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Slings & Arrows - Season 2

72 customer reviews

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(Oct 24, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"Absolutely addictive" —The New York Times
"One of television’s best" —San Francisco Chronicle
"Struts and frets . . . delightfully" —Time

In its second season, the smash hit Canadian comedy about a struggling Shakespearean theatre troupe explores the conflicts of middle age and rebranding: Am I who I want to be—or not to be?

Now ensconced as artistic director of the New Burbage theatre festival, Geoffrey (Paul Gross) must stage the cursed play Macbeth to fulfill the vision of his deceased predecessor Oliver (Stephen Ouimette). The actor cast in the lead (Geraint Wyn Davies) engages in a titanic clash of egos with Geoffrey, while Oliver weighs in confrontationally from the grave. The festival faces a financial crisis that forces its CEO (Mark McKinney) to engage in some risky business, while leading lady Ellen (Martha Burns) endures a life-altering tax audit. Adding to the mayhem is the return of the madcap guest director Darren Nichols (Don McKellar), who stages a post post-modern Romeo and Juliet after the original director breaks her neck. Could it be the curse of Macbeth?

As seen on the Sundance Channel.

It’s amazing what can happen in the theatre. Dramas unfold, epic stories and indelible characters are formed, battles are fought, lovers wooed and spurned, and every once in a while, a play is actually performed. And so Geoffrey Tennant (Paul Gross) is back as the Artistic Director of the New Burbage Theatre Festival for a second season of the backstage machinations and on stage drama that is Slings and Arrows. After a triumphant first season that revolved around the staging of Hamlet, season two uses Macbeth, one of Shakespeare’s most difficult and cursed plays, as the central device for this season’s plots lines. Things begin close to where they left off in season one. As the last performance of Hamlet winds up a mysterious old woman, in witch-like fashion, practically dares Geoffrey to undertake Macbeth, and her ominous tone makes it clear it won’t be easy. The lead actor (Geraint Wyn Davies) engages Geoffrey in a titanic clash of egos, with the ghost of Oliver (Steven Ouimette) continuing to weigh in from beyond the grave. The rest of last season’s stellar cast returns including Rachel McAdams, leading woman Ellen (Martha Burns), and the excellent Mark McKinney as scheming/bumbling CEO Richard Smith-Jones. The return of guest director Darren Nichols (Don McKellar) to stage a post post-modern Romeo and Juliet provides many of this season’s best moments, and shows the hilarious side of what happens when artistic imagination and exuberance outpace artistic ability.

Slings and Arrows was conceived as a set of three seasons. Where Season 1 focused on disillusioned youth, Season 2 "tackles the conflicts of middle age and rebranding," said executive producer Niv Fichman. The success of the first season afforded the show a larger budget, and so the original cast returned and a bevy of strong newcomers (including Wyn Davies, Colm Feore, and Diane D’Aquila) along with enhanced production values, were added. The result is a season that builds upon the high standard set in the first one. The writing continues to be some of the best on television; the characters are intriguing without being precious, and the dialog continues to snap with the kind of wit that ordinary sit-coms painfully lack. You don’t have to have been in the theatre to get drawn into this world, but if you happen to have been an actor or ever worked on the stage, these characters will be familiar… some of them probably a little too familiar. It’s good to see that a strong debut has led to an even stronger continuation. --Daniel Vancini

Special Features

  • Cast interviews
  • Deleted and extended scenes
  • Bloopers
  • Trailer
  • Photo gallery
  • Lyrics to "Mackers" and "Call To The Understudy"
  • Production notes
  • Cast filmographies
  • All six episodes from the 2005 season on two discs

Product Details

  • Actors: Stephen Ouimette, Martha Burns, Paul Gross, Susan Coyne, David Alpay
  • Directors: Peter Wellington
  • Writers: Susan Coyne, Bob Martin, Mark McKinney, Tecca Crosby
  • Producers: Aeschylus Poulos, Barbara Willis Sweete, Bob Martin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: October 24, 2006
  • Run Time: 282 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000H5U5M6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,379 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Slings & Arrows - Season 2" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on September 26, 2006
Format: DVD
If anyone had told me a year ago that my favorite program on television would be a Canadian import about a Shakespearean theater troupe, I would have had my doubts. But Season 1 of "Slings and Arrows" beguiled me. So droll and sophisticated, but with moments of sheer slapstick, I was absolutely enchanted. The writing was so smart, so funny, the performances spot on--including Paul Gross and Rachel McAdams (two of the more familiar actors for American audiences). It ended in six episodes and I wistfully said good-bye to a near brilliant show. I had no idea there was more to come.

