Lords of Light! Thundarr the Barbarian Gets Blu-ray Release!

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Thundarr Barbarian Blu-ray

In 1980, kids were being prepared for the apocalypse -- which was actually going to be pretty cool and happen in 1994, when a rogue planet would pass between the Earth and the moon, splitting Luna into pieces and leaving devastation in its wake. All we had to do was wait 2000 years for mankind to rise up from the ashes into a world filled with savage creatures, sorcery, and super-science!

This was the world of Thundarr the Barbarian, a Saturday morning cartoon that took everything that was cool in 1980 -- Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, and Planet of the Apes -- and mashed it all into one big crazy ball of action and adventure. Starring Robert Ridgely (formerly Flash Gordon and later General Thunderbolt Ross) as Thundarr, the titular barbarian who would leap without looking into battle with his magical Sunsword, viewers were treated to weekly battles with evil wizards who used combination of magic with "old world" technology like missiles and satellite computers in order to subjugate the downtrodden.

Joining Thundarr in his crusade were the sorceress Princess Ariel (Nellie Bellflower), who doubled as an expert in "Old Earth" history to the point where I often wondered and the growling but loveable brute, Ookla the Mok (voiced by the gravelly Henry Corden, best known for accepting the Fred Flinstone torch from Alan Reed). Together, they would travel to a different -- and familiar -- location every episode to protect the innocent.

The action wasn't limited to just this "Great Disaster" setting (an expression borrowed from Kamandi comics on purpose, as designer Alex Toth shared some of the duties on this Ruby-Spears production with the legendary Jack Kirby). At least once, they fended off an invasion from outer space, and twice the adventures took them through time into the past -- our present -- the second time setting up what could have been -- and perhaps was planned as -- a spinoff series. (Since the world shattering events were cosmic in nature, there was little chance of using this time-travel trope to try to change the future, so that concept wasn't even visited.)

The stories were engaging, and the artwork and animation superior even then to much of what is being produced for broadcast today. The pop-culture references are part of what makes the series fun, as we see a tribe of sentient apes ("Valley of the Man-Apes") try to rebuild their god in Hollywood from the discarded animatronic pieces of what would be King Kong. The final episode, "Trial by Terror," shows an obvious influence by The Dukes of Hazzard, which was also incredibly popular at the time.

This release sees the entire series collected onto Blu-ray, and includes a bonus feature that looks back at the creation of the series. 

Frequently, these collections of television nostalgia pale upon revisitation. Thundarr the Barbarian is one of the few that pleasantly holds up through the years. This one definitely gets a recommend out of us.

Disc One Disc Two Disc Three
01. Secret of the Black Pearl
02. Harvest of Doom
03. Mindok the Mind Menace
04. Raiders of the Abyss
05. Treasure of the Moks
06. Attack of the Amazon Women
07. The Brotherhood of Night
08.Challenge of the Wizards


09. Valley of the Man-Apes
10. Stalker from the Stars
11. Portal into Time
12. Battle of the Barbarians
13. Den of the Sleeping Demon
14. Wizard Wars
15. Fortress of Fear
16. Island of the Body Snatchers
17. City of Evil
18. Last Train to Doomsday
19. Master of the Stolen Sunsword
20. Prophecy of Peril
21. Trial by Terror
Special Feature: Lords of Light: The Story of Thundarr the Barbarian
5.0 / 5.0