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In this spinoff of the various movies, Dar, the Beastmaster and last survivor of his tribe, wanders the ancient lands, seeking out his beloved Kira, defending the animals he controls, and pitting his might against various sorcerers and tyrants. Written by
After having watched the show in re-runs for a couple of years, I recently purchased "Season One." This series possesses many wonderful qualities that appear to set it apart from Hercules and Zena and similar epics. Some of the uniqueness lies in the very ethereal quality present in the beautiful rain forest settings that play a very prominent role in almost every episode. This feature is sometimes juxtaposed against the human characters in very original and highly effective visual presentations. A wonderful example being the opening sequence to the episode "A simple truth" wherein a wolf is being pursued by a hunter who in turn is being pursued by Dar. There is a multitude of mini-shots of the three characters moving in unison toward a common destination in the heart of the rain forest setting. The combined effect of the photographic sequencing provides a stunning pictogram depicting the the show's essential theme of one man's struggle against another to save the animal kingdom.
The story lines encapsulate a wide variety of mythologies and legends from around the world; nymphs, minotaurs, chameleons, amazons, elves and unicorns are but a few examples of the characters used to illustrate the individual productions. These characters often come to life through a remarkable collection of highly entertaining, exotic personages. A prime example is Grace Jones' portrayal as a solo animal hunter in "The Umpatra." Displaying an innate sense of cunning and ferocious fighting spirit, both humans and immortals are on guard as she finally begins hand to hand combat with Dar. The eventual revelation of the Umpatra's erroneous perception and subsequent disclosure of the "truth" culminates with her own self imposed demise. This is a common lesson throughout the series as many of the "unenlightened" eventually gain a greater understanding and respect for the inherent balance between man and nature.
Another unusual quality is the slow, deliberate phrasing evident in the many heart to heart philosophical discussions, especially between Dar and those closest to him and also the Sorceress and the astute Ancient One. The unique phrasing combined with the slow and deliberate eye contact adds a sensual and highly effective edge to the communication between the characters who lived long ago in "an age when nature and magic ruled the world."
In every episode the viewer is presented with another example of Dar's untiring devotion and loyalty to the animals and their welfare. A devotion that is very effectively portrayed. Daniel Goddard plays the character as a somewhat more serious, intense Beastmaster than Marc Singer did in the original feature film and this new persona seems very effective and well suited for the television version. The actors' various styles are at times interestingly comparable because of Marc Singer's occasional guest appearances as Dartanus, Dar's spirit guide.
The show's simple but poignant message of good-will to earth's creatures, philosophical story lines and stunning photography make it a beautiful and uplifting television series.
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