Friday, May 27, 2011

Spectacular Shakespeare in The Spectacular Spider Man (Part Two)

"Subtext." By Nicole Dubuc and Stan Lee. Perf. Josh Keaton, Daran Norris, James Arnold Taylor, Ben Diskin, Jeff Bennett, Lacey Chabert, and Grey DeLisle. Dir. Victor Cook. The Spectacular Spider-Man. Season 2, episode 11. Kids' WB! 16 March 2009. DVD. Sony Pictures, 2010.

The same "Shakespeare's Continuing Relevance" theme mentioned in the last post continues in a later episode of The Spectacular Spider-Man—one in which we get to see the cast at rehearsal. The episode "Subtext" uses rehearsals as a very interesting framing device. Near the beginning, we see the actors, uninspired and uninspiring, slogging through an exchange from Act III, scene ii of A Midsummer Night's Dream. They're doing very badly. The words just don't seem to mean much to them, and the director calls them on it.

At the end of the entire episode (after the actors have gone through a series of personal disasters and losses), we return to rehearsals. Now, having experienced something of the loss described in the scene they're enacting, they are much better. But I get the feeling that they would trade the good acting they do at the end for the innocence they had at the beginning. In any case, here are the two parts of the frame, conflated into one clip:

And, since you're here, I'll give you a Bonus Video from an earlier episode. In it, the bad guy paraphrases Gertrude's comment on the play from Hamlet: "The Spider doth protest too much, methinks." Enjoy!

Note: One final episode, "Opening Night," intersperses Shakespeare—the opening night of the school's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream—throughout the Spider-Man story. It's interesting, but its integration isn't as deep as the others I've mentioned. Additionally, a much earlier episode ("Group Therapy") briefly mentions a production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, which Aunt May is heading out to see. According to an alert reader, we briefly glimpse the actor who plays Falstaff in that production. Thanks again to an alert reader for calling my attention to these Shakespearean, Spider-Manian Moments.

Links: The Episode at IMDB.

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David said...

The first clip sends chills down my spine. Here's the context: it is revealed to the girls in the episode that Liz/Helena's brother is the super villain, Molten Man.

The scene happens at the end of the episode after Spiderman literally extinguishes him. Liz's brother is also the romantic interest of Mary Jane/Hermia.

So, the scene is not just two girls fighting over a guy but takes the sets of lines separately. School days' friendship and childhood innocence is the love between siblings, while Mary Jane's lines are obviously more than that.

Another layer to this is that Peter Parker is Liz's not-so-good boyfriend and is trying to make amends through the whole episode, furthering the Helena role. Lastly, obviously Peter Parker and Mary Jane have a romantic connection as well.

I studied some Shakespeare in college but honestly didn't realize how cool some of the stuff was until I watched this cartoon series.

Unknown said...

If you liked this you should give Disney's Gargoyles a try. Both were helmed by the same guy, Greg Wiesman, a big fan of the work of the bard and prone to peppering references into his work. Gargoyles being the most blatant as several characters, particularly Puck, turn up as real supernatural entities. And then there's the interwoven history of the shows version of Macbeth!

kj said...

Thanks, Simon! Yes, I've seen those as well, and they are very interesting:



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Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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