Mill Creek Entertainment // 1983 // 594 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Michael Rubino (Retired) // September 3rd, 2009
"Beware what you say when you speak of magic, wizard, or you shall see
who has the greater power."
Dungeons & Dragons Beginner's Module: The Double-Dip Adventure
Dungeon Master: Welcome, heroes, to the start of your epic journey through the world of 1980s Saturday morning cartoons. Your adventure begins with the tale of six children who get sucked into the world of Dungeons & Dragons after they take a ride on a magical roller coaster.
Jimmy: A roller coaster? I thought D&D was a pen and paper role playing game?
DM: It is! But parents weren't particularly happy about D&D in the early '80s, and that whole Mazes and Monsters movie didn't help either...so they rode a magical rollercoaster! Now, these six adventurers are stuck in a surreal fantasy world where they must go on a mission each episode in hopes of one day returning home. That is, if they can survive the wrath of Venger, the evil wizard who's always trying to mess with them!
Greg: I want to be Hank, the ranger! He's a natural leader.
Jimmy: I'll be Bobby, the barbarian...even though he comes with a unicorn named Uni.
DM: Excellent. The remaining characters are Presto, the magician; Sheila, the thief; Eric, the cavalier; and Diana, the acrobat. Not like a circus acrobat...but like an Amazonian one. I guess.
Greg: Great. Well the characters are all fairly interesting and relatable. Eric the cavalier reminds me of Cameron from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
DM: He does!
Jimmy: You know, I've never heard of this adventure before, but it's actually pretty cool. It's like each episode is just a bunch of people sitting around playing D&D.
DM: That's right, Jimmy. Each episode begins with our heroes wandering around this mystical land when they are confronted by the diminutive Dungeon Master. He tells them of their next objective, which involves traveling to unique locations, completing feats of dexterity, and slaying beasts like bugbears, dragons, and skeletons. While the dialogue may be a little cheesy at times, the adventures are solid.
Greg: You know, the more we go through these adventures, the more the characters seem to grow. This show's different than He-Man, and there's actually a light amount of continuity between installments.
Jimmy: And there are some pretty awesome voice actors involved, like Frank Welker (Megatron, Fred from Scooby Doo) and Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime)!
DM: Yes, but unfortunately it only rolled successfully for three seasons, totaling 27 brief episodes. Although really, a lot of these episodes feel the same; the adventures contained within almost all follow the same pattern, which includes Venger in disguise as something, a special mystical item they must retrieve, and a brief glimpse of a way home. Still, it holds up better than a lot of series from the '80s.
Greg: Wait a second, you tried to get us to watch this a couple years ago, didn't you? Only the set was bigger. Like with five discs.
DM: It's true. This is merely a cheaper version of what you probably already have. You see, the company that released the stellar Dungeons & Dragons: The Complete Animated Series, BCI Eclipse, has since gone out of business. Now, Mill Creek has purchased the rights, and has released this barren edition. It has been cursed with a total lack of extra features.
Jimmy: I would like to inspect the case.
DM: You see before you three discs, inserted in cheap paper sleeves, and then shoved into a double-sized amaray case. The lackluster presentation continues onto the discs themselves, as the menus feel cheap and don't offer any setup options or subtitles. The stereo sound is also poor, and the video is rather flat and murky. It is like a VHS transfer. It doesn't help that the animation in the show itself is rather stiff. At least the character and monster designs are faithful to the game.
Greg: Um...so why are we playing this when there's a superior version of this show on DVD?
DM: Because this show has a tremendous cult following, and it's not easy to get your hands on the discontinued special edition. For fans who missed out on that opportunity, they must now settle for this cheaper, albeit lamer, edition. You get what you pay for!
Jimmy: Well, at least the show holds up, and is relatively enjoyable -- even if I've never seen it before.
DM: This is true. But again, I must reiterate that its lame presentation, total lack of bonus features, and pitiful technical specifications make it a quest only few should take.
Jimmy: Well, I guess this is better than nothing. And it's cheap enough for me to check out even though I've never seen the show before.
DM: You pick up Dungeons & Dragons: The Animated Series, and find that it is lighter than expected. Your nostalgia level receives a +5 for the next nine hours and 54 minutes.
Greg: I'm going to get a Mountain Dew...anyone want anything?
DM: No. I'm okay.
Guilty of being a lame release for a decent '80s cartoon. No saving throws for you!
Review content copyright © 2009 Michael Rubino; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 594 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Not Rated