1 9 9 5 (Australia/Poland)
26 x 24 minute episodes
This Polish/Australian co-production saw 14-year-old Sydney teenager Paul Reynolds (Zbych Trofimiuk) transported through an electrical vortex and blasted into an alternative reality when a prank during a school science camp goes horribly wrong.
He finds himself in a feudal world resembling medieval Europe, except the rulers – the Spellbinders – have mastered advanced technology using electricity and magnetism, and used radio communicators, flying ships and “power suits” that could shoot bolts of lightning. Technology and knowledge are reserved exclusively for the Spellbinders and forbidden to the peasant population.
Trying to convince people that he is from another world and wants to return home, Paul is summoned to the Spellbinders’ Council of Regents and threatened with banishment to the wastelands.
Only Spellbinder Ashka (Heather Mitchell) is sympathetic and protects him – although she secretly has no intention of helping him and simply wants to use his knowledge to help her in her villainous rise to power.
Paul eventually finds a way to re-open the portal and return to his own world but accidentally takes, Riana (Gosia Piotrowska) – a courageous 13-year-old peasant girl who helped him along the way – with him, trapping her in his world.
While Riana tries to return home with help from Paul and his friends Alex (Brian Rooney) and Katrina (Michela Noonan), Ashka uses the portal to escape the Spellbinder Council and gain access to powerful technology and weaponry she can use to overthrow the Regents.
Viewed today, the CGI looks outdated and the 90s fashions are terrible, but the series still holds up well, largely because the quality of the writing and plot devices is remarkable for a show aimed exclusively at children.
Heather Mitchell (Ashka) and Rafal Zwierz (Gryvon) reprised their roles in the 26-part Spellbinder: Land of the Dragon Lord (1997), filmed in Poland and China.