|Format||Children's television series|
|Created by||Jim Corston
and Michael Riley
|Opening theme||"There's A Hero"
by Four Square
|Country of origin||United Kingdom
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||39 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||23 minutes|
|Original run||September 4, 2002– December 14, 2004|
Ace Lightning is a children's television series co-produced by the BBC and Alliance Atlantis, which has been broadcast in the United States as well as in the United Kingdom and Australia. The show was filmed in Canada, but the program was set in America. It ran for two seasons, and spawned several books, including a yearbook for the year 2003, an activity book and a companion to the series. A computer game based upon the show was released in 2002.
Most of the programme was live-action, although the heroes and villains from the video game were created using CGI. The series is significant in that until its creation, live action and CGI had not been attempted to such a huge and constant degree within a weekly television serial.
Ace Lightning follows the life of Mark Hollander, a British boy who has recently moved to a town called Conestoga Hills, in the United States, with his parents. While Mark is playing the computer game Ace Lightning and the Carnival of Doom, on a stormy night, a lightning bolt strikes the satellite dish on Mark's house, bringing the characters from the game to life. Ace Lightning, the hero of the game, enlists Mark to help him find the pieces of the Amulet of Zoar which will allow him to send Lord Fear and his minions back to prison in the Sixth Dimension. The game soon turns into a series of dangerous events; ultimately leading to the moment Mark fears the most, notably Game Over. Over the course of the first season, either Ace or Lord Fear gain pieces of the Amulet, summoning allies to help them. Mark's social life is often affected by the battles, leading him to go through two girlfriends by the end of the first season. Lord Fear eventually gains the Amulet and the Lightning Knights are drained of their energy. Mark locates the Amulet in the Haunted House and shatters it, sending all of the villains back to the Sixth Dimension - with the exception of Lady Illusion, who falls in love with Ace over the course of the season and betrays Lord Fear.
In Season 2, a new villain named Kilobyte appears to destroy Ace. Lord Fear and his minions return, although Lord Fear is cast aside by Kilobyte. Vengeful against Lady Illusion, Lord Fear plans to kill her but is repeatedly prevented by Kilobyte or Ace. Mark's friend Chuck becomes involved in the battles, becoming the Lightning Knights' computer expert. Mark's third girlfriend, Kat, also discovers the truth whilst trying to investigate the mysterious goings-on at the carnival. Kilobyte upgrades Lady Illusion, giving her the power to give Ace unstable human emotions, which corrupts his original programming. It is later revealed that the Sixth Dimension and Kilobyte were created by Rick Hubble, Chuck's employer at a computer store. Rick created a programme that could bring the game characters to life, but he was fired. In revenge, he installed the program onto a video game disc, namely Mark's, which was struck by a bolt of lightning. Rick was forced to create Kilobyte after Lord Fear was defeated. A blackout in Rick's store causes Kilobyte to gain a free will and he becomes determined to conquer the world by trapping mankind in the Sixth Dimension. He also captures Kat, and all of the Lightning Knights except Mark and Ace, and imprisons Rick and Mark's science teacher Mr. Cheseborough in the Sixth Dimension, but all are freed except Rick when Ace and Lord Fear team up to destroy Kilobyte. However, after defeating Kilobyte, Lord Fear attacks Ace. It is revealed that this Ace is Lady Illusion in disguise, and she dies moments later.
- Mark Hollander
- A typical British teenager living in America. Following the emergence of the characters from his video game into the real world, Mark becomes Ace's sidekick, and has to deal with typical teen problems in addition to fighting against Lord Fear and the denizens of the Carnival of Doom. Mark's odd behaviour is often put down to British eccentricity, rather than the fact that he spends a lot of his spare time helping a videogame superhero protect the world from the forces of evil.
- Mark effectively acts as Ace's inductor into the world of reality, providing the fish out of water superhero with a basis for behaviour in this strange dimension. At the same time Ace is teaching Mark the finer points of heroism. Their initial conflicts and complications eventually develop into a firm friendship. Lacking the powers necessary for your typical superhuman hero, Mark relies mostly upon his wits, and often sheer luck, to fend off Lord Fear and his army, until obtaining a simple hand held energy gun in the final series.
- Chuck Mugel
- Chuck is Mark's best friend and president of the town's Ace Lightning fan club, as well as being a computer expert who regularly provides useful information to Mark about the Ace Lightning video game. Chuck qualifies as the stereotypical of "game geek" - and is happy that way, in spite of the bullying he often receives from classmates. Chuck is rather overweight in the first series, and is cruelly called "Upchuck" by school bullies due to the fact that he vomits easily. Mark was, as far as can be asertained, his first genuine friend in middle school. Chuck discovers the secret of Ace Lightning in the second season, and unlike Mark, who was initially somewhat reluctant at first to give up regular life, Chuck jumps at the opportunity.
