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Oh wow, more heterocentric/straight-washing revisionist history in the same vein as Davinci's demons.  GFY American television writers who think you have a right to take gay historical figures and show them chasing after young women. 

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Young William Shakespeare arrives from a small town to the wild streets of 1589 London with little more than his dreams and a treacherous letter in the series premiere of this drama.

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So the pilot is up for preview on Demand before airing, so go no father if you want to avoid spoilers.

This was pretty terrible.

Its basically "A Knight's Tale" but about William Shakespeare.  Only worse.

I'm not a stickler for historical accuracy; but really they so overdid the use of punk music that I just can't deal with this show.

OK, use 70's punk a musical score.  That kind of thing worked for Guardians of the Galaxy.  I was going to let it go.  But then they did a musical number to it. 

Actually it was worse than that, its like there is a magic bubble around London and anyone who isn't a religious zealot out to end the theater enters an alternate dimension where they adopt a New Wave punk style.  I settled on the idea that the theatre audience stopped for a show before heading over the Thunderdome (Mad Max) in green and pink glittery paint.

It would take a strong group of actors, writers, and direcors to pull this stylistic approach off.  This show has none of these.

But the buggiest thing is that the love interest can't actually pull off any period acting at all.  While theater goers are doing bad 1970's and religious zealots are doing bad Elizabethan England, the love interest is thoroughly modern.  Actually she kind of reminded me of the lead from Center Stage, so she's pulling off a 2000 ballerina movie.

I don't even want to talk about mullet/rat tail Oliver Twist.

Edited by ParadoxLost
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That was a mess. From the second I heard "London Calling" I knew we were in for less than a treat, and it just got worse as the episode went on. It did do one thing for me, though. I actually am considering revisiting Shakespeare in Love.

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I tuned out a dozen times during the 2 hour premiere tonight. Being a slasher, I perked up a little when I saw Christopher Marlowe put a liplock on Will and then a guy in a tavern, but the rest of the show was background noise.  I will give it 1-2 episodes to see if it stops trying to be a bad Baz Luhrman knockoff.

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I couldn't bring myself to get through it.

How does this shit get approved??  Because it didn't *look* as cheap as the dialogue & performances felt.

I shall now retire to watch Shakespeare in Love on a loop.  Great script, great performances from top to bottom; one of my all-time favorite films.  It's a story that does Shakespeare proud.

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On 7/7/2017 at 0:08 AM, NorthstarATL said:

I actually am considering revisiting Shakespeare in Love.

Except: Gwyneth Paltrow. Yeah. No thanks.

I felt it settled down a bit toward the second 1/2 hour.  It still is kinda Ren Fest on Acid. I'll give it a couple more eps, but don't expect any vast improvements.

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I kind of liked it. The rat-tailed mullet kid was my favorite. Poor kid, just trying to save his sister. 

It is rather jarring to go from the theater sciences to the gruesome torture scenes, I guess that's what fast forward is for.

 I'll watch a few more to see if it settles in. 

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What the hell was that??

Its like its 1983 and MTV decided to do a  music video on Shakespeare's early years. All that was missing was a fog machine and chicks in bikinis.

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2 hours ago, LuciaMia said:

What the hell was that??

Its like its 1983 and MTV decided to do a  music video on Shakespeare's early years. All that was missing was a fog machine and chicks in bikinis.

My thoughts exactly. No thank you TNT.

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My guess?  Basic cable's endless pursuit of their own Game of Thrones.

Newsflash, Network Execs: I know people had sex during the Renaissance.  That's why there are still people on this planet.

Like Network Execs.

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36 minutes ago, voiceover said:

I know people had sex during the Renaissance.  

The reason I am praying that there never IS such a thing as "smell-o-vision", or, if there is, that it can be disabled except for the food channels.

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My gosh, was I the only one who kind of liked it? Maybe four seasons of Reign and its modern music and random period costumes softened me. I love Shakespeare in Love and don't mind a show riffing on it - it's not like there's a lot else out there on the same subject matter.

Anyone else catch Game of Thrones' Qyburn as Walsingham? I wonder if we'll see Liz before this is over. 

