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Queen of Not Enough Swords

There's not enough swordfighting in Queen of Swords. As far as I'm concerned, if you put the word sword in the title of a show, that's a clear claim that buckles will be swashed. And not only is the plot-to-flashing-blades ratio dangerously high, but there are hardly any candle flames being swiped off. Is it too much to ask, here at the height of civilization, that we at least have dashing swordfighters showing off in the middle of life-or-death battles by slicing through candles? Is that too much to ask?

It's possible that you haven't seen Queen of Swords. It's even possible that you had no idea until the previous paragraph that such a show as Queen of Swords even existed. That's okay. I'm not here to judge you; my only goal is to inform. Queen of Swords is a new syndicated television series, which means that it's not good enough to be on any of the networks, not even UPN. Or any of the major cable channels. Or the minor cable channels. Or anything, really. If you see the producers in the airport begging for spare change, take pity on them.

As near as I can make out, Queen of Swords is about a female Zorro. Except, of course, that Zorro is copyrighted and therefore costs money, so she's the Queen of Swords instead. If my analysis of this situation is correct, this show is made on a lower budget than the Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour. And I'm not sure how that's possible.

The star of the show is Tessie Santiago, who plays the Queen of Swords, and the Queen of Swords' secret identity Tessa Alvarado. I'm not sure why the Queen of Swords needs a secret identity, but it's probably because people got tired of saying "the Queen of Swords" so often. What the Queen of Swords does, according to the show's Website, is "striking fear in the hearts of evil-doers and bringing hope to the good." Personally, I could do with a little more dramatic slashing and stabbing and a little less fear-striking and hope-bringing, but I can see where the producers are coming from. They're coming from Highlander, mostly, which is another show that had just enough swordfighting to get my attention. I mean, come on, everyone on that show carried swords under their dark, moody trenchcoats; why were they stopping to talk? Parry! Thrust! Lunge! Riposte! Um... attaques simples ou composées précédées d'attaques au fer!

There's also an evil Colonel, and evil Captain, a beauteous gypsy, a doctor (who's played by a national trampoline champion!), a Don, and a Señora. There's also plenty of Haciendas to give the whole thing a California 1817 look. It's pretty convincing, too, what with the show being shot in Spain.

I came to the mythology a little late, so I'm not sure what's going on, but apparently Tessa came back home to California when her father died, and found that the whole place was run by evil military types working for the evil Dons. Naturally, she buddied up with a mysterious Tarot-reading gypsy and took to running around in a suspiciously familiar black mask and riding two horses at once.

But for all that, there's hardly any of what I come to a show like this for: swordplay, and plenty of it. Douglas Fairbanks wouldn't leave me hanging like this! They'd understand that swordfighting is where it's at, and they'd be out with their rapiers and epees and cutlasses and sa-ha! And have at thee! And vile cur! And, um, excuse me.

Don't get the idea that there are no swords at all in Queen of Swords. Even a syndicated show shot in Europe wouldn't try that. Each episode has two or three fights, and there's a certain amount of leaping on tables and swinging from ropes, but not nearly enough for my taste. For one thing, the fights are done in close-up, which means I can't tell what's going on. Sure, that corrupt prison guard just went reeling across the courtyard, but from what? Was it a punch or a kick? Or did he get a bottle of wine broken across his head? I bet Basil Rathbone wouldn't leave me hanging like this.

There are other good aspects to this show. The episodes have exciting titles like "Vengeance," "Duel With a Stranger," and "Death to the Queen," which shows the right spirit. And even if it doesn't satisfy my swashbuckling jones, they're at least trying.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think Turner Classic Movies is showing Errol Flynn in "The Sea Hawk."


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