The year: 1994. From out of space comes a runaway planet, hurtling between the Earth and the Moon, unleashing cosmic destruction! Man's civilization is cast in ruin! Two thousand years later, Earth is reborn. A strange new world rises from the old: a world of savagery, super science and sorcery. But one man bursts his bonds to fight for justice! With his companions Ookla the Mok and Princess Ariel, he pits his strength, his courage, and his fabulous Sunsword against the forces of evil. He is Thundarr, the Barbarian!
So, the major thing is that I do third shift to be left alone, and be able to watch DVDs whilst I print shirts of passing awesomeness. That is somewhat important given that I am fifty-seven, and am fond of animation. This week I have gone through the series "Thundarr the Barbarian", a D&D-type series done in 1980-81 by Hanna Barbera lite, the Ruby/Spears Company. It is rough, but character designs by the likes of Jack Kirby and Alex Toth are in evidence. Toth designed the main characters, Kirby was brought on to do the evil wizards. Modok, anyone?
One of the things that I noticed, besides Princess Ariel, was the fact that Princess Ariel, the sorceress, the one with encyclopaedic knowledge of ancient Earth history...that selfsame Princess Ariel...
is a geek.
|Yes, that is a geek.|
She has peculiar knowledge, more than shading toward pop-culture. Movies, movie-making two millenia past; you can almost hear a lateral lisp. I do not do the fun-making, no. I find that this little detail adds depth and charm to her character. I will not talk about strong woman this and that; for such, fanfic exists.
If only they had come up with a non-Casio keyboard sound for Thundarr's light sabr...er, Sun Sword. It is a flatulent glissando. It is the first sound you hear before Dick Tufeld takes you away:
But listen to that score, and that tightly written introduction to the story! Tufeld utters not a spare syllable. The closing credits are just the music, and it is taut, not overdone; the single flute note over the strings just gets me. The stories are not mawkish, and they hold all the heroes in emotional check. Granted, it is a "kids' cartoon", but the interplay between Thundarr and Ariel, who clearly is crushing on the oblivious barbarian, is restrained while being obvious. The daring bit is that Ooklah the Mok, the hulking furry comic relief, really loves Ariel, and hugs her at any opportunity.
Do you really blame him?
Voice work is superb. Bob Ridgely, who voiced Filmation's Flash Gordon and Tarzan leads, and who is Mel Brooks' favorite hangman, voices Thundarr. Nellie Bellflower voices Ariel (and Rankin/Bass characters from that era), Henry Corden voices Ooklah the Mok, and emotes well, though he is limited to grunts and growls. I do not know if Corden hugged Bellflower ("What's Ooklah's motivation, again?"). He also voiced most of the EEEEE-vil wizards.
To be clear: sorceress=GOOD. Wizard=BAD.
Other Voices are Keye Luke, Alan Oppenheimer, Chuck McCann, Nancy McKeon, Joan Van Ark, Avery Schreiber (!), Janet Waldo, Michael Bell, Michael Ansara...Hal Smith does a couple of villains, but is uncredited, but I can tell!
The scripts are quite good, and the rest of the soundtrack soundtrack is sometimes memorable, and the gestalt provides an example of why '80s cartoons were so good. Or something.
But it's not Bionic Six.
It is worth dropping $20 for!