I almost gave up on this show after watching the first 4 episodes of the 1st season. I’m not a member of the Bruce Campbell fan cult, but I do enjoy watching his work and he was the only reason I gave this show a chance. However, after suffering through these initial episodes, the show develops its own irreverent charm that is fun to watch.

Bruce Campbell plays Jack Stiles and the costumed crusader, The Daring Dragoon. The show is set sometime after the Revolutionary War during Napoleon’s time in a South Pacific island. Jack is sent to the island by the American government to help a British spy (Emilia), played by Angela Marie Dotchin, to stop Napoleon’s colonizing efforts. The island is run by a French governor who also happens to be Napoleon’s brother. Each episode usually involves some scheme hatched by the governor in the name of Napoleon. Assisted by the intelligent Emilia and her clever inventions, Jack, as the masked Daring Dragoon, takes on the governor and his minions.

Jack of All Trades is similar in style to Xena and Hercules. Historical characters and events are mixed in with irreverent and slapstick action humor. This show is every Bruce Campbell fan’s wet dream as he is in classic form here. Even if you don’t care for his style of humor, his one-liners, which he is FULL of, are quite clever. Surprisingly, a nice chemistry develops between he and Emilia as the show progresses. Their bantering sexual innuendos are fun to watch and you can tell the show’s creators were working toward a romantic relationship for the two characters. The French governor of the island, Governor Croque (Stuart Devenie), plays up all the French cliches to humorous effect. Although he poses no threat as the show’s antagonist, his flamboyant performance and the hinted homosexual tension between he and his Captain of the Guards, Captain Brogard (Stephen Papps) contributes to the show’s success. Some may find the humor and the characters sexist, racist, and/or homophobic, but given the parody-like exaggerated nature of the show, you’re not meant to take any of this seriously and I found it far from offensive.

The miscellaneous historical characters plays a large part of the show’s appeal. One recurring character who steals the show every time he appears is Napoleon, who is played by Vern Troyer (AKA Mini-Me from the Austin Powers films). He is hilarious as the short hot-tempered emperor. I’ve seen Troyer on The Surreal Life and after seeing him on that show, it made me wonder if his performance as Napoleon was nothing more than Troyer playing himself. The stuff he says here are borderline offensive, but there is nothing funnier than seeing a dwarf act like an asshole.

The episode plotlines follow the same pattern show after show, but the point isn’t really to enthrall you with a continuing narrative that reaches a big conclusion (like Lost). The show’s plots serve as a platform for the characters to interact and throw out funny lines and give you some fun, brainless action for 30 minutes. This isn’t a great quality show by any means, but it is a entertaining and mindless escape that you may enjoy if you are patient enough to get past the first few episodes. If you’re a big Bruce Campbell fan, you will definitely enjoy this more than others.

On a final note, the show’s executive producers and sometime writers are Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the screenwriters of the new Star Trek film and Transformers 2. The show is also executive produced by Sam Raimi, which is not surprising since he and Bruce Campbell have a close friendship that dates back to the Evil Dead days.Jack of All Trades