Hair of gold, heart of gold.Arabela
is a highly successful and charming children's television series produced in Czechoslovakia and aired between 1979-1981. The series was directed by Václav Vorlícek and it spans 13 half an hour long episodes.
The premise of the series is that the world is split in two interconnected parts: a world of humans and a world of fictional stories. While our world is organized into countries, the world of fictional stories is organized into kingdoms, with the medieval-looking Kingdom of Fairy Tales playing an important role in the story. By creating tales and characters, the human world unknowingly helps the other world expand and grow. While travel between worlds is possible through magic, the denizens of the world of fiction tend to avoid going to the human world and thus humans remain blithely unaware of the truth.
Enter Mr. Karel Majer, an ordinary man who works minor jobs in television. One day, while he was working as an extra on the set of a film, he unearths a magic bell which summons the sorcerer apprentice Rumburak, who has the duty to fulfill the wish of whoever rings the bell. Remembering the disappointment of his son and his friend when he failed to get them a prize by shooting the mark at a fair, Mr. Majer asks Rumburak to teach him how to shoot. The sorcerer agrees and takes him to the forests of the Fairy Tale world, where Mr. Majer accidentally shoots the wolf from the Little Red Riding Hood
story. This upsets the balance of the kingdom, as Little Red Riding Hood now lacks a character to reenact her story with, and is rendered purposeless.
When King Hyacinth, the ruler of the Kingdom of Fairy Tales finds out about what happened, he punishes Rumburak by stripping him of his apprenticeship and turning him into a wolf, with the specific instruction to take the place of the wolf from the story. Enraged, the sorcerer rebels against the royal punishment and concocts a plan to take over the entire kingdom and marry the king’s youngest daughter, the lovely princess Arabela.
The series plays around with many fairy tale and character tropes and boasts some really pretty costumes.
It was very popular in the '80s with Eastern European and even German viewers, and many people who were young in that period of time remember it fondly.
This television series provides examples of:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Rumburak is this for Arabela.
- Absolute Cleavage: When going out to eat at a restaurant in the human world, Xenia wears a jumpsuit with a plunging neckline.
- Anachronism Stew: Robots, guns and cars exist in the neighboring Kingdom of Novels, ruled by Fantômas.
- An Aesop: Xenia insists on marrying a price she doesn't love (or even know very well) because she wants to be queen, and this ends up with both spouses despising each other and being absolutely miserable.
- Art Initiates Life: Turns out stories created by humans turn to reality in a different world.
- Animorphism: Rumburak is turned into a wolf by King Hyacinth against his will, as punishment for getting the Little Red Riding Hood wolf shot. He and his witch friend can willingly turn into crows, however.
- Doppelgänger: The witch takes on the appearance of the Queen and impersonates her in order to further Rumburak's goals.
- Gingerbread House: This is the Fairy Tale Kingdom, after all.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Having been charmed by what she found in the human world, princess Xenia takes advantage of her father's absence and begins "modernizing" the kingdom of fairy tales, much to the dislike of its inhabitants. It doesn't help that she doesn't understand things like pollution, so she cheerfully requests that the forests and waters of the kingdom be filled with trash, and even has a factory specifically designed to convert perfectly good objects into trash.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Arabela.
- Henpecked Husband: Poor Vilibald...
- Jerkass Has a Point: When Xenia brought Prince Vilibald (now reduced to a thief and miserable because of it) in front of the King and Queen and announced them that she is marrying him, her father opposed the match on the grounds that Prince Vilibald is a thief - which led to Xenia immediately pointing out that Vilibald started stealing the jewels and money of the inhabitants of Sleeping Beauty's castle because the King ordered him to.
- Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Arabela and her older sister Xenia, respectively. While Arabela is pure hearted, unfailingly polite and kind, Xenia is ambitious, bossy, mean, rude and selfish. The show further emphasizes this by making them polar opposites in everywhting: Arabela wears mostly white and gold and is blonde and curly haired while Xenia is a sleek haired brunette dressed mostly in black. Even their stance on love is contrasting: Arabela marries for love with no regards to money or station, while Xenia essentially bullies a prince into marrying her because he was the only prince in the kingdom and she can't be queen without marrying one.
- Nice Hat: Several can be marveled at in the Fairy Tale Kingdom: Mr. Vigo's hat is in the shape of a bat with outstretched wings, while Rumburak's hat has a bird skull and bones hanging from it.
- Noble Fugitive: Arabela becomes this when she flees into the human world to escape Rumburak.
- Rich Bitch: Xenia, in spades.
- Shout-Out: To numerous fairy tales, through characters or magical objects (white snake, flying trunk, magic rings, magic bell, crystal ball, traveling cape etc.)
- Speaks Fluent Animal: Arabela, after eating a piece of a white snake (a reference to the fairy tale with the same name).
- Talking Animal: The wolf from the Little Red Riding Hood story.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Xenia, once King Hyacinth goes to the human world to search for Arabela. She goes from a somewhat mischievous and vain girl to a tyrant.
- Wicked Witch: Two, actually. One is Rumburak's ally and the other is the witch from Hansel&Gretel.
- Youngest Child Wins: Arabela, of course.