The Back Row’s Weekly Serial Review: King of the Royal Mounted

I have mentioned before that I like to spend the extra few bucks and get my serials on DVD. They have usually been cleaned up and sometimes you get special features. You also avoid the situation I have with this serial where you have the first eleven chapters but are missing the last one. Then again, perhaps there only were eleven chapters and Sergeant King really does fall off that cliff and the Nazis get away with it. Wow, that’s a dark twist I never saw coming.

Quick Facts
Released in 1940
Directed by John English and William Witney
Written by Franklin Adreon, Norman Hall, Joseph Poland, Barney Sarecky, and Sol Shor
Starring Allan Lane, Robert Strange, and Robert Kellard

Compound X, a mineral found only in Canada, can cure infantile paralysis, but the Germans discover that mixed with copper sulphate it becomes highly magnetic and is ideal for use in sea mines. It is up to Sergeant King, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, to stop the Axis from smuggling the rare mineral out of Canada.

King of the Royal Mounted is a decent serial and a giant Canadian cliché. It started life as a comic strip in 1935 and was later turned into a series of kids’ books, a feature film, and then a series of serial episodes.

Of all the serials he has directed, apparently William Witney has very few positive memories of King of the Royal Mounted. It had a small budget, he referred to it as pure propaganda, and he didn’t get along with the main actor, Allan Lane. However, despite all of this it is still a pretty good serial. The story moves forward at a measured pace, It has boat chases, some interesting cliff hangers (one of which involves King in a lumber yard, unconscious on a conveyer belt, heading for a giant circular saw), horses, decent fight scenes, and although the propaganda is pretty blatant, it is entertaining, and not as heavy handed as something like the Batman serial.

What is heavy handed is the amount of Canadiana they decide to try and cram into this serial. It seems as if the writers felt they needed to remind the audience that it was set in Canada. (As if having half the characters Mounties in full uniform wasn’t enough.) Let’s start with the location names: Pine Point, Mackenzie Inlet, Moosehead Inlet, Moosehead Tunnel, Caribou Pitchblende Mine, Beaver Cove, Beaver Junction. (Here on The Back Row’s Weekly Serial Review, we do not stoop to making beaver jokes. However, we do encourage you to make your own.) There are also lumberjacks, a fur trader, and a French Canadian villain whose accent sounds more Italian than French and who wears a toque in the middle of summer. There is also the most impractical bear trap I have ever seen. It involves a large platform, suspended in the air on a pulley system, with spikes sticking out the bottom. Everything is either coming from or being sent to Ottawa. All they seem to be missing is beer, snow, and hockey.

However, it is the clichés, and cheesy lines like, “I didn’t expect a tea party when I joined the Mounties.” that makes this otherwise ordinary serial fun to watch. (Even without the last chapter.)

Things to watch for
-An underwater fight scene.

The Back Row Weekly Serial Drinking Game
While watching a serial, anytime you or a friend point out a plot hole or inconsistency, take a drink. (Note: Lax safety at a sawmill is not a plot hole. Having the button to turn the giant saw on out in the open, but the button to turn the saw off locked in a panel, is.)
Odds of getting sloshed: Medium

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