August 08, 2020

WILDFIRE (1986)

 

WILDFIRE (1986)

(CBS, September 13-December 13, 1986)

 

Hanna-Barbera Productions

 

 

MAIN CAST:

John Vernon – Wildfire

Georgi Irene – Princess Sara

Robert Jayne (as Bobby Jacoby) - Dorin

Susan Blu – Brutus

René Auberjonois - Alvinar

Jessica Walter – Lady Diabolyn

Billy Barty – Dweedle

Frank Welker - Mudlusk

Townsend Coleman – Goon

Rob Paulsen - Goon

David Ackroyd – John Cavanaugh/Prince Cavan

Lilly Moon – Ellen Crow

  

            Sara (Georgi Irene) was just an average girl, growing up on a farm in Montana with her adoptive father, John Cavanugh (David Ackroyd). That is until she turned twelve and learned that she was actually the princess of a magical land called Dar-Shan. She was taken to Earth by the mystical talking horse Wildfire (John Vernon) to protect her from her evil step-aunt, Lady Diabolyn (Jessica Walter). Diabolyn studied dark magic and aligned herself with the evil beings known as the Spectres of Darkness. She put a curse on Sara’s family in a bid to conquer and rule Dar-Shan herself, which resulted in the death of her mother, Queen Sarana (Amanda McBroom). It would turn out that John was actually Sara’s real father, Prince Cavan, sent to Earth with his memory erased to protect him from the curse.

Promo art of Sara and Wildfire.


            Wildfire returned to Sara’s life to recruit her in the battles against Diabolyn. They could contact each other through the amulet Sara wore, which Wildfire assured her had powers she has yet to discover, and travel between worlds via a portal. Sara would come to share her time between Earth and Dar-Shan, trying to keep her birth world free from Diabolyn’s rule. Along with Wildfire, she was aided by the sorcerer Alvinar (RenĂ© Auberjonois), his young apprentice Dorin (Bobby Jacoby) and Dorin’s cowardly colt, Brutus (Susan Blu).

Diabolyn and her Goons.

            Diabolyn wasn’t without her own allies in the form of Goons: short, winged, troll-like creatures that used to be ordinary men until they were transformed by the urn that Diabolyn used to unleash the Spectres. The lead Goon was Dweedle (Billy Barty), and was the one who dealt with Diabolyn most directly. The other Goons were voiced by Frank Welker, Townsend Coleman and Rob Paulsen.

Dar-Shan.


            Wildfire debuted on CBS on September 13, 1986. It was Hanna-Barbera’s attempt at playing to the female demographic with the focus on the princess and the inclusion of colorful horses reminiscent of the budding My Little Pony franchise. The series was written by Jeff Segal, Kelly Ward, John Loy, Linda Woolverton, David Schwartz, Tony Marino, Jina Bacarr, Mark Edens, Eric Lewald, with Segal and Ward serving as story editors. The theme, which outlined the overall premise of the show, was composed by Jimmy Webb while Hoyt Curtin handled the rest of the show’s music. Animation was handled by Wang Film Productions and Hung Long Animation Company.

The lunchbox.


            Despite leading in to the ratings-sensation Muppet Babies, Wildfire was competing against The Care Bears and Gummi Bears on the schedule. It was unsurprisingly cancelled after airing its complete 13-episode season. Merchandising for the show never went beyond a lunchbox by Aladdin, marking this as a mere footnote in the Hanna-Barbera library. While another horse-based Wildfire would hit the airwaves in 2005, it was in no way inspired by the Hanna-Barbera effort. The only connection the programs had was that the later show starred Auberjonois’ eventual Star Trek: Deep Space Nine co-star, Nana Visitor.

 

 

EPISODE GUIDE:

“Once and Future Queen” (9/13/86) – Diabolyn captures butterflies and the Royal Weaver to make a new dress for her coronation while Wildfire goes to Earth to retrieve Sara.

 

“A Visit to Wonderland” (9/20/86) – Dorin and Brutus discover some children had acquired a wand and been using it to turn horses into carousels.

 

“The Ogre’s Bride” (9/27/86) – Diabolyn prevents the joining of two villages by turning the groom of the arranged marriage into an ogre.

 

“Secret of Sinti Magic” (10/4/86) – When the Sintis, the source of all magic on Dar-Shan, help Sara and her friends, Diabolyn learns of their existence and plots their capture.

 

“A Meeting in Time” (10/11/86) – When Sara falls of Wildfire in the portal, she ends up in Dar-Shan’s past and encounters her parents before they got married.

 

“The Highwayman” (10/18/86) – Sara and Wildfire have to stop a highwayman that’s causing trouble.

 

“The Pixie Painters” (10/25/86) – Pixies have come to Dar-Shan to paint the true queen, and Diabolyn wants to be it.

 

“The Name is the Game” (11/1/86) – Sara and Dorin have to discover a troll’s real name in order to rescue Brutus.

 

“Strangers in the Night” (11/8/86) – When Wildfire takes Sara to meet the Great Horse Chieftains, she and Dorin accidentally free an ancient evil.

 

“Dragons of Dar-Shan” (11/15/86) – Sara and Wildfire help Dorin and Brutus return a dragon’s egg before Chimaera is destroyed by them.

 

“King for a Day” (11/22/86) – Diabolyn’s wish to be queen turns a frog into a king that she plans to use to that end.

 

“Where the Dreams Come From” (12/6/86) – John and Wildfire have to rescue Sara from a man claiming to be her real father.

 

“Wildfire: King of the Horses” (12/13/86) – When the ailing chieftain of the Sanctuary of Horses names Wildfire her successor, this puts him in conflict with his vow to protect Sara.

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