|Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders|
Cover of the American VHS release Full Circle
|Created by||Robert Mandell|
Jean Louisa Kelly
|Country of origin||USA|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||26 (List of episodes)|
|Producer(s)||Allen J. Bohbot|
|Running time||24 minutes|
Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders (also known as Starla & the Jewel Riders, and listed as such on BKN's official site; originally also as The Jewel Riders of Camelot) is a 1995 children's fantasy animated television series inspired by the Arthurian myths.
The show was produced by Bohbot Productions (now BKN) with association with Hong Ying Animation and internationally syndicated by Bohbot Entertainment, and was originally commissioned by Hasbro to accompany their line of toys (albeit only in the form of vague outline and the creators developed the plot and the characters). There are two seasons of thirteen episodes each; the third season has been reportedly planned for the fall 1998 season, but it was then apparently cancelled. The cartoon however greatly inspired the Avalon: Web of Magic series of books.
Jewel Riders shares many similarities with the magical girl genre of anime and the programmes such as She-Ra: Princess of Power and Wildfire, and was in many ways similar to The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers (both shows had the same creator, Robert Mandell). While it is less well known than its predecessors, it has a small fan following and (along with Gargoyles) contains some of the earliest signs of a "quest"-genre series.
The show's action is set in what is traditionally King Arthur's resting place in the legend, the island of Avalon, here portrayed as a fairy tale utopia that keeps its magical energies in check with the aid of the royal Crown Jewels. The plot follows the quest of Avalon's princess to recover a series of enchanted gemstone jewels and restore harmony in magic. There is a special emphasis on the "power of friendship", which enables the titular Jewel Riders, the three young defenders of Avalon, to overcome their adversaries. In the American version the title character shares her name with Arthur's wife Guinevere; the other Arthurian characters in the show include Merlin, Morgan le Fay (Morgana), and the episodical appearance of Lady of the Lake. It is also suggested that the series takes place in the present time, as over a thousand years passed since Merlin's victory over Morgana (for example Camelot is now known as "New Camelot") and there are occasionally some modern-day references.
The Grand Wizard Merlin mentors young Princess of Avalon, Gwenevere (named Starla outside the United States, voiced by Kerry Butler) and her friends Tamara and Fallon for the day that they will inevitably find a "special friend" to share the power of their own themed Enchanted Jewels with. Gwen with the power of the royal Sun Stone, Fallon with the power of the Moon Stone, Tamara's jewel is the Heart Stone, allowing her to communicate with her animal friends, who each share a similar stone as part of their neck collars. The teenage Gwen is the last to find such a special animal, a winged unicorn named Sunstar, and thus they fulfill their destiny and become the Jewel Riders, magical guardians of Avalon for generations and champions of goodness. However, vicious Lady Kale (Corinne Orr), Queen Anya's jealous sister who was once denied the Sun Stone and thus the throne by Merlin, is plotting to conquer Avalon and use its magic for evil. Using the sinister powers of her newly found Dark Stone she soon sends Merlin into the hidden realm of the "wild magic" and attempts to steal the Crown Jewels to make herself an undisputed ruler of the kingdom, but in the last moment he manages to make them scatter and return to the lands of from where they came. But with the Crown Jewels gone from Merlin's Jewel Box, the wild magic is no longer stable.
Avalon's fate now rests with the Jewel Riders, the latest incarnation of which consists of the Princess and her best friends. Each of them has her own Enchanted Jewel, which enables them to wear Jewel Armor and travel safely through the dangerous dimension of wild magic. Once the bond of the Crown Jewels is broken, the wild magic flows out of control, causing destructive outbreaks until the Jewels are all brought together again. Retrieving them is also the only way the Jewel Riders can recover Merlin from his prison inside the wild magic. Along the way they must contend with Kale, who intends to instead entune the magic of Crown Jewels to herself and gain enough power to bring down Anya and become the queen. The Riders are often assisted by a trio of brave wolf-riding warriors known as the Pack who all use the power of the Forest Stones. Using the magic of the Enchanted Jewels to speak with fantastic animal friends, these adventurous teens team up to reclaim the jewels that can save the kingdom.
