Jack of All Trades
There ain't a French or pirate rogue who don't... know Jack!
was an action/comedy show that ran for one-and-a-half seasons in 2000, paired with Cleopatra 2525
. Set in 1801, it is a spiritual relative of Steam Punk
series like The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr..
and The Wild Wild West
, starring Bruce Campbell
as Jack Stiles, an American secret agent sent to the fictional French-controlled island of Palau-Palau. Once there, he meets his British contact and Slap-Slap-Kiss
love interest, fellow spy Emelia Rothschild, and together the two work to stop Napoleon Bonaparte
and other threats to the United States. To the public, Jack serves as Emelia's mild-mannered manservant, but when trouble strikes, he transforms into a masked hero, the Daring Dragoon.
A fun little series with a truly great (and, to the crew's surprise, Emmy Nominated) theme song
Not to be confused with the trope Jack of All Trades
This series contains examples of:
- Affably Evil: Croque.
- Anachronism Stew: The theme song clearly establishes that the show is set in 1801. And yet New France hasn't fallen yet and Blackbeard and Ben Franklin are still alive.
- Artistic License – History: All over the place, naturally. But the biggest error was that the US was allied with Napoleonic France against Britain most of the time. The rest of the time it was neutral.
- Better The Devil You Know: The reason why Jack and Emilia often help Governor Croque keep his job.
- Big Brother Bully: Napoleon to Croque.
- The Cavalier Years: The show takes place long after this time period, but Jack's "Daring Dragoon" character invokes tropes from the era.
- Chekhov's Gun: If an episode starts with Emilia demonstrating a new invention to Jack, you can bet that it will be just what's needed at some point in the episode.
- Clark Kenting: Jack wears a hat and mask to obscure his identity as the Daring Dragoon. He's the only American on the whole frelling island.
- In one gag (featured in the opening) someone rips the Dragoon's mask off... only to find another, identical, mask under it.
- Coat, Hat, Mask: The Daring Dragoon costume.
- Curtain Clothing: How Jack first got his Dragoon disguise.
- Dancing Theme: Best intro sequence ever.
- Double Entendre: Pretty much the whole point.
- The Dragon: Capitaine Brogard
- Embarrassing Nickname: "Fufu" Also subverted in that the way she got it was pretty Bad Ass.
- Expository Theme Tune: A classic (and Emmy-nominated) example.
- Fake Guest Star: Croque and Brogard appeared in almost every episode, but their actors were never credited in the main titles.
- Fluffy Fashion Feathers: Feather boas are part of the outfits in the Marquis de Sade's island.
- Good People Have Good Sex: Avoided in the Marquis de Sade episode. Bondage =/= evil.
- Historical-Domain Character: All over the place, from Napoleon to Ben Franklin to the Marquis de Sade to Catherine the Great. Pretty much anyone who could even vaguely be expected to show up in the early 1800s give or take a decade or three (Franklin and Catherine had already been dead for years by the time of the show, for example.)
- Historical In-Joke: The series is full of them.
- Most people don't realize that "The Louisiana Purchase" was actually Napoleon losing Louisiana in a poker game to the Daring Dragoon.
- In a passing comment, Jack recalls saving West Point from a traitor "named Benedict Arnold."
- Lewis and Clark's expedition had been a disaster, missing Oregon by "about 10,000 miles." Jack got them on the right course and even set them up with a certain female Indian guide.
- The rumor about Catherine the Great and a horse apparently started due to an unfortunate shadow play (a pendant in the shape of a horse was swinging in front of a window, while Catherine bent over to fix her boot; the protagonists were behind a curtain and saw what appeared to be a horse repeatedly mounting a woman).
- Ignore The Disability: Spoofed: Having been admonished not to comment on Napoleon's height, Jack comes right out and calls him shorty (it is notable that Napoleon was played by Verne Troyer).
- Improvised Parachute: Used by Jack (and President Jefferson's niece!) to escape the French in Canada.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: How could anyone not like Governor Croque?
- Instant Messenger Pigeon: ... as played by a talking parrot.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: "A scoundrel with a heart" according to the theme song.
- Just a Stupid Accent: The show takes place on a French colony, but French characters inevitably just speak English with a silly accent. One could conceivably justify this as characters speaking English for Jack and Emelia's benefit, but the trope is in force even during scenes where every character is French.
- The Lad-ette: Kentucky Sue is a fairly exaggerated example, close to a female Boisterous Bruiser.
- Large Ham: "DO YOU KNOW WHAT I DO TO CREAM PUFFS?"
- Loveable Rogue: Jack, of course.
- Mister Big: Napoleon (who is an actual midget)
- Ms. Fanservice: Emelia (Angela Dotchin) is fairly attractive.
- The Napoleon: The man himself. Played by Verne Troyer.
- Obfuscating Insanity: King George, to throw off Napoleon. According to George, Napoleon is so much The Chess Master that he panics if he can't predict your actions.
- Of Corsets Sexy: The Marquis de Sade's island.
- Parachute Petticoat: In the first episode, Jack rescues President Jefferson's niece from a French fort in Canada. To escape the fort, Jack and the girl jump off a high cliff. They are saved because Jack grabs on to her feet and her skirt billows out to form a parachute. (Jack also gets an excellent view of her petticoats.)
- Pirate: Blackbeard, even though he should be long dead by the time the show is set.
- Polly Wants a Microphone
- Prison Episode: "Croquey in the Pokey." Croque is framed for plotting to assassinate Napoleon and Jack (unwillingly) goes to prison to protect him, while Emelia works to prove his innocence.
- Reassigned to Antarctica:
- President Jefferson genuinely believes the mission in Palau-Palau is vital to American interests and that Jack is the best man for the job. Of course, Jefferson knew that Jack was fooling around with his niece and wanted him as far away from her as humanly possible.
- The series itself was an Antarctica for writer/producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. They had successfully show-ran Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, so they were made show-runners for the fifth season of Xena: Warrior Princess. That season wound up being heavily criticized, and, fairly or not, they got the blame from all concerned. More than a few people noticed how they were off Xena before Season 5 ended and suddenly on this series.
- Riding the Bomb: Blackbeard, of all people.
- Selective Magnetism: Applied to the Governor's armor to avert an execution.
- Shout-Out: one episode revolves around France's gift of the Statue of Liberty to the USA. It ends with a re-creation of one of cinema's best known examples of the Twist Ending.
- Shown Their Work: You would think the US and France would have good relations in 1801, except for an undeclared, seldom remembered war between the US and France, called the Quasi-War. The US hated both Britain and France at the time, and many Americans even hated the French much more. The 1801 setting is also surprisingly appropriate for the Cold War-esque nature of the Britain vs. France conflict in the show. It takes place during (technically, just prior to) the Peace of Amiens, a brief period when Britain and France were not actually at war with each other.
- Skunk Stripe: Blackbeard has one in his beard.
- Talk Like a Pirate: Blackbeard, of course!
- The Unreveal: Captain Brogard once had the opportunity to rip off the mask of "the Daring Dragoon" and reveal his secret identity... except that Jack was wearing a second mask underneath the one Brogard ripped off!
- Well Done Daughter Gal: Emelia feels her father never truly supported her following in his footsteps as a spy. In truth, he didn't - not because of gender roles, but because he was haunted by the thought of her dying in the line of duty and having to bury her.