Sunday, October 3, 2010

Saturtainment: Benji, Zax, & the Alien Prince (1983)

Benji had starred in a series of feature films during the 70's, and so it was perhaps inevitable that someone would come along with an idea to bring him to television. Hanna-Barbera did just that, teaming with Joe Camp's Mulberry Square Productions to produce Benji, Zax, & the Alien Prince, a live-action sci-fi series that was part of CBS' Saturday lineup in 1983. Here's a sample, uploaded by magyartv to YouTube:

The series, unfortunately, did not last very long, cancelled after 1 season. Along with NBC's Going Bananas, it was one of the last live-action series that Hanna-Barbera would produce. In fact, none of H-B's live-action product ever went past 1 season. This was one of those cases where CBS could've done something radical to call attention to the show by airing it in prime time as well as on Saturdays, especially considering Benji's background in movies.

Rating: B.


Rev. Laurel A Rockefeller said...

If a person really watches this show, a person discovers that BZAP has an ENORMOUS back story and sub-plot behind it (see my analysis on While, granted, writer Gene Ayres in "The Locals" did not adhere to series canon by making the prince forget his "bracelet" is called a "cipher" (see the first scene of the first episode of series to know why that would NEVER HAPPEN!), there is enormous depth in each episode, particularly for the supposed target audience. Lead actor Christopher Burton carries the series with a maturity and skill that is many years beyond his actual age of the time--I never knew until November 2010 that he was only SEVEN YEARS OLD at the time this was filmed!

After all, how many male leads are asked to weep in TWO SCENES in a single 22 minute episode? Christopher does this in "Good-bye Earth" with a depth that really makes you want to cry too! That particular episode is a critical back story episode.

Looking back at this story, I'm shocked it only lasted 13 episodes! I keep watching my DVDs wondering "where is the rest of this series?" Christopher Burton, Ric Spiegel (Zax), Joe Rainer, Angie Bolling, Anna Hollbrook, Dallas Miles, and all the guest stars are just SO GOOD in this series. And of course, Frank Inn did his usual great job training Benjean as a performer!

This show was family science-fiction at its absolutely best!

Rev. Laurel A Rockefeller said...

Thank you for this: I mention a mention of your post here and continued from it in my latest blog post: you might enjoy the analysis!

hobbyfan said...

Thanks, long delayed, for your commentary, Laurel.