Arabian Knights

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For other uses, see Arabian Nights (disambiguation).
Arabian Knights
Arabian knights title.jpg
title screen
Genre Animation, Fantasy
Directed by Joseph Barbera
William Hanna
Voices of Paul Frees
Frank Gerstle
Shari Lewis
Jay North
John Stephenson
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
French
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 18
Production company(s) Hanna-Barbera Productions
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Original run 7 September 1968 –
11 January 1969

Arabian Knights is an animated segment of The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, created by Hanna-Barbera Productions. The series is based on Arabian Nights, a classic work of Middle Eastern literature.

Plot[edit]

Set among the fantasy-set lands that surround the high city of Baghdad, the show follows the adventures of a group of extraordinary people, who have banded together to fight against a corrupt ruler of Baghdad.

The rightful ruler of Baghdad is young Prince Turhan, until the evil Sultan Bakaar and his minions usurp the throne. Turhan becomes a wanted man and must flee the city. He encounters a magician, Fariek, who transforms Turhan and himself into blue wisps of smoke to hide them from Bakaar's minions. Fariek then enchants a table so that it can fly.

After leaving the city, the companions hide in a cave, where they meet strongman Raseem the Strong, who befriends them once he realises that they are enemies of Bakaar. The three new allies then set off on the back of Raseem's faithful companion, a small donkey called Zazuum to enlist the aid of Turhan's uncle, the Caliph of El Rabal. They reach the Caliph's city to find he has been deposed by Bakaar. His daughter Nida, Turhan's cousin, is about to be sold into slavery. The allies manage to free Nida, but are cornered by Bakaar's men until assistance arrives in the form of Bez, a man who is able to transform into any animal at will. Turning into an elephant, he charges through the guards and carries everyone to safety.

Once away from Bakaar's minions, the group decides to form a heroic band, to hopefully one day overthrow Baakar and restore Turhan as Sultan once more. Thus begin their adventures.

Series direction[edit]

The Arabian Knights series was one of several animated mini-series, used as filler segments for Hanna-Barbera's Banana Splits Club show. Each episode ran between 9 and 10 minutes in length. For the most part, it competed with the other series, The Three Musketeers, Micro Ventures and the live-action Danger Island segments.

Often, the general thrust of the Arabian Knights adventures deals with the Knights trying to effect some action against Bakaar’s soldiers, finding a means to further complete their goal of turning the tables on the evil dictator, or dealing with another villain set within the Knights' universe.

For the most part, these adventures were done with a semi-serious slant, with a goodly portion of action and comedy mixed in. Hardly anyone was injured or harmed — save for Baakar's minions (in a usually comic effect), and the episodes usually had an upbeat, happy ending for the Knights.

Characters[edit]

