In an era of increasingly fractured media audiences, it can be rare to find a TV show, especially a live-action fantasy, that can be watched and enjoyed by more than one generation of viewer. With such a wealth of platform and options, and often times numerous media-playing devices within one household with which to enjoy them, it is less common for TV series to court an entire family—TV production companies leave that to the movie studios and their four-quadrant blockbusters.
The Letter For the King, a six-episode Netflix series loosely adapted from Tonke Dragt’s 1962 Dutch novel De brief voor de Koning, fits into the neglected category of the live-action fantasy adventure family show nicely. However, unlike most fare in that category—e.g. Once Upon a Time, Merlin or, going back further, Xena: Warrior Princess—it has the budget to back up its derivative plot with the money for some impressive horse work, gorgeous scenery, and passable CGI, which broadens the story’s sense of scope in.
The Letter For the King is the story of a young squire named Tiuri (His Dark Materials‘ Amir Wilson), who lives as a noble with his mother and stepfather in the kingdom of Dagonaut. Like Frodo before him, Tiuri doesn’t have any ambitions of glory. He doesn’t even want to compete in the trials to become a Novice, a knight-in-training, but his stepfather is obsessed with the idea of Tiuri following in the family tradition.
When Tiuri is asked by a dying knight to deliver a letter to the king of neighboring kingdom Unauwen within 14 days, he runs in the other direction, which is both refreshing and deeply relatable. But destiny has other plans for Tiuri. He is more or less forced to accept the task, setting out on a quest that will bring him allies, enemies, and the chance to be a hero, should he choose it.