'The Mysterious Cities Of Gold' - Children's TV Programme Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

'The Mysterious Cities Of Gold' - Children's TV Programme

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The Mysterious Cities Of Gold is an animated series that many people remember from their childhood. The series was made in 1982 and was a French/Japanese co-production, very loosely based on the novel The King's Fifth by Scott O'Dell. The series starts in Barcelona in 1532, and follows (through 39 20-minute episodes) a young orphan called Esteban in his search of the New World for both his father and for the 'Mysterious Cities of Gold'. Esteban and his friends encounter many strange and wonderful machines on their quest, including a golden condor and a solar-powered ship. Consequently, the series could never be accused of accurately portraying life in the New World in the 1500's - example of advanced technology encountered during Esteban's adventures include stun rays and people placed into suspended animation, for example. However despite these flights of fancy, most episodes had a short real-life documentary at the end, covering topics mentioned in the episode and teaching children more about the real South America, and the real tribes who lived there.

A Brief Overview of the Storyline

It is the year 1532. Esteban is a child living in the Spanish city of Barcelona, known by the locals as 'The Child of The Sun' due to his strange ability to make the sun shine through the rain. He was raised by a priest, Father Rodriguez, who reveals to Esteban on his deathbed that the young boy was in fact rescued as a baby from a sinking ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Mendoza, the sailor who rescued Esteban, offers the boy a place on a ship bound for the New World of the Americas. Esteban accepts the offer, as Mendoza has a piece of a medallion found with the baby Esteban which he believes will lead them to the Mysterious Cities of Gold, and also suggests that his father might be in the New World. They set sail along with Zia, a kidnapped Incan girl.

On the way they meet Tao, the last survivor of the Hiva race. Tao has many Hiva artifacts, and reveals that the King of the Hiva, once he realised that his people were doomed, decided to construct seven 'Cities of Gold' to preserve the secrets of the Hiva race. Esteban and his friends find the Solaris, a solar powered ship built by the Hiva.

After a 5-month, highly eventful sea voyage - during which Esteban and Zia discover they wear identical medallions - they arrive in the New World, where they are immediately captured by Spanish guards. They escape by setting the gunpowder store on fire, and make their way south to Zia's village. The village is over-run by Spanish soldiers, however, and they are forced to guide them, with the help of ancient clues, to the supposed location of the Cities of Gold. Esteban finds people who say they knew someone who might have been his father, a man who fell in love with an Inca woman some 12 years ago and was set adrift in a boat along with his child by priests who murdered his wife.

They continue their quest, with lots of adventures and dangers along the way, and eventually open the gate to a hidden city with their medallions. Within the city they find a mysterious, huge golden condor. The volcano on which the city stands erupts, and they escape by putting a golden artifact into the condor, which begins to fly on autopilot. The condor seems to be powered by the sun, and the children soon learn how to control it. They crash-land in a jungle and are about to be sacrificed to the rain goddess when Esteban calls the sun to send the rain away.

The condor eventually leads the party to another ruined city, where they find more clues to the location of the Cities of Gold. They have many more adventures, including being attacked by the Olmec tribe, and Zia is re-united with her father, who says he found the gates to the Cities of Gold but warns they contain a treasure that would be very dangerous if it fell into Olmec hands, but then he dies. The party eventually finds the City of Gold, which the children open with their medallions, however the Olmecs get there too. The Olmecs are defeated, and we find out that the High Priest of the City of Gold is Esteban's father. The children vow to search the world for the other 6 Cities of Gold, and fly off into the sunset in the condor.

Character Guide

  • Esteban - an orphan raised in Barcelona who is searching for the Mysterious Cities of Gold, as well as for his missing father.
  • Zia - a young Inca girl who joins Esteban on his search.
  • Tao - another child, and the last descendent of the empire of Hiva, a continent which was lost when it sank beneath the Pacific Ocean centuries before.
  • Mendoza - a Spanish navigator who saved the baby Esteban from a sinking ship in the Pacific.
  • Pedro and Sancho - two sailors, and followers of Mendoza.
  • Senior Gomez - Commander of the Spanish armed forces.
  • Governor Pizarro - Governor of the region in which the children find themselves.

Episode List

1. Esteban, Child of the Sun14. Esteban's Medallion27. The Doors of Night
2. Crossing the Atlantic15. The Subterranean Secret28. The Forest of Statues
3. Heroes Again16. The Urubus29. The Burning Shield
4. Adrift on the Endless Sea17. The Great Condor30. The Escape
5. The Abduction of Zia18. Maiden Flight of the Great Condor31. The Village of the New Sun
6. The Ship Solaris19. The Nazca Plateau32. Attack of the Olmecs
7. Secret of the Solaris20. The Spaniards' Cannon33. The Reunion
8. The New Continent21. The Amazons34. Revolt of the Mayas
9. The End of the Solaris22. The Mirror of the Moon35. The Olmec Machine
10. Secret of the Temple23. The Jade Mask36. Aeriel Pursuit
11. Messengers of the Region24. The Manuscript37. The City of Gold
12. Secret of the Medallions25. The Lake of Gold38. The Great Legacy
13. Mystery of the Parents26. The Swamps39. The End of the City of Gold

Theme Tune

As with a lot of childrens' TV shows, the theme song (composed by Shuki Levi and Haim Saban) was a favourite sing-along. The style was South American, with a bouncy beat, and sounded like it was sung by children. Here are the lyrics so you can sing it for yourself:

(Spoken) It is the 16th century. From all over Europe great ships sale west to conquer the New World, the Americas. These men eager to seek their fortune, to find new adventures in new lands. They long to cross uncharted seas and discover unknown countries. To find secret gold on a mountain trail high in the Andes. They dream of following the path of the setting sun that leads to Eldorado, and the Mysterious Cities Of Gold.

(Sung) Children of the Sun, see your time has just begun
Searching for your way through adventures every day
Every day and night with the condor in flight
With all your friends in tow we search for the Cities of Gold
Ahhhh-ah-ah-ah Wishing for the Cities of Gold
Ahhhh-ah-ah-ah Someday we will find the Cities of Gold!
Doo doo doo do doo, ahh-ah-ah, doo doo doo do doo Cities of Gold

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