Bruce Campbell Once Starred In A Zorro Rip-Off No One Remembers

Bruce Campbell starred in Jack of All Trades, a syndicated half-hour action comedy that can't be streamed.

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

Bruce Campbell has had a successful career in Hollywood, primarily working alongside Evil Dead creator Sam Raimi, so it’s easy to overlook the star’s forays into television. The Adventures of Brisco County Jr was a Western parody mixing the classic genre with steampunk/future gadgets and is considered to be a lost classic, but another show came later, and even on the internet, it’s fallen down a memory hole and no one remembers it aired for two seasons. Jack of All Trades, a syndicated action-comedy similar to Hercules and Xena, starred Campbell as Jack Stiles, a spy with a Zorro-esque alter-ego called the Daring Dragoon.

Set in 1801 on a Pacific island (it was filmed in New Zealand), Bruce Campbell’s Jack Stiles is an American spy working with his British counterpart, played by Angela Dotchin, Emilia Rothschild, and as the two work to prevent Napoleon Bonaparte from colonizing more countries. To give you an idea as to the tone of the show, which is not to be taken seriously at all, Mini-Me from Austin Powers, Verne Troyer, played the greatest general in French history. As with most of his projects, from Army of Darkness to Burn Notice, Campbell is firmly tongue-in-cheek as the slightly competent spy, and the result is a show that feels like the wrong project at the wrong time.

Released in 2000, Jack of All Trades was released in syndication as a joint package with another lost classic, Cleopatra 2025. In doing so, it became the first half-hour live-action comedy of this type produced for syndication since the 70s. Bruce Campbell’s usual schtick was perfect for the absurd role and blended in seamlessly with the recurring gags about the period, and, for the type of show, it is subtle humor.

For example, Canada is a territory of France, Lewis and Clark are hopelessly lost explorers that refuse to ask for directions, an episode requires Jack and Emilia to infiltrate a Marquis de Sade party that looks very similar to Eyes Wide Shut, football is played, there’s a tribe called the WallaWallaBingBang tribe, and lots of historical figures are ruthlessly parodied during the 22 episode run. Bruce Campbell’s ability to maintain a straight face and say the dumbest lines of dialogue is on full display, for example, “I would have knocked, but my fists had other plans” and “It’s a beautiful day, and the scent of violence is in the air.”

Beyond the loose plots and playing with history, part of the fun is how Bruce Campbell somehow has to play a character with a secret identity in a fort that looks like it could fit inside a Walmart and not one of the giant locations, a Neighborhood Wal-Mart. Who can’t realize that the masked Dragoon and Jack have the same distinctive jaw? Or that the two men are never seen in the same place at the same time?

Jack of All Trades was a throwback even when it started airing 23 years ago, and today, it feels like a relic of a bygone era of television. Bruce Campbell had only a few shots at being a leading man when he really should have received more opportunities, which makes the series feel like a wasted opportunity. The syndicated comedy is so forgotten it’s not even available to stream anywhere, not even on Tubi!

The biggest shame isn’t getting to see Bruce Campbell chew the scenery but the loss of the Emmy-nominated theme song. An out-of-print DVD box set is now the only way to witness the legendary Daring Dragoon in action.