In 1987, a low budget film debuted in theaters, but it flopped in the U.S. But for some reason, many people loved the film and the characters in the film that it spawned a mini-series and tons of unnecessary merchandise (just like the movie “Space Wizards“).
And the fact that the movie was referred to as “the 80’s Harry Potter” had us all running back to the time when the story was first written…
In the year 1983, Anthony Snyder was a normal 15-year-old boy growing up in the small town of El Bano, Texas. He lives with his sister Margery and her husband, Frank Harrison; his parents Eduardo and Carmen died when he was 3 years old. Margery is cruel to him, yet her husband and their children Wendell and Selena try their best to protect him from Margery’s abuse.
One day, Anthony and the twins were walking to school when they chanced to hear that the Wonder Circus was coming to their town. They all decide to go to the circus, but Margery and Frank forbid them from going for different reasons. But Anthony is determined to go to the circus and he gets his wish when his class is invited to go on a backstage tour of the circus.
While everyone else is bored with the tour, Anthony wanders off and has an encounter with a 14-year-old girl named Jacqueline Sophia Williams, who works at the circus. She introduces him to Gordon Stokes, Brian Angel Irwin, Taylor Lowell Phillips, and Christopher Gillespie, who also work at the circus. Their public story was that they were orphans who had been to the circus, but for some reason, they were left behind by their group and had gotten lost during a storm that struck the city of San Francisco. Silas Rodriquez, the Ringmaster, found them and offered to bring them home, but he was disuaded from doing so by Chuck Segura, who claims that the children were from a Communist country and were unworthy of living as American citizens. He was deciding to send them to an orphanage when Silas stepped in and offered to adopt them. Chuck then threatens to have the circus shut down if the children are adopted.
Jacqueline also says that Silas rescued her from a life of slavery when she was just 7 years old. She claims that after her parents’s death, 19-year-old Charles Segura took advantage of her and abused her and the 4 other children. When their foster parents find out about the abuse, they report it to the police, who (for some reason) choose to ignore the complaints because Chuck is an African-American and they vowed not to upset the African-American community by having him arrested for child abuse. Chuck then kidnaps the children and gives them away to the circus, where no one could find them.
Anthony feels sorry for Jacqueline and her friends and vows to reunite them with their families, but his plans are complicated by Margery’s interference as well as the story of the kidnapping of Jacqueline, Gordon, Brian, Taylor, and Christopher, which very few people knew about. Anthony also discovers that Eduardo and Carmen are not his actual parents and that his real name is Kenneth Harrington and he was the son of Manuel and Judith Harrington, who once worked at the Wonder Circus but live in Dayton, Ohio with their children Chandler, Robert, and Roselyn. They had left the circus after the kidapping of their son Kenneth when he was 3 years old and they haven’t stopped looking for him since.
When Anthony publishes the story about the Wonder Circus in the local newspaper, many people are shocked to discover that the circus employed 5 kidnapped children and demand that the police investigate the circus. Silas tells the story about the children and their cruel kidnapper, which in turn leads the police to tracking down and arresting Chuck for his crimes, which (of course) angers his community not to mention his family. The police then discovered that Margery had kidnapped Anthony from his teenaged parents and arrest her and Frank as well.
Within a few weeks, the Wonder Circus packs up and prepares to leave for Kentucky, and Anthony stows away on the train, knowing that this is his chance to find his real family. He and the children bond while on the trip, with the circus performing in various cities in the midwest before it stops at Louisville, Kentucky. Anthony notices his parents and siblings in the crowd and realizes that after 12 years of searching, he has found his family.
The story doesn’t end there; in fact, news about the kidnappings reach the city of San Francisco and a man is finally punished for his crimes, but it is too late to bring Jacqueline and her friends back to a normal home life and they take off when the circus leaves for Atlanta, Georgia, leaving Anthony behind with his newfound family and wondering if they would ever meet again.
The story of the magical circus had swept the nation, and it led to a 2-week mini-series, which was aptly titled “Wonder Circus: A New Beginning“, which was realeased on JTV in 1994 and featured the story of Anthony, who is now 22 years old and living a safe and boring life in college when the Wonder Circus comes to town. Jacqueline and the others are still there, and yet they have changed since the events of the last movie. After a few mishaps, Anthony finds himself out of money and kicked out of school and he must find work. The only place that was hiring was the circus itself, and Anthony’s family persuades him to take the job offer.
With that story in mind, we’d like to say that this was where Jacquel Rassenworth was first featured, long before the botched books and movies and even the crossovers destroyed her character. Jacqueline was a strong female character who would not stand for any wickedness and cruelty and she had withstood many hardships before she met Anthony, who eventually freed her from her personal demons and get on with her life.
And to be repeated one last time: THIS MOVIE IS *NOT* THE HARRY POTTER STORY OF THE 1980’S!!!
In fact, it’s part of the “Better Than Potter” Series, which means that it’s better than Harry Potter.
Now you know.