Slings & Arrows - Season 3Slings & Arrows, a title taken from the infamous Hamlet speech – but I didn’t have to tell you that did I? –  returns to the screen (and now to DVD) with a third season. Like the theatre world that the show is based around, Slings & Arrows intertwines equal parts comedy and tragedy to create a moving and funny third season.

Unlike the majority of episodic television shows, Slings & Arrows focuses on the whole picture rather than making sure each episode has a gimmick to focus itself around. Luckily, this doesn’t have the effect of making the show feel soap operatic or boring; instead, it allows the audience to become familiar with each character in the show and to enjoy the arc of the story as if they were watching six segments of a super-long film.

This is the first season that I have seen, and I had no difficulty picking up the story line and relating to each character and their specific struggles and relationships. I can’t speak to the relationship between seasons, though, since I haven’t seen them myself, but it seems that the first two were more comedic and uplifting, while this final season, based around a production of King Lear, is a bit more solemn, dealing with a leading actor who is dying of cancer. The lead actor is played by the respected Canadian Shakespearean actor William Hutt, although “played” is not the best word for such a performance. Watching Hutt in this heartbreakingly powerful portrayal is the epitome of witnessing a master craftsman at work.

Series regulars Mark McKinney (of Kids in the Hall fame) as uptight number-cruncher Richard Smith-Jones and Paul Gross as artistic director Geoffrey Tennant each face new challenges and life-altering experiences in this third season. As Tennant deals with uncontrollable weeping, sexual insecurity, a failing production of Lear, and the ghost of a past mentor, Smith-Jones learns what it means to be a carefree artistic director.

The rest of the supporting cast is equally enjoyable.  The season slowly unfolds a blossoming relationship between a “serious” actor and a “musical theatre” actress, as the former realizes the skills of the latter. The relationship between Tennant and his girlfriend is tested as her best friend, also an actor in the Lear show, moves in with them – prompting him to move out.

The box set consists of two DVDs, each with three episodes and a few special features. An interview with Paul Gross on the first DVD is the most informative, as he discusses his opinions on the show, Shakespeare, and presenting Shakespeare in a contemporary context.

Overall, the show is entertaining and doesn’t insult the audience’s intelligence as much television seems wont to do these days.   The slow pace may be a bit of a drawback for some American viewers, but Acorn Media, who is releasing this third season on DVD July 3rd, is hoping that the majority will respond favorably. For fans of strong acting, Shakespeare, and well-planned series, Slings & Arrows - Season 3 is sure to be a hit – a palpable hit.

For more information on Acorn Media, visit: Acorn Media’s home page
To purchase Slings & Arrows – Season 3, visit: Amazon

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