Blackstar (TV series)

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Blackstar
BlackStarPoster.jpg
Blackstar promotional poster
Voices of George DiCenzo
Linda Gary
Alan Oppenheimer
Patrick Pinney
Frank Welker
Composer(s) Yvette Blais
Jeff Michael
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 13
Production
Producer(s) Norm Prescott
Lou Scheimer
Running time 30 min.
Production company(s) Filmation
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Original run September 12 – December 5, 1981 (1981-12-05)

Blackstar is an American animated television series, a science fantasy story sometimes reported as being inspired by Thundarr the Barbarian. It was produced in 1981 by Lou Scheimer and Norm Prescott for Filmation. The series was Filmation's second fantasy epic, the first being tucked in as a segment of Tarzan and Tarzan and the Super 7, The Freedom Force. Blackstar has many notable similarities to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, which was produced shortly afterwards.

Opening narration[edit]

John Blackstar, astronaut, is swept through a black hole, into an ancient alien universe. Trapped on the planet Sagar, Blackstar is rescued by the tiny Trobbit people. In turn, he joins their fight for freedom against the cruel Overlord, who rules by the might of the Powerstar. The Powerstar is split into the Powersword and the Starsword. And so with Starsword in hand, Blackstar, together with his allies, sets out to save the planet Sagar. This is his destiny. "I am John Blackstar."

Story[edit]

Protagonist John Blackstar is an astronaut stranded on the planet Sagar, where with the native Trobbits, the shape-changing Klone, the dragon Warlock, and Mara the Enchantress, Blackstar opposed the Overlord, a Ming-like oppressor.

Future Earth[edit]

Very little is known about Blackstar's Earth. The technology is far advanced, as evidenced by Blackstar's "photon-based" ship and Katana's "fusion-drive" timeship capable of multidimensional travel. Neither Blackstar nor Katana bear any insignia related to any agencies in the real world. Blackstar's insignia appears on his golden collar.

Planet Sagar[edit]

The Sagar Tree, a mystical place, is ruled by the peaceful pink-skinned Trobbits (tree hobbits).

Blackstar[edit]

John's race is not specified in the series, though it is often speculated that he could have Native American heritage (anticipating Bravestarr by roughly six years).

As an astronaut, Blackstar might have been extensively trained in many fields. He is intelligent, and often prefers to outsmart his opponent rather than rely on physical talent, although his constant contact with the Starsword gives him superhuman athletic abilities and near invulnerability. His given name appears only in the introduction

The Powerstar and its halves[edit]

Blackstar's weapon, the Starsword, is able to absorb, store, and reflect any external form of energy, and is virtually indestructible. It can also produce blasts of pure energy capable of destroying a target. The weapon generates an invisible "aura" which imbues Blackstar with superhuman senses, strength, endurance, reflexes, speed, agility, and a limited invulnerability to harm and extreme temperatures. Presumably the Overlord's Powersword confers similar abilities. For a brief time in the episode "Spacewrecked", the Starsword and the Powersword are re-united into the Powerstar.

Blackstar's fate[edit]

In the sixth episode, "Spacewrecked", Blackstar was briefly reached by his former Earth girlfriend, Lieutenant Katana, who spent some time on Sagar before a misadventure with the Overlord forced her to leave. Katana did not appear in any other episodes, although the story ended with her asking a superior for permission to organize an armed rescue mission.

Characters[edit]

