On what may or may not be a faraway world or perhaps our world in the distant past, an evil tyrant, Tormack, will stop at nothing to acquire the supernatural weapon known as the Golden Lance, which when combined with the indestructible Sacred Shield that he stole from the royal family of Bandisar, the king and queen of whom he assassinated when he usurped the city of Bandisar, will make him invincible. The surviving Bandisar royalty, Princess Goleeta, rightful heir to the Shield, and her younger brother Prince Zorn, join forces with the warrior Galtar, who is entrusted with the Golden Lance by the wizard Ither, to overthrow Tormack and fight off other threats along the way, including but not limited to Tormack's scheming niece Rava and a father/son con artist team.
Part of that wave of what you might call "Kid Friendly Conan" type shows that followed the success of the 1982 Conan film that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, thus inspiring a renaissance of sorts for low fantasy, Hanna-Barbera decided to toss its hat into the ring by including this in its "Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera" block in 1985, though it is believed Galtar was created in an attempt to cash in on the popularity of the better known/remembered "He-Man & The Masters of the Universe".
And one can definitely see the influence of He-Man on this series as well as "Thundarr the Barbarian", "Dungeons & Dragons" and even Hanna- Barbera's own "Herculoids" among others. The hero Galtar looks like a cross between Thundarr the Barbarian, Hank the Ranger from D&D and even Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker. Princess Goleeta looks and feels like a cross between MOTU's Teela, "Thundarr"'s Princess Ariel and HB's own Daphne Blake from "Scooby-Doo", etc. Meanwhile Galtar's faithful steed Thork looks as though he escaped from HB's earlier sci-fi series/fantasy series "The Herculoids".
One interesting thing about the series, sadly cut short at 21 episodes (it apparently lacked a toy-line, yet somehow generated Valentine Day cards), is that it initially presented itself as having a somewhat darker tone than other action-fantasy shows of the time period. The pilot is pretty straightforward about the fact that its villain Tormack is a mass murderer (compare & contrast that with Skeletor from MOTU or Mumm-Ra & the Mutants from "Thundercats") and Galtar & Goleeta are both motivated by a desire to get revenge on him for killing their families and people, adding shades of gray to the otherwise morally upright stalwart hero and his tough but still feminine partner/love interest. This aspect of our hero and heroine is downplayed in later episodes.
Still, while it may not have been quite as dynamic as say "Thundercats", "Galtar" is a fun little series in its own right, moving along briskly and showcasing likable characters with kid friendly action and jokes. Part of the fun in watching the show now is spotting all the familiar 1980s era voice actors, among them the usual suspects from G.I. JOE and TRANSFORMERS such as Michael Bell, Corey Burton, Peter Cullen, industry veterans such as the late Don Messick and Frank Welker, the series even acquired voice actors from the very shows it obviously sought to mimic - THUNDARR's own lead Robert Ridgely and Henry Corden, MOTU's Linda Gary, etc.
Speaking of GI JOE the series heroine Goleeta was voiced by Mary McDonald-Lewis, best remembered by 80s fans for her voice work as Lady Jaye on GI JOE, and she manages to recycle the best aspects of that performance here, imbuing our heroine with warmth and strength while still making Goleeta just different enough from Lady Jaye to not feel like a clone of her. Meanwhile Lou Richards manages to imbue Galtar with just enough boyish charm to make an engaging protagonist out of him (the character's build may be closer to Thundarr's but his personality is closer to that of He-Man or perhaps Prince Adam if he didn't have to be He-Man), and David Mendenhall (who voiced Daniel son of Spike in the last stretch of the 1980s wave of "Transformers") acquits himself nicely in the role of Zorn, one of the better tag along kid characters of shows like this, helped by the fact that for the most part the writers managed to avoid having Zorn fall into the traps and tropes that usually derail characters of his archetype.
And who can forget the late great Brock Peters voice work as the series Christopher Lee inspired villain Tormack? Peters was no stranger to villains and authority figures (he substituted for James Earl Jones as Darth Vader in the Star Wars radio dramas as he was quite possibly the only actor available at the time with a deep enough voice to match Jones's) and his signature deep, commanding voice, practically a force of nature unto itself, fits the sinister Tormack like a glove, elevating him into a genuinely intimidating figure even when he suffers the embarrassments that 1980s cartoon villains were obligated to endure - though Tormack doesn't suffer nearly as many as more iconic fiends such as Cobra Commander or Skeletor. One of the reasons it's a shame the series didn't last longer is that Tormack could have been one of the iconic cartoon villains of the 80s, if only for Brock's excellent voice work.
Also of interest is that this was an early pre-"Mad About You"/"As Good As It Gets" fame job for Helen Hunt as the voice of Tormack's wild card femme fatale niece Rava, who played the evil Veronica to Goleeta's heroic Betty when it came to Galtar while still working her own agendas here and there.
For fans of the 80s and sword and sorcery this series is highly recommended despite ending with the usual "and the adventure continues" manner that many 80s cartoons ended on.
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