- All six episodes from the 2006 season
- Interviews with Paul Gross and Susan Coyne
- Extended scenes of King Lear
- Deleted and extra scenes
- Production notes
- Photo gallery
- Song lyrics
- Cast filmographies
Slings & Arrows - Season 3
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"Pitch-perfect drama and comedy" -- San Francisco Chronicle
"Sweet, smart and seriously addictive" -- Philadelphia Inquirer
"The most fully satisfying slice of entertainment in ages" -- Newsday
As seen on the Sundance Channel
In its third season, this universally acclaimed series continues to mine dramatic and comic gold from the trials and tribulations of a dysfunctional Canadian theatre troupe, both on- and offstage.
Struggling with the unfamiliar burdens of success, the New Burbage theatre festival mounts two ambitious productions: King Lear, Shakespeares epic tragedy, and East Hastings, a debut musical about a heroin-addicted hooker with a heart of gold. Emotionally fragile artistic director Geoffrey Tennant (Paul Gross) coaxes legendary actor Charles Kingman out of semi-retirement to play Lear. But with plenty of personal baggage, Kingman doesnt so much play the part as live it. Meanwhile, the festivals resident bean-counter (Mark McKinney) joins forces with the musicals flamboyant director (Don McKellar) to create the unlikeliest hit in theatre history. Special guest stars include award-winning actor William Hutt of Canadas Stratford Festival and indie-film sensation Sarah Polley (My Life Without Me, The Sweet Hereafter).
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE interviews with Paul Gross and Susan Coyne; extended scenes of King Lear; bloopers; deleted and extra scenes; trailer; production notes; photo gallery, song lyrics, and cast filmographies.
Contains strong coarse language
It's a shame that there aren't more shows this good on TV, and now it's gone. Well, Slings and Arrows always was conceived by its creators to be a set of three seasons, and so after two tremendous offerings it comes to its third and final set of episodes about the backstage drama, onstage embarrassments, and personal trials and tribulations of the staff and actors of the fictional New Burbage Theatre Festival. Following the show's conceit of using plotlines that parallel the Shakespeare play being performed--Hamlet in season one and Macbeth in season twothis season sees artistic director Geoffrey Tenant (Paul Gross) mounting an ambitious production of King Lear with a lead actor (William Hutt as the aptly named Charles Kingman) who begins to literally live the role. Meanwhile the festival's general manager, Richard (Mark McKinney), deals with the unexpected burdens brought by the critical and financial success of their last production, continuing the show's structure of dual plotlines that focus on the artistic and financial aspects of theatre, detailing how inextricably the two are linked. Richard joins forces with flamboyant director Darren Nichols (Don McKellar) tries to top it with East Hastings, a contemporary musical about a heroin-addicted hooker with a heart of gold. As the musical becomes a big hit, Lear turns into a train wreck, and Geoffrey and Richard are both forced to make big decisions that have huge consequences for the Festival staff and actors. Such is the nature of outrageous fortune. It's bittersweet to see a show this well done come to an end. On the one hand, three seasons seems like such a short run for such a good program. On the other hand, it's good to see it go out on a high note, and the addition of extra features on this set, including extended interviews, deleted scenes, production notes, and more, should help serious fans through their withdrawal. --Daniel VanciniSee all Editorial Reviews
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The resolution is both surprising and not. Though it's sad to see the end of the series, the ending is perfect, if a little over the top. Not for anything would I spoil it for anyone, just let me say it ends in the best possible way, and all the characters get their just rewards. The final glimpse of Richard is priceless.
Even if Slings and Arrows wasn't the best thing since the first few seasons of The West Wing, even if it didn't lovingly and accurately portray the offstage drama of a theater company, even if the songs that open and close each episode weren't little gems that stick in your head for days afterwards, even if the reverence and love for Shakespeare's words didn't flow in waves through the TV set, this final season is a must-see just for William Hutt's performance in the final episode. As Charles Kingman, he's irascible and demanding; as King Lear, he's simply astonishing. I read somewhere that Hutt's actual Lear at the Stratford Festival was never filmed so the snippets on Slings and Arrows are all we have. See this series just for the miracle that was William Hutt's performance.
It is the footage of Hutt as Lear that takes this sitcom way above what it would be without it, although Hutt, as Lear, really is the series' intent! All the other subplots, as in Shakespeare, are organized around this central idea:
1. The Director's(Paul Gross), decision to seek out an older school of classical acting, over all the slick electronics.
The contrast of the older actors in a living room with only sparse costuming, to the preceeding scene of movie- like special effects, is wonderful (the ghost of Oliver has to admit, on hearing Hutt, that "a tin sheet and a great actor are all you really need.") As Prologue argues in Henry V: Ideas triumph over sensual effects!
2. The series sees Hutt not only as a better actor because he himself is older, but at least suggests that he and his friends represent a different generation, with higher cultural standards, that are being lost, and not only by the clueless young! Distinguished actor, Kenneth Welsh, plays himself, a white-haired member of the baby boomer generation, who should be mature enough to play Lear, but as much of his generation, is way to enraged for the role.
3. It also took courage not to find Lear, "great for its genre", and the musical, East Hastings " great for its genre."
At first we see Hutt's calm telling of Lear's story, constantly contrasted with a hyper-active singing explanation of Lulu, the E Hastings hooker (After Alban Berg's Lulu?) We are not yet sure, if these stories, are not both meant to be inspiring.
Gradually, The East Hastings crowd, are shown up as irresponsible hedonists (doping up, mid-day, after having made a musical about a hooker kicking her dope habit).
Towards the end, Sarah Polley's boyfriend,( who had been seduced by the hooker Lulu's " Sincere feelings")experiences an epiphany, on hearing Polley's rendering of Cordelia, which was uplifted by Hutt, despite his nastiness! He sees the difference beween true human emotion, inseparable from thought, in a real human tragedy; and, mindless "emoting" fantasy!!
The series ends by "letting you discover", without preaching, but also without apologizing, that there really is something better, and, as Oliver says, "a higher purpose", in the greatest culture humanity has ever produced.
Postscript: When I say, "letting you discover", I mean, that great artists like Shakespeare are never didactic, i.e., moralizing, like Pat Robertson. Shakespeare always leaves something unstated in his plays, for you to discover. If you make it your own discovery, then it is yours, not something someone told you to believe.
In "Slings and Arrows", the power of Shakespeare, through great actors like Hutt, to move our souls, is placed in stark contrast to musicals, TV space operas, and "realistic" special effects.
The choice then, and only each one of us can make that choice, as Shakespeare's great successor, Friedrich Schiller said, is to use the opportunity to "educate our emotions."
I am sad to read that fans found the third season disappointing. I am forever indebted to the creators, for giving us that tiny thread of a legacy, even though that legacy had already decayed by Hutt's time. The world depends on such threads. As Hutt said in the series, "Shakespeare has given us a great gift."