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Hanold, Mary Jo. "Wizards and Warriors." Television
Chronicles July 1996: 76-80.
Wizards and Warriors
8 episodes, CBS
Prince Erik Greystone - Jeff Conaway
Marko - Walter Olkewitz [sic]
Prince Dirk Blackpool - Duncan Regehr
Wizard Vector - Clive Revill
King Baaldorf - Thomas Hill
Queen Lattinia - Julie Payne
Princess Ariel - Julia Duffy
Geoffrey - Tim Dunigan
Justin Greystone - Jay Kerr
Bethel - Randi Brooks
Wizard Tranquill [sic] - Ian Wolfe
Cassandra - Phyllis Katz
Once upon a time in TV land lived a television show full of wizards, magic
and mythical beasts. Wizards and Warriors, an unfortunately short-lived fantasy
series, had a little something for everyone. Elaborate special effects enhanced
the battles of a courageous knight against evil wizards and malevolent monsters.
Good versus evil was the theme for each episode.
The hero of this tale is Prince Erik Greystone, who is betrothed to the ditzy
Princess Ariel and assisted by his trusty vassal, Marko. These three are forced
to deal with the ambitions of the evil Prince Dirk Blackpool, who is aided by
the black side of magic provided by Wizard Vector. Blackpool has the cooperation
of Vector only because he (Blackpool) has possession of Vector’s magic monocle,
which was obtained by seducing the sultry witch Bethel with promises of becoming
Queen. Bethel stole the monocle from Vector, rendering him subservient to
whomever holds the talisman. As the narrator explains, ". . . so evil teams with
magic." (These events are portrayed in THE KIDNAP, although in UNICORN OF DEATH,
which was the debut episode, they had already taken place)
Don Reo is currently known for his John Larroquette Show, but he has a
special fondness for this early series. One inspiration for the show was a book
he enjoyed, The Princess Bride (which was, of course, itself later adapted for
the big screen by Rob Reiner). He liked the way the author put " . . . modern
sensibility into the fairy tale characters’ heads and into their mouths." He
wanted to do that for Wizards and Warriors, too, but in his case there would be
a particular reason for this sensibility.
Jeff Conaway as Prince Erik Greystone
The show’s original title, Greystone’s Odyssey, had to be changed when Warner
Bros., the studio where the series was shot, "put fifteen or twenty million
dollars into a movie called Greystoke" and didn’t want there to be any
Jeff Conaway, who plays Erik Greystone, is no stranger to film and
television. His numerous films include Eye of the Storm, The Rape of Eden, A
Moment of Passion, Sunset Strip, Grease and Pete’s Dragon. In addition to his
role as Bobby on Taxi, his television credits include Berringers, Bold and the
Beautiful, and currently he is a series regular on Babylon 5. He also has
Broadway credits to his name including All the Way Home, Grease and The News.
Wizards creator Reo named the Erik Greystone character after his own son,
whom he indicates also provided the genesis of many of the characters. Son
Erik’s interest in fantasy role-playing games planted the seed for Wizards and
Warriors, and the movie Star Wars became an influence not only for Greystone’s
battle between good and evil, but for the character of Prince Dirk Blackpool as
Blackpool was supposed to be a Darth Vader character, but Reo wanted an
"extremely attractive" villain. Instead of looking for the "traditional villain"
he looked for a "leading man." The choice of Canadian-born actor Duncan Regehr
was the perfect solution. Regehr’s dark good looks and suave manner makes
Blackpool all the more sinister because he looks more like a Prince Charming
than an evil villain. Regehr still chuckles over his standard greeting to all, a
simple "Hi." A rather innocuous opening for a villain so ominous.
Duncan Regehr has an extensive background in film, television, stage and
narration. Some of his films and television movies include The Haunting of Lisa,
Timemaster, The Last Samurai, Monster Squad, The Lady, Gore Vidal’s Billy the
Kid and My Wicked, Wicked Ways, in which he played screen legend Errol Flynn.
Television series credits include Zorro, V, Earthstar Voyager and a current
recurring role in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He has made guest appearances on
shows such as Star Trek the Next Generation and Cybill, and is presently
directing a period piece set in 1949, called Innocent Secrets. Regehr is also a
respected artist and has published a book, The Dragon’s Eye, An Artist’s View.
