Slings & Arrows – Season 1: Hamlet, a review.

I don’t watch a lot of TV, really. If you didn’t count football, crime dramas, my latest habit of watching ESPN morning talkshows and my mom’s cooking/home improvement dramas, I’d basically be reduced to Futurama, my adoration of which is admittedly pretty intense. In fact, that was the first real bonding activity I ever had with the BF and in hindsight, it was probably pretty lucky that he didn’t bolt after I proposed we watch all five original seasons together, one or two every time he came over. He could pick whatever movie/TV show he liked when I went over to his place—considering my knowledge of most filmed ventures is laughable, he had a pretty wide range to chose from. Besides, it was totally fair, I’d be able to quote episodes verbatim and totally impress him with my ability to watch one show over and over until I could recite it in my sleep. Everyone won.

Needless to say, we got watching. With Futurama and Archer down, where were we to go? Ah, yes. Shakespeare. A logical leap.

The show of choice was called Slings & Arrows, a show about actor-turned-madman Geoffrey Tennant (Paul Gross) who attempts to run the New Burbage Shakespeare Festival after his brilliant mentor/director of the festival Oliver Welles (Stephen Ouimette) gets sloppy drunk, passes out in the middle of a street and subsequently run over by a pig truck. Not to worry, though, because Oliver intends on haunting Geoffrey until he makes the upcoming production of Hamlet the best Hamlet to ever be performed on the great Canadian stage. The problem? Geoffrey wants absolutely nothing to do with the Shakespeare festival and thinks he’s back on the train to crazyville since he’s seeing the ghost of a dead old friend, who, in his will, requested that his skull be boiled down and used in Hamlet’s iconic soliloquy. To give you a glimpse into the mental state of Geoffrey, he fulfills this wish, even if he thinks the whole festival is commercialized garbage that doesn’t know the meaning of art.

Of course, since Oliver was kind of an alcoholic douche with a humor that flourished when at the expense of others, not everyone mourned his death.

To name a few bits and pieces that make up this fabulous import: you have bitchy actresses of all calibers, an action star that will kind of remind you of Keanu Reeves in his own portrayal of Hamlet (sidenote: I had no idea that Keanu Reeves had a shrine devoted to proving his acting fortitude. I…the indescribable feelings I have… Woah.), love drama, dramatic love, two sassy old men, a spineless executive, manipulation, alcohol consumption, tears, directors only popular in Germany, weird Americans, sword fights, bad singing, materialistic Americans, hatred, an amazing script, with a nice side of adorable, pre-Mean Girls Rachel McAdams reminding you to feel bad about yourself whenever you look in the mirror while also making you adore her even more, scrambled all together and you have a hilarious and oddly touching show.

Want to know one of the best aspects of this show? It isn’t the amazing cast or the ingrained Canadian niceness, it’s the way that Slings & Arrows is able to shed light on the actual works of Shakespeare, despite having storylines running in all directions—at its core, it’s still about that melancholy Dane. Geoffrey proves that there is a genius behind the madman when he gives one of his many pep-talks to his actors, peeping into the psychological states of the Shakespearean creations. Anyone who has read Hamlet will be able to sit back and grin, glimpsing at the retched mentality of brilliant characters with a clarity that might not have been there beforehand; though, even if you knew it in and out, the way Geoffrey coaxes true emotion out of his actors and actresses is touching and riveting.

Oh. And Slings & Arrows created one of the catchiest theme songs ever.

You’re welcome for these 50 seconds, but there is no way you’ll listen to it just once.

The only thing that concerns me is that apparently season 2 and 3 have even stronger reviews and…I just don’t know if I can handle that much awesome. If I didn’t think it’d be a bit excessive, I’d start rewatching season 1 one. Seriously, it’s that good.


3 thoughts on “Slings & Arrows – Season 1: Hamlet, a review.

    • I’m flattered and glad that you found me! It’s such an underrated show, I’m happy someone else knows how hilarious/entertaining/strangely educational it is.

      Unfortunately, I haven’t watched beyond the first season of S&A yet (time gets away from us all, but it’s definitely up there on the to-do list!), but I loved the one I watched. My boyfriend has watched them all and says that the third season is the weakest, but the first two are amazing (he wrote a great blog post about Darren Nichols, actually!). Why do you think the other seasons are weaker than the first?

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