TV Reviews: ‘Slings & Arrows’

Paul Gross as Geoffrey Tennant

Paul Gross as Geoffrey Tennant

Dennis suggests “Slings and Arrows” (in Comedy). The third, and final, season of this Canadian series just came out last week, and, while I’ve been yammering on about its singular greatness for a year now, I’ve convinced precious few of you to take a chance on it, so I’m giving it one more shot. Here’s the set-up: the New Burbage Shakespeare Festival has been around forever and, while prestigious, it has become stale and uninspired under the long-term directorship of the burned out Oliver Welles (Stephen Ouimette). Things change when Oliver gets run over by a pig truck and his former protégée Geoffrey Tennant (the stunningly talented Paul Gross) gets drawn back into the orbit of the festival where, years before, he’d had a nervous breakdown on stage, while starring as Hamlet. Geoffrey finds himself in charge of the place, despite the fact that the place literally drove him mad, his former fiancee (Martha Burns) is the festival’s leading actress, and, oh yeah, Oliver’s ghost shows up and starts talking to him. Each season consists of six episodes, with each season’s arc following the festival’s production of one of the major tragedies (Hamlet, MacBeth, and then King Lear), along with the intertwined lives and relationships of all of the members of the company (including stellar, eye-opening work by series co-creator and former Kid In the Hall Mark McKinney and Canadian cottage film industry Don McKellar [Last Night, The Red Violin]). Like, say, one of Shakespeare’s history cycles, Slings and Arrows’ three seasons, while having an interior thematic arc (related in ingenious and touching ways to that season’s central play), form an overall, unified epic of love, loss, and artistic integrity. It’s funny, too. Seriously, this is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.

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Published in: on June 29, 2009 at 8:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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