The "automonograph," as he calls it, details his work and "specific episodes" of
Regehr had just arrived in Hollywood when this series came up. He had done "a
lot of things in Canada and Britain, a lot of theater . . ." He thought that
Wizards "was great" and admitted enjoying his audition in one particular
"A point in the script said I had to kiss this woman that was playing the
witch (Randi Brooks) . . . an absolutely stunning woman and I’m going to kiss
His character of Blackpool was played by ear.
"I had to kind of discover exactly what it was that made Blackpool tick . . .
The key for me really was that this man absolutely relishes anything that’s
evil. He’s bored silly by anything that’s good . . . an extremely dangerous man.
That was that dark side of him . . . This man was an artist. Dirk Blackpool
loved evil and it was an art form for him . . . it provided for him, every
passion he ever had. It was a wonderful character."
Regehr had a lot of freedom in developing the character, as Don Reo
encouraged "all the input he could get."
Clive Revill who plays the dark Wizard Vector, in addition to having created
the role of Fagin in the London production of Oliver!, also has an impressive
list of film credits, including The Assassination Bureau, Avanti, The Diary of
Anne Frank, The Empire Strikes Back, Fathom, Galileo, The Legend of Hell House
and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, to name but a few. He also appeared in
the television series The Preston Episodes.
The Wizard Vector (Clive Revill) and Dirk Blackpool (Duncan Regehr) hatch
another sinister plot.
The role of Vector was originally to be played by Richard Libertini, but
three days before the pilot started shooting, Revill was called in as a
replacement. According to Don Reo the costumes that had been originally fitted
for Libertini had to be scrapped and new costumes made for the new Vector in
time for the pilot episode.
Princess Ariel is portrayed by Julia Duffy in what amounts to a dry run of
her similarly airheaded character of Stephanie Vanderkellen on Newhart. Duffy
later was a series regular on Designing Women and The Mommies.
Trusty Marko, aka Walter Olkewicz, was a series regular on The Last Resort
and in the detective drama Partners in Crime. He can currently be seen in the
series Grace Under Fire.
Series regulars aren’t the only familiar faces to be found in the show. One
guest star, John Ratzenberger, became an institution on Cheers, and the late
Bill Bixby served as director for three episodes.
In THE KIDNAP and THE RESCUE (although recounting subsequent events, it is
the latter which is the actual series pilot), the legend of Erik Greystone is
related by the aged and somewhat senile Wizard Tranquil [sic] (Ian Wolfe) to a
small boy. The audience is introduced to the Kingdom of Camarand and Greystone’s
first adventure. Camarand is ruled by the good King Baaldorf (Tom Hill) and
Queen Lattinia (Julie Payne) who are the parents of the beautiful, but rather
vacuous Princess Ariel. As the story unfolds, Ariel is kidnapped by Blackpool
and Vector in an effort to gain control of Camarand.
Prince Greystone, who has been battling Blackpool and his army in their
efforts to conquer the entire Western Empire is drafted by King Baaldorf to
rescue Ariel. The Prince is aided by his vassal Marko, the strongest man in the
kingdom (and nephew to Wizard Tranquil [sic]). Together they are faced with such
magical monsters as a lightning hawk, which shoots lightening [sic] bolts; the
Jenks (snake-like beings); and the slime monsters, which of course live in a
slime pool. Marko’s special ability to communicate with animals helps them out
of the slime monster situation.
Of course, eventually good wins out over evil and the Princess is rescued,
but not before she tells Vector, "You stink!" in reference to his magical
abilities, and, as the victorious trio ride back to Castle Baaldorf, the fair
Princess can be heard complaining about a broken fingernail.
The humor of the show is sometimes a little twisted, making it even more fun.
In THE KIDNAP, for instance, there is an exchange between Greystone and Marko,
discussing Greystone’s betrothed, whom neither has seen. Marko asks, "Do you
think the Princess is beautiful?" Greystone replies "I haven’t seen one that
isn’t." Marko queries, "Do you think they kill the ugly ones?"
Each episode is full of action and, as Don Reo puts it, leaves our heroes in
"a position of certain death. A position that is impossible to get out of," just
before every commercial break. At the worst moment, the scene freezes and
changes into a comic book painting, a transition that was also used by the
television series The Wild Wild West, of which Reo was a fan. Reo liked the
cliff-hanger format of the spy western and successfully used it in his own show.
