I suppose that “Wizards and Warriors” was what passed for “Game of Thrones” in 1983. Except it was cheesy as hell (which of course meant that I loved it as a fourth grader), and it didn’t last longer than eight episodes.
It was CBS’ mid-season replacement for my beloved “Bring ‘Em Back Alive” (the Bruce Boxleitner retro adventure series that I’ve written about here previously), which was cancelled due to low ratings. “Wizards and Warriors” ran in its 8 PM time slot, and then itself was cancelled due to low ratings, so it never saw a second season. (I believe both shows were competing with NBC’s ratings juggernaut, “The A-Team,” which every kid in the world loved except me. I was weird.)
“Wizards and Warriors” was really just an obvious effort to capitalize on the popularity of the “Dungeons & Dragons” role-playing game. The show was campy stuff. The pilot episode, which you can watch in its entirety over at dailymotion, was entitled “The Unicorn of Death.” It dealt with a time-bomb hidden inside a princess’ birthday present, which strikes me as a pretty surprising plot for a sword-and-sorcery program.
It had a cast that went on to better things, though. One was Julia Duffy, of “Newheart” (1982-1990) fame. Another was “Grease” (1978) veteran Jeff Conaway, who most 80’s kids will remember from “Taxi” (1978-1983). The dastardly villain of “Wizards and Warriors” was played by the terrific character actor Duncan Regehr, a “that guy” actor who popped up in a lot of genre roles in the 80’s and 90’s. Here’s the thing about Regehr — I want him to be a real-life bad guy. He’s got an absolutely sly, suave, villainous face and manner — and his name just sounds like a villain’s name. If he’d left acting to commit a series of high-profile crimes in the real world, that would be wickedly, awesomely meta.