To this day the late Hal Foster‘s creation is told not in the traditional comic strip style but more of an illustrated book style. It’s one of the few legacy strips that would surprise me to gain negative criticism from my Reviewers Unknown ally (and former Internet Spotlight topic) the Comic Strip Critic. Set in the days of King Arthur Valiant is the dethroned prince of Thule who has become a Knight Of The Round Table, and often has daring adventures with his family and friends. Valiant isn’t always perfect and has made his share of mistakes. But he manages to overcome his enemies in the end.
Two movies, one in 1953 and the other in 1997, have been produced but I’ve never seen them. What I have seen, however, is the 1991 animated series The Legend Of Prince Valiant, and if you haven’t, you really should. This is a show that hooked me right at the intro.
For some reason I remember earlier versions of the intro had no sound, but somehow the screeching of Merlin’s eagle and the clashing of the swords add a little extra to the intro. The voice acting on this series was incredible. This was the first time I had heard of Robbie Benson and he makes a great young Valiant, although I have trouble hearing it in the older prince in the strips. Alan Oppenheimer’s Merlin is the best version of the character I’ve even heard and still sticks with me even though I haven’t watched the show in years.
The intro itself may be based on the vision Valiant, Arn, and Rowanne (who I’m told was an original character for the show, a woman who wanted to become a Knight in King Arthur’s Court) share, which leads them together and later to Camelot. I sometimes wonder if Merlin had a hand in them having the same dream. (And by “vision” and “dream” I mean they have a dream about Camelot.) Even though this is only the first arc or two, with the rest of season one about their quest to become knights and the second actually being knights, it also shows the characters on a basic level. The nobility of Valiant, the quiet Arn, the focused Rowanne, the burdened King Arthur, you see it all there.
For years I wondered what a full version of the song would sound like. Well to my surprise there was a soundtrack released, which doesn’t surprise me considering how beautiful this series’ score was. For an animated series there was a lot of detail involved with the production and it showed in the high quality of the final product. This wasn’t a “kids show”, this was a family show, also not surprising because it aired on the Family Channel and they knew how to make high quality family programming. I wish Fox Family and ABC Family were as good at it. Fox Family gave us some good shows, ABC Family gave us…The Middleman, I guess. But none of them were really as devoted to shows kids and their parents could watch together like this show and their version of Zorro.
Just last week I came across the actual theme song for The Legend Of Prince Valiant. The song is “Where The Truth Lies” and is performed by a Canadian Duo known as Exchange. The vocals are sung by another Canadian, Marc Jordan. Close your eyes and enjoy.