So I was delighted when I heard Season 2 was on it's way. But I was also doubtful. Could they really mine the same material and come up with another winner? To my mind, they did that and even more. I enjoyed it every bit as much.

This season there was less back story, so it dealt more specifically about the inner workings of actually staging a couple of shows. The misadventures of producing the cursed "MacBeth" is definitely the highpoint. It might have been the funniest thing on TV last season, seriously. Add subplots about theater ingenues in "Romeo and Juliet" (McAdams says farewell in episode 1, so there's a new ingenue), a romance found/lost/found, and plenty of wit--and you have a delight. One subplot about an experimental advertising campaign to lure new traffic to the theater festival is perfection. As someone who has been a season subscriber in the LA theater scene for over ten years, this was particularly hysterical to me--how much truth there was.

But, trust me, you don't have to be a theater goer or a Shakespeare enthusiast to enjoy this program. But you do have to enjoy smart, sophisticated entertainment with top notch performances.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Joel Rafi Zabor on August 24, 2006
Format: DVD
The first season of Slings and Arrows was the best thing to turn up on English language television in I don't know how many years. The second seasons sags a bit in the middle but recovers wonderfully by the end. The problem has to do with spurious, often unconvincing plot contrivances intended to keep the principal characters busy for six episodes. They seem hastily conceived. The worst of them has to do with an ad agency; others have to do with a tax examination and a couple of romances, BUT: despite these patches of weak writing, the original characters, and a couple of new ones, are as appealing as before, the individual and ensemble acting are superb as ever, and the simultaneously warm and unsparing comedy seems a kind of miracle. The wrap-up, involving Banquo (in the production of Macbeth) and a side-effect of a rescued production of Romeo and Juliet, is wonderfully written and played and seems an augury of better days ahead in the third and apparently final season. I give this four stars only to provide a contrast with the sublime first season. This is still nearly solid gold.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 24, 2007
Format: DVD
As fine as Season One of this truly wonderful series was, Season Two was, in my opinion, even better. The series takes us even deeper into the characters, sharpens the humor, thickens the plot, and delves even more deeply into Shakespeare than in Season One. Viewing Season One did not make me want to rush out and read HAMLET, but Season Two did make me rush out to read MACBETH.

This ability to multitask is what makes SLINGS AND ARROWS such a wonderful series. It manages to do several things on several different levels remarkably well. I've read several books on Shakespeare, including those by Stephen Greenblatt, Peter Levi, and Stanley Cavell, as well as the wonderful prefaces by Samuel Johnson, but I can honestly say that I got as much insight from many wonderful little moments in this series as in any of those. Cavell is brilliant, but some of his essays are so far removed from the play that I'm not sure what work of art he is discussing (I'm reminded of somebody's--I'm not sure who--comment about James Agee's film criticism that it takes you directly into the heart of a film; Cavell is brilliant, but I never felt Shakespeare's pulse reading him).

As funny as the show was in Season One, it got even funnier in Season Two. The bits about the "rebranding" firm Frog and Hammer are among the funniest things I've ever seen on TV. I always enjoy Colm Feore, but his turn as Sanjay, the head of Frog and Hammer, is the best thing I've ever seen him do. The twists and turns of his character are simply brilliant.

The backstage drama is even more engrossing, as Geoffrey "collaborates" with Oliver in staging a version of MACBETH based on the latter's design for the play.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 13, 2007
Format: DVD
Call me superstitious or cowardly or weak

But I'll never play a character

Whose name one dare not speak

I'll play Hamlet

In doublet and hose

Or either of the Dromeos

But sorry, I won't play Mackers

I'll play Richard the Third

With a hump and wig

Or Henry the Eighth

That selfish pig

But sorry, I don't do Mackers

Every soul who plays this role

Risks injury or death

I'd rather sweep the bloody stage

Then ever do


When I watched the first three episodes of Season 2 of "Slings & Arrows" on the first of these two DVDS I have to admit that I was wondering what happened to the series. Like those of us with a background in the theater, I fell in love with the New Burbage Theatre Festival and its madman artistic director Geoffrey Tennant (Paul Gross). If his bouts with mental problems were not enough, Geoffrey is saddled with a leading lady, Ellen Fanshaw (Martha Burns), who is his once (and perhaps future) girl friend and the ghost of Oliver Welles (Stephen Ouimette), his predecessor whose sudden death got him his current gig. The first season was all about staging "Hamlet" with a television star as the melancholy Dane, while the second season finds Geoffrey tackling the Scottish play (hence the title song, "Mackers," quoted above). But Geoffrey is running around dealing with not only Oliver's ghost and all those notebooks his predecessor left behind about directing the play, which gives plenty of time for the associated curse to wreck some havoc.
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