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Slings & Arrows S1 commentary

I did not set out to watch the entire first season in 1 day. I really didn't. My plan when I got on the tredmill this morning was to do a rewatch of Sherlock S1 in preperation for finally watching S2 tomorrow. But, before I'd gotten too far into it, I decided I wanted to watch something different, something I'd never seen before, and, well, that's where Slings & Arrows comes in.



To start: I really wasn't taken with the first episode. While "Oliver's Dream" had it's moments, it was basically a hem-haw, and I probably wouldn't have continued watching if I'd anything better to do. And, while it does pick up from there, it's not really a show designed for watching on the tredmill - it's too thinky for that. Very good, very interesting, and more than a little meta, but not tredmill material.

Because, honestly, wanting your own head to be used in Hamlet after you die? Creepy and funny as hell. Demanding a duel in full Shakespearean costume in the middle of someone's living room? Hillarious. And Paul Gross does madness so well... his character, Geoffery, is both very much different from and similar to Fraser, in radical and unexpected ways, and while you can see one in the other, he's in no way resting on his laurels here. And I really, genuinely love him in this (though I've always had a worrying fondness for the insane-types). And his hair! It is truely the hair of madness.

All of it though is delightfully Shakespearean, with that mix of high emotion and drama and intrigue and low-brow humour. In a sense, the whole season is a modern update of Hamlet, which Geoffery, the Hamlet archtype, being hanted by the ghost of his mentor, and the play within the play, and... well, all of that, plus the whole Lord and Lady Macbeth thing going on between Richard Smith-Jones and Holly Day. And, really, it's quite delightful, if, as I said, really too heavy for a dreary Sunday morning tredmilling.

Plus, now I really want to rewatch the Royal Shakespearean Company's 2008 production of Hamlet - the one with David Tennent as the titular character and Patrick Stewart as King Hamlet/Claudius - and will always hold a place in my heart as the production of Hamlet.

Though I should mention that I'm surprised I've not jumped aboard any ships for this show. Usually I've a vague incling of something by the end of the first season, but this time I really could care less who is with who, it's that kind of show.

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I know nothing about this show or anything, but I know what you mean with wanting RSC's performance. They did a residency my entire four years at Davidson, and I saw their adaptation of Julius Caesar there. Amazing.

I finished the paralegal bar exam yesterday, so I'm feeling pretty brain-dead today.
::whistles:: any idea how that went?

Say what you will about Shakespeare, but nothing can beat seeing one of his plays preformed. As I said, I'm rather partial to Hamlet, but The Tempest is also one of my lifelong favourites.
I think I did okay on it. We won't know how we did for at least six weeks, though.

I like Shakespeare. My issue is with people who hold him up as Fine Art. Hello, his stuff was meant to appeal to the 'groundlings' (at least his plays were very common; his sonnets I do consider to be fine art). I'm rather partial to Macbeth, though I love the Kenneth Branaugh version of Hamlet.

RSC's Caesar was neat because they kept the dialogue as Shakespeare wrote it, but updated the costumes and made a somewhat abstract yet minimalist stage--so the characters walked around in military fatigues and carried SAWs but used the traditional words. Nice sense of disconnect.
sounds a lot like the RSC version of Hamelt - it was undated to a "modern" royal family, with guns and suits and all that - and for the famous "to be or not to be" speech, Hamlet was wearing one of those muscle shirts - you know the kind, with a false physisic printed on it.

I think the issue about Fine Art is the definition. Yes, it was meant for the masses, but there's real truth in it, which is all I think we can hope for from art. And that it resonates even 400 years later is what makes it fine.

Well, I'm sure you did well on your test, bb
There's no doubt there's some good stuff in Shakespeare's plays, but in my opinion it does not rise to the level of fine art; there's nothing that, having read others of the same period, stands out about the actual writing the way that, say, Bach or Beethoven stand out among their peers. In essence, we've fallen into the trap of thinking, 'ooh, it's in weird iambic pentameter and has really old-fashioned words and is in a British accent--it must be high art'. I merely say that it is not high art, though it is very good. Plus, many of those plot lines were taken verbatim from older stories or redone, like Romeo and Juliet.
There is nothing new under the sun. If you go back far enough, every thought has been thought before. Everything worth saying has already has been said. Cliches are cliches for a reason. But just because the idea is not original does not mean the story is not. Shakespeare found a way to share old ideas in a profound and moving way - the kind that sticks with you. Granted, he may have just been luckier than most. It may be only by chance that his works and not some others became as popular as they did, but if Hamlet or The Tempest or anything else can still wring powerful emotions from people all these years later, well, that's fine art in my opinion.

Or, look at it this way: we write and read fanfiction. Essentially, we are doing exactly what Shakespeare did, albeit it in a more obvious way. Most of the authors of the Arthurian legends spun Geoffery of Monmuth's ideas into something almost completely irrecongizable. And, dare I say it, the Bible - and especially the gospels - are retellings of the same story by people who never heard the original. Everyone borrows from somebody. We are all influenced by something.
Exactly. And, much as I love fanfic and fan authors, I would not call any of us high art. Of course, I also don't think Hemingway deserves to be considered high art or even a decent writer, so maybe I'm tougher to please than most. Although, pretty much every fic author could write rings around his crap.

Anyway, I think it's mostly telling that Shakespeare himself did not set out to be nor did he consider himself a high artist when it came to his plays. He wanted to make enough to pay his rent and his actors and entertain the common folk and the rich just enough that they'd keep patronising him. I think if we look at both how he viewed his sonnets and how we have historically viewed them, in comparison, we find that they are much more in line with high art. Nonetheless, Shakespeare is enjoyable, unless you had to do a summer research packet in HS on King Lear. That was awful.
IDK - there's some really amazing fanfic out there. Some of it truely transends the work it was based off of. Though I agree with you on the Hemingway front. And Falkner. I despite Falkner.

My 10th grade teacher had us read Macbeth, which wouldn't have been so bad if she weren't such a terrible teacher. Truely, she was horrfic. So I kinda know what you mean.
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