Monday, December 07, 2015

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Swords

A sword is a blade weapon used for feints, thrusts, cutting, and stabbing. 

And swords have been a near constant presence in cult-television across the decades.

In “The Challenge,” an episode of Lost in Space’s (1965-1968) first season, Professor Robinson (Guy Williams) battles an alien leader (Michael Ansara) with a sword.  The trick is that the sword carries an electrical charge.  Of course, this battle itself is an homage, of sorts, to Guy William’s most famous TV role: as sword-master Zorro.

In the Star Trek (1966 – 1969) third season episode, “The Day of the Dove,” Klingons and Kirk’s crew battle for possession of the U.S.S. Enterprise when a life-form that feeds on hate transforms all phaser weapons into old-fashioned swords.  Scotty finds a Scottish blade -- a claymore -- that he fancies.

The Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979-1981) episode “Escape from Wedded Bliss” sees Buck (Gil Gerard) battle Tigerman in an arena,for the hand of Princess Ardala (Pamela Hensley).  One of the weapons used is, predictably, a sword.

The eighties brought several genre cartoon characters armed with swords, including He-Man and the robot Voltron.  Other fantasy TV series, such as Wizards and Warriors (1983) made frequent use of swords, and often featured sword battles.

The last episode of V: The Series (1985), sees Mike Donovan (Marc Singer) and Philip (Frank Ashmore) engage in a friendly sword duel with uncharged nuclear swords.  They are unaware that Diana (Jane Badler) has secretly had them charged, so that they will kill each other.

The 1990s brought another sword master, Xena: Warrior Princess (Lucy Lawless), and an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1991, “Q-Pid”) saw Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) playing Robin Hood and defeating the Sheriff of Nottingham with a sword. The series Highlander features swords all the time, in virtually every episode.

In the year 2000 episode of The X-Files (1993 – 2002), “First Person Shooter,” a video game avatar, Maitreya, kills male players in a virtual reality game with a deadly blade.  She decapitates them with it. Later, she captures Mulder, and Scully must enter the game space to save him.

And in the Firefly (2002) episode “Shindig,” the hapless Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) challenges a deft swordsman to a duel, for the honor of Inara (Morena Baccarin).  He is badly wounded, but wins the duel only because he cheats.

Recently, of course, Game of Thrones (2011 - ) has featured swords on a regular basis. Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) has a sword – needle – with which she trains to become a warrior.  Later, she plans to use it for purposes of revenge against those who have wronged her family.  We have also learned that the wicked Lannisters prefer their swords be forged from Valyrian Steel.

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