- Samantha Thompson
- A popular cheerleader at Mark's school, Sam is intrigued by Mark's bizarre actions as he tries to keep Ace Lightning a secret from the world, and attracted to his "mysterious" behaviour. After initially dating the character of Brett Ramirez, she instead becomes Mark's girlfriend, but breaks it off with him after she begins to suspect that he is hiding something from her. This is a pattern that repeats itself several times before Samantha leaves the series, the character choosing to attend the prestigious boarding school, Westleaf. Sam's closest friend at Conestoga Hills is the competitive and confident Heather Hoffs, however the two are not above the occasional competition, particularly when it comes to boyfriends. At Westleaf School, Samantha has a boyfriend named Jeremy.
- Kat Adams
- A self-possessed and independent girl who moves to Conestoga Hills at the beginning of the second series. Initially reluctant and annoyed about the move, she nonetheless settles into Conestoga, and becomes Mark's third girlfriend. Kat works as Co-Editor of the High School newspaper alongside Heather, and plays basketball for the school team. In the last episode of the second series, Kat discovers the secret of Ace and the other CGI characters at the conclusion of the final created series.
- Wayne Fisgus
- The bully of Conestoga Hills School. Wayne often picks on Chuck because of his weight and intelligence. He is very aggressive toward anyone whom he takes a dislike to, such as Mark (who stood up to him in the first episode) and has the tendency to behave quite arrogantly.
- Brett Ramirez
- Samantha's former boyfriend. Brett is a skateboarder who becomes good friends with Mark. He is generally portrayed as a kind-natured and patient character, who bores no ill will towards Sam over her occasional inability to choose between boyfriends.
- Heather Hoffs
- Heather is a popular fashionista and Samantha's best friend. During the first series, Heather was portrayed as a self confident and independent girl. She was attracted to Mark, and becomes his second girlfriend after Samantha breaks up with him. When Mark breaks up with her, however, she takes an intense dislike to him, and consequently behaves in a rude and aggressive manner towards him during the second series. She also becomes somewhat aggressive towards Brett, who began dating her after the first season.
- Ashley Hollander
- Mark's cousin. Ashley is one of the few people who knows about Ace and the Evil Gang. Her young age means she is rarely taken seriously, and she has promised to keep the truth about the videogame a secret.
- Horace Cheseborough
- A science teacher and a frequent incidental victim of the battles between Ace and the Evil Gang. Cheseborough is an arrogant teacher who delights in marking his students answers incorrectly. He comes to believe that Mark and the video game characters are aliens, a belief which ultimately causes him to become paranoid and unstable.
- Duff Kent
- The carnival's original owner. Duff becomes a slave to the villains when Lord Fear arrives. He is good friends with the Rat and can give good advice to Lord Fear.
- Simon and Fiona Hollander
- Mark's cheerful parents. Fiona loves garden gnomes, kippers and everything British, while Simon is into the fancy gadgets of America, like leafblowers. Simon is often a source of comic relief, but he proves himself to be competent when the chips are down, such as when he takes charge during a video villain attack.
- Rick, The Master Programmer
- The creator of Ace Lightning. He was mocked by his fellow programmers after creating a program which he claimed could bring the characters of video games to life. He intended for Lord Fear and the other villains to conquer the world so that his "genius" would be know. When Lord Fear is defeated at the end of the first series, Rick creates Kilobyte, in the hope that he will defeat Ace. Kilobyte eventually betrays Rick and traps him in the computer game.
The Lightning Knights are the heroes of the video game. Their duty is to protect the Amulet of Zoar from evil. If they suffer damage or overtax their powers, they must absorb electricity ("power up") to recover. When they are weakened in such a fashion, their images flicker with static. If they take too much damage without recovering, they are transported back into the game.
- Ace Lightning
- The heroic superhero from Mark's game and the leader of the Lightning Knights. Ace can fly, has superhuman strength and speed and can fire electricity from the wrist cannons he wears. He is brave and reliable, but also clumsy, often breaking objects in Mark's house. Ace's mission is to collect the missing pieces of the Amulet of Zoar before Lord Fear, and so gain the power to return him to imprisonment in the Sixth Dimension. According to the Ace Lightning Yearbook, Ace is 32 years old.