  • Prince Turhan (voiced by Jay North): A young teenaged boy, a Prince and rightful heir to the throne of the Sultan; he is the de facto leader of the Knights. Brave and handsome, he is the driving force behind fighting Bakaar and ending the usurper’s reign. He has acrobatic agility and quickness, he is also skilled in swordplay enough to best Vangore in a contest, and he owns a magic scimitar that he can be thrown and returns like a boomerang, in unique ways
  • Princess Nida (voiced by Shari Lewis): A lovely teenaged girl, cousin to Turhan and daughter of the Caliph; she is far from your typical ‘damsel-in-distress’ (though she can be and is captured often during the series). She can fight, but her real talent comes from her ability to disguise herself and alter her voice to mimic others. She uses this talent often to confuse Bakaar’s men and throw them off their guard.
  • Raseem (voiced by Frank Gerstle): A tall, muscular man — shown wearing a brief costume and fez — who is the token ‘strongman’ of the Knights; also called ‘Raseem the Great’, he first meets Turhan when he and Fariek hide in a cavern he occupies. He mistakes them for Bakaar's men and attacks them. When asked to be friends states "I have no friends". However upon learning they are against Bakaar he befriends them, and together he goes with them to find the Caliph (to get his aid against Bakaar). He often boasts of his strength saying he is as strong as 30 men. At one time he said he was as strong as seven elephants. Strong enough to shatter stone walls, lift and catch boulders, catch and throw back cannonballs and fight off scores of Bakaar’s soldiers at a time. Raseem’s power makes for a good equalizer in the Knight’s battles. He also has a companion in Zazuum; a small donkey (see entry below).
  • Fariek (voiced by John Stephenson): A short, tubby little man who is a somewhat skilled practitioner of the mystical arts; he is the first to offer aid to Turhan after the Prince is deposed by Bakaar. A jolly soul, Fariek is somewhat portrayed as a bit of a bungler when it comes to casting spells or using magic against the Knight’s foes, but he always comes through in the clutch. His magic can cast illusions, make objects fly and change one thing into another, etc., but it can be disrupted by either counter-spells or when he himself is interrupted (having his eyes covered, getting a conk on the head, etc.). He often provided the transportation (a flying carpet, flying pillows or flying chairs) for the knights. Sometimes, magic is getting very difficult, it can take a lot of energy out of him.
  • Bez (voiced by Henry Corden): A dark-skinned man who is often portrayed as wearing a turban and green clothing; he is also known as ‘Bez the Beast’, for his ability to transform his body into the form of any animal known to man. Often, he triggers this ability by speaking the phrase “Size of a-!” and speaking the name of the animal he wished to turn into, sometimes followed by clapping his hands together. If the creature is small enough he can turn into multiple versions of them such as turning into a million bees. Bez is known to turn into some larger animals which often serve as alternate modes of transportation for the knights. He can also transform into mythical creatures like Winged Horses and Rocs. His shapeshifting makes him a handy spy for the knights.
  • Zazuum (voiced by Don Messick): A small donkey with long ears, who was Raseem’s companion before the muscle-man joined Turhan’s crusade against Bakaar. Often just a cute sidekick, Zazuum proved to be a bit of a secret weapon, because if one pulled his tail, it would make the little donkey go berserk; spinning and kicking out like a miniature tornado which can defeat any enemy or destroy any object struck. This mistake was often made by Bakaar's men who triggered Zazuum's secret ability. Zazuum often was shown as being quite intelligent, as he would at times give aid to his fellow Knights (often by distracting guards, getting keys to unlock prison doors, etc.).
  • Bakaar (voiced by John Stephenson): The principal antagonist of the series who usurps the throne of Turhan’s father and takes control of Baghdad. Clearly wishing to command all of the kingdom that bows to Baghdad, he sets all of his forces to the goal of capturing Turhan (and later all of the Knights) to secure his place on the throne. While cruel, Bakaar does not usually involve himself directly in the fight against the Knights; preferring to let his soldiers and minions to do the job (often with much failure). When he does try to do it himself, he is met with the same failure. His distinctive manner of dress--a single spiked, fur-lined helmet in place of a crown--hints at ancestry from Mongolian invaders.
  • Vangore (voiced by Paul Frees): Bakaar's main henchman and captain of his guards. Often hatches plots to capture the Knights with no real success. He is often blamed and punished for his failures by Bakaar. Apparently, Vangore's father was a camel driver. In one episode, he is revealed to have red hair shaved to a topknot; an indication of Galatian ancestry and of being enslaved.
  • Sundar: Bakaar's court magician.

