Crossbow Header

Dark forces threaten the peace within the kingdom of Kale: with the help of a magic crystal the evil Lord Xax strives to rule over the land and put all its inhabitants under his cruel yoke. The king has been murdered, evil has come to Kale - but the people have not lost all hope. Because of an old prophecy that says that the spirit of their greatest hero will return in the kingdom's hour of greatest need - William Tell…

With a plot that is not entirely new the Kiwi series THE LEGEND OF WILLIAM TELL tries to link up to the currently so very popular Fantasy trend. It is certainly no coincidence that the stunning scenery of New Zealand - where the successful adventures of XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS and HERCULES THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS take place as well - serves as backdrop for the freedom fight of William Tell - similarities and parallels to the famous forerunner shows are absolutely intended.

The somewhat original Fantasy-adaptation about the story of the Swiss National Hero, that Friedrich Schiller created an everlasting monument about, unites a cast that almost without exception has had stints on either XENA or HERCULES.

First of all, the actor who is playing "Tell", Kieren Hutchison, who played Talus on XENA. Then Andrew Binns, who portrays the evil Lord Xax and was Hippocrates on XENA. But also the rest of the cast - Sharon Tyrrell, Ray Henwood and Katrina Browne as well as Nathaniel Lees who portrayed the infamous "Blue Priest" on HERCULES - all of them had proper Fantasy experience before producers Lesley Jones and Raymond Thompson hired them for THE LEGEND OF WILLIAM TELL.

This 90s version of the tale about the freedom fighter builds on a similar colourful mixture of historic parody and Fantasy out of this world like its successful forerunner shows. Very little of the classic subject matter remains in this new version: the villain is not the evil landvogt but a lord with a magical talent. Also he does not come down a narrow pass either but lives in a dark and gloomy fortress. And it is not about the freedom of Switzerland but that of the imaginary kingdom of Kale. Young Tell is not the thoughtful moralist described by Schiller but instead a dashing daredevil who does not shrink back from a fight to free his country from the yoke of despotism. The crossbow as Tell's weapon of choice is the only thing that remains. The creator of the show, Harry Duffin, must have been aware that the crossbow is as much part of the hero as the longbow is part of Robin Hood.

Except for these rather profound changes that were made in the myth of Tell (and put up the question why the hero was named after him in the first place) all involved worked quite hard to make THE LEGEND OF WILLIAM TELL a pleasurable TV entertainment that can definitely hold its own against similar productions like ROBIN HOOD, SINBAD or CONAN. Director of Photography, Renaud Mairie, did a great job of catching the beautiful scenery of the locations in New Zealand in the most spectacular way possible. Production Designer, Dan Hennah, whose work includes BOUNTY with Mel Gibson, provided fitting props for the show and Gavin McLean (TOMMYKNOCKERS) created the costumes for the heroes and their adversaries.The actual highlight of the show, however, is the in every respect very likeable cast whose performance will be especially enjoyed by fans of XENA and HERCULES as some of the guest stars of the cult Raimi shows have long since advanced to secret stars.

For 16 episodes William Tell will fight against the villainous Lord Xax - every day at 6.50 p.m. on RTL 2.
- Michael Peinkofer

NUR DIE ARMBRUST IST GEBLIEBEN, TELL - IM KAMPF GEGEN LORD XAX - TV Highlights # 3/99 (March 1999), pages 24 + 25 - Translated by Ute Lafin

German Site
Kieren Hutchison