The Legend of Zelda

Season 1 Episode 1

The Ringer

0
Aired Saturday 8:30 AM Sep 08, 1989 on NBC
SUBMIT REVIEW

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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8.5
out of 10
Average
41 votes
  • Pretty much representative of the series

    5.5
    Being the pilot episode for the Legend of Zelda cartoon series, \"The Ringer\" is supposed to provide background and insight into the overall storyline of the series and the various characterizations of the principals.

    We\'ll start with the opening sequence. Apparently the kingdom of Hyrule still possesses the Triforce of Wisdom, but Ganon is alive and possesses the Triforce of Power. This puts the cartoon series outside of the normal Zelda timeline, but we\'ll go with it. Link\'s job, naturally, is to help Zelda defend the Triforce from Ganon and his minions.

    In the first scene of the episode proper, we see Link waking up in his bed. We then see that his bedroom doubles as the chamber where the Triforce of Wisdom is kept. Link sleepily mumbles some lines about how his old life as a wandering adventurer was so much more exciting than his current job as Triforce babysitter. He opens the window, looks out, and suddenly remembers why he ever took this two-bit gig in the first place -- he sees Zelda awake, still in her nightie, wandering on the patio outside her bedchamber. He whistles and says \"looking good, Princess! Especially from this angle!\". I guess I should mention that Link\'s room is about 20 feet higher than Zelda\'s, and that Zelda is wearing a low-cut nightie that doesn\'t cover her shoulders. Draw your own conclusions. Sprite, a little fairy who handles chores around the castle, gives Zelda her morning robe. Sprite must be a pretty low-ranking fairy, given that she can\'t heal and that her spells are limited to cantrips of rather minimal power.

    Oh, while Link is heading out to the window, we see a stone in the floor open up. After Link stops ogling the Princess, a group of three Moblins (the dog-like creatures that wander the woods of Hyrule and throw spears) attack Link and try to steal the Triforce. Yeah, Hyrule has serious problems if a group of monsters can just waltz into the castle and try to snag the Triforce. Fortunately, Moblins are pretty weak. Link dispenses with them fairly easily by shooting his sword and pockets a magic bow that one of them left behind. Link then hears Zelda knocking at the door, He trots out expecting a kiss, and gets a slap on the cheek instead. Good thing this toon aired in the 80s. If it had aired any later, Zelda either would have given Link a taste of her mace (not the kind that comes in spray bottles) or sued his sorry ass for sexual harassment. Instead, she merely berates him for gawking at her nand scolds him for leaving his room in such a mess.

    Here we get Link\'s first (justfied, this time) "well, excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me, Princess\", as he follows it up with \"if I\'d known you were coming, I\'d have asked the Moblins to sweep up before I zapped them. But no, I don\'t expect any reward. A slap in the face is good enough for me\", yada, yada, yada. Zelda quickly apologizes and rewards Link by ordering him to stay in all day and guard the Triforce, seeing that this is the third time this month that the baddies have tried to snag it. In the meantime, she\'s off to judge an amateur magician\'s contest. By now, you probably have a pretty good idea of what Link and Zelda\'s relationship is like, and it doesn\'t get much better throughout the series.

    Cut to Death Mountain, where Ganon starts berating the three Moblins for sucking. They\'re floating in Ganon\'s \"Evil Jar\". Apparently this is where the bad guys go when they\'re dead, stuck there until they regenerate or something. But this time Ganon\'s so pissed that he zaps them into nothingness. Damn. Ganon decides that he\'s going to have to snag the Triforce himself. Either through his network of spies or his crystal ball (which exists but doesn\'t show up in this episode), he knows about the amateur magician\'s contest that\'s going on. Naturally, he decides to crash the contest and look for an opportunity to snag the Triforce. He convenes a caravan of four Stalfos (sword-wielding skeletons), disguises himself and his crew, and heads up to the Overworld.

    Back in a random courtyard Hyrule, a long line of amateur magicians is in line for the contest. The first bozo shows off a spell that makes vegetables grow and casts it on a tomato. Unfortunately, since mass is proportional to r^3 while surface strength is proportional to r^2, the tomato predictably explodes, leaving a mess on the bozo and on Zelda. From the back of the courtyard, Ganon (in disguise) snickers at the competition. Zelda demands to know who\'s laughing at her. Ganon declines to answer but states that he merely wishes to enter the contest. Given the way she treats Link, I\'m surprised she didn\'t immediately have Ganon drawn and quartered. Oh well. She tells him to wait his turn and doesn\'t seem to think that this wizard and his dark-cloaked minions seem the least bit suspicious at all. While the next bozo is showing Zelda a spell that removes the stink from his socks, Ganon sends a Keese (a bat) to scope out the Triforce.

