Have some fun with the format.

"But it's cherry-flavored kids' poison! He should love it!" (7/10)

film d. Franz Peter Wirth (1961)
mst d. Michael J. Nelson (27 Jun 1999)