For the first thirteen episodes, the primary storyline is the Jewel Riders' quest of finding and securing the Crown Jewels in various parts of Avalon before vindicative Lady Kale uses their powers to destroy Merlin. The Crown Jewels include Jewel of the North Woods found in the Ravenwood, Jewel of the Dreamfields, Rainbow Jewel found inside the Rainbow Falls, Burning Ice Jewel found in the Tower of Glog at the Wizard's Peak, Desert Star Jewel recovered in the Great Desert and Faeryland, Misty Rose Jewel found in the Misty Moors, and the Jewel of the Jungle found in the hidden lair of the Morgana, where they also learn of a failed conspiracy conceived many years ago by her and the other Grand Wizards against Merlin. At the finale of the first season Lady Kale is defeated when she attempts to rule all the magic and the Jewel Riders entune the power of the recovered Crown Jewels to their own. However, in doing so, they also squander any chance of bringing Merlin home for the time being, leaving the series as yet unresolved.
In the second season, instead of Crown Jewels, Gwenevere (in this season voiced by Jean Louisa Kelly) and the Jewel Riders seek out the ancient Wizard Jewels, with an extra adversary to deal with. Having been banished into the limbo of wild magic herself, Lady Kale is drawn towards a floating palace, where she meets Morgana, one of the legendary Grand Wizards and the creator of the Dark Stone who is now also trapped in the wild magic. When Morgana realizes that the Dark Stone has now become magically connected to Kale and she cannot seize complete control of it, she decides to join forces with the outlaw princess. Meanwhile, the Jewel Riders discover that the powers of the Crown Jewels, now attuned to themselves, have given them new magical armors and powers seven times more powerful. They have now at their disposal far greater magical power than they ever dreamed possible, which they have difficulty controlling. The Riders must now learn how to use these enhanced powers and continue their quest to bring Merlin home and protect Avalon. Soon, they come face-to-face with Morgana and realize that they are dealing with a very powerful new enemy.
The seven Wizard Jewels are The One Jewel (Merlin’s wizard jewel and the red orb on his staff), the Garden Jewel (shaped like a flower), the Unicorn Jewel (shaped like a unicorn's horn), the Jewel of the Sea (shaped like a seashell), the Time Stone (shaped like a hourglass), the Jewel of Arden (shaped like a leaf), the Fortune Jewel (shaped like a top), and the Dark Stone. The Riders are now trying to capture these jewels before Morgana can take them and use their power to free the Grand Wizards and return to complete her conquest of Avalon. During one her adventures, Gwen meets a mysterious man called Ian (who eventually saves the day during the final battle), and falls in love with him. In the series' dramatic conclusion, the Riders and their friends together manage to again defeat Kale and then win over Morgana in a test of skills and wits, ridding the kingdom of them for good. In the end, Merlin is finally freed and the balance of magic to Avalon is restored for as long as it can be before evil arises again.
The teenage Jewels Riders trio consist of Gwenevere (Starla), riding on Sunstar, Fallon, riding on Moondance, and Tamara, riding on Shadowsong; each of their Jewels has different magical abilities and their own colors and corresponding gem stones with various powers. The Pack, or Knights of Avalon as they are also referred to, consist of Gwen's wannabe boyfriend Drake (who is their leader), Josh and Max (the two have rather minor roles); they protect the Crystal Palace and sometimes help the Jewel Riders in their fight. The princess and her friends are also aided by the Merlin's owl named Archie. The series' main villainess is initially Lady Kale, Gwen's witchlike aunt, who is aided by her bad dragon Grim. In the second season the prime enemy is Morgana, with returning Kale at her side.
