Rick’s Reviews: Veteran voice talents enjoy bawdy nature of ‘Crossing Swords’

Rick's Reviews

Alanna Ubach and Tara Strong have been providing the voices for animated characters for years. Strong alone has been so prolific as a voice actor, a huge hunk of the animation world would have been all silent films without her.

They’re veterans of the voice work world but being part of the new Hulu animated series, “Crossing Swords,” has been a very different job for the pair. The series – now available on the streaming service – follows goodhearted hero wannabe Patrick (voiced by Nicholas Holt) as he lands his dream job as a squire. He soon learns that the castle is a haven for more debauchery than Sodom and Gomorrah.

“That’s what is so exciting about this. We are part of something that is quite groundbreaking,” Ubach, who is the voice of the sex-crazed Queen Tulip, says. “You can compare it to ‘South Park’ but to an extent because of the time-consuming stop-animation aspect of this show.

“There is such great detail with the dialogue, the characters, the storylines. It is a work of art.”

“Crossing Swords” comes from John Harvatine IV and Tom Root, the same team behind “Robot Chicken.” The show is filmed frame by frame by 25 animators working on 30 sets. Everything is handmade including the brightly colored peg people who share a passing resemblance to toys from Fisher-Price.

Both agree that one of the draws of “Crossing Swords” is the nostalgia it will create for people who grew up playing with toys that look like these characters.  Of course, Fisher-Price never made peg people who featured full frontal nudity.

Strong’s last voice work in such a bawdy world was “Drawn Together,” the animated series that poked fun at reality programming that aired from 2004-2007. In “Crossing Swords” she speaks for pirate captain Coral.

Strong says, “Most of the time we are doing animation geared toward younger children so to get in the studio and just have it be a free-for-all where we can say anything or do anything is so much fun to get to explore.

“We are having a great time and we are happy it’s being released now because people need some laughter during this quarantine and everything that’s going on in this crazy world.”

Strong has put together a massive resume of voice work since 1987 in “My Pet Monster.” Just a few of the credits for the Canadian-American actress include “Rugrats,” “The Powerpuff Girls,” “DC Super Hero Girls,” “Teen Titans,” “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic,” “Garbage Pail Kids,” “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures” and “The New Batman Adventures.”

Strong admits that after providing the voice for 200-250 characters, it’s sometimes difficult to remember all the work she has done. She laughs and talks about how when she will attend a convention, there will always be a very specific question about one of the jobs she has done in the past.

“Sometimes the fans remember way more than we do,” Strong says. “I certainly remember signature characters and title roles and some of the bigger stuff. If you are not doing a show on a regular basis you can forget certain things.”

Both want there to be a second season of “Crossing Swords” so they can keep doing the characters.

Ubach’s career has been a more balanced combination of on-screen and voice work. Since her first job as Josie on “Beakman’s World” in 1992 she has been in such TV and film projects as “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce,” “See Dad Run,” “Men of a Certain Age” and “Meet the Fockers.” Her voice work includes Mama Imelda in “Coco” plus “The Spectacular Spider-Man,” “Rango” and “Puppy Dog Pals.”

Despite both having done so much voice work, Ubach and Strong can’t remember having worked together on a project before “Crossing Swords.” That doesn’t mean they haven’t because so many animated shows record the voice talents separately and no one sees any of the other cast members until they are doing press interviews.

As for going between on-camera and voice work, Ubach says, “I look so forward to getting in my car, wearing sweats and not having to go into hair and makeup for a recording session. You are in and out in an hour.

“The waiting around is the hardest part about on-camera work. If you have all the time in the world, the on-camera stuff is very gratifying.”

Other voice talents for “Crossing Swords” include Adam Ray, Tony Hale, Luke Evans, Seth Green, Adam Pally, Yvette-Nicole Brown, Maya Erskine, Breckin Meyer, and Wendi McClendon Covey.

The 10-episode first season is currently available on Hulu.

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