Spellbinder: Land of the Dragon Lord

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Spellbinder:
Land of the Dragon Lord
Spellbinder; Land of the Dragon Lord 1997 Intertitle.png
Spellbinder: Land of the Dragon Lord '​s intertitle
Genre Teen drama
Science fiction
Created by Mark Shirrefs
John Thomson
Directed by Noel Price
Starring Lauren Hewett
Anthony Wong
Ryan Kwanten
Leonard Fung
Heather Mitchell
Country of origin Australia
Poland
China
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 26
Production
Cinematography Danny Batterham
Running time 24 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel Nine Network
Original run 1 September 1997 (1997-09-01) – 24 October 1997 (1997-10-24)
Chronology
Preceded by Spellbinder

Spellbinder: Land of the Dragon Lord is a teen, preteen and children's television series, and a sequel to Spellbinder. Both series deal with children travelling between parallel universes, although the only common characters between the two series are Ashka (Heather Mitchell), and her sidekick Gryvon (Rafał Zwierz). It was also novelised by the creators, Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson.

The series was filmed on location in Australia ("Kathy's world" and one other parallel worlds similar to hers), China ("Sun's world") and Poland ("Ashka's world", as well as two other parallel universes). The show was a joint production between studios in the three countries, although the script and concept came from Australia, and the spoken language is English.

The series is fast-paced and there are usually new challenges for the characters in each episode, which are solved through cleverness and wits. As with most children's shows, most of the adventure is headed by children (Kathy is in her middle-teens), although Ashka, Kathy's parents, and the scientist Mek are adults.

Plot[edit]

When Kathy decides to explore an unusual boat that she discovers next to a lake, she is accidentally pulled from her home in Australia into a parallel universe. The new world she finds herself in is populated by ethnic Chinese, who possess advanced technology, including a talking computer called the "Oracle" that runs the empire.

Kathy spends most of her time trying to evade dangerous people, return to her own world, and reunite with her family. She is further antagonised by Ashka, a cunning and manipulative woman who has escaped from prison in her own world (for her crimes in the first series) and who seeks to gain advantage for herself.

The series also depicts a journey Sun takes to Kathy's world, where he is no longer protected by his empire, and people do not respect his authority.

Filming locations[edit]

Land of the Immortals[edit]

Filmed in Poland, most of it in Nieborów, with the Arkadia palace serving as Lem's and Guin's residence, and the Temple of Diana in the palace's park as the Doctor Elvo's home. The scenes in which Kathy is being taken to school were filmed in the Old Town of Warsaw and Łazienki Park.

Land of the Moloch[edit]

Parts of the series were shot on location in Poland, with the Wieliczka Salt Mine used for underground locations, while the village and the scrap yard were filmed near Kraków.

Cast and characters[edit]

Kathy, Mek and Ashka in "Sun's World" (book cover)
Kathy and Automatons in another parallel world (book cover)

Main cast[edit]

