Benji, Zax & the Alien Prince
|Benji, Zax & the Alien Prince|
|Based on||Benji created by
|Starring||Benjean (as Benji)
|Voices of||Ric Spiegel|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||13|
|Executive producer(s)||Joseph Barbera
Chuck Menville (story editors)
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Hanna-Barbera Productions
Mulberry Square Productions
|Distributor||Taft Broadcasting (original)
Warner Bros. Television (current)
|Original release||September 17 – December 17, 1983|
Benji, Zax & the Alien Prince is a live-action Hanna-Barbera and Mulberry Square children's science fiction television series created by Joe Camp, the creator of the Benji film franchise. The series aired Saturday mornings on CBS in 1983 with repeats airing in the United States and internationally for a number of years through the 1980s.
The series was taped in various parts of the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex, with interiors taped at the Las Colinas studios in Irving, Texas. The entire series was released to DVD by GoodTimes Home Video as four separate releases of 3 or 4 episodes each and a single release with all 13 episodes.
A tyrant named Zanu has taken control of the distant, red planet of Antars which is "way off in another galaxy" as Yubi describes in the episode "Double Trouble" while rehearsing exactly who he is and where he comes from. Zanu has the king of Antars killed and imprisons the queen. Lisa LeMole plays the queen in the episode "Goodbye Earth." Yubi's monologue from the episode "Double Trouble" puts it nicely, "My mother is there, probably in prison. My father is dead. I have a guardian. Sorta. He's not really a person. He's a droid. Also from Antars. And those people in the black van. You guessed it! From Antars!"
The opening sequence of the series shows how the crown prince, their son and heir prince Yubi (played by Christopher Burton), has escaped to Earth with his droid Zax (voiced by Ric Spiegel). When Yubi and Zax land on Earth they are befriended by a stray dog named Benji who remains their companion for the run of the series. Two Antarian bounty hunters named Darah and Khyber, along with their droid Zord (Level 10 programing), are sent to Earth to find and to capture Yubi. Most of the plot involves Darah and Khyber chasing Benji, Zax and Yubi in a black Chevy van, and their efforts almost always end in failure, usually due to some failure of one or both of them combined with Benji's quick thinking and loyal assistance. There is never any doubt that Benji is a major heroic figure for this show who seems to do an often better job protecting his highness than the level 2 droid assigned to him.
In order to survive on Earth, Antarians must wear a special bracelet, known as a cipher. In the episode "The Locals", Prince Yubi's cipher is stolen by a gang of boys known as "The Vikings" and he gets very sick without it. Within seconds of the cipher's removal, Yubi faints, suggesting to more observant viewers that this life support device helps Yubi to breathe in some way. This is logical since the atmosphere is likely to be very different on Antars than on Earth. Every Antarian in the series is highly protective of their cipher, experiencing the immediate onset of fatigue as a result of its theft (Benji steals first Darah's then Khyber's cipher in the episode "Gold Mine" to force them to share a cipher and therefore rendering them unable to detect the nearby orgon signature from Trask's ship).
Beyond principal hunters Darah (Angie Bolling; episodes 1-7 and Anna Holbrook; episodes 8-13) and Khyber (Joe Rainer; episodes 1-7 and Dallas Miles; episodes 8-13), the episode "UFO" also features Ric Spiegel as hunter Harwell Thompson. The episode "Puppy Love" features Tosha Moody as Tanya, Zanu's secret threat to Prince Yubi. Burton also played T.J. Parker an Earth boy in the episode "Double Trouble" who shoplifted a general store and led to Yubi being arrested due to their striking resemblance to each other, while Khyber and Darrah kidnap T.J. who mistook him for the prince.
List of episodes
- "The Prince and the Bag Lady" (September 17, 1983)
- "U.F.O." (September 24, 1983)
- "The Day of the Hunter" (October 1, 1983)
- "Goldmine" (October 8, 1983)
- "Goodbye Earth" (October 15, 1983)
- "Ghostown" (October 22, 1983)
- "The Locals" (October 29, 1983)
- "Puppy Love" (November 5, 1983)
- "Double Trouble" (November 12, 1983)
- "Don't Fence Me In" (November 19, 1983)
- "The Flying Lesson" (December 3, 1983)
- "Benji Call Home" (December 10, 1983)
- "Decoy Droid" (December 17, 1983)