I first discovered this show back in August 2005, but missed it because I didn’t have the Sundance Channel.
I got to watch it for real in February 2008.
I’m now, as I mentioned, watching it again. It’s being shown on the Ovation Network, if your cable provider offers that channel. They’re currently in the third and final season, though, so your best move might still be the DVD set.
In short? The setting is a Shakespeare theatre company, tackling one of the great plays each season – Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear. Each has its own issues (Hamlet played by the up and coming Hollywood actor who only wants it for the screen cred, a Macbeth portrayed by someone who’s played it so often he no longer takes direction, and so on…) There is a back story that reads much like a soap opera. The director is crazy, haunted by the ghost of his former director, for instance.
It might well be the best “show about Shakespeare” ever put to television. Every episode is loaded with opportunities to discuss Shakespeare. Just this moment, as I sit here watching a King Lear scene, the actor playing Lear goes off on a screaming tirade that his daughters are not showing proper respect for the verse. During the Hamlet season they discuss details like whether Gertrude may have killed Ophelia. You can watch every episode a dozen times and find a dozen things to talk about each time. The crime is that the show only lasted 3 seasons, and 6 episode seasons at that.
If you’ve seen the show, what was your favorite season? Convince those that haven’t that they simply must by the DVD right now.