Saturday, July 05, 2014

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Bravestarr (1987-1989): "The Day the Town was Taken"

In “The Day the Town was Taken,” Dingo Bandits attack a strato-coach on the desert plains of New Texas, and BraveStarr and his friends race to the rescue.  

But the strato-coach incident is all a diversion planned by the villainous outlaw, Tex Hex.

With its law enforcement officials away on a mission, Tex Hex steals into Fort Kerium , seals it up tight, and locks out BraveStarr.  

Now BraveStarr must depend on the diminutive elf-people living in Kerium -- Fuzz and Wuzzell -- to get him back inside the town before Tex Hex can make off with a haul of valuable ore.

“The Day the Town Was Taken” introduces Tex Hex, BraveStarr’s recurring villain, a blue-faced, white-haired cackling nightmare. He returns again and again to menace to BraveStarr during the run of the show, and according to some reports was actually the first character developed for the series.  He's pretty terrifying looking (though perhaps derived visual from Skeletor...), but at least here we don't get a motivation for his evil nature.

The most exciting aspect of the "The Day the Town was Taken" involves the (great) setting of Fort Kerium.  

This desert town is constructed in a circle, it seems -- almost like Old West wagons in a circle -- and when the town goes into lock-down, the buildings retract into a protective posture…circling the metaphorical wagons as it were.  

I love the visuals of For Kerium, and in some way the design makes logical sense as well.  The town “ring” is impenetrable from the outside because of the walls, and there is still usable outdoor space at its center.

This episode’s message -- ham-handedly delivered as usual -- is that you shouldn’t judge a person by his or her size.  

In this case, Fuzz and Wuzzell are tiny Hobbit-like beings, and yet they prove to be the key to winning back Fort Kerium.  I know it is a necessity that children’s programming carry important social messages, but I’ve always felt that these post-scripts are too on the nose, even for kids.  The message comes across in the story just fine without the reinforcement.  Still, I love Filmation.  Even in the age when it was deemed okay to make children's programming that served, essentially as commercials for toys, Filmation and Lou Scheimer kept the focus on kids, and what it means to be a good citizen.

Next week: “Brother’s Keeper.”

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