Thundarr the Barbarian

release year: 1980-81
genre: 1980s Saturday-morning cartoon fantasy/sci-fi
viewing setting: home DVD, 7/16-20/14

synopsis: 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!

impressions: This was a staple of my childhood’s Saturday mornings, and even now, more than three decades later, I can see why: it offered a possible future world where the ruins are actually the Earth of today. It's always cool to see people running through ruins when you can recognize the skyscrapers and other landmarks, and it sure didn’t hurt that there were wizards, barbarians, monsters, and so on. The plot was often silly, of course, but was also still entertaining for kids of all ages. There were plot holes, of course, some of them bordering on the ridiculous (for example, if you didn’t know better, you’d swear that the good guys’ horses could fly.) Also, Thundarr had the tendency to attack first and ask questions later, and not utilize his lightsaber to its full potential in battle, but such was the lot of a cartoon barbarian in 1980. Anyway, here’s a chart with basic information about all of the episodes:

#namesettingevil wizardevil raceold technology usedmisc funny bit
1Secret of the Black PearlNew YorkGeminirat-menmotorcycles and helicopterleader of human tribe wears an old lampshade on his head
2Harvest of DoomMexico(unnamed)lizard-mentrain and motorboatThundarr uses a beaten snake as a rope
3Mindok the Mind MenaceCape CanaveralMindoknone/minionsbig amphibious Sandcrawler-like vesselThundarr sends the wizard into orbit
4Raiders of the Abyss(unknown)MoragJawas riding giant batswrecked ocean liner and ConcordeThundarr slides down a big waterfall
5Treasure of the MoksNorfolk, Virginia (naval base)Captain Kordon (pirate, not wizard)”River Rats” (pirates)old aircraft carrierOokla makes a pirate walk the plank
6Attack of the Amazon WomenMt. RushmoreStrya (shark-woman witch)amphibious amazons riding sharksold missileAriel says that throwing the shark-woman into the water she came from puts her “far enough away that she won’t trouble us again“
7The Brotherhood of NightWashington DCInfernuswerewolvesnonethe leader of the werewolves is named Zevon
8Challenge of the WizardsLas VegasSholo, Chom, Mazim, Scorposnonenonethey leave the evil wizard trapped in a slot machine
9Valley of the Man-ApesCaliforniaSimius (ape, not wizard)man-apesgiant mechanical King Kongduring a fight in an old bar,the piano starts playing during the fighting
10Stalker From the Stars(unknown)none (alien vampire monster)nonenonethe village girl’s name is Mina
11Portal Into TimeAlamo, TexasKromnoneold military trucks with lasers attachedOokla trying to watch TV in the past
12Battle of the BarbariansChinatownKoblairobot warriorsnoneOokla trying to use chopsticks
13Den of the Sleeping DemonGrand CanyonJudag (wizard wannabe)cat-mengenetic experimentthe Wonder Twins make an appearance, with different names but still annoying
Ariel: “What adventures do you think they’ll find out there?”
Thundarr: “None, I hope.”
14Wizard WarsSt. LouisSkullus, Octagonmind-controlled humansnoneSkullus just looks stupid
15City of EvilBostonSarottrobot warriorsminiaturized city from the pastOokla tries to dance
16Island of the Body SnatchersLondonCirceman-toadsold helicopterOokla switches the king and queen’s heads in the wax museum
17Last Train to Doomsday(unknown)Janus/Gemini (also a mummy)bird-menold trainOokla cracks up while reading an old comic book
18Prophecy of Peril(unnamed)Vashtarrobot warriorsnothingnothing
19Fortress of FearLos AngelesArgothmonkey-mennonethe world’s dumbest wizard
20Master of the Stolen Sun SwordHollywoodYando (fake wizard)two weird hench-thingsnoneOokla plays with a dummy
21Trial By TerrorAtlantaArtemispig-menold police carsthe general stupid stereotype of Southerners

acting: n/a, since it's animated, but the same handful of voice actors did great jobs creating a variety of distinctive voices

final word: entertaining classic sci-fi cartoon from times past

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