Knights and Warriors
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Knights and Warriors is an American competition television program created in 1992 by its executive producer, Jerry Gilden, and produced by what at the time was known as the Welk Entertainment Group. Originating at CBS/MTM Studio Center in Studio City, California, the series was similar to American Gladiators but with a medieval theme. The series matched a cast of amateur athletes against each other, as well as against the group of "Warriors". The show was hosted by Joe Fowler and Lisa Canning.
The late character actor Bernard Erhard portrayed the Lord of Rules and Discipline (L.O.R.D.) who also acted as the show's resident referee. In the first season's original opening scene, he narrates the story as follows:
It is written in the Book of Good and Evil that in a time long ago, all was peace and harmony, Paradise on Earth. Then one day, the universe shifted, all was dark, and for those born on that day, their evil destiny was sealed! Now, they have united to wreak havoc upon an unsuspecting world --- and forevermore will be known as WARRIORS!
This opening title sequence loosely resembles the legend of King Arthur and recalls how the world was a utopia until the day a dark force disrupted the balance that separated good from evil; and how, with that dark force, a barbarian horde known as the Warriors began to storm through the kingdoms. The L.O.R.D. has accordingly called for "modern-day knights" to battle the Warriors and restore honor.
The "knights" are two teams of one man and one woman. The teams are colored purple and gold. The knights must go through eight challenges set forth by the Warriors to win the game. The L.O.R.D. hands out punishment to the Warriors for any cheating, but he can also punish the knights if they cheat during competition, which was very rare in this show's all-too-short history.
The audience all wave and purple and gold triangular flags while cheering on the knights.
The Warriors are the show's antagonists. In reality, they're hired actors almost similar to the Gladiators.
- PLAGUE: The leader of the Warriors and considerably the strongest. Portrayed by Jim Maniaci.
- STEEL MAIDEN: A female Warrior, beautiful and powerful. Portrayed by Jessica Long.
- PYRO: The Warriors' hotheaded firestarter, some say the most popular of the Warriors. Portrayed by Douglas Rogel.
- LADY BATTLEAXE: A large female Warrior with unparalleled strength. Portrayed by real-life armwrestling champion Dot Jones.
- KNIGHTMARE: A tough Warrior known as the Duke of Doom. Portrayed by Rodney Mitchell.
- PRINCESS MALICE: A so-called princess who turned to the dark side. Portrayed by Nancy Georges.
- CHAOS: The most unstable and unpredictable of the Warriors, hence his name. Portrayed by Benny Graham.
- VENOM: A devious, dangerous female Warrior. Portrayed by Cameo Kneuer.
- RAVEN: Replaced Steel Maiden in Season 2. Unknown performer.
- SLASH: A male "alternate" Warrior. Unknown performer.
- VANDAL: Another male "alternate" Warrior. Unknown performer.
- EMPRESS VIXXEN: A female "alternate" Warrior. Unknown performer.
The knights must catch red dodgeballs being launched by a catapult while trying to evade yellow dodgeballs being fired by the Warriors using giant slingshots. Once the red balls are caught, the knights must throw them into the ring of fire to score. Points are scored based on which section of the playing mat the knight threw the red ball from. In Season 1, the mat was divided into three sections worth 5, 10 and 15 points, with 15 being the furthest away. In Season 2, only the front two sections of the mat were used, with the middle section scoring 25 points, and the front section scoring 50 (as the knight would have to brave harder hits from the dodgeballs). After 60 seconds, the challenge is over. Both the male and female knights took a turn competing in this event.
Pyro was always the Warrior whose tricks would ignite the ring of fire to start the match.
The knight and Warrior run across treadmills on an elevated platform trying to knock each other down with foam bats. The challenge is 30 seconds. A win or a Warrior disqualification earns the knight 50 points while a draw is worth 25 points. Grabbing an opponent's weapon or crossing over the small barrier between the treadmills automatically disqualifies the offender. Only one gender competes in this event.
