Nov 7, 2012


I keep forgetting the name of Spellbinder (1995) which aired on the Disney Channel in 1996, one of the imported Australian series (others included Ocean Girl and Round the Twist) that would eventually be supplainted by the home-grown Even Stevens, Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and Hannah Montana.  It's nondescript (and it really should be plural).

But the series was unique: Australian-Polish science fiction-fantasy series about alternative realities.  It starred Zybch Trofimiuk as Paul Reynolds, an Australian boy who somehow finds himself in a Medieval world.  Everyone is terrified of the powerful Spellbinders, who look and chew up the scenery like villains out of Power Rangers.

Paul meets a girl, Riana (Gosia Piatrowska) and together they find a way back to his world.  But now the Spellbinders know that the other world exists, and they want to invade it.

The plotline sounds heterosexist.  Except Paul and Riana never fall in love; indeed, when they return to Earth, he introduces her as a "cousin from Iceland."  And he has a best friend, Alex (Brian Rooney).  When Paul vanishes, Alex is distraught.  When he returns, Alex grabs him with an enormous hug, treating him precisely as a lover.

There is also a substantial amount of beefcake.

The sequel, Spellbinder 2: Land of the Dragon Lord (1996), aired on the Fox Family Channel in 1998. It  sends a girl named Kathy (Lauren Hewitt), into a Medieval East Asian world.  She doesn't fall in love with anyone; however, her older brother, Josh (Ryan Kwanten), tags along, fulfills the heterosexism quota by falling in love with a girl.

A lot of beefcake here, too.

Ryan Kwanten went on to star on the Australian soap Home and Away (1997-2002), then True Blood (2008-present) on American tv.  He has become one of the more muscular of the Hollywood hunks.