Despite its raunchy and, often grotesque, over-the-top humor, there is a small heart with potential to grow in this wacky medieval screwball cartoon aptly named Crossing Swords. Robot Chicken Executive Producers John Harvatine IV and Tom Root have pulled together stop-motion with inspiration from Fisher-Price’s Little People toy line and they’re own mix of gore and sexuality from their previous work into a first season that, while lackluster through a large chunk of the middle episodes by missing on greater execution of scenarios, could create a following should there be success and enough viewers to buy into a second season… I know I would be interested.
The show follows Patrick, and young, yet driven peasant from a family of cynical parentage and criminal siblings, who finds himself near the highest rank of Royal servitude as a squire. Once he begins his new role, he discovers that the entire kingdom is operated and controlled by sexed up royals who haven’t the slightest handle on demographics or economics. Only when assassination attempts against the Royal family begins to take place does Patrick find his niche as a squire and must do everything he can from allowing the family to be killed and the kingdom to be laid to waste. You would think with as simple as a seasonal plot as Crossing Swords may have, it is surprising how unfocused it’s story can be. The first two episodes of the series establish the world and characters in a clever way, unfortunately once the episode ‘What’s Kraken’ you begin to feel the weight of the show falling in on itself as the episodes become more in line with a 20-minute skit show as opposed to a linear narrative, that is until they get to the last two episodes. I was beginning to lose interest during a particular episode involving a woman’s “Period Party” which, if it was not for the setting and time the episode supposedly takes place, could make even the raunchiest of audiences cringe at times. By no means is it anywhere near as controversial as many of the skits Robot Chicken has on the regular, however, the same charm of randomness and silliness in an episodic situation is not as present due to the format difference. For many audiences it could be the overreliance on sexual innuendos or toilet humor, however, that level of humor is to be expected and even embraced. For me, the most frustrating part is that the show is unsure as to what it wants to be until the end. However, the protagonist in Patrick is likeable enough, and the last two episodes were written well enough that it not only reignited my interest in the series, it made me want to watch more… Hell, there was even a twist I can honestly say I did not expect.
Probably the most interesting aspect of the show is the cast behind it. With the voice talents of Tony Hale, Tara Strong, Seth Green, and Yvette Nicole Brown actually putting in a lot of effort into their work for this show. Patrick is voiced by Nicholas Hoult, and it does not matter how hard you try, you cannot hear his regular voice, to the point where I am consistently scratching my head at the fact it is actually him. Even Luke Evans’ King Merriman plays to the same effect. Patrick’s new friend, Broth, is voiced by Adam Pally and is a personal favorite every time he appears on the show, he is essentially what you would get if an audience member fell into the world of Crossing Swords and just went with it.
There’s an inherent weirdness to the Stoopid Buddies Stoodios creative and yet insulting instincts that viewers can’t stem away from. In the case of Crossing Swords, baring episodes that lack the substance required to match the beginning and ending expectations, all the power to you. The outrageous and nonsensical use of Little People toys could be stated as overused, but when I least expected it I found myself enjoying the last moments of the season.
Score: 6.5 / 10