Though Acorn Media specializes in releasing British television on DVD, one of my favorite Acorn series is actually a Canadian series, Slings & Arrows. It’s easily one of the best reviewed series we’ve ever released. It was called “outrageously entertaining” by NPR, “absolutely addictive” by The New York Times, “one of the finest series ever made” by the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Chicago Tribune said, “can make you both LAUGH and CRY….don’t miss it.”
The series has a stellar ensemble cast led by the excellent Paul Gross. Though primarily known to U.S. audiences for the mid-1990s CBS series Due South, Paul Gross is currently getting rave reviews on Broadway for “Private Lives” opposite Sex and the City’s Kim Cattrall. Here’s a recent New York Times profile on him as well as an interview he did about Slings with his wife and co-star Martha Burns on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon. It’s co-written/co-stars the very funny Mark McKinney of The Kids in the Hall, who spoke about the series on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Each season has a fun season long guest star, and the first season is a young Rachel McAdams, who the following year became a big star in The Notebook and Mean Girls.
I’ve never watched a series with such a perfect mix of comedy and drama. Slings dramatizes the backstage trials and tribulations of a Shakespearean theatre troupe. Gross stars as a passionate but unstable artistic director of a theatre festival. Haunted by the ghost of his predecessor and former mentor (Stephen Ouimette), he struggles to realize his creative vision while handling touchy actors (Rachel McAdams), a jittery general manager (Mark McKinney), a pretentious guest director (Don McKellar), and his own tempestuous romance with the Festival’s leading lady (Martha Burns). Slings & Arrows aired on the Sundance Channel (2003-2005) and has won numerous awards, including 13 Gemini Awards (aka Canadian Emmys).
I highly recommend you watch the first season on Acorn TV; the first episode is available for free. Check it out; you’ll be glad you did. Have you heard of the series before? What’s your favorite Canadian series that has yet to come out on DVD?
Chad is Director of Publicity for Acorn. When he’s not working, he’s happily playing at pools, playgrounds, concerts, fountains, and parks with his 4- and 6-year-old.