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Western Animation / Shakespeare: The Animated Tales

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Shakespeare: The Animated Tales (1992-1994) is an Animated Series created by Dave Edwards and produced by Sianel 4 Cymru. It features animated versions of William Shakespeare’s plays by Russian studio Soyuzmultfilm, each episode done in different styles of animation. It ran on HBO with introductions by Robin Williams.

Shakespeare: The Animated Tales provide examples of:

  • Accidental Kiss: In As You Like It, Touchstone does this when he goes to kiss Audrey, but one of the sheep gets in the way.
  • Adaptation Expansion: In The Taming of the Shrew, the framing device with Christopher Sly is given a conclusion. During Kate’s final speech, Sly falls asleep and is immediately whisked away back to where he was found in the beginning. Sly wakes up and goes back into the tavern, proclaiming that he knows how to tame a shrew...and is promptly thrown out into the mud again.
  • Adapted Out: All plays are condensed into half-hour episodes.
  • Animated Adaptation: Of twelve of Shakespeare’s plays.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Marc Antony for Brutus at the end of Julius Caesar.
  • Art Shift: All of the stories have different types of animation, such as cel animation, Stop Motion animation and paint-on-glass.
  • Advertisement:
  • Badass Baritone: Othello and Julius Caesar.
  • Baleful Polymorph:
    • Nick Bottom having his head turned into a donkey by Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
    • Ariel, thanks to Prospero’s magic.
  • Bookends: Christopher Sly is thrown out of the tavern at the beginning of The Taming of the Shrew and again in the end, after he goes back to confront the hostess.
  • British Brevity: Twelve episodes, two series.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Iago, Lady Macbeth and Richard.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kate, Petruchio, Hamlet, Mercutio and Richard.
  • Decapitation Presentation:
    • Macbeth.
    • Lord Hastings in Richard III. After he was executed, his head was presented to Richard on a platter.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Kate and Olivia.
  • Demoted to Extra: Some characters like Feste are reduced to this or removed all together. In fact, apart from singing at the end, all Feste's lines were cut.
  • Fat Bastard: Casca in Julius Caesar.
  • Advertisement:
  • Fiery Redhead: Kate is portrayed this way in the episode.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • What Iago does to Othello when he tricks him into believing his wife Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio.
    • Leontes in The Winter’s Tale, when he wrongly suspects and accuses his wife Hermione of having an affair with his friend, Polixenes.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The witches are downright terrifying in their animated incarnation.
  • Love at First Sight: Happens a lot in Shakespeare.
    • In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the magic flower does this.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: The lioness in As You Like It.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Desdemona in Othello and Hermione in The Winter’s Tale.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Leontes, following the deaths of his wife and son.
  • Nightmare Face: One of the witches pulls this once or twice in their scenes.
  • Shapeshifting: The witches in Macbeth do this, shifting from demonic hags to living corpses.
  • Show Within a Show:
    • Pyramus and Thisbe in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
    • The Taming of the Shrew is this, to provide entertainment for tinker Christopher Sly who is tricked into believing he is a really lord.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Guess who?
  • Stepford Smiler: Malvolio in Twelfth Night, when he follows all the directions in his letter while wooing Olivia.
  • Stop Motion: The Tempest, Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shew, and The Winter’s Tale.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Viola and Rosalind.