Now just as I promised here is my first review series and the TV show I will be reviewing is…Dungeons & Dragons. When I saw this Dungeons & Dragons DVD collection at a local bargain retail store for a dollar (yep seriously it was one dollar) and I thought I’d give it a shot. I guess I shouldn’t have expected much, but then again I was hopeful that it might be entertaining. And what you know it had a lot of 80s cheese and was also more confusing that I thought it was going to be. So this is my summarization of my initial impressions on Dungeons & Dragons‘s pilot episode “The Night of No Tomorrow.”
First we have the introduction to the story and characters that is done in the span of 2 minutes. Talk about suspension of disbelief…or not in the case of 6 teens and pre-teens ending up in a world of magic just from riding a theme park ride. Probably my major compliant about this episode is that they don’t take time to set up the story and characters. I would have loved to see what the kids were like in our world and then see their adjustment to the fantasy world right after it happened. However this first episode seems more like a follow-up and you feel like you are missing something when you are watching it for the first time. Despite this I will do my best to summarize the plot.
After the kids trap a multi-headed dragon creature called Tiamat, the Dungeon Master (who looks like a more human version of Yoda) appears and tells them that they might find something that will help them return home in the village of Helix which is having a millennial celebration the magician Merlin’s banishment of fire-breathing dragons that had plagued the town. But he warns the kids that they might come across Venger (the enemy of the series and voiced by Peter Cullen of all people) and they will know him by his white hair. Or is hare?
After he vanishes the kids make their way through the desert and come across Merlin’s floating castle. After they climb up a ladder leading up to the castle they are greeted by Merlin himself who holding a white rabbit. They initially were suspicious of him due to his white hair but it’s soon revealed to be a toupee. He tells them the story of Helix again and one of kids Eric (the annoying jerk of the group) says he’s had enough and proceeds to leave only to encounter Tiamat again. How she got into a floating castle in the sky? She flew of course. The kids and Merlin trap the multi-headed dragon in the castle’s dungeon.
The kids are about to leave for Helix but the magician Presto (I can’t believe that’s his name) decides to stay to learn more about magic from Merlin as his apprentice. Merlin instructs him to stir the cauldron, but while he is out of the room Presto takes a look at the book he’s instructed not to look at in order to find a spell that will help him and his friends return home.
Unfortunately the spell that Presto casts unleashes the dragons that Merlin had imprisoned. It is soon after that he discovers that Merlin is not Merlin at all but Venger (remember the white hare aka rabbit) who used Presto to release the dragons because only his “good” magic could undo the original Merlin’s spell. This begs the question: Why did the original Merlin cast a spell that could be undone? Anyway while Presto stands there dumbfounded Venger takes his hat and Presto doesn’t do anything to stop him. Come on man, you can at least struggle with Venger for your hat. You might not succeed in getting it back but you can still try can’t you?
After the dragons commence their attack on Helix the kids quickly figure out what happened and head back to the sky castle to find Presto. They face Venger who says if they hand over their magical items and he would let them go. It is actually really surprising having a villain whose initial goal does not involve hurting or killing the heroes/heroines. The rest of the kids refused to so, at least they don’t just stand there and let Venger take their weapons like Presto.
They come up with a plan to counter Venger by releasing Tiamat from the dungeon they trapped her in while Presto casts the spell to seal the dragons again, saving Helix in the process. The kids escape from the castle where Dungeon Master appears again and returns Presto’s hat. How did Dungeon Master get Presto’s magic hat back? No time for that, the kids are now off on their next adventure as they try to find their way back home to the 1980s.
While it is not the worse show ever I realized after watching this first episode that there was a lot I did not understand. I think it’s due to the fact that I am not the intended audience; it was intended for the young people who grew up during the early 80s. That’s all well and good but this prevents it from being universally understood and only serves to date the series even more. To those you have fondness for Dungeons & Dragons I am glad you can enjoy it for what it is. As for me the only enjoyment I had was in awkwardly chuckling at it. I plan to watch all the episodes on the DVD despite my cringing and convey my thoughts on them for future posts. Who knows maybe it’ll get better or perhaps I am glutton for punishment but we’ll see how long I last.