    Up in the Triforce chamber, Link is opining about Zelda to Sprite:

    Link: \"You\'re a girl, Sprite. How can I get Zelda to pay more attention to me?\"
    Sprite: \"Who cares? She\'s a snot. You should stick with me.\"
    Link: \"Sprite, you\'re only three inches high.\"
    Sprite: \"What? You don\'t linke short girls?\"

    Apparently Sprite hasn\'t quite thought through the anatomical consequences of this particular interspecies relationship.

    Back at the magician\'s contest, the next contestant causes a small lizard to appear in Zelda\'s hand. The bat reports back to Ganon that Link is guarding the Triforce. Ganon decides to cause a diversion by xapping the lizard in Zelda\'s hand into a full-sized dragon. All the amateur contestants scatter, leaving Zelda to fend for herself. Link hears Zelda scream and instinctively springs into action, jumping out of the Triforce tower, swinging on a clothesline and landing in the courtyard. Link lands on the ground and manages to hold off the dragon\'s breath with his magic shield, but he cant get a clear shot at the dragon. Zelda crawls off, gets a small metal plate and tosses it up in the air; Link sends a few blasts off the plate and into the dragon, which shrinks back into a tiny lizard. All I know is that I spent months bombing every mountainside and burning every bush in Hyrule, searching for a merchant who sold magic pie tins, but to no avail. Who knew they were so commonplace?

    Naturally, Link wants to boast of his heroic feat, but Zelda scolds him for abandoning the Triforce. That\'s gratitude for ya. Gee Zelda, who did you think was going to save you? Mario and Luigi don\'t work on Fridays, remember? We then hear Sprite screaming from the tower as Ganon arrives to steal the Triforce of Wisdom. The Triforce spouts off a lame-ass couplet about evil-doers always losing. You know, it\'d be a lot more helpful if it\'d spout off a magic fireball instead. Anywho, Ganon leaps out of the tower and back into his caravan, which speeds off for the Underworld. Link resignedly says that they\'ll never catch him now, despite the fact that he just jumped out of the tower and landed in the courtyard five seconds ago. Zelda decides to pick up a seed and instructs the amateur wizard to use his growth spell on it. It turns into a massive stalk. Zelda ties one end of a rope to the stalk and another to a pedestal. Link and Zelda hop on the stalk, and it eventually catapults them 100 feet in the air and a few hundred yards out of the castle. Naturally, Link lands without a scratch, and Zelda lands safely in Link\'s lap. That\'s cartoon physics for you. Link does his \"saved you again, Princess. Kiss me\" bit again, but Zelda sees Ganon coming.

    Link zaps one of Ganon\'s runners, and the whole caravan falls apart. Ganon opens up an Underworld entrance through which a bunch of reinforcements arrive. Link gives Zelda the magic bow, they strap themselves back-to-back, and manage to fight off all the enemies. At one point, Zelda is grappling with a few skeletons while Ganon chucks a bomb at Link. Naturally, Link flips Zelda and the skeletons over, the bomb destroys the skeletons, and Link and Zelda remain unscathed. Now I know that in the video game, Link can practically swallow an exploding bomb and not have it hurt him, but shouldn\'t the opposite hold when one of the enemies uses a bomb? Whatever.

    Ganon attempts to escape with the Triforce, but Link chucks another loose bomb into the Underworld entrance. Apparently this other bomb some sort of super-bomb, as it creates a massive explosion which collapses the Underworld entrance and catapults the Triforce right at Zelda\'s feet.

    Zelda fiddles with Link\'s belt buckle to try to separate herself, a scene which I\'ve seen in several animation cels and find very disturbing. Especially for young kids. Link refuses to let her go until Zelda gives him a kiss. Yeesh. Zelda finally relents, but before they can kiss, Sprite tells them to knock it off and casts a spell to undo Link\'s belt buckle. Not that she\'s jealous or anything.

    Back in the Underworld, Ganon\'s stuck in his Evil Jar, vowing revenge just as soon as he can reenergize and get out. The End.

    -----------------

    The pilot episode is supposed to lay the framework for the series, so let\'s rate it on that basis:

    Predictable plots (Ganon hatching some scheme or other to capture the Triforce): Check.
    Magic reset button (Ganon\'s Evil Jar): Check.
    Clairvoyant enemy: Check.
    Trivial representations of one-dimensional characters: Checki.
    Pseudo-romantic relationship between protagonists: Check-plus, because Link and Zelda are such a dysfunctional couple it\'s hilarious.
    Lame dialogue: Check. Link does get in a good line with the \"looking good, Princess, especially from this angle\" bit though.

    This episode and series is pretty typical fare for the 80s, all in all. The characterizations are somewhat atypical but still very simplistic: Link is the cocky, boorish lad, while Zelda is the prissy, bossy princess. The plots and dialogue don\'t break out of common standards at all, however, and there are plenty of cheesy gags (the exploding tomato and the stinky socks) to make one want to retch. Given the 15-minute length of the cartoon, it\'s not too surprising that the show was so simple and predictable.
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