Slings & Arrows: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray
by Jef Burnham
Available October 26, 2010 from Acorn Media.
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Honestly, I haven’t a single negative thing to say about Slings & Arrows, except perhaps that it’s over all too soon. The series, which ran three seasons for a total of 18 episodes, aired on Canada’s Movie Central and later in the U.S. on The Sundance Channel, receiving pretty much universal accolades with its cast and crew earning numerous awards for their part. Set behind the scenes at the fictional New Burbage Theatre Festival, Slings & Arrows chronicles the efforts of the troupe to stage three of Shakespeare’s plays: Hamlet in season 1, Macbeth in season 2, and finally King Lear— with each season’s narrative mirroring that of the play being staged.
The series finds Geoffrey Tenant (Paul Gross, Due South) returning to the festival as Artistic Director years after a nervous breakdown onstage during “the definitive” production of Hamlet forced him into exile. Perpetually on the verge of mental collapse, Geoffrey struggles to cope with festival bureaucrats; a dopy Executive Director (played by series co-creator/co-writer Mark McKinney, The Kids in the Hall); a troupe of temperamental actors including his ex (Martha Burns); the pretentious director with whom he once dueled (Don McKellar, eXistenZ); and the ghost of his former mentor who questions his every artistic decision. Rachel McAdams, Colm Fiore and Sarah Polley also appear in season-long guest roles.
Although the writing seems unfocused at times, following a dozen characters at once, the result is an accurately depicted cross-section of the disparate personalities that make up a theatre troupe. I could write a lot of wonderful things about how Slings & Arrows is hysterical, touching and tragic, which it is, but it would take ages just to hit the highlights. Suffice it to say instead that Slings & Arrows is one of the most engrossing and entertaining series I’ve ever had the pleasure of viewing.
Slings & Arrows is presented in this 6-disc set in full 1080p HD video (seasons 2 and 3 were shot in HD, while season 1 is upconverted for this set) and DTS-HD Master Audio/5.1. The plethora of special features in the set include 3 BD-exclusive commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurette, cast and crew interviews, backstage footage, bloopers, as well as deleted and extended scenes.
Slings & Arrows is also previously available from Acorn on DVD.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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