|1||Jewel Quest, Part I||Robert Mandell|
|2||Jewel Quest, Part II||Robert Mandell|
|3||Wizard’s Peak||James Luceno and Robin Young|
|4||Travel Trees Don’t Dance||Christopher Rowley and Robin Young|
|5||Song of the Rainbow||Mary Stanton and Robin Young|
|6||For Whom the Bell||Marianne Meyer and Robin Young|
|7||The Faery Princess||Linda Shayne and Robin Young|
|8||Badlands||Katherine Lawrence and Robin Young|
|9||Home Sweet Heart Stone||Robin Young|
|10||Love Struck||James Mattson|
|12||Revenge of the Dark Stone||Robin Young and Christopher Rowley|
|13||Full Circle||Robin Young and Christopher Rowley|
|16||Fashion Fever||Robin Young and Christopher Rowley|
|17||Vale of the Unicorns||Katherine Lawrence|
|18||Prince of the Forest||Robin Young|
|19||The Wizard of Gardenia||James Luceno|
|20||The Jewel of the Sea||Linda Shayne|
|21||Trouble in Elftown||Laraine Arkow and Marlowe Weisman|
|22||The Wishing Jewel||Laura Munro]|
|23||Mystery Island||Robin Young|
|24||The Fortune Jewel||Robin Young|
|25||Spirit of Avalon / Lady of the Lake||Robert Mandell and Christopher Rowley|
|26||The One Jewel / Last Dance||Robert Mandell and Christopher Rowley|
Jewel Riders were aired outside the U.S. in Canada on YTV, in Estonia on TV 1 (as Printsess Starla), in France on France 3 (as Princesse Starla et les Joyaux magiques), in Germany on ORF 1 and RTL 2 (as Starla und die Kristallretter), in Italy on Italia 1 (as Starla e le sette gemme del mistero), in Norway (as Prinsesse Starla og Juvelridderne), in Philippines on GMA Network (as Starla at ang mga Jewel Riders), in Poland on RTL 7 (as Starla i Jeźdźcy), in Portugal on SIC and Canal Panda (as Starla e as Jóias Encantadas), in Russia (as Принцесса Старла и повелители камней), in Serbia (as Старла и небески јахачи), in Spain, under the titles of La princesa Starla (TVE1) and Starla i les amazones de les joies (Catalonian language TV3), in Sweden on Canal+, FilmNet and TV 3 (as Starla och juvelriddarna), and in United Kingdom on GMTV in early 1990s and re-run on Pop Girl in 2009 (both under the Starla... title).
There were four VHS releases in America by Family Home Entertainment, covering the first season only and consisting of Jewel Quest (which contained "Jewel Quest Part 1" and "Jewel Quest Part 2"), Wizard's Peak ("Wizard's Peak" and "Travel Trees Can't Dance"), For Whom the Bell Trolls ("For Whom the Bell Trolls" and "The Faery Princess"), and Full Circle ("Revenge of the Dark Stone" and "Full Circle").
Digiview Entertainment has reserved the right to release the show onto DVD in 2006. They announced plans to released the first two volumes in late 2006, and to release subsequent volumes over the course of the next year. The first and as of 2009 the only DVD released by Digiview was Wizard's Peak, containing the first five episodes of the show and available in the Wal-Mart stores. Though it says "Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders" on the cover, the actual show on the DVD is the international version (Starla & the Jewel Riders), which uses Gwenevere's European name Starla (both in the theme song, and in the main dialogue). In addition in the case of both the cover, and the show itself, the European-style fonts are used in the logo. The disc also appears to be region-free.
The complete first season was released on DVD in 2008 in France and the whole series was released in Serbia the same year.
In 2008-2009 the series was available to be watched for free in a streaming media form on the Lycos Cinema service. In 2009 the show was also made freely available for users of the Internet service SyncTV (available online from the browser for the American users and downloadable for watching for the others). While it is titled as Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders, it is actually the Starla version.
In 2001, children's book author Rachel Roberts bought some of the rights to the show and wrote her own book series loosely based on the show and borrowing ideas and names (such as episode titles), as well as lyrics from some of the songs used in Jewel Riders. The series consists of twelve novels, as well as the three-volume graphic novel adaptation, Avalon: The Warlock Diaries.