I know I’m quite late to this, but I also know this show is remarkably obscure, and was released on DVD only towards the end of last year, I think. Slings and Arrows depicts the trials and tribulations of the New Burbage Theater company as it handles strange times on the stage. It’s definitely not an obvious ratings winner — it’s Canadian, erudite, and rewards a knowledge of The Bard that I’m sure I lack.
But it’s remarkably good television (and I have Tim Goodman, the otherwise mediocre TV critic of the SF Chronicle, to thank for his effusive review long ago.) I’ve watched the first three episodes of the first season, and the show offers a heady mix of drama, comedy, absurdism, fantasy, and, well, straight up pathos. While each episode is contained, the series definitely builds one to the next, providing characters with uncommon texture and nuance. I’m also surprised by the confidence of the writing and directing — there are scenes that require chutzpah to pull off, but simply work in the context of the drama. It’s a show with uncommon intelligence, one that doesn’t talk down to the viewer, but instead pulls you along. It reminds me most of, of all things, “Dead Like Me,” the ill-fated but quality Showtime show.
Anyway, if summer TV doldrums has you down (particularly post-Olympiad), and the fall crop depresses you as much as it does me, definitely try out Slings and Arrows. You might be surprisingly delighted.