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Tag Archive: The Scarlet Pimpernel


Templar cover art

Review by C.J. Bunce

In Jordan Mechner’s new hardcover novel-formatted graphic novel Templar from First Second Publishing, he follows a small band of “everyman” Knights Templar as they attempt to escape the actual erasure of the brotherhood by the current papal regime and minions of the King of France in Paris in the year 1307.  Cinematically rendered–as that term can be used to describe Disney movies such as Aladdin or DreamWorks’ Prince of Egypt, husband and wife artists Alex Puvilland and Leuyen Pham pack in 468 pages of simple yet effective panels that put a historical note on these almost mythic equivalents to the Japanese samurai and the precursors to the space fantasy Jedi Knights.

Mechner pulls themes from a myriad of favorite films to tell the story of Martin and his lost love Isabelle as they briefly reunite during a manhunt for Martin and a ramshackle gathering of fellow Knights who pursue a legendary treasure trove (that ultimately includes the Lost Ark of the Covenant) they believe to be stored in the basement of the villainous Nogaret, which they hope to use to finance a defense against the papacy and the king.  But they are up against a changing age similar to that of The Last Samurai, where the elite guard has served its purpose and now must go.  Martin’s role is like that of William Wallace in Braveheart or Robin in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.  The Knights Templar are like the Spartans of Frank Miller’s 300, but without their last stand at Thermopylae.  We get to know the smaller subset more closely, loosely based on an actual group of men who were thought to have escaped being burnt at the stake, these men wander about as a jovial sort despite their lot like the cast of A Knight’s Tale or Robin Hood’s Merry Men.  Isabelle is a well-cast Marion, too, with elements of Blakeney’s wife in The Scarlet Pimpernel. 

Templar interior page

Along the way we meet a kind old Templar Grand Master who, based on a historic figure, is imprisoned and tricked by the King’s men.  His role is that of Thomas Aquinas in A Man for All Seasons–caught in the Catch 22 of the medieval world where you either confess and die a heretic or refuse to confess and die a heretic.

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Downton Abbey

For you genre TV and film fans that got sucked into the BBC/PBS series Downton Abbey, now that the series is on hiatus are you ready to entirely re-immerse yourself back into sci-fi and fantasy?  Or do you still need a bit of the British manor fix now and then?  A great feature of British manor series and movies is the overlap of actors back and forth into the best of sci-fi and fantasy.  So if 12 inches of snowfall has stranded you inside and you want to further investigate your favorite performers on Netflix or other streaming media as they stretch their acting chops, here’s an excuse to dive into some films and TV series you may not have otherwise tried, featuring the best of the world of sci-fi and fantasy.

Remains of the Day Dyrham Hall

Christopher Reeve plays an American who buys this estate in Remains of the Day.

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Dr Who Xmas Special poster

Premiering tomorrow night on BBC America is the annual Christmas Special and this year’s show is also the first episode of the new season of Doctor Who with new Jenna-Louise Coleman playing Clara Oswin, the new companion to Matt Smith’s eleventh Doctor.  (Actress Jenna-Louise Coleman played the character earlier this year in the episode “Asylum of the Daleks,” but was not yet his companion).  As has been a tradition in Britain for years, BBC America is presenting the Doctor Who Christmas Special to U.S. fans again this year, airing Tuesday at 8 p.m. Central/9 p.m. Eastern, subtitled “The Snowmen.”

Dr Who special 1

BBC America released two previews for the Special, the first a longer preview “prequel/minisode” introduced by Smith and Coleman, and a second more standard teaser revealing guest star Richard E. Grant (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Bob Cratchitt in Patrick Stewart’s A Christmas Carol, and voiced the Doctor in Scream of the Shalka), and the familiar voice of The Hobbit’s Gandalf and X-Men’s Professor X, Ian McKellen.  Liz White, who played Annie in one of our all-time favorite series, Life on Mars, will also be in this year’s Christmas Special.

Here is the longer prequel you won’t see with the episode on BBC America:

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