Much of the dialogue in Wizards and Warriors is a bit incongruous for the
setting; for example, the enthusiasm Greystone’s brother Justin has for "Happy
Hour." There are also references to "attitude problems," "punks," and warnings
such as "learn to relax." The pattern of speech for all characters is decidedly
twentieth century. In other words the characters may appear medieval to the
viewer, but their mannerisms are thoroughly modern and, though the show appears
to be set in the distant past, things aren’t always as they seem.
Randi Brooks as Bethel, the witch, who was in many ways responsible for the
trials of Prince Erik
The contemporary attitude of the characters, such as the princess being more
concerned with her hair and nails than whatever disaster is going on around her,
is a thread that can be found in every episode. One amusing example of this is
Ariel’s fantasy of being in a "room filled with shoes."
Weapons of destruction produced by the villains and natural occurrences that
plague the kingdom, have an eerie familiarity. THE UNICORN OF DEATH features a
golden unicorn weather vane, given as a gift to Ariel, that is really a "firecon,"
a bomb with the power to destroy the entire kingdom.
VULKAR’S REVENGE holds everyone, hero and villain alike, captive within
Baaldorf Castle as the "Rain of Death" falls outside. This rain has the ability
to melt human skin. In SKIES OF DEATH, there is a magic cannon that "hurls
shells great distances," and Vector and Blackpool are making a super-shell that
will destroy the whole kingdom with a single shot. There is even a spider web of
laser beams in THE CAVERNS OF CHAOS.
These modern devices are not included by accident. Reo states that if the
show had continued, the audience would have discovered that the story is
actually set in a post-apocalyptic future "where evolution had brought human
beings back to a medieval-type time." He goes on to say, " . . . There was an
incredible technology left over and the technology was controlled by the
wizards." This technology was a hold-over from the twenty first [sic] century.
Wizards and Warriors cast members look back upon the show fondly. Revill
enjoyed the "undercurrent of sardonic humor," an element that he and Regehr used
as much as they could.
"We had this crazy sort of relationship," Revill describes, "Blackpool knew
that Vector was ready to push him down a hole or something."
According to Revill, there were certain "rules" that the evil side could
never totally win. Vector could never have assumed his full powers because that
would have "turned the series upside-down." If the dark side won everything ". .
. we as an audience" wouldn’t accept it because it would "cease to be
entertainment" and it would break the rules.
The cast favored the futuristic aspect of the show. Revill said of it, "There
were all sorts of allusions to cosmic moments in life today . . . Sort of faint.
They were shadows. They came and went."
Jeff Conaway came into the series because he liked the writing. He thought it
was "quite wonderful" (a description also used by Duncan Regehr), and
appreciated the fact that it was "very off-beat and gave you a different slant
on things." He also liked the "wacky sense of humor," pointing out that a lot of
his previous work was a little "off-center" or "off-beat" even when he was doing
The cast was allowed to ad-lib. As Conaway puts it, "Once an actor gets a
hold of it (the writing), it’s up to them to take it off the page and make it
work." He said that good writers, like those they had for this show understand
that. For some characters, ". . . sometimes there is just an attitude as well.
You take a scene and play it the opposite way instead of the way that it was
He told of how the network got involved after the pilot episode. They wanted
to make him more of a "hero hero, instead of an anti-hero." He "never really
went along with that," and got around it by, "kind of spoofing it, going a
little further . . ." Also, the network felt that the futuristic aspect of the
show would "scare people away" so it was only hinted at.
Another thing that appealed to Conaway was the adventurous aspect of the
"You get to wear these great costumes and live out all your boyhood fantasies
of playing the hero, fighting all these dragons and monsters . . ."
As for the adventures themselves, Conaway revealed that the actors did
basically all their own stunts, such as sword fights, climbing, horseback
riding, etc. which could be "pretty demanding." One thing he learned during the
show was, " . . . a hero’s life was hell."
"Duncan and Clive had all the fun," he muses, "spinning the adventure that we
would have to go through that week, and they’d sit back and laugh about it."
Conaway recalls a scene in THE RESCUE where he and Olkewicz are dumped into a
slime pit with slime monsters:
"It was late . . . three o’clock in the morning. We finished the take and I
said, ‘Walter, does the water taste funny to you?’ Somebody heard me say that
and they said, ‘What does it taste like?’"
He and Olkewicz were told, "Don’t touch each other. Don’t move. Just stay
where you are!"
