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Slings & Arrows - Season 1
Slings Arrows - Season 1
Actors: Paul Gross, Don McKellar, Martha Burns
Director: Peter Wellington
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television
NR     2006     4hr 36min

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 happ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Paul Gross, Don McKellar, Martha Burns
Director: Peter Wellington
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Drama, Comedy, Drama
Studio: Acorn Media
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 06/27/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 4hr 36min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 9
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

It's "Outrageous Fortune" to See This Show
Susan Eisenberg | Silver Spring, Maryland United States | 04/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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 going to be a cult hit as soon as the DVD hits America."
Buy It! Watch It! Love It!
Diane | Tarzana, US, Canada | 04/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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.)"
Another hilarious sendup from the pleasantly warped Paul Gro
Veggiechiliqueen | 09/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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). The artistic director Oliver Wells (Steven Ouimette) is a washed-up thespian and alcoholic who views the theater as a cash cow, nothing more. Across town, Geoffrey Tennant (Paul Gross) is struggling to save a small theater (Theatre Sans Argent, or "Theater Without Money") from eviction. Tennant suffered a mental breakdown seven years ago during one of Wells' productions of Hamlet, and it ended his career in the theater. On the opening night of A Midsummer Night's Dream, a very drunk Oliver calls Geoffrey from a payphone, passes out in the street, and is run over by a truck. His ghost haunts Geoffrey, who has become the interim artistic director of the festival.

Which is all...very Shakespearian in nature. The show is rich with irony, and I found myself frequently laughing at unexpected flashes of brilliance. Add to the mix the quirky cast of actors, backstage antics, and theater in-jokes, and you have an effervescent satire of theater and the state of the arts in Canada.

There are subplots involving American corporate sponsors, pot, budding love interests, and old rivalries. The dialogue is witty, the editing airtight, and the rousing opening and closing singalongs ("Cheer Up, Hamlet!" and "Call the Understudy") make this a blast. Add to the fact that many members of the cast and crew are theater vets (Burns, Gross, Ouimette, Susan Coyne, and William Hutt all performed at Stratford) and Canadian screen stars (Don McKellar, Sarah Polley, Rachael McAdams).

Though the show is beloved by many who work in the theater, non-thespians will find Slings and Arrows equally engrossing. My "theater" background consists of working backstage on one or two high school plays and a visit to Stratford in 2002, and I absolutely loved Slings and Arrows for its blend of comedy, outstanding performances, razor-sharp dialogue, and glimpse at the backstage craziness and camaraderie. Extras include a trailer that's best left until after you've watched the first season, outtakes, production notes, cast filmographies, a list of the series' credits, and lyrics to "Cheer Up Hamlet" and "Call the Understudy."
Walter P. Sheppard | Arlington, VA United States | 04/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"...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."