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Sunday, August 24, 2014

'Wizards and Warriors' CS DVD: That '80s D & D Show

Wizards and Warriors: The Complete Series
Warner Archive once again demonstrates its related immense diversity and talent for digging up wonderfully obscure films and television shows in releasing the 1983 eight-episode hour-long dungeons and dragons (D&D) (or swords-and-sorcery) spoof "Wizards and Warriors" on DVD. One of the many great things about this lost treasure is that both the style and tone are very reminiscent of "The History of the World: Part I" and other Mel Brooks spoofs of the era.

Other great '80s vibes regarding "Wizards" include having "Blossom" executive producer Don Reo at the helm and the credits using a similar (if not identical) font as fellow serio-comic '80s series "The Greatest American Hero."

Cashing in on the D&D craze of the time, "Wizards" focuses on the efforts of valiant Prince Valiant type Prince Erik Greystone to thwart the evil scheme of the week that arch-nemesis Prince Dirk Blackpool concocts and uses his equally naughty wizard Vector to put into play.

The following YouTube video of the opening credits of "Wizards" offers a glimpse of the titular characters and of the fun spirit of the show. This includes the technique of shifting to graphic novel (we Gen Xers call them comic books) style animation that is also used just before each break for "an important commercial message."

The '80s fun continues via having "Taxi" alum Jeff Conaway play Greystone, which is exactly the type of role that one would have expected aspiring actor Bobby Wheeler to land. Fellow '80s sitcom actor Julia Duffy portrays Greystone's fiancee (and essentially his Lois Lane) Princess Ariel in the same manners as she plays spoiled rich girl Stephanie Vanderkellen on "Newhart" and later fallen from grace Allison Sugarbaker on "Designing Women." One difference is that our actual princess has an entertaining leather fetish.

Reo uses the common action-adventure show technique (which contributed to the unfortunate demise of the awesome scifi series "firefly") of getting things rolling right off in the pilot without providing much exposition. This one has Greystone and his uber-strong sidekick Marko literally riding all over the countryside battling traditional and supernatural foes alike to prevent the detonation of a WMD that Blackpool has inserted Trojan Unicorn style in a mountain of birthday gifts for Ariel.

Creatures that Greystone and Marko encounter during their quests throughout the series include invisible dragons, zombies, crazed doppelgangers, and a cave with a literal mouth. Ogres and other more traditional D&D monsters also show up for the ride, along with bottomless pits and similar obstacles.

The second episode is a two-parter that clearly begins life as a two-hour (and possible TV Movie of the Week) pilot. A child asking good wizard Traquil about the war that once raged between Blackpool and the neighboring kingdoms sets the stage to introduce the characters and the origins of their relationships. This episode, which is titled "The Kidnap," predictably ends with Blackpool abducting Ariel.

The third episode, which is titled "The Rescue," equally predictably has Greystone and Marko once again riding all over the countryside battling all manner of man and (supernatural) beast to return Ariel to her loving father King Baaldorf. An awesome element of this one is that, ala the classic '80s comedy film "Ruthless People," Blackpool pays a high price for confining a not-so-divine spoiled princess.

Things continue along similar (and equally entertaining) lines throughout the remaining episodes.

All of this amounts to an unique and clever show that is roughly 20 years ahead of its time. One can easily imagine "Wizards" as a webseries or Syfy original series, and fanboys can only hope that the right person discovers this program and creates a reboot.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Wizards" is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.