While producing a kid’s TV programme as a tie-in to a toy line is certainly nothing new (this reviewer has fond memories of the likes of Transformers, Dino-Riders, Masters of the Universe, Visionaries and Centurions), it doesn’t mean that the resultant show needs to be entirely a cynical cash-grab. Hell, The Lego Movie itself proved that, and Nexo Knights is one of the latest of a number of fun series based on Lego themes.
It takes place in the realm of Knighton, a medieval kingdom running on sci-fi technology, where the vengeful court jester Jestro has stolen the Book of Monsters, a sentient and snarky tome of dark magic, and set about wreaking havoc on the countryside. Standing against him are the Nexo Knights, five recent graduates of the Knights Academy who are always on hand to foil his schemes.
Team leader is Clay, who rigidly adheres to the notions knights are supposed to embody, occasionally to the detriment of actually being able to uphold them; Macy is the only girl on the team but determined to not be The Girl, a goal in which she is sometimes hampered by also being the realm’s princess; and Lance is a spoiled rich kid whose narcissism and arrogance sometimes overshadows his diligence for his duties. Less well-developed but still engaging are Aaron, an extreme sports athlete who uses his shield as a hoverboard, and Axl, a big-hearted and perpetually hungry strongman.
The different and occasionally clashing personalities possessed by each of them prevents their interactions from becoming repetitive, while their varying weaponry gives the battle sequences endless variation. Events usually culminate with digital wizard Merlock 2.0 downloading enhancements into the knights’ weapons and armour via their shields (as long as there’s a decent wi-fi signal for the transfer). The power-up sequences are staged dramatically enough to actually give you goosebumps, and will have viewers of a certain age whispering “By the power of Grayskull.”
As the series progresses the knights become increasingly efficient at functioning as a team, their various talents complementing each other as they develop manoeuvres that combine their skills, giving events a feeling of development and continuity sometimes lacking in children’s TV. Some episodes incorporate common themes such as logic puzzles, personal fears and the importance of teamwork, but each is given a spin interesting enough to prevent it feeling overly familiar.
While not overtly comedic, the tone is light-hearted enough to allow for some humour, such as self-aware observations (“Do we have to pose heroically after every battle?”) and bad but amusing puns (a sword-shaped USB stick called Techcalibur). There are also numerous jokes that will fly over the heads of children but give adults a wry chuckle, including periodic references to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
While first and foremost a series made for younger kids, Nexo Knights has plenty in it for older children and adults to enjoy, and is a solid entry in the growing library of entertaining Lego media.
NEXO KNIGHTS SEASON 1 / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: DAVE OSBORNE, JERRY FORDER, STU GAMBLE, JEAN PAUL VERMEULEN / SCREENPLAY: MARK HOFFMEIER, ERNIE ALTBACKER, JOHN DEREVLANY, ANDREW ROBINSON / STARRING: GILES PANTON, ERIN MATHEWS, IAN HANLIN, ALESSANDRO JULIANI, BRIAN DRUMMOND, VINCENT TONG, MARK OLIVER / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW