Saturday, June 18, 2016

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Blackstar: "Tree of Evil" (November 7, 1981)

After escaping The Overlord’s latest trap, Blackstar and Klone return to the Sagar Tree only to find it in a dark sinister forest.  The tree itself is inhabited by twisted, evil trobbits.

Blackstar and Klone realize they have fallen into another trap, and that the Overlord has grown an evil tree to vex them, one that can create through seed pods evil versions of all their friends.  

The evil tree even conjures a diabolical version of Blackstar…

“Tree of Evil” is the “Mirror, Mirror” of Filmation’s Blackstar (1981), one might rightly conclude.  

In this story, heroes stumble upon an evil mirror of their own world and encounter evil duplicates of their friends.  Of course, in this case, all this does not happen in an alternate universe, but merely another forest.  There's also a touch of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1954/1978) here since the evil spawns from pods.

The primary question “Tree of Evil” raises, however, is: how come Blackstar and friends never knew about this forest before? 

And why -- other than a bad sense of direction, perhaps -- do they mistake it for their own home?

It seems to me that if the evil forest is close enough to be mistaken for the “good” forest, then the two must be side-by-side, or at least in close proximity.  And if the evil forest is far from the good Sagar Tree and trobbits, how does Blackstar end up there?

This is likely a spot in which the “kiddie” nature of the series works against the overall series.  As adults, these are not difficult questions to ask.  Maybe, as children, we just glossed over them.

On the other hand, one might argue that the “how” of this story is less-important than the aura of creepy dread  that “Tree of Evil” creates.  The evil forest and its minions certainly make for some of the most menacing villains featured on the series. 

In terms of episode rankings, I’d rate “Tree of Evil” relatively high because of the evil, fairy tale forest, and the “dark” trobbits. 

Overall, the plot is the same as always -- an evil scheme by the Overlord vexes Blackstar -- but the mechanism of that scheme (an evil duplicate of the Sagar Tree and its inhabitants) is a fresh touch.

Next week: “The Air Whales of Anchar.”

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