Sunday, June 15, 2008

Saturday Morning Hamlet Cartoon for Father's Day

“Melancholy Brain.” By Gordon Bressack and Patrick M. Verrone. Perf. Maurice LaMarche and Rob Paulse. Dir. Charles Visser. Pinky and the Brain. Vol. 3, disc 2. The WB Television Network. 7 February 1998. DVD. Warner Home Video, 2007.

It may be sharper than a serpent's tooth to have a thankless child, but it's funnier than a barrel of mice of mixed IQs to enjoy this father-related, Hamlet-related episode of Pinky and the Brain.

Happy Father's Day, all!

Note: There's more to this cartoon than is provided here. Seek out the rest—it will repay the search!
Links: Pinky and the Brain.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Playing the Dane v. Channeling the Swan; or, Shakespeare and Star Trek—The Enduring Legacy

“The Defector.” By Ronald D. Moore. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, and Michael Dorn. Dir. Robert Scheerer. Star Trek: The Next Generation. Season 3, episode 10. Syndicated television. 1 January 1990. DVD. Paramount, 2002.

There is a distinct difference between "playing the Dane" (i.e., "jumping the shark") and merely "channeling the Swan."

[Those sound like three different and complicated dives we'll see during the summer olympics this year, but they're meant to indicate ways of incorporating Shakespeare into a television show.]

Star Trek—whether original, next, or miscellaneous—frequently channels the Swan, but I don't think it can be said to play the Dane when it does so.

In the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation , Data and Captain Picard work on a scene from Henry V. Though it's not the best Henry V you'll ever see, it's not too bad. In a later post, I'll show you a Henry V to decry to the ages!

In the meantime, try this scene on for size:

Links: The epidosde at IMDB. The epidosde at Wikipedia.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Help! Hamlet is stranded on Gilligan's Island

“The Producer.” By Dee Caruso and Gerald Gardner. Perf. Bob Denver, Alan Hale, Jr., and Phil Silvers. Dir. George Cahan and Ida Lupino. Gilligan’s Island. Season 3, episode 4. CBS. 3 October 1966. DVD. Turner Home Entertainment, 2005.

You all know that the current expression to use when describing the specific episode of a television series that indicates that it will never get any better—never rise to its past glory—is "to play the Dane" (q.v.).

Gilligan's Island played the Dane on 3 October 1966. Despite some attempts at original musical (or, at least, lyrical) prestidigitation, and despite the claims of many that this is the best episode ever, the laugh track sounds hollow.

Besides, the phrase "best Gilligan's Island episode ever" seems a little . . . faintly praised, perhaps?

In any case, you can find a seven-minute distillation of the episode below! Enjoy (if you can)!

Links: The episode at IMDB. The episode at Wikipedia.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Meeting Jephthah

Hamlet. Dir. Kevin Kline. Perf. Kevin Kline and Diane Venora. 1990. DVD. Image Entertainment, 1990.

The only time Shakespeare uses the word “Israel,” it’s in connection with Jephthah (for a post on Jephthah—guess what?—q.v.).
O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou! (II.ii.400)
I mention it because my family will be travelling to Jerusalem next week, and we’ll be staying there for a month.

I’ll have plenty of time to meet Jephthah.

But I’ll have less time to post to this blog. I will attempt to make some posts, but we'll just have to wait and see.

Links: Kevin Kline's Hamlet.

Doctor Who and Shakespeare—The Enduring Connection

Hamlet. Dir. Rodney Bennett. Perf. Derek Jacobi and Patrick Stewart. 1980. DVD. Ambrose Video, 1980.

The connection between Doctor Who and Shakespeare has been made in the show numerous times. The characters frequently interact with Shakespeare and / or his day and age.  But what people sometimes forget is that the actors in Doctor Who have frequently played Shakespeare.

Lalla Ward, for example, played Ophelia in the BBC production of Hamlet—an Ophelia a bit too meek and submissive for my tastes, but one well-acted nonetheless. [As an added bonus, she played opposite Patrick Stewart's {Cap't Jean-Luc Picard to you} Claudius—see image below.]

The big Doctor Who / Shakespeare news is this. The current Doctor, David Tennant, will be playing Hamlet in Stratford-upon-Avon this summer!

And Patrick Stewart is set to reprise the role of Claudius!

Oh, to be in Britain this summer.

The rumor is that a Dalek will be playing Polonius, giving a certain . . . whatsit . . . je ne sais quas to the production.

In preparation for that, some marvelous person has taken the time to edit up (in the mode of Radio Free Vestibule's "Laurence Olivier for Diet Coke," for which q.v.) a sample of David Tennant as Hamlet.

Observe the wonder:

Bonus Image: Patrick Stewart as Claudius.
Links: BBC Hamlet.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

“Half the time I didn’t even know what they were saying, but it didn’t even really matter.”

Ryzik, Melena. "Scottish Play Gets Polish Makeover." New York Times 11 June 2008.

I have a decidedly mixed reaction to the production of Macbeth mentioned in the New York Times this morning. My head starts to hurt when I hear things like "“Half the time I didn’t even know what they were saying, but it didn’t even really matter” to describe a Shakespeare play. I think we should know what they're saying, and I think that it does matter.

