June 2, 2018

THE 10TH KINGDOM Conspiracy?

Starring Kimberly Williams, Scott Cohen, John Larroquette, Dianne Wiest, Rutger Hauer, Daniel Lapaine, Ed O'Neill, Hugh O'Gorman, Dawnn Lewis, Jeremiah Birkett, Ann-Margret, Camryn Manheim, Warwick Davis. Directed by David Carson & Herbert Wise. (2000/447 min).


Review by Stinky the Destroyer😼

While reviewing The 10th Kingdom (which first aired in 2000 on NBC), I noticed something just a tad unnerving during the opening credit sequence (one of the most creative ever, by the way). As the stirring theme song plays, the hustle & bustle of New York City slowly morphs into a colorful, mythical kingdom. Skyscrapers sink into the earth, making-way for castles, waterfalls and shining mountains. And at one point, as a giant is crossing Manhattan Island, just behind him, you can see the twin towers of the World Trade Center drop to the ground very much like they did on 9/11.

So I referred to that bastion of reputable knowledge, the Internet, to see if anyone else noticed. Sure enough, quite a few did, including a crap-ton of crackpots who claim such shows as this and certain episodes of The Simpsons as proof of a massive conspiracy, or more amusingly, a prophecy foretelling the tragedy.

No, I doubt there were any clairvoyants or government conspirators employed at Hallmark Entertainment (who produced this miniseries), and despite that surreal moment in the credits, I'm glad it's been left intact ever since, for it really is a beautiful sequence. In fact, with a feature-film budget and epic production values, The 10th Kingdom is probably the best TV program Hallmark has ever attached its name to.

"Sorry, lady, I'm only here to meet Ann-Margret."
I never actually watched it until now, and despite being a little meandering at times, it was a lot more enjoyable than I expected it to be. Fairy-tale fantasy is a tough genre to pull-off well, especially on television, but The 10th Kingdom succeeds more often than it fails. Like many miniseries, it's too long by at-least an hour (maybe even two), often diverting from the basic plot for lengthy sequences involving various obstacles facing the main protagonists (almost like missions in a video game). However, just when interest in these predicaments begins to wane, the narrative steers itself back on course, aided a great deal by healthy doses of satire and Princess Bride-style humor. In fact, if anything about The 10th Kingdom is indeed prophetic, it's that the basic concept predates the cash-cow of Shrek by a over a year.

I've had a crush on Ann-Margret since birth, but alas, she's only got about ten minutes of screen time in the final episode (though she still looks damn fine). Elsewhere, the casting decisions run hot and cold. Kimberly Williams is decent in the lead, but the show's MVP by far is Scott Cohen. As a wolf in hero's clothing, his manic performance is a joy to watch. And of course, it's always great to see Rutger Hauer as a villain. On the other hand, both John Larroquette and his character grow tiresome really fast, as do a trio of trolls who overact to an annoying degree.

Everything is wrapped up fairly neatly, though the resolution makes it obvious somebody was hoping to parlay this into a full series. Considering it earned boffo ratings in 2000, it's rather surprising that never happened. At any rate, The 10th Kingdom is a solid miniseries that has aged well and worth revisiting from time to time. It's been released on Blu-Ray before, and aside from a digital copy, this new edition has the exact same bonus features.


No comments: