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kenmorefield

Shakespeare Uncovered

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I got a screener for Volume 3, and I dig it. The episode on The Merchant of Venice is hosted by F. Murray Abraham and features clips from film and stage productions, interviews with actors and academics. (I always wondered what Stephen Greenblatt looked like.) 

it's the same model as A&E's old "Great Books" but with higher production values and some real talent. Yes, the themes should be pretty familiar to Shakespeare students, but it is still fun to hear those more knowledgeable than us (or than me anyway) discuss them: is Antonio gay? is Shylock sympathetic or a caricature? why is this called a comedy?

Helen Hunt hosts Much Ado, Brian Cox does Julius Caesar, etc. 

It's on the PBS label, so I assume Series 1 and 2 have been broadcast, but I don't remember seeing them. I enjoy when PBS does educational--there is enough there to keep the academics engaged while really laying out the plays for the beginners.

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Volume 3 has been or is now being broadcast on WUNC--PBS for North Carolina. I made a point of recording the Much Ado episode, as it is one of my favorite plays, and enjoyed it very much. The Campbell Library has vols.1-2 on DVD, and I own vol. 2 (Hamlet/Richard II/Macbeth/Twelfth Night & As You Like It/The Tempest/Henry IV & Henry V) if you want to borrow it. The weak point of vol. 2, unfortunately, is Derek Jacobi on Richard II, as he spends too much time on largely discredited "Shakespeare was really someone else" hypotheses.

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I started with Helen Hunt hosting Much Ado. I have never read the play and saw a stage production a long time ago when I was too young to follow along. With that said, I think PBS did a very good job with this episode because it made me want to read the play, and see productions of it (granted, I am a fan of Shakespeare, so perhaps it would have been less effective on someone who has no interest in The Bard...) 

I thought they did a particularly good job with their montage of all the productions of Much Ado (both cinematic and stage). It made me want to see all of them! The episode mostly interviews actors who have undertaken roles in the play, which is totally okay. Still, I would have liked to have seen more discussion with Shakespeare critics/literary theory on Shakespeare. 

Overall, an educational, enjoyable time spent on the series! 

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