Thundarr the Barbarian was a Saturday morning cartoon produced by Ruby/Spears (NOT Hanna / Barbera) that took children away from the happy world of talking dog detectives and friendly Super Heroes to a grim post-apocalypse. WAIT!!! WTF????
Just The Facts
- Thundarr the Barbarian was a Saturday Morning Cartoon based in a post-apocalyptic world.
- A Sunsword is in a very real and non-copyright infringing way not a 'light saber.'
- Thundarr the Barbarian was created well AFTER Conan the Barbarian. Thundarr's cartoon did come out before Schwarzenegger's movie.
- The Princess Ariel in Thundarr did pre-date the Pricess Ariel in the Little Mermaid by nine years.
- The gravely voiced actor who gave us Thundarr The Barbarian is the same lispy voiced actor who was Boris the Hangman in Blazing Saddles AND Robin Hood: Men in Tights. TIGHT TIGHTS!!!
A Thundarr Retrospective OR A Planet is coming and You can't stop it.
Picture it. Its 1980 and you are between 5 and 10 years old. The greatest thrill in your young Atari laden existence is Saturday Morning Cartoons. You know that Soul Train is just going to kill cartoon enjoyment for the next week. Most of your entertainment so far has entailed talking dogs stopping exploitive real estate investors dressed up as ghosts. Your life is filled with a lot of talking animals. Up to this point, your dreams may have consisted of being a hanger on for a team of Super Heroes who, while friendly, possibly could have left you to die because of potentially galactic threats. Then, all of the sudden... you see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhAobPugvsk. ... A Saturday Morning Cartoon is now telling you to put down your bowl of Fruity Pebbles because in 14 years a rogue planet will destroy all you know. The last ominous warning is that the city of Atlanta, Georgia will be relatively unchanged. This will not be the Atlanta, Georgia that Phillip J. Fry visited. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aDK6tOwF68 ) Its confusing, but Thundarr had a post apocalyptic Atlanta and a Princess Ariel but no Mermaids. You are paying attention because now you only have potentially 14 years to nail the already slutty looking fellow third grader down the street. Now, in addition to long division, you have to worry about ROGUE planets stealing the Earth's Atmosphere in the year 1994. You won't be around to see it, but in 2000 years some guy will get to play with a Sunsword. Again, this is a SUNSWORD and not a light saber. A Light Saber would be an elegant copy right protected weapon in a galaxy far far away. A Sunsword is,,, well... its a freakin' Sunsword and Lucasfilm can't sue!
The actual ... you know ... plot.
Princess Ariel (who is not part fish) helped rescue Thundarr The Barbarian (who was not created by Robert E. Howard) and Ookla the Mok (who is not a Wookie) from her evil step father (who was a sorcerer.) The evil step father is kind of the bad guy of the whole series. We never actually really see him defeated. Ookla looks like the offspring if that lion man thing from the Flash Gordon cartoon had humped a bear. It is never really said what kingdow Princess Ariel rules over. Valdosta, Georgia stands to be as good a guess as any for her kingdom. At any rate, she is pretty hot for Thundarr but he is usually too busy Barbarian...ing to really take any interest. Ookla ( pronounced kind of how college student's pronounce Ucla ) never really comments on whether he is hiding his hairy schlong in Princess Ariel in times of need. However, the thought may excite the nearly non-existent realm of Thundarr the Barbarian fan-fiction. Thundarr's (and friends) mission in life is too stomp out sorcery (which is almost always evil 2000 years in the future) so that the world can once again be ruled be by brute strength. To accomplish this, Thundarr wields a magic sword. Princess Ariel is a Sorceress but its ok to use magic to fight magic. She also appears to be held at bay by either want of revenge against her step father or she's just really horny. Its a thankless job with very little pay, but you wander the ruins to stop sorcery in a post apocalyptic world. What about that does not say KID'S ENTERTAINMENT?
What Thundarr Rips Off and what Thundarr Doesn't Rip Off
It can be argued (though probably not successfully in a court of law against an army of Mouse House lawyers) that Disney LOVES Thundarr The Barbarian references. First of all, thee is Princess Ariel (which Thundarr had first) that was the name of the title character in Disney's The Little Mermaid. Second, the very first episode of Thundarr the Barbarian was titled Secret of the Black Pearl. Again, this would get trounced in a court of law because after all Secret of the Black Pearl is like completely a word different than Curse of the Black Pearl. As far as a morning's worth of googling can detect, Lucasfilm never got bent out of shape or sent a cease and desist letter claiming that Thundarr's Sunsword had anything to do with a light saber. Of course, by the end of Thundarr's run, two Star Wars movies had been released. Lucasfilm was too busy filling its own Saturday morning slate with high brow and incredibly nuanced entertainment like Droids and Ewoks. The confusing part for kids raised on Thundarr is that they had never heard of Robert E. Howard's Conan The Barbarian. So when Thundarr goes off the air, all of the sudden you have a movie that comes out about barbarians ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCd7MA1w9qg ) that looks like a cheap knock off of sci - fi animated goodness. Never mind that Conan books came out sixty years previous and Thundarr's rip off was in many ways the other way around. There was actually a lot of the same confusing over The Incredibles Disney-Pixar movie and the release of The Fantastic Four a year later.
The Voice Talent
Do you KNOW who Robert Ridgely is? He is the God among Men that gave us the voice of Thundarr the Barbarian. However, you probably saw him as Boris the Hangman in Mel Brook's Blazing Saddles and a reprise role in Robin Hood: Men in Tights. If you did not, here is a look http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHSkMwUa2i4 or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TM0sXkxyK5c . Yeah, theres your childhood hero right there. Ookla the Mok? Yeah, that's Henry Corden who went to voice Fred Flinstone after Alan Reed died. Those Fruity Pebbles commercials that inspired you to eat the cereal you watched Thundarr too? They were all voiced by the same guy who did Ookla The Mok. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGG1qfMcAIE yeah.... yeah... Princess Ariel was Nellie Bellflower. She did Princess Ariel... and well Eowyn from Rankin Bass' Return of the King and ... oh yes... she played a lovely enchanted tree in The Last Unicorn. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCvEL41kIQg Its mostly down to Princess Ariel and ... well... the tree.