A sixteen episode fantasy series from New Zealand, loosely based on the legend of William Tell. In this version, Will, named for his country's great hero, is a farm boy living with his parents. Kreel, a dark magician, raises Xax to overthrow the King and Queen and take control of the country. Kalem, a light sorceress, chooses Will to rescue the young princess Vara and find the crystal arrow that will enable her to get rid of Kreel. Will assembles a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits and they spend a lot of time hiking around New Zealand's beautiful scenery.
The television series contains examples of:
AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle: Depending on who's saying it under what circumstances, Drogo is either DRO-go or DROG-o. He himself pronounces it DROG-o, but he doesn't object to either pronounciation.
Arbitrary Skepticism: Having followed Will around for sixteen episodes and witnessed both his and Kalem's abilities, his team have a loud discussion about whether he's the True Hero who can claim the McGuffin and how gruesomely he'll die if he isn't. While he's trying to claim the McGuffin, about five feet from him, where he can clearly hear them. None of them try to stop him, though.
Artistic License - Medicine: Will has to wander around a snowy mountain to find a MacGuffin. He collapses in the snow and is rescued some amount of time later by Aruna. He's perfectly well able to speak. Aruna drags him back into a cave - with some falling down on the way - lights a fire, half strips him and sticks him under a cloak. She's sleeping next to him, but they're not close enough to share heat. Nevertheless, Will is fine when he wakes up, give or take the occasional need to sit down.
Awesome Moment of Crowning: We miss the actual crowning, catching up in the aftermath, but Vara is crowned queen at the end of the finale.
Behind the Black: Will makes it across a completely open plain, past several lines of warriors, and directly behind Xax without being seen, because everyone is watching Aruna, Leon and the kids out on the plain.
There's also the time Kalem changes forms from Laliya back to herself, but only Will sees it, because the others are looking at him and showing no interest at all in what he's watching so intently.
Bloodless Carnage: Mostly averted by using crystal weapons that kill without injury. Will uses a crossbow, but mostly for trick shots. The most blood we ever see is when he manages to get stabbed through his chainmail shirt, and even then he just gets it wiped and pulls the shirt back on without worrying about a bandage.
Bodyguard Crush: Vara may be developing one on Will; it's usually Leon or Drogo looking after her, but she goes to Will for hugs and comfort and has a lot of faith in him. It doesn't stop her setting him up with Aruna at the end, but she does look vaguely rueful about it.
Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Aruna once refers to 'milars' as a unit of distance; this never comes up again. They also refer to 'Jormanda' or 'the powers' who seem to be deities.
Cry into Chest: Will and Vara were heading for this in The Spirit of Kale, when Aruna was thought dead. Will got as far as getting an arm around her shoulder before Aruna turned up alive and it turned into a Group Hug instead.
Evil Brit: Xax is not only saddled with a British accent, he also has to rrrrrrroll all his rrrrrrs. Notably, in a dream sequence where he has switched sides, his accent is gone, implying that this trope may be in effect in universe.
Exposition Beam: Kalem persuades Will not to go home by showing him his dog's memories of his parents being killed. This makes Will vengeful instead, but hey, baby steps.
Expository Hairstyle Change: During Will's Heroic BSOD he loses the little braids above and behind his ears and instead pulls all his hair back in a messy ponytail. Oddly, this is also the hairstyle he sports for Vara's coronation, though he's gone back to braids inbetween.
Fantastic Racism: Aruna, who is descended from wild cats, hates both Drogo, descended from wolves, and Alvar, an actual dog. She gets over both within a couple of episodes. Drogo is only slightly wary of her, reasonable given he's just survived a massacre, and Alvar seems to like her perfectly well.
We're told that Heracleans, Leon's people, and Arboreans, Aruna's people, don't get on, but there's no actually evidence of that; Leon and Aruna get on perfectly well.
First Name Basis: The group go back and forth between 'Vara' and 'Princess' even after she starts to warm up to them. They mostly use 'Princess'; 'Vara' is reserved for moments of high emotion. In a milder example, Will is 'William' to everyone throughout the first episode, and switches between 'William' and 'Will' to Leon, Aruna, Drogo and Vara after that. He consistently introduces himself as William Tell, but most guests end up calling him Will anyway. Kalem, Xax and Kreel always call him William or William Tell.
