The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0658  Friday, 4 April 2003

[1]     From:   Nancy Charlton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 03 Apr 2003 13:58:34 -0800
        Subj:   Pop Shakespeare references

[2]     From:   John W. Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 03 Apr 2003 13:05:43 -0500
        Subj:   More Spinoffs

From:           Nancy Charlton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 03 Apr 2003 13:58:34 -0800
Subject:        Pop Shakespeare references

About a year ago, Hardy asked us to save up pop Shakespeare references
until we had aaccumlated a number of them. Last year I watched a lot of
reruns on cable TV and read a fair number of novels, and started this
running list.

JAG: In an older episode, the Admiral finds that the items on the
Bloomingdale's wedding list that he planned to give were swiped. In some
frustration he tells the secretary to call the Folger theatre and order
season tickets, a gift of Shakespeare for the happy pair.

In a more recent episode, the Admiral accidentally ejects himself out of
a fighter plane into a blizzardy national forest. Not long before, his
wife had given him a silver heart for a Valentine that is inscribed with
a Shakespearean line I thought I had written down but can't remember
now; I think it was from Merry Wives. Anyway, the heart saves his life
because he is able to heat it in a dying flame and thereby ward off
hypothermia. It's unusually well done for a TV series.

While "Philly" was still on the air, a plaintiff in a case in which a
professor of English is accused of murder, talking with his attorney
during a recess quotes "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have
a thankless child." The lawyer replies something like "You don't hear
much Shakespeare around here."

Not directly Shakespearean, but the delightful Italian film "Bread and
Tulips" (Pane e Tulipani) has an amazing scene in which the male lead
(not quite a protagonist but certainly not an anti-hero) recites from
memory a vast passage of Orlando Furioso.

One of the most engaging episodes of Murder, She Wrote is "The Prodigal
Father," in which a former policeman (played by the same guy who plays
the dad on Crossing Jordan), long absent, who returns home and
eventually exposes the cover-up of a rape and murder by the son of a
state senator who is running for governor.  The cop is reunited with his
daughter and is helping her with English homework by reading lines from
Richard III.  Afterwards he notes the parallels with the cover-up--and
of course eventually smokes out the Catesby or Rivers:

                                O bitter consequence,
        That Edward still should live! 'True, noble prince!'
        Cousin, thou wast not wont to be so dull:
        Shall I be plain? I wish the bastards dead:
        And I would have it suddenly performed.

On "Sing a Song of Murder," an aging musical comedy star is shown to
have once been a Shakespearean actor. There is a flash on the screen of
a strange King Lear poster showing Lear and Cordelia as puppets. But the
remarkable thing is when the actor, played by Patric Macnee, auditions
for Falstaff. He starts out "If manhood . . . if manhood" and asks to
consult the script. He then gets as far as ". . . shotten herring" when
the director stops him. Macnee/Falstaff demands the courtesy of being
allowed to finish. Macnee goes ahead anyhow, segueing seamlessly into
Henry's speech in Henry VIpt3 III.II:

        Came he right now to sing a raven's note,
        Whose dismal tune bereft my vital powers,
        And thinks he that the chirping of a wren,   48
        By crying comfort from a hollow breast,
        Can chase away the first-conceived sound?
        Hide not thy poison with such sugar'd words:
        Lay not thy hands on me; forbear, I say:   52
        Their touch affrights me as a serpent's sting.

The actor's daughter looked very familiar, and upon seeing the credits
realized that she was played by Olivia Hussey, a few years more mature
than her Juliet in the film.

Dr. Quinn. Toward the end of the "Dr Quinn Medicine Woman" series, young
Dr Andrew is courting Dr Quinn's adopted daughter Colleen, and does so
with the aid of Sonnet 116, aptly used but not well spoken--which was
probably a touch of realism.

Earlier on, there is a delightful episode where the town puts on Romeo
and Juliet on Valentine's Day. Brian, the little boy, has to write a
school essay on What is Love?, and he finds his answers in the acts of
kindness he observes while this is going on. The play itself is quite
hilarious; Hank as Mercutio decides he doesn't like being killed off so
soon, so he unilaterally changes the plot; Jake balks at wearing the cap
with feathers but capitulates when he finds that it looks good on him.

I didn't pay much attention to this series when it first ran 20 years
ago, but I marvel now at how well it presented situations that must have
been adapted from authentic journals and such, and which nailed
perpetually unresolved issues in American history.

In a different vein, Yankee Workshop, one of the woodworking shows on
PBS, had Roy making a box. He was showing how you chisel out the slot so
the hinge will fit flush. It should be, sez he, "not as deep as a well
nor so wide as a church door."  The next week he showed how to make a
krumhorn from a plain block of wood and adapt a bassoon reed to play it
with.  He played a few bars of Renaissance music too.

Because I can't resist titles that allude to literature, I took home
from the library Bradford Morrow's splendid novel, "Ariel's Crossing."
This deserves a review in its own right, but let me say here only that
the setting is New Mexico, specifically Los Alamos. Ariel of the title
is the daughter of one and the adopted daughter of another, two friends
whose fathers were involved in the development of The Bomb. It is noted
that Robert Oppenheimer's favorite play was "The Tempest," and I leave
it to you whether he identified with Prospero or with Caliban. Morrow
uses his literary material with great skill. I found after I read it
that it is a sequel, though a fully independent one, to "Trinity

More recently the title "The Hollow Crown" caught my eye on the New
shelf at the library. This is a murder mystery by one David Roberts, and
the epigraph from RII is applied to Edward VIII.  The plot concerns
events revolving around a mistress of Edward VIII, developing the idea
that he and Wallis both may have been actively spying for the Nazis and
that this discovery may have brought pressure to bear on Edward to
abdicate, for which the great romance the world heard about was only an
acceptable PR ploy. Whether this is true or not, the book raises many
questions.  What might WS have done with this situation, these

Now I'm going to send this, lest it become like a carrot that falls to
the bottom of the veggie drawer of the fridge.

Nancy Charlton

From:           John W. Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 03 Apr 2003 13:05:43 -0500
Subject:        More Spinoffs

One might add "Amleto" (1865) by Franco Faccio (1840-1891), libretto by
Arrigo Boito (1842-1918).

And, while there is a "Cymbeline Refinished" by Innes listed, I do not
see Shaw's.

S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

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