1 9 8 6 (USA/Japan)
26 x 30 minute episodes
“Before there was time, there was Photon, the crystal energy force which creates and sustains life in our universe. The Warlord of Arr and his evil army are determined to control Photon and use it for their own evil ends. The only thing that stands in their way is the earthling Bhodi Li, who along with five other Photon champions, are known as The Photon Warriors”.
This science fiction-themed series – conceived as a “live video game” – was created by Encino-based DIC Enterprises in response to the new game fad of ‘Photon’ (developed by George Carter III).
The game was a high-tech version of “Cowboys and Indians”, in which players chased each other through a maze of a building, trying to shoot other players with weapons that fired infrared beams.
By the time the Photon series was released, there were 17 Photon game centres in the US, with customers paying $3.50 each for 6½ minutes of chasing after each other while weighed down by 14lbs of electronic equipment.
Bhodi Li (Christopher Lockwood) – an obnoxious 17-year-old Dallas high school student whose real name was Christopher Jarvis – was a Photon whiz who joined The Guardians of The Light in their fight against the Warlord of Arr and his evil Arrian empire – led by Mandarr (David Stay).
Fighting alongside him were Tivia, the veiled warrior princess of Nivia (Loretta Haywood); Parcival (Eros Rivers), an adolescent computer geek in a baseball cap; a robotic Ninja warrior known as Lord Baethan (Graham Ravey); a giant lizard called Leon (Akiyoshi Ono), and Uncle Pike (Kazuhisa Kanamaru), who looked like a cross between Mr Potato Head and a turd.
Filmed with primitive (by modern standards) 1980s green-screen technology but well-written and cleverly produced, Photon made heavy use of popular music of the day – such as Footloose, Danger Zone, Addicted To Love and Sussudio – in long segments without dialogue, but using inferior “soundalike” cover versions rather than the original recordings.
Episodes of Photon were filmed in Dallas, Texas – including at Woodrow Wilson High School and at the original Photon centre at 12630 E. Northwest Highway in far northeast Dallas. Other filming and special effects work were done in Japan.
The director and several of the crew were also Japanese.
Like many children’s tv programmes, the show was largely a marketing vehicle for licensed merchandise, including party hats, stickers, lunch boxes, sandals, playhouses, beach towels, flashlights and earmuffs.
George Lucas called Photon “the series I should have made”.
Bhodi Li (Christopher Jarvis)
Tivia, Princess of Nivia
The Recruit | Skin Deep | A Grave Matter | Just For Fun | No Laughing Matter | The Queen’s Pawn | Deadly Thorns | Rebel of Cyborgs | United We Stand | The Nivian Challenge | If At First You Don’t Succeed | The Road Not Taken | Bhodi’s Solo Mission | One of a Kind | Space Terror | Maze of Fear | Necessity and Invention | Think Quick | Prehistoric Planet | Not a Care in the World | Mind Zapped | The Right Time | Lost Time | The Light Flickers | Friends and Enemies | Stalemate