Spellbinder (TV series)

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Spellbinder
Spellbinder 1995 Intertitle.png
Spellbinder intertitle
Genre Fantasy, Teen drama, Science fiction
Created by Mark Shirrefs
John Thomson
Written by Mark Shirrefs
John Thomson
Directed by Noel Price
Starring Zbych Trofimiuk
Gosia Piotrowska
Brian Rooney
Michela Noonan
Heather Mitchell
Andrew McFarlane
Krzysztof Kumor
Rafal Zwierz
Composer(s) Ian Davidson
Country of origin Australia
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 26 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Ron Saunders
Kris Noble
Andrzej Stempowski
Producer(s) Noel Price
Cinematography Mieczyslaw Anweiler
Running time 24–25 minutes
Production company(s) Telewizja Polska, Film Australia
Broadcast
Original channel Nine Network
Original run 9 January 1995 (1995-01-09) – 4 July 1995 (1995-07-04)
Chronology
Followed by Spellbinder: Land of the Dragon Lord (1997)

Spellbinder (Polish: Dwa światy (Two worlds)) is a fantasy teen drama/science fiction television series, produced by Film Australia & Telewizja Polska in association with the Australian Children's Television Foundation.

The series is a 1995 serial of 26 episodes, co-produced between Australia and Poland. It was also novelized by the creators, Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson.

The shots were taken both in Australia which represented the "modern" world (Sydney, Blue Mountains) and in Poland where most pictures that featured the parallel world were shot (Kraków-Częstochowa Upland, Ogrodzieniec, Zawiercie, Czocha Castle).

Spellbinder was followed by, Spellbinder: Land of the Dragon Lord, in which Heather Mitchell reprises her role as Ashka.

Synopsis[edit]

A group of teenagers go on a school camp in the Blue Mountains in Australia. While at the camp, Paul Reynolds accidentally goes into a parallel universe. This other world is inhabited by a more hierarchic and technologically different society, ruled by a group of people known as Spellbinders. Paul meets a girl there named Riana, and they become friends.

The Spellbinders have discovered the power to create and manipulate static electricity. They fly in gigantic copper-coloured machines that utilize large rotating orange crystals, presumably creating some form of magnetic levitation. The Spellbinders often use their power for good, but some abuse this power and use their discoveries for malevolence. One such malevolent Spellbinder is Ashka, who often manages to hide her true nature. Common people are often "banished" for their misdeeds, and sometimes spellbinders are banished, also, if they are proven to have done wrong.

There is tension from Paul's forays into the land of the Spellbinders and his attempts to return to his own universe, and also from conversations Paul has with his friends across the barrier between the two universes. Paul and Riana's escapes also add tension, as do the interactions between Spellbinders.

Paul is eventually able to travel back home, but he is forced to take Riana with him in order to save her. Later, when Paul is able to take Riana back home, the Spellbinder Ashka follows Paul as he later returns home. Ashka seeks the unwitting help of Paul's father in making her a new high-tech 'flying suit' to replace her power suit in order to make her more powerful than the other Spellbinders.

However, Paul manages to expose her scheme and defeat Ashka, who is returned as an outcast to the Spellbinder world, while Riana becomes the new apprentice to Correon. In order to keep the Spellbinder world safe from the more advanced people from "modern" world, the gateway between the two universes is closed permanently.

Cast and characters[edit]

Main cast[edit]