If I'm correct, TNT was running ads for this pretty aggressively last winter during Good Behavior. I think it was supposed to start in February. Then the ads disappeared and I wondered what happened to it. So it was pushed back to summer. Take that for what it's worth.

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My gosh, was I the only one who kind of liked it?

No, I kind of dig it too. It's fun, and I'm a sucker for loony visuals.

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Retired teacher of British Lit here. I love this show!

The colors! The scenery! Earthy dialogue! Teeming streets! Unruly crowds!  Struggling thespians! Thieving urchins!

Christopher Marlowe! Where was I? Heehee.

Even the tortures in this time of religious turmoil (I recently read that, rather than her half-sister Mary, Elizabeth should have the appellation "Bloody") have been depicted impressively. 

Go, Will! Bedazzle me!

Edited by LennieBriscoe
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On 7/11/2017 at 8:27 PM, Moxie Cat said:

My gosh, was I the only one who kind of liked it?

I liked it also, I think I was hooked when they did the scene with the rap battle in Iambic Pentameter.  My friend the Shakespeare buff said that was the scene that hooked her as well.

Then again, I was softened up for WILL by having watched a couple of episodes of the thoroughly execrable STILL STAR-CROSSED.  A steaming pile of dog turds would have come off better than that shitshow.

So, I'm willing to WILL a few more episodes and see where it goes.

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10 hours ago, yowsah1 said:

I liked it also, I think I was hooked when they did the scene with the rap battle in Iambic Pentameter.  My friend the Shakespeare buff said that was the scene that hooked her as well.

Then again, I was softened up for WILL by having watched a couple of episodes of the thoroughly execrable STILL STAR-CROSSED.  A steaming pile of dog turds would have come off better than that shitshow.

So, I'm willing to WILL a few more episodes and see where it goes.

Awww, I've kind of enjoy Star-Crossed.  It's kept me entertained.  But it is an awful lot like Reign, which I found unwatchable in the final seasons.

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20 hours ago, yowsah1 said:

I liked it also, I think I was hooked when they did the scene with the rap battle in Iambic Pentameter.  My friend the Shakespeare buff said that was the scene that hooked her as well.

Yes, I forgot to mention that - that was the scene where I thought, hey, a surprising amount of effort is going into this show. And the guy who plays Will is doing a good job!

I DVR'd the first three Still Star-crosseds and then forgot about the fourth. Not sure if I am determined enough to find it on On Demand. I was going to try it because it's short, good subject matter, and actors I like, but....I found the non-Francis seasons of Reign slow-going (and I wasn't even a Francis fan). Duty-watched too many shows last year (Reign, Sleepy Hollow, Vampire Diaries) and can't start more! There's too much actually-good TV out there.

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After reading the thread here I did not expect much but I was pleasantly surprised. First things first: I'm a historian and don't mind shows in the vein of 'A Knight's Tale' - quite the contrary. I prefer them to shows who pretend they are historically accurate when they are anything but (you know who you are). So I expected a fun romp à la Reign but I actually got some surprisingly good writing.

The very first scene with Will and his family was really well done and got some great emotional beats right - surprise number one. The amount of gore was not a pleasant surprise but still - I did not expect the show to go that deep into the religious strife raging through the period and they did a rather good job at even the finer details (i.e. Will telling Marlowe that Catholics must atone for their sins). The iambic poetry slam was surprise number four. Number five was the writing for Alice, she is given her own voice plus some brains. That Will came clear about his marriage and that he intends to remain faithful was unexpected - we will see how long that's going to last though. But Will's involvement in Baxter's death is marvelous a stumbling block. The scene between him and Marlowe discussing the latter's decision to sacrifice Baxter for genius and how Will has to live with that was great. Marlowe is a magnificent bastard - well done show (though that's not a surprise - any show that does not manage to turn Marlowe into a magnificent bastard has failed from the get-go). The street urchin's fate and his attempts to save his sister were heartbreaking - the scene of him lying underneath her bed and cutting himself while she was serving a customer is not something you'd see in Reign.

All in all I thought it very well-written. They could have produced that without the openly anachronistic elements and it would still be a good drama (albeit not an accurate portrayal of Shakespeare and his time). But maybe they decided to add those as V-effekt to ward off any accusations of being historically inaccurate. Anyway - I'm hooked.