I'm also worried about this description: "The show is blood-and-guts Shakespeare as a drive-in movie."


On the other hand, it sounds like it's trying to be relevant—as well as visually stunning. But I'm not sure Macbeth-as-action-film is quite what I'd like from a production.

I need my Brooklyn readers to give a report. From where they live, they may be able to hear the fireworks, after all!
Links: NYT Article.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

These are but wild and whirling words

Jones, Keith. ““Why, you are nothing then: Neither Maid, Widow, nor Wife?”: Motives, Morals, and Marriages in Measure for Measure.” WORD and RITE: The Bible and Ceremony in Selected Shakespeare Plays. The Shakespeare Institute. 5-7 June 2008

All the wonderful material presented at the Shakespeare Institute Conference is wildly whirling in my mind.

Conferences like these are energizing—there’s a great deal to think about afterwards, and some challenging ideas to explore.

And that doesn’t exclude my own essay. I hope it will find a home in some journal or as part of a larger project. It was, I believe, well-received, but twenty minutes goes by remarkably quickly! 

By the way, someone inquired as to the word count for the essay, so I thought it fair to post that information here. The essay was 4,597 words long.

By my calcualations, that’s about 229 words per minute. And that’s about 3.8 words per second.

My goodness! I was reading at a good clip, wasn’t I?

[Actually, I did edit out about four or five hundred words while reading the essay. But I do tend to read fast when I’m nervous, and I think I may have packed too much into the presentation.]

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Marvelous. Intriguing.

Greer, Germaine. Shakespeare's Wife. New York: Harper, 2007.

The Shakespeare Institute's conference has only just started, but already a host of ideas is swirling around in my head.

Not all of them are from the conference, but I promised myself that this would be a very Shakespeare-intense series of days.

When I'm not walking to some of my favorite old restaurants around the area, I'm reading Germain Greer's Shakespeare's Wife. It's quite lovely--disarming at points, funny quite a lot, sometimes contradictory but extraordinarily scholarly, the book is a very good read.

I fell for it when I first saw the chapter headings. Like Tom Jones (the novel, not the singer--that's why the MLA form for underlining is so important . . . I can easily distinguish between Tom Jones and Tom Jones--the chapter headings are huge and whimsical.

One of my favorites so far is Chapter Five:

Chapter Five of the making of a match, of impediments to marriage and how to overcome them, of bonds and special licenses and pregnancy as a way of forcing the issue, of bastards and bastardy, and the girl who got away
Very nice.

And applicable to my paper--which is to be delivered at 9:00 tomorrow morning.

In short, I'm enjoying the book very much. I just hope I enjoy giving the paper half as much.

Perhaps I should revamp my title to fit Greer's style . . . .

Click below to purchase the book from
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Off we go!

On the Road to Chicago!

We're off to Chicago today! Google maps, as you can see, recommends driving recklessly. I'm not sure I'll be exiting the highway from the far left lane, but we'll see.

More Shakespeare-related posts when we get there!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Jones, Keith. “'Why, you are nothing then: Neither Maid, Widow, nor Wife?': Motives, Morals, and Marriages in Measure for Measure.” WORD and RITE: The Bible and Ceremony in Selected Shakespeare Plays. The Shakespeare Institute. 5-7 June 2008. Ed. Steven Jan Schneider. New York: Barron’s, 2003.

The draft of the essay for the Shakespeare Insitute is complete.


Now I can get to all the other things I’d love to do with my copius free time.

Like reading books about Shakespeare.

Assuaging Guilt—The Easy Way

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. Ed. Steven Jan Schneider. New York: Barron’s, 2003.

Usually, I feel guilty about watching too many videos—squeezing them in when I should be concentrating on grading papers or writing essays. So I thought I’d check out a book that would make me feel guilty about not watching enough videos.

The book listed above does so. Looking through its pages, you feel dwarfed by the immensity of what you must accomplish before you die. You think, “I’ve got to get started! I’ve got to drop everything and watch some old Peter Sellers movies!”

Of course, given my own interests, I looked for the “Shakespearean” slot in the genre index.

There wasn’t one.

So I started seeing what Hamlets they think we must see before we die.

There wasn’t one.

I wonder what percentage of the movies you must see before you die you would estimate to be Shakespeare films. Two percent? Two percent of one thousand is twenty films. That seems reasonable. One percent? That would be ten movies. One-half percent (or five films)?

The answer? One tenth of one percent—0.1%—that’s all.

One film.

Actually, if you count adaptations, the percentage rises to 0.3%—which is still repulsively low in my estimation.

So, of all the wonderful and marvelous films I mention on this blog, require my classes to view, and watch myself, only three are pre-mortum must-see films: one by Olivier and two by Kurosawa:
Henry V. Dir. Laurence Olivier. Perf. Laurence Olivier. Two Cities, Britain, 1948. Videocassette. Films for the Humanities, 1987.

Throne of Blood [Kumonosu jô (The Castle of the Spider’s Web)]. Dir. Akira Kurosawa. Perf. Isuzu Yamada. 1957. DVD. Criterion, 2003.

Ran. Dir. Akira Kurosawa. Perf. Tatsuya Nakadai and Akira Terao. 1985. DVD. Criterion, 1985.

Now, does that seem right to you?

Click below to purchase the book from
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2039 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest