DVD Review: Blackstar - The Complete Series
Release Date: August 22, 2006
Distributor: Brentwood Home Video
· George DiCenzo
· Patrick Pinney
· Frank Welker
· Linda Gary
· Alan Oppenheimer
· IMDb: Blackstar
by R.J. Carter
Published: August 29, 2006
John Blackstar, astronaut, is swept through a black hole into an ancient alien universe. Trapped on the planet Sagar, Blackstar is rescued by the tiny Trobbit people. In turn, he joins their fight for freedom against the cruel Overlord who rules by the might of the Power Star. The Power Star is split into the Power Sword and the Star Sword. And so, with Star Sword in hand, Blackstar, together with his allies, sets out to save the planet Sagar. This is his destiny.
That's the premise of this series which, on the face of it, seems in line with such science fiction heroes as Flash Gordon and John Carter. There is no pilot episode to introduce the viewer to how all this came about, so it's a good thing we get the oratory in the theme.
What separates Blackstar from the Flash Gordon and John Carter archetypes is the infusion of magic, and the kid friendly supporting cast. The Trobbits (troll/hobbits?) are a Keebler like race of seven dwarfish males who live in the giant Sagar trees. Each has his own magical ability (and none of them bake cookies.) They're around for comic relief, and they're as often likely to cause a problem or worsen it as they are to come to the rescue (unless the job is performed by Balkar, who plays the Papa Smurf to this tribe.)
Mara, Klone and Blackstar stand surrounded
by the Trobbits.
Joining them are Klone, a shapeshifter, and Mara, a sorceress. Together, they stand against the evil Overlord, a craggy Darkseid-like world beater who lives in the Kingdom of Ice to the north.
Adding to the kid-friendliness imposed by the networks, neither the Star Sword nor the Power Sword do any actual cutting or stabbing. They instead emit beams of power that cause levitation or freezing or any variety of non-lethal attacks. (Although you can apparently explode the rock-bodied lizards, the Lava Locks, because they're "lifeless".)
Despite the limitations of the show, there was a good deal of promise in the series that didn't go beyond its initial thirteen episodes. In episode eight, "Spacewrecked", John's girlfriend from Earth, Katana, pilots her own spaceship into the black hole that transported John to Sagar. Their reunion is a cause for sadness among John's friends, as they all believe he will be going home with Katana. But the Overlord's plans take advantage of Katana's love for John, and she makes it back through the black hole without John, who stayed behind to cover her escape. The episode ends with her re-emergence into our universe, with a call back to base to assemble a fleet to go back in and rescue John. Sadly, this plot thread never gets a chance to be followed up.
The Overlord and his vizier put a spell over
Katana, Blackstar's girlfriend from Earth.
The show also managed to introduce some new villains along the latter part, so that we wouldn't always be up against the same old Overlord. Shaldemar uses his Sphere of Souls and creates an army of zombies to use for his own ends. And Blackstar learns you can't judge the villains just by outward appearances when he intervenes in a battle between the beautiful sorceress Taleena and the monstrous looking Thorg.
Possibly the most interesting thing about Sagar is the plethora of flying wildlife. In addition to Blackstar's dragon, Warlock, the air is populated with flying bulls, piranha hawks, and soaring sharks, making for a very colorful green sky.
The background music seems to cannibalize a number of Filmation's previous works. It seems you can hear bits of Superman and Star Trek if you listen closely.
Two of the episodes, "Search for the Starsword" and "The Zombie Masters", include audio commentary hosted by Andy Mangels. In the first, Mangels interviews producer Lou Scheimer and storyboard coordinator Mike Bennett; in the second, Mangels is joined by episode writers Michael Reaves and Marc Scott Zicree, as well as animator Michael Swanigan.
The special features are a nice, but mixed, package. There are interviews with several of the crew behind Blackstar, including producer Lou Scheimer. And there's a documentary about the history of Filmation -- however, this is the same documentary as was included on the second volume of the first season of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe set, including the He-Man animation that introduces each interview subject.
There's a slideshow of sketches of the heroes and villains of the series. But the really cool bit for aspiring writers is accessed via DVD-ROM. That's where you get not only five complete storyboards, but the complete script (in Adobe PDF format) for every episode of the series -- a very cool bonus.
All episodes are digitally restored and shown in fullscreen format, with audio options in either English or Spanish.
The Complete Series
01. City of the Ancient Ones
02. Search for the Starsword
(Audio commentary with Andy Mangels, Lou Scheimer, Mike Bennett)
03. The Lord of Time
04. The Mermaid of Serpent Sea
05. The Quest
07. Lightning City of the Clouds
08. Kingdom of Neptul
09. Tree of Evil
10. The Air Whales of Anchar
11. The Overlord's Big Spell
12. The Crown of the Sorceress
13. The Zombie Masters
(Audio commentary with Andy Mangels, Michael Swanigan, Marc Scott Zicree, Michael Reaves)
-- Image Gallery
- Lou Scheimer
- Lou Scheimer & Tom Ruegger
- Marc Scott Zicree
- Michael Swanigan
- Robby London
- Michael Reaves
- Robert Kline
- Ted Field II
-- DVD ROM Content: Scripts and storyboards
-- "The Magic of Filmation"