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Slings and Arrows 3 Seasons

Season 1
4.8 out of 5 stars (142) IMDb 8.9/10

Showered with awards and critical acclaim, this darkly comic Canadian series follows the fortunes of a dysfunctional Shakespearean theatre troup, exposing the high drama, scorching battles, and artistic miracles that happen behind the scenes. Paul Gross (Due South) stars as washed-up actor Geoffrey Tennant, who returns to the New Burbage Theatre--the site of his own acting triumph and career-ending meltdown--to assume the artistic directorship after the sudden death of his mentor, Oliver Welles. Believing that theatre is meant to provoke not anesthetize, Geoffrey takes on the suits who want to turn the festival into a theme park, a director who runs amuck with Hamlet, and his own demons, including Oliver--who returns to haunt him. Also starring Rachel McAdams (Wedding Crashers, The Notebook), Mark McKinney (Kids in the Hall), and Don McKellar (Childstar).

Starring:
Paul Gross, Martha Burns

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Season 1
1. Oliver's Dream
This episode free with ads

Geoffrey Tennant carries on with a production of The Tempest despite the reality that his ragtag theatre company is broke. Over at the New Burbage Shakespearean Festival, Geoffrey's former mentor, Oliver Welles, opens a lavishly backed but artistically hollow Midsummer Night's Dream.

TV-MA CC Runtime: 46 minutes Release date: November 3, 2003

Not available

2. Geoffrey's Return

Geoffrey discovers that death has not completely silenced Oliver. New Burbage general manager Richard Smith-Jones takes over Oliver's memorial, while wide-eyed acting apprentice Kate McNab sneaks off to Toronto for a commercial audition.

TV-MA CC Runtime: 46 minutes Release date: November 10, 2003

Not available

3. Madness in Great Ones

Geoffrey passes off the theatre's new production of Hamlet to flamboyant visiting director Darren Nichols. Kate and Jack take an afternoon off and feed the rumor mill. Scheming board member Holly Day spirits Richard off for recreation and research in Toronto.

TV-MA CC Runtime: 46 minutes Release date: November 17, 2003

Not available

4. Outrageous Fortune

Geoffrey broods in jail, where Oliver's spirit drops by to counsel him. Kate and Jack's friendship moves to a higher plane. Ellen's dirt-biker boy toy defends her honor, and Geoffrey fires Darren, which reassures the cast but worries the board of directors.

TV-MA CC Runtime: 46 minutes Release date: November 24, 2003

Not available

5. A Mirror Up to Nature

With unglued Geoffrey taking up the reins of Hamlet, Richard and Holly feel certain the production will flop. Geoffrey digs in and believes there's more to Jack than they've seen so far. Then Ellen's pet chameleon ably assists him in recasting Ophelia.

TV-MA CC Runtime: 46 minutes Release date: December 1, 2003

Not available

6. Playing the Swan

It's high noon in the Shakespearean corral. Opening day for Hamlet has arrived and Jack has disappeared. Ellen comes clean about what really happened on that fateful night seven years ago. Kate finds Jack, the lights go up, and against all odds, magic happens.

TV-MA CC Runtime: 46 minutes Release date: December 8, 2003

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
"Slings and Arrows" is an intelligent, witty, sometimes moving, mostly brilliant series from Canada that is head and shoulders above anything on TV today. If you like following a wide canvas of fascinating characters through the peaks and valleys of their lives, if you like theater, if you like brilliant ensemble work, if you like writing that is just as brilliant, this series is for you. I hope this series opens people's eyes to some of the remarkable film and theater work going on in Canada these days. By all means, watch "Slings and Arrows." But make sure you have plenty of time. Like a page turning novel, it won't let you go until you see the entire season.
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Format: DVD
...entertaining. I'm not going to rattle on about how wonderful this series is -- so unlike anything on dreck-laden US television. Instead, I'll just say that I agree with all the praise piled on "Slings & Arrows" by others and note it is a special source of fun for anyone with backstage experience. And I'll add the lyrics of "Call the Understudy," the song sung by Cyril and Frank over the closing titles to each episode --

Call the understudy

I can't go on tonight

I'm drinking with my buddy

I'm getting good and tight

Before they raise the curtain I'll be higher than a kite

So call the understudy

I can't go on tonight

Tell the cast and crew to break a leg (break a leg!)

Roll me out another bloody keg (bloody keg!)

I need to ease the pain that life can bring

And liquor is what will hit the spot

The play is not the thing

So call the understudy

I think it's only right

My diction will be muddy

I'll never find my light

Before the intermission I'll be pissin' on a sprite

So call the understudy

I can't go on (he can't go on!)

I won't go on (he shan't go on!)

I can't go on tonight (damn right!)

If you want to laugh -- and, finally, to be moved once again by "Hamlet" -- scoop this up and settle down for a treat.
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Format: DVD
Mention Paul Gross to an American, and the image that most people come up with is the uberpolite, by-the-book Mountie Benton Fraser from the Canadian series "Due South: Season One (4-DVD Digipack)". Paul's dark, quirky humor still managed to surface through Frasier's naive act, particularly in the final seasons of the show. Now ask a Canadian; no doubt some will bring up H2O, a Canadian political thriller in which Gross plays the prime minister. Odds are, another Canadian will bring up Men With Brooms, Paul's directorial debut and attempt at a quintessential (if not the only) Canadian curling comedy. Next, ask a loyal Stratford theatre buff about Paul; no doubt that you'll hear of his brilliant performances as Hamlet in 2000. Paul is also a vocal advocate of the arts within Canada and an accomplished musician.

Paul's many talents truly come together on Slings and Arrows, a sendup of the internationally-known Stratford Shakespeare Festival. For those not in the know, Stratford, Ontario (named after Shakespeare's hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon) hosts a lavish Shakespearian theater festival that runs for seven months a year, featuring some of the brightest stars of stage and screen.

Slings and Arrows is titled after Hamlet (Act 3, Scene 1) and is set in fictional New Burbage, a small, rural town that briefly flowers during tourist season. The New Burbage theater company is worn and uninspired, anchored by diva Ellen Fanshaw (played by Paul Gross's wife, Martha Burns).
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I wore out the "On Demand" button on my cable TV remote because i watched Slings & Arrows season one over and over. And loved every minute. It's funny, sad, wry, intelligent, wonderfully written and acted....every time I watched I saw something new. Treat yourself to this gem. (Season two just ended its U.S. run on the Sundance channel, season three will be show within the year. I'm looking forward to them on DVD as well.)
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A friend of mine taped this Canadian show off the Sundance Channel and mailed it to me. I have never loved a TV series more. It's hilarious and touching and features Canada's top actors in a backstage satire of a company that resembles Ontario's Stratford Festival. Don't miss "Slings and Arrows" if you're a theater buff. It's now a cult hit, having released three seasons on DVD, all of which I bought at Amazon.

The conceit of the show is that each season depicts the madness during rehearsals for a specific Shakespeare play. Season one centers on "Hamlet," and features the alluring Paul Gross as Geoffrey Tennant, as well as Luke Kirby as an inexperienced Hollywood action-actor brought in to play the Danish prince (and beef up box-office receipts). The young and charming Rachel McAdams plays an actress who is suddenly cast as Kirby's Ophelia.

I can't recommend this series highly enough! Bravo to the show's witty and inventive creators. I know I'm not alone in hoping for a reunion special on PBS or cable or, dare I suggest it?, season four.
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