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Old January 18th, 2005, 03:29 PM   #1
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Default What the DeSanto/Singer writers did next: Young Blades

'Young Blades' Swashbuckles Back From the Brink

(Tuesday, January 18 11:42 AM)

By Kate O'Hare

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) It's not a vampire show, but PAX's "Young Blades" has certainly demonstrated a talent for rising from the dead. First announced at the struggling network's upfront presentation in spring 2002, the swashbuckling comedy-drama -- a version of Alexandre Dumas' classic "The Three Musketeers" re-imagined for younger viewers -- seemed to disappear into development limbo, never to be heard from again.

Cut to two-and-a-half years later, and "Young Blades" is not only still alive, it's premiering, on Sunday, Jan. 23, at 8 p.m. ET on PAX.

This is the result of determination on the parts of creators Dan Angel and Billy Brown of American production company The Hatchery, LLC, in partnership with executive producers James Shavick and Kirk Shaw of Canada's Shavick/Insight Studios. "Young Blades" began shooting its 22-episode order (entirely in high-definition) last fall in the Vancouver area.

"It seems like you've been on a really long journey," Brown says. "Along the way, there have been so many depths, fights with attacking marauders and rivers that you have to cross. You finally get to the end of the Oregon Trail, and you seem like a changed person once you get there."

Set in 17th-century France (some establishing footage was shot in France), the show centers around a sort of Musketeer academy, where swordfighters-in-training learn to defend their homeland and its future ruler, teenage Prince Louis (Robbie Sheehan), who will one day be King Louis XIV. Scottish singer/actress Sheena Easton has also joined the cast as Louis' mother, Queen Anne.

Tobias Mehler ("Taken") plays D'Artagnan Jr., son of the legendary Musketeer (to be played by recurring star Charles Shaughnessy); Karen Cliche ("Mutant X") plays Jacqueline, who pretends to be the male Jacques so she can avenge her family; Zak Santiago plays Ramon, who spouts a free-form poetry he called "rhapsody"; and Mark Hildreth rounds out the quartet as Siroc.

"Babylon 5" star Bruce Boxleitner, sporting a goatee, plays their instructor, Captain Duvall; and Michael Ironside plays their nemesis, the evil Cardinal Mazarin, head of a secret society.

"You look at the shows available," Brown says, "it's lawyers, lawyers, cops, cops, 'Wife Swap,' 'Wife Swap.' There is virtually no opportunity to do a romance/adventure/comedy set in the 17th century. You don't see a lot of that.

"This goes back to the very essence of why you did this in the beginning -- which is, let's pretend. Let's pick up a stick and pretend it's a sword. Let's look over there and pretend there's a pirate ship. It touches the kid in you."

According to Angel and Brown, the cast underwent a couple of weeks of training prior to production, but the work goes on.

"They're continually training," Brown says. "The swordmaster was very impressed how athletic they were."

"In this show," Angel says, "which is very important, we have a real ensemble. They're having fun; they really like each other; they're great actors together. You can't pay for that kind of chemistry. They're spending a lot of their own time working together, continuing to train and practice. They are loving it."

Brown is particularly impressed with Cliche, who showed off her beauty and her butt-kicking skills in "Mutant X."

"To me," he says, "there's something about her acting style that hearkens back a bit to the heroines of the '40s, a kind of clarity and cleanness to her acting. It's very crisp.

"I just watched an episode which is not put together yet, where she saves the exiled Charles II of England. In the guise of her woman character, she falls in love with him. He's not aware she's a Musketeer."

The producers are also introducing a monk character, not yet cast, to counterbalance Mazarin, whose allegiance to the Church is only skin deep.

"Jacqueline has a sincere faith," Brown says. "It wouldn't be unusual to see her praying. There's a monk that she goes to for historical research. You gotta have a monk. You gotta have a friar occasionally."

While PAX traditionally has an older audience, Brown and Angel are hoping to build on that and expand.

"A perfect world," Angel says, "would be to keep their regular viewers in place and add younger viewers."

"It's good versus evil," Brown says. "It's the Musketeers fighting for justice and glory. It's stories of clear-cut heroes and villains, and also swashbuckling action, for the older audience.

"For the newer audience, we have a very attractive young cast. We have cool ideas such as 'rhapsody.' They hang out at the first coffeehouse in Paris. It's like 'Pirates of the Caribbean,' that appeals to everyone. We're going for all ages across the board."
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Old January 18th, 2005, 07:20 PM   #2
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That actually sounds interesting. Swords are rarely a bad thing.
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Old January 19th, 2005, 01:50 AM   #3
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Oh my God!
I've seen commercials for this show. I burst out laughing, I thought it was a joke. It's so bad looking, so so bad. That said, if that syndicated Lost World series can last three years, then I guess this has a chance. But I suspect fans of Dumas' novel will be buckling some swashes right through their TV sets.
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