Tuesday, November 13, 2007

TV REVIEW: Slings and Arrows - Season 2

2005 Television Comedy
Starring: Paul Gross, Mark McKinney, Stephen Ouimet, Martha Burns, Geraint Wyn Davies, Colm Feore

Created & Written by: Susan Coyne, Mark McKinney

When was the last time a TV show left you in complete sweat and out of breath? One of the many strengths of "Sling & Arrows" is it's short run -6 episodes only- which lets the viewer know that the story IS moving quickly to its climax. And the viewer gets all the more involved in it. helped along by a charismatic cast and insane situations.

The season picks up, quite unconventionally, as the end of the previous one's storyline, where the cast is bidding farewell to its nerve-racking Hamlet. Geoffrey Tennant (Paul Gross) hasn't even stepped out of the theater that he is challenged - 3 times in a few minutes- to face his "black beast" - the cursed "Macbeth". To make things even harder, his former (dead) mentor insists on tagging along, his Prima Donna star turns the cast against him, and only one man is available to direct the festival's other big play- the very misguided Darren Nichols (played to furious hilarity by Don McKellar). If that's not enough, a spot of mismanagement by Richard (Mark McKinney) is quickly bringing the entire festival to an end.

Although much of the core cast remains the same (with a newly famous Rachel McAdams returning to finish her character arc), new additions are brought in to even greater cast perfection. The usually cheesy Geraint Wyn Davies brings such a spot-on malevolence that the inevitable confrontation with Geoffrey would've made William himself proud. Not to mention the criminally underrated Colm Feore (who is, let's be franc, piss-out funny!) and the welcome appearance of Gilbert Blythe himself, Jonathan Crombie.

The producers and writers not only remained bold in casting and themes, they made a point of not dragging their feet in first-season acclaim. The story quickly picks up and moves along in any and every direction, to such a pace that by the fourth episode, one feels taken by Prospero's tempest, looking for a foothold and some breathing space. For it achieved in 6 hours what American networks wouldn't have in 24. So little time, and so many memorable moments and lines that a second viewing will be most welcome - after a bit of rest...

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