A to Z Challenge: Fictional Favorites, Day 26

Z is for — Zorro, from Johnston McCulley’s classic adventure, The Mark of Zorro

Swish, swish, swish. Three flicks of the blade carve the infamous Z as Zorro leaves his mark on another adversary. Dressed all in black, his face hidden behind a black mask, the legendary hero of 1820s Spanish California rides to the rescue of the poor and oppressed, fighting injustice like a Robin Hood of the old west. Don Diego de la Vega, nobleman and wealthy landowner, plays the vapid fop in public while hiding his secret identity as the masked highwayman.

Zorro (Spanish for fox) was originally created by McCulley in 1919 as a five-part serialized story entitled The Curse of Capistrano — the nickname given Zorro by the corrupt politicians and soldiers for his constant bedeviling. The 1920 silent film with Douglas Fairbanks further popularized the tale. McCulley penned over 60 stories of the adventures of Zorro, and the character has since been immortalized in many other film and novel and television adaptations.

I always liked the Disney TV series with Guy Williams that originally ran from 1957 to 1959. I remember watching the reruns as I was growing up. I’ve also seen the 1920 Fairbanks movie and both movies with Antonio Banderas, from 1998 and 2005. On my to-be-watched list are the 1940 film with Tyrone Power, the 1990s series with Duncan Regehr, and some of the animated versions.

Best of all, though, I liked the Queen of Swords — Zorro with a twist: a female swordswoman in a black mask, fighting injustice in early 19th century Spanish California. The TV series with Tessie Santiago ran for one season from 2000 to 2001. Given the scarcity of female sword-wielding action heroes, I so wish it had run longer.

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Tessie Santiago as Tessa Alvarado in The Queen of Swords

Tessie Santiago as Tessa Alvarado in
The Queen of Swords

A to Z Challenge: Fictional Favorites, Day 24

X is for — Xena, Warrior Princess

As I’ve mentioned (probably too many times now), I love a good swashbuckling adventure with lots of action and sword fighting — particularly sword fighting. And I’ve found many books, movies, and TV shows with exciting sword fights and duels. The problem is that most of the time it’s the men who get to have all the fun. Female swordswomen, other than Red Sonja and Athos’ Musketeer daughter, are few and far between, which is why I like Xena. She’s strong and fierce and can handle a sword as well as, if not better than, any man out there.

Xena, Warrior Princess was a TV series spin-off from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys with Kevin Sorbo, that ran from 1995 to 2001. In her past, Xena, played by Lucy Lawless, was a ruthless warrior and warlord, but at the start of the series, she has renounced her cruel and power-hungry ways and turned to the side of good. She travels through a fictional world of ancient Greece and surrounding areas, along with her sidekick and conscience Gabrielle, played by Renee O’Connor. Xena seeks to redeem herself for her past evils by helping the weak and oppressed. Her new chosen path isn’t easy. Sometimes she struggles with her inner demons and teeters on the brink of reverting to her old ways, but Gabrielle’s influence keeps her going in the right direction.

I liked Xena, Warrior Princess, not just because of the sword fighting and adventure, but also because of the camaraderie between Xena and Gabrielle, the humor, and the quirky supporting characters that added so much to the show.

One interesting bit of trivia: Xena executive producer Sam Raimi also directed the Spider-man trilogy, the Evil Dead series, and Oz the Great and Powerful, among other things. His younger brother, Ted Raimi, played the recurring role of Joxer in Xena.

If anyone knows of other movies/TV shows with female sword fighters, please let me know in the comments. I’m always on the lookout for more.

Lucy Lawless as Xena and Renee O'Connor as Gabrielle from Xena, Warrior Princess Photo Credit: Hercules/Xena wiki

Lucy Lawless as Xena and Renee O’Connor as Gabrielle
from Xena, Warrior Princess
Photo Credit: Hercules/Xena wiki

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A to Z Challenge: Fictional Favorites, Day 22

V is for — Velma Dinkley, from the Scooby Doo cartoons

When I was growing up, I loved Saturday morning Scooby Doo. The original series, Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, ran from 1969 to 1970. Mystery solvers, Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and their Great Dane, Scooby Doo, traveled to various places in their psychedelically-painted van, the Mystery Machine. Wherever they went, strange things happened, and Fred would invariably say, “Looks like we’ve got another mystery on our hands.” Or words to that effect. Then the gang would set about gathering clues and solving the mystery.

Velma was the smartest of the group, always figuring out whodunit by the end of the show. “Jinkies!” — her catchphrase — prefaced many a startling discovery or sudden “monster” appearance that sent everyone scrambling. Her one Achilles’ heel was her glasses, which she was forever losing at the most inopportune moment, usually when she was about to run into the ghost or whatever villainous creature they were investigating at the time. And as anyone who has ever watched Scooby Doo knows, she can’t see a thing without her glasses!

The Scooby Doo show went through several incarnations over the years, including animated movies and live-action feature films. I haven’t seen any of the live-action films because I just don’t think they can compare to the cartoons I loved so much. My favorite animated Scooby Doo series are the original Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, the New Scooby Doo Movies with celebrity guest stars (1972-1974), and What’s New, Scooby Doo? (2005-2006).

One of the funniest episodes is A Terrifying Round with a Menacing Metallic Clown, from season three of What’s New, Scooby Doo?. Velma, who is terrified of clowns, swaps roles with the cowardly Shaggy, who wants the mystery solved so he can continue his mini-golf tournament and win the championship. He boldly analyzes the clues and takes on the monstrous clown, while Velma cowers and runs. Other favorites include, from the New Scooby Doo Movies, Episode #15: The Caped Crusader Caper with Batman and Robin and the gang helping a hilariously stuttering professor, and Episode #17: The Mystery of Haunted Island with the Globetrotters.

Velma

Velma

Fred, Velma, Scooby Doo, Shaggy, and Daphne

Fred, Velma, Scooby Doo, Shaggy, and Daphne

The A to Z April Blogging Challenge!

I’m excited and a little nervous. This will be my first A to Z Challenge, and for someone who only started blogging less than a month ago, it seems like a huge undertaking. To blog every day for a month. I think I can do it, though. I’m going to give it my best try.

I know I missed the official “Theme Reveal” day, so I’m going to do it today instead. My theme for the Challenge will be “Fictional Favorites.” Each day, I’ll choose a fictional character or two, from books, movies, TV, etc., that start with the appropriate letter and write about why I like them and/or what makes them special to me. It’s been fun coming up with a list, though that in itself has been a bit of a challenge, too — there are just too many characters from which to choose!

Only three more days to go. I’ve got to get writing!