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TV you gotta watch: Slings and Arrows

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.

  1. This also may be way late but I’m amazed with the quality of Battlestar Galactica. Just finished watching season 2.5 on DVD and season 3 is on the way from Netflix. It’s not just for sci-fi fans. It’s excellent tv and I’m thankful for it this summer.

  2. What a simply lousy, production values excluded, show this is. The cliche characters are older than Commedia dell’Arte. Every beat in the pilot show was predictable, tedious and mildly funny through only the most forced mechanics. If Tim Goodman praised this pastiche of hollow pretentiousness then he is worse than a mediocre critic, he is a self congratulatory culture vulture, tickling his own fancy under the TV desk of the Chronicle.

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