So, I’ve been on a bit of a fairytale kick recently – inspired in part by my recent return to obsession with Once Upon a Time. Having caught myself up to date with Season Four, I found myself looking for my fairytale fix elsewhere, and remembered this mini-series I had on video when I was younger. To put it simply, the 10th Kingdom is pretty brilliant.
Set in a world that amalgamates various fairytales, the 10th Kingdom manages to follow the various tropes common to the genre, whilst remaining fresh at the same time. Snow White, and other recognizable characters, do make appearances, but the plot doesn’t rely on them for fuel, and instead merely uses them to enhance the story and utilize our familiarity with those characters to enhance our opinions of those connected to them.
The plot follows the character Virginia, a waitress from Manhattan, and her father Tony, as they find themselves transported to the Fourth Kingdom (one of nine kingdoms rules by fairytale princesses of yore – with the titular “10th Kingdom” being our own). Joined by a polymorphed prince and a “half-wolf”, the pair initially seek simply to track down a magic mirror in order to return home, but soon become caught up in the machinations of the Evil Queen – with whom they share a deeper connection than they realize.
The 10th Kingdom was initially conceived by it’s writer – Simon Moore – as the first in a series, with each exploring one of the nine kingdoms. Sadly, this never came to fruition, and it’s a shame because over the course of it’s five parts The 10th Kingdom does an excellent job at building a world the viewer can sink their teeth into, and it would have been great to see more. Nonetheless, in this world of seemingly endless fan-fiction that we live, in the 10th Kingdom lives on in the hearts of it’s fans (for better or worse).
Still, it seems rather strange that the second series was never commissioned. As far as I can tell the series was incredibly successful upon it’s original airing, with a video box-set and tie-in novel being sold during ad breaks. One would think that NBC would want to milk a potential franchise such as this for all it was worth, but I guess they just didn’t think it would be a lucrative enough option. Maybe the books didn’t sell well enough.
Either way, the series makes for an enjoyable 7-ish hours of viewing, and will definitely satisfy the cravings of any fellow “Oncers”, while they wait for the next episode with bated breath. The special effects are a little dated by todays standards, but the make-up and costumes stand the test of time, and the sets are uniformly gorgeous. So, if you’re a fan of fairytale fiction, I recommend you seek this series out – it’ll be worth your time.
Oh yeah, and the opening sequence won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Design in 2000. If you watch it, I’m sure you’ll be able to see why. It’s kinda awesome.