"Freaky Friday" Flip: Will and Drogo are briefly switched in The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Will-in-Drogo takes it far better than Drogo-in-Will, who panics and runs off. Two guest stars are also switched, and one promptly dies, leaving the other stuck in the wrong body.
Girls Have Cooties: Drogo very obviously looks away when Will and Aruna kiss in the finale. He seems more amused than anything, really.
Heroic BSOD: Will, after killing Aruna on Kalem's orders. He abandons the quest and goes to be kicked around on a pig farm for a while.
Hey, It's That Guy!: If you've ever seen anything filmed by Cloud 9, or in New Zealand in general, you'll recognise about half the actors and actresses. Kieran Hutchison, Beth Allen, Katerina Browne and Nathaniel Lees are all main characters, and every second guest star is recognisable.
Hypnotize the Princess: Kreel, to Vara at least three times, and to Xax a few times. At one point he hypnotizes Vara without even being anywhere near her; insteand he plants dreams in her mind.
Kalem also does this to Will in the first episode. He's not very happy about it, because she uses it to make him run instead of fighting Xax's men, and his parents are left behind.
Idiot Ball: At least three episodes would never have happened if Will had listened to Kalem. Early on, though, he didn't trust her very much.
Not only that, but in the first episode Will and his friends get their hands on Shaytana's Eye, the crystal that gives Kreel his power. If they hadn't basically handed it back to him, the whole series could have ended right there.
Lotus-Eater Machine: A whole valley where everyone gets what they want - until the illusions turn bad and start trying to kill them.
Man in a Kilt: Will wears what's clearly a family tartan in two strips hanging from his belt. Dressing up for Vara's coronation involves a plain black kilt with the strips over the top, and a cloak in the same tartan. His mother wears a neckerchief, his father has a sash, and there's a blanket in the same pattern visible in his home. The original William Tell wears a cloak in this pattern, implying that Will is his descendant.
In fact, Will's entire outfit is a replica of William's. This may have been deliberate on the part of his parents; they certainly knew what he was going to have to do.
Missing Trailer Scene: Several scenes and lines of dialogue from Cloud 9's industry trailer never showed up. One appeared as a flashback, despite not showing up the first time.
More Hero Than Thou: Will and Aruna have to get a MacGuffin to Kalem, but the shelter's surrounded by Mooks. Will, still suffering the aftereffects of hypothermia, declares his intention to draw the bad guys away so Aruna can get through. Aruna shoves the MacGuffin into his arms and runs off before he can stop her. Made worse both by the fact that they've been fighting bitterly for most of the episode, and that it leads to Aruna's apparent death.
Orphan's Plot Trinket; Subverted and played straight. Will is an orphan, and he wears a significant necklace, but it didn't come from his parents; Kalem gave it to him to keep him on track. Vara, though, carries around a necklace her father gave her, which immediately identifies her as a princess to anyone who sees it. No matter how far from the Citadel they are. Drogo, the other orphan in the series, doesn't seem to have gotten anything from his parents.
Parental Substitute: Will and Leon trade off for Vara. Leon's usually the one physically protecting her, and he often stays with her when Will's off doing the hero thing, but she consistently looks to Will when she's upset or worried. Once she gets over thinking he's kidnapped her, anyway.
Pimped-Out Dress: Vara, on a couple of occasions. Kreel has a fairly awesome headdress. Everyone dresses up for Vara's coronation apart from Drogo, who just wears his normal clothes.
Psychic Link: Backfires on Will a couple of times, as Kalem's injuries tend to make him very snappish and short tempered. It's a much more stable link than Xax's with Kreel, though; they need crystals to talk to each other, Will and Kalem just talk normally. Will also gains insights through his association with Kalem.
Refusal of the Call: Will refuses Kalem the first time, because Xax and his men are bearing down on his home. Kalem sends him away anyway.
Remember the New Guy: Seven episodes in, Vara breaks back into the Citadel to rescue her nurse, whom she loves dearly and who has always taken care of her. This is neither the character nor the actress specifically referred to as Vara's keeper in the first episode.
