Monday, July 5, 2010

Jack Of All Trades PLAY BY PLAY Episode 1: Return of the Dragoon

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

Today begins Day 1 of my Play by Play of Jack of All Trades, Bruce Campbell's highly underrated and hilarious show that only made it 22 episodes. If you want more info on what's going on then check out the intro. But for now let's start with episode 1

Return of the Dragoon-

The episode begins in 1801 somewhere past the Canadian border. A group of Napoleon era French soldiers have kidnapped Thomas Jefferson's niece and are holding her hostage on behalf of Napoleon. After a few quips about how she'll never get out we are introduced to our hero: Jack Stiles. He disposes of the soldiers quickly before letting her go and rushing out of the base/castle.
We learn from his opening line and the proceeding lines in the next couple of minutes that Jack is a class A smart ass with a degree in one-liners. He spouts them quicker than Tarantino can use the F word in a script and each one is cheesily amazing.

They escape out the castle only to be met by a large group of armed guards. But Jack does not have a weapon and neither does the lady. So how do they escape? By singing "La Marseillaise" to distract the guards long enough so they can jump off the cliff using her dress. Yes that sentence was just written. He sings the French national anthem and uses her Victorian era dress as a parachute. After formally introducing himself to the lady they end up in bed back at Jack's place.

Once there they begin to make some "thanks-giving" (cue eye roll) before being rudely interrupted by a knock on the door. Who could it be? Well it happens to be the President of the United States himself Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson informs Jack that he did such a great job with rescuing his niece that he's being reassigned to an undercover job at Palau Palau, an island off the East Indies that is overrun with the French. Jack is slightly hesitant but agrees wholeheartedly and sets sail...but not before deflowering Jefferson's niece.
After the amazing title sequence is over we see Jack arrive at the island of Palau Palau via cheesy special effect. It's a fishing/trading town full of docks, farmer's markets and kids running around the streets. Jack runs into a small boy with a doll that looks like an old school Zorro. A voice off camera introduces the doll as the fabled hero of the town known as the Daring Dragoon. This voice belongs to our other main protagonist Emilia Rothschild. She is an English Secret Agent doubling as a spice trader and a big wig with the governor. Jack is taken aback that SHE, a woman (and a hot one at that) is his contact and that HE will have to act as HER servant boy.

Emilia is one of those "Brilliantly smart, independant, don't need a man but wouldn't mind a man woman need rights too" kind of characters. Considering the show that this was paired with (Cleopatra 2525) I'm not surprised. She comes off as a bit haughty but as the show goes on you realize that she is just as snarky as Jack and can throw him off his guard.

Anyway Jack eventually gives up on trying to take control of the situation and goes along with Emilia. They arrive at her house and she explains that her husband and her used to fight for freedom as spies together before he was killed. Now she's even more determined to stop Napoleon.

They go through a secret passageway which leads to her secret lab where she keeps all her inventions. After some screwing around and getting a divers helmet dropped on his head (apparently she invented them) as well as him inquiring about sex in the lab (to no avail) she explains their first mission:

Infantry soldiers have arrived on the island and they apparently are supposed to be given orders by the governor on their plan of attack. Emilia and Jack are going to the governor's house for tea and while Emilia distracts the governor, Jack will look for the plans and memorize them so they can warn whoever they are attacking.

It's here we are introduced to one of the main antagonists and certainly the one who get's the most screen time (in my opinion) Governor Croque. Croque is the bruddah (brother) of Napoleon and is in charge of Palau Palau. He is a proper man and can be devious at times, but for the most part he is pretty dim, weak and not really much of a threat. He talks a big game thanks to his brother and the other main antagonist, but he's not much of a threat. But he IS hilarious to listen to.
Shortly after some small talk we are introduced to the other main antagonist and the only one who carries any sort of wit, brainpower, skill and pretty much any challenge for Jack and Emilia and that is Captain Brogard. Brogard is a no nonsense kind of a guy, a fighter, and a stickler for the rules. He doesn't have a very intimidating voice but he makes up for it in talent.

Croque and Brogard begin talking and while they're doing that Jack excuses himself to go to the bathroom. Once he's left the room she brings up her spice export agreement...something that Croque and Brogard would LOVE to discuss (not).

Jack goes into the governor's office to look for the orders but to no avail. He does find a pornographic set of playing cards. Emilia comes busting in shortly afterwards saying that Jack is taking too long and that the guards are searching the house for him. One of the guards or someone must have seen or noticed Emilia go into the governor's office and while not illegal for Emilia it is punishable by death for Jack to be in there. So Jack takes off his coat, switches around his suspenders (I think it cuts away), grabs a curtain to use as a cape and Emilia's underwear as a mask to become the Great Dragoon.
This freaks out the guards and after punking Brogard and taking out the guards, Jack escapes out the window, taking the cards with him.

Emilia is none too pleased with what happened and especially doesn't like the Dragoon idea. She threatens to send a letter to Jefferson saying he needs to be replaced and she decides to finish the mission herself, using the diving helmet to get on the boat, the place where the plans ought to be.
Nobody notices her get on the boat and so she sneaks off into the captain's quarters. She switches the plans that WERE there with some new plans of her own and starts to walk out. While she's doing this a guard notices a wet footprint and threatens to shoot. Jack returns in the nick of time as a better dressed Dragoon and proceeds to take out the guards, to the shock of Emilia, who then jumps ship.

Jack thinks he's taken everybody out but it turns out Brogard was on the boat and challenges him to a sword fight. After some tussling, Jack disposes of Brogard and escapes. The plan is a success and the Dragoon and Emilia get to fight another day.
The episode ends with some awkward talking and joking about how they did work well together and that it's a shame she sent that letter. This is where the relationship spark starts to set in slightly but is halted when Jack pulls out the letter which angers Emilia. She asks to see him in the lab...the SOUND PROOF lab, so that she can yell at him. Jack sighs and says "Out of the frying pan and into the fire."

The Verdict:

Overall a really good episode and a wonderful pilot to the series. A great set up for better episodes to come.

4.5 out of 5


  1. This looks fantastic! Must watch!

  2. Oh, it is.

    Though I believe you meant "antagonist" for Croque. You put "protagonist."

  3. Thanks for catching that. Its been promptly changed.