  • Zbych Trofimiuk as Paul Reynolds – a teenage boy from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. His life was normal until a prank at a camp went wrong and he ended up in the land of the Spellbinders. At first, Paul was unsure of how to react to the new world, but he settled in quite quickly and was able to discover Ashka's plot to rule. Paul has some rough military skills, which, combined with the scientific knowledge from his father, makes him able to defeat Ashka.
  • Gosia Piotrowska as Riana – she lives in the Spellbinder world. Her life was normal until the arrival of Paul. Despite getting off to a somewhat rocky start (Paul being mistaken for a Marauder), Riana quickly becomes Paul's friend. She has very good survival skills and can use bolas and a spear. Riana cares very much for her family and is upset when she realises that they may be in danger. In Paul's world, Riana is able to use some of her survival skills to help a newfound friend, and is known as "Paul's cousin from Iceland". Riana eventually ends up being Correon's apprentice.
  • Brian Rooney as Alex Katsonis – Paul's best friend who knows the truth about what happened to Paul and tries his best to bring him back. In the course of the series, he also develops a relationship with his classmate Katrina, even though they are basically as opposite as they can be. Alex has an older brother, who is a mechanic but gets fired for unspecified reasons.
  • Michela Noonan as Katrina Muggleton – brought up by strict parents, Katrina is academically smart at school but has tendencies of naivete. Believing that the Mount Lara lights do exist, she travels up to the cave and is the only other person to both see and believe Paul's disappearance. She realises that the radios can be used to communicate and is able to succeed in helping to bring Paul home. In the second half of the season, Katrina becomes a friend to Riana, helping her choose a dress. However, Katrina is easily tricked by Ashka into helping her.
  • Heather Mitchell as Ashka – a Spellbinder. She mistakes Paul for a Marauder at first, throwing a power bolt at him, then, realizing that he is unaffected (his rubber soles insulated him) chases after him. When she meets Paul at the castle and learns about fireworks, she blackmails Paul into giving her the secret of gunpowder, by holding the life of Riana and Riana's family over his head. Paul tricks her twice and Ashka winds up in Paul's world. In Paul's world, Ashka is unfamiliar with all the new sights and sounds and this proves to be a slight disadvantage, however she winds up working with Paul's father and creating a new power suit to take over the Spellbinder world. Ashka is ruthless and intimidating, and has the ability to create lies on the spot. Ashka misuses her power and privilege, and this leads to her downfall.
  • Andrew McFarlane as Brian Reynolds – Paul's father. He refuses to believe that Paul is in another world, until Paul returns home. A scientist, Brian is usually more wrapped up in his work than his family, but eventually settles down. A single father, he shows a romantic interest in Ashka, not realizing she's a Spellbinder or that she plans to overthrow the Regents. He helps her create a new power suit. When he realizes his mistake, however, his knowledge helps bring Ashka down.
  • Krzysztof Kumor as Correon – a Spellbinder and senior Regent. His studies are on how to repair flying ships and power suits. When he meets Riana, however, and she shows him the technology from Paul's world, Correon realizes that Paul is telling the truth and teams up with Paul and Riana to get Paul home. He calls Ashka a liar and challenges her, but he loses and is sent to the Wastelands where he winds up with Zander (a supposed Marauder). He is the one who introduces the Regents to a "Marauder" and plays a part in Ashka's downfall in the Spellbinder world.
  • Rafal Zwierz as Gryvon – Ashka's apprentice. The son of the Clayhill Summoner and Ashka's co-conspirator, Gryvon is selfish and sycophantic, and follows Ashka's orders to the full. He is stripped of his apprenticeship after Ashka escapes and is punished by having to help repair Riana's family cottage, which was burnt by Ashka. Despite the fact he is no longer an apprentice, he still helps Ashka out, but in the end he is exiled just like her.

Recurring cast[edit]

  • Joachim Lamża as Lukan – Spellbinder Regent
  • Hanna Dunowska as Marna – Spellbinder Regent
  • Piotr Adamczyk as Zander – a native of the Spellbinder world who is banished, he later becomes a Marauder
  • Julia Biczysko as Arla – Riana's younger sister
  • Stanislaw Brejdygant as the Clayhill Summoner
  • Erland Buchan as Jal – Riana's younger brother
  • Georgina Fisher as Christine Reynolds – Paul's younger sister, who helps keep Riana secret. Christine often expresses the wish for a mother and tries to match-make with her father and her baby-sitter, Gina.
  • Andrzej Grabarczyk as Bron – Riana's father
  • Sława Michalewska as Maran – Riana's mother
  • Judy Morris as Mrs. Muggleton – Katrina's mother
  • Christian Mcveigh as Mac – Spellbinder Regent

The Spellbinder world[edit]

Very little is revealed about the history of the Spellbinder world. At some point in the distant past, a disaster befell the planet, leaving their land surrounded by a wasteland where nothing can survive. They refer to this disaster as "the Darkness," and the ancestors of a group called the Marauders (raiders who live on the outskirts of their society, bordering on the wastelands) are blamed for the past catastrophe. It is later learned that the Ancient Spellbinders were the ones actually responsible for the disaster, brought about by their own intellectual arrogance and desire for increasingly powerful weapons. Paul, the visitor from our world, speculates that "the Darkness" may have been the result of a nuclear winter, although this is not further elaborated upon. Regent Correon, with Paul's help, discovers an ancient book that describes an experiment of the ancient Spellbinders that went horribly wrong, but this book is destroyed by Ashka before more can be learned.

