The Mysterious Cities of Gold

urlBooks are great as you may have heard me say before but that is not to say I don’t enjoy dabbling in other mediums…

For sheer impact on my life – and yes I’m well aware of just how over dramatic I’m being (I blame Shakespeare for that) – this series is one of the most profoundest.

My favouritest ever TV show is The Mysterious Cities of Gold, an epic 39 episode story which has aged a bit now but is still a monumental achievement in children’s programming.

Imagine floating through space, through a giant dust cloud, towards a galaxy hanging in the vast blackness, then quickly cutting to the far away earth that moves quickly closer.  Down through the cloud cover we drop until we see a ruined city, we zoom right into the cavernous opening at the top of the biggest building, it’s here we see the detail of every brick….

By this point I was as impressed as I had ever been in my young life and that was only the beginning of the adventures…..

The plot is more epic than you would imagine for a young persons show, Set in 1532 and primarily following the adventures of three children hunting for the titular Cities of Gold, this basic premise is opened out with plenty of back story for the various kids to be uncovered, it also tackles such ideas as slavery, loyalty, heritage and greed and to my mind its greatest strength the historical and mythological content.

Furthering this content of learning are the short documentaries at the end of each episode.  For some reason the BBC originally chose not to show these shorts, it was only when buying the DVD version that I saw them.  Grainy footage abounds on them but I found that they did enhance the sense of wonder and compelled me to pick up even more books on the Americas.

The soundtrack is the real key to the programme, I have been humming a certain tune of the show for years, even after the memories grew dim that always stayed with me, listening to the music out of context doesn’t really give much of an impression but seen through the eyes of our child protagonists experiencing these wonders or the first time makes it more powerful.

The sense of the unknown and the strange is constant as the wonders of the new world greet our travellers and remind us of a time when the unknown was a powerful force that drove people to explore and gave rise to many wondrous myths.

Everyone has their own favourite show but one that teaches you things, or at the very least gives you the urge to look up places and cultures seems to be something rare these days.  I know that a lot of what I’m saying (bar the documentaries) is rooted in nostalgia but there is a wealth of impressive features that give it longevity.  The sheer size of it and the wealth of characters makes it seem like a real adventure, something tangible, couple this with the variety of places and the music which help give things an emotive feel and the sheer wonder makes the world seem like a special exciting place again.  it’s amazing what seeing all those bricks close up does to an impressionable young mind.

28 Replies to “The Mysterious Cities of Gold”

  1. There is one “book” that I feel has changed how I view the world.I read it for my book report . I was 7 1/2 years old, I think. The book was The Little match Girl. I think my report so disturbed my teacher she talked to me after class… told me it didn’t happen, the author made it up. I still remember one line that I had written … ” Childern are supposed to play, not sell matches. Children are supposed to be happy,not die on Christmas Day. “


      1. My mother would always tell us to ” eat up all the food on your plate….. there are millions of children who go to bed hungry. Always think about them.”


        1. That is harrowing for little minds. Tragic these days but absolutely soul destroying for sensitive kids. These days that would be seen as child abuse i bet.


        1. I wouldn’t have thought that, maybe nostalgia blinds me to it but I got a lot more out of this when I rewatched it. Having said that there was also a show called Ulysses 31, which was Greek myths set in space, didn’t have a clue what was going on when I was a kid (and still loved it) but now I get so much pleasure from each episode. Cartoons that teach is the way forward.


          1. That’s a good point. I know I enjoy reading children’s books and probably for the same reason. Hmm, I think I may go back and rewatch the Smurfs after all!


            1. You never know what hidden nuances you will find now you are wiser. I bet it’s all existentialist with undercurrents of politics and stuff. Maybe.


  2. Ste J, your book reviews make me want to read the book, even if it is not in a genre I would normally follow. You are just so darn amazing! Thank you. 🙂


  3. You mean *this* theme tune?

    This was a fantastic show – I still remember how they used to do little segments at the end with factual information related to something in the episode…it was the first time I’d seen a decapitated chicken….


    1. That is the theme tune!! All those tiny bricks…magnificent! I think the chicken and semi nudity of a few episodes were the reasons why the Beeb cut them out. Now our nation is full of people deprived of cultural awareness, or just a taste for chicken slaughter.


  4. My colleagues and I were discussing something related to this last Monday. A decade or so ago (oh, I feel old) TV companies produce educational shows to feed the young minds. Now, whenever I open the TV early in the morning I see action characters killing each other. Is this what we want to teach the children?

    I agree with Renzkyoko’s comment. We were raised in the same country where a lot of people live under $2 a day. Like hers, my folks trained me and my siblings to finish everything served in the table.


    1. Children do grow up wasteful and under educated, it’s a sad decline. I worry for the future of books, humans and the future in general. There seems a lak of morals in kids TV either that or they talk down to children and don’t challenge them intellectually which is a disappointing. Bring back the 80’s. I’ve been saying that for years.


      1. I agree, except for the last sentence. I am a 90s baby and I say, bring back the 90s!


    1. It is a treat, it is a tad dated in places, it was done around the early 80’s but that sort of gives it a bit of a cheese factor. Check out Ulysses 31 as ell if you haven’t already seen that. Greek myths in space, what more could you want.


  5. All formats viewed SteJ, new and old that generate thoughts, idea’s and of course give you a great fun filled time as well are always a good thing, always!


    1. So true, old stuff is so much more rich than modern things, especially when they are aimed at a young demographic. I like to go out of my way to find new thoughts. I mentioned this to Letizia and you shall have it too, check out Ulysses 31 that was kids TV as it should be done, although no kids i knew had any idea at the time what it all meant.


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