Will (TV series)
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|Created by||Craig Pearce|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||10 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||47–57 minutes|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Original release||July 10 –|
September 4, 2017
Will is an American drama television series about the (fictional) life of William Shakespeare in his early 20s. The series was ordered for a first season, consisting of ten episodes, on May 18, 2016. It premiered on TNT on July 10, 2017, and concluded on September 4, 2017. It was originally ordered to series at Pivot in 2013, but was never broadcast. The series premiered at 9:00 pm EST, but after four weeks, was moved to 11:00 pm. On September 5, 2017, the series was canceled after one season.
Young William Shakespeare is a struggling playwright who tires of making gloves in order to support his wife and three children. He travels to London and sells one of his plays to a theatre owned by James Burbage. In doing so, he befriends the rest of the company, pushes out the previous playwright and falls in love with Burbage's daughter, Alice. While seeking fame and fortune in London, Will keeps his Catholicism secret from those who would threaten to kill him and exploit his connection to the wanted Robert Southwell. As he makes a name for himself, he finds that he is saddled with saving a dying theater company and finding a place in a city that is hostile to his religion.
- Laurie Davidson as William Shakespeare
- Olivia DeJonge as Alice Burbage
- Ewen Bremner as Richard Topcliffe
- Mattias Inwood as Richard Burbage
- Jamie Campbell Bower as Christopher Marlowe
- William Houston as Kemp
- Lukas Rolfe as Presto
- Max Bennett as Robert Southwell
- Colm Meaney as James Burbage
- Nancy Carroll as Ellen Burbage
- Michael Nardone as Edward Arden
- Jamie Beamish as Augustine Phillips
- Nicholas Farrell as Francis Walsingham
- Nicholas Woodeson as Philip Henslowe
- Henry Lloyd-Hughes as Edward Alleyn
- Bruce MacKinnon as Robert Greene
- Deirdre Mullins as Anne Shakespeare
- James Berkery as Jeremy Knightstand
- Zubin Varla as Edward Kelley
- Jasmin Savoy Brown as Emilia Bassano
- Kenneth Collard as Justice Young
- Leon Annor as Marcus
- Vauxhall Jermaine as Demetrius
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||US viewers|
|1||"The Play's The Thing"||Shekhar Kapur||Craig Pearce||July 10, 2017||0.633|
|In 1589, young upstart actor/playwright William Shakespeare, a Catholic from the small town of Stratford, arrives in wild and turbulent London during a time of religious turmoil. With nothing more than a dream, a way with words, and a mysterious letter, he joins a local theater troupe and co-writes the play Edward III to a warm reception. Thanks to a mysterious benefactor in Christopher Marlowe, a star is born.|
|2||"Cowards Die Many Times"||Shekhar Kapur||Craig Pearce||July 10, 2017||0.477|
Plagued with guilt over the arrest of fellow playwright Baxter, whom Marlowe set up, Will confesses to Alice about his family ties to Catholic priest Father Robert Southwell. Later, the theatre's future is threatened when a rival playhouse, The Rose, offers the crowd-pleasing actor Kemp a better role, forcing Will to offer to write a play just for him.
Opening quote: "Cowards die many times before their deaths, The valiant never taste of death but once." – Julius Caesar
|3||"The Two Gentlemen"||Shekhar Kapur||Story by : Louise Fox & Craig Pearce|
Teleplay by : Craig Pearce & Jacquelin Perske
|July 17, 2017||0.471|
After writing a dull script, Will is thrown out of Burbage's theatre and left penniless. However, he has an epiphany that there are hidden patterns in successful plays which could give him inspiration. Alice helps him write a better play by stealing the plot from a Spanish book. The Two Gentlemen of Verona is performed at the theatre and Will is paid for his services. Also, he secretly meets his cousin Father Southwell, who proposes a dangerous collaboration, that Will help him finish writing his treatise to the queen about Catholics attaining religious freedom.
Opening quote: "Those friends thou hast, And their adoption tried, Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel..." – Hamlet
|4||"Brave New World"||Elliott Lester||Cat Jones||July 24, 2017||0.368|
Riding the coattails of his new fame, Will allows Marlowe to introduce him to London's social elite. But, the frolic takes a macabre turn when he partakes in astronomer John Dee's divination ritual. Alice learns the truth about the secret manifest. Will is taken in for questioning by Topcliffe, who intends to use Will as a weapon in the war against the papacy by having him write an anti-Catholic play to counter Southwell's propaganda.
