Jack of All Trades 2.5 – Croquey in the Pokey

I said to myself, “Wow, I really hope tonight’s episode isn’t as inappropriate as some of the others,” and the very first shot is a close-up of guest star Ingrid Park’s cleavage. The almost funny thing is that – probably because we’re missing the Silver Scream Spook Show, which has been postponed for several more weeks – I had a fancy the other day to introduce him to Elvira’s Movie Macabre. This is while knowing perfectly well that, as amusing as I find her, eight-going-on-nine is far too young for some of her comedy. Then I said “Hey, what about that Mistress of the Dark movie she made”… and then I remembered the boobs-n-tassles finale of that movie. So no.

So the episode opened with that shot and the devil opened up a very special cell for me for when I get done with this mortal coil forty or fifty years from now, but then the gods of inappropriate comedy smiled on me and said that was enough for one half hour, and the rest of the show was perfectly kid-acceptable. At one point, the Daring Dragoon smacks a prison guard face-first into an alarm bell several times. Finishing with him, our hero says “That’s using your head,” and the kid couldn’t see straight for laughing so hard.

Jack of All Trades 1.14 – It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Opera

Perhaps as they finished the first season of Jack of All Trades, the producers asked themselves what elements of their show were working best with the under-tens and did them all again. Fight scenes, crazy slapstick physics, bad puns, even gross-out comedy with another visiting historical personage playing with his food. In a lovely followup to Blackbeard and all his screaming and burping at the dinner table in episode three, this installment introduces us to George III, who pratfalls, spits wine everywhere, and does everything with his mashed potatoes short of making a model of Devil’s Tower.

Ingrid Park’s Camille is back for more villainy, and this time she conspires with an actor to have George III assassinated at the opera. Maybe it’s because we watched the classic Bugs Bunny cartoon The Rabbit of Seville a couple of weeks ago, but I figured somebody on stage was going to get clobbered with a sandbag, and I was not wrong. This was an absolutely splendid, demented, and very funny half hour of television, and the kid’s sorry to see it head back to the shelf.

We’ll pick up Jack and Emilia’s adventures in season two of Jack of All Trades in mid-April. Stay tuned!

Jack of All Trades 1.12 – Up the Creek

We asked our son whether he had heard of Lewis and Clark before. He asked “You mean Lois & Clark, the Superman show?” “No, no, the explorers,” I said. He hadn’t. The difficulty facing a kid in the 21st Century is that every year that passes brings more to find out and learn than ever before. He and his buddies have their own interests and obsessions, and the ever-changing school curriculum has, with big thumbs-up from me, been emphasizing more people, from diverse backgrounds and ethnicity, than the same core canon of the same three dozen American heroes that the generations before mine enshrined and sanctified. I’d much rather his teachers spend a few minutes on Katherine Johnson, who passed away last week, than Lewis and Clark.

Earlier today, we were in Nashville for a real quick day trip to visit Marie’s sister. She’s relocated to Arizona but was in town for a conference. She and her team had a couple of free hours before their flight home, so we went to see her and get some lunch and do some quick shopping. We’d visited Parnassus Books once before and left incredibly impressed. Today, our son and I found this remarkable series under the umbrella title Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, which presents “thrilling, daring, and downright gruesome stories from American history, in Graphic novel form.” I insisted that he bring Big Bad Ironclad home with him. He’s probably a bit too gentle for the one about the Donner Party, but he can get behind big 19th Century warships knocking the daylights out of each other.

Our kid’s not the biggest fan of sitting still and learning names and dates and facts and figures, but maybe if the material’s presented in an exciting or funny way, he might take a fact or two to bed with him. In tonight’s Jack of All Trades, Lewis and Clark show up in Pulau-Pulau thinking that George Washington is still the president and that the island is Oregon. It’s a screamingly funny episode with a hilarious accidental deathtrap and a magnetized suit of armor. He was howling with laughter, and with good reason. That bit where a volley of musket balls freeze in mid-air before changing direction is hysterical.

So not a bad day for our son. He learned about the Battle of Hampton Roads and he even met Sacajawea. Maybe he didn’t do it the traditional way, but he knows a thing or two he didn’t yesterday.

Jack of All Trades 1.11 – Love Potion No. 10

A couple of nights ago, I happened to notice that episode 13 of this show didn’t sound even remotely child-friendly. Apparently the Marquis de Sade has a nearby pleasure island. I checked it out overnight and scrubbed that one off the to-do list.

If I had any sense, I would’ve looked over the rest of the series and left this one on the shelf as well. The grownups enjoyed it when we weren’t cringing. It introduces Ingrid Park as the governor’s wife, but sadly the flames of passion have long left their marriage and she only has eyes for the heroic Dragoon. Jack and Emilia have to kickstart their smooching – it’s an incredibly useful word when you have a kid in the house – but end up dosing themselves with Emilia’s Spanish fly extract, so they only have eyes for each other. Maybe an evening rendezvous in the local cathouse, with the governor in the Dragoon’s costume, might help?

Well, a couple of moments sailed pretty close to the edge, but a lot of it was left unspoken and the kid had his head under a blanket for much of it anyways. At least episodes 12 and 14 don’t sound too risque…