The knight has 45 seconds to run across a spinning track with two hurdles. Every completed lap on the wheel is worth 10 points each. However, a lap doesn't count if both of the knight's feet touch the inside of the wheel. The Warriors stand on the outside of the wheel swinging a 75-pound spiked ball on a chain to knock the knight off the wheel and out of the game. Whichever gender did not participate in Battle Swords competes in this event.
Two knights have 45 seconds (60 for the women) to climb up a giant 30-foot volcano-shaped net. Inside the net are 4 Warriors. One Warrior is strapped to a harness while the other three Warriors control the height and angle. The harnessed Warrior has pads to knock the knight down trying to prevent them from scoring. Scoring ranges from 3 sections of the net, each separated by a metal ring connected to the net. The bottom of the net is worth 25 points while the next section is worth 50 points and the top section is 75 points. If the knight manages to climb to the top of the Volcano and grab their team flag, he(she) will earn 100 points. Both genders compete in this event.
Each knight will have 45 seconds to skate around the jousting arena trying to dodge two Warriors trying to bring the knight down. The knight carries a foam lance which is used to capture rings on poles scattered around the arena. Red rings are worth 10 points while the gold rings are worth 25 points. For the first 15 seconds, the knight can take one of the paths forming an X inside the arena to escape the Warriors. Once inside the X area, the Warriors cannot enter or interfere. After 15 seconds, the Warrior-Free Zone is lifted and play resumes as normal. One gender competed in this event in Season 1, and both genders each took a turn in Season 2.
Tug O' Warriors
The knight and the Warrior are each standing on rotating platforms while each of them pulls on a rope. The knight has 30 seconds to pull the Warrior of their platform. If the knight wins, he(she) earns 100 points. If 30 seconds expires or both go over, 50 points are awarded for a draw. Only one gender competes in this event. (In Season 1, the gender that did not participate in Roller Joust competed.)
In this challenge, the knights are pitted against each other inside a bowl-like arena. The Warriors outside the bowl rock it back and forth with the knights inside it. The object in this game is for one knight to pin the other using a pad. Depending on where the pin was, the bowl has 4 scoring sections: two 25 points, one 50 point and one 75 point section. After 45 seconds, the total number of points are added up. Pins without using the pads won't count. Both genders took a turn competing in this event.
A notable moment in the show's early round one episodes occurred when Knight Robert Pavell of the purple suffered a head injury while inside the Pit; he and his opponent, Michael West of the gold team, scored no points in the Pit. He was replaced by Jeff Joccum, who later went on to score in the finale and ensure a win of the purple team.
Similar to the American Gladiators final event, the Eliminator, Target Onslaught is the show's final event. Target Onslaught is a two-part challenge.
One knight becomes the shooter aiming a crossbow-like cannon shooting out foam arrows at six targets from afar as the other knight loads the crossbow. The targets include a dragon, spinning flags, the Sun, the Moon, and two shields. The first knight has 30 seconds to shoot the targets. The first knight cannot move to the next target until the last one is shot down. Instead of points, the knight earns 5 additional seconds for his/her partner for every successful hit.
After 30 seconds expires, the second half of Target Onslaught begins. The second knight now becomes the shooter and the first knight loads the crossbow as they attempt to shoot the Warriors which travel back and forth across the top of the arena on three rails using handrail slides. The closest rail is 50 points, the next rail is 100 points and the furthest rail is 150 points. After 30–60 seconds, the final scores are totaled.
The Final Results
The team with the most points at the end of the show wins and receive medals awarded to them by the L.O.R.D. and the servant girls beside him. Prizes are also awarded to the knights, indicated by hostess Lisa Canning as the show comes back from various commercial breaks.
In a "Knights and Warriors Tournament", which was ultimately the series finale, the champions of the Tournament are crowned "Sir" and "Madam" by the Lord of Rules and Discipline, and receive gold trophies awarded by the show.