July 11, 2020

BLACKSTAR


BLACKSTAR

(CBS, September 12-December 5, 1981)

Filmation



MAIN CAST:
George DiCenzo – John Blackstar
Patrick Pinney – Klone, Balkar, Terra
Linda Gary – Mara, Taleena, Amber, Storm, Leilanna, various
Frank Welker – Rif, Burble, Gossamear
Alan Oppenheimer – Carpo, Overlord, Vizier, Shaldemar, Nihilis, Kadray, Neptul, Typhot, Ciros, various


            Producer Lou Scheimer wanted to inject a little fantasy into Filmation’s slate, and CBS wanted something to compete with ABC’s hit series Thundarr the Barbarian. Those things ultimately led to the creation and acquisition of Blackstar.

Mara, Klone, Blackstar and the Trobbits.

            Blackstar centered on astronaut John Blackstar (George DiCenzo), who on a routine space mission was sucked into a black hole and emerged on the alien world of Sagar. He was rescued and cared for by a clan of Trobbits (a combination of “troll” and “hobbit”); pink-skinned inhabitants of the Sgar Tree. They were comprised of Balkar (Patrick Pinney, in his first work for Filmation), the king and elemental mage; Rif (Frank Welker), a grumpy chef; Terra (Pinney), a gardener that talked to plants; Burble (Welker), a babbler who liked swimming; Carpo (Alan Oppenheimer), a carpenter who worked with his beaver-like teeth; Gossamear (Welker), a flying scout with huge ears; and Poulo, the youngest of the clan and a mute who communicated by whistling.

Overlord and the Power Sword.

            The planet was under constant tyranny by the evil Overlord (Oppenheimer) and his minions, who wanted to acquire the PowerStar to make him the absolute ruler. The PowerStar was broken in half into two swords: the Power Sword, which Overlord possessed, and the Star Sword, which ended up in Blackstar’s hands. The swords imbued their wielders with enhanced physical attributes and the ability to absorb, store, reflect or blast energy. Blackstar pledged to aid in the battle against Overlord with the aid of Mara (Linda Gary), a centuries-old enchantress, Klone (Pinney), a quick-witted shape shifter, and Warlock, a dragon that served as Blackstar’s mount.

Blackstar riding Warlock.

            Blackstar debuted on CBS on September 12, 1981. Scheimer compared the concept to a combination of Flash Gordon and John Carter of Mars. Initially, Blackstar was depicted as an African-American man, but was changed to a lighter skin tone of unknown heritage (some speculate he was meant to be Native American). Popular accounts say this change was dictated by the network, who also asked that the Trobbits be changed from a trio of blue-skinned grotesque creatures into the cute beings they became. The series was written by Robby London, Martin Pasko, Michael Reaves, Tom Ruegger and Marc Scott Zicree, with music by Ray Ellis (as Yvette Blais) and Norm Prescott (as Jeff Michael). The characters were designed by Kevin Frank, Tim Gula, Mel Keefer and Janice Stocks. The first episode’s script indicated what each character should sound like: Blackstar as James Garner or Han Solo, Mara as Greta Garbo or Carole Lombard, Balkar as Orson Welles, Carpo as Wally Cox, Gossamear as Mickey Mouse, Rif as Walter Brennan, Burble as Goofy, and Overlord as Darth Vader.



            Blackstar ultimate only lasted a single season, but the story didn’t end there. The series ended up being a bigger hit overseas, spawning a standard and 3-D board game in France, as well as two comic adaptations: a 3-episode series in the magazine Pif-Gadget from Editions Vaillant, and a one-shot by Editions LUG. The episodic story departed from the show a bit by introducing original villains, a new Earth girlfriend for Blackstar, and the fact Blackstar had some amnesia from his landing allowing him to forget said girlfriend and become romantically involved with Mara. In 1983, in order to compete with Mattel’s Masters of the Universe toyline (which Filmation would also make the cartoon for utilizing some concepts from Blackstar), Galoob licensed the Blackstar characters to make a series of standard and sparking (dubbed “laser light”) action figures, vehicles and Overlord’s Ice Castle. The toys weren’t as successful as Galoob hoped and were discontinued in 1985.

Blackstar complete series DVD.

            In keeping with its international popularity, the series saw several VHS releases in various countries, primarily by Select Video. Entertainment Rights, the then-owners of the Filmation library, licensed BCI Eclipse to release the complete series onto DVD in 2006. In 2008, several of the episodes were included on the compilation DVD set Heroes and Heroines. In 2007, Boulevard Entertainment released 3 DVDs containing two episodes each in the United Kingdom. The remaining episodes were never released as Boulevard went into bankruptcy.  
           

EPISODE GUIDE:
“Search for the Starsword” (9/12/81) – The Lava Locs steal the Starsword and bring it to Overlord.

“City of the Ancient Ones” (9/19/81) – Overlord frees a sorceress and hypnotizes her to bring him to the lost scroll of the ancient ones.

“The Lord of Time” (9/26/81) – A timelord turns the Sagar Tree into an acorn he hopes to use to reactivated the Fountain of Fire.

“The Mermaid of Serpent Sea” (10/3/81) – Captain Typhod and the Phantom Sailor attack the Merminites and steal their food.

“The Quest” (10/10/81) – Blackstar seeks a healing stone to cure a Trobbit who ingested poison.

“Spacewrecked” (10/17/81) – Blackstar’s lover arrives with an interdimensional ship to bring him home, but Overlord takes her hostage.

“Lightning City of the Clouds” (10/24/81) – Overlord has Crios the Ice-King steal Leelana’s key to springtime to keep Sagar in eternal winter.

“Kingdom of Neptul” (10/31/81) – Blackstar and his friends end up in the undersea kingdom of Aquaria where one of Overlord’s minions have captured the Flame People.

“Tree of Evil” (11/7/81) – Blackstar and Klone are trapped by an evil duplicate of the Sagar Tree.

“The Air Whales of Anchar” (11/14/81) – Unbalanced after a fight, Blackstar has to get the Starsword repaired before it explodes and takes out the planet with it.

“The Overlord’s Big Spell” (11/21/81) – Overlord creates a monster infused with all of Sagar’s magic only to have it turn on him and force him to work with Blackstar to stop it.

“The Crown of the Sorceress” (11/28/81) – Blackstar offers to escort a princess back to her kingdom--one Mara and Balkar have never heard of.

“The Zombie Masters” (12/5/81) – The city of Zombies attacks and the Zombie Master enslaves Princess Luwena, Mara and Poulo.

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