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The Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon
What was the Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon?
The Dungeons and Dragons cartoon was an animated television show that ran from 1983-1985 on CBS. The show was produced by both Marvel Productions as well as TSR Inc. The show had a total of twenty seven episodes that ran over the course of three years. Toei Animations, a Japanese Animation company did the animation and artwork for the show. The show is centered around six young adults that are transported to the world of Dungeons and Dragons and must find their way home with the help of the "Dungeon Master". There was a final episode written to explain how the heroes got home and concluded the show. This episode however was never produced because the show was not renewed for its fourth and final season. The script for the finale episode can be found here and was also done as an audio play for the DVD release of the cartoon. The cartoon was picked up by Fox Kids and was syndicated both the USA and the UK in 2000. Dungeons and Dragons has been aired by varoiuse television networks throughout the world over the years including Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.
Characters and Plot
The story begins when six friends ride the Dungeons and Dragons ride at an amusement park and are transported to the world of Dungeons and Dragons. Once they arrive in this alternated fantasy universe the "Dungeon Master" gives each child a weapon to defend themselves with and fight the forces of evil. Most of the episodes are stories in of themselves and involve the protagonists helping the people of the realm while fighting off different enemies. The main villain is a wizard named Venger who wants to rule the world of Dungeons and Dragons. Though out most episodes of the show Venger makes an appearance to hound the kids in someway. Towards the end of the series the episodes story line began to intertwine with one and other. The main focus of the story line is the connection between the "Dungeon Master" and Venger that connection was never reveled in the show but was later explained in the script and audio play from the final episode Requiem. While the show was focused towards children and the moral lessons learned by the protagonists where valuable there was some criticism leveled at the show for violence. While by today's standards the violence is rather low at the time the show received criticism from the National Coalition on Television Violence. They in fact petitioned the FTC to run an advisory at the beginning of each episode to make people aware that Dungeons and Dragons had been linked to real life deaths. For more about the controversy of the Dungeons and Dragons franchise click here.
Connections to the Game
The cartoon did not have many connections to the Dungeons and Dragons game. Some of the main characters had names that where named after classes from the Dungeons and Dragons RPG such as Hank the Ranger, and Sheila the Thief. The presence of the "Dungeon Master" was also a nod to the role playing game, in the game the "Dungeon Master" is the person that oversees the game. The cartoon also included many monsters and creatures from the game. Since the show was designed towards a younger audience than that of the game a lot of the magic and occult themes where removed. While there was not much of a connection between the game and the cartoon the show has been embraced by fans of the game and has attained a cult like following.With so little based on the game itself TSR released two board games based on the cartoon separate from the main Dungeons and Dragons franchise. These games are the Fantasy Forest board game and Quest for the Dungeon Master. Both games saw limited release and are very hard to find today.
Where to find it Today
Dungeons and Dragons the cartoon series never saw release on VHS. The series has been released a few times over the years in DVD box sets. These releases have varied slightly from region to region. The 2006 US release is one of the most sought after because it included the audio play of the final episodes script as well as an intro to role playing booklet. The down side to the 2006 release is the fact that some of the music towards the end of the series had to be altered due to copyright issues. In 2009 Mill-creek Entertainment re-released the series as a boxed set of DVDs. While the Mill-creek Entertainment release did not contain the audio of the last episode or the role playing booklet it was able to retain the original audio for every episode. Either release can be purchased from either Ebay or from Amazon.
Other Dungeons and Dragons Animation
In 2008 a Dragonlance feature length animated movie was released. The Dragonlance animated movie is focused on the first book in the best selling Dragonlance novels. Dragonlance is a campaign setting for the Dungeons and Dragons role playing game. Dragonlance received favorable reviews from fans of the series and is considered one of the best film translations of the Dungeons and Dragons franchise to date. The DVD release can be bought from Amazon as well as a CD release of the soundtrack.
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