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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Fantasy > Battles > Quests > Archeology > The Feathered Serpent – The Complete Series (1976 – 1978/Acorn DVD Set)

The Feathered Serpent – The Complete Series (1976 – 1978/Acorn DVD Set)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-      Extras: C       Episodes: B



Dark Aztec gods?  Court intrigue?  Poison and curses?  A witch-woman with a crazy doll that might be alive?  By all accounts, the 1976 – 1978 British drama The Feathered Serpent should be a hot mess, but a stellar cast, cool costumes, and solid scripts make this twelve episode “historical” drama well worth watching.  Anchored by the immensely talented Patrick Toughton (the second Doctor Who) as Nasca, deposed high priest of the bloody god Teshcata, the series also includes standout performances from Diane Keen as Empress Chimalma, and Brian Deacon as the dashing Prince Heumac.  Sheila Burrell gives a stunning performance as Keelag, a witch-woman who lives with a strange-looking doll. 


The creative team of writers John Kane and Edgar Wallace, and director Victor Hughes were not afraid to take a few chances with this series.  The action builds slowly toward the conflict between the followers of Teshcata and the adherents of Quala, the Feathered Serpent god.  The battle seemingly leaves Nasca dead, and his foul blood cult smashed by the heroic action of the Toltec hero Heumac.  However, Nasca does not die so easily, and Keelag seemingly calls him back from the realm of the dead to wreak further havoc.  The show treads the line between the characters fear and belief in a magical world of gods and demons, and the reality of history.  No overt magic ever really transpires, but mystery and action abound. 


The sets and costumes manage to match the quality of the cast’s strong performances.  If anyone felt ridiculous in all of the make-up and loin cloths, it didn’t show on the screen.  Troughton possesses the role of the dark priest Nasca with fanatical fervor.  His desire for vengeance, and the evil he will commit to get it, make him a perfect villain.  His and the other great performances in the show could have been the fodder for some great extras--interviews, deleted scenes, a feature on the making of the show.  None of this is included.  All one gets is a brief feature on the history behind the events in the show. 


Although nothing like the hard-hitting, hyper realistic treatment of Aztec culture seen in Mel Gibson’s woefully underrated feature film Apocalypto, this campy romp through Aztec history and mythology will draw viewers in if given it the chance.  Fans of Mr. Troughton will not want to miss his powerful performance in this unique role. 



-   Scott Pyle


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