Thursday, August 6, 2009
Review of Visionaries
Visionaries is an 80's Cartoon. It was one of many, but there is something about the 80's cartoons that set them a part from other cartoon series. The 1980s saw a rise of complex storylines, better characterization, and sometimes better animation.
The Visionaries were of this class of cartoons. Thanks to He-Man, and Dungeons and Dragons; the Visionaries tried to top them. On a distant planet orbiting a trinary system, an age of Science reigned. But it failed and everything changed. Electricity suddenly stopped working ad a new age of Magic came into being.
After the old order was reduced in the Apocalypse, a new order of Feudalism appeared and a new order of knights. Of this new order, there were two kingdoms: Prince Loric's New Valaris; and Darkstorm's kingdom. The two superpowers were like the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.; they were evenly matched so something had to give. Merklyn offered both kingdoms the power of magic. And both kingdoms took the offer. The result were the Darkling Lords and the Spectral Knights.
To properly critique the series is to understand what happened. The series never did gain a good following, despite it's superior characterization of every character involved. Only thirteen episodes were made and a few comics. I believe few people believed in it because it, too, was a head of its time. However, a few things don't sit right.
1. How can electricity fail in one fell swoop? The way electricity works is still according to law. It provides power and makes machines work. Surely, items of technology still work in the Visionary Universe that Hasbro devised. Electricity is an application of law. So what happened? This turning of an age is mind boggling to a traditional scientist. What happened broke the Laws. However, if we look at the facts.
For seven thousand years, technology reigned. I propose that there were fewer and fewer people who knew how electricity worked and how everything functioned. Someone said that the more technology advanced, the more it seems like magic. And that is what happened. Fewer and fewer people understood what happened is an application of natural law. More and more people took the electrical power for granted. When the age turned, electricity simply didn't work since people believed it was magic and not the result of an application of magical law. Therefore, the collective beliefs of many instead of a few caused a change in how things work. A paradigm shift. The aligning of the trinary just made it apparent to all.
Although many think that the two kingdoms were autonomous, this is not so. I think the real government of Prismos was actually Merklyn himself. Most everything the Visionaries did was in reaction to Merklyn. Merklyn was an impartial judge who sought to maintain the balance of power in Prismos. This is because he helped the Darkling Lords escape a few times. He also asked the knights to go on quests to find certain items. What was also interesting that Merklyn often bestowed magic that seemed helpful at first; but provided a hindrance. Such was revealed in the "Honor Among Thieves" episode when the writers showed that a false sense of security can provide a problem (we have this here in the U.S. of A. Especially among Utahns, who have a false sense of security). In fact, Merklyn provided the Crystal of Detection, which lulled the citizens of New Valaric into a false sense of security. This was driven home even deeper by cries of less weapons and more plants.
Quest shows didn't show up often, though. They were actually quite rare. Most of the shows showed the conflict between the Spectral Knights and the Darkling Lords. And sometimes, impudence against Merklyn himself.
Although a good show with strong characterization and a strong storyline; Visionaries showed potential. With Visionaries competing against other shows of its time, it was eventually cut. The age of good storylines and great characterization was over as Tiny Toons, and other cartoons like it replaced the cartoons of the '80s. Still, with these cartoons coming back in DVD and BluRay, people are rediscovering what made these shows great. Maybe, in the 2010s, we can see shows that had these kind of storylines again. What made an '80s cartoon show great is that it never treated its audience like little children. It treated them with intelligence; as these '80s shows taught the consequences of our choices: good or bad.