Blackstar (TV series)
Blackstar promotional poster
|Voices of||George DiCenzo
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||13|
|Running time||30 min.|
|Original run||September 12 – December 5, 1981|
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.
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."
John Blackstar was an astronaut from a future version of Earth who had been swept through a black hole and stranded on the planet Sagar, where magic and sword and sorcery still ruled the day. Together with his allies, the Trobbits, Klone (a shape-shifting elfin companion), the dragon Warlock, and Mara the Enchantress, Blackstar battled the cruel Overlord, a Ming-like oppressor, who ruled by the might of the Powersword, one half of the Powerstar, an immensely powerful weapon. Fortunately, Blackstar possessed its other half, the Starsword, which kept the Overlord and his dark minions in check.
Very little is known about Blackstar's Earth. The technology is quite 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 actual or specific agencies that exist in the real world.
Beyond the supposed black hole (which acts more like an interdimensional wormhole of some sort), there is an "alternative" universe where planet Sagar is located. Despite its atmospheric similarity with Earth, the world is also very different from ours, inhabited by many alien species.
The Sagar Tree, a mystical place, is ruled by the peaceful pink-skinned Trobbits (tree hobbits).
It seems that the Trobbits can tap their magic into the forcefield which lies behind the Sagar Tree. Likely, many sorcerers and magical creatures on Sagar can draw energy from a mysterious source set in a parallel plane.
As an astronaut, Blackstar might have been extensively trained in many fields. He is very witty and intelligent to the point where he often prefers to outsmart his opponent rather than rely only on physical talents, although his constant contact with the Starsword gives him superhuman athletic abilities and invulnerability for when all else fails.
Blackstar has no apparent problems adapting to the alien environment, sporting barbarian-fashioned clothes.
In the series, he is simply addressed by his surname, while his birthname is not used.
Starsword, Powersword and the Powerstar
The Starsword is able to absorb, store and reflect any external form of energy attack and, as the other half of the Powerstar, is virtually indestructible. It can also produce blasts of pure energy which, adequately focused on the target, can result in its destruction.
The weapon generates an invisible "aura" which imbues Blackstar with superhuman senses, strength, endurance, reflexes, speed, agility and to a certain extent also invulnerability to harm and extreme temperatures, as seen in several episodes. Presumably the Overlord's Powersword confers similar abilities, but he is also a powerful magician in his own right.
For a brief time in the episode "Spacewrecked", the Starsword and the Powersword are re-united into the Powerstar.
In the sixth episode, "Spacewrecked", Blackstar was briefly reached by his former Earth girlfriend, Lieutenant Katana, who managed to locate him through traces of the "photonic particles" left by the ship. She spent some time on Sagar before a misadventure with the Overlord forced her to leave the planet without having a chance to rescue Blackstar. No further attempts were depicted on the show, and as such 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.
- John Blackstar (voiced by George DiCenzo) - The main character of the series, John Blackstar is an astronaut whose shuttle was sucked into a black hole and he landed on the planet Sagar. He wields one half of the Powerstar called the Starsword.
- Warlock - A winged, vaguely equine dragon mount ridden by Blackstar, referred to in the series as a "dragon-horse".
- Klone (voiced by Patrick Pinney) - An elf-like shapeshifter who assists Blackstar in fighting the Overlord.
- Mara - An enchantress with the abilities of telekinesis, telepathy, levitation, forcefield projection and teleportation, who assists Blackstar in fighting the Overlord. In "City of the Ancient Ones", it is revealed that she is at least a few centuries old.
- Amber - Only appearing in "City of the Ancient Ones", Amber is a sorceress who is hundreds of years old. The Overlord frees Amber from the crystalline structure where she was kept in some form of stasis for many ages. With the help of Vizier, the Overlord dominates Amber's mind and forces her to lead him to Tamboriyon, a city of ancient secrets that he desires access to. At the Overlord's command, Amber imprisons Klone and the Trobbits in some sort of micro universe inside of her ring. With Blackstar's help, Mara eventually frees her old friend Amber from the Overlord's influence and she returns to her heroic nature.
- 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 (also called a dryad), a winged pixy-style fairy who's forest is tainted by evil when the Overlord creates an evil copy of the Sagar Tree as a trap for Blackstar and Klone. They destroy the evil tree and gain a new ally.
- Thorg - Only appearing in "Crown of the Sorceress", he is the leader of a stern looking people who were 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 one who is the 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.
- Overlord (voiced by Alan Oppenheimer) - The primary antagonist of the series. He plots to rule all of the planet Sagar and he wields one half of the Powerstar, called the Powersword, and constantly seeks the other half wielded by Blackstar. A wizard in his own right.
- Vizier - Overlord's right-hand man and companion. He is a sorcerer in his own right. He often accompanies the Overlord in his plans to take over Sagar. He is 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.
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.
|No.||EP#||Title||Teleplay(s)||Writer(s)||U.S. Original Airdate|
|1||1||"Search for the Starsword"||Tom Ruegger||September 19, 1981|
|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|
|3||3||"The Lord of Time"||Marc Scott Zicree||September 26, 1981|
|4||4||"The Mermaid of the Serpent Sea"||Tom Ruegger||October 3, 1981|
|5||5||"The Quest"||Robby London||Martin Pasko||October 10, 1981|
|6||6||"Spacewrecked"||Tom Ruegger||October 17, 1981|
|7||7||"Lightning City of the Clouds"||Tom Ruegger||October 24, 1981|
|8||8||"The Kingdom of Neptul"||Michael Reaves||October 31, 1981|
|9||9||"Tree of Evil"||Michael Reaves||November 7, 1981|
|10||10||"The Air Whales of Anchar"||Marc Scott Zicree, Michael Reaves||November 14, 1981|
|11||11||"The Overlord's Big Spell"||Marc Scott Zicree||November 21, 1981|
|12||12||"The Crown of the Sorceress"||Marc Scott Zicree||November 28, 1981|
|13||13||"The Zombie Masters"||Marc Scott Zicree, Michael Reaves||December 5, 1981|
- George DiCenzo - John Blackstar
- Linda Gary - Mara
- Alan Oppenheimer - The Overlord, Carpo
- Patrick Pinney - Klone, Balkar, Terra
- Frank Welker - Gossamear, Burble, Rif
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.
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. 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.
BCI Eclipse LLC (Under license from Entertainment Rights) released Blackstar: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1 on August 22, 2006. 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.
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.
- "Blackstar comics by French artist Gaty". Lambiek.net. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- "Blackstar comic by French artist Jean-Yves Mitton". Nightstoneunlimited.com. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- "Blackstar DVD news: John Blackstar Gains The Star Sword This August With New Filmation DVD Release!". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- "Site News DVD news: Navarre shutters BCI Eclipse division". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- Blackstar at the Internet Movie Database
- Blackstar Action Figures - Blackstar action figure guide
- Entertainment Rights - Rights holder of Blackstar
- Episode guide at the Big Cartoon DataBase