I think my roommate Lindsey may have given me the inspiration to write this post.  Anyways I know whenever she gets around to reading it, she is going to burst out laughing because she think it’s hilarious I’ve become addicted to this tv show called Aguila Roja.

As a general rule, Spanish television just sucks in general.  Most of the tv programming here consists of dubbed American tv shows and their reality shows and game shows are replicas of stuff I’ve seen on tv back at home or in France (and it’s usually the really bad stuff… here’s hoping Sixteen and Pregnant/Jersey Shore which I secretly enjoy never makes it overseas).  However Spain does have some of its own scripted tv shows and I decided to let go of my prejudice for American tv shows and see if I could enjoy any of them.

I’m a night owl so I ended up catching Aguila Roja for the first time around 2 AM (after several episodes of the 90s show Hercules which I never remember ever being on tv but apparently it was some spin off of Xena… Spain has a knack for resurrecting forgotten American tv shows).

Obviously the first time I watched Aguila Roja I had no idea what was going on.  However the Aguila Roja page written in Spanish on Wikipedia got me caught up.  Once I got the general storyline, it wasn’t too hard to follow.  And now I’m definitely addicted and usually towards the end of the week when I have no class, I will stay up and watch it (though I could watch all the episodes online at the channel’s website).

So what is Aguila Roja (Red Eagle) about?

Gonzalo de Montalvo, a schoolteacher living in 17th century Spain, vows to seek revenge on the men who tortured and killed his wife.  At the same time, he must continue to look out for his young son Alonso and try to resist falling in love (again) with his sister-in-law (his deceased wife’s sister) Margarita all over again.  Margarita comes to live with them when she finds out her sister has died to help out with Alonso.  There’s also a hilarious manservant named Saturno who works for Gonzalo.

Anyways Gonzalo goes about seeking justice for what happened to his wife and also trying to figure out where the hell he comes from (because the guy was adopted/been looked after by some mysterious monk who refuses to tell him where he comes from).  However the guy obviously needs a disguise so he can gallop around the countryside on his white horse and beat the crap out of people without being recognized in real life.  So when he’s not being a mild mannered schoolteacher, Gonzalo wears a cape and a mask (of course) and brandishes a sword with red feathers attached to it and is known as Aguila Roja.   And he just so happens to excel at martial arts because he spent time “in the Orient” which is where everybody in the 17th century obviously trained if they wanted to learn how to fight properly (sarcasm aside, the fight scenes aren’t the best I will admit… the slowed down camera and cheesy special effects leave a lot to be desired).

The only people who know about Gonzalo’s alter ego are his faithful servant Saturno who usually accompanies him on his adventures and the monk (who eventually dies so then it’s just Saturno).  At several points throughout the show, people in the village suspect Gonzalo may be Aguila Roja (including his own son) but he always manages to throw people off his trail.

Gonzalo eventually figures out who killed his wife which was the town’s baddie knows as “el comisario”, who also turns out to be his biological brother! Twist! And of course there are way more characters in the show and love triangles and plot twists but that would be just be way too confusing to get into.  Murders, betrayals, secrets, lies, conspiracies abound… the show has it all (including yes, nudity, it is a European show after all but thank God it has taken a lesson out of True Blood’s book and doesn’t make it the focus of the show!).  And of course the royal family and a secret society are somehow involved in all of this.

I know the show sounds like a telenovela (Spanish soap opera) but trust me when I say the quality of the acting and the sets are far superior to the cheesy telenovelas they have on tv on Telemundo back in the States.  It’s way more like Zorro than Telemundo!

I watch the show with Spanish subtitles and it’s doing wonders for my Spanish.  I am not tempted to watch it in English because it is not a dubbed American show and I’m learning so many vocab words! I literally sit there and write all the words I don’t know and look them up later.  And sort of a fun fact: Aguila Roja is the most expensive show ever produced in Spain and one of the most watched on tv here so it’s very successful here.  It is now in its third season and I think there is a movie coming out here in a few months.  I’m trying to get caught up before the third season starts up again so I’m probably going to turn to the website to help me watch the episodes.  The episodes are LONG though: they last about 90 minutes and are entirely commercial free.  That’s even better than True Blood on HBO!

It really is too bad this show will never air in the US.  I like watching tv shows from other countries, especially well made ones.  Not only the US is capable of producing good television!

Here is a trailer for the upcoming Aguila Roja movie that is being released in Spain sometime this spring.  I’m not translating what the trailer says, I think you can figure it out even if you don’t know any Spanish: (Gonzalo is the guy with no shirt on, you see Saturno at the very end talking who is Gonzalo’s servant, and the girl with the curly black hair is Margarita, Gonzalo’s love interest.  At one point you see two men walking towards each other.  The guy on the left all in black is the comisario, a totally bad ass character who is also Gonzalo’s brother.  And of course for the guys there’s a naked girl wandering around in the trailer but I have no idea who that is except that she vaguely reminds me of the girl who played Kate on Lost).

And a trailer for the 3rd season:

You know you want to watch it now.  However if you don’t understand Spanish… well I suppose somewhere you can download the episodes with English subtitles.  I will admit that Aguila Roja’s concept is nothing new–God knows there’s been enough Robin Hood helping the poor/hero out to get justice for deceased family members storyline on tv and in the movies.  But there’s something about this show that makes me keep watching.  So yes, I’m hooked.

Amelie