- Feisty, energetic and somewhat arrogant, Sparx is a red-haired young woman who is always eager for a battle. Despite her hot-headed and impatient personality, she has on several occasions shown herself to be strongly protective of those weaker than her. Sparx has no superpowers of her own but is an expert in gymnastics and martial arts. She fights with the Sword of Jacob, a double edged sword which discharges pink lightning bolts. She also rides a hovercraft known as the Lightning Flash.
- Random Virus
- Random is an old friend of Ace. According to the Ace Lightning Yearbook, Random is 35 years old. He was badly injured in an accident several years prior to the events of the show, and was given robotic body parts, including caterpillar tracks instead of legs and a giant claw instead of a right hand. These prosthetic parts give him great strength and make him almost indestructible. However, the accident also damaged his mind, causing him to alternate randomly between the personality of a loyal Lightning Knight and a merciless villain. He therefore proves a liablitiy to whichever side he attempts to join.
The villains inhabit the Kent Brothers Carnival, because of its similarity to the Carnival of Doom which is their headquarters in the game. Unlike the Lightning Knights, if they are defeated they are not sent into the game but to an attraction or object at the carnival until they restore their energy and reappear. On the official Ace Lightning site they were called "the Evil Gang" but are not given a group name in the show.
- Lord Fear
- The primary antagonist of show. Lord Fear is a living skeleton who is the most feared villain in the Sixth Dimension and ruler of the Carnival of Doom. He has the ability to extend his limbs and bind his enemies, suffocating them with a boa constrictor-like grip. Lord Fear has a deep hatred for Ace Lightning for multiple reasons, namely for Ace accidentally crippling him, and for imprisoning him in the Sixth Dimension. Lord Fear has a developed a limp in his right leg thanks to his crippling. He morphs into the carnival's ghost train.
- Kilobyte debuts in the second season, usurping leadership of the existing villains from Lord Fear. He appears roughly human but has four octopus-like tentacles on his back which have great strength and can drain the energy from other game characters. Kilobyte has the power to upgrade other game characters, giving them new or improved powers. He morphs into the carnival's ferris wheel.
- Lady Illusion
- Lady Illusion is Lord Fear's mistress and partner in crime. She resembles an elf, though her power is to assume the form of any person or creature she chooses. Lady Illusion's other power is to create crystal balls that can either burst and release various gases to imprison her opponents.
- Staff Head
- Staff Head is a frog-like creature on a stick, serving as Lord Fear's walking stick, weapon and best friend. He has the ability to fire energy blasts from the orb he carries. He can also change his stiff, wooden body into a snake-like slithering body. He morphs into the carnival's ghost train alongside Fear.
- Dirty Rat
- Lord Fear's sneaky spy. He resembles a flying rat dressed like a clown. He has enhanced senses and can create bombs similar to Lady Illusion. He morphs into a gargoyle outside the Haunted House, but it was very rare for him to be blasted back into it by the heroes.
- Anvil is a humanoid rhinoceros with an anvil attached to his right arm instead of a hand. He is immensely strong and formidable, but is equally stupid. He morphs into the carnival's Test-Your-Strength game.
- Pigface is a grotesque pig-like creature with a ravenous appetite. He is able to eat anything, from science beakers to golf clubs. He morphs into a trashcan.
- A maniacal jester, he is able to roll into a spiked ball. Googler was summoned by Lord Fear from White Hot Oblivion, where he was previously imprisoned by Ace. He morphs into a puppet theater outside the Haunted House.
- Rotgut is an undead cowboy zombie who prefers to be called the "Walking Dead". He has the power to possess other people and his limbs often fall off. He morphs into the carnival's mini-golf course.
- Originally a normal wasp, Kilobyte allowed Fred to sting him, causing Fred to mutate into a giant, monstrous insect. Fred serves as Kilobyte's mount and is the only thing to which Kilobyte shows kindness.
- Video Game Characters
- The CGI characters believe the game is the Sixth Dimension, except Ace who discovers it is really a video game. Chuck, Rick and Mr. Chesebrough have all become 3D characters after being sucked into the game.
The first season was produced in 2002. The season introduced the main characters throughout the twenty-six episodes. Episode 8 was a Halloween special and Episode 18 was a semi-April Fools Day special. Episode 20 was a clip show episode featuring the character Duff Kent seeing a psychiatrist about his life with the evils. The characters obtained pieces of the Amulet of Zoar, which they used to summon reinforcements from the Sixth Dimension.
Originally, the characters were going to originate from a comic book, but it was altered in terms of popularity to a video game. When broadcast in America, the episodes were shown out of order, which sometimes resulted in severe continuity errors. For instance, "Tunnel of Love" was shown before "Once Upon a Hero." Random Virus would show up as an established character the day before he would be established.
