I am about to start running a couple of new “series” here on this blog. This post is the first of one of them. “Have You Seen” will be for me to share various works of writing, music, movies or television that I enjoyed but aren’t always super well known.
The first of these is The 10th Kingdom. I bring it up because we are currently watching it with my son. It has been a while since I’ve watched it, but it’s holding up quite well.
This was a TV miniseries originally released in 2000, and that is when I saw it the first time, too. I happened to be staying with a family friend while my parents were out of town. They were recording it…otherwise I might have never even known about it. It was not seen by very many people, it seems. The show wasn’t even rereleased on DVD until 2013, after it had been unavailable for quite some time.
It’s more than 150 years after Happily Ever After…and again the nine kingdoms are in upheaval. Prince Wendell White (the grandson of Snow White) is preparing for his coronation. The escape of his wicked Stepmother from prison is endangering him and his entire kingdom.
The story follows Wendell, and his unlikely companions – Wolf, a halfwolf escaped convict, and Virginia and her father Tony, New Yorkers. After Trolls invade their apartment looking for the runaway Prince, they must escape through a magic mirror. New York is the mythical 10th Kingdom, only reachable by magic mirror.
It is a fun, tongue in cheek paean to fairy tales, with a good story to match. It happens to have two of the more impressive villains from fantasy shows from the aughts – the Evil Queen and her Huntsman. The Huntsman is unrelenting, calm, and intimidating, while the Queen hits all the right notes to be a truly feminine villain. Virginia, the female lead, is neither a manic pixie dream girl nor a badass flippy girl fighter. She is a normal girl, a waitress…slightly self absorbed, wary, and defensive, but not too bitchy or unsympathetic. It is refreshing for both Virginia and the Queen to be interesting and strong in their own way, without covering them with a veneer of masculinity. Long before Sad Puppies, when I was eleven, the pair of them made an impression on me because of this.
I don’t want to give away too much of the story (though I think I will analyze it and/or some of the characters in a later blog post), but I present it for your watching consideration.
Each character has a definite arc, the setting is fun, and the story works well. The writers manage to hat tip most of the well known fairy tales without being too excessive about it.
It also has one of my favorite TV openings of all time:
So if you’re looking to watch something during the cold winter months, this one will occupy several nights. And as an early aughts production, you won’t get beaten over the head with message fiction, either.