  • Lauren Hewett as Kathy Morgan – about to turn fifteen years old, she is slightly spoiled and vain and is reluctant to go camping. Swooning over Tony Lazzi, their neighbour and star on a soap, Kathy accidentally ends up in the Land of the Dragon Lord after playing around with Mek's boat. Upset at first, Kathy soon adjusts to her new life, but begins to resent Sun after he tells her to stay forever. She helps Ashka escape from the Spellbinder world, but after that will swing loyalty with her, sometimes helping her, sometimes not helping her. Beyond that, Kathy is almost like a female version of Paul from the first series, but she does not have the scientific knowledge or military skills that Paul does. Most of her planning is often co-worked with her family or with Mek. She is the only person to see six worlds, including her own: Australia, Australia 2 (Kathy-2), Land of the Dragon Lord, the Immortal World, the Spellbinder World and the Land of the Moloch.
  • Anthony Wong as Mek – the first person from the Land of the Dragon Lord who Kathy meets. He is the inventor of the trans-dimensional bamboo boat, which is how Kathy and her family end up in the parallel world. His original invention was meant to be musical jewels, but they failed. Working at the scholastery, Mek is a bit like a father figure in a way towards Kathy, helping her adjust to life in the Land of the Dragon Lord. It is also implied that he has a crush on Aya.
  • Ryan Kwanten as Josh Morgan – a sixteen years old, he is Kathy's jock brother. While he and Kathy treat each other like brothers and sisters normally do, he cares very much for his sister and is the only person to actually see Kathy disappear. When he and his family end up in the Land of the Dragon Lord, Josh gets separated from them early and befriends Jasmine, an entertainer. He falls for her and the two share a brief kiss in the series. Beyond that, Josh is more like Paul in that he plays a sport and has some military skills. He can also create a good lie on the spot.
  • Leonard Fung as Sun, The Dragon Lord – a spoiled brat at first, Sun is the first Dragon Lord. He is easily bored and relies heavily on the "Oracle" and his guards to take care of matters. When Ashka meets him, Sun takes an instant dislike to her, while befriending Kathy, until he makes her his eternal companion. When he is marooned in Kathy's world however, he is lost and confused, not knowing what to do. He soon adjusts, helping Kathy recover the boat and get back, but everyone believes he is dead. This is played throughout the first half of the series and works to Sun's advantage, as he is able to move around successfully without being captured.
  • Heather Mitchell as Ashka – a Spellbinder and villainess. When Kathy and Mek arrive in the Spellbinder world, she tricks them into helping her escape a labour camp and travels with them to the Land of the Dragon Lord.
  • Me Yang as Sharak – the leader of a group of barbarians, Sharak's people are hungry and want food. Sun refuses and sends out his warrior to defeat them. It works well, but Sharak does not give up, recruiting Ashka and at one point, Josh, Sharak's army manage to invade the Land of the Dragon Lord and dismantle the "Oracle". Being very superstitious, Sharak enlists in the help of a diviner to make sure that everything is all right according to the stars and to banish ghosts and cleanse items. Sharak makes himself self-appointed Lord and forces Aya to marry him. At the last minute, however, Ashka takes Aya's place and becomes Sharak's bride. Eventually, the barbarians end up in the Land of the Moloch, where they are needed the most, while Sharak and his commanders are exiled and Ashka is marooned in another world.
  • Lenore Smith as Vicky Morgan – the mother of Kathy and Josh, Vicky is arachnophobic and is a computer consultant. She appears a little more frail compared to Carl, who can survive without food or water a little bit longer. In the Land of the Dragon Lord, her role is mostly that of supplies and providing diversions for Sun and Aya, but beyond that her role is somewhat minor.
  • Peter O'Brien as Carl Morgan – Kathy and Josh's father, Carl is an ex-pro footballer who injured his knee and now owns a shop called "Crazy Carl's Sporting and Army Surplus Store". He does not believe Josh at first and when he drives into the Land of the Dragon Lord, tries to get help from Sharak, without realising his true intent. He is eventually reunited with his children and wife and becomes like a surrogate father to Sun, Aya and Jasmine. Mostly driving, he teaches Sharak how to drive, drives the "monster" (when they are trying to bluff their way out of a situation with Sharak) and handles the driving in and out of the Dragon Lord world. He cares very much for his wife and children and has some basic military skills, like tactics and being able to use a convincing disguise.
  • Hu Xin as Princess Aya – Sun's older sister, Aya was meant to be the Dragon Lord, but she was injured in an accident which killed their parents. Sun was made the Dragon Lord while she recovered. She is very gentle and kind to others, regardless of their status and usually manages to keep Sun under control. She takes a great liking to Kathy when she arrives, then the Morgan family. When Jasmine was made a hide-tanner, Aya was the one who made Jasmine's dream come true. She becomes the Dragon Lord after she believes that Sun is dead. She remains the Dragon Lord from this point onwards.
  • Gui Jeilan as Jasmine – a 15-year-old girl from the village of Fin, Jasmine is somewhat superstitious, believing in water spirits and such, even mistaking Josh for one when she first sees him. Her goal in life is to be an entertainer and she uses one of the water spirit's three wishes to try to achieve this goal. When the wish fails at first, Jasmine is angry at Josh, but is soon rescued by his family and eventually the wish does manifest, but not in the way that Jasmine or Josh imagined. She has a romantic interest in Josh and kisses him towards the middle of the series. She plays the flute and can sing and dance, this often makes a good distraction.

