About the Show...
The Details:The series premiered in France on September 17, 1985, under the title Les Mondes Engloutis (The Absorbed Worlds). 26 episodes aired througout March 1986. A second season of 26 episodes debuted the following October, for a total of 52 episodes. It aired either very shortly after, or possibly even simultaneously with the original French airings (I'm not sure of the exact timetable) in the United States on the cable network Nickelodeon, translated into English and retitled Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea. During the later portion of the show's run on Nickelodeon, the network got the weird idea to replace the main Spartakus title theme with a new, upbeat-sounding theme by the pop group Menudo.
As a sidenote, it should be mentioned that Spartakus was shown along with another excellent anime cartoon on Nickelodeon called The Mysterious Cities of Gold. Both shows had a somewhat similar theme--searching for a lost civilization hidden since an ancient cataclysm--and some American viewers who haven't seen either show in a while seem to have a tendency to confuse the two, probably due to the way Nickelodeon used to rotate the two series in the same timeslot. There are some excellent Cities of Gold resources available on the web--check out the show's Internet Movie Database entry to find out more.
One of the more unusual aspects of the show was that in seemingly every episode, there was one of two musical numbers incorporated into the show. Bic and Bac would do a celebratory dance called the Flashbick, and the Pirates of the Seas would sing about themselves and their love of pillaging, looting, and such. You can listen to many of the musical themes from the show in the Music archives.
The Story:Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea was a surreal mix of fantasy, science fiction, myth, and history. A lost civilization lies at the center of the earth, and a small group of travelers must discover its long-forgotten secrets in order to save the world. Following the main theme of the show--discovering the past and studying legends--elements of fictional and historical characters and situations were often incorporated into the worlds of the strata and their inhabitants. While this added educational value to the show for younger viewers, it also made for some unique tales of parallel worlds and alternate histories that older viewers could appreciate.
Most of the episodes were stand-alone stories, but there were a number of key episodes where major events occured that pushed the story ahead, as well as provide clues to some of the many mysteries of the show. There were also a few small subplots involving a number of recurring characters, particularly the Pirates. What follows is a detailed description of the story's major events. Be warned, many spoilers lie ahead...