  • Warlock - A winged, vaguely equine dragon mount ridden by Blackstar, called a "dragon-horse".
  • Klone (voiced by Patrick Pinney) - An elf-like shapeshifter who assists Blackstar against the Overlord.
  • Amber - Only appearing in "City of the Ancient Ones", Amber is a sorceress who is hundreds of years old. With the help of Vizier, the Overlord forces her to lead him to Tamboriyon, a city of ancient secrets. At the Overlord's command, Amber imprisons Klone and the Trobbits; but she is redeemed by Blackstar and Mara.
  • Storm - Only appearing in "Lord of Time", she is Queen of the Amazons and ally of Blackstar.
  • Queen Brindell - Only appearing in "The Mermaid of Serpent Sea", she is the Queen of the Mermanites and ally of the Trobbits.
  • Lelanna - Only appearing in "Lightning City in the Clouds", she is keeper of the key to the Box of Seasons and possibly a demi-goddess. Her opposite counterpart is King Crios.
  • Delia - Only appearing in "Tree of Evil", she is a Wood Sprite (called a dryad), whose forest is tainted by evil when the Overlord creates an evil copy of the Sagar Tree as a trap for Blackstar and Klone. Thereafter their ally.
  • Thorg - Only appearing in "Crown of the Sorceress", he is the leader of a people imprisoned by the evil magic of Taleena. He becomes an ally of Blackstar.
  • Prince Dal and Princess Loweena - Only appear in "The Zombie Masters", they are the co-rulers of the city of Gondar. It is destroyed by Shaldemar but Blackstar defeats him with Prince Dal's help and Dal and Loweena claim the floating city of Marakand as the new home for their people, becoming powerful allies to Blackstar and friends.
  • Trobbits - Short for "Tree Hobbits", they are the inhabitants of the Sagar Tree. They rescue Blackstar upon his arrival on Sagar. Some of the known Trobbits are:
    • Balkar (voiced by Patrick Pinney) - The king and the mentor. He controls elemental magic and is also a great alchemist.
    • Rif (voiced by Frank Welker - The grumpy, flame-capped cook.
    • Terra (voiced by Patrick Pinney) - The gardener who talks to plants.
    • Burble (voiced by Frank Welker) - The babbler who swims very well and freezes during the winter.
    • Carpo (voiced by Alan Oppenheimer) - The carpenter who gnaws wood with his teeth to construct things.
    • Poulo - The mute whistler.
    • Gossamer (voiced by Frank Welker) - The huge-eared flying one, resembling Dumbo, who is the scout and lookout.

Villains[edit]

  • Overlord (voiced by Alan Oppenheimer) - The primary antagonist of the series. He plots to rule all of the planet Sagar and wields one half of the Powerstar, called the Powersword, and constantly seeks the other half wielded by Blackstar.
  • Vizier - Overlord's right-hand man and companion; an expert at mind-control and conjuring.
  • Taleena - Only appearing in "Crown of the Sorceress", Taleena is a high priestess of the Demonlands and one of the minions of the Overlord. She was last seen consumed by the demonfire of her own making.
  • Shaldemar - Only appearing in "The Zombie Master", Shaldemar is an ally of the Overlord and the ruler of Marakand. Shaldemar was last seen turning to smoke after a blast from the Starsword shattered the Sphere of Souls, releasing the captured spirits.
  • Nihilis - Only appearing in "The Air Whales of Anchar", Nihilis is the captain of a flying whaling ship when he tries to capture the Air Whales and turn them into servants of the Overlord. Last we see of Nihilis, his daughter Lyla is trying to get him to see the error of his ways.
  • Kadray - Only appearing in "Lord of Time", Kadray is a time lord who rides a flying bull named Triton. He uses a time scepter to control time. But in the end, his powers backfire and he is turned into a baby. He was last seen in the care of the desert sprites.
  • Neptul - Only appearing in "Kingdom of Neptul", Neptul is the ruler of Aquaria and a servant of the Overlord. He attempted to steal the Starsword from Blackstar.
  • Typhot - Only appearing in "The Mermaid of Serpent Sea", Typhot is the captain of a group of undead pirates and enemies of the Mermanites. He is an ancestor of the Overlord. He was last seen as a flying manta ray flying to Overlord's icy castle.
  • Crios - Only appearing in "Lightning City in the Clouds", Crios is an Ice King whom the Overlord sends to capture Lelanna and use the special key she has to open the Box of Seasons and obtain the Weatherseed for the Overlord's purpose. In exchange, Overlord would have him rule winter on Overlord's behalf. When the key was destroyed and the Box of Seasons opened, Crios vanished in the dawning spring.

Locations[edit]

Among the identified locations on Sagar are:

  • Anchar: A region that is home to the Air Whales and scattered vampire men tribes.
  • Aquaria: An undersea kingdom ruled by Nepthul.
  • Demonlands: A barren landscape in the west where the demons live.
  • Flame Mountain: A volcanic mountain chain near Tamboriyon.
  • Gondar: A city ruled by Prince Dal and Princess Lowena. It was destroyed by Shaldemar.
  • Gorge of the Winds: A deep canyon with winds that make it hard to fly through. Anyone wanting to go through it would use a rope and pulley system.
  • Highlands: Home of the Druids.
  • Ice Castle: Overlord's base.
  • Kaymus: The kingdom that Taleena took over.
  • Magnetic Sea: The city of Aquaria is located here. All compasses will have their readings thrown off.
  • Marakand: The floating city of zombies.
  • Red Crown Reef: A crown-shaped reef located in the Sea of Tranquility.
  • Sagar Tree: A giant tree that is a source of the powerful white magic of Sagar. The Trobbits live here.
  • Sea of Tranquility: The Mermanites live here.
  • Tamboriyon: The ruined city of the Ancient Ones.
  • Tree of Evil: An evil clone of the Sagar Tree created by Overlord.

