"Lords of Light!" - Thundarr
I was often terrified by the idea of the end of the world as a child. I would hear the volunteer fire department siren and was certain that nuclear war had begun, or at the very least a tornado was coming, which also terrified me. On top of those destructive forces, I was also seriously worried that an asteroid or comet would crash into the Earth. So, it's no wonder that the ominous opening credits of THUNDARR THE BARBARIAN fascinated and horrified me on Saturday mornings.
The year, 1994. From out of space comes a runaway planet, hurtling between the Earth and the moon, unleashing cosmic destruction. Man's civilization is cast in ruin. Two thousand years later, Earth is reborn. A strange new world rises from the old. A world of savagery, super-science, and sorcery. But one man bursts his bonds to fight for justice. With his companions, Ookla the Mok and Princess Ariel, he pits his strength, his courage, and his fabulous Sunsword against the forces of evil. He is Thundarr, the Barbarian!
I'm sure I spilled my Quisp cereal and wet my Aquaman Underoos the first time I experienced the animated end of the world. Seeing the runaway planet cracking the moon like an egg and apparently disrupting the Earth's atmosphere was my nightmare come true! Then add the huge tidal wave, erupting volcanoes and jagged rocks suddenly jutting up through the ground and I was properly traumatized...but hooked. I enjoyed watching Thundarr, Ariel and Ookla as they traveled on horseback through the remnants of our decimated civilization, freeing humanity from the clutches of evil.
Now, with older and allegedly wiser eyes, I still enjoyed the trio's adventures. Sure, Thundarr is not going to win any 21st Century sensitivity awards, but he is a barbarian. Yes, Ariel should use her sorcery powers more often to save people, but she's the most intelligent of the trio. Of course, Ookla is like a Wookie on steroids, but he may be the fuzzy heart of the series. As for the plot, it's a mixture of CONAN THE BARBARIAN (obviously), STAR WARS (his fabulous Sunsword), and PLANET OF THE APES (the 1974 live-action TV series because they travel around helping others).
I was disappointed there wasn't an actual first episode showing how Thundarr, Ariel and Ookla met. However, there was plenty to entertain and intrigue along the way. For example, the runaway planet appears to have caused a massive continental shift. There is now an ocean near where South Dakota was located and our heroes travel to what was once England from what was once the US on horseback. Maybe an animated remake needs to happen to fully explore the altered landscape and flesh out the characters a bit more.
In conclusion, THUNDARR THE BARBARIAN may not be perfect, but I'm happy for this trip down Saturday morning lane. Oh, and I still felt tense during the opening credits, but I did not spill my 21st Century bowl of Quisp cereal or wet my orange underwear.
Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.
P.S. Solve this Saturday morning mystery...