Jack Garner's Plan B: 'Shakespeare: The King's Men'

01:50 PM, May 07, 2013

As an alternative, critic Jack Garner recommends:

SHAKESPEARE: THE KING’S MEN. As much as I love the works of William Shakespeare, I never thought to consider them in two segments, depending on the English monarch at the time. This fascinating three-part BBC series makes the differences clear between the earlier plays of Shakespeare’s Elizabethan period under Elizabeth I, and his later works of the Jacobean era under James I. Politics, religious differences and social constraints were all factors in the playwright’s efforts. The guide through this series is writer-narrator James Shapiro who, despite his American roots, has become a leading authority on Shakespeare and his times. (His book, A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599 is highly regarded.) The Jacobean Shakespeare was the mature author of such works as Macbeth, Richard III, King Lear, Measure for Measure and The Tempest, and Shapiro helps us understand the sources and impetuses for much in those immortal works. Shapiro’s narration is supported by evocative footage of modern London, scenes from first-rate Shakespearian productions, and archival artwork. The ground covered includes a history of the Globe and Blackfriars, two great theaters associated with Shakespeare.

Cast: Shapiro, Williamson.

Jack’s rating: 9.

New on DVD this week:
Jack Reacher, The Great Escape (Blu-ray), Mama, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., 30 Rock: Season Seven, An Officer and a Gentleman (Blu-ray), Shanghai Noon/Shanghai Knights (Jackie Chan Blu-ray), and Gunsmoke: Eighth Season.

Next week:
Dexter: Seventh Season, Cloud Atlas, Texas Chainsaw (Blu-ray, 3-D), Ghostbusters (Blu-ray), Back to 1942, Second Chorus (Blu-ray), 3:10 to Yuma (the original, Criterion Collection).