100 things to do in 1000 days; #65/69: Watch Slings and Arrows.
My favourite of all the new TV shows I’ve watched for this project. God, I’ve enjoyed this show.
The writing is great and the acting is great, and best of all, it’s fucking hilarious and sweet. And it’s Canada, so they’re allowed to swear.
And talk about fellatio.
This amazed me, until I realised that it had broadcast on what is, essentially, the Canadian version of HBO.
At any rate, let’s get to the reviewing.
One of the things that struck me most in the first season, there’s almost no music. When the great revelation comes and this time the actors are REALLY acting (it’s a show about theatre), you can tell because they’re doing a damn good job; they don’t need to rely on music and staging. And the actors in this show are pretty much uniformly amazing – everyone is at the top of their game.
The first episode was a bit boring, but I had a good enough time that I could see why people recommended it. And mid-way through the second episode (I won’t spoil anything, but it was due to the appearance of a green cooler), I realized I wasn’t going to get to sleep that night.
Season 2 I was willing to give a pass for the use of music because they were making a point theatrically with Macbeth.
Season 3 was probably my least favourite, but I loved the ending. Part of what I loved about season 1 was the lack of music or people telling you what to feel. It seemed that each season they trusted the audience less and less. There’s a moment while watching the climactic scene when Geoffery and Oliver discuss how heartbreaking a performance is. We know, and if we don’t, it’s because it’s not heartbreaking enough. There were some other small things – they were a bit hard (though hilarious) on musicals, and the seasonal patterns were becoming a bit obvious by this time (something keeps Geoffrey and Ellen apart, Richard follows people stupidly, and there’s a romance between a male and a female pair of the younger actors, etc). But I really did love it all, and season 3 is not as good as seasons 1 and 2 in the same way that a billion dollars is not as good as a billion and one dollars.
There are only 6 episodes per season, and each season is about putting on a different Shakespearean play, and they’re just so tightly plotted and paced that each season is impossible to stop. Thankfully, the END of the season IS a decent stopping point. And because there are so few episodes, and because the writers knew what they were doing from the beginning, it has that all-important thing in a Donna-approved show: spectacular continuity.
Did I mention this show is Canadian? I’m so proud of us.
In an excellent piece of timing, I found out my second day of a four day binge show-watching that the AV Club is doing write ups of the series every Wednesday. In the fourth episode, there is a great discussion in the comments about Ellen’s character. AV Club comments are usually quite funny, but I’m especially enjoying the Darren Nicholls quotes that keep popping up, and how much everyone loves Anna. Because she is amazing (Anna/Priest Guy for life!). So if you’re interested (and, if you like TV, then YOU SHOULD BE), take a look.
And now, the Quote Section:
Cyril: [singing] Cheer up, Hamlet; chin up, Hamlet; buck up, you melancholy Dane! So your uncle is a cad who murdered Dad and married Mum. That’s really no excuse to be as glum as you’ve become! So wise up, Hamlet; rise up, Hamlet; perk up and sing a new refrain. Your incessant monologizing fills the castle with ennui. Your antic disposition is embarrassing to see. And by the way, you sulky brat, the answer is to be! You’re driving poor Ophelia insane. So shut up, you rogue and peasant; grow up, it’s most unpleasant; cheer up, you melancholy Dane!
Cheryl: He’s not crazy.
Geoffrey: Not anymore.
Owner: You attacked me with a knife!
Geoffrey: Oh, that was a prop.
Richard Smith-Jones: Anna, I can’t comfort you. I’m on hold.
Darren Nichols: I am Darren Nichols. Deal with THAT.
Richard Smith-Jones: Darren, everybody cries when they get stabbed. There’s no shame in that.
Geoffrey Tennant: I would’ve cut my throat, but you’re not allowed to do that in front of subscribers.
Guard: Are you a suicide risk?
Geoffrey Tennant: Isn’t everybody?
Richard Smith-Jones: Darren, let me take you to breakfast and we can discuss the incident.
Darren Nichols: You make it sound like an ill-timed fart. I was stabbed!
Cyril: [singing] 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 Dromios 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 than ever do Mac-you-know-who. So gimme King Lear, Cleopatra, Romeo, Juliet, doesn’t mattra – I’ll play them all for free. But I’d be crackers to take on Mackers. You see, I’m skittish about the Scottish tragedy. (Och, aye.)
Richard: So Nadine’s neck is broken? Is that what you’re saying?
Anna Conroy: Yes!
Richard: We’ll have to find a replacement.
Anna: Yes! And her neck is broken! Which is much worse than having to find a replacement director!
Richard: Yes! I’m not being insensitive, Anna! I’m just thinking ahead, OK? Let’s send her some flowers, alright? A basket – big. Let’s pray she doesn’t sue.
Anna: Of course, because that would be truly horrible.
Richard: What? I’m not heartless! I’m just… I’m detail-oriented.
Geoffrey: Which would you prefer: an empty house with a great play, or a full house with a piece of garbage?
Richard: GARBAGE! GARBAGE! I want GARBAGE!
Cyril: [singing] When life takes its toll, when fate treats you bad, you used to be king, but now you’ve been had, alone with your Fool, you think you’ll go mad— it’s nice to take a walk in the rain! A stomp through a storm is what I’d advise, when people you trust tell nothing but lies; and kidnap your friend and gouge out his eyes—it’s nice to take a walk in the rain! Your older daughters are evil plotters; a pitter-patter shower will keep you sane. When all has been said and all have been slain, it’s good to take a walk in the rain, for several hours. Helps to have a howl in the rain, without your clothes on. Nice to take a walk in the rain.
Darren Nichols: I must say, I’ve fallen in love with the musical genre. It’s the art-form of the common man. If you want to communicate something with the proletariat, cover it in sequins and make it sing. It’s noisy, vulgar and utterly meaningless—I love it!
Geoffrey Tennant: I have a responsibility to the entire company, to the festival. This is about theatre ethics.
Oliver Welles: Theatre ethics? That’s like saying “whorehouse morals.”
Ellen: This isn’t a sitcom.
Geoffery: Oh well yes actually, it is. I have a broken wang and there is a lizard queen living downstairs.
Oh this is no good, now all I want to do is watch it again…
Note: Special thanks to Patrick for helping me get this post together in time for my deadline. My stupid, poorly timed, self-imposed deadline.
Also note: this series takes the place of Ashes to Ashes on my List, because I was having some trouble finding it for my viewing pleasure. And because I S&A was on Netflix and amazing, and I am lazy.
Posted on February 24, 2013, in 100 things in 1000 days, TV and tagged 100 things in 1000 days, Canada, I LOVE TV, Martha Burns, Paul Gross, Shakespeare, Slings and Arrows. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.