Tv Review: Crossing Swords Season 1 Episode 1

Crossing Swords S01E01 indexCreated by two of the writers of Robot Chicken, the stop motion sketch show that hasn’t been good for years now, I didn’t have high hopes that this would be particularly watchable due to their comedy credits. Sold as a Game Of Thrones spoof it’s really just your standard fantasy parody rather than being a take on George R.R. Martin’s complicated political madness, but it did exceed my expectations if only due to its high gag rate, not everything hits home but just about enough of the jokes land for it to be worth watching.

Which is damning with faint praise, I know, but a lot of the time it is more than amiable material, as after a vicious opening where Patrick (Nicholas Hoult) and his brothers and sister destroy a bunch of dragon’s eggs and an enraged mother dragon burns down part of the town they live in, including a kitten orphanage as this is a show which likes to be brutally amusing at times, he vows to make up for his actions and become the best knight ever.

Cut forward to ten years later and Patrick is training to do this while we learn his brother Ruben (Adam Ray) is now a forest bandit, Blarney (Tony Hale) is a clown and Coral (Tara Strong) is a pirate queen, or as their deluded mother puts it the “CEO of her own shipping company “. The whole show is deliberately littered with anachronistic humour and it mostly works, especially when it comes to a references like the existence of an “Unemployed Clown Magazine”, which is the kind of daftness the series would benefit from having more of.

Patrick’s unfairly considered the black sheep of the family until a local Squire Tournament is announced and he has his chance to shine, but his combatants are a bunch of cheating arseholes, bar Broth (Adam Pally) who Patrick bonds with fairly early on. Patrick’s initially considered an outsider to win, but thanks to the rather harsh treatment he received from his brothers and sisters as a child it soon looks like he has a fighting chance.

Throughout the episode there’s a real mix of either smart observations about what life might be like in such a place (with a disgruntled character moaning about Patrick stealing the Squire Tournament poster being a real highlight, it’s a completely pointless moment but all the better for that) or downright silliness, the best of which tends to involve the way Patrick manages to win the various tournaments, and both aspects appeal a fair deal.

But on the downside, and unfortunately it’s a fairly big one, like Robot Chicken it sometimes relies on swearing and shock humour for cheap laughs and this is definitely to its detriment. A lot of the swearing is unimaginative and tedious, and there’s a fair amount of genital punching and nudity, especially towards the end where the Queen (Alanna Ubach) tries to seduce Patrick, and is even more turned on when she learns he’s under eighteen and suffers from diarrhoea, all of which is bland and unneeded.

It’s good enough to be worth sticking with for at least a couple more episodes though, and the way the episode ends suggests that the various story arcs should be intriguing and maybe even involving. Sadly I don’t expect it to tone down any of the elements I found dull given how much there are of them in this opening episode, but hopefully there’ll still be a fair amount of inventive silliness to make up for those more mediocre moments.

★★★1/4

Alex Finch.
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