It turned out that there had been a short under the water with some of the
lights. Luckily, the soles of their shoes were rubber so they were okay as long
as they didn’t touch each other.
"We were in a pool of electricity. It was the first and the last time I want
to do that!"
In the same episode, the two heroes had to face an invisible fire-breathing
dragon. Conaway finds humor in the situation where the two of them had "these
two little shields."
"All these guys on the rigging are shooting flame throwers at us." He
chuckles, "We’re standing there looking at each other, ‘Can you believe what
"The whole adventure of making the show was kind of thrilling in that when
Duncan and I squared off . . . in the sword fights, we went through a lot of
rehearsal and we’d choreograph these things out . . . to within an inch of our
lives. But in the shooting of it, sometimes we changed things . . . somebody
swings a sword one way when it [sic] supposed to go the other way . . ."
The fantastic costumes were created by the Oscar-winning designer, Theodora
[sic] Van Runkle. Regehr had a black leather costume which he had a lot of fun
with. It would "creak" no matter how small a movement he made. He said that he
could use a creak to emphasize a point; but then on the downside, it prevented
him from sneaking up on anyboby. [sic]
Clive Revill had a beautiful velvet costume but there was [sic] problem with
"The hat that arrived was totally wrong . . . nobody could ever get the darn
thing right, so practically every week I had a different hat."
Revill tells of an incident in one episode (a favorite of Revill’s and
Regehr’s), where Vector and Blackpool are getting progressively drunker as they
play a three-dimensional game. The stakes for Vector: the return of his monocle.
Vector asks Blackpool, "What about you?" Blackpool replies, "I’ll play you for
your hat." Vector eventually wins the game and demands the return of the
monocle. Blackpool demurs, however, and, sweeping the game off the board, claims
that there was no game. He then asks Vector about the hat. Vector solemnly
replies, "I don’t wear a hat."
The elaborate sets were designed by Peter Wooley. Reportedly, one of the more
massive sets cost over a million dollars at the time. Revill described it as
"multi-faceted, multi-dimensional" and that it "could be taken apart and turned
into almost anything you wanted." It was felt that the set could have paid for
itself with its versatility in just one season.
One of the castle sets, which is seen at a distance in the opening shot of
THE RESCUE was actually about "four feet wide and maybe a foot high." It was a
"perfect miniature of a castle" which was extended on an arm from a crane into
position so that to the camera’s eye it appeared to be a castle sitting on a
distant hill. "It was actually about 100 yards in front of the actors." Depth
perception made it look like the real thing.
Reo confirms that the show was "enormously expensive to produce," (the pilot
alone cost two and a half million dollars), but the audience would have to admit
that it was money well spent in that it created a total illusion that one could
Reo relates a problem created by one of the special effects. When Greystone
and Blackpool were to have a sword fight, a special set-up was needed to create
the required sparks as the swords clash. The actors were hooked up to welding
arcs and wired from inside their costumes to a power source. It was soon
discovered that if the swords were crossed for too long, they would be welded
together. Luckily, spare swords for each actor were kept on hand. (All of the
swords for the show were hand-made).
Princess Ariel (Julia Duffy), King Baaldorf (Thomas Hill), and Wizard Tranquill
[sic] (Ian Wolfe) cheer on the sidelines as Prince Erik does battle with evil
Regehr has his own memories of those electrifying moments. He recalled that
one problem was perspiration. Not only would it cause the swords to short out,
but it had a nasty habit of zapping the actors with an electric shock as well.
Reo also tells of a scene in NIGHT OF TERROR in which Princess Ariel is
supposed to run up some stairs and trip. When she looks up, she is face to face
with a black cobra. Reo was asked if [sic] wanted to use a rubber snake, but
decided to go all out and use the real thing. A snake wrangler was called in and
an elaborate box was built out of plexiglass to surround the set and also around
the camera equipment. There were two cameras for this scene, one behind the
snake and one behind Duffy to see the different perspectives.
The snake was brought in and placed in the enclosure. It was then tapped with
a powder puff to make it sit up. "Snakes don’t take to that very well," Reo
remembers, "It stood straight up and flared its hood. The cameras were rolling.
We shot the scene and it was perfect."
The next day when the dailies were being reviewed, it was discovered that the
snake was ". . . so perfectly still, you could not tell that it was a real
snake. We could have done the same thing with a rubber snake without all the
time and money."
