The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1542 Wednesday, 30 July 2003
Date: Wednesday, 30 Jul 2003 02:35:28 -0700
Subject: Shakespeare on the Tube
Another compendium of Shakespeare allusions, this time a shorter list
because I haven't been watching much TV this summer.
"Evil Under the Sunday," a Poirot movie being shown on A&E concludes
with a Shakespearean variant. Poirot has been sent--or sentenced--to a
fortnight at a health spa, and there solves one of Christie's most
contrived of all her contrived murders. With the wrapping up comes the
revelation that Poirot's illness was caused not by his overweight but by
food poisoning at the restaurant in which Hastings has invested. Thus
concludes Poirot: "What is done is done, and what is underdone is
At the opening of the film is a voiceover in which the story of Jezebel
from II Kings 9 is read, magnificently, in the full splendid archaism of
the King James Bible. I do not know who plays the Rev. Stephen Lane, but
I hope he might be cast in some of the maturer roles of Shakespeare.
7/21 or thereabouts
Prince Charming. Thank you, Richard Burt, for the heads-up on this film.
I saw it all, I think, divided among three or four airings. Haven't
laughed so hard in months nor been so engaged with the actual lines in a
screen play. Some I managed to write down:
Can anyone remember the cause of this damnable war? Something about
Rodney: Did you not read the play?
Prince John: Only the lines.
Someone else: Actors!
Prince: Who is this Shakespeare fellow anyway? First I am an ass and now
I lose a sword fight!
(The swordplay is awesome in this film. The Prince doesn't like it that
Mercutio is killed off so soon, so he improvises to give himself a bit
more time on stage and then allow Mercutio to die with more panache than
The actors were fortunate to have writers who had a good ear, writers
fortunate to have actors who could deliver the lines, and both to have
directing that is well paced and well balanced. All of the know their
Shakespeare--not just the language but the conventions. This is most
conspicuous in the classic ending for comedy, with the three couples
getting married in a joint ceremony, just as you like it.
They managed to work in spoofs of many things, most conspicuously Harry
Potter, with casting such charms as:
Quid pro quo,
Rise up Rodney,
Come, let's go!
I hope this will come out on DVD or something, because it goes on my
list of Films I'd Watch Anytime. Just writing about it, I'm sitting here
laughing like a loon!
A while ago I mentioned the JAG episode in which a Shakespeare quotation
figures. This week I saw the rerun of this episode and its sequel.
The Admiral's girlfriend teaches English literature, and as a Valentine
she gives him a gold heart paperweight inscribed with the line from
Merry Wives: "A woman would run through fire and water for such a kind
heart." A few days later he is flying in a new fighter plane and
accidentally ejects over the George Washington National Forest. He uses
his emergency gear to set up camp, but it turns out to be over a frozen
pond that melts when his good fire is going strong. Faced with possible
hypothermia, his flares soaked, he manages to get a small fire going.
Finding the gold heart in his pocket, he realizes that he will survive
if he heats it and hold it in his hand. He is interrupted by howls and
looks up to see what seems to be a wolf but is a stray German shepherd.
He and the dog are able to walk out, and when Harm finds him it is not
in the wild but in a tavern to which the dog has led him.
The dog, of course, stays. In the sequel the couple are trying to train
her and find her a name. Important: at this point my phone rang so I
muted the sound and turned on the captions.
Admiral: I don't see anything very Shakespearian about her.
Meredith: How about 'yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look."
Admiral: Cassius is a man's name.
Meredith: Then she's a Porsche.
The name that finally sticks is "Dammit," when the Admiral orders her
"Get outa my chair, dammit!" and she hops right down. He then sits down
and says "Come here, Dammit" and this great big dog goes right up on his
I wasn't too wild about the newest "Forsyte Saga" on PBS, but in episode
5 tonight "Fear no more the heat o' the sun" was read at the senior
Jolyon's funeral. At least the three main stanzas, but not the coda "No
exorciser harm thee...".
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