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'Complete Works' Is Here to Class Up Your Summer Binge Watching

By Vivian Kane | TV | July 3, 2014 |

By Vivian Kane | TV | July 3, 2014 |

We’ve reached that point in the summer where television has pretty much transformed into a wasteland of suck. The networks have all closed up shop. Mad Men, Fargo, Louie and just about every other show we love have all abandoned us. We’re left with internet binge-watching a small number of quality summer programs. But if your to-watch list looks anything like mine (Rectify, Tyrant, The Leftovers) you’re likely to drown in a puddle of your own tears (and/or whatever bodily fluids The Strain makes you excrete) before July is half over. So I’ve got a lighter suggestion for you, of the hey nonny nonny variety.

Complete Works is a show tailor-made for the hardcore theatre geek. And if I were a gambling woman (try me), I’d guess that about 60% of you Pajibans have at some point between high school and the present day have identified as such. I imagine the show would still entertain the other 40% of you, but I’ve never viewed the world through that lens, so it’s hard to say for sure. Complete Works looks at the cutthroat world of college Shakespeare competitions. Hal (yes, that’s the protagonist’s name, just so we’re all aware of the level of Shakespeare geekery we’re dealing with here) is the runner up in his regional competition, but after a freak Amish milking shooting of the winner, he’s bumped up to the nationals in Verona. Here’s the teaser trailer:

For those looking to fill the void left by Slings and Arrows, this is a good band-aid for that wound. It’s not a perfect fit, mind you. Complete Works is more like the YA Slings and Arrows (and if that sounds at all disparaging, I suggest you reevaluate your world views). The season is short (five 25 minute episodes), quickly paced, and balances severe classical theatre superfanning with simple straight-up comedy. It plays in archetypes, but because of the age and naivety of the teenaged characters (along with the brevity of the show), the one dimensionality is actually perfectly fitting. This is a big step forward for Hulu’s move to original programming. And it is available on basic free Hulu, not just your fancy Hulu Plus. So when you need a break from the tear and tension fest that is this summer’s television season, put this very tragical mirth on your list of lighter fare to dip into.

Watch season one of Complete Works on Hulu.

Vivian Kane wants to go back in time to only have Shakespeare-themed birthday parties.

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