The Ancient Spellbinders were technologically advanced, although their everyday lives were relatively simple by the standards of our world. They lived in stone castles and relied on traditional agriculture for food, but they also developed electromagnetic power suits, long-distance radio communication, and metallic ships that used powerful magnetic fields in order to fly. Most of their knowledge was lost after the disaster, and today's Spellbinders only have a limited understanding of the science their technology is based on. Their flying ships and power suits are falling into disarray as they frantically search to rediscover the knowledge lost to them.

The Spellbinder world is governed by a council of three Regents who reside in the Spellbinder castle. The Regents are indifferent to the plight of the people outside their castle, enforce a very rigid code of laws designed to protect their power over the land, and ultimately are reluctant to believe Paul's claims about where he comes from. They imprison anyone who discovers or applies the principles of science, such as a toymaker who makes a toy that can fly. The basis of their power over the people is their technology, and they are ruthless in their desire to prevent anyone else from understanding it. People who are exiled to the wastelands are sometimes saved by, and then join, the group of raiders known as Marauders.

The people of the Spellbinder world are ignorant of the true nature of the Spellbinders' technology. To them, their power suits and flying ships are magic. The Spellbinders exploit this belief in order to maintain control over the people and use them for labour. Some people are allowed into the Spellbinder castle as servants, while exceptionally bright ones are taken on as apprentices to the Spellbinders. There is some degree of nepotism involved in the process though, as Gryvon is clearly only chosen to be an apprentice because his father is the village summoner.

The Spellbinders are beset with internal conflict due to the deterioration of their technology. Because there are only a limited number of power suits and flying ships still in operation, only a select few can be Spellbinders at any given time. At one point, a major dispute is legally settled by a ritualized duel in which Spellbinders fire power bolts at each other; such duels were noted to be somewhat archaic, however. The loser of such a match is stripped of his power suit and exiled to the wastelands to die. The same punishment is also given to anyone who violates the law against using science.

Paul's visit may have changed the balance of power in the Spellbinder world. Regent Correon invites Riana to be his new apprentice, and Ashka is punished by being sent to a labour camp (as seen in Spellbinder: Land of the Dragon Lord) for her abuse of power. Although Correon was previously only interested in rediscovering the secrets of the Ancient Spellbinders, he now seems sympathetic to the problems of the people outside his castle. The rigid hierarchy that defines the Spellbinder society may therefore be weakening. However, Paul decides that future contact between the two worlds should be avoided in order to prevent Riana's world from being exploited by his own.

Spellbinder technology[edit]

Power suits[edit]

The power suit is the central piece of Spellbinder technology. It is powered by a set of power stones, which can be recharged in the castle complex. By rubbing the cuffs of the suit together, a Spellbinder can generate and discharge a power bolt. In combat, the power suit can be worn with a small shield capable of deflecting power bolts. Although the technology is never fully explained, it is implied that the power suit increases the voltage of energy stored within the power stones and releases it in the form of static electricity. Curiously, while usually capable of causing death or injury to anyone on the receiving end of a bolt, Paul survived a bolt impact unscathed at one point; a feat he put down to his rubber footwear insulating him and preventing the bolt from grounding through him.

Because the suit's copper circuitry is mounted outside the suit, it is easily disabled by splashing it with water, causing a short circuit. The new power suit created by Paul's father in our world is able to repel the Earth's magnetic field, allowing it to fly. Its circuitry has also been sealed against being shorted out by exposure to water and power bolts are generated and discharged through pressing a button on the suits gauntlet, rather than striking wrist plates together to generate the static electricity.

Power stones[edit]

Power stones are the primary power source for Spellbinder technology. Spellbinders get power stones from their lands. They are used to generate the power bolts released by power suits, and they are also used to create the magnetic fields that power flying ships. They are generally small, rectangular stones with a yellowish-hue, although the power stones found in flying ships are much larger. Power stones can be recharged by infusing them with electricity, which is done in the lower levels of the Spellbinders' castle.

Summoning towers[edit]

Summoning towers are large metal towers that resemble electrical transformers and radio towers. The primary purpose of the summoning tower is to contact the Spellbinders when they are needed. An eyestone is placed into a cradle at the base of the tower, which presumably amplifies the signal it generates. The summoning towers also produce a magnetic field used to give flying ships their 'lift' (as evidenced when Paul shorts the main power stone in the castle, causing all flying ships to crash) and can be used as a landing pad for the flying ships.