Recurring cast[edit]

Episodes[edit]

No.
in series
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1 "The Trans-Dimensional Bamboo Boat" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 1 September 1997 (1997-09-01)
2 "Ashka" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 2 September 1997 (1997-09-02)
3 "The Dragon Lord" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 3 September 1997 (1997-09-03)
4 "Oracle" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 8 September 1997 (1997-09-08)
5 "Marooned in a World of Monsters" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 9 September 1997 (1997-09-09)
6 "Attack of the Thirty-Metre Warrior" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 10 September 1997 (1997-09-10)
7 "Josh, the Water Spirit" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 15 September 1997 (1997-09-15)
8 "Sun Becomes a Star" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 16 September 1997 (1997-09-16)
9 "Designation Day" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 17 September 1997 (1997-09-17)
10 "The Oracle is Dead" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 22 September 1997 (1997-09-22)
11 "The Only Child in the World" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 23 September 1997 (1997-09-23)
12 "Girl for Sale" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 24 September 1997 (1997-09-24)
13 "To Live Forever" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 29 September 1997 (1997-09-29)
14 "Barbarians at the Gate" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 30 September 1997 (1997-09-30)
15 "The Best-Laid Plans..." Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 1 October 1997 (1997-10-01)
16 "Graveyard of Machines" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 6 October 1997 (1997-10-06)
17 "The Hunter and the Haunting" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 7 October 1997 (1997-10-07)
18 "Stop the Moloch!" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 8 October 1997 (1997-10-08)
19 "Escape from the Palace" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 13 October 1997 (1997-10-13)
20 "Kathy Meets... Herself" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 14 October 1997 (1997-10-14)
21 "The Doublecross" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 15 October 1997 (1997-10-15)
22 "On The Trail" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 20 October 1997 (1997-10-20)
23 "The Two Joshes" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 21 October 1997 (1997-10-21)
24 "Who's Who?" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 22 October 1997 (1997-10-22)
25 "The Disappearing Act" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 23 October 1997 (1997-10-23)
26 "A Wedding Surprise" Noel Price Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson 24 October 1997 (1997-10-24)

International showings[edit]

The original Spellbinder series was first shown in the USA in 1996 on The Disney Channel,[1] joining with an earlier Australian science fiction series called Ocean Girl. However, after 1997 The Disney Channel decided not to get the 2nd season, as well as renewing Ocean Girl (which Disney helped finance OG seasons 2 and 3). However, Spellbinder: Land Of The Dragon Lord was picked up by the FOX Family Channel and the series started airing on 15 August 1998 with the channel's launch. Unfortunately, FOX Family Channel cancelled the show shortly afterward. Although FOX Family Channel had said that they would show all the episodes later on, they never did. A few years later the FOX Family Channel ownership was bought by ABC Capital TV Network, which is owned by Disney Corporation, and is now called ABC Family Channel, and it seems unlikely that USA viewers will ever see the entire "Spellbinder 2".

It was broadcast in Sri Lanka in 1999 on Rupavahini with Sinhalese subtitles prior to Spellbinder.

It was shown on satellite and cable channel The Children's Channel and terrestrially in Ireland on RTE Two in 1998.

The series started in Russia in 1998 and had a big auditory. Different channels were showing Spellbinder 1 and 2 several times.

DVD release[edit]

The DVD set was made available on Friday 4 May 2007, and contains the entire series over 4 discs.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Disney Channel Magazine, Vol. 14, no. 1, February/March 1996: pp. 2, 20, 23, 37.

External links[edit]