Edited by MissLucas
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In regards to anachronisms: Deadwood got a lot of crap about how its modern swearing was anachronistic. Apparently, in centuries past, people used more religious epithets to swear than we do now. But David Milch didn't want the audience to laugh when a character swore (for instances if Al Swearingen kept shouting "God's teeth!"). He felt the audience reaction and interpretation was more important than historical accuracy.

That is the same intention of this show, I believe. They are using punk, bright colors, and a wild "theatre" atmosphere to set a tone, to show what the craziness would have felt like to a nobody from the country. Some people have trouble with historical inaccuracy in shows (my dad, a history major, is one of them!), but if you understand what they're doing, it perhaps goes down easier.

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17 hours ago, Moxie Cat said:

In regards to anachronisms: Deadwood got a lot of crap about how its modern swearing was anachronistic. Apparently, in centuries past, people used more religious epithets to swear than we do now. But David Milch didn't want the audience to laugh when a character swore (for instances if Al Swearingen kept shouting "God's teeth!"). He felt the audience reaction and interpretation was more important than historical accuracy.

That is the same intention of this show, I believe. They are using punk, bright colors, and a wild "theatre" atmosphere to set a tone, to show what the craziness would have felt like to a nobody from the country. Some people have trouble with historical inaccuracy in shows (my dad, a history major, is one of them!), but if you understand what they're doing, it perhaps goes down easier.

Interesting take on the whole open anachronism stuff - thanks. The whole swearing thing reminds me of a recent episode of Wynonna Earp when Doc Holiday who's made it into the present (it's complicated) burns his hand and swears 'Thunderation' - it definitely made me laugh (but that was the intention).

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I feel like if you can get through more than 2 seasons of Reign especially if one of those seasons featured Conde, then you can get through this. I quite liked this.

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I caught part of this pilot late last night. From what I saw I would say it's a mixture of one of those artsy and Avantgarde Shakespeare theater productions with the pretty faces of a CW show. The visuals are kind of fun in a bonkers totally over the top way.  I finally turned it off because I was very tired and because the torture scenes got to be too much for me. I'll probably watch more though.

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On 7/11/2017 at 2:27 PM, Moxie Cat said:

My gosh, was I the only one who kind of liked it?

Heh, no, count me in! This is so trashy and horrible, it's come all the way back around to awesome. ? I don't know how it'll go in future, but as for now, I'll be watching. 

There's also a lot of pretty on the screen - I can concentrate on that and then just multitask during the not-so-pretty torture stuff...

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Since there's only a topic for the pilot, and none for any of the other episodes, I thought it would make more sense to have a catch-all topic vs. individual episode topics. They're all available on TNT On Demand and I've been working my way through them. I think I'm up to episode #9.

 

I have no idea what Marlowe was really like, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't what we're being shown here. Nonetheless, he's entertaining.

I like the plot about the fate of the theater, but really don't like the "inquisitor" plot or the cousin. Too much torture, and sanctimonious hypocrisy. Will's interaction with his wife and kids was pretty good, but his relationship with Alice is not very believable.

Edited by Athena
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I record this show so I can fast forward through the torture scenes.  I suppose the information gained by torture is important to the story, but I can live without knowing what it is.  Between watching Wolf Hall, The Tudors, Borgias and now this, I have had my fill of 16th century torture.  I do like the scenery and costumes, plus  "Will" is nice to look at.  "Marlowe" too.

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did anybody writing this miss the part where you learned that there were no women on the stage then,  guess not.  ?The Bard still taught in school

skipping to Ep 2 now 

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I'm wading into this topic with caution, as I'm recording and watching the episodes as they are aired (my On Demand doesn't seem to have the entire season).  Right now, as the third poster, there's obviously no danger. LOL

I like it.  I dig the whole anachronistic, glam-rock vibe.  I don't love the torture, don't get where they're going with the street kid or his sister - and don't really care, and hate the affair between Will and Alice, although a blind man could have seen it coming, but I'm in for as long as it lasts.

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I'll try to avoid spoilers, but I've finished the season. I'm not sure where they'll be going with next season (if there is one).

I WOULD fast forward through the torture scenes, but TNT On Demand won't let me. :(

The anachronistic glam-rock vibe is okay with me, but I liked REIGN as well. This really feels like a CW show. Perhaps they passed and that's why it's on TNT?