Episodes[edit]

# Title Summary
1 Joining of the Knights Bakaar conquers the city, but Turhan is able to elude capture with Fariek's help. They are met by Raseem who agrees to help them with Zazuum. Together they rescue Turhan's cousin Nida but as Vangore's men surround them, Bez assists.
2 The Ransom After saving Prince Raji, the Arabian Knights go to help his father, the Caliph of El Rabal. Vangore takes the Caliph to Baghdad just as they attack his camp. The Arabian Knights slip into the city, rescue the Caliph and escape after a fight with Vangore.
3 A Trap for Turhan Vangore lures Raseem into captivity so that he can lure the Arabian Knights to Bakaar. Nida and Zazuum save the others from execution and they all attack Bakaar and escape Baghdad.
4 The Great Gold Robbery Bakaar sends Vangore to steal the gold from the local treasury to pin it on the Arabian Knights. The Arabian Knights follow the caravan to a mountain where they fight Vangore's men and take back the gold to Baghdad.
5 The Wizard Ramnizar The evil wizard Ramnizar captures the Arabian Knights save Nida and Zazuum. The Arabian Knights escape the catacombs and try to steal Ramnizar's spell book. After much fighting, the Arabian Knights allow Ramnizar to go free to claim Bakaar's reward.
6 Sky Raiders of the Desert Nida is kidnapped by raiders on flying horses. The Arabian Knights are attacked by giant bats, but they fight them back and manage to infiltrate the Sky Raiders' fortress. Finally they capture the Sky Raiders along with their stolen treasure.
7 The Challenge When Bez brings news of Bakaar holding a contest for the strongest man, Raseem cannot help but take that bait getting him and Turhan captured. The Arabian Knights stealthily infiltrate the camp and deliver to Bakaar a humiliating loss.
8 Isle of Treachery Vangore captures Queen Sahira and her son Ahmed to lure the Arabian Knights into a trap. Raseem and Bez quietly dispose of the guards to free the others and banish Vangore and his forces from the palace.
9 The Sultan's Plot Avadon the Sultan of Darkness takes away the city of Kilivad from its Caliph. Avadon has the Arabian Knights trapped in his kingdom, but using a donkey trick, the Arabian Knights cast light on Avadon's amulet, rendering his power useless.
10 The Reluctant Empress The ruler Chiroz has means to take Nida to become his empress by force. The Arabian Knights follow to the city of Abadon and battle Chiroz and his men until he gives up.
11 The Coronation of Bakaar Vangore steals the crown of Erabee for Bakaar. The Arabian Knights reclaim the crown before the coronation ceremony takes place. They thwart Vangore's every efforts to retake the crown and give to him a fake crown.
12 The Great Brass Beast Vangore is intent on destroying Jiwara with a brass siege elephant. The war machine seems to be unstoppable for the Arabian Knights. Turhan, Bez and Raseem penetrate the elephant and control to move off a cliff.
13 The Fabulous Fair The Arabian Knights go undercover to Bakaar's town fair. Each event the Arabian Knights win brings more rebellion against Bakaar, especially the horse race. Their cover is blown, but the Arabian Knights fight Bakaar's forces and distribute the gold.
14 The Desert Pirates Vangore overwhelms and captures Nida and Raseem with his land pirate ship. The remaining Arabian Knights mislead Vangore to Nazir where they ambush him and burn his ship down to explode, leaving him with only an ice diamond.
15 The Jewels of Joowar Vangore has ransacked Joowar and stolen its magical jewels. Turhan and Raseem are caught trying to retrieve the jewels, but the Arabian Knights release them and proceed to fight off Vangore.
16 The Spy The Arabian Knights foil Vangore's plunder but not without losing Zazuum to him. Sundar impersonates Zazuum to find the Arabian Knights' hideout. Sundar's disguise doesn't go unnoticed and the Arabian Knights repel Bakaar's attack while Zazuum returns.
17 The Prisoner With Vangore out to kidnap Princess Tasmin, Nida takes her place, getting herself and Zazuum captured. They both escape and with the rest of the Arabian Knights fight off Bakaar's guards and take Bakaar prisoner.
18 The Royal Visitor Prince Camil visits Baghdad unaware it is under Bakaar's rule and gets trapped in a pyramid. Fahriek provides the access to enter the pyramid. After going through the labyrinth and rescuing the prince, everyone escapes the place.

External links[edit]