Episode list[edit]

No. EP# Title Teleplay(s) Writer(s) U.S. Original Airdate
1 1 "Search for the Starsword" Tom Ruegger September 19, 1981 (1981-09-19)
This was the first episode to air, though it was the second episode produced. It was however, the first scripted episode.
2 2 "City of the Ancient Ones" Michael Reaves September 12, 1981 (1981-09-12)
3 3 "The Lord of Time" Marc Scott Zicree September 26, 1981 (1981-09-26)
4 4 "The Mermaid of the Serpent Sea" Tom Ruegger October 3, 1981 (1981-10-03)
5 5 "The Quest" Robby London Martin Pasko October 10, 1981 (1981-10-10)
6 6 "Spacewrecked" Tom Ruegger October 17, 1981 (1981-10-17)
7 7 "Lightning City of the Clouds" Tom Ruegger October 24, 1981 (1981-10-24)
8 8 "The Kingdom of Neptul" Michael Reaves October 31, 1981 (1981-10-31)
9 9 "Tree of Evil" Michael Reaves November 7, 1981 (1981-11-07)
10 10 "The Air Whales of Anchar" Marc Scott Zicree, Michael Reaves November 14, 1981 (1981-11-14)
11 11 "The Overlord's Big Spell" Marc Scott Zicree November 21, 1981 (1981-11-21)
12 12 "The Crown of the Sorceress" Marc Scott Zicree November 28, 1981 (1981-11-28)
13 13 "The Zombie Masters" Marc Scott Zicree, Michael Reaves December 5, 1981 (1981-12-05)

Cast[edit]

Merchandise[edit]

Toys[edit]

Galoob produced action figures from 1983 to 1985 after the show's cancellation, attempting to tap into the He-Man boom. The first series was re-released alongside the second and third series of figures with "laser light" stone-sparking action. Evil characters were packaged with demons while good characters were packaged with Trobbits. Trobbits were also packaged individually with Rif, Terra and Gossamer being the tougher ones to find. Warlock the dragon and the Space Ship were each released in two color variations. Also released were Triton, Kadray's flying bull, the Trobbit Wind Machine and Battle Wagon. The Ice Castle was constructed with very thin plastic, making it very fragile. In Greece, Blackstar action figures (the "laser lights" with stone-sparkling action version) were released under the name "Κυρίαρχοι του Σύμπαντος" (Masters of the Universe), until they were eventually phased-out by the introduction of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

Comics[edit]

Two independent comic adaptations were made for the French market. One was a 3-episode series by artist Christian Gatignol (a.k.a. "Gaty") published by Editions Vaillant in their long-running comic magazine Pif-Gadget.[1] The other was a 46-page one-shot published by Editions LUG (then the publishing house translating the bulk of Marvel Comics in French) by artist Jean-Yves Mitton, the creator of famed French super-hero Mikros. While Gatignol's version stays close to the original, Mitton went his own way with the Blackstar mythos, creating new enemies for Blackstar to fight (Antrax the coal giant, Telekrane the phantom witch), and stating that Blackstar and Mara had a romantic relationship. While Katana does not appear, she has a counterpart in Blackstar's original girl-friend from Earth, Leia, who appears in a flashback. It is also explained that Blackstar suffers partial amnesia from his crash on Sagar and had all but forgotten Leia when he started his relationship with Mara.[2]

DVD release[edit]

BCI Eclipse LLC (Under license from Entertainment Rights) released Blackstar: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1 on August 22, 2006.[3] The 2-disc set features all the 13 episodes (restored and remastered), plus several bonus features.

As of 2009, this release has been discontinued and is out of print as BCI Eclipse ceased operations.[4]

Broadcasting[edit]

The premiere episode aired September 12, 1981, and the entire series original run lasted until 1982. After its cancellation, it was re-run in 1983-1984 on the heels of He-Man's popularity. Despite favorable ratings from that season much later, plans for a second season were already previously scrapped.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Blackstar comics by French artist Gaty". Lambiek.net. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  2. ^ "Blackstar comic by French artist Jean-Yves Mitton". Nightstoneunlimited.com. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  3. ^ "Blackstar DVD news: John Blackstar Gains The Star Sword This August With New Filmation DVD Release!". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 
  4. ^ "Site News DVD news: Navarre shutters BCI Eclipse division". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2012-06-22. 

External links[edit]