Michael John Dunaway Lifestream

November 12, 2008

Slings and Arrows

Filed under: Uncategorized — michaeljohndunaway @ 12:41 pm

slingsarrowss1Another late TV series that will either immediately grab you, or not, is the wild and witty Canadian import comedy Slings and Arrows. If you’ve never heard of it, don’t be surprised — its short three year life ended in 2006, and although it’s become a cult favorite stateside, it never quite broke into the mainstream pop consciousness.

But it’s well worth a look. The first season even has a couple of faces you’ll recognize, Kids in The Hall’s Mark McKinney and Mean Girls’ Rachel McAdams. The series traces the life of a fictional Canadian Shakespeare theater called the New Burbage Shakespeare Festival, complete with backstabbing, past and present affairs, hauntings, and all the other antics you’d expect when you combine a bunch of artists (and a few businesspeople) in a remote small town. The inevitable comparison will be to Waiting for Guffman, the theater film by the same folks that spoofed heavy metal in This is Spinal Tap and dog shows in Best in Show, but Slings and Arrows is a bit different. It’s more heartfelt, less madcap. And some of the performances are really nice. I had no idea McKinney had acting chops, and McAdams takes over the cheek-pinchingly cute title that has been largely vacant since Drew Barrymore was in her early twenties. Paul Gross is delightful as the is-he-insane-or-not Geoffrey (ironic given that the play the company is working on is “Hamlet”). And Stephen Ouimette is absolutely perfect as the longtime director of the festival.

Even if you’ve never been on stage, it’s worth a try (and just like The Shield, one episode will probably let you know whether you’ll like it). For those who have ever been involved with theater, on the other hand, this one is definitely a must-see — the series really captures well the manic energy and sometime insanity of the form (not to mention the people in it). And the series has a heart sold out to the theater too, as several misty-eyed scenes near the end of the season make clear. Slings and Arrows isn’t a satire of show people, or at least it’s a very, very loving one.


1 Comment »

  1. I agree, S&A is the best show I’ve seen in ages. And one of its strongest virtues is that, with only six one-hour episodes per season, it doesn’t grow scattered and lost in subplots and secondary story arcs.

    Comment by Alex Bledsoe — November 12, 2008 @ 2:36 pm | Reply

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