Animation Block: Dungeons and Dragons

Dipping back into the Marvel Productions well once more, the show Dungeons & Dragons was always a favorite of mine. Like many children of the era, I was banned from the playing the game due to fears of Satanic overtaking. The show was deemed safe because as everyone knows Satan only works through multi-sided dice.

The show at a glance had little to do with the role-playing game. A group of friends, made of various ages and backgrounds, go on an amusement park ride. Somehow through that ride they are transported into a savage and bizarre world. They are given weapons by the enigmatic Dungeon Master and pursued by the Venger. Each episode would feature the children trying to get home and prevent Venger from stealing their weapons.

The show dealt with mildly interesting themes, but there were rarely any of ‘the very special episodes’ that tended to populate the airwaves back then. The fantasy setting was a change of pace and allowed the writers and animators to play with things greatly and just go nuts. The character of Eric was interesting, in that he was included to teach the lesson the complainer is always wrong. Apparently complaining about being kidnapped and forced to fight for your life daily was bad. The level of violence for the time was certainly more intense than the other shows at the same time yet it never seemed gratuitous.  Unlike other shows made by Marvel at the time, this wasn’t intended to shill a toy line (although there was a D&D line made later with a few characters showing up) or even the role-playing game. One could watch the show without once having rolled for experience or hit points and still pick up on things. The voice cast was also top rate, including Don Most, Willie Aames, and stand by greats like Frank Welker and Peter Cullen.

It is currently available on DVD, but I suggest getting the red boxed version from BCI as it contains the last episode. A finale was scripted but never animated. This episode would have served as both a season finale and opener had it been allowed to continue. Worth tracking down, but the Mill Creek version has the original music but no extras.