Crossing Swords





Paul Asay

TV Series Review

Chivalry is well and truly dead. And its rotting corpse has been propped up and posed to flash an obscene hand gesture.

Perhaps Patrick should’ve known better. His family tried to teach him as much. But Patrick hoped that as the king’s newest wooden squire, he’d find some goodness and morality somewhere inside the castle’s cardboard walls. Alack and alas,  ’twas not to be. King Merriman spends tax money like P. Diddy in Vegas. Queen Tulip seems to want to collect venereal diseases like some collect commemorative plates. Everyone in the castle is playing an angle … and the more crooked that angle is, the better. For them.

Yes, in this repugnant principality populated by peg people, paladins like Patrick are profoundly peculiar.

Middle-earth? Try Middle Dirt.

Hulu’s Crossing Swords comes from the creators of Robot Chicken, an adult-oriented, animated mainstay for the Cartoon Network. And honestly, their new show makes Game of Thrones’ Westeros look like Narnia by comparison.

Granted, we’re dealing with peg figurines here (think old-fashioned Fisher Price figures), so to say the sex and violence here is “graphic” comes with a wooden asterisk. But man, the show’s creators sure do try to shock as much as they’re able within those confines. In fact, that’s pretty much the point.

Drug use is common and sometimes pervasive. Many of our characters—modeled to resemble children’s playthings, mind—cavort around fully “nude,” exposing their little painted bodies to viewers and sometimes engaging in full-on toy sex. Violence is less of an issue, despite it being fairly pervasive: You can kill and maim and dismantle peg figures all you want, and it still doesn’t pack the punch of even a 2005-era videogame. But if the sight of toy blood bothers you, steer well away from this show.

But for the very same reasons that the violence in Crossing Swords feels less extreme, the language feels more. It’s inherently jarring to hear characters spew the f-word when those characters look like something you played with when you were 6.

And lest you think that Plugged In is just being overly sensitive, read this snippet from IGN’s Jesse Schedeen:

The series seizes on the fact that you can basically include whatever form of debauchery you want when your show is driven by crudely animated peg people. … The vast majority of the gags rely heavily on the fact that these cutesy characters are saying and doing terribly inappropriate things. Which begs the question—if Crossing Swords were animated in a more traditional style, would any of this even qualify as humor in the first place? Ehh …

I do enjoy a good fantasy story—even a good fantasy story spoof. As such, I hoped to enjoy Crossing Swords. Instead, it just left me cross.

Episode Reviews

June 12, 2020: “Pilot”

We see Patrick as a child, tagging along with his less-savory siblings to steal a golden dragon egg. Their quest leads to utter disaster, but it does encourage Patrick to train to become a knight and to serve the king, whom he imagines spends his days “being all wise and good.” But when it comes time to literally compete for the job as the king’s new squire, Patrick is sorely disillusioned by the monarch, the court and the dishonorable contest.

Queen Tulip wants to have sex with all of the squire candidates, and she makes it secretly a part of the contest. She has them all strip down to their undies (one doesn’t have any, and so we see his toy privates on full display), oils them up and brings them back to her tent. She, too, is completely naked (her wooden breasts protrude from her wooden body, and pubic hair is scrawled across the appropriate area), and she invites Patrick to have sex while hanging from a chandelier. She asks Patrick if he’s under 18: If he is, she insists, the encounter will be all the sweeter. Patrick tries to lie his way out of intimacy, telling her that he’s secretly a woman and pregnant to boot. That only fires up Tulip’s passions more. But when Patrick refuses the encounter, Tulip lets him leave. Later, we learn the rest of the contestants contracted a venereal disease.

We also see a bobblehead of the kingdom’s most famous prostitute (and hear that she spread another disease far and wide). Patrick’s mother and father discuss getting intimate on a newly purchased pool table (and later we see shadows of the two having sex). Another segment of the contest features participants repeatedly hitting each other in the privates. And that’s just one of multiple gags that crudely deal with people being hit in the crotch.

Patrick reluctantly joins his siblings in smashing dragon’s eggs in an attempt to find one filled with gold. After smashing several (much to Patrick’s horror), the siblings find a live baby dragon who claws the face of one of Patrick’s brothers and sends him bouncing down the mountainside. The mother dragon attacks the other siblings, and the melee eventually leads to several deaths and the immolation of a kitten orphanage. (We see a few dead kittens roll down the street.)

The squire contest involves some fighting and jousting, too. (Someone is jettisoned via an explosive during the latter.) Broth, a friend of Patrick’s, talks about a variation of jousting that involves one’s privates and says that he participated in at prom. We hear several references to sexual acts, sex toys and anatomical bits. When dressed, Tulip sports lots of hand-drawn cleavage. Someone says he has vomited behind the same bush eight years running; we see that Patrick has put his luggage in the latest bit of vomit. A brother of Patrick’s is described as an alcoholic clown (literally). Patrick is plastered in several scenes with excrement.

The f-word is uttered 17 times and the s-word nearly a dozen. We also hear “a–,” “b–ch,” “b–tard,” “h—,” “p—y” and “p-ssed.” God’s name is paired with the word “d–n” once, and Jesus’ name is also abused.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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