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So actors were having sex in public? That seemed unreal enough that there was no reason to stick around for the torture porn you all aere saying is to come.

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TNT moved the show to 11 pm for tonight's ep. Does not bode well for future seasons. They've scaled back the promos too. I now just see incessant Claws ads.

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I doubt it will be renewed. I find it odd that they decided Shakespeare should be Catholic. It is highly unlikely! He was most probably Protestant. What an odd show. I binged the last half of the series On Demand. I'm a fan of Shakespeare, but "Will" notsomuch. Too many anachronisms and way too many flights of fancy.

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I was really looking forward to this show after seeing the preview with the verse battle and I really want to like it, but I just can't get into it. I watched and enjoyed Reign, so it's not the anachronisms or glam rock vibe that I dislike. I just don't know what kind of show this is trying to be. Is it a light hearted view of Shakespeare's early days as a playwright? Is it a show about the supernatural? Is it an in depth look into the religious conflict going on in England during Elizabeth's reign? All of these are interesting ideas and maybe they could be effectively blended together, but this show isn't pulling that off convincingly right now.

I am especially having trouble following the Marlowe part of the story because, to me, it feels very disengaged from everything else that is happening. The tonal shifts are already a bit abrupt when we switch from behind the scenes actor/writer antics to graphic torture, so keeping up with a character whose storyline is so separate from all the rest makes my head hurt a bit.

I just finished the episode where Shakespeare's family comes to London and I'm hoping that the next few will bring Marlowe back into the main storyline because he is the character, both historically and in the show, that I am most interested in. Can anyone who has watched the whole season let me know if my hope will be in vain?

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On 7/26/2017 at 7:16 AM, plurie said:

I'll try to avoid spoilers, but I've finished the season. I'm not sure where they'll be going with next season (if there is one).

I WOULD fast forward through the torture scenes, but TNT On Demand won't let me. :(

The anachronistic glam-rock vibe is okay with me, but I liked REIGN as well. This really feels like a CW show. Perhaps they passed and that's why it's on TNT?

I've only seen REIGN on Netflix and I call it "Mary Sue, Queen of Scots" but it is a lot of fun :)

I kind of like the anachronistic part of it, but WILL should have decided what it was to start with.  They're all over the place on if it's a fun romp or torture porn--I suspect that's what killed it/killing it in the ratings.  Also it takes a bit of dedication to let this series come into its own and while I still watch each new episode before the next one airs, it's taking me longer and longer to feel like I want to spend the time watching it.  A bit like TIMELESS, actually, where I still have the last 5 episodes recorded on my DVR, but I haven't watched them.

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I have a question about te episode that aired 8/07:  Who was the older, dying man that Marlowe was staying with? I had to step away a couple of times during the episode and got lost. Was it his mentor, pimp, benefactor, older boyfriend, a combo of all?

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I spent the first half of the season hating Will for chasing after Alice while he had a wife and kids he practically abandoned. Now, I have one episode left to watch, and I am fed up with how emo and/or religious everyone suddenly is. I hope something good happens in the finale.

I love the costumes, Jamie Campbell Bower is pretty as always (despite looking pretty anorexic here), and I love Alice and Richard (though they are all getting on my nerves with the emo-ness already). 

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Oddly, I quite liked this show.  I know it was a bit ridiculous but I thought it was fun and I enjoyed seeing the plays come to life even if it wasn't all that accurate.  With the show ending the way it did, I will be surprised if they have another season but I wouldn't mind if they did.  

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Not surprising. Once TNT moved it to 11:00 and stopped promoting it, the writing was on the wall. (Plus, IIRC, it had already been pushed from winter.)

That said, I quite liked the actors who played Will and Richard, and thought the production of RIII in the finale was quite well done.

But too many things just didn't come together in this show. I watched it all the way, but admit to being bored at times. The scenes with Kit "finding himself" were just too much. And it suffered from the same problem that plagued Reign in the later years: how to make serious! religious! strife! relevant and interesting for today's audience. The answer here seemed to be more torture scenes. No. 

But I will always watch and support a period show, because there just aren't enough of them. Bravo to Will for the effort.

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