Mysterious Cities of Gold: Season 2

Tuesday, 18 February 2014 14:32

Mysterious Cities of Gold - A Season 2 at long last!It’s thirty-odd years since a children’s adventure cartoon aired on BBC1, fondly remembered by those of a certain age. It was introduced to us by Philip Schofield in the infamous broom cupboard, which also played host to a certain Gordon the Gopher. And incredibly, a brand new series of The Mysterious Cities of Gold has just been released on both DVD and Blu-ray.

The Mysterious Cities Of Gold's second season rejoins the adventures of Esteban, Tau, and Zia as if they had never been away. Indeed, it’s been seen in the UK on the Kix channel (the premiere run from 9th November last year, 2013), which is channel 627 on Sky, or 606 on Freesat. It comprises 26 episodes (the original ‘First Season’ clocked up 39 on its own), and has been brought to fruition by the production team that helmed the original series.

And so, Esteban is back. After finding one city of gold, the original had set up the potential of a sequel, noting there were many more to be found around the world. This new adventure sees him leave the New World of South America behind. Again accompanied by friends Zia and Tao, and the ‘comic-relief’ parrot Kokapetl their destination is China to locate the next city of gold on the list. Sailors Mendoza, Sancho and Pedro join the quest as they had before, and together they journey in the advanced jet known as the Golden Condor. Hot on their heels is the mysterious Zares – a hooded, cloaked stranger in the employ of the King of Spain, determined to prevent the children from fulfilling their quest.

There were sinister and unnerving foes to spar with, of the likes of Governor Pizzaro and Commander Gomez. The tactics the assorted adversaries would resort to were dastardly and cunning. The series, both originally and in this new second season, was huge, sprawling, and does not short-change its young audience. Granted, the constant recaps make it easy to miss an episode and still keep up with developments, but then that’s a technique adopted from adult soaps, who ensure everyone is brought along with the story.

The original show was written by Jean Chalopin (co-creator of Inspector Gadget) and Bernard Deyriès, and was loosely based on the novel “The King's Fifth” by Scott O’Dell. Chalopin and Deyriès return as creative consultants on this new series, with Chalopin taking care of,  in the main, the scripts, with Deyriès specialising on the visual aspects. There’s new background music from Noam Kaniel, who was also responsible for the iconic and extremely catchy original theme song.

A Japanese-French co-production, in charge of the English dub (which for many years was believed to have been lost) was Howard Ryshpan, who also provided the voice for Mendoza. The translation was created methodically and carefully, using child actors where the roles necessitated, leading to the voices being genuine to their respective ages.

Despite its original debut in its host countries in 1982 and 1983, the BBC began screening the series on 1st September 1986, at the methodical rate of one episode per week. It would take until the summer of the following year before the final part played out in the UK.

With a style that echoed Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli, the original series was always mooted to have been helmed by this legendary animator, but this has never been confirmed.  This new second season, rendered in high definition allowing it to be released rightfully on both Blu-ray and DVD, shows a progression in the style, the characters smoother, the action less stilted, and a worthy competitor to any of the new ‘kids on the block’ within children’s television these days.

And just like the original series, each episode of Season 2 includes a summary of the previous episode, a taster of the next, and ending with a short live-action documentary film of a couple of minutes in length, filling in various historical and geographical elements of the story just witnessed. Gold stars all round for educational value!

That’s not all. At the conclusion of Season Two, we are told to make ready for the imminent arrival of Season Three. We will find out in due course whether Esteban and friends do indeed board the Golden Condor again, this time to seek their third Mysterious City of Gold.

The Mysterious Cities of Gold – Season Two is out now from Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises on both Blu-ray (3 discs) and DVD (4 discs).  It has a ‘PG’ certificate, a running time of 624 minutes approx, and a RRP of £44.99 (Blu-ray) and £39.99 (DVD), or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 14:51

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