Riding into the Sunset: Played ridiculously straight at the end of the finale, where Will and Aruna walk off into the pitch dark night.
Single Tear: Will is a master at this. Vara cries when Aruna dies.
Skyward Scream: Will finds himself brooding over his parents' death for no apparent reason.
Will: They will be AVEEEEEEEENNNNNGGGGGEEEEEEEDDDDDDD!
Something Only He Would Wear: Vara identifies Will in Doppelganger because he's wearing the crystal arrow pendant. Apparently the spell that created two perfect replicas of Will couldn't duplicate the pendant.
Spider-Sense: Drogo, ostensibly as a result of his wolf heritage.
Spoiler Opening: The credits spoil, in various ways, Seth, Drogo, and Vara.
Stock Footage: Kalem looks into a fire. Kreel looks into his cauldren. Close up on Kalem's eyes. Close up on Kreel's eyes. Kalem throws dust into the fire. Kreel makes vaguely magical hand motions. Sun rise, sun set. Alvar whines. Trees blow. Most episodes will have their own bits of stock footage as well.
Sweet Polly Oliver: Aruna and Vara, in different episodes. Vara at least is young enough to get away with not changing her voice. Aruna not only doesn't change her voice, she also doesn't bother to hide her throat.
Synchronisation: The crystal deathwands are tuned to their users, so they only work for that person. At least, that's what everyone thinks. Turns out they actually tune the person to them, instead, as Will learns.
Take My Hand: Vara, trying to get away from Will's group who she thinks kidnapped her, has to be rescued this way. She manages to break Will's bow while being rescued.
Team Dad: Leon. He spends the most time looking after the children, and during Will's Heroic BSOD it's Leon who takes the kids and protects them.
Technical Pacifist: Will. Even if he hits someone with an arrow, they just pull them back out, and he has several chances to kill Xax which he doesn't take.
The Chains of Commanding: Will has trouble every so often, not helped by Kalem giving out to him for not taking enough responsibilty. And then immediately pooh poohing his plans. Backfires on her when he refuses to listen to her, since he's the leader.
The Evils of Free Will: Kreel has a complicated plan involving brainwashing people and sending them into the villages with the ability to bring terrible pain to anyone who speaks ill of Kreel or Xax, without them knowing they're doing it. He hopes to have everyone brainwashed into thinking and saying only good things about Xax.
The Kindnapper: Will and the others take Vara from the citadel against her will in the first episode. It's to protect her from Xax, who's one step away from arranging a fatal accident for her, but she considers it kidnapping for at least another episode and makes several attempts to escape them.
Will: Did you know where (the McGuffin) was all along?
Will: You couldn't have given us a hint?
Kalem: What sort of hero would you be if you couldn't find these things for yourself?
They Call Me Mr Tibbs: Vara is insistent that she is a Princess and should be addressed as 'Your Highness'. This mostly fades as the series goes on, and by the last episode she's joking about it with Drogo.
Trick Arrow: Will shoots net arrows a couple of times. Note that his usual bolts are very light anyway and are mostly used for trick shots; it's rare to see him actually injure someone with them.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Alum and the other gladiators in Combat, last seen looking glum when Will is fetched for his fight with Gar.
What You Are in the Dark: Will has run into a mine fire to save the last prisoner, trapped in a pit. The bars on the pit burn him when he touches them, the mine's about to explode, and when he gets a good look at the prisoner he realises it's his new girlfriend's ex-boyfriend. Will is desperately, painfully in love with the girl, and no one will question him if he returns alone.
Kalem: No one will reproach you, William Tell. You cannot lift the grid and the mine is catching fire. You have done all you can.
Will: (beat) You mean I can leave him?
Kalem: And have Laliya, your love.
Instead he endures the pain, frees the man, and reunites him with the girl. It turns out to be a Secret Test of Character.
Apart from that, Will occasionally finds himself in a position to kill Xax, which would make life much simpler for everyone. He doesn't do it for various reasons; Xax is helpless, Xax has helped him, or he just can't bring himself to do it.
William Telling: It's Aruna who makes the famous shot. Will does shoot an apple, but it's tied to a string, not on anyone's head.