Saturday Morning Memories- A Post Apocalyptic Barbarian
The year - 1994. The place - Earth. The event - a runaway planet flies between the earth and the moon. The result - really high tides plus the end of civilization as we know it. Cue the REM song 'It's the End of the World As We Know It' and party like it was 1994. The down side - lots of people died and much of the world was ravaged. The good news - they died before Episode 1 and 2 could really tick them off.
Of course this didn't really happen on our earth, but it did on millions of television sets in the late 70's and early 80's when 'Thundarr the Barbarian' premiered.
The premise was that after the aforementioned planet kept earth from having a nice day, society rebuilt itself in a somewhat different image. The show then flashed forward 2000 years to find a strange new world full of swords, sorcery and super-science.
It was also filled with Thundarr, his buddy Ookla the Mok, and Ariel, the resident sorceress. Beyond the backstory for the show, the premise was relatively simple. The three heroes would travel the land, get in adventures and fight for what they felt was right, toppling injustice and evil along the way.
What do you call a buff guy with bad English? Some might call him the next governor of California, but in this case we'll call him Thundarr.
Thundarr doesn't have a foreign accent, he's just not the brightest guy around, but he makes up for it with a fabulous exercise program!
The good news for the ladies out there is that he wears a fur loincloth and vest, and some furry boots. This makes this character the perfect vehicle for a movie, starring Hugh Jackman as Thundarr. Why? Did we mention the loincloth and vest?
The bad news? The guy cannot get a tan, even when just wearing a loincloth, vest and furry boots. Thundarr at first seems like a mindless brute, but he does have a good heart and a mind. And he carries a magical sword to hit you with if you make fun of him. And not just any sword, but the fabulous Sun Sword! The Sun Sword is sort of a low tech version of a light saber, and the hilt of the sword issues the magical blade at Thundarr's command. The blade is gone when not in use, for easy storage on Thundarr's wristband, and without the power of Velcro®!
If the fantasy movies have taught us anything, behind every adventure hero there is a hot chick to motivate him and give us all yet another unattainable woman.
For Thundarr this comes in the form of Ariel, who's as smart and powerful as she is attractive. Ariel is the brains of the group and she's also a sorceress, trained in the mystic arts. Tack onto that the fact that she's a Princess, wears thigh-high boots with heels and you have the total package. She might seem perfect, but there is a catch. Her stepfather is Sabian, and evil wizard also known as an incredible cheapskate. If you were to actually get far enough in to marry Ariel, you'd be treated to a wedding by the local Justice of the Peace, and a reception at Sizzler. Mmmm-mmmm! That and a nasty curse or two.
Usually you have a mix of brains and brawn, but with this trio you have an excess of brawn. And the brawniest guy is Ookla, Thundarr's pal and resident Mok. The first question you may ask is 'what's a Mok?', and the answer is simple. A Mok is half-Man, half-something else, and he's all stinky if you leave him out in the rain all night. However, he is loyal, trustworthy and will work for Scooby snacks. Ookla isn't loquacious or eloquent, be he is a terror in battle. His powerful Mok-muscles can tear apart phone books and his sharp teeth and leave marks. Big ones. He's also an ace with a bow and he has his own special horse to ride, sort of a cross between a horse and a Mok. That would make his mount one-half horse, one-quarter man and one-quarter something (for those keeping score at home). His mount stinks when wet, but only half as much as he does.
Ruby-Spears Entertainment spawned Thundarr, which came across as a futuristic comic book. This was due in no small part to the creators of the show and characters. Comics Legends Alex Toth and Jack 'King' Kirby were on board early, and Alex designed the three main characters for the show with the King designing characters and vehicles for the show. The world was created by Dave High and the first writer brought in was noted comics writer Steve Gerber (creator of Howard the Duck). Clearly, the show had great genes!
The show ran for five years on ABC before it was moved over to NBC. The ratings for the show were still good though NBC was interested in the show simply to broadcast re-runs. They figured that they could keep people watching without spending more money on new shows, and it ran on NBC for a year and half. The saddest part was that no new shows were made after it left ABC. Yay capitalism!
The characters themselves are courtesy of a future disaster, though some of the voice actors might be familiar. Nellie Bellflower voice Ariel, and she was also Eowyn in the animated Return of the King. Henry Corden was Ookla, and he has along history of voice work, with many parts that actually have words you can understand! The barbarian himself was played by the late Robert Ridgely, who might be more recognizable as Colonel James from Boogie Nights. Yep, Thundarr is a pimp and you'll never think of the fabulous sun sword the same again!