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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Time now for our latest home-viewing recommendation from movie critic Bob Mondello. "Slings & Arrows," the Shakespeare-centric comedy from Canadian TV has just been released in a new DVD collection. Bob recently re-watched an episode and says it reminded him how much he liked the whole series.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Even though he's going to be a major character in the series, Oliver, a flamboyant theater fest director...

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STEPHEN OUIMETTE: (as Oliver Welles) There was a time when I could actually rehearse the actors on the final day of rehearsal.

MONDELLO: ...gets killed by a truck in the very first episode of the first season of "Slings & Arrows," a truck labeled Canada's Best Hams, appropriate for a guy who deals with actors. Of course, if you know your Shakespeare, you know death won't keep Oliver down.

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OUIMETTE: (as Oliver Welles) Geoffrey.

PAUL GROSS: (as Geoffrey Tennant) Oh, no.

OUIMETTE: (as Oliver Welles) Welcome home.

GROSS: (as Geoffrey Tennant) What is happening here? You're dead.

OUIMETTE: (as Oliver Welles) Apparently, there's an afterlife.

MONDELLO: Ghosts pop up all the time in Shakespeare, especially in "Hamlet," the show Oliver was about to stage for the New Burbage Festival. Now, it'll go on with an even more flamboyant director, who takes that line about there being something rotten in the state of Denmark seriously.

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DON MCKELLAR: (as Darren Nichols) I want a rank and foul-looking, foul-acted and, if possible, foul-smelling Hamlet. Questions?

MONDELLO: "Slings & Arrows" isn't just a backstage comedy. It's a romp about the whole business of running a theater festival, from fundraising fiasco to opening night meltdown, also about the movie stars who drop in and the egos and feuds that make live theater so quixotic.

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UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (as Character) Careless, stupid beliefs.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (as Characters) (Unintelligible)

MONDELLO: Think of it as kind of a predecessor, though funnier and more sophisticated, for the musical series "Smash," with the advantage that "Slings & Arrows" has not musical comedy but the Bard's plays to hold the mirror up to nature. And happily, it gets the Shakespeare right.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (as Character) 'Tis a consummation. Devoutly to be wished. To die to sleep, to sleep, perchance to dream. Aye, there's the rub.

MONDELLO: "Slings & Arrows" was a cult hit for three seasons, each of which found fresh comedy in the producing of a tragedy: "Hamlet," then "Macbeth" and finally "Lear." Surprising fun, even as it illuminates the plays, the series will prove downright addictive if you happen to be a theater nut. And if you're not, it may help you become one. I'm Bob Mondello.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (as Character) (Singing) Cheer up, Hamlet. Cheer up, Hamlet. Buck up, you melancholy Dane. So your uncle is at hand who murdered Dad and married Mum. That's really no excuse to be as glum...

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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