Da'ud Bob's Movie Review
September 2017

The summer of 2017 seems to be a big one in terms of Shakespearean "fan fiction." First, we had ABC's continuation of Romeo and Juliet in the mini-series entitled Still Star-Crossed. Then, a month later, TNT came out with a ten-part mini-series of its own, this time about the (fictional) life of Romeo and Juliet's author, William Shakespeare, in his early twenties, after his arrival to London in 1589 -- "when theatre was like rock and roll and a young man with a dream changed the world with his words." One of the key parts of that description is the phrase "rock and roll;" most of the advance advertising for the series talks about pairing young Will Shakespeare with a modern rock soundtrack to help convey the wild, gritty, often flamboyant, theater scene in late 16th Century London. Yet it also manages to include some of the darker undertones of religion and politics of the time. And thus it is that this month, Da'ud Bob reviews for you the first episode of TNT's 2017 summer Shakespearean fan fiction mini-series, Will, entitled "The Play's the Thing."

Starring newcomer Laurie Davidson as William Shakespeare, Olivia DeJonge as Alice Burbage, Ewen Bremner as Richard Topcliffe, Mattias Inwood as Richard Burbage, Jamie Campbell Bower as Christopher Marlowe, William Houston as Kemp, Lukas Rolfe as Presto, Max Bennett as Robert Southwell, and Colm (Star Trek TNG and DS9 engineer Miles O'Brien) Meaney as James Burbage, the series is touted as "a contemporary version of Shakespeare's life, played to a modern soundtrack that exposes all his recklessness, lustful temptations and brilliance." It is, in any event, a take on the classic story of a small-town kid coming to the big city with nothing but his talent and some daring, trying to make good on his dreams, with modern elements and a modern soundtrack; a "punk rock Shakespeare," if you will.

Good points: The theater. The staircase. (If you watch the episode, you'll know which one I mean when you see it.) The underlying background of Protestant/Catholic politics and conflict. They actually do use some of Shakespeare's lines in the series. The dirt and grime of London of 1589 is so well shown that you can almost smell it.

Bad points: As the reviewer in the Boston Globe correctly noted, "Anyone who goes into Will expecting powdered wigs, ruffs, and strict historical accuracy is going to be sorely disappointed." The punk haircuts and hair colors. The tattoos. The face paint. Waterboarding. The costuming, and especially the women's costuming: bare hair and bare arms. A few of the actors were female. The use of the phrase "very New Age." There are way more story lines than necessary to move the main plot along. Unless they are going to somehow pull some of them together closer to the end of the series, a lot of the subplots seem to have no purpose other than filler. The hyped modern soundtrack we were promised appears so seldom that you have to wonder why they made such a big deal of it.

Zero breasts. (It's rated TV MA, so I don't think they could show breasts, but they came as close as they could, and there's a lot of nudity and even some simulated sex, so I'm not sure that the zero breast count is a plus here.) Two gallons of blood. Two dead bodies. Dagger fu. Waterboard fu. Poetry slam (in, of course, iambic pentameter). William Shakespeare rolls. Alice Burbage rolls. Gratuitous slack rope walker. Gratuitous street dancers. Gratuitous camel. Gratuitous nudity. (Really, a lot of it was uncalled for.) Gratuitous execution (including pretty graphic disembowelment). Gratuitous self-cutting. Gratuitous dirt and mud. An 93 on the Vomit Meter. 1 stars. Da'ud Bob says, "The idea of a 'punk rock Shakespeare' might have been a good one in concept, but the follow-through makes it more of a miss than a hit. Check it out!"

Upcoming movies and miniseries to watch for!

June 30, 2017 in very limited release. The Little Hours. In a a loose adaptation of two stories from Boccaccio's The Decameron, a young servant fleeing from his master takes refuge at a convent full of emotionally unstable nuns in the Middle Ages. Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Kate Micucci, Aubrey Plaza. I don't expect to see this one in wide release, or for it to stay very long in the theaters where it does show.

No official website; see the trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meGfRXMSW9c

Began airing July 10, 2017 Will. Television mini-series (10 episodes) on TNT. A drama about the lost years of young William Shakespeare after his arrival to London in 1589 -- when theatre was like rock and roll and a young man with a dream changed the world with his words. It's described as "a contemporary version of Shakespeare's life, played to a modern soundtrack that exposes all his recklessness, lustful temptations and brilliance." Laurie Davidson, Olivia DeJonge, Mattias Inwood, Colm Meaney, William Houston.

Watch the trailer at http://www.tntdrama.com/shows/will.html

Return to Da'ud Bob Page

Return to Home Page