Opening quote: "I would give all my fame for a pot of ale and safety." – Henry V
|5||"The Marriage of True Minds"||Elliott Lester||Craig Pearce & Jacquelin Perske||July 31, 2017||0.300|
An unexpected arrival by Will's wife Anne sends Will's world in London spinning out of control. He has to choose between his family and Alice. Meanwhile, Marlowe has a transcendental experience through Kelley that leads him to deal with his past. Later, Topcliffe deciphers a code about former Catholic queen "Bloody Mary" that puts Will into a life-and-death situation. He is forced to warn Father Southwell of the executioners' men coming for him.
Opening quote: "To advance thy name, And honorable family..." – Titus Andronicus
|6||"Something Wicked This Way Comes"||Magnus Martens||Corinne Marrinan||August 7, 2017||0.364|
Will and Alice try to keep it professional by collaborating on a prequel to Henry VI, but their lust returns. However, after Alice calls off her marriage to the rich Keenan Cooper, Will must put an end to the affair. Meanwhile, Anne tries to adjust to London life, but it's not so easy. Later, Marlowe confronts the death of his lover. Presto is put to work in the brothel and faces Topcliffe and tragedy.
Opening quote: "Something wicked this way comes..." – Macbeth
|7||"What Dreams May Come"||Magnus Martens||Sarah Byrd||August 14, 2017||0.305|
After the theatre nearly burns down, Will must help fix it, along with Burbage's debt. Will enlists the help of socialite Emilia Bassano, who introduces him to the wealthy Lord Fortescue. He hires the troupe to perform Will's new play Midsummer Night's Dream for his love. Later, Alice, distraught over Will's rejection, seeks purpose from Father Southwell. Also, Marlowe "sells his soul" by seeking out the Devil during Kelley's ritual, which inspires him to write Doctor Faustus.
Opening quote: "Dream on, dream on, of bloody deeds and death..." – Richard III
|8||"Your Houses"||Jonathan Teplitzky||Mark Steilen||August 21, 2017||0.291|
After another Catholic becomes a martyr, Will writes about Topcliffe's life by disguising the torturer's evil actions in a play: Richard III. Meanwhile, Marlowe's mind-trip to Hell not only diminishes his ability to write, but also leads him down a self-destructive path. As Will discovers Alice's passion to follow Southwell's cause, he must repay his debt to Marlowe by introducing him to the man himself. Later, the plague continues to wreak havoc in London, causing Richard's best friend and fellow player, Autolycus, to fall ill.
Opening quote: "A plague on both your houses." – Romeo and Juliet
|9||"Play the Devil"||Jonathan Teplitzky||David Rambo||August 28, 2017||0.315|
Richard returns from the plague house unharmed, but without Autolycus, and he refuses the role. In order to get Richard to play the king, Will must finish Richard III and make the monstrous Topcliffe more human to the audience, so he confronts the torturer about his childhood. Meanwhile, Marlowe looks for faith with help from Southwell. Later, Alice gets more embroiled in Southwell's plan for religious peace and she is baptized. When the ceremony is interrupted by the queen's men, she puts herself in the dangerous hands of Topcliffe.
Opening quote: "And thus I clothe my naked villainy, and seem a saint when most I play the Devil..." – Richard III
|10||"Once, Bright Angel"||Shekhar Kapur||Craig Pearce||September 4, 2017||0.307|
Will rescues Alice with help from Justice Young, but it comes at a cost. Will's secret is out to the Burbages, but he convinces them to continue with the play and gets Topcliffe to the theater. Marlowe finishes Doctor Faustus and makes peace with his lover Tommy. Richard III is a success and the main character's being modeled after Topcliffe causes him public shame. He is stripped of his power by Walsingham, the queen's secretary, who was in the audience and saw the reaction. Alice journeys on a separate path from Will by setting sail with Southwell.
Opening quote: "How all occasions do inform against me, and spur my dull revenge." – Hamlet
The series has received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics. On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the series has a rating of 61%, based on 28 reviews, with an average rating of 6.22/10. Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, reported that there were "generally favorable reviews" for the series, with an average score of 62 based on 27 reviews.
- Upstart Crow, a British sitcom about William Shakespeare
- Will Shakespeare (TV series), a 1978 six-part historical drama
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