But back in his native England, Sir Patrick is just as well known for his Shakespearean work, both on-stage and on the screen. Some of that work will be on display on April 28, when he reprises the role of Claudius (he first played the role on TV 30 years ago) in PBS's production of 'Hamlet' on 'Great Performances.' As Nick mentioned yesterday, the production, with David Tennant in the title role, mixes the classic dialogue with modern dress and settings to give the play a more contemporary feel.
Stewart will also perform in the title role of 'Macbeth' for a similarly-staged production airing on PBS later this year. I sat down with Sir Patrick in January, when he presented at the TCAs; we spoke about the two productions, what his classic training brought to his 'Star Trek' role, his guest turn on 'Extras' and how his first ever IT guy was none other than Wil Wheaton.
That said, the version of 'Hamlet' airing April 28 on PBS's 'Great Performances' (and appearing on DVD May 4) is not the good Doctor as Danish prince. There are flashes of that, especially in Hamlet's early scenes with Polonius (a masterful Oliver Ford Davies) and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. That's where Tennant plays with a pitch-perfect blend of humor and cunning, spinning just short of out of control. And there is a beautiful sense of irony when Hamlet looks into the camera and says that time is out of join and it's his job to fix it.
Now 69 years old, Stewart is known around the world for his lead roles in major sci-fi franchises like Star Trek and X-Men. But he was well-known to U.K. theatergoers for years as a 16-year member of the Royal Shakespeare Company where he specialized in playing kings and soldiers with his baritone pipes.
But while Doctor Who has to move on without Tennant, another classic will be coming stateside with Tennant in the lead. PBS will be airing the television adaptation of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Hamlet with David Tennant as part of its Great Performances series in 2010. Tennant performed as Hamlet live with the Company to great success in 2008.
If that's not enough to get you excited, how about the fact that the cast includes yet another pop culture icon. None other than one of the greatest Starfleet captains in the history of Star Trek: Captain Jean-Luc Picard himself, Patrick Stewart, as King Claudius.
For those like me, the BBC is reassembling the cast and filming that production of Hamlet for broadcast in late 2009, with American and Japanese broadcasts to occur in 2010 (I wonder which channel would show it in the States? BBC America? PBS?). To sweeten the deal for us nerds, former Star Trek: The Next Generation captain Patrick Stewart plays Claudius.
Perhaps they'll even let Tennant improvise the role a bit. I would love it if he could throw a little script that Neil Gaiman wrote for him upon hearing of his participation in the role.
Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed some parts of the episode. The "shut up Wil" line by Patrick Stewart had me in stitches, as well as the sudden death of Denise Crosby (obviously, the writers are ST:TNG fans). Hell, Patrick Stewart is a recurring guest on Seth McFarlane's other series American Dad.
It just seemed to me that after the brilliant Star Wars parody from last year, they would do something more with such a line-up of talent than simply "Stewie gets to hang out and go bowling with the cast." It was even relegated to the "B" plot, with the "A" plot being Meg's sudden faith in God as a result of watching Kirk Cameron on TV.
I was hoping for something more akin to an episode of The Next Generation done Family Guy-style. Or would that have been redundant of the Star Wars episode? What do you think? Was the episode decent or could it have used improvement?
Okay, let me preface this first: this tidbit of information comes directly from The Sun. Not the piece of crap North American tabloid but the piece of crap United Kingdom tabloid. This was the same paper that reported Doctor Who was ending after the fourth series, which ended up being refuted by millions of other reputable sources. So, take this information I write below with a grain of salt.
The Sun is reporting that Captain Jean-Luc Picard himself, Patrick Stewart, has agreed to guest star in the next Doctor Who series (season, to us in the Colonies) as a Time Lord. The agreement came after Stewart performed with Who star David Tennant in a summer production of Hamlet. According to the report, Stewart would team up with the Doctor in a two-part episode involving the Daleks (who just. Won't. Die.). He would play the role of a renegade Time Lord seen during the early days of the first Doctor Who series called the Meddling Monk.
At this point, the project seems headed to the big screen. That would be a plus insofar as the set design and lush look. However, one of the benefits of the 1976 version was the length. It was 13 episodes, a hour each (sans commercials). That meant the complexities of Graves' novel -- and there were dozens of them -- not to mention the enormous cast of characters, could be played out.
That bit is a good example of what was wrong with this installment. Aside from the fact that it was a reference to a show that you have to be 40 years old, or a tv nutter, to get, it just wasn't funny. And no matter how long the song went on, it was never going to be funny. I found myself in much the same situation while watching tonight. I was just sitting and watching, waiting for it to get funny.
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