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Slings & Arrows - Season 1

4.8 out of 5 stars 144 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Showered with awards and critical acclaim, this darkly comic Canadian series follows the fortunes of a dysfunctional Shakespearean theatre troupe, 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 acting triumph and his 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), Stephen Ouimette (Mentors), and Mark McKinney (Kids in the Hall).

Amazon.com

The title of Slings and Arrows, like many of the themes and characters in this show, comes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It refers to "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" that the Danish prince suffers, leading him to question whether he is to be or not... you know. It’s a clever title for an inspired show about--what else?--the theatre. Set in the New Burbage Theatre Festival, a fictional Canadian Provincial theatre, a jaded, burnt-out artistic director, Oliver Welles (Stephen Ouimette), dies suddenly, and is replaced by a potential genius, his visionary protégé Geoffrey Tennant (Due South's Paul Gross). Geoffrey is legendary at the New Burbage for his awe-inspiring performance of Hamlet there years before, and also because he went mad and now his sanity seems to be hanging by a thread. And oh, by the way, Oliver’s still hanging around as a ghost, but Geoffrey’s the only one who can see him (sound familiar?), and his impulsive reactions and out-loud arguments with Oliver--including one captured while being interviewed for a news program--besides being hilarious, convince the cast and crews he’s really lost it. The show details the daily activities at the festival as they attempt to mount a new production of Hamlet (starring a movie star who’s all face and no talent), and in doing so it employs a huge cast of peripheral characters, including the dysfunctional acting company (rising star Rachel McAdams has a key part), scheming board members, and a neurotic theatre staff, each with their own little subplots interweaving to make one big drama.

This first-season set of the Sundance Channel program contains only six episodes, which is too bad because the series is so excellent it’ll leave you wanting more. The fact that shows of this caliber are rare makes it stand out all the more. The writing is topnotch, with memorable dialogue, biting dark humor, and clever situations that continually point out how absurd real life can get. This one is a real gem, a show that demonstrates ‘tis nobler in the mind to laugh at the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, rather than suffer them. --Daniel Vancini


Special Features

  • Trailer
  • Bloopers
  • Deleted and extended scenes
  • Production notes
  • Lyrics to "Cheer Up Hamlet" and "Call the Understudy"
  • Cast filmographies

Product Details

  • Actors: Paul Gross, Don McKellar, Martha Burns
  • Directors: Peter Wellington
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • 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: June 27, 2006
  • Run Time: 276 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FBFYKU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,433 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Slings & Arrows - Season 1" on IMDb

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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...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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