- The Game Begins (1/2) - Pilot episode.
- The Trap is Set (2/2)
- The Substitute (1/2)
- Face the Music (2/2)
- There's No Place like Home - Ashley's debut.
- Opposite Attraction - Ace and Lady Illusion's relationship begins.
- Only Human - Googler debuts.
- Behind the Mask - Halloween Special.
- Once Upon a Hero - Random Virus' debut.
- Knights Undercover
- Tunnel of Love
- Nobody's Hero (1/2) - Sparx's debut.
- Ace's Wild (2/2)
- The Field Trip
- Not Alone at Home
- Unidentified Flying Superhero - Sparx's destruction
- A Friend in Need
- The Last Laugh - April Fool's Special.
- Download Disaster
- Daffy Duff - Clip Show.
- The Unlikely Hero
- The Not So Great Outdoors - Sparx's return
- The Biggest Fan - Jessica's debut.
- The Play's the Thing (1/3)
- The Rat Turns (2/3)
- Game Over (3/3) - Finale
The second series was broadcast in most countries in 2004, but it aired in the United Kingdom during the summer of 2005 for unknown reasons. This season was not aired in the United States due to the poor reception of the first season. The graphics were greatly improved, and several of the characters including Staff Head and Pigface were changed to look more like the animals they resembled. Kilobyte, Rotgut, Kat Adams and Rick the Master Programmer made their debut in this season. Chuck also met the Lightning Knights, and Mark got his own weapon, allowing him to battle the villains. There were only 13 episodes with one overall storyline.
- Upgrades (1/2) - Debuts of Kat, Rotgut and the Master Programmer (silhouette only).
- The Game's On (2/2) - Anvil returns.
- Uninvited Guest - Dirty Rat returns, Rick debuts, and Kilobyte debuts as an unseen character.
- A Secret Life - Kilobyte properly debuts.
- Welcome to the Nightmare - Fred debuts.
- The Search For Sparx - Sparx returns.
- Bound to Fail (1/2) - The Doom Wagon debuts.
- Formula For Disaster (2/2) - Pigface returns.
- Choices - Samantha and Googler return.
- Rotgut Rides Again
- Putting It Together (1/3) - Clip Show, the Master Programmer's identity is revealed.
- Kilobyte Bites Back (2/3) - Kilobyte starts eliminating the Lightning Knights before he makes his move.
- The Master Plan (3/3) - Finale.
Season 3 was in the making but was cancelled due to low popularity and insufficient revenue from merchandise.
Known information includes Ace would have gone into the game to rescue Lady Illusion, possibly freeing Kilobyte and Rick as well. Lord Fear, Staff Head and Dirty Rat would live together with Mr. Cheseborough for a while. Lord Fear would use the teacher's knowledge and technology to find a way to release Anvil, Pigface, Googler and Rotgut from the game without the use of the Amulet. Also a new villain named Candy Floss would have been introduced, likely replacing Lady Illusion as Lord Fear's female companion. Her concept art is viewable on the website of character designer Matt Ficner.
The show was developed by BBC and AAC Kids, with Rick Siggelkow as executive producer and creator of the show, and Jim Corston as head writer. Originally, the program's plot was to feature a superhero from a comic book coming to life but it was changed due to children playing videos games more as a pastime than reading comics. The series was in pre-production for two years, and took a year and a half to complete the first season. Matt Ficner designed the computer-generated characters for the series, and also provided the voices of Zip and Snip in the first season. Several characters were scrapped or did not make it into the series, including "Scrambler" (an early design of Kilobyte), "Buzzbeast", "Candy Floss" (who was to appear in the third season), "Mortar" and a group of villains referred to as "Carnival Grunts". Some characters were quite detailed in concept art, but their designs had to be simplified to meet the program's budget. The series was shot in Toronto. Several characters were based on iconic comic book characters, Mark Hollander being similar to Peter Parker, and Ace Lightning similar to Superman. The rock band Four Square did most of the music for the series, including the program's theme song.
- "Fight the Fear on PS2 with Ace Lightning". BBC Worldwide Press Release. 2003. Retrieved 1 January 2008.
- Ace Lightning, Episode 1, The Game Begins
- Ace Lightning, Episode 26, Game Over
- Ace Lightning, Episode 28, The Game Is On
- Ace Lightning, Episode 39, The Master Plan
- Ace Lightning: Yearbook 2003, page 12
- Ace Lightning: Yearbook 2003, page 13