Eyestones[edit]

Spellbinders communicate with each other with a handheld eyestone. The device has an outer lattice bearing the Spellbinder insignia, and opens to reveal a small circuit board. An eyestone creates a weak radio signal, similar to a walkie-talkie. For communicating over great distances, an eyestone must be connected to a summoning tower. Village summoners are the only people besides the Spellbinders who are permitted to use eyestones.

Flying ships[edit]

The Spellbinders travel large distances in their metal flying ships. Unlike airplanes, which operate on aerodynamic principles, flying ships generate lift through powerful magnetic fields. Each flying ship is equipped with a pair of large power stones on either side, which rotate slowly as the ship moves. This motion creates a magnetic field powerful enough to repel against another magnetic field created by the summoning towers. Flying ships can be used for transportation and also to dust crops with pesticide. Although the technology that powers them is impressive, flying ships generally move somewhat slowly. By the time of Paul's visit to the Spellbinder's world, only six remain in operation.

Compass[edit]

Spellbinders use a small magnetic compass to navigate when travelling on foot or horseback. The compass contains a gyro device that is pulled into motion with a piece of string. The arrow of the compass then moves to detect north.

Episodes[edit]

No.
in series
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1 "The Big Bang" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 9 January 1995 (1995-01-09)
2 "Where Am I" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 16 January 1995 (1995-01-16)
3 "Finding the Way Home" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 23 January 1995 (1995-01-23)
4 "It Isn't Magic, It's Science" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 30 January 1995 (1995-01-30)
5 "Secrets" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 6 February 1995 (1995-02-06)
6 "Show Me Your World" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 13 February 1995 (1995-02-13)
7 "The Gunpowder Plot" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 20 February 1995 (1995-02-20)
8 "Secrets of the Spellbinders" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 27 February 1995 (1995-02-27)
9 "The Labyrinth" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 6 March 1995 (1995-03-06)
10 "Desperate Measures" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 13 March 1995 (1995-03-13)
11 "The Centre of Power" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 20 March 1995 (1995-03-20)
12 "Spellbinder Jack" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 27 March 1995 (1995-03-27)
13 "The Final Challenge" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 4 April 1995 (1995-04-04)
14 "Lost and Found" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 11 April 1995 (1995-04-11)
15 "Hospitality" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 18 April 1995 (1995-04-18)
16 "Breakout" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 25 April 1995 (1995-04-25)
17 "The Trojan Toffee Trolley" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 2 May 1995 (1995-05-02)
18 "Run!" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 9 May 1995 (1995-05-09)
19 "Reunions" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 16 May 1995 (1995-05-16)
20 "Alien Invasion" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 23 May 1995 (1995-05-23)
21 "Hunt for Ashka" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 30 May 1995 (1995-05-30)
22 "Clowning Around" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 6 June 1995 (1995-06-06)
23 "High Tech Power Suit" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 13 June 1995 (1995-06-13)
24 "A Spellbinder In the House" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 20 June 1995 (1995-06-20)
25 "Breakfast of Champions" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 27 June 1995 (1995-06-27)
26 "Flight" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 4 July 1995 (1995-07-04)

Broadcast[edit]

The original Spellbinder series ran on Australia's Nine Network between January and July 1995. Internationally, the series was shown in the United States on The Disney Channel beginning on 5 February 1996,[1] and the sequel appeared on Fox Family Channel beginning in 1998. Due to a license dispute, The Disney Channel airing used a different opening and closing sequence.[2]

The series was screened in the United Kingdom and Ireland on ITV and Network 2's The Den respectively in 1996 (only episodes 1–13 aired on ITV). It was aired on Sri Lanka by Rupavahini (Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation) with Sinhala subtitles.

Home video releases[edit]

Title Set details DVD release dates Special features
Region 4[3]
Australia
Spellbinder – Series One Part One
  • Discs: 2
  • Episodes: 13
19 September 2005 N/A
Spellbinder – Complete Series 1
  • Discs: 4
  • Episodes: 26
10 July 2006 N/A

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Disney Channel Magazine, Vol. 14, no. 1, February/March 1996: pp. 2, 20, 23, 37.
  2. ^ "Spellbinder Intro USA Version". YouTube. 20 April 2009. Retrieved 16 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Australia Region 4 DVD set:

External links[edit]