TNT is getting ready to premiere a new summer TV series, 'Will', which is purported to be about the early life of William Shakespeare. The series stars Laurie Davidson as the Bard and is actually the second summer series inspired by the life and works of the most famous icon of English literature in history. The series starts July 10, but the first episode is available for preview for those who have on-demand on their cable service provider. So, how is the series?

'Will' is a rock and roll reimagining of the life of the Bard

The series eschews that usual orchestra or period musical score in preference to Rock And Roll.

This approach was identical to the one adopted in the 2001 film 'A Knight's Tale' which starred the late Heath Ledger as a 14th Century peasant who finds himself hobnobbing with the likes of Chaucer and the Black Prince in a tournament scene that is played like a modern sports competition. The approach didn't work then, and it doesn't seem to work now.

The modern approach extends to some of the scenes. An Elizabethan playhouse becomes a modern arena, complete with a mosh pit and prancing players in garish costumes. Shakespeare engages in something like a rap-off with a local in a London tavern, albeit with his requisite word-play. The whole becomes jarring and distracting, unlike the excellent 'Shakespeare in Love' that was light on the anachronisms and relied on character, intrigue, and romance to pack in audiences.

What worked with the TV series?

Having complained about electric guitars in 1589 London, one notes that a lot about 'Will' is not bad, with a lot of history behind it. We see young Shakespeare abandoning his family in Stratford for the high life of the London theater scenes. Some supporting characters such as Christopher Marlow, who was also just starting out, and the great Burbage family, along with father James, son Richard and daughter Alice, show up and become crucial for Shakespeare's initial success.

The first episode relies on a couple of details that Shakespearean historians debate. The first is that Shakespeare was a secret Catholic, which in the year after the Armada was a dangerous thing to be. The second is that the Bard's first success was a play called 'Edward III', a work that was thought to have an unknown author but some have concluded was an early effort of our hero.

It should be noted that the first episode, 'The Play is the Thing', was directed by Shekhar Kapur. Kapur directed 'Elizabeth and 'Elizabeth: The Golden Age' which starred Cate Blanchett as the famous English queen.