SALT LAKE CITY — Picture a clean, kid-friendly version of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” with bad graphics, and you’ll get an approximate idea of BYUtv’s newest original series "Dwight in Shining Armor.”
So far, BYUtv’s attempts at original scripted TV shows have been mixed — “Granite Flats” (2013-15) gained a dedicated following but still fell to cancellation, while the Orson Scott Card co-created “Extinct” (2017) lasted only one season. As the network's third original show, time will tell if “Dwight in Shining Armor” will be the network's game-changer. In the two episodes screened for the press, the premise, writing and acting show a lot of potential. Maybe with some more attention and money, the show will be able to reach it.
“Dwight in Shining Armor” takes a twist on the “Sleeping Beauty” story. After Princess Gretta's court magician puts her under a spell to protect her from her enemies, she is awakened in modern America by an unsuspecting, clean-cut high schooler named Dwight. When he falls face first into the pit where Gretta is buried, Dwight accidentally kisses her, putting himself under magical contract to become her champion and defend her against her “hordes” of enemies who have awakened with her.
The goofy series does a good job of not taking itself seriously and, as production designer Kody Busch told the Deseret News for a previous article, in this show “the suspension of belief just goes out the window.” "Dwight" also doesn’t worry too often about following logic, and for that reason might work best for children, or adults who don’t care about giant plot holes (such as how a medieval princess came to be buried in America in the first place).
But there are a sizable number of genuinely funny lines scattered throughout the show, and situations so humorous you can (sometimes) forgive that they don’t always make sense. Sloane Siegel is goofy and lovable as the do-gooder Dwight, and Caitlin Carmichael is a tough, gritty Princess Gretta who has actual chemistry with Siegel, while Joel McCrary delivers his lines as the court magician Baldric with comedic grace. If you ignore the fact that all the medieval characters inexplicably have American accents (except for one that’s somehow Italian), the acting is pretty good.
But perhaps the best part of “Dwight” is how it bends overdone tropes. Instead of giving the tough, armored Gretta a feminine makeover so Dwight can go googly-eyed at the sight of her in a dress, he simply tells her, “Your look is awesome. Don’t change a thing.” And rather than the champion rescuing the princess with sword in hand, Gretta is the superior fighter (just believe that she is, no matter what you actually see), while Dwight wins people over with his charm and wit.
Computer graphics and fight scene issues could both be solved with more money, and plot holes could be explained in future episodes. Even the second episode seems to improve on the pilot, giving Dwight and Gretta fuller back stories that will hopefully just get more fleshed out as the story continues. There’s a lot of potential behind “Dwight in Shining Armor” — here’s hoping the show can fulfill it.
“Dwight in Shining Armor” premieres on BYUtv Monday, March 18, at 7:30 p.m.