The cancellation of the show was a disappointment to all. They believed in
what they were doing and had fun doing it at the same time. The cast got along
great and loved the writers, but apparently it was not meant to be. Conaway said
that the week they were cancelled, " . . . we were picked by People magazine or
something like that as one of the hits of the season . . . there were two hits
of the season picked, ours and The A-Team. The A-Team went on for five years and
Wizards and Warriors had eight episodes."
Reo feels that if the show had been ". . . exposed in a different time-slot
it would have had the opportunity to catch on." He said that the show "had an
awful lot of adult appeal." Reo goes on to say that "because it was so
enormously expensive to do, if it wasn’t a hit right away, it didn’t justify
continuing production." If the ratings had justified the expense, it might have
had a chance. Conaway felt that the network never really gave it a chance to get
an audience and hold it." [sic] As he puts it, the show, ". . . got caught
somehow in network hell."
This illustration, which adorns the cover of Duncan Regehr’s published artworks,
seems very much in tune with the medieval, sword-wielding hero motif of Wizards
THE UNICORN OF DEATH (2/26/83)
An explosive birthday present sent to Princess Ariel causes havoc in the
kingdom of Baaldorf
Joseph Robert Sicari, Christine DeLisle, Ken Hixon, Brent Huff, Lonnie Wun,
Kathleen McIntyre, Mark Douglas Sebastian, Steven Strong, Nancy Thiesen
Written by Bill Richmond; Directed by Bill Bixby
THE KIDNAP (3/5/83)
Prince Greystone can survive poison darts, quicksand, an attack by the
Bonecrack Demon, and hand-to-hand combat with Prince Blackpool; but he can’t
stop the kidnapping of the dumb-but-darling Princess Ariel
Christine De Lisle, George McDaniel, Robert Alan Browne, David Ankrum,
Michael Crabtree, Elyse Donaldson, M.C. Gainey, Emerson Hall, Chuck Hicks, Fred
Lerner, George Marshall Ruge, Steven Strong, Steven Williams
Written by Don Reo; Directed by Richard Colla
THE RESCUE (Pilot; 3/12/83) [sic]
Prince Greystone and Marko embark on a mission to rescue Princess Ariel from
the tyrant Blackpool and his co conspirator [sic], Wizard Vector
Art La Fleur, Piper Perry, Tara Perry, Bobby Porter, Professor Toru Tanaka,
Written by Don Reo; Directed by James Frawley
NIGHT OF TERROR (3/19/83)
Prince Greystone and Princess Ariel find out that swatting an insect inside
the curse-plagued castle of the madman Karnaj is a no-no that can definitely be
dangerous to one’s health
Written by Bill Richmond; Directed by Bill Bixby
SKIES OF DEATH (4/9/83)
A magical, long-range cannon, created by Prince Blackpool and Wizard Vector,
threatens to win the war of conquest against Prince Greystone, but Greystone has
a shell game of his own
Robert Grey, Robert Carnegie, Chris Hendrie, Warren Munson, Alex Daniels,
George Marshall Ruge, Lonnie Wun
Written by Don Reo; Directed by Bill Bixby
THE CAVERNS OF CHAOS (4/30/83)
To save his father’s life, Prince Greystone seeks the fruit of the Astrid
tree in the dreaded Caverns of Chaos, only to find another serpent in the Garden
of Evil, Prince Blackpool, who is also plotting to pluck the magic pear
Michael Currie, Richard Fullerton, Steven Strong
Written by Don Reo; Directed by Paul Krasny
THE DUNGEON OF DEATH (5/7/83)
Prince Greystone leads a hired band of cutthroats and thieves through a
terror-filled tunnel to rescue Marko from the Dungeon of Death
Jerry Maren, John Bennett Perry, Monique Van de Ven, John Ratzenberger,
Stephen Nichols, Alan Shearman, Patrick Wright, Chuck Hoyes, Ron House, Ryland
[sic] G. Allison, Troy Evans, Rodger Bumpass
Written by Judith D. Allison; Directed by Kevin Conner
VULKAR’S REVENGE (5/14/83)
Arch foes Prince Greystone and Prince Blackpool, huddled together under a
flag of truce, find themselves in the eye of a hurricane mounted by the fury of
the monstrous zombie-demon, Vulkar
Bruce M. Fischer, Richard Blum, Lonnie Wun
Written by Robert Earll; Directed by Kevin Conner
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